QAnon content is increasingly a brand liability for conspirituality promoters who need to continue marketing New Age religion and alt-health products.
The January 6th Capitol Siege has indelibly linked QAnon to domestic terrorism, and the deletion of vast networks of QAnon influencers and groups has severely curtailed the monetization potential of QAnon rhetoric. And Cullen Hoback’s Q: Into the Storm documentary has virtually stitched up the origin story of the global fever dream, pinning the scam on a nihilistic, porn-obsessed tech bro named Ron Watkins.
Absent are mentions of pedophilia, Satanism, and the “Storm” of mass arrests. What remains is the apocalyptic urgency of the “spiritual battle” undertaken by “spiritual warriors” requiring a multi-lifetime enlistment.
Also remaining are echoes of QAnon’s anti-semitism, in the flagging of “cultural Marxism” — a century-old slur favoured by the alt-right, who loathed the anti-capitalist analyses of the Frankfurt School. As Professor Nathan Oseroff-Spicer points out, “The reasons BLM and Critical Race Theory are constantly equated with critical theory, Marxism and the Frankfurt School are many, but usually relate to the deeply racist belief that Black scholarship and political movements are secretly funded by a cabal of Jews.”
Guenther’s main target is “woke ideology”, but it’s a debutante concern. A search of Guenther’s Facebook feed shows that he first uses “woke” in a satirical way in November of 2020. A search of his Telegram feed shows his pivot to define it a civilizational threat on January 9th of this year, three days after the Capitol Siege. “The woke”, Guenther writes, sharing a post from anti-woke activist theorist James Lindsay, is “the dilemma of our times”.
The network of COVID-denying conspirituality influencers can be divided roughly into two families, distinguished by their willingness to be explicit about their QAnon sympathies.
One family consists of alt-health profiteers like Sayer Ji and his wife Kelly Brogan, New Age fairy godmother Dr. Christiane Northrup, free birth activist Yolande Norris-Clarke, Plandemic director Mikki Willis, billionaire private school boss Leila Centner, and supplements comedian J.P. Sears. They never fully tarnish their brands with full-on QAnon memes and hashtags.
Most prefer the gentler language of Pastel Q, which protects their alt-health markets, and helps them evade Facebook moderators. But as people like Ji and Northrup are deplatformed from the major networks, they show Q-er colours on Telegram, pushing Satanic Panic reboots and spiritual warfare fantasies.
The second family flies the QAnon flag as proudly as the Flynns, by directly boosting QAnon content, or platforming QAnon influencers. Members include Kundalini Yoga cultjacker Guru Jagat, who interviewed early QAnon promoter Kerry Cassidy, and Alan Hostetter, the Orange County yoga instructor and former Army Ranger who spoke at QAnon events through late 2020 and then stormed the Capitol on January 6th.
Guenther is one of the most verbose members of this family, producing an endless stream of content. He runs a podcast, group coaching forums and retreats with his partner, yoga teacher and astrologer Laura Matsue, 36. Guenther describes finding his path after battling depression in early adulthood, while Matsue describes growing up in the shadow of the cult of Swami Muktananda. Matsue also describes drifting from left to right politically in the age of Trump. Both are prolific writers. Neither list any formal education in their bios.
In June of 2020, Guenther published a 24K word novella on the validity of QAnon, mingling intricate “bakes” of Q-drops with long commentaries on the notion of “Divine Will” as presented by the modern yoga mystic Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950). His article was shared almost 1500 times on Facebook, according to Crowdtangle.
In the piece, Guenther disclosed he was initially skeptical of the QAnon movement, but gradually became redpilled after interviewing QAnon booster Tom Montalk on his podcast. By July, Guenther was hosting Jordan Sather on his podcast. Sather is a long-haul QAnon grifter, who in January advised his followers to drink bleach to ward off COVID.
Guenther and Matsue’s Telegram account is a firehose of anti-vax and Q-adjacent content. But after the January James Lindsay share, anti-“woke” posts become more consistent. There are political screeds from The Federalist, mini-sermons from JP Sears about the woke’s desire for “peaceful slavery”, and confessions from Matsue about how she has purified her woke-ist hatred of Jordan Peterson by healing her relationship to the “masculine principle”.
“Woke”-obsessed posts on the Guenther-Matsue Telegram feed increase by 300% from April to May, targeting anti-racist and trans-awareness activism. “The pathology and insanity of the Woke gender identity cult-ure [sic] has no limits and it’s literally child abuse. To be absolutely clear and politically incorrect: There are only two genders by birth,” one post falsely claimed. (Humans are not born gendered.)
So far in June, Guenther and Matsue have avoided explicit QAnon content altogether. They have instead turned their outrage on Gabor Maté, who they accuse of being “infected” with the “woke virus” for the crime of filming an interview with anti-racist activist Resmaa Menakem. This hits close to home for Matsue, as she lists herself as being trained in Maté’s “Compassionate Inquiry” self-help technique.
The rift exposes the perils of cognitive dissonance in conspirituality, in which practitioners who follow influencers they believe have spiritual wisdom part ways over culture war anxieties, framed in conspiratorial concerns.
“Seems like Dr. Gabor Maté was pressured to go along with this SJW/Woke agenda otherwise his reputation would be on the line,” Guenther wrote on Telegram. “He kneeled down to the Woke mob pressure supporting pathological anti-divine ideologies. Or if really believes in all pathological Woke nonsense, then he’s less embodied/aware [with some serious lack of critical thinking skills] than I thought or projected onto him.”
In a way, pivoting from QAnon to anti-woke moral panic might strengthen the Guenther-Matsue brand. It’s not so outlandish. It has real-world activism potential. Vaccine science is plausibly contestable. Meanwhile, 33 states are now tabling over 100 pieces of anti-trans legislation, and more than a dozen states are seeking to outlaw Critical Race Theory.
And while the pivot sheds the spectacle of mass arrests and the gore of adrenochrome, it does preserve key aspects of conspirituality technique.
It retains the mysticism of ominous connectivity, by which the holistic healer can offer answers to all problems: “nothing is as it seems,” “everything happens for a reason”, and “everything is connected”. It offers the trauma-bonding of apocalyptic panic, mingled with the spiritual promise of the charismatic leader.
A recent Gueunther Facebook post that reads like a cult leader’s declaration of invulnerability post underlines the point. He describes having traveled through dark nights of the soul, and that he is now ready to “die for Truth.” In his exalted state, he writes,
I’ve also seen and experienced the Light and God, my true Self, and Essence, that one TRUE part that nothing and no one can touch or destroy for it is Eternal and it is Divine. It’s not a mental concept or a feeling. It’s an inner experience and realization. The occult hostile forces can’t touch it and certainly not the globalist psychopaths who are trying to play god right now with their K0[v]id eugenics program and pathological anti-divine “Woke” ideologies.
It may turn out, for Guenther and others like him, that there is no need to invent demonic pedophiles out to harvest the blood of children, when all you need to keep the subscriptions renewing is to invent social justice warriors, bent on harvesting souls.