Jake Angeli: The Psychedelic Guru Who Stormed The Capitol

Brian Pace, PhDJanuary 7, 2021

Capitol insurrectionist Jake Angeli is a self-appointed psychedelic guru who has opined about the urgent need for psychedelic shamanism to heal the world’s biggest problems.

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In the 2009 Canadian film Wild Hunt, a live action role-playing game (LARP) goes wrong when a character playing Murtagh, a Viking shaman-king, abandons his real identity and takes psychedelic mushrooms with his companions, descending from play-fighting into an orgy of real violence. Proving once again that life imitates art, those long-dismissed as right-wing patriot LARPers took over the United States Capitol building, resulting in the evacuation of legislators assembled to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden, and four confirmed deaths at the time of writing. 

Among the insurgents was a man dressed as an approximation of a patriot Viking shaman, wearing a horned headdress, red, white, and blue face paint, and sporting large black tattoos. He postured like a conqueror on the rostrum of the Senate chamber, in a fleeting moment of symbolic power. His name is Jake Angeli (born Jacob Anthony Angeli Chansely), also known as Yellowstone Wolf, Loan Wolf, and sometimes “The Q Shaman.” While Angeli was just one member of the group that stormed the Capitol, he is unique for being the only known self-ordained psychedelic guru of the bunch. His shamanic cosplay wasn’t just an act—it’s another example of the dangerous consequences of mixing psychedelics and far-right ideology.

According to his now-deactivated “Star Seed Academy” Facebook page, Angeli was offering courses and consulting on matters of the spirit, topics like ascension, how to expand your consciousness, and ESP (for just $44.44!). The page also featured at least one COVID denial meme, providing yet another point of contact between psychedelia and conspiracy. Here’s a scroll-through of his videos and a sampling of the transformative coursework offered by Star Seed Academy from his now deactivated Facebook page.

As early as late 2018, he was a guest on the (now defunct) podcast Psychedelic Milk, this time as Loan Wolf:

“Humblest regards to all my relations. During the podcast my name was Loan Wolf and since this podcast a new name was given to me, I am Yellowstone Wolf previously known as Loan Wolf. I was recently on a podcast with psychedelic milk’s Ed Liu. He had some very interesting questions, if you would like to listen to the podcast, here is the link.”

On his blog, Star Seed Academy, Angeli wrote an essay explaining how psychedelic neo-shamanism is central to his worldview and essential for saving humanity from its toxic, self-destructive ways.    

“For this reason I boldly recommend that these shamanic plants and techniques be used in the following ways: In substitute of pharmaceuticals and chemicals whenever possible to recover from illnesses and diseases, those seeking spiritual growth could be administered a psychoactive plant by a trained professional shaman or psychiatrist if the individual is at least 18 years of age and in a controlled shamanic ceremonial environment only, in retirement homes for people who wish to facilitate facing disease and the end of life, as well as using it for treating some forms of mental illness and criminal behavior essentially acting as a healing medicine to help heal the pain that puts people there and keeps them coming back. The plants act as an aid in correcting the criminal mentality and work to radically change the criminal’s view of the world, which is what drives the criminal to commit crimes in the first place.”

Angeli’s sentiment—that psychedelics can save the world—is boilerplate within psychedelic discourse, and presents a spin that has garnered significant media coverage as psychedelic research has gained increasing mainstream approval. Angeli’s psychedelic use did not seem to increase his empathy for the terrified legislators fleeing for their lives. Furthermore, his many public statements and writings indicate that psychedelics informed his certainty of aligning with a higher law, that of Q, the QAnon movement, and their mantra of interconnection: “Where We Go One We Go All.”

While Angeli is on record as a Q supporter, his own words on psychedelic use are unequivocal about their centrality to his theory of change:

“Only through a reintegration into nature and the consumption of plants that dissolve cultural programming, can we return to a symbiotic relationship with nature and the plants we consume. If we do not then we will most certainly destroy ourselves, the planet and all the life on it that we claim is so precious.”

As covered in a previous Psymposia piece, Lucy in the Sky with Nazis: Psychedelics and the Right Wing (and in conversation with scholar Alan Piper), the idea that progressive or leftwing politics have a monopoly on psychedelics, or even environmentalism is just wrong. Compare Angeli’s ideas with the sentiments of Nazi Botanist Ernst Lehmann, as noted by Jules Evans in Nazi Hippies: When the New Age and the Far Right Overlap:

 “We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a reintegration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger… This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought”

Angeli seems to have first inserted himself into the protest scene as an anti-Black Lives Matter protester and police supporter in Arizona. It’s hard to ignore Angeli’s multiple tattoos of Nordic symbols, including a Valknut. Talia Lavin’s recent book, Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy, outlining the connections between white supremacist groups and appropriation of Norse symbology seems both timely and relevant in context of Angeli’s public activism in support of continued police impunity, murder, and violence against Black people:

“Every cause needs a myth, a founding story that imbues its adherents with purpose, making them feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves, something grander and necessary…In this sense, transnational white supremacy–the notion that all whites across the world share a common cause–is no different. It requires reaching back past the invention of race in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and reframing prior religious movements’ wars, and achievements as those of “whiteness” writ large. It requires creating a shared heritage out of disparate cultural artifacts, retrofitting the failures and brutalities of the Crusades and the piratical, ancient culture of the Vikings as parts of the relatively novel concept of whiteness.”

This isn’t the first intersection of psychedelics and the far right, and it’s likely not the last. At the time of writing, Angeli is still at large, as (it appears) are the vast majority of those pursuing fascist insurrection. Magical thinking that psychedelics will somehow heal the world by healing our souls—while actual fascists organize for insurrection—wastes time we no longer have. 

The social problems we face can seem insurmountable and psychedelics can offer insight into addressing the political tensions at their core. However, no amount of tripping or appealing to chemical transcendence can substitute for real-world organizing and collective action to address the systemic abuses of capitalism, white supremacism, and ecological collapse. There is no short-cut to building a better (and yes, post-prohibitionist) world. 

 

 

(1/8/2020) Editor’s note: It is now confirmed that a police office succumbed to his injuries, bringing the death count to five.

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Brian Pace, PhD

@brian_pace
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Brian Pace, PhD is currently a lecturer who teaches Psychedelic Studies at The Ohio State University. He was trained as an evolutionary ecologist, specializing in phytochemistry, ethnobotany, and ecophysiology. His interest in life science was piqued as a teenager while experimenting with his own neurochemistry. Brian believes in the psychedelic society movement and other grassroots decriminalization efforts to find alternative policies to the imperial drug war. He did field work in Southern Mexico, the US midwestern prairie, and the Ecuadorian Amazon. For more than a decade, Brian has worked on agroecology and climate change. Along the way, he has taught several university courses on cannabis.