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 7 | Girl, Interrupted (pt 1)
Julian and Matthew take a long look at the 1999 film Teal Swan was reportedly obsessed with as a teen. Girl, Interrupted is a bold adaptation of a 1993 memoir by the writer Susanna Kaysen about the 18 months she spent undergoing treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder in a Massachusetts psychiatric facility in the late 1960s.
This study is provoked by a memory recounted by Swan's childhood friend, Diana Hansen Ribera, that Swan identified with the character of Lisa Rowe in the film. Angelina Jolie won an Oscar for her searing performance of Rowe, a sociopath.
Girl, Interrupted — Susanna Kaysen
1607: Growing up with Teal Swan - Diana Hansen Ribera
Mad, Bad, and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors by Lisa Appignanesi | Goodreads
Brittany Murphy: Inside Her Sudden Death at 32 That Still Confounds Hollywood
122: Timeline Retox: Biohacking and Fascism and Stuff
The book is filed. Our mental health is in check. And, as it turns out, Matthew found a new guru. We return to trio work by investigating his fellow Canadian's cure for, uh, anything, or maybe something, as well diving into two biohacking conferences and the conspiritualist's new favorite fascist on the block.
Tip of the iceberg: erectile dysfunction and COVID-19 | International Journal of Impotence Research
Will in the News, TV & Internet Culture
Umberto Eco Makes a List of the 14 Common Features of Fascism | Open Culture
The Cruelty Is the Point - The Atlantic
Alessio Di Giulio's Racist Selfie With Roma Woman Enrages Italy
Meloni holding melons
CPAC: The Whole World is Watching - Giorgia Meloni
Dal rugby allo yoga, tutto lo sport di Giorgia Meloni
Pierre Poilievre rubs his old wood
Bonus Sample: A Course in Monstrosities
If you tune into your favorite Instagram wellness influencer or financial life coach, you’ll learn that money is really a state of mind—right? Thinking the right thoughts is the truest judge of character, and therefore indicative of your bottom line. This week Derek looks at research from behavioral economics, which found the perceived relationship between wealth and morality dates back to post-WWII America—and has damaged the poorest among us for generations. He weighs evidence from this field, which looks at the real societal and political causes of wealth disparity, against the metaphysical b******t that proponents of the “mindset creates wealth” uber-text, A Course in Miracles, try to sell you.
Why we shouldn’t push a positive mindset on those in poverty
The Causal Effects of Place on Health and Longevity
Conspirituality on Patreon
UNLOCKED: Swan Song Series 3 | Listening to Teal Swan’s Mom and Dad
Some of the most valuable material that come to us from Paula Marino's Open Shadow film of 2017 is an extended interview with Swan's parent's, the Bosworths. They speak about Swan's sensory sensitivity as a young child, and how that morphed into a staunchly independent but sometimes isolated social life. They describe Swan's secret runic writing, their belief in her capacities as a medical intuitive, and discuss the gaps in psychiatric care that failed them all when her mental health needed help. This episode examines this interview, and then cross-checks some aspects against the account of Swan's childhood friend, Diana Hansen Ribera.
Here we have the unique insight into parents speaking vulnerably and transparently about their baffling child—which means we can really lean into the primal material that pre-exists the charged questions about whether Teal Swan is running a cult or encouraging suicide. What we find, between the accounts of the Bosworths and Ribera, is a collection of commonplace phenomena: high sensitivity, parents learning as they go, the intrusion of internet pornography, and a likely abusive figure who was too close to the family.
In this episode, Matthew and Julian discuss the mystery of familial memory, idealizing vs. pathologizing children, the appeals of fantasy as a mode of relief, whether the Satanic Panic was a collective cry for help to resolve commonplace domestic and community abuse, and the possibility that cult formation is a social form of post traumatic play.
Open Shadow — Paula Marino
Do You Cry Easily? You May Be a 'Highly Sensitive Person' - WSJ
The science behind why some of us are shy - BBC Future
Study: Pornography does not cause violent sex crimes | UTSA Today
When Children Act Out Sexually: A Guide for Parents and Teachers - Canada.ca
1607: Growing up with Teal Swan - Diana Hansen Ribera - Mormon Stories
“Forbidden Games”: Post-Traumatic Child's Play — Lenore Terr
Valerie L. Dripchak (2007). Posttraumatic Play: Towards Acceptance and Resolution. , 35(2), 125–134. doi:10.1007/s10615-006-0068-y
121: The Gospel of Wellness (w/Rina Raphael)
Are you ready to biohack your brain with buttered coffee? How about going “within” at the Drybar of acupuncture? What if we told you that cannabis will catapult your chakras into higher consciousness—all it costs is a $5,000 retreat entry fee, not including airfare and hotel? In the $4.4 trillion wellness industry, is any cost really too expensive to achieve true self-care—even if it never really seems like you arrive anywhere at all?
Rina Raphael was getting burnt out as a millennial digital news producer at NBC News. And so she did what anyone would do: she moved to Los Angeles in search of that self-care. Yet she could never shake her journalistic chops, and so she ended up writing about the wellness industry for the NY Times, the LA Times, Fast Company, and other publications. Her skeptical eye and earnest curiosity lead her to write her brand new book, The Gospel of Wellness: Gyms, Gurus, Goop, and the False Promise of Self-Care. And she’s here this week to talk to us this week about her adventures in modern spirituality—its teachings as well as its traps.
Bonus Sample: Listener Stories: Christina (part 2)
Christina Flinders returns for the second of a two-part tour through her experience with cultic dynamics, conspirituality, and the long road towards finding her place in the world.
Picking up where she left off, Flinders discusses breaking free of the sexually abusive cult of Eknath Easwaren, finding ambivalent agency as a stripper, and then graduating to yoga teaching—where she then had to dodge being redpilled.
Thanks again to Christina for her generosity and lucidity, and her family for their support.
If you'd like to share your story with us and our Patreon community of listeners, please get in touch.
Has been helpful in the past, but???
Perhaps I’ve learned enough about some of the characters and strange irrational constructs the confused of my friends family and acquaintances have backed into following in quests for meaning. Perhaps the creators are out of ideas, or just have to up their content creation to levels that are more self limiting. That being said, if you’ve found this podcast while attempting to understand the origins of some of your conspiracy pilled loved ones, scroll back into the archive and sample listen through last few years. You may find some enlightening conversations. Something is different in their approach in recent months, alternately seething with snark and exceedingly careful is the word craft, be it from an extra layer lawyerly advice, or perhaps they are lost with in the bell and clapper of their subjects. Seems a light and soulful quality is missing, as is depth of analysis and an genuine orientation in compassion. Last few interviews have been fawning and full of leading questions that result in really flat dialogue, for example Paulo ???, a Teal Swan documentarian. Felt like I was listening to noon day talk with local chamber of commerce on a public radio station. No one was any wiser but we knew she created a documentary that wasn’t on Hulu. Thank you to the hosts and content creators from whom I’ve learned much. I’m moving on.
Absolute favorite podcast
Conspirituality is without a doubt my favorite podcast. Matthew, Julian, and Derek do an unmatched job of bringing the light of critical thinking and analysis to the wellness space while retaining a sense of humility and empathy.
I have only listened to one episode and I was astonished by the abysmal ignorance of the hosts on the subjects discussed.
I have now actually finished listening to the episode about Waldorf education. Not only serious misinformation but straight lies. Unbelievable.