‘New Age’ or Ancient Wisdom?
By Verona Spence-Adofo
My spiritual path began when I started taking an interest in self-help books. At the time I found them very uplifting as they offered insight into ways you could change your perception of reality, thus changing your life. With subjects like ‘the law of attraction’ I became hooked as this so-called ‘New Age’ information resonated deep within my psyche. Despite being very withdrawn from mainstream religious teachings throughout early adult years, there was something about this that made me yearn for more.
I was compelled by the metaphysical teachings; the mixing of science and spirituality struck a real cord with me. It was as though dormant DNA cells were awakening and I was tapping into wisdom that I previously knew. Whilst, the information was not necessarily familiar, deep down within my being I knew it to be true. The books led to visualisations, affirmations, meditations and finally rituals. Little did I know at the time that these practices could be found in my own ancient ancestral traditions if I had only taken the time to find out.
What actually led me to this realisation was finding out that the concept of ‘The Law of Attraction’ also referred to as ‘The Secret’ was a practice that was regularly carried out by the Aborigines of Australia, commonly known today as ‘Dreamtime’. It blew my mind to find out that Aborigines were accustomed to this practice, as it was an integral part of their culture.
This then spurred me to look into the spiritual practices of other indigenous cultures starting with my own African ancestral heritage. What I then went on to learn excelled anything that I previously read in those books as the journey became much deeper on a personal level as now it felt like an internal journey led by my ancestors and through connecting with them I was able to access knowledge that I was not privy to before.
One thing that is missing for me in ‘new age’ philosophy is the lack of acknowledgment of your own ancestors and the importance of that personal connection. Connecting to my ancestors took me to another level that I wouldn’t have reached without doing so. What is also interesting that they have replaced our own direct ancestors with people like ‘St Germain’ ‘Angel Gabriel’ and the ‘Ascended Masters’ – who are believed to be self-realised beings.
Whilst, these energies can be possibly connected with to gain insight into the mysteries of the universe, I find it odd that the emphasis would not be to connect with your “inner universe” by tapping into your own DNA connections. I also find it quite interesting that in the pantheon of people listed only one of them is black and many indigenous cultures are omitted too.
What I’ve noticed with ‘New Age’ teachers is they do not tend to specify where their information is from. Why should it matter you ask? Well, I think it does especially as many of these teachings are from cultures who have been labeled primitive, backward, barbaric etc. I think that by noting its origins will help to remove any stigma that surrounds these people, their knowledge and spiritual beliefs. Don’t get me wrong I’m not oblivious to the fact that this is universal wisdom and not owned by any particular group of people, however, I have noticed that many indigenous cultures are overlooked in particular African cultures.
For example, I used to frequent many ‘New Age’ shops looking for sage, crystals, incense etc. One of the things that I found glaringly obvious is that all of the books or trinkets in the shops were from the following areas: European Pagan/Wicca, Native American Shamanism, Buddhist/Eastern Philosophy and Egyptian. I noticed that information on Egyptian spiritual teachings is abundant throughout these places, however, there would be no mention of any of the other African traditions. Unfortunately, this selective acknowledgment is not only limited to these shops but in academia too.
I guess it could be argued that there is not enough interest in those traditions hence the need not to stock such items, which to some extent is fair; but with the Yoruba tradition of Ifa being so popular in various communities across the globe including its offshoots Candomblé and Santería it’s surprising that the ‘new age’ haven’t caught up with the rise in African spiritual traditions. Or maybe the sole intention of the ‘new age’ was to rebrand ancient wisdom?