Agni Yoka

The Intersection of Wellness and Conspirituality

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many surprising developments. Who knew that face masks could become a weird type of political brand? But even odder is the intersection of wellness, conspiracy theories, and new age spirituality – or conspirituality.

You thought QAnon was a alt-right thing? Well, it’s time to catch up with current events. QAnon is spreading through the world of yoga, mindfulness, and dietary supplements, too.

QAnon Comes to Yoga

Yoga teacher Emma Moulday describes how her social media started filling with conspiracy themes. Claims that COVID-19 is a hoax. Videos about celebrity pedophiles feasting on the blood of children. She told the Sydney Morning Herald:

“I thought, ‘what the hell is going on?’ It was like watching a really bad accident. I was really surprised that people who I thought were intelligent, mindful and discerning were so far down the garden path and really actively promoting it,”

Yoga teacher Vanessa Hollo describes the dissonance:

“Beautiful, caring people were suddenly saying that COVID isn’t real. Yoga practice can help people deal with stress and isolation and anxiety and instead it’s being hijacked by misinformation and fear.”

Suspicion of Science Meets Promotion of Fear

Like any cultish movement, QAnon shows that it can adapt to current events. Though its has roots in white supremacy, the group is tapping into anxieties about the pandemic. Anti-vaccine themes fit right in. So it’s very easy to weave them into messages about the “COVID hoax” that will force a surrender to vaccination.

Back in 2011, before QAnon even existed, Charlotte Ward and David Voas described the emergence of conspirituality in the Journal of Contemporary Religion:

“Conspirituality is a rapidly growing web movement expressing an ideology fuelled by political disillusionment and the popularity of alternative worldviews.”

Among people who would prefer “immune-boosting” smoothies to vaccines for preventing infectious diseases, conspirituality fits right in. So mindfulness gives way to mindless adherence to a conspiracy-minded cult.

A Struggle for Truth

Oddly enough, once you’ve gone down the rabbit hole of of a conspiracy theory, it feels like you’ve found the truth. Shut out the non believers and it all hangs together. So then pulling away from the cult feels quite disturbing.

Nonetheless, some folks who are big believers in alt-health are intent on keeping the alt-right from taking over their movement. They’ve crafted a resolution to spread through social media.

But we doubt this will be an easy struggle to resolve. If sugar is poison, if big food is out to get you, it is hard to challenge further increments in alternative thinking. #DoYourOwnResearch sounds appealing, though it’s a QAnon meme.

No, untangling alt-health wellness from alt-right conspirituality will not be easy.

Click here, here, and here for more on this convergence. For the 2011 paper by Voas and Ward on conspirituality, click here.

Agni Yoga, painting by Nicholas Roerich / WikiArt

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September 27, 2020

One Response to “The Intersection of Wellness and Conspirituality”

  1. September 27, 2020 at 7:53 am, Mary-Jo said:

    You know, I lived in Vienna, Austria for awhile and alt-health is quite pervasive there, but most ALWAYS offered alongside conventional, heavy evidence-based practice. People are encouraged to be aware of, acknowledge, and appreciate both approaches with their advantages and disadvantages, but more importantly, if they choose to try the ‘naturopathic’ approach, and it fails, they are not made to feel guilty, intellectually or spiritually daft if they want to switch to conventional treatment. Certainly, it’s nowhere near the *right*, conspiracy-laden movements happening now in USA! Perhaps it’s something about their history in Austria —the gaslighting and right-wing extremist views and their consequences that leads them to be more open-minded and balanced, so certain things never happen again to their country and surrounding countries.