This term may first have been introduced by C.G. Jung, with reference to the world entering the Age of Aquarius. The Age of Aquarius simply means a period of about 2000 years during which the Sun is in Aquarius at the time of the spring equinox.
Depending on who one asks, the Age of Aquarius may already have started or will start in the early 21st century.
In popular usage, New Age refers to a whole suite of spiritual or religious beliefs, for a large part revived from prior tradition or in some cases based on new channeled information from a multiplicity of sources.
The New Age is somewhat linked with the sexual revolution of the 1960's and the human potential movement of the 1970's. Its ideological roots go deeper, into the 19th century revival of occultism, theosophy, practices of spiritism and the like.
The New Age features much syncretism between Western and Eastern thought, sometimes combined with ideas of 'space brothers,' often featuring the belief of the world variously ascending, being saved or otherwise transforming for the better in the near future.
The New Age is a sort of supermarket of spirituality and much of it is geared towards producing subjective experience, channeling one's own spirit guides, experiencing bliss or cosmic union, reconnecting with one's multidimensional self, activating one's ascension matrix etc. Critical thinking is not common in New Age, nor is discipline particularly appreciated. The New Age has developed its own lingo, often borrowing from science and technology terms with little regard for coherence of precision of meaning.
The New Age industry is a major business, selling anything from alternative health services to psychic readings to self-help literature, seminars and workshops, travel and tourism and so forth.
At the present time, the New Age label has acquired a connotation of hype. The New Age has been accused of being the devil's plan for bringing about a one world religion, as implied in Revelations.
The QFS sees the New Age as largely a social engineering project carried out for a given purpose by the power structure, primarily in the US but reaching worldwide. One factor which created demand for this was the growing alienation of people from traditional religion. People started no longer being satisfied with the old mythology which had kept them in line for nearly 2000 years and a new, more complex mythos became necessary. This was brought about by progress in science and increase in wealth. This was somewhat of an elite preoccupation the late 1800's but hit the mass market in the 1960's.
From an esoteric angle, there is reason to believe the world is indeed heading for some sort of discontinuity. This has been spoken of by many and we are seeing an escalation of signs. The New Age movement can be seen as a maneuver designed to preempt mass awakening to this state of matters.
Thus a sort of spiritual awakening was turned into a sleeping pill by the promotion of memes such as 'you create your own reality,' 'automatic planetary ascension,' 'being rescued by aliens,' etc. many concepts which probably have some basis in fact were twisted out of context and propagated to the masses to satisfy a searching spirit. So it has come to pass that much of the New Age is an exercise in wishful thinking, or as Gurdjieff would say, 'dreaming about waking up.'
We discuss the likely metaphysical effects of such practices in many articles in this work, for example in YCYOR and Objectivity.