Today's New Age movement is the most contemporary face of "metaphysical religion," which has been part of the American religious spectrum since the 17th century, focused on self-improvement and global spiritual change.
The New Age movement draws from a rich repository of alternative spiritual traditions in the western world ranging from metaphysics to mysticism, uniting these disparate influences under a common banner of self- and world-transformation.
Because the New Age movement is so disparate, it has no agreed-upon founders. Rather, numerous individuals served as leaders at various moments. Because New Age ideas have spread through publications, many of its leaders are authors whose works have proven particularly influential.
The New Age lacks any central scriptures. New Age adherents instead form their own collection of sacred scriptures by drawing from a wide variety of possible texts within the New Age canon.
Scholars have had difficulty defining the New Age, though most agree it shares some common characteristics. New Agers share interests in healing, mental powers, and individual and social transformation.