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The end is near in this mini-season of transition from summer to fall, or at least from summer to Native American summer. The back-to-school mantra rules the changes. As we move from August's Leo to September's Virgo, the magazine newsstands beg us to tarry with the new dawn, the self shelves and aisles of the continually blossoming New Age movement. The operative sign here is "Mastercard or Visa." So many ways to heal, so many ways to spend.

In a category bounded by deep-thinking Parabola and crop-circling UFO Magazine, New Age Journal continues to excel in content, accessibility and, so important in these dot.com invasion days, ad revenue. New Age has changed with the times, driven today more by health and aging issues than guru searches and alternative spiritualities.

The latest New Age features lengthy cover stories on breast cancer and communes revisited and dozens of sidebars on every trend on the planet from "powernapping" (learn the lingo: stall napping is, you guessed it, sleeping in a bathroom stall) to the "new knitting." Most of the letters to the editor are e-mailed in now, and many ads focus on healer-vacation symposium packages, not your usual weekend getaways.

Plenty of chances here to cash-out with Shakti Gawain, Andrew Weil, John Gray or Neale Walsch. Most of the folks in most of the pictures appear older (the mature look) now than they did in past years' layouts, but the same wacky ads are welcomed (a cell-phone diode to reduce cell-phone radiation for under $20 or metaphysical doctor degrees available by mail).

Issue for issue, New Age is always worth the price of admission, if just for the "journalism of caring" it fosters. Diane Heald's survivor story, "Good-Bye Breasts," is 10 pages of tenderness and education. Last spring's issue on garden retreats went beyond your typical Smith and Hawken catalog treatment of our need for peaceful spaces.

The lecturely editorial voice is less strident, more accomodating in the millennial New Age. It's much easier to read "this is what's working for me," rather than the once familiar finger-pointing of "you should be doing this." But don't take my word for it; there's still time to cruise a newsstand and flip through the latest issue. Your deadlines can be extended; you can still afford a few cleansing breaths in your 24/7 week.

More by John Valentine

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