How the pandemic has given rise to strange cults

Some have turned to spreading “magic dirt” on their bodies as an alternative to science

Boo dirt

The pandemic has had a serious impact on people’s perspectives towards certain things in life. That is good in some ways, however, people have also been driven to find their superstitions, miracles that will supposedly solve their and the world’s problems.

Unfortunately, product owners have exploited that opportunity, misinforming, wrongly guiding the people. Now, it seems like people want to have beliefs, follow some ideology, or someone to have inner satisfaction and think, “Yes, this is the solution to this problem.” Let’s look at some cases.

It all began in May, with pictures and videos of women drinking jars of black liquid, dipping babies and dogs in this tub of black liquid, and smudging their faces with it. This so-called black liquid linked back to a product called Black Oxygen Organics and the posts were tagged as #BOO. The product’s compounds were difficult to classify and for simplification purposes was marketed as fulvic acid, a naturally occurring compound from decayed soils and plants. As NBC news says, the product is dirt, 4.5 ounces of it sealed in a plastic bag, sold for $110 plus shipping.

The dirt was marketed as a “A gift from the ground.” “Drink it. Wear it. Bathe in it.”

According to the company, the product can be taken by any age group and has several health benefits, and works as a toxin remover. By the end of summer, these ads reached millions of accounts, mainly those whose interests lie in fringe supplements, and then anti-vaccine, anti-covid groups. Not only the ads but, TikTok and Instagram were filled with #BOO posts. And with the hype, BOO product was provided with an audience saturated with misinformation and vaccine skepticism and it gave people the idea of being a supposed miraculous cure for everything.

Their sales skyrocketed but as always, success has its price. BOO products had overwhelmingly positive reviews, calling it “magic dirt”. Well, that was because the group administrators would screen out any negative reviews. Also, the products were sold by individuals who would profit from their sales and those that they recruited. This has led critics to believe that this is a type of pyramid scheme. But amazingly, participation in pyramid schemes increased during the pandemic, with 7.7 Americans working for one in 2020. But, most of the hype for BOO came from Facebook where the sellers have created several individual pages, attracting thousands of customers.

Another case of miracle seemed to be brimming in Dallas, Texas where followers of QAnon influencer, Michael Protzman aka Negative48 gathered to witness the revelation or resurrection of John F. Kennedy.

Protzman prophesied on more than six occasions about the appearance of JFK, who failed to appear in any. But, amazingly his followers are still waiting for a miracle to occur. In the beginning, Protzman and his followers seemed harmless in their behaviors, for example, singing songs in Dealey Plaza and undoing toilet paper rolls in hotel rooms. But, as time passed, their presence persisted, beliefs evolved into something unusual and outsiders believed this group to be a cult. Recently, around 30 followers were seen on Nov. 30 in Reunion Area Park, participating in mediation and smoke smudging sessions. However, some details have emerged about Protzman’s problematic past. Protzman’s wife said he was acting “differently, not showering…and believing in government conspiracies”.  

Some concerning details have emerged, with social media platforms noticing the contents coming out of Protzman’s group and his affiliations, claiming the JFK Jr. conspiracy. Their Youtube streams began spouting strange dialogues, discussing physical death, the need to move on to the “next phase”. Even though the accounts have been blocked, Protzman can reach his followers through his Telegram channel with a recent post saying, “There is no more room in the plan for arrogance and self impotence. Prepare for the next phase. Prepare each other.”

On whole, the movement is brimming with ideas about anti-Semitism and Christian fascism. Many in the movement believe that Trump is on a “holy mission” ordained by God, fighting the battle of good vs evil. The idea is an occult Satanic cabal has corrupted the world, and a strong Christian leader is required to take back the kingdom by any means necessary. These ideas are rather mixed with new mystical beliefs like gnostic theology and holistic health. 

Fortunately, BOO has closed down due to compliance issues, backlashes, and federal lawsuits filed against them. However, these trends don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. These things usually have a large number of followers because of the strong psychological hold they have on the public. When people have difficulty understanding something, these people exploit that opportunity and wrongly lead people into believing absurdity.