A look at the disciples and teachings of Loup Blanc, the French spiritual teacher who has been arrested in 2021.
by Massimo Introvigne
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In 2011, a main structure coordinating the management of Loup Blanc’s activities was founded with the name Association Les Amis du Peuple Debout (Association The Friends of the Standing People). The “standing people” are the trees, and the name indicates the ecological commitment of the group. After Loup Blanc was arrested, an Association de défense de Loup Blanc was also created.
According to my interviews, although it had not escaped the radars of the anti-cultists, the group kept a low profile until 2015, when it decided to offer some of his teachings through the Internet. It was a momentous decision, generating both success and problems. Loup Blanc lent money to a student, T., to be trained as a webmaster. He produced a beautiful website, “Chamanisme de l’Origine” (Original Shamanism), which made Loup Blanc and his teachings known to a broader circle. One result is that media and opponents now argue that there is a group or “cult” whose name is Original Shamanism, even if the “members” prefer to be called simply students of Loup Blanc and their legal structure’s name is The Friends of the Standing People. They feel that they are not, or perhaps not yet, a “movement,” and that the organizations and associations have been created for the need of administrative management only. They meet to receive the teachings during a weekend (or for a longer period in the summer) but do not live communally.
“Original Shamanism” refers to a teaching imparted by Loup Blanc after two spiritual experiences. In 1996, he felt the presence of the legendary Native American chief Sitting Bull (ca. 1831–1890). The chief revealed to Loup Blanc that the latter is the reincarnation of a great Indian chief, Red Cloud. In 2002, Loup Blanc received a higher initiation directly from the Origin, the Highest Conscience of the universe. Loup Blanc also teaches that he and several students were once part of the Scottish MacGregor clan (hence the use of Richie MacGregor as yet another of Loup Blanc’s names), and used to lead them to Scotland to the places where he believed they had lived their past lives.
T. gradually came to believe that his work with the website had entitled him to a privileged position in the group. Many of my interviewees pointed out his aggressive and manipulative attitudes towards other students, which caused a reaction by Loup Blanc. T. left the group in 2020, eventually becoming its most active opponent.
Who are the students of Loup Blanc? According to my interviews, at least in the 21st century they have remained stable between 150 and 200. This was the number of those attending the initiations before the COVID pandemic. Today (2023) the initiations gather between 50 and 70 students. While it is true that some have left because of the campaign started in 2020 by T. and some other ex-members, and the arrest of Loup Blanc in 2021, I have been told that their number is not significant.
In March 2022, a demographic survey was carried out by the group and submitted to Loup Blanc’s lawyers. Contacted via the Internet, 170 in the group’s mailing list identified as students and submitted their answers, The results show that 72.4% of the students are women, and 74.2% are 46 or older. Only 2.4% are 25 or younger, although some of those who joined did it through their parents who were already in the group. In one of my interviews, Marie told me that when she was 15 Loup Blanc organized a weekend that children were also allowed to attend. She came with her parents, and never looked back. One consequence of the comparatively high median age is that 22.9% of the students are retired. The group appears to be more stable than others: 54,1% of the respondents have been part of it since at least ten years.
The group has no full-time members. Among the 170 interviewees, 15 are “lawyers, architects, or engineers,” 9 are “managers,” 12 are “doctors and nurses.” I was told that even a French Army general was once a member. No names were named, but the presence of highly educated professionals has been noted by the opponents themselves. The most represented profession is alternative medicine: 41 respondents are naturopaths, acupuncturist, or energy therapists. While some were already in these professions before meeting Loup Blanc, or made a living out of techniques he does not specifically teach (Feng Shui, which she studied autonomously in Brussels, in the case of one of my interviewees), others were encouraged by him to use his teachings to start a career that may both be profitable and help suffering human beings.
My interviews show that almost all students were spiritual seekers, who had explored other paths of alternative spirituality either directly or through books before they met Loup Blanc. For example, Martine lived in Canada where she meditated in a center of Chögyam Trungpa’s (1939–1987) Shambhala movement. Nadia had two aunts in the group of Sri Aurobindo. Without joining any movement, Marc practiced yoga in a center following the teachings of Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar (1918–2014). Christian, a medical doctor, was always interested in alternative medicine and has a Vietnamese Buddhist wife. Claudine was a teacher in one of the Waldorf Schools inspired by Anthroposophy, and had been reading the works of Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895–1986) and Carlos Castaneda (1925–1998) since she was a teenager. Sophie had visited Aurobindo’s ashram and was a yoga teacher when she started having visions of Native Americans. She decided to explore their culture and music, and visited an alternative healing and spirituality fair at Paris’ Porte d’Auteuil, where she met Marie, who had a booth there and told Sophie about Loup Blanc. Eventually, Sophie became part of the group, and asked Loup Blanc to meet her yoga students in the home of one of them, Juliette, who also joined.
Uncharacteristically, Julie was a self-styled atheist, but reports that at age 7 she had a vision of “the Divine” and was told she would meet her master at age 36, which happened when she encountered Loup Blanc, who had sought her professional services as a beautician. Danièle was following another spiritual master when she started being “harmonized” by a student of Loup Blanc. She continued to follow both paths until she met Loup Blanc in person and found him a “more joyful and simple man” than her other teacher. In fact, all my interviewees were somewhat unhappy with the other teachings they had experimented with. They were told about Loup Blanc by relatives or friends, or met him by coincidence like Danièle, and in all cases reported that they “immediately” perceived he was the spiritual master they had been looking for.
Although some had heard his lectures, most went straight to the initiations, and some directly to the stages in Peru. “Initiations” are not one-on-one rituals but collective events held during the course of a weekend (or a longer period for the summer and other special initiations). Students go through hours of silence and meditation and listen to the words and music of Loup Blanc or, more recently and even before his arrest, of the “ambassadors” he has appointed, women and men he regards as qualified to impart specific teachings. In recent years, most initiations have been led by the ambassadors, with Loup Blanc appearing only occasionally or for the longer summer initiations.
Many report having experienced extraordinary phenomena during the initiations, particularly when they touched Loup Blanc or were touched by him, often by pressing his thumb on their forehead. They thus became regulars at the initiations and, while keeping their jobs, started devoting significant time to attend the different events of the group. Some, based on their availability of time and skills, may volunteer to help with the events, from keeping accounts to cleaning the floors or cooking. This is regarded as a form of yoga (Séva Yoga) developing the capacity of giving and loving. A fee is charged for the initiations, but is not extravagant. A weekend initiation costs between 210 and 400 euros; those who come back to follow the same cycle a second time pay a reduced 50% fee.
What do they learn at the initiations? All describe Loup Blanc as a charismatic and entertaining speaker. He played the drum and other instruments, dressed in colorful garbs representative of different spiritual traditions, performed traditional shamanic and other rituals, and answered questions with wittiness. Some of his antics have been ridiculed by the hostile media, but were in fact meant to be humorous. For example, he impersonated a female shaman he called Sandrine Leboeuf, the “Shaman of Berry,” for the first time at a fancy dress event organized by students. They found the character so humorous that he played “Sandrine” again in other events.
Loup Blanc’s teaching is not systematic, and is included in thousands of pages of transcribed lectures, interviews, and books. While “syncretism” today is a contested category, we can call his teaching “eclectic,” as it incorporates elements of several different Eastern and Western traditions, which are creatively reinterpreted and connected.
According to Loup Blanc, all the universe is submitted to the law of karma. We reap what we sow, and indeed the metaphor of the gardener represents the three fundamental principles of life. The gardener is the conscious mind, who sows in the subconscious both positive and negative thoughts. The good thoughts go up to the divine sphere, but the bad thoughts come back to us, creating physical and mental problems. The universal cosmic energy (Prana) is both positive (Pingala, connected to Adam and represented by a red snake) and negative (Ida, connected to Eve and represented by a green snake). Through breathing exercises, we learn to mobilize the Prana, create harmony, and restore the original androgynous union between Adam and Eve. The exercises taught by Loup Blanc also lead to the awakening of the Kundalini or Shakti, a divine energy located at the base of the spine, which may then travel through the focal body points called chakras up to the crown chakra located on the top of the head. Meditating on specific colors and sounds also helps this process.
Nadia, one of my interviewees, is familiar with Hinduism and has a scientific formation. She insisted that all the techniques taught by Loup Blanc are consistent with modern science, which is not incompatible with the fact that some have a millennia-old Hindu tradition. Many are described in great detail in the 1994 “Manuel d’Auto-Libération” (Manual of Self-Liberation), whose readers would immediately notice that Hinduism is but one among many references of Loup Blanc, which also include esoteric Christianity, Judaism, Native American spirituality, Buddhism, and Taoism.
While we can all learn to connect with the cosmic energy, a master can make our journey more direct and easier through the transmission of his spiritual energy (Shaktipat). One example Loup Blanc offers is the esoteric interpretation of the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1–42). Loup Blanc sees in the well a representation of both the macrocosm and the human microcosm. The edges of the well, in contact with the air, represent Heaven and the supra-consciousness. The upper part of the well, in contact with the ground, represents the earth and the consciousness. The lower part of the well, where the water is, represents Hell and the subconscious. When Jesus tells the woman “You have had five husbands, and the man you are now living with is not your husband,” this has an esoteric sense indicating that the woman had five spiritual masters (also corresponding to the five senses and the five elements), is now dominated by the Ego (the non-husband), and is ready to accept her sixth and final master, Jesus, who will awaken her Kundalini through his Shaktipat.
Loup Blanc proposes a similar esoteric interpretation of the episode in John 13 when Jesus washes his students’ feet. The feet, who have touched many grounds, symbolize the old humans, and the old experiences from which genuine masters free their students, Peter’s resistance is the struggle of the Ego confronted with a radically new teaching. Judas symbolizes the stubbornness of those attached to the conservative and authoritarian religious and political powers. Jesus is ready to wash their feet too, but they will always betray their masters. Loup Blanc explicitly compares the betrayal of Judas to the attitude of some of his own students, and notes that in the early days of Nitya Yoga he also used to wash the feet of his students.
The liberation has many symbols, which can be mobilized to help the practitioner in the path. Loup Blanc believes that the Marseille Tarot deck is a powerful tool to develop the power of the imagination and intuition. He has even registered in his name in 2003 a trademark TAROT VISION® designating his courses on the Tarot deck. He has also filed or registered trademarks for CHAMANISME DE L’ORIGINE®, and for HARMONIATHÉRAPIE (later SPIRALES DE VIE®), Clés de Vie Clés de Réussite, and SEI-MEI-KIDO, which refer to specific teachings and applications of his techniques to various aspect of physical, psychological, and even financial well-being. Teachings currently imparted also include Ananda Yoga and the Medicinal Wheel (Roue Médecine). Several interviewees extolled the healing power of what was once called “harmoniathérapie” and now “spirales de vie.” The positive effects of being “harmonized” persuaded them to join the group. The healthy effects of these techniques have also been acknowledged by one of the Chinese Qi Gong masters who visited the group in France.
The individual self-realization also benefits society in general, Loup Blanc teaches. However, there are certain rules to be followed. Respiration “makes of a human a master or a slave” and, for example, we would easily become slaves if we are smokers, as it is “cigarette smoke that polluted the bodies—vital, astral, mental, and causal.” Apart from the theory of the different human bodies, common in Western esotericism, Loup Blanc’s students normally do not smoke.
They do not eat meat either. The master tells Kyrios that “Carnivore, cannibal, there is no big difference, it’s all about eating flesh!,” the only difference being perhaps that carnivores cook their meat and cannibals eat them raw. The “immense genocide of animals, started since humans have been on earth and that will never stop,” goes beyond the problem of unhealthy eating. Its consequences on the spiritual plane corrupt society in depth and generate dictators, who are also cannibals in their own way. We can protect our liberty by getting rid of the system of political, religious, and economic structures “that create fanaticism, terrorism, and install social barriers,” but to eliminate the esoteric causes of oppression we also need vegetarianism, Loup Blanc teaches.