Paranormal and psychic Archaeology
According to the practitioners of this type of Bad Archaeology, the explanation lies not in this world but in parallel worlds, spiritual realms that the Ancients knew all about and we are only just rediscovering. Perhaps.
Theosophy was the brainchild of the fraudulent Russian medium Helena Blavatsky. Combining an eclectic mix of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Spiritualism, Victorian popular science with liberal doses of pseudoscience, the heady brew she concocted was briefly popular in Europe and North America, but its lasting influence has been in the development of so-called ‘New Age’ beliefs, which are just as lacking in merit.
Charles Fort was the unintended founder of a whole new area of study: so-called Fortean studies, which deals with phenomena that are supposed to be difficult to explain with conventional science. Fort regarded science as just one of many different ways of analysing and understanding the world and thought that it was semi-religious in character. Because of this, he can be regarded as the founder of post-modernism.
When Alfred Watkins foisted ley lines on the world in 1922, he could not have known that his hypothesised Neolithic trackways would become caught up in the hippy-dippy world of New Age mysticism and UFOs, being transformed into paths of subtle earth energies related to traditional Chinese geomancy and Feng Shui. They have become a familiar part of popular culture and their existence is accepted by many people (none of them Good Archaeologists, it has to be said).
Linking ley lines with dowsing and crop circles with stone circles, the question of earth mysteries has its origins in the New Age reformulation of James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, the idea that the whole planet should be regarded as a single and hugely complex living organism. To New Age gurus, this means that it is full of the mystical stuff of life: soul or spirit. The Ancients knew all about this, of course, and their monuments were designed to channel it to those places where it could be most useful.
The ‘New Age’
The ‘New Age’ encompasses a wide and mutually incompatible variety of beliefs that have become prominent since the 1960s and refers to the astrological Age of Aquarius; believers expect that their views will become dominant in the next few years. Today, many ‘New Agers’ are refugees from the 1970s whose combination of indigenous motifs (such as dreamcatchers) with middle-class right-on politics may seem harmless, if a little embarassing. However, New Age writers have produced a form of history according to which ‘New Age consciousness’ (meaning awareness of the earth’s supposed spiritual energies, of the healing power of crystals, the worship of a Great Cosmic Mother/The Goddess/Mother Earth and so on) was once widespread and formed the dominant paradigm under which prehistoric cultures operated.