Academic, History, European History
Counterculture, Modernity, Prophecy

The New Age in the Modern West

Counterculture, Utopia and Prophecy from the Late Eighteenth Century to the Present Day

by Nicholas Campion

ISBN: 978-1472522795
29 Jun 2017
Hardcover; 288 pages

New Age culture is generally regarded as a modern manifestation of Western millenarianism – a concept built around the expectation of an imminent historical crisis followed by the inauguration of a golden age which occupies a key place in the history of Western ideas. The New Age in the Modern West argues that New Age culture is part of a family of ideas, including utopianism, which construct alternative futures and drive revolutionary change.

Nicholas Campion traces New Age ideas back to ancient cosmology, and questions the concepts of the Enlightenment and the theory of progress. He considers the contributions of the key figures of the 18th century, the legacy of the astronomer Isaac Newton and the Swedish visionary Emanuel Swedenborg, as well as the theosophist, H.P. Blavatsky, the psychologist, C.G. Jung, and the writer and artist, Jose Arguelles. He also pays particular attention to the beat writers of the 1950s, the counterculture of the 1960s, concepts of the Aquarian Age and prophecies of the end of the Maya Calendar in 2012. Lastly he examines neoconservatism as both a reaction against the 1960s and as a utopian phenomenon.

The New Age in the Modern West is an important book for anyone interested in countercultural and revolutionary ideas in the modern West.


Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Future Dreams
  • End Times: Utopia and the Millennium
  • Enlightenment and Progress in the 18th century
  • The Theosophical Enlightenment in the 19th century
  • New Age and Transcendence in the 20th century
  • Myth and the Millennium in the Sixties
  • Counterculture and Utopia after the Sixties
  • Remaking the World: Neoconservatism and the Global Utopia
  • Conclusion: Making the Future


The New Age in the Modern West is refreshingly well researched and even-handed. Taking an intriguing perspective on the New Age from the history of ideas, he includes it in the ”family” of ideas in Western culture that includes millenarianism and utopianism … [T]his book is a useful contribution to the academic study of the New Age and would appeal to scholars and students invested in this emerging disciplinary area.”
~ Nova Religio


Dr Nicholas Campion is Principal Lecturer, Institute of Education and Humanities, and Associate Professor in Cosmology and Culture. He is the director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, the only academic Centre in the world to deal with cultural relationships with the sky and the cosmos. He is responsible for taking forward the Centre’s research and teaching activities, through supervising PhD students, sponsoring research projects, organising conferences and other events, and publishing research via the peer-reviewed journal Culture and Cosmos. He also serves as Programme Director of the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology.

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