Aug 6, 2018

Teal Swan: Cult or Movement?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

People keep calling teal the c-word, cult leader, and dammit, she's addressed this! Way back in 2014, she put this matter to rest, with a blog post addressing, point by point, the cult criteria that she in no way meets. Earlier that year I had written a blog post, myself, comparing her organization to a number of cult criteria checklists, and I came to a different conclusion. I started blogging about teal way back when, because I saw a number of red flags that warned of a cult in formation, starting with the coerced, public "confession" of her ex-boyfriend to "sociopathy." Since that time, she has grown ever more culty and her long-sought mainstream coverage has acknowledged that fact. She did not help herself with her own commentary in the recent podcast series "The Gateway," wherein she told Gizmodo reporter Jennings Brown:

I have the perfect recipe for a cult. Perfect. Recipe.

No, her foray into mainstream press coverage has not gone well and now comes an article from Vice, which puts her cult leader status and her disturbing position on suicide under a microscope. And irony of ironies (note the correct use of the term), the cult expert Vice interviewed for the article is the very one whose checklist teal used to exonerate herself in that blog post, Janja Lalich, PhD. Unlike teal, Lalich appears to have concluded that teal meets the criteria of a cult leader, a dangerous one.

Though Teal has denied cult allegations, her massive social media influence and controversial practices around depression and suicide—sometimes encouraging students to imagine their own deaths in detail—have placed her on the dangerous side of Lalich’s cult radar.

. . .

Lalich sees this kind of dramatic therapy as a way to manipulate vulnerable people. “They can get very unstable, and that’s what she’s counting on,” she said. “Cult leaders will always get their people to what I call ‘reframe their lives.’ They reinterpret their lives so they see everything from before the cult as messed up, and only by staying with the cult leader will they get straightened out.” (To this day, many members of the “Teal Tribe” say they are only alive today because of her teachings.)

Just recently, on her own home turf, teal was challenged to defend herself against allegations that she is a cult leader. This time the accusation may have come from her soon to be fourth ex-husband. It's not entirely clear, but this blog post pricked up a few ears. He never names teal, but a few of his statements are a little on the nose.

In general, the cult leader will get his followers to talk his or her love language whether it is act of service, words of affirmation, gifts, time together or touch to fill the void of their pathological loneliness. The bigger the void, the bigger the need for external adoration. The same pattern can be observed with stars and their fans, or with any narcissistic leader and their subordinates.

Many people in Teal Tribe assumed it was Ale Vaillant who attempted to extort exposure of his own foray into spiritual leadership on teal's platform, with threats of exposing her cultishness.

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I sincerely hope that was posted by someone on her team in her name, because talking about yourself in the third person that much is a bad sign. But teal did make a personal appearance on Teal Tribe to engage tealers on this issue. She did not seem pleased that at least a few people thought it was perfectly fine to self-promote in Teal Tribe.

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In other words, it's fine if Teal Tribe members compete against each other as card readers and crystal venders, but competing against teal as a "spiritual teacher" is not cool, particularly if you disagree with her about anything. I thought it particularly amusing that she would use the example of criticizing Louise Hay's life work. She didn't do that on Hay's own "pages," it's true, but she did take the opportunity of her death to criticize her work, aggrandize herself, and plagiarize an obituary nearly word for word from her then publisher Hay House.

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A lengthy comment in that thread made it sound all the more like the only person she could be referring to is husband number four. What other ex is using his association with teal to set himself up as a spiritual teacher? I know Sarbdeep joked about it and wrote a couple of blog posts and articles on spiritual topics, but he never set up a business or tried to promote any of it on her platform. He had no interest in "fame" and has long since removed his blog and tried to move quietly forward with his teal-free life. But Ale Vaillant has set up shop right in Salt Lake City and will be running a workshop very similar to the canceled relationship retreat he was planning to run at Philia, but under his own auspices, in what looks to be their marital home.

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If teal's accounting of what happened behind the scenes is accurate, I can only deduce that Ale Vaillant thinks teal is running a cult and that he thinks that's something he can use to extort her for his own benefit, rather than expose for the good of society.

There is a certain irony (oh, there's that word again) in how teal is arguing that she's not a cult leader by positioning herself above all of her followers, with their little businesses that don't compete against hers, and declaring that she can't be disagreed with on her own turf. The only people she trusts to keep her honest in Teal Tribe are her moderators, a small, insular group, who reach a lot of "unanimous" conclusions, which doesn't exactly suggest that there's a lot of free-thinking going on there either.

She closes that comment by suggesting that anyone who thinks she's a cult leader should do more research into cults. But we have now heard from three prominent cult experts, each of whom has expressed grave concerns. As stated previously, Rick Ross thinks she "fits the pattern of a [cult leader]," and that she has become an "object of worship." Steven Hassan found her droning voice and soothing backgrounds could have an hypnotic effect on viewers of her videos. Both were troubled by her claims of spiritual authority and rarified insight. And now Lalich has voiced her concerns and shared that she has heard complaints from former teal followers.

Lalich says she’s been hearing complaints about Teal for quite some time. “Mostly they’re from people who feel they’ve been exploited,” she said. “They want some kind of validation that they were right in feeling that way about their experiences.”

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In that thread, as she has many times before, teal referred Teal Tribe to her post "Cult or Movement?" As I said here, it might be a good idea to apply teal's cult checklist of choice (Lalich and Lanagone) to her actual record.

1. The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the truth, as law.

In the podcast series, teal said of her followers:

These people are desperate. These people need my approval. These people will do whatever the hell I say.

She swears that her ethics stand between her and abuse of that level of devotion, but how in the heck did they come to be that devoted? Why is she up on a pedestal that high to begin with? How is it in any way normal that a large following of adults need her approval and would do whatever she tells them to? Why would she allow that dynamic to continue?

In her "Answers to the Allegations" video, which I wrote up here, she explains that it's perfectly normal that she's being idolized, just like a pop star. Such "severe idolization" is to be expected, according to her, because they're not "evolved" in their awareness. They've disowned their positive traits and projected them onto her, which she seems to think is fine. Funnily, this sounds a lot like Ale's Vaillant's blog post on cults, where he says:

They have disown [sic] their light and their guru has disowned his shadow. The relationship that they are developing with a narcissistic guru will then reflect their unworthiness and they are therefore a perfect match to their cult leader because of their core belief of being bad. 

2. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

For all teal's claims that questions are "encouraged," that doubt is "seen as normal and a healthy part of expansion." and that dissent is not punished, her record says otherwise. For example, when Katherine Rose Breen tried to ask her some questions about her practices with "repressed memory" she found herself banned from Teal Tribe (see also here).

Breen's experience is not atypical. There is a long history of teal's refusal to deal with questions and criticism and many instances of banning and even mass bannings on Teal Tribe. In the podcast series discussed here, Brown interviewed Todd Mooney, who was exiled from Teal Tribe when he had a period of doubt and got angry with teal. And, as noted, teal herself has said that such exile is  inevitable "the minute someone has a falling out with me."

As I wrote here, she has explicitly discouraged "doubt." In her Ask Teal video on how "unhealthy" it is to practice any sort of "skepticism" she said:

The actual vibration of doubt looks nothing like genuine uncertainty, instead it looks like disbelief. To doubt is to consider something unlikely. To consider something unlikely is to act as if you know. It is to pretend you know something that you do not know. It is to bring a sense of certainty to a universe of uncertainty. For this reason, doubt in all actuality, is the flip side of faith. Doubt is only another kind of faith. It is faith in the negative instead of faith in the positive. Like the shadow side of faith, to consider something unlikely (doubt) is to act as if you know. People use doubt to gain a sense of certainty and cognitive closure in the same way that people use faith to gain a sense of certainty and cognitive closure.

3. Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, mind control, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

In her interview with Vice, Lalich describes teal's therapies, like the death meditation Brown observed at Philia, as creating instability in her followers, which makes them easier to manipulate. This is something I've long been concerned about in my own observations of teal's work. None of it seems to be truly geared toward fostering anyone's personal autonomy. On the contrary, it all seems to make teal the focal point and to have the potential to break people down psychologically.

In this post, I relayed my own experience of using one of the processes available on her site. The post includes comments from someone in Teal Tribe who explained that her videos are causing him to feel less stable, that they're triggering, and like "ripping off a band-aid, pouring salt in the wound, and walking away." It's a fascinating exchange, which highlights the disturbing pattern that unfolds when anyone questions teal's methods, even when they feel personally harmed by them. In sum, teal's pain is more important than yours, even if she's the one who hurt you.

I did this process and found it be entirely teal-focused, that it corralled me in a direction of blaming my family and convincing me that I was really worse off psychologically than I thought. My conclusion was that it was not so much a therapeutic tool as a kind of "push poll into despair."

On another occasion, I listened to one of teal's guided meditations, the one on finding your "spirit animal." I found it to be "over-directed to the point of absurdity." I wrote this up in the noncast "What's the Point of 3?" which can be found in the comments on this page (page search: 2.0). It's not just bad. It's dangerous, both to the listener and to the spirit world. She actually tells people, not only exactly what to visualize, but what they're feeling, and then starts dictating to the spirit animal. There's no room in it for anyone to experience their own process of discovery, let alone take actual guidance from whatever spirit helper they might make contact with.

There are hints at grueling "denunciation sessions" within her "intentional community." As stated, the incident that caused me enough concern to start blogging about teal was how she forced a public confession from her ex-boyfriend Fallon. "Confession" is one of Robert Jay Lifton's eight criteria of "totalism." This played out publicly and was thoroughly degrading.

Another person in teal's inner circle who experienced "denunciation sessions" was Cameron Clark. She shared her experiences of being raked over the coals by teal on more than one occasion, including the all too public Shadow House incident, in this interview.

In this post, in the subsection on "Marriage," I provided further examples of teal's "denunciation sessions," both public and private. What it comes down to is that teal is never wrong. She can see all your "shadows" and she's determined to talk about them. If you don't acknowledge them, she's somehow the one who's being "gaslighted." That may mean browbeating workshop participants into accepting her world view, even if they disagree, and calling people — who've paid her upwards of a grand — derogatory names like "creep," you know, for their own good. Or as her then husband put it:

Because you’re always a work in progress and she sees all your imperfection, and you have to be willing to see them yourself. Because if she sees it and you don’t see it, then there’s a conflict. And she’s not going to let go.

4. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

In her defense, teal writes:

I am an initiator, but I am not a dictator.  I do not dictate what people do unless they ask for my opinion and then it is their choice to implement the suggestion or not.

I know words really aren't teal's friend, but why would she ever dictate what people do if she's not a dictator? And how is it somebody's choice, if she's dictating? Freudian slip? Or just more inscrutable word salad, confusing the reader, leaving them to construe whatever meaning is most comfortable for them. What I take from that statement is that asking her for her opinion is all the pretext she needs to start telling you what to do. Your mileage may vary. Any pile of verbiage this internally contradictory leaves a lot of room for interpretation... and projection.

No one in this group needs my permission for anything and needing permission suggests a lack of self-trust.  I teach people to govern themselves.

And yet, for some inexplicable reason, she has followers who "need [her] approval" and will "do whatever the hell [she says]." (See point 1.)

In that blog post, teal admits that she has "many opinions about the healthiest and best ways to do certain things." She's not forcing them on anybody, though. She'd just like people to "try [them] on" and see how they work out, and they can always drop them later... that is unless they're indelible. While I don't think teal has ever prescribed a style of clothing, she has passionately encouraged followers to get her favorite tattoo, the Seal of Alchemy.

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I wrote this up in my noncast "The Bottomless Rabbit Hole" which starts here, in the comments. (page search: bottomless) In the teacast on "Rites of Passage" teal made a strong appeal to tealers to just consider, you know, maybe, probably getting one of these tattoos. But it's definitely, totally up to them.

Teal Tribe Tattoo

This is what I'm hoping, you know, now that we're on the subject, this is what I'm hoping is true for, for people in Teal Tribe. So you've noticed, maybe some of you have been watching the Teal Tribe groups that, that it's become a big thing for, for all of us to share this tattoo which I actually have on my arm, the Alchemy tattoo. And we could look at that as a rite of passage, a rite of passage where we are saying okay I'm going to mark my alliance with this particular group. We could also say I'm going to mark my decision to live my life according to the Alchemy principal that mind and thought creates reality, whatever that means for you. I'm hoping that that particular decision rather than being something which binds you forever, because there's no punishment for leaving Teal Tribe, there's no punishment for choosing to leave this group because it needs to be a conscious choice. I'm hoping that that's what that is. It's a rite of passage whereby somebody is owning a truer state for themselves knowing that in the future that might transition and that could just be like every other thing like a stamp on an envelope that seals a portion of your particular life or it could remain an open chapter throughout the course of your life. But, yeah, so any of you who are wanting to get these tattoos which are the Teal Tribe Tattoo I'm now gonna call it. If anyone wants to do that I'm gonna want you to rewatch this video and ask yourself each one of these questions about healthy rites of passage and ask yourself whether that particular decision to get that tattoo is a healthy rite of passage for yourself or not. And that's gonna be a completely individual, individual thing. [All emphases added]

So it's the symbol of Alchemy and that's why it's meaningful, but she's just gonna go ahead and rename it the "Teal Tribe Tattoo." And, gosh, it would be great if tribers would get one.

And they did. And they do. And so it goes.

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More images of "Tea Tribe Tattoos" can be found here.

5. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

I addressed some evidence of this in this post. At some point after I posted that, she stopped using the word "eucharist" to describe herself. But there are still traces of this verbiage. This is a screenshot of one of her early bios, where it states:

From a young age, Teal began professing to have not only chosen to be a part of this physical life, but to have been sent as a “Eucharist” into this physical life by the non physical grouping of energy called "Adonai." "Adonai" is a non physical group whose intention is the imparting of oneness.

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Extant versions of this verbiage can still be found on other sites where her work has appeared, like this interview with the Time Monks.

She has also claimed to be a reincarnation of Sai Baba.

Teal Swan on Her Past Life as Sai Baba from India

And then, of course, there's the whole Arcturian soul fork thing.

Excerpts from Nova Zem Interview with Teal Swan

In the infamous Nova Zem interview, teal explains that an Artcurian panel designed her to be pretty and white enough to reach a global audience, you know, because black women are "pretty ugly" to a Western audience. She also compares humans to ants and explains that she has three points of perspective to the normal, pedestrian two points of perspective that humans do. She clarifies that she's not a mere channeler like Esther Hicks, she's more like the consciousness entity Abraham that Hicks channels, but in human form. In other words, she's different from the rest of us mere mortals, and that includes other people who do spiritual work.

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When teal was first starting out as "the spiritual catalyst," puff pieces like this one promoted by her then husband Mark Scott, popped up here and there around the web. This version is gone, but a currently extant version of the same text, under the title "The Indigo Child to Lead Them All," can be found here. It looks to be similar to the Jason Freedman "articles," which could be found on the same sites with Blake Dyer's picture and phone number. In other words, Anne Whinney is also probably a sock. The following comments are from the deleted version. (I have a pdf of this which is available upon request.) They may be by real people or they may be other socks. Neither possibility is good, but if it's the latter, that teal and her team were seeding these ideas of her being and "avatar" with "disciples," that's a particularly alarming proposition.

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6. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society. ‪

Her language on this point is fascinating.

I teach oneness.  Us vs. Them thinking is out of alignment with oneness.  But sometimes language restricts us.  In a certain context, generalizations involving the words us and them helps people to comprehend a concept, such as “we have dedicated our life to authenticity and that is not something they will understand at first or thank you for.”  This is not done to encourage polarization.

So just because she divides the world in "us and them" — people who have "dedicated [their] lives" to her brand of "authenticity" and people who don't appreciate it — doesn't mean she's polarizing.

As I have said repeatedly, you are with teal or you are with the terrorists. She calls her followers "tealers" and those who disagree with her "anti-teal," "haters," and even "hate groups." She seems to see opposition to her "mission" and "movement" everywhere. She's gone "up against the mainstream" and it's fought back. She sees herself as a game-changer, a revolutionary, even a messianic figure (she compares herself to Jesus), who is beset by opposition because she's so threatening to the status quo.

In a word, yes, she's very polarizing.

7. The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

Because teal is not part of any larger spiritual/religious organization and is not a licensed psych or medical practitioner, she has no real oversight. She has no license to lose. She did, however, catch the attention of the Utah State Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. She was cited for practicing mental health therapy without a license and fined. Brown reported in "The Gateway" that she has not paid the fine and it's gone into collection. She does not appear to have changed her practices. If anything, she's escalated them. She continues to certify people in her brand of trauma therapy, the Completion Process. She's ratcheted up criticism of professional psychological institutions and declared her methods superior for dealing with problems as serious as suicidal ideation.

Brown also learned that she'd been using the state seal on her Completion Process certificates and was ordered to cease and desist. On that, she now appears to be in compliance.

8. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

Leave say, teal has a certain moral flexibility, with which I have been very uncomfortable for some time. I don't think it could be defined in such conventional terms as means justifying noble ends. It's more that she inverts moral principles and the meanings of words to justify a range of ethically dubious propositions. As I wrote in the noncast "Bottomless Rabbit Hole":

With teal, a lot of things that most people think are good, like humility, are bad, and a lot of things that most people think are bad, like manipulation, are good.

If we fear manipulative people, it is only because we do not realize that every being on this earth (including ourselves) is manipulative. Manipulation is not evil. It does not mean that someone intends to hurt or use other people for their own benefit. So what does it mean to be manipulative? To be manipulative is to speak and act in a way that guarantees that we get the response we want to get from other people. So you see, manipulation is how most of us try to get love. Manipulation is how most of us try to get safety... because we do not trust the world to be kind to us. Everyone is manipulative, we are simply more or less aware of that aspect within ourselves.
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She also has a long history of justifying and rationalizing violent criminals and tyrants: Jim Jones, Elliott "The Virgin Killer" Rodger, Ted Bundy, Hitler... She invariably sees murderers as objects of pity, and puts responsibility on their victims for law of attracting violence.

False Prophets - Teal Swan -

In her video on "false prophets," she claims that Jim Jones only wanted to help people and that there are no malevolent intentions.

People who fear false prophets distrust themselves but more than that they fear malevolence. For that reason alone, it's important to understand that evil does not exist within this universe. There has not ever been one malevolent intention on the planet Earth. Let me show you why. The person who murders is not evil. The person who murders murdered somebody because they thought that the murdering of someone would make them feel better. So the ultimate desire, the motivation behind that murder was to feel good. Sounds mighty malevolent doesn't it.... Don't believe for a second that Jim Jones thought that he was causing people harm. He thought that he was helping people. He thought that the only way for them to be free was to die.

Not only is this victim-blaming, it justifies mass murder, genocide, thrill-killings, and rape, because they make violent actors "feel better."

That she says things like this with so much confidence, and speaking as an elevated spiritual authority, can have a warping effect on her followers, particularly on those closest to her. This comment was posted to my blog. Even though the comment was public, as the poster has removed it, I am redacting the name and other identifying details. Leave say, this person was part of teal's intentional family, at one time. In this comment, it's clear that he experienced marked personality changes while following teal, including an erosion of ethical constraints, even to the point of willingness to commit murder.

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9. The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

As I wrote in point 3, there are "denunciation sessions" which can become very degrading, and a number of them play out in public. Invariably the punished offenses are perceived slights against teal. In the comment above, from her former insider, he describes how the other members of the community took him to task for "manipulating" teal. As I wrote in my first blog post on teal, her ex-boyfriend Fallon was made to confess to "sociopathy" and did so on what was then the Teal Tribe site (it's gone now), where he opened himself up to public shaming by members. Cameron described similar incidents, where she was ganged up on, and many people have commented on my blog that what ensued on teal's Facebook page after the infamous Shadow House episode was sickening. Followers do teal's bidding, when it comes to attacking and shaming anyone teal is not getting along with.

The one caveat, none of this is subtle. It's remarkably ham-fisted. It creates a chilling effect. Who wants to disagree with teal about anything, when they see how people are treated?

10. Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group. ‪

In the screenshot posted at the end of point 8, this former member describes how teal had him convinced that he'd been molested by a family member, despite his not having any memory of it. She also persuaded him to break with his family, and consider her intentional community his new family.

Something similar played out very publicly at a workshop. The incident was included in the final episode of "The Gateway." It was also something that Katherine Rose Breen recounted in this post. This woman was told by teal that she suffered horrible abuse that she just doesn't remember. Things got worse from there.

As I said in point 3 above, I did one of teal's processes on her website. It was literally impossible to come to any conclusion other than that my life is not working and it's my parents' fault. The post includes screenshots of the whole, bizarre exercise.

The messaging from teal is consistently that parents are to blame for everything. That this causes many of her devotees to distances themselves from their families is inevitable. Friendships and even marriages have also been impacted. In episode 4 of "The Gateway," Brown interviews a couple who divorced over the husband's devotion to "divine mother" teal.

11. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

Because this is primarily an internet-based organization, numbers matter. She relies heavily on social media platforms and has racked up a significant following. In "The Gateway," Brown learned some very troubling information about how she uses SEO techniques, not only to build a following, but to target vulnerable people directly. This is similar to the way cults seek out people who are in transitional phases, like their college years. Recruiters will look for people who look lonely or unhappy, whereas teal will use tags like "how do I not kill myself." It's the same idea but with a high tech spin.

12. The group is preoccupied with making money.

In her post, teal rightly points out that money is "necessary to live in society on earth at this current time." Verbose, but true.

She spoke to the money question in her "allegations" video, which I addressed here under "Money an Spirituality." To summarize, Teal Eye LLC is a for-profit business. She spun off her nonprofit aspirations into something called Headway, and it's a dubious prospect at best, with no accounting for what funds have been moved in or out.

Her prices are increasing with high ticket events and "Premium" content. There's significant merchandizing of her "art" and other products. And while it's true that joining Teal Tribe doesn't cost anything, many of her followers are unable to afford her increasingly expensive newer offerings. They can't even watch entire "Daily Updates" on her Instagram account, because the complete versions are only available through Premium.

In this interview she talks about her aspirations for the expansion of her company and its role in world change. She explains that the world is FUBAR and that she'll need to create a giant, overwhelming financial force and begin paying off politicians, like any other giant corporation. Ultimately she'd like to buy her own countries and set them up according to her principles. Yes, that's right, she says she wants to buy countries. Where would anyone get the idea that this is a cult?

13. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

In her post teal says:

People in this group who want to donate their time, come forward as volunteers and volunteer for as long as they feel called to do so.

Why are people donating their time to a for-profit company? People work for free at her workshops and, as discussed both here and in "The Gateway" podcast, Philia is staffed by unpaid volunteers. As stated above, her non-profit arm doesn't seem to be up to much. Most of what she does is for-profit, so why isn't she paying the people who work for her?

14. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

From her blog post:

No one is encouraged to ONLY socialize with members.  But people do find that they prefer socializing with other members.  This is after all, a tribe that exists as a support and place of belonging for those who have no support and no place to belong or who feel like they want more connection.

This really isn't much of a defense. Even within this statement she's encouraging people to prioritize her "tribe," instilling the idea that it's preferable to socializing with people who aren't her followers.

15. The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

She writes:

I have no control over whether the most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group or believe there is no other way to be.

As we learned in "The Gateway," teal actively pursues the lonely, desperate, and suicidal as followers, using SEO tools like search tags. In other words, she very definitely has control over what kinds of people she's targeting with these marketing tools and that they are likely to become dependent on her and her "tribe." She told Brown:

What do I say to the fact that I run a cult?...  I have the perfect recipe for a cult. Perfect. Recipe. I have a demographic of people who are miserably isolated, lonely. They need belonging desperately. It's literally the demographic that needs to find somewhere to belong... That is the recipe for a cult... I have the recipe for a cult... These people are desperate. These people need my approval. These people will do whatever the hell I say. [All emphases added]

She goes on to explain, in her post:

I can officially say that there is absolutely no reprisal, consequence or punishment for leaving the group. 

This seems to be one of her favorite talking points and it's come up repeatedly. But as I said here and here, it's not really true. People who leave quietly face no reprisals, but people who state publicly why they've left are subject to all manner of personal attacks. They're "haters" and "anti-teal" now, so she'll complain about them on her blog and in interviews and her flying monkeys will pelt them with nasty comments or worse. But even for people who don't speak out against her, the consequence is losing that sense of "belonging" she talks about so much. The punishment is exile. And what's worse, she knows it, and she leverages it. Another talking point that we've now heard a few times is most pointedly articulated in her OZY interview.

For somebody who’s never had a sense of belonging, [Teal Tribe] becomes … their new family. Which works until the minute that someone has a falling out with me. … If anyone has an issue with me, turning against me, they stand to lose all these people they’re really close to.

To sum up, teal is targeting desperate, lonely, and suicidal people with calculated SEO tricks. She offers those people a sense of family, tribe, and belonging, as long as they don't disagree or get into any sort of conflict with her. If they do, they are exiled. Those who have the wherewithal to really begin to question her and her methods may find support on "anti-teal" platforms like my blog or the "hate groups" as she calls them on Facebook. Those who find their voice and begin to publicly criticize her will be vilified by her and attacked by her "army." These really seem like consequences to me.


  1. If there were any remaining doubts that Teal Swan and her followers are a cult this post demolishes them.

  2. It's no secret that Ale keeps alluding in his blog posts and Instagram photos to the fact that Teal runs a cult. It's also no secret that Teal Tribe and the cult in CR didn't like him at all. It looks like he is taking a jab at them here (in a similar fashion to him taking jabs at his ex wife during their divorce a few years ago):

    1. You mean you think his commentary here is meant to distinguish between a loving group of people, where he's accepted, and the way teal treated him like an unwanted guest? Like this?

  3. I checked in to read the latest news about Teal. LaVaughn, I appreciate your work and hope truth wills out. Thanks.

    So, in explaining all about her hard life of being so famous, Teal just adds more lies which can be caught out. That is so weird.

    comment on her post
    Their Lives In My Hands, My Life In Their Hands

    rfldr commented on Teal's blogpost in Blog Posts

    Hi Teal, You say Cameron Clark was in your community when Leslie committed suicide, but Leslie committed suicide on May 20, 2012. Cameron Clark came to your community in 2013 when Fallon was your partner. I remember seeing those shadow house episodes with both of them. In the website you made with testimonials ( it is also clear that Cameron joined your community in 2013. I also checked your blog...
    Tuesday at 02:48 PM 36 comments

    1. Hey, Maggie! How ya doin?!

      Yes, teal did, indeed, blatantly lie about Cameron in that blog post, and not for the first time. I've added an update on that to this post.

    2. Good update. I am still so curious about why she would so twist that tale when it is so easy to refute with facts. I think she is losing her grip. I also reference that instagram halo post. On a different note, her latest x is primed (being he is so brave, courageous, and robust) to lead his own cult.

      Jeez, just when you think the teal soap opera is becoming thin and maybe the subject washed up, She foams up like a phosphate pollutant.

    3. "On a different note, her latest x is primed (being he is so brave, courageous, and robust) to lead his own cult."

      I share your concerns.

      Did you see his latest blog post, where he slaps a borderline diagnosis on every woman in his life, including his sister? If they've all been properly diagnosed, okay I guess, but the only one I know for sure has is his soon to be ex-wife, because she's said so publicly (every therapist she's seen). And then he calls codependency a personality disorder, which it's not. It's not in the dsm at all. It's a pop-psychology and recovery term, one which I think is valid and very useful, but that's me. Labeling everybody, including himself, with improperly defined psych diagnoses is a tealism.

    4. "he slaps a borderline diagnosis on every woman"....

      Could be takes one to project one?

      I have been attentive to Tealish goings on through the years and I have noticed that Vaillant actually evoked a similar revulsion as Teal for me. This means that I have thought they were energetically similar.

      Yes I did read that blog post. I read a few in the last few months and on a different note, I read thinly disguised critique and analysis of known "Tealers". One sounded like Blake and one Like Graciella. I can't find them now.

    5. These were recent posts? Not the ones that were disappeared, right?

    6. It was in the Vaillant post on Codepemdents and Borderlines.

      This sounds like it could be Blake

      "I knew a lady that lived with her best friend and his girlfriend. Both girls used to get along very well. He was very codependent and made his girlfriend feel he cannot fully present to her because of the commitment he has towards his best friend that was also his employer. He made his friend/employer insecure that telling her that he cannot be really there for her because of his relationship to his girlfriend, which he claimed was the most important thing in his life. As a result, the two ladies that really adored each other started feeling threatened with one another."

      and maybe like Graciella?

      " I knew a woman that was in love with another woman but she could not face the truth that she was a lesbian. She made herself her caregiver. Once she felt she had leverage by becoming more indispensable, she would threaten she may leave to find the love of her life (often described as a male). This would make the other woman panic however it was obvious that she did not intend to go anywhere. She eventually succeeded in splitting her with her husband by becoming what she felt the other woman really wanted and by showing her the incompatibilities she perceived with the husband the other woman loved."

      I might be mistaken.

    7. great observation Maggie. I think you're correct and it makes their whole living arrangement even more disturbing and dark. What will happen to these people the day they break free from the Teal cult?

  4. How would a cult look that that extols living in a community based on Borderline meets Borderline? Created by, all about and for the those who just know they are special and everyone else is just not serving them so well.

    "Being a person with BPD is a (self-induced) torture. Imagine 2 people with BPD together; it’s double the emotional intensity, fears of abandonment, love and hate, abuse, breakdowns and suicidality. It’s double the exhaustion. It’s also double the thrills, excitement, adventure, creativity, imagination and passion.

    For the time it lasts, it’s the most intense, addictive, passionate, creative and destructive thing to happen to you. Nothing can prepare you for something like this. All your good sense, logic, ambition goes out of the window because you truly have no time for anything else.

    Both parties are willing to climb through the high gates of hell to please each other. They both live on the edge and this relationship is basically a double edged sword. There’s a high likelihood of you killing yourself or the other person if this goes too long. All the gory details of your life are exposed. Your deepest darkest fears can be realized. Your insanity, vulnerability and darkness is out in the open and the other relishes in its raw force that can engulf both the partners if left uncontrolled.

    Both feel the other is taking precedent and their needs are not being met. If one has extreme abandonment fears, the other develops intense engulfment fears. They are constantly testing each others’ patience. There is nothing close to a normal relationship here. There is no communication about the relationship. Both bring out the best and the worst in each other. Their creativity and imagination peaks but so does their suicidal ideation, insecurity, envy, possessiveness, rage, impulsiveness, living on the edge, risky indulgences and f**k the world attitude. Rage becomes commonplace. One slight disagreement can trigger intense anger. The more I think about it, the more I tremble at each and every memory. Definitely the most exciting and simultaneously torturous time of my life. It felt like I was released from prison towards the end and really never felt the need to turn around ever again."

  5. Teal has been playing the part of the dirty deleter again. More recent blog posts were taken down. I wonder why as they did not contain anything about her ex.

  6. Check out the comment by "Wayne Williams" in her latest blog (page 3 of comments.) I can't paste it here because it's too long. Fantastic response to Teal.

    1. He kinda lost me with the pity party for Bill Cosby.

  7. Hello LaVaughn.

    I have never followed Teal, nor any spiritual teacher, but I do know people who have been hurt and disillusioned by her.

    I want to reach out and thank you. Been quietly reading your blog, not only about Teal, but other things too, and your perspectives has really helped me.

    One part of it, is I see Teal as a "black mirror" of what could have been me, had I chosen a different way through life and let traumas, distrust and hate guide me.

    Thank you so much for your contribution in this world. You reach more people than you might think.

    1. Hiya! Thanks so much for your feedback. Glad you're enjoying the blog.

    2. I've been much more quiet lately, but i am just the same enjoying your site and appreciating all your work, LaVaughn

    3. Hugs to you, darlin.' Nice to see you.

  8. I realized I am commenting from my brothers account; if youre reading this, sorry!

  9. Well this is interesting. Bentinho's former girlfriend has gone public with some pretty serious assertions, all coached in supplicating, non-confrontational language, but serious all the same.

    Also of interest, guess who posted a link, with some intriguing commentary. Who might he be talking about, other than Bentinho maybe... hmmm...

    Seems to be something of a theme with him lately.

  10. Hmm I think Vaillant aka Ale is slowly waking up to who the real Teal is..
    This Bentinho is probably an interesting case as well..

    And to top it off, I stumbled upon another new age celeb in the astrology world which showcases similarities with Teal Swan in her attempt to gain admiration and followers. Her name is Elsa P, don't know if you've heard of her before and she has a website and forum and published 3 books under which her "memoir" which tells the tale of her supposedly having survived an abusive childhood (escaped a murderous father) in a rather heroic way and she uses real life figures such as her sister but adds a false narrative and made-up stories to make herself look supersmart, brave, funny and so on to gain admiration, yet she pretends to be super down to earth and humble and claims she wants to help others (covert narcissism). Sounds familiar right?

    I had to write a whole blog about it. Too many remain blind..
    You can read it here if you like New Age Celebs and Covert Narcissism

    1. Wowza! That's pretty friggin' unbelievable. If that comment is the real deal, this gal is a fabulist of the first water. I hope her sister sues her into oblivion.

      As far as Prince Valiant goes, I think he knew all along what teal is all about. He pretty well disclosed that in his divorce announcement.

      If anything, I think he's some sort of guru wannabe. And he's taking a page from James Ray's book by using other people's work and traditions that he's not trained or certified in, things like soul retrieval (no doubt as bastardized by teal) and even Holotropic Breathwork, just like Ray did. All as part of relationship retreat for which his sole qualification is two divorces, in quick succession.

    2. Yeah it's pretty cringeworthy if you ask me..I don't know if her sister sued her. I'm guessing not because the review was posted in 2013, but I totally believe she's a fabulist, because those stories in her memoir are just too fantastical and that blogpost as I explained had too many red flags as well.

      I guess Vaillant/ Ale has no other choice then to continue on the spiritual path and through his association with Teal (by many believed to be the 'highest' in the community) since he got fired from the highest position he used to have as consulate of Monaco, so now he has to get the same position in his new community.

      Just read his blogpost on guru's and cult leaders, it's quite ironic..and omg one of the comments below that article is also pretty alarming! It's about the (in)famous guru Sai Baba and this commentator is defending him as a 'real' spiritual healer with 1 of these arguments:

      ".. Infact, according to the accusations against him, this is the only proved information, that he touched students near their genital organs in order to stimolate the awakening of the inner energy:

      „During one interview, which occured just before I was scheduled to fly home to America, while we were alone, Sai Baba had me pull down my pants. He then “materialized” oil and pulled down my underwear and applied the oil on my lower abdomen below my navel and above my penis. He did not touch me sexually or ask me to do anything to him. He did embrace me for what seemed like a long time (perhaps 30 seconds or more) but nothing else.“ (1)

      Umpf me thinks Sai Baba was testing him to see how far he could go by having his pants pulled down.. :s and even if he wasn't planning on doing more in the future, it's quite a powertrip for someone do get somebody to do that without question.

    3. I'm wondering if the Sathya Sai Baba pic wasn't also a subtle dig at teal, who ALSO claims to be a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba. See, only PART of the soul stream reincarnated in teal and the OTHER part reincarnated as an abusive cult leader, which she definitely is not. Uh huh.

    4. I don't know, he did write that ' ..This is why so many cult leaders, especially if they are men, turn into sex addicts. ..'

      And we all know that Teal is a sex addict herself, I think she has admitted to it herself, but I don't think Vaillant is completely woke because in one of the comments he said that someone who translated his article into German, stated that Teal is a cult leader and Vaillant / Ale wanted him to remove that, because he never said that. Meaning that he still views her as a spiritual leader (instead of a *cult* leader), or maybe he's just trying to be PC out of fear for revenge..?

  11. Meanwhile, the Bentinho and Jocelyn saga continues and it's a doozy. Jocelyn posted a long comment on her FB page about how Ben used to tear her down by picking at her weight. (Hint: It's got nothing to do with her actual weight and everything to do with his power plays.)

    Jocelyn 1

    Jocelyn 2

    Jocelyn 3

    This heartbreaking disclosure invited rebuttal, not only from Ben, but from HIS MOTHER!!!

    His mother's comment is so long it required six screenshots to capture it.

    Mo Massaro 1

    Mo Massaro 2

    Mo Massaro 3

    Mo Massaro 4

    Mo Massaro 5

    Mo Massaro 6

    We are one stupid tablecloth, indeed! (???)

    Please note that Ben's mother calls Jocelyn jealous, as she berates her for being sexy (ahem), picks at her weight and eating habits repeatedly, and also undermines her intelligence, something Ben does as well. Boy, the apple didn't fall far from that tree.

    Bentinho 1

    Bentinho 2

    Also hard to miss, Bentinho also takes swipes at Jocelyn's former fiance Rune, by calling him Ruin.

    So this is what passes for spiritual teaching in this milieu? Verbal abuse sugarcoated with a lot of spiritual bypassing, and for added fun some jibes at people for not being bypassy enough when you blatantly insult them? I don't think that's what Ben's buddy "J" taught at all.

    More here.

    1. It's also ironic how he told his ex-girlfriend he doesn't want her to be 'fat' because he associated that with toxins, yet he doesn't mind exposing his own body to toxins since he has several pics of himself puffing arrogantly on a cigar!

    2. I'm sure he's so evolved he can just transmute all that nasty tar and nicotine. The rest of us are just sooooooo 3D.

  12. LOL oh my! smh

    Seems like a lot of gaslighting too. So Jocelyn says she was emotionally abused to which the self-proclaimed teacher says he was just 'clearing out her mind' and he only remembers it as 'love and fun' which immediately shows his big ass ego, thinking that his perspective as 'enlightened teacher' is the only valid one. Notice also how he didn't confirm or denied anything said about her weight which is more proof of him dismissing her feelings by treating them as irrelevant in the bigger scope where supposedly his mind is at. His mother is the same, defending her teacher/son as being both asshole and pure love so I guess when you're abused by him you're at the same time loved, makes no sense. It's all 'oneness' you know, there is no duality, therefore you can't be abused. Sheesh, I guess that's also why his mother seems to have a lot of cognitive dissonance going on by telling others to be their own guru all the while having her son be her official guru lol.

    "(Hint: It's got nothing to do with her actual weight and everything to do with his power plays.)" Totally, that's why he was just clearing out her mind, you know.

  13. Aaaand, it's getting worse!

    After Jocelyn posted a message about the women's empowerment movement , basically urging women to acknowledge pain that has been inflicted onto women by men and not pretend it never happened and only then practice forgiveness.

    Lo and behold, 2 hours later, Bentinho fired off a revenge reply, or a 'save his own ass'-reply if you will, with the usual high dose of manipulation and spiritual bypassing, claiming that oppressors don't exist (therefore HE can't be an oppressor!) and if you feel oppressed that's only because you're stuck in illusion and you can only 'win' by stop playing 'this game' of trying to empower yourself (!)

    And he has the audacity to post this piece of manipulative drivel next to a photo of a woman wearing a veil, the age old symbol of female oppression by patriarchal religions.

    Luckily, many in the comments section aren't buying into his crap, lol.

    1. Yup. I saw it. It's terrible. More victim-blaming bullshit. And I have no doubt he chose a picture of a veiled woman for that reason. I would quibble, though, with the veil as oppression. It's seen that way in the West, but many Muslim feminists have argued that Westerners are way to preoccupied with their clothing, that this is just another form of objectification of and preoccupation with women's bodies, and that there are far more serious issues to focus on. In fact a lot of Muslim women find the veil liberating, because it takes the emphasis OFF of their bodies, their attire, and their hair. So it's a matter of perspective. But I'm quite sure that was deliberate on his part, like who cares if you're not allowed to go outside, work, or go to school, ladies. Stop playing the victim!

    2. Meanwhile, Ben seems to be in the midst of a total meltdown. He increasingly sounds like an old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off his lawn... because he's more enlightened than ALL of them.

      I took a series of screenshots of what I'm calling "Buddha Was a Real Dick!" Because, yes, Ben is now co-opting the image of the Buddha to take every else's inventory. Yup. Just like the Buddha did. He even set up a "story" on his Facebook page and it's a marvel.

      Remember when the Buddha called everyone a "moron?" I believe it was in the Lotus Sutra.

      Buddha on Morons

      Biggest Fucking Gripe

      And I wouldn't call this my biggest grammar gripe, but there can only be a "number" of people, not an "amount." Amount only refers to things that are measured by volume, like water. And I believe you mean "liars," dear, not "lyers." That's not actually a word.

      And what good are you people, anyway.

      What the Fuck do YOU Do?

      All you people do is point fingers, which he is definitely not doing. Not at all. He's dispensing wisdom, like the Buddha.

      Oh, and he'd appreciate very much your promoting him. So tag all your friends, you worthless sacks of shit!

      Ben's Challenge

      Oh, and it goes on, as the Buddha gazes serenely at all you worthless spiritual wannabes.

      Buddha is a Dick 1

      Buddha is a Dick 2

      Buddha is a Dick 3

    3. Oh oh. They are multiplying at an alarming rate.
      What is even scarier, some of our world leaders are just as sick. It's getting baaaad.

    4. Westerners may not have it all right, but I don’t agree with Muslim feminists on this as there really isn’t anything feminist about the islamic veil nor anything about following a patriarchal religion. The meaning behind it is really because women from an Islamic perspective are viewed as sex-objects by default and they must cover up because the responsibility lies with women and not with men to contain themselves when it comes to their sexual urges. The fact that they claim to feel more ‘liberated’ by covering up is also telling of the men’s attitude towards them and therefore not addressing where the real problem lies, but instead they go along with how men view them and then adapt to that.

      “All you people do is point fingers, which he is definitely not doing. Not at all.”

      lol, all his posts or lets say, rants really just revolve about this and making sure nobody points out his flaws, if they do, it’s because they are not enlightened as he is..

      “He increasingly sounds like an old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off his lawn... because he's more enlightened than ALL of them.”

      Yeah, in his new post, he is literally referring to the “kids have taken over the marketplace” . Ironically, that is him: just a kid who has taken over the spiritual marketplace. I think that he, like a lot of other self-proclaimed enlightened teachers may have had an experience of ‘emptiness’/ ‘oneness’, whatever you may call it during a meditation and then their ego ran with it; believing they have reached this status permanently all the while, they are back in their ego and it has gotten only bigger because now they *think* they have arrived, unlike the rest of the world. And the fame and adoration they get from banking off of this spirituality is only making it worse lol.

    5. People will always show you who they are and Bentinho seems to be in a period of unintentional self-revelation. It's fascinating. And you're right. There's something downright comical about a man of barely 30 lecturing the world from a place of superior wisdom, and complaining about the "kids" taking over. But then, I doubt he'll ever mature. He seems very stunted.

      On the veil, my feeling is that it should be up to women to decide what they wear or how they observe (or don't observe) their faith. I think all these moves to criminalize and restrict it make the same error as countries that enforce it. Both are an attempt to control and objectify the female body. I think it's very telling how focused people are on the veil. It's terribly paternalistic and reveals, I think, just how much women are reduced to their bodies and how they are or aren't displayed. And the same men who go on and on about the horrors of the veil, also try to restrict women breastfeeding in public. (See: Bill Maher)

    6. Oh, and did you see this?

      Ben and teal sure do "mirror" each other! Both of them think they're "reflectors" and this makes them very, very special. Proving that neither of them understand oneness even a little, because we're ALL mirrors.

  14. She has deleted and unfollowed Vaillant/Ale from all social media. She had her staff do the same. Ale is using their past and all of the pics Teal erased for marketing his business. I bet that pissed her off.
    Gosh he's so creepy.

    1. Yup, she's totally wiped him from all her platforms and it happened at light speed, right after their separation was announced. She even took a hatchet to her blog, removing entire posts and gutting others. My favorite is the post called Ratatouille. There's no reference to ratatouille in the post anymore, because Ale and his mother, who made the eponymous ratatouille, are gone from the post. It's so weird. Now it's a travelogue post with a thoroughly inexplicable title.

    2. It's been awhile since my last visit to teal's blog and some things never change. I couldn't finish The Swan King, so many things are just...baaad

    3. Oh, good googly. She blogs so rarely now, I hardly even look. So she wrote a blog post about London, home of her ex-husband, from whom she took the name Swan, and wrote a post about the "Swan King." Wow. That's not too in your face, or anything. Don't have the time or stamina to read this now... but the title alone... just wow.


    4. I am sure she misses her ex husband from London very much (who I won't name). He seems like a decent human being unlike this last (rich) French loser who wants to live the single life so bad that he makes every excuse in the book to not reconnect with his children.

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