Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, September 2023
Natural light filtered through New Age tapestries covering skylights at the Ultimate Light Mission community center on the outskirts of Sedona, softening the afternoon sun as the woody fragrance of burning palo santo hung in the air. Inside the two-day Wellness Wave Expo, visitors could choose from products like crystal necklaces or stem-cell activation patches. One vendor offered a product she claimed could protect people from magnetic fields and 5G radiation.
It was an event not uncommon in the affluent area, known for its iconic sandstone towers and mythic status as an anchor point of spiritual energy that draws a global audience of wellness practitioners, yogis and other New Age pilgrims.
But mixed within the Ultimate Light Mission’s schedule of drum circles and full moon ceremonies are trainings that weave together improbable conspiracy theories and promote anti-government ideologies. By blending alternative wellness offerings with events more traditionally aligned with the far right, experts say such shared spaces have become a pathway to radicalization among populations already predisposed to conspiratorial thinking.