Kiwi wellness festival gets red-pilled
Luminate Festival lists a bunch of anti-vaxxers and QAnon adherents as inspirations
The Luminate Festival has been running for a decade now — the topic of many human interest stories over the years:
New Zealand's most environmentally-friendly small town has popped up on the top of the Takaka Hill. Its 4500 inhabitants are soaking up the sunshine, music, healing, organic food and workshops on everything from sauerkraut to sustainability. The “earth-friendly” Luminate festival is in full swing in the distinctive landscape of Canaan Downs.
But it appears one of New Zealand’s largest health and wellness festivals has been fully red-pilled.
It’s a sad sight, especially after New Zealand comprehensively rejected conspiracy-based political parties in our recent election.
But alas, browsing through the festival’s website, I happened upon those deadly words:
We have listed the themes that are alive in us at present as the 13 Crystal Seeds of Positive Change, and include the names & websites of people who inspire us in these topics so that you can do your own research if you feel inclined.
“Do your own research.”
Luminate’s “inspirations” are a who’s who of who’s hot in the world of extreme conspiracy theory thinking. Here’s a small selection:
It starts innocently enough with bogus academics you sort of expect associated at a pseudo-science festival.
Bruce Lipton is on the list, and claims that human biology is dictated by belief, as opposed to DNA. Scientists lovingly describe him as a “well-known crank”.
Then it gets very bad.
Dr Rashid Buttar is listed as a “Seed of Positive Change”. He has a huge online following and is a prominent anti-vaxxer.
Celebrity Chef Pete Evans is also an inspiration, apparently.
I’ve written about the chef a lot on Webworm, and over the last few months he’s gotten increasingly erratic in his beliefs, spreading harmful health misinformation on every social media platform he can sink his teeth into.
He embraces QAnon, and I’d say he’s at the more extreme end of QAnon belief.
David Icke made the list — one of the world’s foremost conspiracy theorists. I’ve written about him at length here on Webworm. YouTube banned him recently for spreading misinformation related to COVID-19:
The Google-owned video clip service acted after repeatedly warning Mr Icke that he had violated its policies by posting misleading information about the coronavirus pandemic.
“YouTube has clear policies prohibiting any content that disputes the existence and transmission of Covid-19 as described by the WHO and the NHS,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.
“Due to continued violation of these policies, we have terminated David Icke’s YouTube channel.”
The channel had more than 900,000 subscribers at the time it was removed. The last clip Mr Icke had posted on Friday - about his Facebook ban - had about 120,000 views.
Oh yeah, Icke is also a holocaust denier.
The final name that really stood out to me was Dr Tom Cowan, who was one of the original proponents of the theory that 5G caused COVID-19:
A viral video by an American doctor who is on disciplinary probation claims that the coronavirus pandemic was caused by 5G technology.
However, it contains many false claims and inaccuracies that are easily debunked by virologists, CBC News has found.
In the video, Dr. Thomas Cowan claims viruses are the waste from cells that are poisoned. Some of the poisoning, he said, comes from electromagnetic fields.
Ben Decker of the Global Disinformation Index looked at the flow of misinformation about COVID, and found that Dr Cowen was one of the instigators.
In a YouTube video called The Truth About 5G, he asked viewers “is there a clandestine force working behind the scenes in the United States, censoring truth about the “5G” rollout? Watch this — then decide”.
From there, things escalated — and a fresh conspiracy cocktail was born.
With inspiration like that, I hate to think what the content of the festival will be.
I think it’s worth noting another change to the festival next year, as they embrace conspiracy theory thinking: they’re seeking advance payments for those who want to attend:
Lunasa 2021 is a “Friends of Luminate” event for registered Members only. Given the global and national situation, uncertainties, and changing rules & regulations, we need to do things differently.
Membership fees and gift contributions help us raise much needed funds to keep Luminate Trust afloat, to cover the costs of Lunasa, and to provide ongoing support to projects that benefit the ecology at Canaan Downs-Pikikirunga.
There are multiple requests for money on their website — it’s front and centre. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed:
I’ve reached out to the organisers for comment, because I am so, so curious about this. According to a Stuff article from last year, Rita Davies and Jules Harper are behind the event, and I assume one or both of them have been red-pilled over lockdown.
Perhaps it’s just a way of safely breaking even in a country getting used to holding events again. But part of me thinks they’re aware the conspiracy crowd, and their vulnerability. Billy TK Jnr certainly took advantage of this during his campaign.
I also suspect they’re fully aware of the dangerous new direction they appear to be taking, and are looking to create a sort of firewall to cut out non-pilled patrons.
But yeah — everywhere, they want your money:
“Thank you once again for your support! Thank you for being willing to make a Donation to Luminate Festival Educational and Spiritual Trust (Luminate Trust).
Your Donation helps to support the trust in carrying out its purpose, aims and objectives, and helps to manifest Luminate's vision of heart-centred communities flourishing in resonance with nature.
As Luminate Trust is a registered charity with done status, donations are tax deductible (within New Zealand). The payment gateway accepts credit cards for overseas payments; bank transfers, credit & debit cards within New Zealand. Any donation is much appreciated.”
I will keep you updated on New Zealand’s QAnon festival as new details come to hand.
“Do your own research” is definitely the new preceding phrase to uncomfortable interactions. Maybe even the QAnon mating call.
All I can say about this mess is that I redid my CV recently and I put “blocked by Pete Evans” on it.
As a rational person who used to be super excited to read about cryptozoology and folklore, I will never forgive these conspiracy nuts for ruining these things for me. It's supposed to fun! Harmless! Cultural! But I feel like the line is wavering between someone who likes to read funny stories about bigfoot, and people who are dangerously out of touch with reality. I need to go back and read Abbie's conspiracy chart again :D