New Age Religion and Western Culture:
Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought
Brill: Leiden / New York / Cologne 1996
State University of New York Press: Albany 1998
xiii + 580 pp.
Brill ISBN 90-04-10696-0 (pb) / 10695-2 (hb)
SUNY ISBN 0-7914-3854-6 (pb)
The 1970 and 1980s saw a spectacular rise of the New Age movement and an ever-increasing interest in its beliefs and manifestations. This study presented the first comprehensive analysis of New Age religion and its historical backgrounds, thus providing a means of orientation in the bewildering variety of the movement. Based on an extensive use of primary sources, the book provides a thematic analysis of New Age beliefs from the perspective of the study of religions. With respect to the historical backgrounds of the movement, its original foundations were created by so-called Western esoteric traditions during the Renaissance, but the modern New Age movement emerged from the increasing secularisation of those esoteric traditions during the nineteenth century.
"Finally, someone has mastered the vast literature of, and reality which is the New Age movement, and produced a comprehensive and authoritative survey of its major themes and most important leaders. Hanegraaff's effort should immediately become the foundation upon which future research of the movement will be constructed". J. Gordon Melton (back cover)
"This major ground-breaking study of minute scholarship and intellectual vigorous takes its places as the standard work in the field. ... There will be no book like this for some time to come. It should be on the reading list of any student of religion and brings into the foreground a needed agenda for those in the humanities and social science, and will be valued by all those who appreciate fine, clear writing. I wish I had written it myself". Antoine Faivre (back cover)
"With this study of the religious ideas of the New Age movement, the young Dutch scholar Wouter Hanegraaff establishes himself as at once the Linnaeus and the Darwin of New Age religion. ... Scholarship on New Age religion, esotericism, new religious movements, and related fields will long be indebted to this outstanding book". Arthur McCalla, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36:4 (1997).