The New Age may have began in 1962, or perhaps earlier. Perhaps it really all began in Liverpool with the Beatles, or was that 'different' to the New Age ?
However, many people date the start of the New Age from November 1962, when Peter and Eileen Caddy went to live on a caravan site, and this eventually developed into the Findhorn Community (it is near Findhorn village, on the coast near Forres, about 30 miles east of Inverness in NE Scotland)
They lived there in obscurity with their 4 children for a few years, joined by their friend Dorothy Maclean, but then word spread that they were doing something special, and people began to visit, and then began to stay. Soon they had to build more accommodation, then community buildings, develop systems and structures, until the community reached a maximum of about 300 members in 1975. This fell to about 200 members in 1980, and has remained at about that number since. The Findhorn Foundation is a registered charity, and its website is http://www.findhorn.org
I lived there for 7 years in the 1980’s, and, naturally enough, I view Findhorn as the flagship of the New Age, however, I understand that other flavours are also available ! I now try to think of a larger picture of a “modern spirituality movement” as there are other developments.
The Findhorn Experience Week remains one of best experiences on the planet, especially for visitors who are at a turning point in their lives. The gardens are lovely; the people are great. It remains a shining example of community living, and shows signs of “full human potential”. There are wonderful inspirational and transformative conferences several times a year.
1980 seems to have been the high point for the community – since then it has changed and faced some challenges:-
- become more commercialised,
- sold off the trading departments (publications and shop) to comply with perceived charity law,
- had a range of financial problems, plus management challenges
- had difficulties with its internal group processes, and
- brought in staff employment contracts (rather than the previous system where members were volunteers who received full board and a small allowance, but made no contribution to the state national insurance scheme, leaving them potentially without benefits when they left).
Members now stay longer – this gives more continuity and reserves of experience, but conversely there is more risk of stagnation and crystallization.
However, there are other changes and developments there – the neighbouring barley field was purchased, and this has been developed into an “ecological housing estate”, and many people have been drawn there, some with their businesses, others with “independent means”, so there is now a large eco-village community. So, in addition to the expanded Community Centre and the Universal Hall (with its variety of concerts, events and studio spaces), there are also now the Moray Arts Centre, Steiner School (both primary and secondary schools), waste water recycling system, and a range of ethical and green businesses, and many other new developments. It may also now be more middle class, with much more private ownership of property than the previous collective / community ownership.
At the same time, “the modern spirituality movement” has also developed greatly, in similar but different ways to the Findhorn pattern.