Since we are entering the dark season of Halloween I wanted to run this article as Journal entries for the next few days by a favorite writer, David Brooks, of the New York Times. ‘The Age of Aquarius, All Over Again,’ was written in June of 2019.
Third, there is a widespread need to express alienation. Interest in the occult rises during periods of transition and disillusion. It happened in the late 1960s, and it’s happening today. For many, the traditional organized religions are implicated in the existing power structures. Being occult is a way to announce that you stand on the fringe of society that you stand against the patriarchy, against the heteronormative culture and against the structures of oppression. Political alienation manifests itself in the alt-right and the energized radical left. It makes sense that it would manifest itself in the spiritual realm, too.
Fourth is the need for identity markers. We live at a time when many of the traditional sources of identity (ethnicity, rooted neighborhood) are being erased. Astrology tells you who you are and what traits you have. In a highly diverse society, it also tells you what sort of people you’re likely to be compatible and incompatible with. When I hear people talk about astrology, this is how they are using it.
Fifth is the desire to live within a coherent creed and community, but without having that creed impinge on your individual autonomy. Being an Orthodox Jew is a thick but binding life. The emerging spirituality is a hodgepodge spirituality. Each person borrows practices from, say, Native American, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and SoulCycle traditions and blends them in a way he or she finds moving. There is no grand narrative, no specific way one is expected to live, no set of laws you have to obey or even a specific cult leader who might boss you around. Religion bows before individualism.
“But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus