The Me Too Movement is now in its fifth month of being a true phenomenon. Actors, directors, CEOs, politicians, and sports figures have all been brought down. Some of the most powerful males, untouchable for decades, have seen their careers ended, become pariahs, and many are facing prison, the great majority deserving their fate. Finally, some justice against powerful serial rapists and abusers, even if long delayed or limited, has come.
The reach of the movement has extended far beyond the US to at least 84 other countries. It has had an impact on behavior and policies in workplaces, schools, the military, and churches. Yet one group has notably been left untouched, and it is not hard to see why.
The New Age movement, sometimes called neo shamanism, or repackaged as core shamanism, has yet to feel the righteous wrath of Me Too. And few movements would deserve it as much. For the New Age movement is an area of religious/spiritual life where abuse is not just epidemic. It is routine, and often not even hidden. But unlike say, the Catholic Church, there has been no public outcry for New Age leaders abusing their followers.
The founder of New Age in the 1970s, Carlos Castaneda, demanded of his followers that they take a shortcut to enlightenment by, seriously, ingesting his sperm. Native scholar Vine Deloria described how the earliest New Age leaders in the hippie counterculture would designate a blond white woman as “Mother Earth” and demand the right to fertilize her in a fake ceremony passed off as Native. Such deception, abuse, and assault became routine.
1. The so called Rainbow Tribe cult, around since the 1970s, has long been notorious for rapes, child molesting, drug abuse, and piles of garbage including used syringes, all desecrating Native sacred sites. An English leader of the Rainbow cult, Paul Robin Denton, was convicted of a dozen counts of serially raping a teenager in 2010. Then he intimidated her into silence and was set free. He continues to attack her online to this day, claiming there’s a conspiracy of feminists and Muslims against him.
2. A red-haired Irishman named Harley Reagan called himself Swiftdeer/Thunder Strikes, posed as Cherokee and Mayan and started the Deer Tribe cult, selling phony “Cherokee sex ceremonies” where followers were ordered to masturbate anally in groups and charged $3000 each for it. The cult routinely uses prostitutes in their gatherings to entice new members. Some accounts describe group sexual assaults against women.
3. A blond blue eyed German American named Charles Storm AK Hyemheyosts authored Seven Arrows and formed a cult. Ex members of the cult allege Storm abused a number of their children and kept their silence by threats and payoffs in a lawsuit. Storm’s history of abuse goes back to 1954, when he committed statutory rape of a 15 year old.
None of the above ever faced any real consequences for their crimes and abuse. The “Rainbows” gather and desecrate several Native sacred sites a year, refusing to do anything about abuse in their ranks. Though Castaneda’s books were debunked immediately as plagiarism and racist falsehoods, they are still best sellers in nonfiction. His cult Cleargreen continues today. Charles Storm never did prison time for any of his assaults. His whereabouts remain unknown. Seven Arrows is still used in literature courses in universities and he is still listed as a Native author despite being exposed immediately as an imposter by actual Natives. Authorities in Arizona repeatedly refused to prosecute the Deer Tribe, even when Harley Reagan issued threats to kill Presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000 and start a civil war, and even when Native activists showed them videotaped evidence of prostitution and drug use at cult gatherings.
There are a few New Age abusers who have been convicted. Guru Prem Paramahansa went to prison for molesting two girls. Dwight York AKA Chief Thunderbird of the Nuwaubians, a Black supremacist New Age cult, holds the record for child abuse counts, over 200. But a disturbing pattern emerges. Prem and York are not white. Storm, Denton, and Reagan are.
Ignoring these cults’ abuse is part of a long pattern of ignoring Native voices. Black Lives Matter brought attention to police murders of Black youth. That Native youths have a higher unjustified death rate from police receives little attention. Some statues honoring Confederate white supremacist traitors have been taken down. Columbus Day is still celebrated. Hundreds of monuments to him are across the nation.
An obvious reason why New Age cult abuse thrives is that many white feminists like the movement. Faux feminist teachings abound among those that white feminists are fooled into thinking are actual Native elders. Many love obvious imposters like Lynn Andrews, Jamie Samms, Brooke Edwards AKA Medicine Eagle, or Diane Fisher AKA Dhyani Ywahoo. All sell empty, feel good, deliberately false versions of Native beliefs.
Hollywood, on which the greatest amount of attention for Me Too is focused, also loves New Age abusers. George Lucas based his character Obi Wan Kenobi on the fake “Don Juan” from Castaneda books. Several of the Star Trek series spread false versions of Native beliefs taken from New Age falsehoods.
Oprah Winfrey promoted New Age imposters on her show repeatedly. This includes two very deadly frauds. James Arthur Ray caused the death of three people in a phony version of a Native sweatlodge. “John of God,” a phony healer in Brazil, was promoted by Winfrey even though there are hundreds of accounts of him molesting or even assaulting women. Many criticized actresses who worked with monsters like Harvey Weinstein. Why has no one who urged Winfrey to run for president looked at her promoting abusers equally bad as Weinstein?
Hollywood does make the occasional token effort on Natives, from Dances With Wolves to The Revenant to having Wes Studi present at the Oscars. When will Hollywood, and America, take Native concerns seriously? That includes no longer embracing the New Age faux spiritual movement, so rife with abuse, and bringing the guilty to account.
Al Carroll is Assistant Professor of US, American Indian, and Latin American History at Northern Virginia Community College, and a former Fulbright Scholar. He has written six books and numerous articles that have appeared in Academia.edu, Articles Base, Beacon, Bristle, Counterpunch, History News Network, Indian Country Today, LA Progressive, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Truth Out, Wall Street Examiner, World News, and elsewhere.
He is best known (and often vilified by racists) for his work as a human rights and anti-racist activist for New Age Frauds Plastic Shamans. NAFPS is a multiracial multi-faith organization of over 2000 members based at www.newagefraud.org, defending American Indian spiritual traditions from New Age cults, imposters, commercialization, and exploitation for nearly twenty years. NAFPS works with traditional elders and other activists, providing research and resources used by numerous tribal governments, museums, universities, cult survivors, and people of all backgrounds.