Rudolf Steiner prophecied that there would be a second coming of Christ 'in the etheric' from about 1933 - and somehow Anthroposophists still believe that this has actually happened; despite that the 'evidence' for this event includes the coming to power of National Socialism in Germany!
And since the hippies of the middle 1960s, there has been a constant undercurrent with waves of belief in a happening and incipient New Age of the spirit, of enhanced consciousness. The term New Age itself became popular in the 1980s with much activity related to neo-shamanism, neo-paganism etc.; and in the late 90s the coming millenium led to another crest of expectation. Then there was another surge of excitement related to the Mayan Calendar ending on the winter solstice of December 2012.
There is currently, I think, another post 2016 resurgence of belief that there is an awakening of Western Man, a mass seeing-through of the lies and propaganda of the Illuminati - this supposedly signalled by a increased populism and higher profile (including banning) of people like David Icke, Julian Assange and Alex Jones specifically, alternative/ 'conspiracy' theories of politics and society more generally. Many apparently expect major positive spiritual and consciousness change - and soon.
What fascinates me is not so much the expectation, but how - time after time - people can become convinced that the New Age is actually happening.
People who claim that there are more people haveing more spiritual experiences (more visions, more miracles, more paranormal events...); that there is a massive change enhancement of spiritual interests - a shift away from materialism, consumerism, the mainstream. That people are becoming more idealistic, more elevated in consciousness and so on. Not just the hope of change, but a conviction that chnage is already ongoing and afoot.
I have heard such things claimed by hundreds of people, spread over many decades; and flying in the face of very obvious, massive and relentless (albeit stepwise and incremental) increases in materialism, consumerism, politicisation, bureaucracy, progressive narrowing of minds and public discourse; increases in surveillance, propaganda advertising, micro-social control.
How does this happen? How can people believe the opposite of what is obvious in the face of what one would suppose to be contrary evidence? If the burning of the Reichstag really counts as evidence for the second coming of Christ (as I have heard several eminent Anthroposophists claim), then surely anything can prove anything!
My feeling is that it is to do with the way that groups work on the individual - and the way that individuals have usually known truth. The New Age types of spirituality are strongly associated with 'group work' of various kinds, and I think it is the 'psychodynamics' of groups that explain the sense of objective spiritual progress that comes to grip so many minds so strongly.
A small intense group can, it seems, come to believe and validate almost anything. The groups have experiences together - whether that be visions, mediumship, channeling. or experiences in relation to UFOs, megaliths or crop circles; and the process by which knowledge and emotions reflect back-and-forth within the group, combined with relations of authority and discipleship and emotional dependence and support, can create an experience of amplification and increase - that is felt as a generalised awakening in The World.
On top of this the expansion of mass media and bureaucracy has affected all forms of organisation - so that there are more books, materials and media generally on almost every topic - including all kinds of spirituality. Organisations that survive have (almost always) either become very intensely inter-personal (as described above) - or else have grown, combined, become professionalised, subsidised... become gripped by the perspective of management, public relations and propaganda (as can be seen from web pages and brochures).
So that it becomes normal within nearly-all groups to perceive that things are moving in the desired direction. After all, that is what people in groups tell each other, and to be a group-member that must be believed.
This is another reason why I think that this Romantic era implies the end of all groups except for the family, marriage and close friendships (usually dyadic). In sum; I have come to believe that all other forms of human groups have become agents for creating and sustaining delusions.
The New Age delusion, in its various forms, is just one of many such. And the way-out is for each individual to take full responsibility for his own assumptions, love, faith, beliefs and hopes; and adhere strongly only to those personally affirmed by direct intuition.
In this sense, we are On Our Own - but of course, we are never truly on our own, and that is the other side of this Romantic era; we are in society with the divine, the dead and all those whom we love. And it is the reality of that relational experience which makes possible the radical autonomy that is being compelled upon us.