B. Trends and Passages
Here was a typical weekend during the height of the New Age
movement. We are walking through the aisles of a New Age bazaar
and thought conference. There are rows and rows of tables arranged
in a square maintained by hawkers of various shapes, sizes and
modes of dress.
Behind one table are two blond and rather attractive twenty-
something women, decked out in sari-like gowns and displaying
a table of crystals, each categorized and all allegedly possessing
divergent healing powers. Behind another table is a guy in a
business suit, spelling out the virtues of a line of a franchise-
line of vitamin supplements; in this case his presentation display
is as slick as any you would find anywhere.
Behind another table is a pair of youthful booksellers who
own an independent bookstore that specializes in New Age
books, tapes and other paraphernalia. Next to them is a guy
selling New Age tapes of artists such as Steve Halpern and
Kitaro. Elsewhere in the open market are yoga devotees,
commune residents, pyramid sellers, New Age center
proprietors, self- published authors, and water purification
device merchants. Everyone is selling something — although
some wares are unpriced “must have information” — and
everyone seems a bit more missionary than salespeople at other
The thought conference includes speeches and workshops
by other New Age dignitaries. Among the group are Hazel
Henderson, author of various books critical of current economic
theory; Jose Arguelles, who is spreading the word about
something called Harmonic Convergence; and Marilyn
Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy and perhaps the
major documentarian of the New Age movement.
I had met a lot of these dignitaries during the course of my
travels writing for magazines like East-West, New Realities, and
New Frontier. I became intimately familiar with the worldviews
they espoused and the themes spelled out in Trends and Passages.
Here you’lll find a column about the fascination of the young
with Native American spirituality. You’ll find an article about
some fairly prototypical events of the time, such as the Planetary
Initiative for the World We Choose and Harmonic Convergence.
You’ll also find a review of Ferguson’s seminal The Aquarian
Conspiracy. Another column, An Extraterrestrial Encounter,
portrays what in hindsight seems an example of the excesses of
the New Age.
As is the case in subsequent sections, I have changed the
names of all but the famous or near famous. I wouldn’t want
to blow the cover of anyone who now lives a more conventional
This is the section introduction to Trends and Passages. For the titles of the articles in the section, visit the Table of Contents.