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The Aquarian Conspiracy and the New Age Movement
The Aquarian Conspiracy is a book by Marilyn Ferguson. Her “philosophy” is part of the “New Age” movement. That pseudo-religion focuses on the idea that a new paradigm is emerging.
For the first time in history, humankind has come upon the control panel of change—an understanding of how transformation occurs. We are living in the change of change, the time in which we can intentionally align ourselves with nature for rapid remaking of ourselves and our collapsing institutions. The paradigm of the Aquarian Conspiracy sees humankind embedded in nature. It promotes the autonomous individual in a decentralized society. It sees us as stewards of all our resources, inner and outer. It says that we are not victims, not pawns, not limited by conditions or conditioning. Heirs to evolutionary riches, we are capable of imagination, invention, and experiences we have only glimpsed.
Marilyn Ferguson (The Aquarian Conspiracy page 29)
Curiosity led me to browse the “New Age” section on a recent trip to a bookstore. Topics include UFOs, self-help, yoga, energy healing, astrology, witchcraft, and more. That encounter reminded me of an obscure book called The Aquarian Conspiracy in my library. After reading the book and collecting dust for several decades, I opened it and reviewed the contents. Thus, I hope you will enjoy my essay about the book The Aquarian Conspiracy and a primer on the New Age movement.
As an upfront disclaimer, I hold no animosity toward individuals who enjoy participating in New Age activities. Also, there is no resentment towards anyone based on their religious or secular characteristics. This essay intends to provide some background about the New Age movement and its potential to induce spiritual harm.
The Aquarian Conspiracy
The Aquarian Conspiracy is a book by Marilyn Ferguson, first published in 1980. The book explores the counterculture movements of the 1960s and 1970s and their impact on society. It attempts to challenge readers to question their assumptions. Ferguson examines how we see reality to consider “alternative ways of living and thinking.”
The book’s central thesis is that there is an “underground movement of people.” They share a common vision of a new society based on personal growth, spiritual awareness, and social change. The movement, which Ferguson calls “The Aquarian Conspiracy,” includes individuals from all walks of life. Devotees include scientists, academics, artists, and activists. The book argues that these individuals work together to create a new social paradigm.
One of the book’s most significant contributions is its discussion of consciousness’s role in the movement. Ferguson argues that the dominant culture is a mechanistic and materialistic worldview. She claims it leads to environmental degradation and social inequality. As prescribed by the extreme environmentalists of today, that leads to alienation from the natural world. She suggests that a new paradigm is emerging to emphasize the interconnectedness of all things. She wanted society to recognize the importance of individual consciousness. That consciousness shapes our collective reality.
The Aquarian Conspiracy also delves into the counterculture’s impact on mainstream society. Ferguson argues that the ideas and values of the Aquarian Conspiracy have influenced culture. She avers it has changed education, business, politics, and religion. She suggests that the movement has been instrumental in shaping the modern world.
As detailed in her book, Ferguson admired French philosopher and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Ferguson praised Chardin’s work as a “profound synthesis” of spirituality and science.
Chardin’s philosophy is often referred to as “Teilhardism.” It emphasized all things’ interconnectedness, consciousness’s evolution toward greater complexity, and unity. He believed the universe was not a collection of random events but a purposeful process. This process entails a point of convergence that he called the “Omega Point.” According to Chardin, the Omega Point represented the ultimate level of consciousness. It is a form of unity and harmony with the universe.
Ferguson saw Chardin’s philosophy as a critical inspiration for the New Age movement. He emphasized the “interconnectedness of all things and the evolution of consciousness.” (Also, see New Age Movement below.) Ferguson praised Chardin for his “ability” to reconcile science and spirituality. He envisioned a world where a shared sense of purpose and destiny united humanity.
One of the most significant aspects of the book is its emphasis on personal transformation. The Aquarian Conspiracy, according to Ferguson, is about “changing society and transforming ourselves.” She argues that personal growth and spiritual awareness are essential components. Those two elements are necessary for creating a “more harmonious and just world.”
Marilyn Ferguson Biography
Marilyn Ferguson (1938–2008) was an American author, editor, and public speaker best known for her groundbreaking work on human potential and consciousness.
Ferguson was born in Grand Junction, Colorado. She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she attended the University of Utah and studied English and psychology. After graduating in 1960, she worked as a journalist for several years, writing for various newspapers and magazines.
Besides her work as an author, Ferguson was also a sought-after public speaker. She lectured on topics related to human potential and consciousness. Ferguson was a regular speaker at conferences and workshops around the world.
Ferguson wrote and spoke about human potential and consciousness throughout her life. She authored several other books. Her works included Aquarius Now: Radical Common Sense And Reclaiming Our Personal Sovereignty and The Brain Revolution: The Frontiers of Mind Research. She provided consultation to various organizations. The notables included the Esalen Institute and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Here is a quintessential example of New Age thinking right from the website of the Esalen Institute:
Our curiosity and research explores new ideas around creativity and the brain, body work, spirituality, leadership, Gestalt, plant medicine, citizen diplomacy, superhumanism, the survival of bodily death, Extraterrestrial intelligence, and more.
Ferguson passed away on October 19, 2008, at 70. Her legacy inspires people worldwide to explore alternative approaches to health and wellness.
New Age Movement
As her books describe, Ferguson’s “philosophy” is part of the “New Age” movement. That pseudo-religion focuses on the idea that humanity was amid a significant shift. According to Ferguson, the materialistic and mechanistic worldview was changing to a more holistic and spiritual one. She believed this shift was from a growing number of people rejecting traditional institutions. Society desired new ways of living, learning, and being. Ferguson hit the nail on the head, as witnessed by the alt-reality of today. As we shall see, nothing is “New” about this movement as it started in the 19th century.
The European New Age movement originated in 1890. It coincided with the emergence of Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) and his psychology. “New Age” came from Theosophist Alfred Richard Orage (1873–1934). He edited The New Age, a theoretical journal.
The New Age magazine began as a journal of Christian liberalism and socialism. Contributors included A.S. Neill (1883-1973), Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), and Ezra Pound (1885-1972) contributed articles to The New Age. Pound’s close friend, poet Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961) introduced the term “the Aquarian experience.”It described her experience of psychoanalysis while in therapy with Sigmund Freud.
Orage re-oriented The New Age to promote the ideas of Nietzsche (1844-1900), Fabian socialism, and later a form of guild socialism. The New Age did publish opposing viewpoints and arguments, even on issues upon which Orage had strong opinions. Those countering Orage included Hilaire Belloc (1873-1953) and G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936).
While the New Age movement emerged in Europe around 1890. Its roots in Europe took a troubling turn when Orage began collaborating with two occultists from the Serbian Embassy in London. Together, they wrote political articles that contained racist ideologies. This concept led to a short-lived British political movement in 1933 named “New Britain.”
The recreational drug users of 1960s America, who believed in social consciousness, peace, and love, got duped. They unknowingly donned the cloak of racists, occultists, and Satanists. These individuals turned to the works of Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) and Hermann Hesse (1877-9162). Hesse’s writings opened the door to various absurdities and excesses from Ascona, Switzerland, a center for occult rituals. Ascona authors such as Carl Jung (1875-1961) and the works of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) flooded the American market. That effort influenced the Haight-Ashbury counterculture.
The Haight-Ashbury area in San Francisco expanded on the Ascona movement. Thanks go to the Frankfurt School-trained propagators of the Comintern and Tavistock Institute-trained agitators. They rebranded it as the “hippie” movement. It included Theosophy’s fatalistic and anti-intellectual elements. It is all about ritualism of free love and anti-science, creating a foundation to subvert American culture and optimism. The hippie lifestyle emphasized promiscuity, eccentric clothing, drug-induced euphoria, and primitive, hypnotic music. These behaviors mirrored those of Aleister Crowley’s London-based Ordo Templis Orientalis (OTO). It is a group focused on drugs and “sex magic.”
The New Age movement fully bloomed in the 1960s and 1970s in Western countries. It encompasses a range of beliefs and practices. A “holistic approach” to spirituality often characterizes the New Age movement. It emphasizes personal growth and transformation and a belief in the interconnectedness of all things. Today, the movement draws on various spiritual and philosophical traditions. These include Eastern religions, mystical Christianity, Indigenous spirituality, and modern esotericism. Many New Age practitioners believe in reincarnation, karma, and the power of positive thinking. They may also engage in meditation, yoga, energy healing, and astrology.
The modern New Age movement is often associated with alternative spirituality and personal growth. But, it promotes pseudoscientific and unproven beliefs. It incorporates Indigenous and Eastern spiritual traditions. The book The Kingdom of the Cults, on page 333, offers this explanation of the New Age movement:
That is why we titled this chapter [of Kingdrom of the Cults] The New Age Cults … becaue (1) it is religios in character; (2) its forrunner tradttional cults such as Theosiphy… so for the most most part it [New Age] claims at least complatability to Christinaity, and includes many people who consider themselves as New Agers and Christians; (3) its doctrines and practices are decideley not Christian, not Biblical; and (4) neverthless, many liberal Protestant and Roman Chatholic congegations embrace one or more New Age beliefsand/or practices.
The New Age movement is not easily defined. It has no specific founder, primary leader, central headquarters, or organizational structure, or definitive statement of beliefs. Nor does it meet in any one place or at any one particular time. It is not limited to a single group. As a result, the New Age movement is described in a variety of different ways. …
The New Age movement is much more than just an isolated system of religious beliefs and practices. The New Age movement is literally a movement of spirituality, health, politics, education, and businesses that encompass countless groups seeking to direct the path of society. These groups, while sharing many beliefs in common, often hold numerous distinctive doctrines and at times even disagree with each other on significant issues. Consequently, the New Age movement does not fit the standard theological definition of a cult. It is more precisely a collection of cults.
Some New Age practices involve techniques such as channeling and mediumship. It uses psychic readings, including communicating with spirits or other entities. Some people who engage in channeling or mediumship may inadvertently open themselves to harm. That includes negative or evil energies or entities. This can lead to experiences such as feeling overwhelmed or fearful. The critical path can lead to possessions (see Possession is Real below) or attacks by unseen forces. Thus, in traditional Christianity, participating in the above rituals is a grave sin.
While not widely known or understood, the New Age movement does exist. Here is an example: the “Temple of Hope and Knowledge.”
Possession is Real
In 1973, a high school friend told me about his first-hand account of demonic forces. My then-friend Jeremy talked about his adolescent experiences with an Ouija Board. Jeremey explained how he and his twin brother William experienced the movement of the game parts by an unknown force. I use fictitious names to protect the family’s privacy.
As my classmates throughout high school, the twin brothers were not typical siblings. Complete opposites, the friction between the two spilled over in public settings. The twins and I graduated from the same Catholic high school class of 1974. Jeremy and I enjoyed outings with other friends playing card games, going to movies, and traveling. William rarely joined in with our group activities.
In 1976, Jeremey told me more recent strange stories about his twin brother William. The Ouija Board game outcome included an actual preternatural encounter.That led to the later demonic Possession of William.
Jeremy’s description of the Possession included his twin brother William engaging in violent behavior. William talked in tongues, cursed vile things, and set spontaneous fires. He appeared in two locations at the same time (bilocation). I saw William's behavior on one occasion at the twin’s house. He barked strange sounds, and projected offensive curse words, during a game of cards. My friendship with Jeremy waned as time passed due to opposing worldviews. I discovered that the twins suffered terrible lives as adults, and both have passed.
The Aquarian Conspiracy is a book that challenges readers to consider alternative ways of thinking and living. Its emphasis on personal growth, spiritual awareness, and social change is a powerful call to action. The book’s supposed popularity is due to its “relevance and importance” over four decades after its initial publication. It remains a reference for anyone interested in the background of the counterculture, New Age spirituality, and social change.
Overall, Ferguson’s New Age philosophy was characterized by a belief in the power of human consciousness to transform the world and a recognition of the “interconnectedness” of all things. Her ideas are vague and overly optimistic. Nevertheless, they helped inspire a generation of seekers seeking a “more meaningful and fulfilling way of life.”
Ferguson saw the New Age movement as a network of individuals and groups working together to create a more enlightened society. She emphasized the importance of personal transformation. Self-discovery leads to the need for social and political change. She envisioned a world where people interconnect and link to the planet through integrated spirituality and “science.”
Certain practices associated with the New Age movement incorporate methods such as channeling, mediumship, and psychic readings, which are believed to involve contact with spirits or other entities. Those who engage in channeling or mediumship may unintentionally expose themselves to harmful or malevolent energies or entities, resulting in feeling overpowered, frightened, possessed, or subjected to invisible forces. In orthodox Christian doctrine, involvement in these rituals is a severe transgression. Possession is real.
The False Light of Lucifer, Part 1 - Ouija & Possession ~ Frederick R. Smith Speakes, October 8, 2022
Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality through Education ~ B. K. Ekman, 600 pages, Huntingdon House Publishers, August 1998
The Aquarian Conspiracy ~ Marilyn Ferguson, 448 pages, Tarcher (publisher), February 1980
The Kingdom of the Cults ~ Walter Martin, 703 pages, Bethany House, October 1997
Theosophy is a philosophical and spiritual movement that originated in the late 19th century. It was founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), and William Quan Judge (1873-1934). Theosophy is based on the idea that there is a universal wisdom or truth that underlies all religions and philosophies. This wisdom can be accessed through spiritual practices such as meditation and studying ancient texts. Theosophy also teaches that humanity is evolving spiritually and that a hierarchy of spiritual beings guides this evolution.
Theosophy has significantly impacted Western spirituality, particularly in esotericism, mysticism, and alternative spiritual practices. The movement has also influenced other spiritual and cultural movements, including the New Age movement. It has inspired the founding of numerous organizations and societies dedicated to the study and practice of Theosophy.
Doolittle’s eccentricities included claiming to receive messages from a Viking ship. That allegedly helped the British military locate German bombs in World War II. The New Age movement promoted creativity as a product of euphoria or drug-induced states of consciousness. This philosophy has influenced modern education. There, the arts are de-intellectualized, emphasizing the feeling aspect. The complexity of artistic creation faced cancellation. “Altered states of consciousness” is self-hypnosis to reduce stress and enhance creativity. But, heightened suggestibility is a political instrument, especially when dealing with children.
Preternatural is a demonic or evil force that works against the natural order of things. It also describes something spiritual other than God (Lucifer, demons, angels, etc.).