A new cult docuseries dropped its first (of four) episodes last week on Freeform and Hulu. The Deep End is directed by John Kasbe, and produced by Bits Sola and The Documentary Group's Tom Yellin and Gabrielle Tenenbaum. The series focuses on spiritual guru (and some say cult leader) Teal Swan, who has been the object of a great deal of controversy, including accusations that her teachings have caused a number of followers to die by suicide.
The first episode (watch it on Freeform) introduces viewers to Swan, with her piercing eyes, long brown hair, and flowing clothing. The viewer gets glimpses into her origin story (she claims to have been the subject of Satanic ritual abuse as a child growing up in Idaho) and into her spiritual healing practices (she hosts workshops, charging up to $5,000 USD per person for a week, where she enacts her own brand of trauma therapy called "The Completion Process," which includes participants pairing off to share with each other their deepest traumas, leading to confession, screaming, and crying, without the supervision of any kind of trained mental health professionals). In this first episode, we witness one follower comparing Teal Swan to Jesus, and we witness Swan herself explaining that she'd like to be considered "more spiritually influential on this earth than the Pope." When she speculates that some people are going to say that that's never going to happen, she says, "Fuck that!"
The Conspirituality podcast (conspirituality = conspiracy + spirituality), which started in the spring of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning, is a "weekly study of converging right-wing conspiracy theories and faux-progressive wellness utopianism." They track wellness gurus promoting right-wing and QAnon-adjacent conspiracy theories, alongside their own spiritual and wellness solutions to all kinds of problems, including COVID-19.
One of the hosts of the Conspirituality Podcast, Derek Beres, is guided by the saying — which he shows time and again to be applicable to all sorts of wellness grifters — "Watch what they say, watch what they sell".
In April 2021, the podcast did a terrific episode on Teal Swan. In this episode, they focused on Swan's dangerous "trauma therapy" along with the various "solutions" she sells, including her retreats, books, "frequency paintings," tarot cards, and more. Swan, of course, in true conspirituality fashion, has also weighed in on COVID-19, claiming that fear and narcissism are the true causes of the pandemic. She says, "You have fear within yourself and you have the power to take care of your fear so that it does not ruin your life." It's simple, apparently — buy one of her books or workshops, heal your own trauma, and voila, you'll never catch COVID (which she calls a "virus," in air quotes, so apparently to her it's not real?). Swan has written numerous books and has more than 1.26 million subscribers to her YouTube channel. It's hard to estimate how much money Teal Swan has made, but she's definitely generating money from her YouTube hits and her expensive retreats. Teal Swan is one guru to keep your eye on.