A weekly study of converging right-wing conspiracy theories and faux-progressive wellness utopianism. At best, the conspirituality movement attacks public health efforts in times of crisis. At worst, it fronts and recruits for the fever-dream of QAnon. As the alt-right and New Age horseshoe toward each other in a blur of disinformation, clear discourse and good intentions get smothered. Charismatic influencers exploit their followers by co-opting conspiracy theories on a spectrum of intensity ranging from vaccines to child trafficking. In the process, spiritual beliefs that have nurtured creativity and meaning are transforming into memes of a quickly-globalizing paranoia. Conspirituality Podcast attempts to bring understanding to this landscape. A journalist, a cult researcher, and a philosophical skeptic discuss the stories, cognitive dissonances, and cultic dynamics tearing through the yoga, wellness, and new spirituality worlds. Mainstream outlets have noticed the problem. We crowd-source, research, analyze, and dream answers to it.
Bonus Sample: Swan Song Series: Close to Home
We can't understand Teal Swan without understanding the Satanic Panic. And we can't really understand that historical disaster with out feeling our way into the mysteries of memory, fantasy, shame, and terror.
Many of you will have heard about therapists interfering in a family constellation by insinuating the client has has memories of abuse to uncover, and that they can’t go forward in their lives without doing that work. This is the bread and butter of Swan's technique, with the result being that many of her close followers come to tell stories about their childhoods that echo hers. Swan's own story of childhood abuse crystallized after she goes through treatment with a leading Satanic Panic therapist, Barbara Snow.
Those are stories on the page. But today, to kick off the Swan Song Series, Julian shares the moment-by-moment mechanics of how this disastrous parody of therapy turned his own life inside out, and alienated him from his family for a decade.
Content warning for listeners: we’ll be talking about stories of child sexual abuse.
Michelle Remembers, covered by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes
Forrest Yoga students ask A. Forrest to stop using the Zia Nation symbol
A. Forrest's ostensible mentor
110: Temple of the Gun
Rosaries made of shell casings. A breakaway Unification Church sect that holds rituals with gilded ARs. JP Sears on the gun range. The unholy American trinity of conservative politics, religious extremism, and gun culture is deep into its liturgical calendar. And it looks like conspiritualist influencers in the yoga and wellness space are setting up their juice bars outside the temple of the gun.
Is Christiane Northrup LARPing when she talks about murdering political enemies? What would Mikki Willis wear to tactical boot camp? Amidst the carnage of Uvalde and the Supreme Court, are conspiritualists gearing up to offer logistical or merely symbolic support for political violence? Does it even make a difference? When does the Temple of the Gun become a firing range, and then a staging ground?
We’ll cover these questions this week in part one of our look at guns and spirituality. Then in three weeks, Julian will talk to sociologist of religion Alan Levinovitz about how New Age spirituality and US gun culture shake hands through an “epistemology of individual empowerment,” which, he argues, has emerged amidst a crash in social solidarity.
New York Times report on Guns in GOP Ads
How Many Lives Were Saved by The Assault Weapons Ban?
Christian Nationalists and the Holy Gun Crusade
Rod Of Iron Ministries Buys “Spiritual Retreat” Property in Tennessee
The Chapels in Our Brains
Matthew introduces Julian to the solipsism of an old Catholic catechism. Julian remembers meditating on non-duality. What spaces in our brains do these exercises create? Did we need those spaces for safety, or to hide from ourselves and the world? What happens to these spaces when we no longer need them? If we learned how to take pleasure in “cognitive closure” through religion or spirituality, can we use that skill forever, but detached from the ideologies that want to steal that fire?
109. Who’s Afraid of Teal Swan? (w/ Jon Kasbe)
If the world has become too much to bear—and the bots know it from your search history— you will likely find Teal Swan. She will appear, an angel of the algorithms, part icon and part anime avenger. Against a backdrop of flowing water or turning constellations, she will gaze into your despair. She will speak in a drone at once hypnotic and relieving, giving words to feelings you thought were taboo. At 3am, this might feel like mystical luck, but it’s no accident. Swan is open about recruiting suicidal seekers to her content, and she has the tech chops to do it.
Now, with Jon Kasbe’s series, “The Deep End” airing on Hulu, Swan has entered some A-list limelight. But what do we really learn from this docutainment event, radiating out from an embedment in Swan’s inner circle? According to Kasbe’s own words, we don’t learn the “Capital T Truth” of Swan’s day-to-day, but rather the immersive feeling of what it is like to be under her spell.
Or do we? Swan accuses Kasbe of casting his own spell, with deceptive editing that scrambles timelines and conflates interactions, and even different people. And it appears she might not be wrong. We talk to Kasbe in this episode about his vision and blindspots, and the ironic risk of creating a film of Satanic-Panic level false memories about an influencer who says she specializes in retrieving past trauma.
This episode will pilot a series of Patreon bonus episodes in which we’ll study the Teal Swan spectacle in detail, and how important it is to not only report on it well, but to be fair to an influencer like Swan and her dedicated followers, lest they lose even more trust in the real world.
CORRECTION: Matthew referred to Jennings Brown's role on The Deep End production incorrectly during the episode. His title is "Development Executive Producer."
The Deep End
The Gateway Podcast
Teal Swan 2014 interview on her backstory.
Teal Swan: Gucci Guru article by Be Scofield
Barbara Snow’s seminal Satanic Panic article: Ritualistic Child Abuse In A Neighborhood Setting
Recovered Memory Therapist Placed on Probation
Michelle Remembers & The Satanic Panic
Teal’s Responses to The Deep End Start HERE
Teal Swan Defense :Testimonial Deep End Defamation—Sylvana Caradonna
Bonus Sample: Giving Up the Gun
After becoming global leaders in gun manufacturing in the 16th century, Japan banished all guns from their country for two centuries. How did this happen? And what were the results? Well, even today, the nation of 127 million experiences under 10 gun deaths every year.
Derek looks back at this period in history to find out what happens when a society seems to move backward when in reality progress is made. He also looks at the psychology of warfare while noting that as bad as society can become, nothing is inevitable.
Giving Up the Gun: Japan's Reversion to the Sword, 1543-1879
The demographics of gun ownership
America's gun culture - in seven charts
Packy McCormick: Optimism
Japan has almost completely eliminated gun deaths — here's how
A Terrible Love of War: James Hillman
War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning: Chris Hedges
Tribe: Sebastian Junger
108: Downeast with Christiane Northrup (w/ Mooncat, Andy O’Brien, & Alyce Ornella)
Half-a-million Facebook followers. Hundreds of videos in a series called “The Great Awakening.” Christiane Northrup, the matriarch of New Age women’s wellness, warns her followers about fake viruses, and tells them to avoid sex with their vaccinated partners. She stumps alongside QAnon celebrities, shovels campaign contributions to Trump, and dotes over sovereign citizen sheriffs. To ease your symptoms of ascension, she offers bath recipes of alfalfa greens and Dr. Bronner’s soap. You can have a good soak and listen to her golden harp.
But in this nowhere world, where oh where is Christiane Northrup? Who is she? Is she flesh and blood, or a social media hologram generated by a Louise Hay AI? Is that mansion she broadcasts from a sound stage, or is there real soil and manure and flowers there? Our guests today know Northrup as super-real, because they live in her home state of Maine. Alyce Ornella, Andy O’Brien, and Mooncat have known her as a doctor, an MLM diva, antivax rabble rouser, and QAnon tour promoter.
Now, they tell us, another Northrup may be crystallizing on Maine’s rocky shore, floating past the lighthouses and over the cranberry bogs on a cloud of essential oils. She’s been seen haunting the blueberry patches, wearing a chunky necklace of lobster claws. As Northrup begins to hold revival meetings in Down East churches, and openly fantasize about murdering political enemies, they wonder if she is assuming her ultimate form—as an IRL cult leader.
36: Guru Jagat 1
37: Guru Jagat 2
64: Remembering Guru Jagat
81: Praying for Fire
59: Is Rudolf Steiner Dead Yet?
Dear Dr. Northrup
Dr. No: Christiane Northrup
Republican barred from inviting guests into State House
Naomi Wolf: “Five Freedoms” speech, April 2021.
Arise USA rally draws crowds inside, outside Crosby Center
Arise USA Meets Maine Stands Up
Inside the Disastrous Conspiracy Roadshow That Likely Killed a COVID-Denying Ex-CIA Agent
Maine Republican compared the governor to Nazi Josef Mengele
ME state rep compares COVID vaccine mandate to Nazism
Northrup boosts Holo-denier Charlie Freak
On John Linnehan, Dominionist
Challenging the narrative from the inside
I find the podcast compelling and the hosts genuine, interesting, flawed, earnest and altogether very human.
I think challenging guru culture, cult dynamics magical thinking and extreme confidence shown by all manner of yogis, influencers and wellness types is much needed and very admirable.
My biggest takeaway from this podcast is that snake oil salesman come in all shapes and forms and it’s important to stay informed to new tactics and forms of influence “first listen to what they are saying, then to what they are selling”
Keep up the great work Derek, Julian and Matthew.
Irritating & informative
I was an early fan of this podcast but became disenchanted. There’s certainly lots of interesting material to take in and be aware of, and it’s clear a great deal of research goes into it, but it’s the presentation I find off-putting, and particularly Matthew Remski who invites listeners to leave a “5-star review”. That alone irritates the hell out of me, tongue in cheek or not. An arrogance has crept in - the very thing the podcast is so critical of in those it covers. This makes it unlistenable for me now, except for an occasional visit on a subject I’m particularly interested in.
My new favourite podcast
Love this absolutely brilliant podcast, especially as someone who’s been part of some of this thinking before. It’s well presented, interesting, and really takes its time to explore the issues from people who are and were part of some of these spheres. The interviewees are fantastic too.