New Age Will Dawn In August, Seers Say, And Malibu Is Ready * * * Whether Earth Will Survi

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

New Age Will Dawn In August, Seers Say, And Malibu Is Ready * * * Whether Earth Will Survive, By One Theory, Depends On Turnout at Sacred Sites ---------- By Meg Sullivan Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal MALIBU, Calif.---Vajali Hamilton sits cross-legged in a sandstone cave high above the rugged Malibu coast. She is naked from the waist up, and the branch- of a small bush rise from her disheveled hair like antlers. Ms. Hamilton, a 48-year-old environmental artist, is rehearsing her role as Earth Mother, which she will play in an elaborate two-day rite scheduled for the days following the ides of August. Tjat's when a bright new era for man- kind will be ushered in. Either that or nuclear annihilation. At that time, when the Earth starts to slip out of its "time beam" ordinary mortals are going to feel a bit disoriented. The metaphysically in- clined will experience recurring deja vu. Coincidences will proliferate. So will UFOs. MEET AT MACHU PICCHU So says Jose Arguelles from Boulder, Colo., an art historian by training but a "millennialist" by inclination, by divine direction, by the dictates of reincarnation---actually, it all depends on how you view these things. Mr. Arguelles says the choice between a "new age" and all-out destruction is ours, and we had better decide within the next eight weeks. A new beginning can be assured only if enough people gather at sacred spots around the globe like Machu Picchu, Peru---on Aug. 16 and 17. If the attendance is sparse, he warns, we lose our chance at joining a federation of extraterrestrials. It is Mr. Arguelles's hope that the United Nations will rouse and support his drive. Mr. Arguelles's new age, however captivating, is only one new age in what has become an age of new ages. Or, for those who recall the "Age of Aquarius" from the rock musical "Hair," a new age of new ages. In California, there are plenty of "millennialists" predicting various new eras on the horizon. (There are. of course, very many more whose new ages never arrived.) There is new age music---quite hard to dance to--new age dating services, new age travel agencies, new age accountants, highly new age media and in Beverly Hills, there is even a new age attorney. "New age" is a highly commodious term, applied equally to upcoming epochs and such diverse disciplines as pop psychology and Eastern philosophy, not to mention such mainstream trends as consumerism and health food. Anyway, only the hardest cynic here on the West Coast could deny that a new age had dawned, is dawning, or will dawn sooner or later. You can smell it in the air (especially when people "sage smudge," a ritual purification using burning sage), you can discover it underground (where people bury expen- sive, magic crystals) and you can feel it in the Los Angeles seminars of Ellen Jo Dorfman and David Ramsdale, who offer lessons in "tantra sex." Their customers, the couple maintains, are perfect proof that Middle America is pining and paying for a new age. "We get some very regular people with kids and dogs and motor homes," says Miss Dorfman. "They eat meat, have regulat jobs and don't meditate." "People em masse are looking this whole realm of relatively unexplored territory," says Marilyn Ferguson, a new age writer, "that once was only for a minority of spiritual seekers." Chicago's sober National Opinions Research Council recently found that 42% of the Americans surveyed believed they have in contact with the dead, up from only 27% in 1973. What has prompted the search for the new age isn't exactly known, although Shirley MacLaine's otherworldly book and television movie,"Out On a Limb," have been influential. "You have these periods of religios upheaval," says Carl Raschke, a humanities professor at the University of Denver, "whenever a society is making a transformation from one underlying social and economic structure to another." How long the masses will have to wait for a new age is yet another troubling uncertainty. Technically, "new age" continues to refer to the astro- logical theory that the Earth is moving into the halcyon Age of Aquarius from the contentious Age of Pisces. According to one Los Angeles astrologer, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius has been predicted for decades and was due at any time between the years 1800 and 2600. In the meantime, Miss MacLaine is offering "Higher Self" seminars around the country at a cost of up to $150 per person per day. In Long Beach, Calif., Carole Carbone leads a $55 daylong seminar in past life regression, and her conference room is packed. Miss Carbone, who says she is clairvoyant, plays scratchy recordings of music from various continents, as her customers close their eyes and drift off to sleep. Afterward, several say they have recollected lives led in India, Egypt and Europe. One, with dismay, has re- called a past life in New Jersey. And up and down the coast, people are going crazy over crystals. A $35,000 CRYSTAL Crystals, according to gurus like Miss MacLaine, enhance spiritual powers. In addition, they act as magnets for the greater energies of the planet. (Miss MacLaine adheres to a theory, originally devised by a British scientist, that the Earth is a living entity that exudes energy, which can be channeled.) The crystals, pieces of rock and quartz, are sold in new age bookstores or by crystal peddlers employing a variety of mystical stage props, including dowsing rods. One 75-pound piece of quartz was sold in Seattle for $35,000, "flawless and water clear," according to its happy vendor. But quartz crystals aren't enough for Mr. Arguelles, the guru who is count- ing the days until the new age dawns on Aug. 16. Mr. Arguelles wants people--- 144,000 of them---to go to places like the pyramids, Machu Picchu and even Idaho. Once there, they should "resonate." This will usher in the new age and prevent catastrophe, which explains why the new age press is hailing his plan as "Armageddon Averted." (Its official name if "Harmonic Convergence.") Mr. Arguelles is the author of the paperback cult book "The Mayan Factor," and he says he gets his intelligence from the Mayan calandar---that "galactic calling card," as he describes it, left behind centuries ago by highly intelligent aliens in the form of Mayans. He believes the Mayans were "called home" to a galactic federation, after leaving clues on how Earth could join the club when the calendar concludes in 2012. He expects some of those clues to be revealed in eight weeks, 25 years ahead of time. The exact dates for the harmonic convergence came to Mr. Arguelles when he was climbing a Mayan pyramid and then again on Dec. 4, 1983, as he motored down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. INTO THE FOURTH DIMENSION "Some people are predicting earthquakes," says Susan Levin, a 42-year-old former operator of a singles club who now runs a new age club and newsletter in Los Angeles. Miss Levin doesn't worry about earthquakes, however, because on Aug.16 and 17 "we're going to begin to communicate telepathically." Foster Perry, a 26-year-old medium, predicts that some people "will enter the fourth dimension." Jade Windwoman, a 51-year-old Apache medicine woman of German ancestry, says she is expecting something like the biblical Pentecost. Other "new agers" scoff at Mr. Arguelles's predictions. "No one knows when (the new age) is coming," scolds Patricia Talis, a minister at the New Age Bible and Philosophy Center in Santa Monica, Calif. And when it does, points out George Leonard, a renowned and reasonable new age writer, it may not be all crystals and rainbows. "It involves economic change," he says from his Mill Valley, Calif., "and that's painful." Bit Ms. Ferguson, the new age writer, doesn"t see any problem with the mystic license of the new age movement. "If all these Second Coming scenarios are nothing but metaphorical spurs to get us to live as though they were true." she proclaims, "they can be the inspiration to get our act together." FROM THE WALL STREET J0URNAL- JUNE 23, 1987.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank