Title image: The top of a 4-page pamphlet Brother XII published in 1926, announcing the formation of the Aquarian Foundation and the work they were about to begin (pamphlet is from my own collection)
Recently Twitter introduced a new concept called Twitter Spaces, through which you can host speaking events on your Twitter page. After having listened in to a few great Spaces talks about topics relevant to my research (and also paying attention to the growing issues with Twitter Spaces), I decided I wanted to try hosting a Space myself. Fortunately the wonderful Dr. Susannah Crockford was willing to join me and co-host a Space to chat about anthropology, archaeology, conspiracy theories, and conspirituality! Susannah is an anthropologist who has researched conspiracy theories, spirituality, and conspirituality in Arizona. She recently published a book, Ripples of the Universe: Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona, and has also written about Starseeds (people who believe they have an extraterrestrial consciousness within them) for places like Religion Dispatches and in the Handbook of UFO Religions.
Approaching it from an anthropological and archaeological perspective, Susannah and I thought it might be interesting to to host a talk about conspirituality through the ages. While it’s a relatively new term, the concept itself has been around for a really long time if you look at the history of New Age spirituality and conspiracy theories, which together form conspirituality. I spoke about conspirituality in the past through the example of Brother XII and The Aquarian Foundation, whose beliefs were built primarily from a combination of Theosophy and antisemitic conspiracy theories (I didn’t mention it in this talk but I am hoping to undertake some archaeological fieldwork soon at Brother XII’s settlements). Susannah spoke about her research in Sedona, Arizona, during the course of her PhD (which she completed in 2017). And then together we spoke about contemporary groups like QAnon, and the parallels we see to conspirituality in the past. If you missed the live talk, you can listen to the audio on this webpage (I am working on creating a transcript since I can’t see any captioning options via WordPress, and once it is available I will add it to this page)!
We had a wonderful group of folks join us who asked some great questions and brought up some really interesting points! So much so that I’ve already got some wheels turning for another talk in the future and am looking forward to hosting another Twitter Spaces! And remember – it’s always Blavatsky!
These are some of the papers and books we mentioned during the talk, as well as anything Susannah and I thought might add some extra insight. Regarding the papers (I can’t guarantee I have access to books), if you’re interested in reading any of these but you’re having difficult accessing them, please send me an email and I’m happy to pass along a PDF.
Barkun (2013, 2nd Ed.): A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America
Crockford (2021) Ripples of the Universe: Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona
Goodrick-Clarke (2003): Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity
Halmhofer (2021): Did Aliens Build the Pyramids? And Other Racist Theories
Ward and Voas (2011): The Emergence of Conspirituality