In the 1960's, the term "revolution" was used a lot. There was the revolution of morals, the revolution of gender, the revolution of music (remember that Beatles' song "Revolution"?), the political revolution, and the cultural revolution. Within each of these separate revolutions there were sub-revolutions. We also thought we were the first generation to bust out of some of the many restraints of society. We were wrong. The late 1800's until the late 1920's was also a "bust out" generation. They too broke all sorts of morals, gender, music, political, & cultural ideology.
We changed the way we dressed, but then so did the people of the 1900's and 1920's. For them, a catastrophic World War had happened and suddenly all those rigid rules didn't really matter in the scheme of the big picture. We were no different in the 1960's. In the 1930's the "Puritans" became afraid of all this freedom and they did everything they could to put a stop to it; to reign it in. But, by the late 1950's there had been another catastrophic World War, a "police action", and by the 1960's we were in the middle of another war/"police action" that seemed to be endless, for no real purpose, going nowhere fast. And suddenly all those restraints snapped.
In the beginning it was probably with the music. It had begun in the 1950's with the introduction of Rock and Roll which was just an electric version of Rhythm and Blues. But Rhythm and Blues was "black music" and "good white kids" didn't listen to it. It was considered to be sinful and "the devil's music". "Footloose" wasn't just a movie, it was reality back then. Just like Jazz was back in the 1920's. Next came the downfall of the "dress code" and hairstyles. Again, this was nothing new. Sometime in the early 1970's I ran across a book in NYU's Law Library called "Ye Olde Blue Laws". The laws had been written in the 1600's. It talked about laws that prohibited any kind of commerce on Sundays. It talked about the laws surrounding sexual behavior. There were laws about how to act towards one's parents and a listing of the punishments to go along with it. One Blue Law really stuck out in my head. It was this: If a suitor of a young lady had short hair and his rival had long hair - the short haired suitor could have his rival arrested due to inappropriate fashion.
Then Birth Control pills came into existence. This was the "beginning" of our sexual revolution. At first, Birth Control pills were very hard for young single women to get. Doctors couldn't prescribe them without a parent's permission. By the mid 1960's though it became a little easier. Usually you found an older woman who was open and who would recommend you to a doctor who was also open to prescribe the pills for you. But again, this wasn't the first sexual revolution. It also happened in the 1900's when manufactured condoms came into being. And as for contraception in general, there has been evidence of contraception practices being used all the way back in Ancient Egyptian times.
Along with the pills, other drugs came onto the scene. We thought were the first to use these drugs so freely and of course we weren't. These very same drugs were very popular in the 1900's through the 1920's. Cocaine, opium, morphine, heroin, and marijuana were legal in the 1900's, then by 1932 all these drugs were made illegal including the last one, marijuana. In the 1960's all those drugs and more burst onto the scene. In the 1940's methedrine, a stimulant, was introduced to the world. It was also in the 1940's the LSD, a psychedelic, was first synthesized. In the 1950's there came Dexedrine and Benzedrine, also stimulants, that became very popular. In the 1960's anti-depressants and tranquilizers made an appearance. And all of it found it's way to the streets. A lot of society blames acid (LSD) for the "downfall"/revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. Maybe it was, but the foundation for it all was laid down in the late 1950's through music.
The political revolutions were slightly different from each other. The 1920's revolution was actually in the 1930's with the introduction of Fascism. In the 1960's there were a number of different political revolutions all going on at once. One was "Peace and Love", do no harm to yourself or others. Another ideology was a heavy liberal, democratic, independent manner of thinking. Then there was the "drop off the grid and live in communes" people. In the 1970's the Yuppies came along and with them came the ideology of anarchy. The 1920's and 1930's had the same type of set up for anarchy - they were called Nazis. Although they both were anarchists in base, they were vastly different in methodology.
The cultural revolution was just as powerful as all the other revolutions. Gone were the useless societal "traditions"/civilities. Such as saying please and thank you or yes ma'am, no sir; holding doors for people and chairs for women to sit down. As a matter of fact, it was thought to be the beginning of busting the "glass ceiling" for women in business; but it wasn't really the beginning. In the 1900's young women flocked to the factories. In the 1910's and 20's they became secretaries and clerks. There were still many jobs that women weren't allowed to do it and it was those jobs that women got into in the 1960's. And one of the major revolutions to society and business was the entry of the computer.
These revolutions, all, had a tremendous effect on the Spiritual, Pagan, and Witchcraft communities in both time periods. In the 1900's, Spiritualism became more popular and prevalent in society. There were many groups that came into being such as the Theosophical Society, The Order of the Golden Dawn, Magnetism, Hypnosis, Psychiatry, Christian Science, and many fundamentalist sects of Christianity. This was very significant because it meant there was a revolution of belief on a major scale. Suddenly, the traditional methods of worship no longer satisfied the soul. There were many "Seekers of Truth", seekers of something that felt real to them, seekers of a new way of getting answers. In the 1930's fear pushed all that exploring back down to the underground and in the 1960's it all came back again. There were the Flower Children or Hippies, the followers of Timothy Leary, The Transcendentalists, Zen, and the many East Indian Cults such as the Hari Krishna and the Moonies. There came Scientology in the early 60's and Jim Jones in the late 70's.Both of which required blind loyalty from their followers.
Timothy Leary was the guru of LSD (aka acid) and his followers were believers in the virtues of acid. They believed in its power to tap into the deep subconscious and reveal truths about yourself to you. They were right but sometimes it dwelled on the dark side of human nature and it could have disastrous results. That's how "Trip Guides" came into existence. Tim Leary firmly believed in having these Trip Guides, especially for the inexperienced. Most of the traditionalists in society blamed the drugs and music and women wearing pants as the reason society was "falling apart". Oh, and the evils of drink which had always been at the forefront of the downfall.
Meanwhile, the faithful in the early 1900's were having a tough time of it as well. They left the traditional churches. They went instead to tent services and lectures. They took classes on Spiritualism, Psychology, and Philosophy. They held great debates on the existence of God. They wrote many books on the same subject. The Ouija Board and reading Tarot Cards became quite popular as well as holding Seances, Astrology, and Numerology. Orientalism came into the 1920's culture, bringing with it interest in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Zen.
Once again, people in the 60's left the churches and temples in droves. Many a young Jewish person found themselves forsaking Judaism and soon after, joining and Ashram. An Ashram is similar to a Monastery or Convent. It's a school on how to live and Enlightened Life. You study under a Guru, or teacher, and learn to meditate and look within; to work and live in complete harmony with others and the planet. If you studied under a Rabbi, you learned all the ends and outs of the Torah; in an Ashram you learned to question everything and to accept your teachings completely. Both required total loyalty to the Rabbi or Guru/Master. They have some different civil laws but the ultimate message of both is love and compassion for one's self and love of Spirit/God/Jehovah.
Another path of the 60's was that of Carlos Castanedas. Many people originally read his first books: The Teachings of Don Juan, A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, and, A Separate Reality, because they thought the books were guides on how to use Mescaline. They certainly gave you an idea of what to expect if you did take Mescaline but by the third book, A Journey to Ixtlan, it was very obvious that the books were about Carlos' spiritual awakening and journey under the tutelage of Don Juan. Don Juan's path was considered the Witchcraft of the Toltec Mexicans. It was a very powerful path and can be very dangerous if you don't have a teacher. Eventually, Don Juan taught Carlos how to travel the Spirit World without the use of Mescaline. By the time Carlos wrote The Art of Dreaming, Don Juan was preparing to pass from this realm by turning over the teachings of his other students to Carlos. American Indians also use Mescaline in their Spiritual rituals and journeys. They too recommend having a teacher or guide for said rituals.
In the late 1960's, Transcendental Meditation came onto the scene. In general, the people were tired of being accosted by these young people so the reception to TM was tepid at first. It really gained popularity though after the Beatles went to India to study with the Master (Guru). It was another form of meditation to reach total serenity within. All these different forms of meditation were reaching for the same goal: Serenity/Enlightening of the soul. Along the way people hoped to get some answers as to why we are on this planet, in this existence, and what is our "real" purpose for being here. These were all the same questions being asked in the 20's. By the time Transcendental Meditation came to us, the Hari Krishna and Moonies had been working the street corners for "donations" and recruiting new people for years.
Revolution comes about when the unrest of the populace spills over and usually the youth start screaming loudly and demanding answers. Answers to the very same questions that were asked in the 20's and 60's and are now being asked again in 2022; for along with the revolution of culture and society, comes the revolution of the Soul. We are on the verge of another massive revolution. A revolution against violence/guns, against climate change, gender stereotypes; a revolution of beliefs. Many young people who are exploring came from two backgrounds. One of rigid Christianity/Judaism/Islam; or two, no religious background at all. Both groups are seeking answers to fill the holes they feel in their souls. Once again they are turning to alternative beliefs. Witchcraft, Spiritualism, and Paganism are taking front and center. The young are seeking answers on how to connect to our planet to save it from total destruction. Again, they are looking for answers as to why we are here. Since 2016 there has been a lot of speculation on the "pure" souls of our society ascending to the Fifth Dimension. They were to form a "pure society" that respected the Earth and each other. This didn't mean a society divergent of any differences or one of all the same sexual orientation or political beliefs. It would be a society INCLUSIVE of all races and sexual identities and NO politics. A Nirvana. An Eden.
So far, I see the revolution coming but I honestly can't say I see Nirvana as the end result. This pattern of revolutions on all planes isn't just from the 1920's, 60's, or 2016 forward. It is a pattern that has happened for centuries. Each time we as a society make a small baby step towards the goal of perfection, we get terrified and scurry back to our nice, safe life of conformity and rigid control/tradition. I remember long nights of deep discussions with a young seeker who would be fascinated with what I was saying. They would then go back home in the wee hours of the morning and within a couple of hours I would get a call from a terrified young person yelling at me to never speak to them again. They got a peek at being "woke" and ran as fast as they could to conventual safety. Not all by a long shot, many continued to come back for more.
The drugs that may or may not fuel this next revolution are much the same as before. Psychedelics were outlawed in the 1970's and are now making a come back as serious contenders to help deep, incurable depression and schizophrenia. A large part of society became hooked on pain killers. When they were made illegal and harder to get people went to heroin, Methadone, and a new lethal drug called Fentanyl. Marijuana is being legalized all over the world for medical use, and in some places recreationally as well. What this shows is that drugs probably have little to do with causing the revolutions but instead are the product of said revolutions.
The cultural revolution for the 2000's is happening. Hair styles have changed again and become controversial once more. Now hair is all sorts of colors, patterns, and lengths. In the 1920's it was women cutting their hair into bobs that upset the proverbial apple cart. In the 1960's it was the lack of doing anything it with except letting it grow. And now, anything goes on any gender. Fashions have changed; in the 1920's pants were introduced for women which caused a great scandal. In the 60's it was mini-skirts, see through blouses, and go-go boots that caused consternations amongst the old. Now in 2022 I've seen men's Haute Courtier sporting skirt, but it hasn't hit the mainstream public yet and may never. Another controversial way of dressing is to wear your underwear on the outside of your clothes or wearing your pajamas in public. There is quite a bit of cancel culture going on these days. There are a lot of metaphysical shops and groups starting in places that have been thought of as the belt buckle of Christianity. The revolution has begun again and how far the unrest will go this time, I don't know. Will there be fighting in the streets? Will there be another Civil War in our country as there have been in several countries around the world? Authoritarian rule is trying very hard to blanket the whole world to pull us back from the edge of enlightenment, but many young people aren't buying it. They are fighting to keep from returning to the same old traditions of turning a blind eye and ear to what is real. They are fighting from being covered up again, from being silenced. Will they win this time? Will we actually move forward this time?
- Elf Maloney