Teal Swan: Interview with the Wounded Healer: aka – The Spiritual Catalyst
Shining brightly and courageously, despite the fierce controversy that often surrounds her and her devoted followers, Teal Swan has taken the new age community by storm. The popularity of her bestselling books (The Sculptor in the Sky and Shadows Before Dawn, published by Hay House) and spiritual teachings on YouTube is huge and in this exclusive interview sheshares her thoughts as well as her pain and her joy.
Have to admit I hadn’t heard about Teal Swan until recently but that is hardly surprising as her spiritual catalyst message is definitely geared towards the under 30s but it is clear from her incredible popularity online – with her YouTube teachings regularly getting half a million or more hits each time – the younger generation are eager to learn and be guided and inspired by her. I found out about her for the first time just a week after doing my talk at Watkins books as she was scheduled to do a talk there a week later. Her talk was about how to love yourself and her biography intrigued me so I listened to her speak online and was instantly fascinated. If you haven’t heard of her you may want to remember the name as you will hear about her in the years ahead. This young and very beautiful lady is mesmerising and determined and destined to make her mark spiritually on the world.
The first thing that obviously draws you in as you watch Teal online is that she is undeniably easy on the eye. Indeed, she once made a living as a model and this may perhaps be areason why she is so often criticised as if her beauty and choice of materialist career before becoming a spiritual guru doesn’t qualify her for such a serious and profound role. Get past all that though and what will then strike you is her absolute emotional honesty and openness. I completely loved that about her. She is not afraid to say how she has messed up and continues to mess up her human life choices and how she finds relationships complicated and heartbreaking. She may look perfect and preach a beautiful spiritual message of self-love but as her extremely popular Teal blogs show her personal life isn’t perfect and on the human side of things she is very much a work in progress.
And it is the human life of Teal Swan that has drawn the fiercest criticism. In her books she talks about a childhood of violence, abuse, rape and even murder perpetrated by a Mr X who wasa member of a Satanic cult. She was so brainwashed by this evil man she never told her kind and loving parents and was abused sexually and psychologically for more than a decade without them knowing. Eventually she managed to free herself from the claws of Mr X and spent many years travelling the world and studying the esoteric arts. Obviously the trauma of this experience damaged her emotionally and she would be the first to admit that she is still in the process of understanding and coming to terms with what happened to her. She also claims to be born with special powers and the ability to see the world around her as swirling energy, light and colour. She believes she is an exceptional human being – an indigo child with psychic powers and the gift of second sight – and her destiny is to enlighten the world with her visions and her teachings.
Yes, this is a lot to take in and my instinctive reaction is probably the same as yours right now – to question or doubt how much of all this is fantasy – but alongside obvious concerns about the truth of her bizarre back story there is incredible curiosity. After all, if you are going to make up things about your life there are far easier, more believable and less far-fetched and alienating ways to do this. Indeed, when you read her books or listen to her talks, once you have skipped the sensational parts about her life, what you get is something incredibly profound and inspiring. It is easy to see why Teal is so much sought after and why she is currently in the enviable position of having publishers chase her for book deals. Controversy is a talking and selling point and Teal brings a whole new meaning to the word controversial. I guess the question I must ask myself here, when I consider the power and beauty of her message, is does the end justify the means?
When I first contacted Teal for an interview I truly didn’t expect her to reply but she surprised me by doing so – or her right hand man, Blake Dyer (these people have such spectacular names!) sent me a courteous reply. He told me Teal was happy to talk to me but preferred Skype so she could see me. My heart sank. I’m not a big fan of video Skype, especially with a stunningly beautiful former model but I put that aside and agreed.
At first when I called Teal on Skype their video was switched off although mine was switched on and in the first five or so minutes as I talked to a blank screen it did feel like they were watching me and judging. I could tell from the tone of Teal’s and Blake’s voices there was a certain amount of humour as if they were thinking who is this twee, middle aged, academic British woman we’ve never heard of who writes about Angels and why does she want to talk to us supercool, rich and famous kids. I kept my nerve as taught sixth formers and undergraduates in my day – who routinely feel that anyone over 40 is a source of amusement – and started my interview.
I must have done something right as suddenly without warning the video was switched on and I saw the lovely Teal. Her right hand man Blake said hello and that he was going to leave us alone now to talk. It felt very much like he had assessed the situation and there was nothing remotely threatening (or interesting) about me that was going to alarm Teal. I was a harmless, rather eccentric British lady in their eyes trying to relate to the kids. I wasn’t offended by this. In fact, I found his devotion to Teal endearing and once he got the smirks out of his system he was an incredibly charming young man.
The interview began in earnest now. From the onset I told Teal that I wasn’t interested in the controversy surrounding her life or the fact that police had investigated and found nothing to substantiate her claims or the fact that she had been a nude model. I told her that was her past and the medium she had chosen to get the world to listen to her message and for me that was the important thing – her spiritual catalyst message and how it was reaching out to young people who clearly find her easier to relate to than other clean living and talking gurus. Teal immediately relaxed when I had said all that and at that point I felt a flicker of warmth and genuine connection between us. Was the impossible happening here? Was an eccentric British angel author relating to young and hip, Teal Swan?
I truly believe that we were connecting on a spiritual level and it was a special moment. I glimpsed astonishing sensitivity beneath the cool exterior and Teal began to talk and talk and talk non-stop. I listened and listened as what she had to say was wise and profound beyond her years. This young woman has been touched by something and I could even say it was by grace. By the end of the interview it did feel as if I had been listening to pieces of heaven. Perhaps the critics are spot on and Teal is incredibly clever and has simply learned all this profound conversation from other sources. Indeed, many of her critics say there is nothing original about her message and she simply replicates great spiritual teachings of others, but don’t all spiritual teachers do that to a certain extent?
For me, personally, it didn’t really matter if this was the real deal or not. Somehow this brave young woman had found a way to interest young people in the world of spirit and the true meaning of life and for that she deserves credit. It is sad that the younger generation of today isn’t typically as engaged with what really matters in life as the older generation tend to be but here at last was someone brave who was changing all that. Ms Teal Swan is making spirituality cool for young people and that has to be a good thing. At the end of the day, she and her right hand man, Blake, are both courageous souls taking the road less travelled and for that they have my respect and admiration.
As for her personal life is Teal any different from other prophets, ancient and modern? St Paul before the road to Damascus was a sinner, Wayne Dyer admits that before his spiritual awakening he was an addictive personality filled with bitterness about his father – so bitter that when he heard his father had died he wanted to urinate on his grave. I can name many others with poisonous and destructive paths before their spiritual awakening. Sometimes the road to spiritual enlightenment is very dark and filled with black things. In fact, in the last few months I have been interviewing some of the great and good in the world of mind body and spirit – I haven’t reported it as wanted to keep my interviews strictly positive – but many of these people do suffer greatly or have experienced great personal anguish on the road to spiritual awakening. Many of them say they would not want anyone to go through the kind of pain and inner turmoil they have been through and that they feel they have suffered, or continue to suffer, so that others don’t have to and can learn from them. Perhaps Teal’s road had been more black and conflicted than others but what probably makes it harder for her is that she is a woman trespassing into territory that is often the preserve of mature male gurus. She is young and pretty woman and that makes her an easy target to criticise.
Aware I’m digressing here so back to the interview. I ask Teal if she had always felt special and she replies that she had from birth and her parents used to call her the Queen of Sheba because of her natural sense of entitlement. Over the years though she realised that she had to mask some of her specialness because it alarmed other people. That is what is so liberating about her life now. She can finally be herself with her followers – Tealites as they are called – and tell them honestly that she is chosen and does have special powers. I am curious about her special powers and she says that from birth she has been able to see the world as it really is – a mass of swirling energy. Her vision is not the same as everyone else. She can see auras and the energy associated with everything. She very kindly says she can see angels shooting out of me and whether I believe her or not I can’t deny that being told you have angels coming out of you is a pretty awesome feeling. I feel extremely flattered and try not to let it go to my head as the interview progresses.
The conversation progresses to the law of attraction. Teal is a firm believer that who we have in our lives is a reflection of our inner selves. She also thinks the single most important thing in this life for us to learn as spiritual beings is to love ourselves more. She talks a lot about self-love being the simplest but also the hardest thing in the world to achieve and that is why her latest book, Shadows Before Dawn (Hay House) is all about learning how to love yourself during times of darkness. She wrote the book because she knew that loving yourself was essential for a fulfilled life and the first and most essential step on the road to spiritual development but she had no idea how to begin that process so in the course of writing the book she talked to people who did love themselves and found out their secrets to share with and empower her readers.
Whenever Teal talks about her readers or her followers she gets a faraway look in her eyes as a mother would talking about her babies. You get the sense that all who follow her are her children. She cares deeply about them and wants them to find happiness and fulfilment. She clearly hasn’t found it herself on a human level yet and it is as if helping her readers find their happiness and fulfilment helps her find peace and bliss.
I ask Teal why she thinks women find it harder than men to love themselves and she pauses and thinks for a while before saying that this is very much a Western thing. From her travels – and she has travelled the world extensively – she found women from the Eastern world did not have the same issues. Hating themselves is simply not in their vocabulary. She thinks self-hatred often originates in childhood and becomes a habit that is hard to shake off after that. She thinks parents have such a vital role in empowering their children, especially their daughters, to believe they are unique, magical and beautiful human beings. She wants women everywhere and men also to truly love themselves because you can’t give to others what you don’t have yourself.
I agree with what Teal is saying but a part of me also feels that as she was blessed with good genes it is perhaps easier for her than others to believe in her own beauty. But then I am reminded that this woman, despite her beauty, is still finding it hard to make sense of her emotions and her life, especially her relationships.
We talk next about being a young female guru in a world that doesn’t expect young women to have much of a voice and I jokingly say that she needs to wait a few decades and all will be well. At that moment of laughter there is a sudden burst of sadness from Teal and she randomly mentions the personal price she pays for her status as cool and hip spiritual leader. A few months previously her husband left her and she is still hurting badly and trying to come to terms with what happened. I can see and feel her deep hurt. I want to cry. I try to tell her how hard it can be for a man to be in a relationship when a women is highly successful and sought after by the world. The man or partner can often feel that they can never match up to her popularity, wealth and success. I find myself referencing another powerful female icon, Madonna and her complicated love life and Teal says that is amazing I said that about Madonna as her husband was Madonna’s body guard!
At this point the interview is no longer an interview but a chat between two women. I don’t want to ask her any more questions as everything about her life and her teachings is out there online for anyone who is interested. I urge you to take a risk and have a look and a read. Teal is a very, very modern spiritual guru. Almost like a reality TV star she shares her joy and her pain, her highs and her lows, and all personal details of her life and her thoughts and feelings online. Her honesty is remarkable but I think it is her complete honesty with everyone – something I am experiencing during this unique interview – that may have been the cause of her marriage breakdown as very few men would want every detail of their lives made public in the way that Teal’s life is. I sincerely hope Teal finds love again but it will have to be a man who is willing to marry a woman who holds the hearts of her followers in her hands. In other words, he will need to share Teal with all the people she has opened her heart to in her books and videos.
Talking to Teal feels very much like the ghost of spiritual future and I feel truly blessed that the universe has given me this mind opening opportunity. I think today’s young people don’t want spiritual leaders who are perfect or who preach impossible rules or demand hours of meditation and stillness. I think today’s young people want emotional honesty, someone they can relate to and a sense of real personal connection and meaning. Teal is giving them all that and this is why she is unbelievably popular.
My time with Teal is almost up and I can honestly say I feel great warmth towards her – almost maternal. I know that she will have even rougher times ahead of her and the establishment will continue to criticise her. She is incredibly sensitive and needs the right people around her to take care of her and not exploit her. A part of me fears for her greatly as she is emotionally fragile. I urge her to not let the human stuff drag her down and remember this is all about the profound beauty of her spiritual catalyst or spiritual awakening message. She is wounded and fragile but I tell her she is also a healer and an inspiration to young people.
There are tears in my eyes as I sign off from Skype and within seconds Teal has sent me a lovely message saying how much she loved talking to me. There was no reason for her to do that but she did it because she has a big heart. I am deeply touched. I also realise as I reply and send her my love that this will be among the last of my interviews with people who are influencing the world spiritually. It has been a fascinating experience – and I may if I get the time and opportunity I will do a few more – but I think I have learned what I needed to learn from this exercise. I have learned that these people struggle with darkness just as much as we all do.They are not perfect. They don’t have the answers but what they do have is a way of presenting spiritual truths in a way that engages, enlightens and makes sense. I am also acutely aware that a lot of them make their living out of their books and teachings so it becomes a kind of professional spiritualism and perhaps in that process sometimes loses its heart.
You could say that I am doing the same, as I write full time about the world of spirit, but let me reassure you now that I don’t make much of a profit at all from the writing and work I do. I do it because all my life has been devoted to the search for meaning. I grew up in a family of spiritualists, studied theology at Cambridge University, experimented with life as a nun and then wrote books and features about the psychic world for the next twenty five years. It certainly hasn’t been a money spinner and most of the time I have had to teach or ghost write for other authors or work as a journalist to earn enough to pay the rent, but then a few years ago life blessed me and I found myself in the unexpected position of being able to write about matters spiritual without having to worry too much about income. It was truly heaven sent and every day I remind myself how privileged I am to be able to use all my knowledge and experience about matters paranormal and spiritual to spread the word that there is most definitely more to this life than meets the eye.To tell people that love is stronger than death. So I guess with me when you read my books what you get is writing from the heart and with no hidden agenda. My only desire is I hope my books make a difference, help people to treat others as whey would be treated and above all, keep an open mind to the possibility of magic and mystery in their lives. If I have done that I will have all the reward I need.
Digressing again but speaking to someone as emotionally honest as Teal has had a profound effect on me. I am also glancing at my Facebook page – run so brilliantly by the talented Kim Nash – as I read this and am looking at the number of likes each post gets. Typically my interviews with celebrity gurus get under 10 likes, a quote from the Dalai Lama has under 15 or so likes but then Kim posts a picture of her son holding a white feather saying he thinks white feathers are nanny kisses from his Nana in heaven and there are close to 300 likes. It is the same with a post saying that if everyone had the heart of a dog the world would be a better place or a post saying it is easy to be friend when the sun is shining but when there are storms you know who really cares – these posts get hundreds and hundreds of likes. All this suggests to me that perhaps all these gurus aren’t giving us the sustenance we really need and what we all really want to warm our hearts and lift and inspire our spirits are genuine and heartfelt moments or thoughts and things we can relate to and apply instantly to our lives. What we all want are glimpses of the reality of heaven on earth and how these glimpses remind us that there is no death and our departed loved ones are still alive in spirit.
So, from now on I feel the way forward spiritually is less rules, rituals, meditation techniques, or sycophantic devotion to charismatic, celebrity gurus earning lots of money talking about heaven and more heaven in everyday life; more feathers, hearts, pets, dreams, visions and rainbows after a storm.
Sending you all love from my heart and gratitude for being the amazing miracles each and every one of you are. I feel truly blessed to be able to post and write to you about matters spiritual and I feel truly blessed that on Facebook you are liking, taking and sharing. My dream is to bring spirit back into the UK – as we have become so cynical and materialistic in recent years – and increase spiritual awareness online so there is less talk about things that don’t matter and more about what really matters. I don’t have all the answers and never will but from all the years I have been writing about matters spiritual and reading about near death experiences and stories about angels and heaven dipping into our lives, I do believe and trust that there is life after death and I do believe heaven is real.
We just need to open our minds and our hearts to that possibility and our lives will transform in magical and unexpected ways. Trust me on that last point as it has happened to me and I know (if you take Teal’s advice and start loving yourself and others more and truly believe in the reality of heaven) it can and will happen to you too.