‘Woo-Anon’: The creep of QAnon into Southern California’s New Age world

Laura Schwartz strikes a yoga pose on the beach
“People aren’t taking QAnon as seriously as they should, given how pervasive it is in these worlds — evangelical Christians, yogis — that otherwise have very little in common,” said Carlsbad yoga teacher Laura Schwartz. “They’re creating a world where truth is whatever you feel like it is.”
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s June 25. I’m staff writer Laura J. Nelson.

Love, light and ... QAnon?

As I reported this week, so many people from California’s vast health, wellness and spiritual worlds have fallen down the extremism rabbit hole that the phenomenon has a new nickname: “Woo-Anon.”

During the pandemic, friends and colleagues have watched with alarm as Instagram influencers and their New Age peers — yogis, energy healers, sound bathers, crystal practitioners, psychics, quantum magicians — have embraced the far-right conspiracy theory and sprayed it across social media.

It’s difficult to quantify how deeply QAnon has penetrated the metaphysical world. But the effects are tangible: broken friendships and business partnerships, lingering sadness and frustration, and a growing number of spiritualists who are speaking out.


How did it happen? And why? You can read more here.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Meet the marimba healer. The COVID-19 pandemic claimed the lives of L.A.’s two other specialized marimba repairmen, leaving Rosauro Esteban Chonay alone to painstakingly restore the voice of a long-silenced marimba, which is Guatemala’s national instrument. Officials at the Guatemalan Consulate in Elysian Valley hope that its restored voice will help connect the half-million Guatemalans in California to their culture and traditions back home. Los Angeles Times

His dream came true: He sought refuge from El Salvador’s brutal civil war in the oasis of his imagination. Now, this Burbank man is Disney Television Animation’s only native Salvadoran graphic artist and character designer. Los Angeles Times

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We’re No. 11! The Golden State’s vaccination rate is the 11th-highest in the U.S., with 3 in 5 California residents at least partially vaccinated. The jab rate is still lagging among younger adults. Los Angeles Times

“If you’re vaccinated, it’s nothing. If you’re not vaccinated, you’re hosed.” The Delta variant of the coronavirus may be twice as transmissible as the conventional strain, and it’s starting to circulate widely in California. Public health officials don’t expect a dramatic surge of cases like the state saw over the holidays, but they do fear that the variant will take root in pockets of unimmunized communities that haven’t been previously been infected with the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times

No jab, no job? San Francisco will require all 35,000 city workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 once the FDA grants full approval to the vaccine. Those who refuse to get vaccinated and do not have a religious or medical exemption could be fired. San Francisco Chronicle


“The lack of class and the stupidity of it is all overwhelming.” Reporters Dakota Smith and David Zahniser pull back the curtain on a catty private Facebook group that employees and allies of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti used like a burn book, disparaging local officials and labor icon Dolores Huerta. Los Angeles Times

A curveball for Angel Stadium: The sale of the stadium and its surrounding parking lots to a private developer may have violated a state law that required the city of Anaheim to solicit bids from affordable-housing developers first, baseball writer Bill Shaikin reports. Los Angeles Times

Angel Stadium
The Angels currently play at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Katie Hill takes her fight against revenge porn to Congress: Nude images of the former Antelope Valley congresswoman were circulated online without her consent as she went through a bruising divorce. She’s now trying to use her infamy to ensure that what happened to her does not happen to others. Hill and Times staff writer Seema Mehta join Gustavo Arellano to discuss the issue. “The Times” podcast

Falling down on the job? California workplace safety officials have handed down nearly $4.6 million in fines to workplaces that violated COVID-19 rules. And how much have employers paid? 3%. Sacramento Bee

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Historic rainfall: Water fell from the sky in Palm Springs on June 23 for the first time in at least 128 years. That date’s dry spell may have lasted even longer, but the city’s records only date back to 1893. Desert Sun

Off by 78,601 acres: On Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first day in office, he signed an executive order ordering proactive fire prevention strategies for 200 communities that are at high risk for devastating wildfires. Newsom said that the state treated 90,000 acres of land with fuel breaks, vegetation clearing, prescribed burns and other prevention strategies. The actual number was just 12.7% of that, or 11,399 acres. Cap Radio News/NPR California


It counts as culture because it used to be a theater: In a turning point for the rapidly changing neighborhood, downtown Los Angeles finally has an Apple store. Housed inside the restored Tower Theater at 8th and Broadway, it’s an amped-up version of normal Apple stores, with plenty of tech to buy, but with plans for programming such as classes and other events involving well-known filmmakers, musicians and artists. Los Angeles Times

“I want to be a world builder.” Meet Alexandra Huynh, Amanda Gorman’s California successor as youth poet laureate. She was raised by Vietnamese American immigrant parents in Sacramento and is attending Stanford University in the fall. Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles: Sunny, 81. San Diego: Partly cloudy, 74. San Francisco: Partly cloudy, 61. San Jose: Partly cloudy, 83. Fresno: Sunny, 97. Sacramento: Sunny, 94.


Today’s California memory comes from Shari Oliver:

I have so many great memories growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s in Montebello, a small city east of East L.A. Where we lived, all the schools I went to were walking distance from home. Great memories of my older brother walking me to school where we met the Helms Bakery van at the corner to grab a fresh doughnut, or walking home where we would stop at the Montebello dairy for an ice cream, or across the street at the tortilla factory to ask for the flour tortilla rejects! Those were such fun childhood days!

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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