Non-institutionalised religious communities within western esotericism, such as New Age or Neopagan subcultures, are dynamic marketplaces for knowledge construction that may appear to be chaotic and governed only by the rule of caveat emptor. However, a close examination reveals authorization processes developing along similar lines as those followed by scientific empiricism during the seventeenth century. Claims of esoteric knowledge are developed from psychism experiences, and are authenticated by examining the claimant’s social standing, the narrative structure of the claim and the interests of the claimant and the judge. Such claims are authorized by incorporation into collective action, publications, workshops and spiritual practices if the claim solves a problem within the overall belief structure from which the claim is derived.
Laubach, M. (2007). The Epistemology of Esoteric Culture: Spiritual Claim-Making within the American Neopagan Community. Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies, 3(2007), 45-79.