"As employed in modern usage these are some of the key elements employed in the notion of Spirituality:

— It is an articulation of the human search for meaning in life, a pursuit shared by humans of every time and culture.

— It predates formal religion by several thousand years.

— It comes from deep within (often interpreted as individualistic), uniquely personal and veering more in the direction of meditation, inner experience, and mysticism.

— Its worth and value are often judged by good feelings; how to interpret personal experience is crucial to how we evaluate the meaning of spirituality in people's lives.

— It is sometimes identified with esoteric practices such as tarot readings, invoking spirit-beings, drug-induced ecstasy, soul-migration, and connection with the dead (ancestors).

— It is widely connected with a love for nature and a desire to live in more convivial and responsible ways with the natural environment.

— Morally, it veers in the direction of situation ethics; if it feels good it must be right. External ethical codes are often considered suspect.

— It tends to view external authority in a negative light, particularly, that which emanates from patriarchal/hierarchical systems.

— Faith in a divine source is common, but frequently perceived to be transpersonal (often interpreted by outsiders as impersonal), and more readily perceived in nature, or in inner solitude, rather than in the transcendent realm adopted by formal religions.

— The need for ritual is often explored, adopting models from indigenous peoples, with an emphasis on natural/seasonal cycles.

— Women, rather than men, explore spirituality.

— Heavy emphasis on the interconnectedness of all things; a strong dislike for dualistic divisions, and an intuitive sense that the Divine belongs to a relational mode, rather than being perceived as an isolated authoritarian figure in some distant heaven.

The challenge

"As a transitional phenomenon, spirituality offers some significant namings of what has outlived its relevance in our time, and what needs to be reclaimed to empower us for the evolving future. In some ways, the reclaiming is characterized by great age and deep wisdom, radically different from the perception and denunciation of New Age weirdness."