Why A Million People Follow A Woman Who Says She's Channeling The Archangels

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It's a strange thing to watch Melanie Beckler work. In her training videos, available by subscription on her website, she sits eerily still, a slight glow outlining her shiny brown hair, as she waits for her collaborators to arrive.

They are invisible and cannot communicate directly with humans, so they speak through Beckler to announce themselves:

"Greetings, dear one. Indeed I, Archangel Raziel, am here."

Nothing changes about Beckler when she speaks as an archangel, other than her voice slowing to a somber cadence. But it's clear that she is inhabiting some other space as she guides her supplicants through meditations intended to boost their psychic abilities. "Love is the way you heighten your gifts and abilities, by turning away from the doubt and fear that you're not psychic, for you are," she – or, rather, Raziel – assures. When she closes meditations, the serene presence disappears, replaced by a bubbly 33-year-old with sparkling brown eyes and a smile straight out of a toothpaste commercial. Melanie is back.

"Okay, awesome!" she beams. "And thank you to Archangel Raziel for guiding that exercise!" Beckler is so beautiful, so genuinely joyful, so inviting that she probably could sell toothpaste, or anything she wanted. But what she's chosen — or as she tells it, what chose her — is of a much higher order. Melanie Beckler teaches people how to talk to angels.

Human beings are fearful, frustrated creatures and so we have long comforted ourselves with the idea that heavenly bodies not only exist but intervene in our affairs. The 2007 Baylor Religion Survey, the only study that has examined these beliefs, found that sixty percent of Americans "absolutely" believe that angels exist, and another twenty percent say they "probably" do. Over half reported being protected from harm at least once by a guardian angel. Accordingly, we stuff our books, movies, plays and televisions full of them.

But narratives from the Bible all the way on up to "Supernatural" misunderstand how the angels work, according to Beckler: We don't have to wait for celestial beings to intervene, because they're all around us, all the time, eager to share their guidance for putting humanity on a path toward peace and light, one person at a time. The problem is that, without the right training, we have no hope of hearing their messages. "I've always had this underlying feeling that I was meant to do something big here in my life," Beckler tells me, "and then the angels gave me a new process of how to trigger the vibrational attunement required to channel them, and told me to share it with other people."

We have long comforted ourselves with the idea that heavenly bodies not only exist but intervene in our affairs.

The process is called the Angel Solution, a $37-a-month membership unlocking a steady stream of blog and video content that, Beckler says, passes through her directly from the archangels during daily communications. She is far from the only person to offer spirituality in this vein; there are hundreds of YouTube channels devoted to angel therapy, the generic term for this sort of work, and dozens of people offering courses on channeling via platforms like Udemy or their own sites. But Beckler is one of the most prominent, and the only one who operates entirely online. Nearly a million people have downloaded her free messages, and 34,000 have paid anywhere from $7 to $17 for premium ones. Just under a thousand turn in the monthly dues, the highest level of commitment to the Angel Solution.

In comments across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Beckler's site, Ask Angels, followers thank her for helping them do everything from finally write that novel to survive terminal diagnoses. Without the angels, they seem to suggest, their lives would be a wreck. "It's appealing to think that there are invisible powers that care about you, especially consequential situations where you don't have control of the outcome," Scott Draper, a sociologist who has studied angelic belief in the US, told me. "It's a folk religion, passed from person to person. You believe it when you hear it from someone you trust."

 Winnie T. Frick

Like many metaphysical guides, Beckler's journey toward spiritual enlightenment began within organized religion. Growing up Lutheran in Albuquerque, New Mexico Beckler felt the spirit stayed closer to her than it did others, and every time she lit altar candles, warmth washed over her body. "But I had this weird discontent of — the church says only men can be the ones to directly connect with God, so where does that leave me?" she says. "My only route was to be a secretary or a pastor's wife, and that wasn't right."

She settled instead into the role of resident helpful young person, which in the late 1990s meant helping the church create an online presence, uploading sermons to their site and showing staff how to use email. At home she inhaled other holy texts — the "Tibetan Book of the Dead", the Quran, the Kabbalah. "That was all a precursor to me having the vivid direct experiences of angelic realms and consciousness that came completely outside of religion," she says. "That clicking into place was like, OK this is why I'm here."

By the time she arrived at University of Northern Colorado to study marketing, a chasm yawned between her spirituality and what she planned to do with her life. After graduating she took a series of unfulfilling odd jobs that included stints as a realtor and a swimsuit sales girl. Meanwhile, her metaphysical experiences intensified: clocks displayed repeating numbers like 11:11 when she glanced at them, and she broke pendulums when she tried dowsing. Unsettled, she turned to Google, which led her to the now-private community Lightworkers, which was then the online hub of metaphysics.

But it still never fully made sense until the angels finally broke through in 2008, as Beckler sat meditating under a tree one afternoon. A "pure love vibration" surrounded her and revealed itself as the archangel Michael, she says. "The message was about working together" – her and the archangels, of which Michael told her there are thousands – "to empower people." Her path snapped into focus.

Albuquerque is a wonderful place to realize you're a metaphysical guide, so Beckler had no trouble finding a teacher, Betsy-Morgan Coffman. "Melanie walked in and I did not know anything about her, but I could feel that she had a very special energy," Coffman tells me. "Everyone has a harp in them — strings of vibration — and when you pluck each string it sends out a particular calling, and there is a resonance in Melanie. When it goes off, it calls to a certain chord in us." Coffman adds that of the hundreds of students she's trained, Beckler is one of only twenty she considers truly gifted.

Armed with a certificate and newfound confidence in her abilities, Beckler, who now lives in Sedona, Arizona, started her site, Ask Angels, immediately after completing the course in 2009. For a while she copied Coffman's approach to business, building a following through one-on-one channeling sessions and group conference calls. But after six months nearly 200 people were calling in, and Beckler got kicked off the free conference calling service she'd set up. On the suggestion of her husband, she instead recorded herself channeling alone and made the MP3 available on her site for download as a guided meditation.

She expected that whichever angels she made contact with would appear again to listeners when they played the audio back, no matter the time or place. The atemporal celestial contact would be possible, Beckler told me, "because angels exist outside of time and space and are aware of who will be listening to messages in the future." The feedback was immediate and clear: followers said they were communing with the same angels, exactly as Beckler had said they'd be able to. Other than occasional book publishing, she hasn't worked offline since.

Like most metaphysical practices, angel therapy has for decades relied on books, personal appointments and mass conferences to bring together guru and supplicant.

It wasn't a huge success initially: Beckler's site fielded 1600 visitors and 150 downloads a month in its infancy. Now, though, Ask Angels gets over 650,000 daily visitors and a thousand downloads a day. It fuels a powerful machine for sharing angelic content with her followers across Facebook (just shy of a million fans), Instagram (41,000) and Pinterest (19,000). She also sends a daily email linking to Ask Angels that lands in 210,000 inboxes between 7 and 10 a.m. Mountain Time every weekday. On June 21, the message nudged readers toward a $47 package of Solstice Light Activations "specifically designed to help you make the most of this Solstice Gateway of light" – which opens on the summer solstice, a sort of metaphysics Christmas – "so you can consciously expand your awareness and tap into the new codes of awakening and crystalline ascension light."

With guided meditations making up the core of the Angel Solution, users can reasonably expect to improve their focus, sense of calm, and overall mood, as they might with any mindfulness practice. But other than referring occasionally to "prosperity" or "health" Beckler is careful never to promise any empirically measurable outcomes from her methods, focusing instead on improvements like "vibrational energy," "frequency" and the aforementioned "light" estimable only by individual users within themselves. A now-disappeared version of the disclaimer on her site states that "the term 'healing' is only a name and [does] not mean to convey the literal meaning of the word… all products [are] for entertainment purposes only." And although fans regularly post suggestions to consult with angels about horrific world events, like sending "healing energy" against the Trump administration's border terror, Beckler herself never wades into politics. "I do feel like humanity is at a point of growth, but I never would tell anyone that there's only one way," she said. "The angels believe that the way we change the world is not some big external event, but more and more individuals stepping into our power and being of service."

New Age movements have always been like this — focused on the individual over the community, on personal transformation over interpersonal relation. Their growth, says University of Wales religions professor Bettina Schmidt, "reflects a rejection of institutions – with so many scandals in churches and authority figures, people do not want to be told what to do. They want to find their own belief systems and develop the authority themselves."

Most of Beckler's followers have been on a path toward autonomous spiritual authority for years before they find her. They span in age from teenagers to 75 year-olds and are primarily women, but not exclusively. In descending order of density, they hail from the US, Europe, India, the Philippines, Australia and a dozen other countries. Their only universally-shared trait is a longtime interest in the metaphysical.

John Spence, a particularly dedicated fan, is a moderator in the subscribers-only Earth Angels Lounge Facebook members' group. He is 65 and lives in the Channel Islands. Raised Catholic, he'd been on a "flying solo" path of spiritual discovery for 30 years when a friend forwarded him one of Beckler's emails three years ago. "I had been asking upstairs for something I can work with, and I received an email form Melanie asking if I would like to fast track my ascension work, and it was exactly what I had been looking for," he told me. After three years with the Angel Solution, he said, "positive things just seem to happen, and are doing so at ever greater frequency." (Draper, the sociologist I spoke with, would chalk this up to attribution theory.) He has recommended the Angel Solution to many friends.

So has Sheri Myers, who is in her 50s and a former follower of the controversial Nichirin sect of Buddhism. She found Beckler while doing research on a film she's producing about a woman who begins to contact angels and was skeptical at first. "I tell people that if you're really interested in finding out more about this, look at Melanie Beckler," she says. "Many other times you'll feel someone's personality is part of the message. Melanie's are just so much more clear. It's changed my life. I'd be crazy not to share it!"

Why, if the angels want everyone on Earth to transition to a path of love and light, do they tell their emissaries to wind that path through capitalism?

Neither of them has actually met Beckler, because she is the only major guide not to offer in-person meetings of any kind. Like most metaphysical practices, angel therapy has for decades relied on books, personal appointments and mass conferences to bring together guru and supplicant. Beckler, though, chose to move online so that she would become the hub for confused seekers that Lightworkers was for her. (I can attest to the success of her SEO: I found her because a search for the phrase "earth angel" ranked an Ask Angels post above the doo-wop classic I was looking for.)

"I think a lot of my peers are intimidated by the technology, whereas I am excited about it," she told me. "And in my continuing to ask the angels how can I serve, they guided me to delivering these bite sized messages, which aligned with my passion for the internet." But even Kyle Gray, a 28-year-old Scottish channel whose presence rivals Beckler's, still appears at conferences and retreats. Beckler seems to be the only one who has cracked how to trascend meatspace.

Like her claim that anyone can can channel angels with the right "vibrational attunement," she also believes that anyone with enough drive can join her in being a spiritual entrepreneur. She has written multiple blog posts on how to do it. In one, she gently reminds readers that "making money as a spiritual blogger is a byproduct of being of service." 

She is hesitant to share specifics about the byproducts of her own service, but a conservative estimate of her monthly gross income, based solely on the number of Angel Solution subscribers, is somewhere in the tens of thousands of dollars. "I've looked at spiritual leaders all around the world, and collecting money is more common than you'd think," Schmidt, the religions scholar, said. "People often see the fee they pay as an indication they will get something out of it." 

I asked Coffman, Beckler's teacher, how channels justify monetizing something that they universally describe as a gift. Why, if the angels want everyone on Earth to transition to a path of love and light, do they tell their emissaries to wind that path through capitalism? "People have come to me and said they're broke, and I reduced or eliminated my fee entirely. They don't listen or use the information, and they often get angry and blame and shame," she tells me. "It's unfortunate, but I guess somewhere in their mind they'll say, If it were worth something, I would have had to pay for it."

<p>Zoë Beery is a freelance writer and audio producer based in New York.</p>

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We don't really need a reminder of just how bad smoking is for us. Bad for our physical health, the environment, and cringe-worthy on so many social justice levels. Why is it then, that women always looked so damn cool smoking their cigarettes in vintage photographs?

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