Monday, January 1, 2018

back away from the future



I suppose yesterday, or should I say, last year, was more the time for looking back than today. But this afternoon when all is quiet here and it's still far too cold to go out for a walk I found myself thinking about decades ago when the world was a different place.

What came to be known as the New Age movement was still in its early days and generally unknown outside the occult and metaphysical religious communities in the 1970s and ʾ80s. It looked forward to a 'New Age' of love and light and offered a foretaste of the coming era through personal transformation and healing, a religious perspective that is based on the acquisition of mystical knowledge. Many people, particularly young people, gathered together to live in urban and country communes where they made an effort to practice more Earth friendly lifestyles than the ones offered by the larger society. Some worked better than others, true, but the longing for a return to the 'Garden' was real enough even though the trappings were easy for the fashionable to latch on to - which they did and 'New Age' became a pastime for bored suburbanites.

While there are any number of web sites and periodicals that still advance the goals one very important aspect, its saving grace really, seems to have fallen by the wayside. Transcendence: the sense that entering into relationship with the spiritual realm is about stepping into a wider world, waking up to the things that really matter - walking through the walls and into the Fire.

Now it's all about soothing your nerves, boosting your health, managing your career and your love life, making your life bland and safe and predictable. Take up meditation, so you can lower your blood pressure and smooth out your wrinkles. Practice t'ai chi or hot yoga - it's so very relaxing, and it makes your bowels regular! Go listen to a trance channeler to get advice on your relationships. Here are some tasty vegetarian recipes you can share with all your friends...

Back in the 70s it wasn't like that. There was plenty of nonsense and plenty of deception and a ton of babble, but in there with all of that you found a lot of people who wanted to tear open the sky and step into the luminous Beyond. People meditated and did rituals and practiced martial arts and did all sorts of other things to become something more than they were.

That's still a worthy goal -
even for someone like me whose resolutions generally add up to a list of things
I'll never accomplish. Where's that mandolin I never learned to play?


Happy New Year.

21 comments:

Sean Jeating said...

That reminds me of that while 1971 spending New Year's Eve in London, I had the pleasure to watch "Hair" in Shaftesbury Theatre, before at midnight welcoming the New Year on Trafalgar Square.
Happy New Year, loveliest of all Susans. :)

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Worthwhile pondering the possibilities of "beyond" and "beyond", even if none are there, provided, in my opinion, it does not become the nonsensical certainties about things we cannot possibly know that so many are prone to. The fate of the human is to not know, I reckon, and that probably may be just as well. Happy New Year.

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

"beyond" and "beyonds", I meant, singular then plural; but never mind - I am far from perfect.

Should Fish More said...

If you haven't heard of them, a worthwhile 'google' and search is for the 'Magic Forest Farm', in/near Takilma Oregon. I was a peripheral partcipant/observer in the early 70's, when a fellow doc, Jim Shames became involved. I've got a few pics from the time.
It was a you describe, a time of searching, finding, trying and discarding, and trying again. True exploration on a personal level that turned out various for various people.

Halle said...

Does it sound too paranoid to suggest that a population that can heal itself through meditation, by connecting to some transcendent energy is a population that cannot be easily led, or commercially exploited? And if that is so, then mightn't those whose job it is to make sure the population is easily controlled find a way to take the process of enlightenment and modify it sufficiently to be marketable?

Finding our mandolin, or whatever we might find pleasure in mastering is wonderful, isn't it?

All the very best in 2018!

The Crow said...

I wish you (and Crow, the Magnificent) a wonderful New Year, Susan, better in every way than the one just passed!

susan said...

Oh dear, Hair? The dawning of the age of Aquarius?
It seemed a bit shallow for me and my friends. :)
Although I bet you had fun in London that year.

susan said...

One needs always to be careful of certainties, Andrew. It's enough for me to know there are things I not only don't know but can't know.

I got the 'beyond' 'beyonds' but thanks.

susan said...

There was a lot of experimentation going on back then, Mike, and Magic Forest Farm sounds like a good example. I never did the back to the country thing myself, being more involved in city communes, food co-op startups, and music/art installations. Most everyone I knew then were very self-reliant and opinionated. Eventually, we all moved on - as seems to be the way of the world.

susan said...

I agree with you absolutely, Halle. There was a lot of pressure put forth to remove and/or deprecate the people and the movement. Not all hippies were dirty. :)

May you your 'mandolin' playing bring you peace
and pleasure in the coming year.

susan said...

That's wishing a lot, Martha, but we can hope for the best and work to make ourselves as good as we can be - under the circumstances.

Happy New Year from Crow and me. :)

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
Love the Peanuts Cartoons? But they not be, as I don’t remember seeing a tiger.

For me, engrossed as I was in the 70’s, in trying to stamp out corruption in NSW I didn’t relate to the new age movement. But a bit hard to define don’t you think, and no doubt some movements were much more appealing than others.
Best wishes for 2018.

MRMacrum said...

Some of us long for a return of the Beav. While others look at that dream catcher hanging in the attic and wish it would work again. Happy New Year.

susan said...

Hi Lindsay,
That was a good guess about the cartoon but it's actually Calvin and Hobbes, a strip published in N. America between 1985-95. You can see a few more of his comics here and an explanation of the recurring characters.

Stamping out corruption is an excellent way of relating to the deeper meaning of the New Age movement. You're right that some things are indefinable by their nature.
All the best

susan said...

That's true, MRM. We're always looking to find that better place just a little beyond our reach.
Happy New Year

Tom said...

I was never a part of the 70's and 80's scene you describe. All too often I looked askance at what I saw as gullible innocence being taken advantage of by "Money." At the end of the 80's having spent three ruinous years living with an alcoholic woman, I discovered the unexpected - belief! It was salvation from a state I will never revisit. I too discovered the innocence, a passionate innocence, that once I had looked upon with askance.

All the very best, my friend, for 2018.

susan said...

In my own case, Tom, I was the right age and in the right place to experience some of the best of those years. I was also something of an adventuresome nature. What I remember best was the sense of wonder and possibility. Living in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver for a decade or so was a genuinely free time in my life. A weird electricity arched over everything, conversations, music, and so much more while sanity cowered in a corner. Of course it wasn't surprising it was co-opted by people looking to profit and there's no profit in having twelve people share one tv set.

I'm glad, no, thrilled is a better word, that you found a good path, my friend, and I'm happy we've walked some of it together.

Best wishes for the New Year!

Ol'Buzzard said...

I missed the age of Aquarius - I was in the military. But I would have loved to have been at Alice's Restaurant where you could get anything you want.
the Ol'Buzzard

susan said...

Hah! Thanks for reminding me of a great movie, OB.

Arlo: I can understand you wanting our wallets, so we don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want our belts for?

Officer Obie: Kid, we don't want any hanging.

Arlo: [pause] Obie, do you think we're gonna hang ourselves for littering?

troutbirder said...

Interesting post. r.e. your comment on Mikes blog. My very first book review in maybe 2008 was of Dear Hunting With Jesus.... It attracted a fair amount of attention to my 2nd blog and I been book reviewing ever since...:)

susan said...

I'm glad you liked this one and also the comment I left at Mike's blog. Joe Bageant was someone who never got the public attention his work deserved when he was alive but, oh my goodness, his voice is really and truly missed. The website a friend of his set up for his written articles is still available. It's wonderful to know you've been a fan too and that you introduced his writings to others.

I see from Mike's blog too that Barb is ill and that you're looking after her now. I wish you both well.