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Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

Volume 7, Issue 1, 2016

Stefania Palmisano, Nicola Pannofino
Pages 3-21
DOI: 10.5840/asrr201652519

Inventive Traditions
Sacred Creativity in the Spirituality of The Secret

Starting out from a critical analysis of the historiographical category of the invention of tradition developed by Hobsbawm and Ranger (The Invention of Tradition, 1983), this article examines tradition as a fundamental resource of cultural creativity in the religious context, putting forward the alternative concept of “inventive tradition.” The creative mechanisms underlying inventive traditions can be illustrated by an exemplary case study, that of the New Age spiritual movement arising from Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. This analysis shows the role played by narration as an interpretative frame through which tradition is re-elaborated and realised, adapting it to new—present—meanings. Thus hermetism, The Secret’s tradition of reference, is transformed and updated, embracing the consumer society’s typical cultural values. The innovations introduced by The Secret have become in time templates of success imitated by other religious groups.