by Régis Dericquebourg (“Religions, laïcités, Sociétés” CNRS – University Charles De Gaulle-Lille3, France)

A paper presented at the 2008 International Conference, London, UK. Preliminary version.

In this communication, we will examine the idea according to which “marginal” spiritual movements are makeshift variations on a tradition and that those who follow them are DIY artists. From our point of view, what have been qualified as DIY are in fact specific systems of belief, in particular Gnosticism. Our comments concern groups that are classified within the appellation ‘New Age’.

The idea of a connection between New Age and gnosis is not a new one. It is to be found in a certain number of texts and from this point of view we refer to the book by Massimo Introvigne[1]. The author mentions the presence of gnosis in New Age ideology in the form of elements of theosophy or in the form of an element of Gnostic Christianity even though he asserts (p. 11)) that New Age cannot be reduced to gnosis. It is a fair comment as New Age is multi-faceted. It’s true that since its creation, for example, new psychotherapies have been included in it, that are not part of traditional psychology, even if they are practiced by university-trained psychologists. Claude Rivière[2] also points out the presence of an esotericism alongside reinterpretations of shamanism in New Age. The relationship between the latter and gnosis was also evident to the sociologist Jean Séguy because he suggests calling these movements: sapienzo-gnostic networks – thus showing his connections with the doctrines of wisdom and Gnosticism.



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