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Remembering Marilyn Ferguson’s Birthday

Our dear departed friend, Marilyn Ferguson’s birthday was today.  For those who haven’t heard of her … scratch that, everyone has heard of Marilyn, right?  

Marilyn was an American author, editor and public speaker, best known for her 1980 book The Aquarian Conspiracy and its affiliation with the New Age Movement in popular culture.  (1997 video interview provided by Tom Ross / Kivastone)

A founding member of the Association of Humanistic Psychology, Ferguson published and edited the well-regarded science newsletter Brain/Mind Bulletin from 1975 to 1996. She eventually earned numerous honorary degrees, served on the board of directors of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and befriended such diverse figures of influence as inventor and theorist Buckminster Fuller, spiritual author Ram Dass, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Ilya Prigogine and billionaire Ted Turner. Ferguson’s work also influenced Vice President Al Gore, who participated in her informal network while a senator and later met with her in the White House.

The Brain Revolution by Marilyn FergusonAs a professional freelance writer of popular magazine articles in the 60s, including Cosmopolitan and Time, Ferg developed an enduring interest in what came to be known as the “human potential” movement, and particularly the latest research on the potential of the human brain, with its implications for learning, creativity and wellness. This inspired her to write The Brain Revolution: The Frontiers of Mind Research (Taplinger, 1973), a successful and broadly hailed popular summary of these discoveries.

Two years later Marilyn launched Brain/Mind Bulletin, a newsletter that served as an ongoing forum for her interest in cutting-edge scientific ideas. At its peak in the 1980s the publication had a worldwide base of some 10,000 subscribers, ranging from academics and intellectuals to schoolteachers and storekeepers, and helped to popularize the ideas of such notables as Prigogine, neuroscientists Karl Pribram and Candace Pert, physicists Fritjof Capra and David Bohm, psychologist Jean Houston and many others.

Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn FergusonThe Aquarian Conspiracy

In an early commentary in the newsletter Marilyn described her first glimmers of what she called “the movement that has no name” – a loose, enthusiastic network of innovators from almost every discipline, united by their apparent desire to create real and lasting change in society and its institutions. Her attempt to compile and synthesize the patterns she was seeing eventually led her to develop a second newsletter, Leading Edge Bulletin, and found its culmination in The Aquarian Conspiracy (J.P. Tarcher, 1980), the seminal work that earned her a lasting global reputation.

The book’s title led to some confusion, having to do with astrology only to the extent of drawing from the popular conception of the “Age of Aquarius” succeeding a dark “Piscean” age. The word conspiracy she used in its literal sense of “breathing together,” as one of her great influences, the philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, had done before her.

Wikepedia –

Unabashedly positive in its outlook, the book was praised by such diverse figures as philosophical writer Arthur Koestler, who called it “stunning and provocative,” commentator Max Lerner, who found it “drenched in sunlight,” and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Robert Muller, who described it as “remarkable” and “epoch-making.” Psychologist Carl Rogers credited her with having “etched, in unforgettable vividness, the intricate web of changes shaping the inevitable revolution in our culture,” and said the book “gives the pioneering spirit the courage to go forward.”

Philosopher and religious scholar Jacob Needleman predicted that the book would help to make “New Age” thinking “more understandable and less threatening” to the general public in America. This was borne out by its success, as The Aquarian Conspiracy steadily climbed to the best-seller list and its viewpoint began seeping into the popular culture. Before long the book was being credited as “the handbook of the New Age” (USA Today) and a guidepost to a philosophy “working its way increasingly into the nation’s cultural, religious, social, economic and political life” (New York Times).

The Aquarian Conspiracy was eventually translated into some 16 foreign languages, and Marilyn became a sought-after speaker across North America and around the world, eventually traveling as far as Brazil, Sweden and India to convey her hopeful message. In 1985 she was featured as a keynote speaker at the United Nations-sponsored “Spirit of Peace” conference, where she appeared along with Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

When she died, in October 2008, Deepak Chopra wrote this tribute to BeliefNet – 

Marilyn Ferguson

Marilyn Ferguson 1938-2008

Reagan was on the rise, the anti-war movement had sunk to a low ebb, and the New Age was barely christened when The Aquarian Conspiracy appeared in 1980. Overnight Marilyn Ferguson’s book became famous and sold in the millions. I was a young doctor who had just learned to meditate when I picked up a dog-eared paperback copy at a Catskill spiritual retreat. Ferguson’s message shot through me like electricity: a “benign conspiracy” was bringing about the greatest shift in consciousness in the twentieth century. In one stroke Ferguson unified a movement that seemed like small, isolated outposts on the fringes of respectable society.

Ferguson was a uniter and a futurist. By showing feminists what they shared with environmentalists, New Age spiritual seekers with peace activists, her book inspired a movement that didn’t define the future in terms of technology. Cell phones and computers were incidental. The real future lay in consciousness-raising on a global scale. Ferguson’s “BrainMind Bulletin” made sure that her message kept up to date with scientific breakthroughs, and she joined forced with former astronaut Edgar Mitchell and his influential Institute of Noetic Sciences in California.

At the time of her death in October 2008, Marilyn could take satisfaction that a watershed had been crossed. For all the multitudes of people for whom Dick Cheney is more familiar than the I Ching, George Bush than the Bhagavad-Gita, her “leaderless revolution” has grown steadily around the world. She was a one-woman movement for hope. She promised every voice in the wilderness that there were a thousand other voices like theirs.

Happy Birthday, Marilyn!


lynnea2 The BoardLynnea Bylund is managing director of Gandhi Legacy Tours, Director of Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, founder of Catalyst House and has nearly three decades of experience in administration, marketing and business development. She was a nationally recognized spokeswoman for the emerging alternative video and information delivery industries. She has a degree in holistic health-nutrition from the legendary and controversial health educator and activist Dr. Kurt Donsbach, she is the founder of two not-for-profit small business-based wireless trade associations and has lobbied on Capitol Hill and at the FCC where she has spoken out strongly against the cable TV monopoly, illegal spectrum warehousing and ill-conceived congressional schemes to auction our nation’s precious airwaves to the highest bidder.

Ms. Bylund is a founder and former CEO of a Washington DC telecommunications consulting and management company with holdings in several operating and developmental wireless communications systems and companies. In 1995 Lynnea became the first female in the world to be awarded a Broadband PCS operating permit – she was one of only 18 winners, along with Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon in the biggest cash auction in world history, raising a whopping $7.7 billion. Lynnea also spear-headed the successful effort to launch the first cable TV network in the South Pacific islands.
> Follow Lynnea on:  +LynneaBylund – Twitter – LinkedIn – FaceBook – Pinterest & YouTube

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