[Content Warning: This episode contains references to suicide, mental illness, and sexual assault. Listener discretion advised.] Youtube spiritual guru Teal Swan says she saves lives. Others say she’s dangerously death-obsessed. We say she’s serving strong “9 Perfect Strangers” villain vibes with a side order of night terrors. But that’s just us. We wanted an expert’s perspective, so we called on investigative journalist Jennings Brown for this episode to help us understand more about Teal’s world. As a senior reporter at Gizmodo, Jennings traveled to rural Utah, the forests of Costa Rica, and smack dab into the middle of Teal’s inner circle to understand her teachings and investigate the deaths of some of her followers.
His unprecedented access to her group is at the heart of a six part podcast called The Gateway - which we highly recommend as critical listening for anyone wanting to learn more about Teal’s whole vibe from a safe distance. He joins us today to talk about the sharp edges woven into her carefully-curated, hypnotic image, and how spiritual hucksters are gaming the algorithm and manipulating people’s most vulnerable moments. We also talk to him about his newest Spotify Original podcast series: Revelations which follows a California cult that combines doomsday prophecies and fine wine. And TBH, we get so carried away that we go into extra innings. Enjoy this first episode with Jennings - and we’ll be back next week with part two.
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Theme Song: “Cultivated” by Jon Bryant co-written with Nygel Asselin
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