My regular readers have no doubt noticed I'm fairly consistent at typing "newage (rhymes with sewage)" when I type about the trendy, fluffy woo. Not long ago, I saw a comment talking about the marketability of woo, and one of the other memes about the name: Calling it "New Wage" for the commercialization of it all. What struck me to eventually write this post was a comment about Native American shamans and their view of the New Wage phenomena: Apparently many of them like to describe the popular gurus who allegedly derive from them as "plastic shamans."
That just struck me as a very compact way of putting it. The last time I heard the use of "plastic" in that manner was to describe the "phony" people of Hollywood: Detached from the outside world by the fame and luxury, usually involved in some way or another in the act of selling pretentious, shallow fantasy while claiming to be innovative.
That's what much of the New Wage is: It's the theme park version of ancient quackery and mysticism, sanitized for the average American consumer. All the icky, unappealing parts are removed, supernatural entities are transformed into exotic guardian spirits, and just about any form of extensive footwork is removed so that it can be toned down into a hobby. After all, they want you to keep buying more books, overpriced bundles of material components, and herbal concoctions shredded up and compacted into mass produced pill format.
The quackery end is probably responsible for a large number of diet fads: Take these herbal pills full of ancient wisdom, and you won't need to cut down on sweets, like your "allopathic" doctor tells you to with increasing urgency. You shouldn't trust a doctor who tells you to eat more fruits, vegetables, and sources of fiber because you know mainstream doctors don't know anything about nutrition. Here, buy some herbal vitamin supplements balanced specifically for your blood type and aura color.