The American religious experience is changing.

The mystical experience has long been a part of the human religious experience. It is in fact believe to be the original documented form of the human religious experience.

The 16,000 years old cave painting of Lascaux in France and Altamira in Spain, are now understood to be part of a mystical initiation ceremony.

It is believed that young initiates from ancient hunting bands had to crawl though the dark narrow passages and enter the large cave halls painted with images of majestic animals, where they were guided through a consciousness altering mystical transformation.

Most ancient and animistic religions have a strong mystical component. Throughout most of human history this is how religion was largely practiced.

It is not until much later in human history that the religious experience becomes mediated through institutions like the church.

But it seems that these kinds of religious experiences are making a comeback.

According to survey released by the Pew Research Foundation, in America, the mystical has gone from hippie fad to a mainstream norm. More people are opting for a religious experience that is personal and transformative.

According to the survey:
Nearly half of the public (49%) says they have had a religious or mystical experience, defined as a "moment of sudden religious insight or awakening." This is similar to a survey conducted in 2006 but much higher than in surveys conducted in 1976 and 1994 and more than twice as high as in a 1962 Gallup survey (22%). In fact, this year's survey finds that religious and mystical experiences are more common today among those who are unaffiliated with any particular religion (30%) than they were in the 1960s among the public as whole (22%).

Read the Pew report