When neither mediation nor meditation can settle a dispute in the spiritual community, there’s always the District Court of Boulder County. On August 6, Louisville-based Gaia Inc., the Netflix of spiritual films, filed a slander lawsuit against one of the filmmakers who used to be in its catalogue, charging that she’d accused the company of promoting Luciferianism and using directed-energy weapons against critics.
On its web page, Gaia invites seekers to follow their curiosity down the rabbit hole when “your intuition tells you there’s more to our story.”
This may be one of those cases.
The focus of Gaia’s suit is award-winning filmmaker Patty Greer. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you might need to catch up on the latest crop circle controversies. Her most recent film, 2016’s Crop Circle Diaries, explores the idea that crop circle sites are brimming with plasma energy and super seeds; some circles may even leave messages in binary code.
Moviemaking was a career shift for Greer. Originally from Los Angeles, she moved to Boulder 45 years ago and ran the vintage clothing store Golden Oldies on Pearl Street through the 1970s. A songwriter and harpist, she also played in a number of bands over the years, including the Beggars Opera and New Reign; she co-founded Coupe Studios, an audio studio, with her then-husband, Scott Roche, who passed away in June.
But she found her real calling while visiting Wiltshire, England, in 2006. “I went and laid in a crop circle...and then another and then another, but the very first crop circle I walked in was so stunning, and I turned around to the people behind me, like, are you feeling this? And everybody was just nodding, with huge watermelon eyes. You can’t pretend that you didn’t have an experience,” she recalls. “What I was feeling from the earth, it was so tangible that I didn’t ask questions. I just made movies.”
In March 2011, Greer signed a ten-year contract with the company then known as Gaiam, giving it exclusive rights to distribute four of her films in exchange for a $10,000 advance. According to the lawsuit, Gaia “never recouped the advance.” According to Greer, in December 2015 Gaia agreed to sell her the distribution rights in exchange for Greer returning $2,134 of the advance. But Gaia also wanted her to sign a nondisclosure agreement, Greer says, and when she refused, the deal was called off.
Gaia is owned by Jirka Rysavy, a Czech immigrant who moved to Boulder in the 1980s and founded Gaiam, a yoga company that also invested in content, including movies. In 2016, Gaiam sold its interest in the yoga business to Sequential Brands Group for $167 million and rebranded itself as Gaia, with a focus on digital content streaming. Rysavy remains the CEO.
Today Gaia employs 145 people and streams more than 8,000 films to 466,000 members in 180 countries. “We offer Gaia as a resource for awakening. So much of our content and our mission is about centering and becoming grounded in the truth of your power as a creator of your own reality,” explains Christine Leonard, Gaia’s communications director. “Our yoga and meditation, transformation and seeking-truth content inspire deep inquiry and exploration.”
Gaia’s membership is growing through both word of mouth and the Gaia Ambassador Program, which rewards invitees “with a monthly revenue share” for adding “value to their audiences by sharing exclusive Gaia content,” Leonard says.
Soul reader Sondra Sneed met Rysavy through a chance encounter in Joshua Tree National Park; she’s now a Gaia ambassador. Gaia “is the only place where like-minded people can go to explore and like-minded creators can go to create and put their work in that wheelhouse,” she says.
Although Leonard declines to comment on the lawsuit, she notes, “Our content is vetted from luminaries and scholars offering diverse perspectives so our members can consider multiple viewpoints and ultimately craft their own opinions.”
But Greer isn’t the only person to have a difference of opinion with Gaia.
Online critics have taken issue with the company for featuring films on debunked topics, including Orbs: The Veil Is Lifting, a 2007 movie that tries to pass off a spiritual explanation for what’s widely accepted as photographic phenomena. And there are other concerns.
Alejandro Rojas, director of the almost-thirty-year-old International UFO Congress, points to problems in 2018’s Unearthing Nazca, among other films. “They’re doing a lot of stories on these Peruvian carcasses, mummies, where there are people who are really not very credible claiming that they’re aliens,” he says. “That’s one example where Gaia is not looking at the more credible research, but...more sensational, so in that way I think that they do tend to shoot for information that is supporting whatever perspective that they’ve put forth.”
Rojas doesn’t see a secret agenda behind Gaia’s approach, he adds: “I do not believe they are working with the government or any secret organization to suppress information.”
But others see more sinister connections. Soon after she broke with the company, Greer says, she was attacked by a directed-energy weapon after attending Contact in the Desert in Phoenix in May 2017. For six years, Contact in the Desert has hosted conferences that bring together ufologists and paranormal enthusiasts to explore the latest uncovered secrets.
Greer says she was leaving the conference when she was attacked. “I was paralyzed,” she recalls. “I was paralyzed at the Phoenix Airport because someone hit me with a directed-energy weapon. I don’t know who did it. I don’t have enemies, but I was hit with something and I was taken to the ground. I’m still recovering a fucking year later, and I’m not happy about it.”
Described as “an illegal technology” in the Gaia lawsuit, directed-energy weapons use lasers or other forms of energy, including microwaves. While the U.S. military has employed such devices to take down aircraft, there’s little evidence that they’ve been used on individuals — except the accounts of those who say the weapons have been used against them, targeting brain waves to manipulate mood or induce serious health issues, such as a heart attack or stroke.
Vloggers, including 76-year-old futurist Alfred Webre, described similar attacks connected to the International UFO Congress conference in Phoenix that year; in their posts, some pointed the finger at Gaia.
“One of the accusations I’ve noticed made against Gaia...was that they have some sort of energy weapon that can hurt people,” says Rojas. “Unfortunately, Patty and others claimed that a similar weapon was used against our guests and actually killed people, so it is very unfortunate, because it is completely false.”
While a number of people at the conference felt ill, Rojas has a less sinister explanation. “It was in the middle of flu season, but those flus ran their normal course,” he says.
“I bring it up because I do not believe these weapons — if they exist — are being used against UFO people, especially conference-goers, nor do I believe Gaia would have anything to do with any weapons like this,” Rojas adds.
In addition to claiming that Greer is spreading falsehoods about directed-energy attacks, Gaia’s lawsuit also accuses her of circulating rumors that it has a Luciferian agenda. Members of the Gaia Employee Movement, often referred to as #GEM, frequently post on Glassdoor.com, where anonymous users have written that Gaia has been infiltrated by Satanists.
When she heard about the accusations of Lucifarianism, Gaia ambassador Sneed turned to the divine voice in her head for answers. “Well, this is a complex subject, because Lucifer is not who people think Lucifer is,” the voice called Source says through Sneed. “Lucifer is a guiding light in a great struggle between man and destiny. … In one sense, Gaia’s work is specifically to change the story so that the story gets told in as many ways as possible. If this is an agenda that is counter to human survival, there would have been those in the know who would have shut it down.”
Greer says she simply reports on what she’s read and heard from sources. The suit “is blaming me for the most derogatory statements of all time,” she says, “but none of them were written by me. I am a reporter and a documentarian. This is what I do for work.”
“Now, there’s some stuff you can’t substantiate with science, but that’s got to be put up front,” counters Sneed. “Some people are making a living in this community through false pretext, [so] Gaia...they’re closing down on things that can’t be substantiated or are claiming to be true when there’s no proof that they’re true.”
Greer says Gaia needs to look inward if it wants to find the truth. “Whoever #GEM is is on the inside at Gaia; it is their employees,” she adds. “Because Glassdoor.com is their employees…those sources together combined with forty years of living in Boulder, knowing most of all the brilliant spiritual people for decades, they can’t hide anything from me.”
But the lawsuit accuses Greer of knowing the statements “were false...and published...with the intent to cause harm to Gaia.”
Greer, whose own YouTube channel has 4,623 followers, has taken some hits, too. In the lawsuit, Gaia claims that Greer began posting and reposting retaliatory statements about the company after viewership for her films declined. But Greer says she believes her films were intentionally removed from the platform. Since then, her films have been advertised on Amazon and Vimeo for exorbitant prices by fake companies, she says.
Gaia is asking a judge to order Greer to not only make a public apology, but pay $1 million in damages.
Patty Greer released a rough cut of a documentary about the situation through vlogger Sarah Westall on August 22. Within 24 hours, it had been viewed more than 6,000 times and generated 188 comments. In addition to telling her story in the video, Greer included shots of documents shared by sources.
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Earlier Westall videos, GaiaTV Imploding parts one and two, are named in the Gaia lawsuit as examples of slanderous language. While Westall describes herself as a skeptic, she says she is interested in Greer's story. “There’s something wrong, in my opinion," Westall says. "You don’t have that popular People’s Choice Award … and then they claim there wasn’t any interest in her film."
For now, the case of Gaia v. Greer is in the court of public opinion, where the jury consists of YouTube commenters, truth-seekers...and people who read Westword.
“This is going to be one of the biggest articles in Westword,” says Greer. “I swear to God, there’s so many people scared of them in Boulder, there’s so many people that have been overtaken by them, I’ve got to tell you, you’re going to be a hero.”
Update: This story has been updated to include information on Greer's new documentary and vlogger Sarah Westall's comment.