A Closer Look at the ‘QAnon Shaman’ Leading the Mob

Conspirituality — in which New Age wellness meets conspiracy culture — helped stoke the riot on Capitol Hill

There’s not much I can add to all that will be written about Wednesday’s day of infamy, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill, but I can perhaps shed light on one aspect of it — the role of “conspirituality” in fomenting the riot and in shaping the man who will go down as its poster boy: Jake Angeli, the “QAnon shaman.”

Conspirituality refers to the overlap between New Age/wellness culture and conspiracy culture. I wrote about it last April, and in August I wrote a piece called “Nazi Hippies” about the overlap between New Age spirituality and far-right theories like QAnon.

The advantage of the rioters being anti-masker conspiracy theorists is we often know exactly who they are and what they believe. It doesn’t take any deep intelligence work to uncover these terrorists. They are not hiding.

So we can discover a lot about Angeli, a gullible schmo who was, unfortunately, easy meat for the Q virus. I analyze his beliefs not out of any ill will but because he played a very visible role in an attempted U.S. coup, and his mindset is a perfect example of conspiritualist thinking.

Jake Angeli (real name Jacob Anthony Chansley) is a 32-year-old actor from Arizona, not hugely successful by the looks of it, whose now-deleted Backstage page proclaimed he is a “highly talented” voice actor who can do over 30 different voices.

He was previously in the Navy, then got into psychedelic drugs (mushrooms and peyote), and is now a “self-initiated shaman” who set up something called the Star Seed Academy — the Enlightenment and Ascension Mystery School. He is a big believer in using psychedelic ceremonies for mental health. Somehow all those psychedelics failed to turn him into a liberal.

His Facebook profile pic is a weird combination of shamanism and American chauvinism:

In August, he organized a “red pill party” at an astrology store in Arizona, and this was how he described himself on the Facebook invite:

Jake Angeli is a Self Initiated Shaman, Energetic Healer, Ordained Minister, Public Speaker & Published Author. He is native to the Valley of the Sun and has worked in the behavioral health field for over 6 years and has walked the Shamanic path for over a decade. During his Shamanic path, he underwent over 90 hours worth of tattooing, wrote several books, influenced hundreds of lives and spent endless of hours in deep trance states and meditation. He is a metaphysical warrior, a compassionate healer and a servant of the Divine Creator God.

He was interviewed on the Cosmic Gaia Podcast last year, and this was how he described himself there:

Yellowstone Wolf aka Jake Angeli (whichever you prefer)…has walked the Shamanic path for 20 years and has had numerous paranormal and UFO experiences.. He has also defeated dark demonic forces, held sacred ceremonies, cleansed ecosystems and liberated minds.

The host of that podcast, Laura Eisenhower, said:

We talk about Timelines, fractals, DNA, California fires, dark weaponry and rising above it and also these amazing patches he sells that helped to cure his father of Late stage Cancer and liver disease. They are good for anti-aging, migraines, pain, detoxing, energy circulation and more.

If you look at Angeli’s Facebook feed and YouTube channel, you can learn a lot about him (both were taken down this week).

We can learn, for example, that’s he’s a fan of Jamiroquai, who some people mistook him for when he stormed the Capitol building.

He also displays strong aspects of what psychologists call “patternicity,” which is to see hidden patterns, meanings, and agency behind what others would see as random events. For example, he frequently shares posts showing “significant” shapes in clouds.

Here’s another, where God manifests as a sniper-shaped cloud (God is pro-NRA obvs).

He’s also gullible. His most frequent Facebook shares were posts that say something like “if you share this and say ‘amen,’ a miracle will happen to you.”

If I were selling a pyramid scheme, I’m afraid I would target Angeli (and the Qanon cult is basically a pyramid scheme).

His mystical optimism — seeing the hand of God working behind all events — has a much darker side, which is to see demons, witches, and Satanic pedophiles hidden behind events, speaking in secret signs and codes.

For example, his Facebook page (now taken down) featured a video of Angeli driving around Arizona in his face paint, pointing out secret pedophile codes in shop signs. That shop selling chicken liver? Chicken liver is pedo code! He literally believes this medieval nonsense despite having a Nordic Valknut tattoo on his chest that a hypervigilant Pizzagate-conspiracist might say was also pedo code.

Angeli seems to live in a fantasy world and be unable to tell fiction from reality. A lot of his worldview is drawn from Hollywood myths — The Matrix, Star Wars, Captain America.

He is clearly very prone to trance states, in which inner fantasies and mythical thinking become superimposed on reality and a person thinks they have had unusual experiences like demonic encounters or UFO abductions. Studies suggest childhood trauma makes us more prone to dissociation in adulthood. Angeli said in the Cosmic Gaia interview (39 minutes in) that he had a “really rough childhood” and that his father gave him drugs when he was 11 years old. This experience, he said, made him feel he was on “an alien world, everything looked alien, and it transformed my life forever.”

Conspiracy theorists are often obsessed with how the evil elite uses trance programming to control our minds (see, for example, the 1995 conspiracy best-seller, Trance Formation of America). They can project their own inner wounds onto the outer world and turn it into a grand cosmic drama. They’re the victims of their childhood trauma, not a secret global cabal.

He comes off as a not-reality-based narcissist — in one video on his now-deleted YouTube account, he announced he is a “super-soldier” with psychic powers and part of a secret government operation, like Captain America.

He believes he is a “star person” or “star seed” — a being from another planet, a higher being. His Star Seed Academy page on Facebook, before being taken down, advertised: “Star Seed Academy creates leaders of the highest order! We help people to awaken, evolve, and ascend! Are you ready to be a leader? Are you ready to ascend?”

He’s a nationalist. He loves America and the American flag. He thinks gun ownership is a sacred right. In his myth-making mind, a Trump second term has become fused with the Ascension, the Great Awakening, the Rapture. Here’s a screenshot of one of the videos on his now-deleted YouTube page:

Also, he doesn’t like Black Lives Matter.

He’s a libertarian — this may explain why he’s “spiritual” and not part of a Christian church. It also explains the raccoon hat:

He thinks, by the by, that Covid-19 testing sites are actually temples to Anubis.

He may also be an environmentalist of sorts— he was pictured at a climate strike march in Arizona in September 2019 (photo below). At least, he says he’s interested in “cleansed ecosystems” and rants against Monsanto and all the chemicals in our environment. But I suspect he’s not into global political solutions or anything involving the UN, all of which he thinks is part of the evil new world order.

Above all (and again, I don’t know if this is a new obsession), he appears to be obsessed with pedophilia. He suggests pedophilia is the greatest threat facing the world and that Covid-19 is a distraction concocted by the pedophile elite.

I’m not a psychiatrist, and I don’t like pathologizing people for weird beliefs, but studies suggest that both narcissists and people with “schizotypal personalities” (meaning those prone to unusual beliefs, experiences, and trance states) are more liable to engage in conspiracy thinking. At the least, we can say he seems to have a rather unstable identity — he calls himself Jake Angeli, or Jacob, or Yellowstone Wolf, or Loan Wolf, or AlphaMale @USAwolfpack (his Twitter handle), or QAnon shaman. (His real name, it emerged on Saturday when he was arrested, is Jacob Anthony Chansley). He seems indeed to be a “voice actor” who “can do 30 different voices.”

Finally, he appears to spend a lot of time on the internet, sharing stuff that hardly anyone liked or paid attention to. Until he found QAnon, which seems to have given this unstable personality a meaning, an identity, a community, an audience, and now a place in the history books (and in jail).

The Q virus was perfectly weaponized for Jake’s leaky and unprotected mind. It slid easily into his system and took it over.

Angeli is, of course, a bit-part player, a clown who wandered into the annals of American history. He is one figure in a mob that included all kinds of people — Christian fundamentalist nationalists, Proud Boys, neo-Nazis. He just happens to represent the conspirituality aspect of this whole sorry mess.

Wednesday was Angeli’s moment in the sun. Finally, the failed actor got the center stage, and the eyes of the world were upon him. Today, he is waking up to a darker reality — the Q community has decided he is actually an antifa plant, an actor, a Satanist.

Meanwhile, the D.C. police have circulated his photo — hard to miss the tattooed guy in the raccoon hat—and the rioters could face up to 10 years in prison under an executive order introduced by their beloved Trump last year to punish Black Lives Matters protesters. Doh! (Update: Jake was arrested and charged on Saturday).

I feel sorry for Angeli and his turbulent, confused, and soon-to-be-more-difficult life. It’s sad when a wounded young man gets radicalized and we all suffer the consequences. But he deserves to be punished for his role in Wednesday’s shameful riot.

Beyond easy targets like Angeli, what can one do about conspiracy culture? There is not an obvious answer. Carl Miller, a writer on technology, tweeted on Wednesday: “There’s a Nobel Prize for someone who works out how to confront conspiracy theories without censorship or coercive control.”

The conspiracy problem arises out of deeper problems — mental illness, trauma, loneliness, bad education, and weak critical thinking skills, toxic cultures in both Christianity and New Age spirituality, social media algorithms, and a breakdown of agreed meanings and truths in Western and global societies. Above all, we have the president of the United States prepared to stoke these fires to hold on to power at any cost.

I don’t know what to do about it, but I’ll keep trying to call it out in spiritual circles, insisting that you can be “spiritual” and still retain your critical faculties — any spirituality without discernment isn’t worth the name.

Author of Philosophy for Life and other books. Honorary fellow, Centre for the History of the Emotions. www.philosophyforlife.org.

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