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BHA9: Teal Swan, Cultism & Self Delusion (feat. Justin Otto)

Greetings everyone and thank you for joining me after a longer hiatus than I expected — around 6 weeks! It was a move to a new city, commuting a lot while the move finished up on top of a job-transfer and everything else. Nothing really eventful outside of the norm, but now here I am back in the weekly swing of things! This was a rare extended break for several reasons, and even when any more breaks come from me they won’t be nearly this long. I appreciate anyone tuning back in after falling off for a little bit.

In this episode I am joined by my friend Justin Otto — host of the Dharma Junkie podcast, meditation instructor, and studious Buddhist. It’s rare to find a devout Buddhist that reminisces about the times he’s drank with famously insensitive (and pretty hilarious) comedian Doug Stanhope, and the dark humor is definitely abundant in this episode. Whether or not you think it’s funny, Justin and I are good at egging each other on without really trying and we had a great time.

We discuss the new four-part documentary series about Teal Swan on Hulu (that’s where I watched it at least), entitled ‘The Deep End.’ If you’ve never heard her name before, just imagine a woman in her thirties that started as a new age internet guru right as Youtube was really starting to take off as a platform. Eventually her Youtube blew up, leading to massive book sales and lecture tours about self-empowerment — all of which is either pretty surface-level or highly debatable, until she amassed enough wealth and prestige to strong-arm all her assets into a cult blueprint.

In the outer circle, she panders to people searching for answers at book signings and lectures, but in the inner circle she manipulates and even physically abuses her followers in certain cases, even using experimental hypnotherapy to alter their emotions and memories in disastrous ways that are a direct extension of Satanic Panic hysteria.

Now, what sets this apart from all other cult research is that this was a documentary allowed by Teal Swan as a PR stunt: they thought that if they let a third party film crew come in and document them, then the world will know that Teal Swan is a chill superhuman and totally not running a cult. But as we will talk about in this episode, this PR stunt severely back-fired and has left Swan’s public image in shreds. So aside from the audio tapes of Jonestown life and the video recorded goodbyes of Heaven’s Gate followers, this documentary represents an authentic close-up look at the inner circle of an insidious cult. And its filmed in real-time about a group that is still very active and very mad about this exposure. They were just too delusional to see that they would be bringing about their own downfall. But cult leaders like this are often resilient, and we surely haven’t heard the last from Teal Swan.

All this and more on this episode of Black Hoodie Alchemy!

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