Welcome to a new weekly series about a strange online movement with tangled roots.
In 2020, menacing propaganda began streaming into the yoga and wellness worlds. Charismatic influencers read the room, and poured their talents for emotional exploitation into increasingly morbid themes:
- A pandemic exploited or even created by shady governments.
- Racial conflicts provoked by media elites.
- A PCR test designed to strip your freedom, and a vaccine designed to erase your soul.
Suddenly, all the yoga classes, meditation seminars, sound-healing workshops and magical supplements took on apocalyptic necessity. Desperate times called for divine remedies. Engagement surged.
Not only did this wave of alluring panic face little resistance — something held the door open. “Conspirituality” — an online horseshoeing of right-wing persecution complexes and leftish spiritual hope — had been a feature of this culture for decades. It groomed the vulnerable for QAnon. It also gave QAnon a socially acceptable face.
The Conspirituality Report is an evolving distillation of the past year of my reporting and podcast work on the spirituality, history, politics, economy, and technology of this movement. In the background lies my investigative journalism on yoga and Buddhist cults.
I open the series below with “YogAnon: A 2020 Timeline”. Next week I’ll publish the first of several starter posts that slice and dice core themes.
From there, I’ll explore how yoga influencers and New Age cults were primed to become leading vectors for COVID-era conspiracism. I’ll examine figures like Plandemic creator — and Capitol stormer — Mikki Willis, and how he deploys emotional manipulation tactics that are common in religious cults. I’ll cover body-fascist birth activists, alt-health sadists, doctors who think they are priests, and bro-scientists who bravely monetize their smug, maskless smiles.