by Hazel Anna Rogers for the Carl Kruse Blog
There is a woman on Instagram, whom I will call Clarice, who’s online presence has grown exponentially over the last six or seven years.
I first discovered Clarice on YouTube, as she was a relatively popular member of the High Carb Low Fat vegan community who began thriving in the mid-2010s on various social media platforms. Their message was a simple, albeit misguided and arguably dangerous one: you can eat as much as you like on a vegan diet and not gain weight, but only if you limit your diet to carbohydrates (plain potatoes, excessive amounts of fruit, enormous bowls of white rice, smoothies with added cane sugar, and an exorbitant number of bananas). I sadly fell into this strict diet regime just after emerging from my eating disorder and would copy the food rules and restrictions advocated by Clarice and her friends, depriving myself of fats and proteins for many months before my body finally said: ‘I don’t think so’.
Clarice’s popularity is – at least partially – a result of her societally conventional beauty and her ostensibly lavish lifestyle. She is white, tall, and slim, with long blonde hair and a tanned complexion. Over these past few years, she has spent much of her time in Hawaii, Los Angeles, and other such locales. Her Instagram feed encompasses seascapes, jungle shots, minimalist house and bedroom photos, waterfalls, and images of her partially naked body posing within a selection of these beautiful settings. One might question whether Clarice in a larger body would have the reach she has today, with 241,000 followers on account.
Clarice’s ‘brand’ is built on a foundation of saviorism which manifests in the form of new-age spirituality. Beneath her photos, Clarice writes such captions as this:
‘I was divinely designed to remember how holy I am. I am a celestial daughter of the highest realms of heaven. My royalty is encoded into every atom of my awareness, every fiber of my being. I was created to be a living breathing embodiment of unconditional love. It is not wonder the illusion of fear dissolves when I speak. It is my birthright to be powerful. And I refuse to dim my light so others feel comfortable in my presence. The illumination of my awakened heart will inevitably catalyze shadows to emerge within others who have not yet awakened to the beauty of their inner light yet…my only role is to be brave enough tot continue to embody who I know I truly am[…]I am learning to normalize the supernatural abilities of my soul as she awakens to her divinity within this human skin. I am collapsing the hypnosis of fear based programming imbedded in the cellular matrix of my body. Unravelling thousand of years of conditioning from the ancestral depths of my dna[…]I am learning to give my body all the rest she requires for this full system recalibration[…]’
I felt it important to include a large proportion of this caption, as much of it will be relevant to our discussion of Clarice’s role in the anti-vax/fringe movement taking place within the new-age spiritual community.
Not long ago, it was brought to my attention that Clarice recently left her prominent role in the Kangen Water MLM (Multi Level Marketing company), dubbed The Breakaway Movement (BAM). Clarice was one of the lucky few involved in BAM who actually made a (possibly) substantial income through this particular pyramid scheme, which involves selling bogus ‘ionizing and alkalizing’ Kangen water machines, made by Japanese company ‘Enagic,’ to clients who will in turn become one’s downline thus source of income within the BAM company. I was approached by a girl on Instagram who tried to get me to purchase the so-called ‘Trifecta’ of Enagic water machines (which involves three slightly different water filtering devices); this would have cost me about $10,000 dollars. This girl proceeded to get quite defensive when I accused her of shilling unsubstantiated facts about the water and got especially offended when I suggested that BAM might be a pyramid scheme.
A $4000+ Enagic “ionizing” water machine
Clarice was one of the high-up members of BAM when she left, which means she will at least have been making SOME money if not a LOT of money through selling these machines to other unsuspecting young women who might have gotten sucked in by her manipulative use of marketing language. The language commonly used by the women involved in BAM centered around concepts such as the ‘law of attraction’ or ‘manifestation of abundance’. These women will make you believe that, if you put money in, you’ll get money out; and, in order to be successful in the BAM company, you have to simply BELIEVE in your ability to get rich and work remotely on a tropical island in order for this dream to magically manifest itself as a reality. In 2017, a report by the Consumer Awareness Institute discovered that 99 percent of sellers involved in MLMs lose money. Turns out that manifesting may not be as effective as these women suggest.
Before we go back to Clarice, I wish to explain a few phrases to you which you might not yet know the meaning of.
• The Law of Attraction
This is a doctrine from the New Thought Spiritual Movement which implies that positive or negative thoughts will bring about positive or negative experiences. Though I acknowledge the veracity of this doctrine in a more logical sense – if one believes in oneself, say, in the context of a job interview, the likelihood is that one will behave in a more confident manner and thus be (potentially) more likely of securing the job – this phrase is mostly used in the context of money/material abundance by New Thought Spiritualists. In this respect, the phrase is highly manipulative and unrealistic in its suggestive outcomes for most people.
Related to the law of attraction, manifestation (in the context of New Thought spirituality) is a pseudo-scientific theory of self-help which relies on a person’s own thoughts bringing about desired goals, outcomes, or events. Clarice’s (ex) partner states in one of her videos that Clarice has the ability to ‘manifest things so fast’ which she claims is because she doesn’t ‘think anything ever…[as her] brain is a childhood imagination…[and that is why she] is so good at everything.’ Go figure.
- Alternative Right (Alt Right)
A bit more of a grey area here. The Alternative Right, as defined within the realms of the new age spiritual community, is a branch of right-wing nationalistic ideology (mostly at home in America) which is found beneath the thinly draped veil of pseudo-spiritual theory and dialogue promoted in the social media stratosphere. Consider, for example, one of the most infamous QAnon shamans who was pictured storming the Capitol on the insurrection of January 6th, 2021; his name is Jake Angeli, born Jacob Anthony Chansley. Marisa Meltzer comments in a Washington Post article that ‘[Jake] was bare-chested and covered in Nordic tattoos, at least one of which, the Valknot, is a Norse symbol sometimes associated with white supremacy. But he was also, infamously, wearing a headdress fashioned from buffalo horns and coyote skin — elements associated with the American West that seemed to telegraph a pagan spirituality’. Elaborating on this, Meltzer asserts that she has met many ‘[w]hite people who have adopted a mishmash of pagan and Indigenous signifiers as a New Age aesthetic [which she considers to be] a cringeworthy and offensive display of appropriation that [she doesn’t] endorse, but [which is] common in that world.’ [‘that’ world being the world of new age spirituality). (https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2021/03/29/qanon-new-age-spirituality/). The people in these alt-right spiritual communities often mention ‘ascension’ or ‘illumination’ or ‘awakening’ or ‘recalibration’ to refer to their newfound beliefs surrounding the political and social landscape; one of the most prominent of these was some of the new age spiritual community’s rejection of Biden’s electoral success and their die-hard support of Trump, whom, they believed, allowed them to embrace their ‘freedom’ and ‘sovereignty’ as white American citizens.
We’re going to keep this brief by relying on Wikipedia to explain the ridiculousness of this conspiracy theory:
‘QAnon is a disproven far-right conspiracy theory alleging that a cabal of Satanic, cannibalistic paedophiles operate a global child sex trafficking ring and conspired against former President Donald Trump during his term in office. QAnon has been described as a cult. One shared belief among QAnon members is that Trump was planning a massive sting operation on the cabal, with mass arrests of thousands of cabal members to take place on a day known as the “Storm”. QAnon supporters have accused many Hollywood actors, Democratic politicians, and high-ranking government officials of being members of the cabal, without providing evidence. QAnon has also claimed that Trump simulated the conspiracy of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to enlist Robert Mueller to join him in exposing the sex trafficking ring, and preventing a coup d’état by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros.The QAnon conspiracy theories have been amplified by Russian state-backed troll accounts on social media, as well as Russian state-backed traditional media and networks associated with Falun Gong’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QAnon).
You can’t make this up.
Simply put, the anti-vax movement includes peoples from various demographics who do not wish to vaccinate themselves or their children for one reason or another. Most often, this is a result of the anti-vaxxer being exposed to misinformation.
With regard to Covid-19, here is what Nature.com’s Peter Hotez states about the current anti-vax movement:
‘the anti-vaccine empire has hundreds of websites and perhaps 58 million followers on social media. The bad guys are winning, in part because health agencies either underestimate or deny the reach of anti-science forces, and are ill-equipped to counter it.
Investigations by the US State Department and the UK Foreign Office have described how Russian intelligence organizations seek to discredit Western COVID-19 vaccines. One campaign implies that it could turn people into monkeys. This builds on a longer, well-documented history of Russia-sponsored disinformation, presumably to destabilize the United States and other democratic countries. The administration of US President Joe Biden has warned Russian media groups to halt their anti-vaccine aggression, and announced sanctions tied to disinformation and other behaviour […]
The United States hosts the world’s largest and best-organized anti-vaccine groups. According to the London-based Center for Countering Digital Hate, these are influential groups, not a spontaneous grass-roots movement. Many far-right extremist groups that spread false information about last year’s US presidential election are doing the same about vaccines. Anti-vaccine groups also target Black communities; an anti-vaccine documentary released in March vilifies COVID-19 vaccine testing among African Americans, calling it “medical racism”.
Global anti-vaccine messaging around the adenovirus vaccines means that more people will die and the pandemic will be prolonged.’ (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01084-x)
The anti-vax Covid-19 movement is intrinsically linked with the alternative health (Reiki anyone? Jade eggs?), alternative right, and nationalistic movements prominent in the United States. One of the fear-mongering tactics of the Covid-19 anti-vaxxers which Hotez did not discuss in the above segment is the idea that the Covid-19 vaccine contains a microchip which will be used by the government to control and track us (as if they would be interested in the exploits of 20-something-year-old girls organizing a sacred women’s retreat in California for $6000 dollars). The people who choose not to have the Covid-19 vaccine claim that they have become ‘enlightened’ to the government’s tactics and that they refuse to become ‘sheep’ and will instead partake in the great ‘reset’ which will involve all those who have not fallen ‘prey’ to the government’s ‘propaganda’.
So, we’ve now established a few red flags that might alert us to reconsider the veracity of Clarice’s ‘authentic’ spiritual claims. Looking more closely at Clarice’s dialogue in the caption detailed above; firstly, consider the phrase ‘I refuse to dim my light so others feel comfortable in my presence’. Many other influencers within the vegan/spiritual online community use similar phrases when they have or are about to reveal their opinions surrounding a political/social debate. Here, Clarice uses this comment to establish her rejection of any criticism related to her discussion of her own beliefs, but she does so by employing typical spiritual jargon – ‘dim my light’ – and in doing so makes those critiquing her appear evil or oppressive. While we might think this sentence relatively harmless, we have to be objective about the fact that Clarice has a huge audience of impressionable young women and her unwillingness to engage in conversation about her (potentially) problematic views is highly irresponsible bearing in mind the platform she holds on Instagram.
Next, let us look at this sentence: ‘The illumination of my awakened heart will inevitably catalyze shadows to emerge within others who have not yet awakened to the beauty of their inner light yet’. Here, we encounter the patronizing dialogue that is equally prominent in the BAM community; basically, this comment illustrates the idea that if one hasn’t ‘woken up’ to embrace the alternative right/anti-vax movement, then they are basically inferior to those who have, like Clarice herself. This comment is akin to BAM’s suggestion that people just need to believe in the law of attraction in order to be free from their 9 to 5 jobs, and, if they don’t believe, then they are doomed to a life of servitude and insignificance; they will never be able to live the luxurious lifestyles of freelance marketers like themselves.
The last comment we are going to analyze from Clarice’s Instagram caption is a longer one, but arguably the most important one from the whole speech:
‘I am collapsing the hypnosis of fear based programming imbedded in the cellular matrix of my body. Unravelling thousand of years of conditioning from the ancestral depths of my dna[…]I am learning to give my body all the rest she requires for this full system recalibration.’
A few months ago, I noticed that Clarice had been reposting pro-Trump and anti-vax infographics and videos on her Instagram story. She framed these problematic narratives under such ideas as the ‘awakening’ and ‘recalibration’ of the human race, whereby those who did not fall for the government’s ‘propaganda’ would ‘rise’ and ‘recalibrate’ and become the highest, most ‘divine’ (whatever that means) humans of the modern day. Sounds a bit white supremacist, no? When I asked her why she was intentionally spreading misinformation, she did not answer for a long time. When I eventually received a response to my numerous questions, the response was simply another video propounding further misinformation. Clarice wrote beneath this beneath the video she sent me: ‘it’s a tough message to hear, but I highly suggest you listen to this video. [prayer hands] Sending love sister.’
Looking at the comments above, you might note the use of the phrases ‘fear-based programming’ and such pseudo-scientific wording as ‘cellular matrix’ and ‘ancestral depths of  dna’ and ‘full system recalibration’. These phrases are all guises for alternative right propaganda. In order to not lose followers through an obvious proclamation of her political and ideological beliefs, Clarice uses vague language – but language which is recognizably synonymous with the alternative right and anti-vax communities – to establish her opinions on the apparent ‘falsity’ of Covid-19, it’s respective vaccines, and Donald Trump.
It can be difficult to distinguish authentic/genuinely spiritual individuals online from those involved in the alternative right, though I suppose it is difficult to define anyone as ‘spiritual’ for this has become such an ambiguous concept that it’s meaning has become cloudy at best. But perhaps we should be wary of any community who use spirituality as a frame for their business endeavors, or as a mask under which they proclaim problematic views.
The thing is, I consider myself a spiritual person in many ways; I enjoy talking and joking about star signs, manifesting (in the objective sense of the term; I write down my goals and actively work towards them using concrete means), and meditating/using traditionally spiritual practices to benefit my life. But there is a difference between my private spirituality and that of the white savior, such as Clarice, who defines themselves as ‘supernatural’, ‘divinely designed’, ‘holy’, a ‘celestial daughter of the highest realms of heaven’ and a member of ‘royalty’. These words are problematic, especially coming from a white woman who has made her home in Hawaii, a US-colonized island where many native residents have been pushed out because of rising house prices resulting from the influx of privileged people moving there. Hawaii’s beautiful landscapes are dwindling due to the requirement for more houses and roads to be built to deal with the flood of people wishing to live there. In 1778, when European explorer James Cook first set foot on Hawaii, there were approximately 300,000 native Hawaiians living on the island. In 1853, there were less than 70,000. The average price of a house in Hawaii is $700,000 dollars, while the median per capita income of a native Hawaiian is just over $20,000 dollars (https://www.civilbeat.org/2018/03/racial-inequality-in-hawaii-is-a-lot-worse-than-you-think/).
It is easy to fall into the traps of misinformation these days. Social media is rampant with the lifestyles of the lucky few, many of whom make us believe that, by just following their programs or by buying a water machine or by engaging in their ideologies, we can ‘make it’ too. We must be logical about this issue. Consider the NHS here in the UK; many NHS workers make pitiful incomes, many have lost loved ones or even died themselves from Covid-19, and many non-native English workers in the NHS are in constant fear of losing their jobs as a result of new immigration laws. Yet, despite the difficulties these people have faced over the last two years, they are still encouraging us to take the vaccine, because they genuinely believe – and have actual concrete proof – that it works in reducing infection and death rates. What motivation do they have for this? The vaccine is free. What motivation would the government have for closing down its economy for years on end? Does it seem logical that they would be doing this in order to fund a great ‘scheme’ that will lead to us all becoming ‘lab sheep’? This isn’t to say that some aren’t getting rich from the pandemic, because they are, but we have to be objective about the fact that most of our home economies have gotten poorer these past two years.
I pray you be safe online, read reputable sources, and always keep your cynical mind whirring whenever you come across an article, person, or organization who seems to be peddling facts without concrete evidence. Be cautious, be logical, and – I beg you – get the vaccine. I’m bargaining on a hot-girl winter, and I can’t do that if we’re all locked in our houses again.
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Other articles by Hazel Anna Rogers include An Appreciation of the Humble Map and on Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s discovery of pulsars.
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