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Magic & the New Age Fallacy

Everything nowadays in the witchcraft/pagan/occult communities seems to have the term "New Age" slapped onto it. You may find this label in the Barnes and Noble section for books on these topics. When looking up stores nearby that sell incense or candles, they may have the label "New Age" as a category. Furthermore, ideas and techniques in magick may be considered "New Age" and even established religions like Buddhism and Hinduism may be considered New Age. Yet what do all these have in common? The term "New Age" falsely misleads people into thinking any of this is "new" or "fresh".

During the hippie subculture movement of the 1960s into the 1970s, topics like alternative healing and Eastern thought became popular. The movement was all about rebelling against society, and part of it was in a philosophical way. So, ideas like this became popular in the West. It was dubbed "New Age" just because it was new to the West, but it's misleading because Eastern thought and philosophy has existed for thousands of years. Thus, anything that was "exotic" or otherwise ancient was considered to be new. Even travelling to Asia was popular during that time because people wanted something "new" to quench their souls that the churches at home could not do.

None of this was new, however. Crystal healing, Ayurveda, reincarnation and past lives, totem animals (both in traditional Native American or European cultures) and more have been utilized and ingrained in said cultures for way longer than people think.

One thing that can be accurately described as 'New Age' is anything new, especially new religions that have been made based on old practices, but water them down so much that it isn't what it once was. Wicca, a form of Neopagan witchcraft, and Asatru, a reconstruction of Old Norse religion, are two examples of this. This 'watering down' is also a major problem with the New Age movement, because it takes away the true purpose or meaning of something within its traditional context. Wicca, a religion with such dogma as "harm none, do as you will" and "whatever you do comes back times three", is not reflective of ALL witches that exist - the reality is that witches vary in their level of morality and cannot be neatly organized into one box. For centuries we were the bridges between the worlds, holders of curses and cures, and able to pierce into things most people could not. We lived on the fringes of society; being a Witch was not a "trend" - it was very real, very dangerous, and still is. The only difference is that today, more people fall for the New Age fallacies, think that "live and let live" is best, and treat it like a trend. It's quite sad, actually.

The "live and let live" philosophy is extremely harmful for newcomers who are serious about any magical practice. Even though morality in true Witchcraft varies, there are certain rules you should follow in order to fully succeed. For example, do not make new things up like sending emoji and calling it a spell, or using too much of a highly toxic herb just because you didn't research. If you do, you not only look like a buffoon, but you will burn from the fires you play with. I'm all for openness and creativity with spellcraft, but there is a limit to what can be considered viable spellwork.

Another big thing with the New Age movement is that cultural appropriation has become a problem. I am not one to get easily offended by this kind of thing, but it does upset me when people use other people's cultures as a trend without fully understanding and appreciating what they are using and its original context. Going off this, some even perceive cultural appropriation as the following; people who follow paths or traditions that is inconsistent with what their actual ancestors practiced. This is up for debate by a lot of people, of course. To me, keeping true to your ancestors is very important, so you should try to keep those traditions alive.

All in all, what is the takeaway? The main thing is to DO YOUR RESEARCH, no matter what. Don't take things at face value, and the next time you see "New Age" labelled in anything... think again. Look into it. Chances are, it’s not new at all.

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