...is a conversation I'm starting to hear a lot these days. And in many ways I agree - New Agers can look, sound and act sooo annoyingly funny. Or funnily annoying. Probably including me. But the main criticism towards the movement isn't the peace signs, or the green smoothies, or the kooky shaman drumming circles. It boils down to these 3 points: 1) Spiritual bypassing. 2) Cultural appropriation. 3) Marketing and $$ agendas.
I've explored the first two points in my podcast episode Why I Hate New Age People, but I'll say something about the third point here. Almost ten years ago, a new premises opened here in Adelaide. It had a cool eco-sounding name, an organic cafe at the front, and a store filled with biodynamic / Fair Trade / 'green' products out the back. You'd think, as a forerunner to this enormous Wellness Revolution we're now obsessed with, that a store like this would have blitzed the market and a decade later, have become something of a local institution performing stronger than ever. It hasn't. It didn't. In fact, two years ago, the entire place closed down.
You can't just smack a 'herbal' or 'organic' (or even 'love-and-light!') label on something and expect people to resonate with it if the sole reason you created the product in the first place was to make money. There's nothing wrong with making money, of course, but customers have an uncanny sixth sense when it comes to sensing the integrity (or lack of) behind the purpose of a brand. That Adelaide cafe I just told you about? It was set up by a savvy American businessman who'd originally come to Adelaide in the 80s, seen a gap in the market for gambling and (successfully) opened the first casino. He then launched a couple of other niche-filling businesses before noticing that everyone was turning New Age / Wellness orientated... so he produced the perfect-looking store to match their movement.
This businessman was not New Age. He was not an environmentalist. He was not spiritual. He didn't give a personal shit about Certified Organic produce. He just saw -- and jumped into -- a money-making opportunity. He learned the hard way that people (PARTICULARLY highly-sensitive New Age people) don't just want slick products. People wanted to FEEL the vibration of HEART and SOUL behind his shopfront. His Adelaide cafe wasn't born from a personal passion or life purpose... and ultimately, this let him (and us) down. Marketers who have turned spirituality into a shallow, soulless sales point are somewhat responsible for the overkill of the movement -- and the general public's eyes glazing over with disconnect and cynicism. The more we take sacred things and push them onto mainstream masses, the more meaning quickly becomes lost.
Want to know one of the reasons why Oprah Winfrey holds so much power? Well, contrast the story above with something that happened wayyy back at the start of her career, shortly after launching her own show in the 1980s. Oprah was approached by a major soft drink brand who wanted her promote them -- for serious $$$. Oprah didn't drink the product herself, so she turned down their lucrative offer. This act of integrity stunned industry executives, and WOWED fans who learned very early on that Oprah could be trusted. Here was a woman who could not be 'bought' or 'sold'. If Oprah recommended something to her viewers, it was for real. She led, and continues to lead, her consciousness movement with authentic Truth Vibration.