I recently spent two weeks with Teal Swan and her intentional community in Park City, Utah. Today I feel like sharing my personal experience with the Spiritual Catalyst.
In March I heard that Teal and Ale were getting married. Since I used to photograph weddings and really love these days full of joy and laughter, I sent them my old wedding portfolio book, offering to photograph their wedding as my gift for their union. Not only did they accept my present, but they also invited me to live with them in their house during my visit. I was thrilled.
I have spent 2 weeks in her house and 1 week on a road trip together with several of her best friends. As their wedding photographer, I was at their side for every minute of their wedding day. It was a wonderful experience in which I could get to know, see and feel Teal, Ale and their close ones. These were 3 of the most amazing weeks of my life. I have traveled a lot in the last ten years to the most exotic places on earth, but I have rarely found what I found there. After an initial shyness, I was able to show and express myself freely; I felt seen and validated in my fears and weaknesses. I did not have to please anybody. Just be myself. This total acceptance made me shine and brought up my best self.
But let me rewind a little bit and tell you what happened before that.
It was in July 2014 when I heard about Teal for the first time. My friend Alex recommended that I check out the videos of “the Spiritual Catalyst” because she was watching them non-stop. I didn’t know what to expect. You must know that I am not at all the kind of person who is in need of a spiritual teacher telling me about some higher truths. A general revolt against authority figures as well as an inner curiosity has always driven me to try out anything interesting I could find and learn from my own experience rather than from the teachings of others.
Nevertheless I am always interested in the stories and findings of others to try them out for myself. With an open mind I started watching one of Teals videos. Even though I was a bit confused by the flashy backgrounds for the first few seconds, it didn’t take long until I was fascinated. It resonated. She was able to put complicated spiritual insights into clear words, making it easy to understand for anybody. It felt as if she was speaking from my heart, saying all the things that I had been feeling for so long and putting them into much better words than I was able to. I found that her language contained a lot of clarity that I had never heard from anybody else talking about spiritual topics. While many loose themselves in the abstract, Teal offers very concrete answers to concrete questions. She also offers practical advice to to bring these ideas out of theory and make them part of your daily life.
It almost seemed to good to be true. That alerted my inner critic, a defense mechanism created by my mind early in my life to protect me from the pain of disappointment caused by loved ones who betrayed my trust. So this aspect of myself went on the lookout for contradictions in Teal’s teachings, scanning for dishonesty and lies, but was not able to find one. Everything she said simply made sense to me. My gut feeling had already approved long ago. So I continued watching her videos, workshops and talks and got inspired by Teal’s courage to be totally authentic. I learned how to find out my core beliefs, my defense mechanisms and how to connect to my inner child. I discovered that I had suppressed anger and fear for countless years and dared to give them the space and presence they needed. Teal gave me the tools to analyze myself and taught me the importance of loving my shadow.
A few months before I met her in person, I stumbled across a blog that claimed to expose the truth about Teal Swan as a dangerous cult leader. I read all the accusations against her and for a moment my inner critic went on full alert. Even though I did not believe that she was a cult leader, I was wondering if some of the slander was actually true. Thoughts of distrust and a feeling of insecurity started to flood my mind and body, making me unsure if I could really trust her. It took me a few hours to realize that it really did not matter if I trusted Teal. The only thing that mattered was that I trusted myself. Whatever kind of person Teal was, her methods were working on me. I had tried them out and they had helped me immensely. That was my proof. So my inner critic calmed down and lowered the noise in my mind. Finally I was able to actually listen to my heart again. And deep down I knew that I really liked and trusted Teal. She dares to say that she is imperfect and talks about her hardships in life. She has chosen the path of authenticity, which is the hardest of all. She could choose to show up in her workshops, produce videos and help people with her extrasensory abilities without saying what is really going on inside of her. Maybe she would be more famous if she were hiding what is going on in her private life. But she has chosen to share herself openly for a specific reason; to make people understand the importance of authenticity. Many of the accusations that are made towards her come from people who believe a spiritual teacher must be perfect and is not allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. I do not think there is anything wrong with this belief, but if the accusers invent and blow up stories to make it sound more dramatic, or to find an outlet to project their own fears and anger, I feel they are going way to far. No leaders are dangerous in and of themselves. The danger lies in disempowered people, who do not trust themselves and follow somebody else blindly; people who give their power away. Teals teaching are empowering. She does not demand trust from anybody but wants people to find and follow their inner voice. I have witnessed her doing that over and over again. That is what I love about her, but what frightens many others.
When I was a guest in their house, I got to know Teal closely. Not only as a teacher but as a loyal friend, caring mother, loving partner and creative artist.
Teal is an inspiration to me. She naturally creates transformation wherever she appears. While many people are really scared of change, I am scared of stagnation. So I applaud her for catalyzing people into their shadows, even though it can feel very uncomfortable at times.
Because of the many lies she endured in the past, she needs total honesty from everybody. That can be scary, because there are these moments in which we prefer to lie to ourselves to prevent the deep down pain to rise to the surface. Being close to Teal means looking at your shadow constantly. She has a mirroring personality (meaning that what you see in her is also buried somewhere in your unconscious). Being close to her may raise the question of: “How comfortable you are with feeling uncomfortable?”
When I was in her home, at first I felt she was very distant towards me, like there was a wall between us and we could not get close to each other. It bothered me immensely and I assumed that she must not like me very much.
Finally I understood that it was me who had put the wall up. My inner child has always been really scared of authority figures and even though Teal never did present herself as an authority figure, my mind had turned her into one. I had put her on a pedestal and thought that she was better than me. I looked at her and saw an achiever personality with more success than me, as somebody who is surrounded and cared for by people that love her day and night, which is exactly my yet unfulfilled dream. I saw her as more connected, more intelligent, more eloquent, with more abilities than me, etc. And while I was looking at her that way, I completely forgot about my own strengths. I was making myself small when I was around her. I became the little 6 year old girl who wanted to receive praise and recognition from her teachers and parents while they seemed to be preoccupied with trying to fix what she was not good at. Sensing that Teal knew exactly what was going on inside of me, I could feel that she did not judge me for making myself small, but was instead helping me slowly but surely to raise my level of confidence by believing in my strengths. Without me telling her what I had just become aware of, she reminded me of my talents and my role in this world until I could access my inner force again. And then, the wall between us disappeared. It was the moment when I stopped comparing myself to her, when I stopped wanting to be like her because I could see and feel all the awesomeness that was in my own best version. That day I held her in my arms because she wasn’t feeling well and fell in love with her vulnerability.
Underneath the harshness that she shows sometimes, is a very fragile beautiful soul that only wants to give and receive love. She is more sensitive and empathic than anybody I know, which makes it even harder for her to live in the world of today. But this sensitivity is exactly what we need to make this world soft, free and more loving again. This sensitivity can also be frightening to us, because it triggers the old wounds of being told to toughen up and not being allowed to feel.
Teal’s special abilities are a blessing and a curse at the same time. People either adore her for them or hate and abuse her because of them. It seems that so many want a piece of her, puling her into all different kind of directions. Others want to destroy her because they project their fears onto her. From what I have perceived, Teal has very rarely experienced true and unconditional giving and constantly has to deal with different images that the outside world projects onto her.
Despite all of that, Teal is trying the best she can to help so many around her. She is the best mother I know. She loves her son more than everything, like most mothers. What is different with her is that she gives him the total freedom of expressing every thought, every emotion and lets him make his own experiences while providing a safe space for him. Winter is an awesome kid, who shows a lot of respect to everybody because he experiences exactly the same kind of respect from his caretakers. He has the childhood that most of us dreamed about.
Teal lives what she teaches and talks openly about her own shadows and weaknesses. She carries a lot of weight on her shoulders that isn’t her own, trying to deal with everybody else’s problems, which drains her energy. She also puts a lot of pressure on herself to become more successful in her career because inner aspects of her believe that this is what’s needed to be finally seen and loved – the missing experience from her childhood.
I have seen her interact with her parents. The relationship feels tense, but I sense that everybody is trying to understand each other to make the bond softer. Her father gave a speech at her wedding day that moved me to tears, telling her that she has always been her parents’ very best teacher and came into this world to turn their lives around and raise their level of awareness.
The wedding was truly magical. The druidic ceremony was held high up in the mountains; an amazing scenery. All were absolutely touched and truly happy for their bond. Teal was smiling and laughing throughout the whole day. On the way from the ceremony to the reception, she told me how surprised she was at how amazing a full day of fun feels, something she has rarely experienced. She was such a beautiful bride and a joy to my photographer’s eyes. I was very emotionally moved and grateful to be part of this experience.
Teal is imperfectly perfect and dares to show it. That is what I love about her.
There is a lot of slander going around at the moment, making people confused about what and who to believe. Therefore I would like to remind you that she has never claimed to be enlightened or fully healed and does not present herself as impeccable. The lies that are being told about her in the last weeks are horrendous and leave me in shock.
Being close to her has reminded me of the importance of listening and trusting my intuition even more. It has taught me to be even more authentic and dare to speak my truth.
Do I trust her all the time? No, I don’t, like I don’t trust most people all of the time. There are moments in which I feel uncertain because my inner critic reminds me how often I have been deceived in the past and wants to keep me from experiencing the same kind of pain again. Whenever that happens, I acknowledge my fears and dive deep into my subconscious mind to find out if this distrust is actually my intuition or just a projection. And when I find out that it is a projection, I use the incredible Completion Process that Teal created to heal these inner wounds.