Tag Archives: spirituality and politics

Watch Out! The Woo-Woo, Wacko, “New Age” is Gonna Get Ya! And She’s Running for President

This is my response to the mostly mocking, ridiculing and fear-based mainstream and social media focus on Marrianne Williamson. To start with, while most of those doing the ridiculing would deny that anything like telepathy exists, they are the first to tell us they KNOW why she is running: (to make money, sell books and get attention, of course). I’d love to give these writers mirrors for their egos.

Then there’s the shock at the phrase, “dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred ….” as if it is an expression of something alien, occult and just plain weird.  Does anyone not immediately know exactly what she is talking about? Does political speech have to be that devoid of the language of the human heart that it can’t relate to those words? Even the modest approval she is occasionally given for her intelligent policy positions and psychological insights into politics is always hedged with some reference to her “wacky new-age ideas.”

So what is the “new age” anyway. While my Google search brought up several somewhat objective accounts of the very loose movement/network/zeitgeist, they all seemed to leave out “the Aquarian Age” of the Sixties. Didn’t folks see “Hair?”  Back then, as I recall, many of us believed that there was a shift happening in the world and people were going to change from a competitive and survival-of-the-fittest mindset to a more loving, earth friendly, non-hierarchical world.  Naive, yes, especially in the sense that we would thought it would all happen very quickly and without effort. But this Aquarian spirit was a major impetus, if not the primary force, behind the environmental movement, holistic and integral medicine, new forms of psychological and mental health treatment, organic farming, reforms in education, and the embrace of sexual expression and varied forms of identity. See Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy.

As things evolved in the Seventies and Eightees, what started to be called the “new age” movement continued to grow even outside the realm of counter-culture hippies. From my insider perspective, the primary unifying principle was the belief that humans could transform their own consciousness to a higher and more loving place and that this would (or could) spread and change the world. There would be, (or we could help bring about) a paradigm shift in human thinking and behavior, between us as humans and between humans and all life. What a concept!

As people extended their openness to new and different ideas, to think more outside the box, there was and continues to be an exploration of the older, even ancient, ideas of astrology, the I Ching, Tarot, and other symbolic maps of consciousness. The study and practice of Eastern spirituality and mystical forms of Western wisdom traditions became widespread. Alternative forms of healing, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, yoga, tai chi, were seen nearly everywhere. None of these are inherently ‘new age.’ Most are very old or ancient.  Carl Jung, among many eminent scholars and visionaries of the modern world treated them with great respect. 

Deep, revolutionary movements have a way of being trivialized, coopted, commercialized, distorted. The “new age” has gone through all of that and the term is mostly now used as a pejorative applied to just about anything or anyone superficial, naive, flaky.  I’ve done it myself. But Marrianne Williamson? NOT!  Read or listen to what she actually says in full context. 

As she gets more attention, there is a new trend among liberals to not just dismiss her as flaky and irrelevant, but dangerous! Something along the lines of, “Her new-age stuff may seem innocent enough, but it hides a pernicious cult of individualism which ends up blaming and shaming people for their poverty and illness.” “It’s really right-wing in its essential teachings.” 

This is an accusation made by some against all religions. But there is a deep question here for all spiritual and religious movements. While atheists have Ayn Rand espousing the value of selfishness, spiritual movements can fall victim to the same egoic impulse that they aim to cure.  Spiritually oriented people outside of traditional religious institutions have been discussing for decades this tension between the notion of individual liberation of oneself and the seemingly opposing call to be involved in the struggles for justice, peace and harmony with Mother Earth. While there are spiritual teachers and groups that do emphasize the former, as someone very involved in this myself I am aware that the preponderance of movement is towards a deeper and wiser integration of both human needs. And for decades, Marrianne Williamson has been at the forefront as a teacher and leader of the movement to bring spirituality into the service of healing individuals, communities and the world. 

Her courage in crossing into the dark, yes DARK pit of politics and media to bring a message of light and hope and an honest progressive political agenda deserves respect. Vote for who you like, but listen to what she says and hope the other candidates do as well. If she is not President, perhaps she can head the Department of Peace. And if she is neither, she will have still accomplished a great deal.

May the Force and Light be with you, Marrianne, in your noble quest.