*This Interview has been edited and updated from the original.*
Jessica Schab went from being a spiritual New Age leader to being a skeptic. She began to think more critically about the claims of the movement and has been working to educate others about the falsehoods in the New Age movement. She is a Co-Founder of the EOF Project.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: To begin what was family background regarding faith?
Jessica Schab: I was raised in a cult. It was a combination of Christianity, Judaism, and Jehovah’s Witness. It was known as ‘The World Wide Church of God.’ The church did not have a building of its own.
Its services were held in a high school that we attended every Saturday. We weren’t allowed to eat pork, seafood, or things like this. We were also not really allowed to talk much to people who were not in the church.
The church taught that when you died God would resurrect you. God would bring you back to earth, but only after the planet is destroyed. Then the world would have peace for 1,000 years and then after that, well, no knows.
I was encouraged to learn the teachings of the church by heart. It instilled in me the importance of being a good person and helping no matter what, even if it meant sacrificing myself for the greater good. I remember having to always pray for the church leader, who I had never even met. His name was Herbert W. Armstrong.
Then when I was 14, my dad decided to leave the church. I was upset with him because suddenly all of our friends were no longer our friends because, sadly, I found out they only like you if we believed what they believed.
I later found out, not long after we left, that the church was shut down due to some scandal. Only recently, it has returned as ‘The Restored Church of God’. After we left the church, I started to explore other churches.
I searched for ones that I could attend, but none of them felt right. So, I started to explore other religions. Yet, none of them felt right too. What I ended up doing, instead of choosing one over the other, was to embrace them all because they seemed to say the same thing: God is love, be a good person, and so on. This was a Segway into New Age beliefs, as they claim to embrace or mix every faith into one.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you get into the New Age?
Jessica Schab: Mainly, because of multiple tragedies I went through, the first was my sister died when I was 16. Then my dad had a stroke. He started to make claims: that he talked to beings of other dimensions – angels, aliens, and stuff like this. He told me that he could talk to my sister.
That she wasn’t really dead. That she was alive in another realm and was a bridge for us. There to help us with our mission on Earth. Then my dad told me aliens were interested in me. That they are preparing me for a very important mission.
I was upset because I wanted to be normal. I was rebelling against all the things my dad was saying. Though, looking back, I think it was his way of comforting me.
At age 21, my father died from a massive brain hemorrhage. If this was not painful enough, just a week before he died, I said horrible things to him. So, I had this huge amount of guilt. What made it worse, it had been drilled into me: our thoughts create reality.
So, I convinced myself. I was the one who killed him with my words. I resented myself for this. Especially when I realized how much I missed my dad, I wanted to be close with him. That’s when I decided to embrace his spiritual New Age work.
My dad said I was a leader. I would help many people…one day. I never thought of myself as a leader, but I would become one if it meant I could accomplish his mission, save the world, and make my dad proud on the ‘other side’.
I felt people needed real-life examples, not fictional characters in movies and books. So, I decided to be an example. As the desire started to grow in me to find and help like-minded people, to let them know they were not alone, I started making videos on YouTube.
I developed interest and support. People were telling me that I changed their life. I was even healing illnesses. I was invited to attend the Nexus Conference in Australia. That is where I was introduced to Project Camelot.
They were well-known for interviewing people on conspiracy theories, reptilian people – and basically all things woo. They ended up interviewing me, introducing me to the world as a ‘Crystal Child’. I became famous overnight.
Shortly after that interview, I became invited to speak all over the world. I had convinced myself that my spiritual message/beliefs were truth. Thus, I was able to convince others. These beliefs were also the solution and answer to everything for me.
However, as time went on, I started to realize how something wasn’t quite right with them. These beliefs were becoming filtered information that came into my mind. They were not helping me with my problems,
They were making them worse, but I was not able to see this at the time. It was too scary to confront that head-on because it was who I was. It was my job, my life. My entire world was comprised of these beliefs.
It’s hard to question something so close to you. That’s done so much for you. But then, when I started to notice how it was affecting other people, the way they think and not wanting to think or to question it.
I was burned out from always trying to help people, to heal them, to make videos. It felt never-ending. I started to get burned out. Shortly after, I became involved in an abusive relationship.
The guy was manipulative, controlling, and exploiting my followers and me. I could not take much action to get out of the relationship because my beliefs had convinced me. I can change him with my love and such, but the more loving and forgiving I was, the more the abuse amplified, the more he could get away with.
I was frustrated that my beliefs were not able to help me with my problems. I knew there was something wrong, but I did not know what it was. All I knew was that I had to get away from the relationship and have a fresh start, to get my mind clear and heal myself.
Jacobsen: How did this transition into the EOF?
I decided to go all over Asia and right before the 2012 ‘end of the world’, I went to Bali, Indonesia and set up a workshop to prepare people for the big shift in consciousness. That is where I met Diego Fontanive, the founder of the EOF Project via couch surfing.
He was the first person in years I spent time with that did not have the same beliefs as me. At first, I took what he had to say as: “Ok, that’s your perspective; I respect that. I am open to discussing our differences in views.”
I felt sad for him that he did not have a connection to his spirit. At one point, I wanted to help him with this. Yet, it was the opposite in the end. It was him who helped connect me back to my rational, sober mind.
He asked me questions that started to create doubts about my beliefs. He wanted me to understand the mechanics of the mindsets, especially the self-deception. He would ask me things like, “Are you sure this is true?”
If I said, “Because I feel it to be true or had certain experiences.” He would then say something like, “Are you sure your emotions and experiences are as reliable as you think? Who are you with your beliefs? Can you think outside of them for a minute?”
But there was one question he asked me, “Are you sure you are helping by spreading these type of ideas?” That got me the most out of all of the questions.
The more he got me to question and think about things, the more I was able to see how these beliefs were harmful. I was able to see how I was a drug dealer/addict. I did not even know it. This realization made me feel awful.
The way beliefs and mindsets can prevent us from thinking and questioning. The way they create a war with reality.
I wrote in great detail about my experience in Bali and with Diego. I call this my Bali Blog series. For a long time, I thought Diego was an advanced being from another dimension because he was so mysterious, which I interpreted as mystical.
I had him on such a high pedestal. I would have to face this pattern later.
Later, Diego admitted playing along with my ideas about him, in the hope that it would help me to see how I manipulate myself. Since I saw everything and everyone through a filter of mysticism, it was my language. Diego felt he had to learn it in order to get through to me.
No one wants to admit they were duped. That they duped themselves, nor do they want to admit that they could be wrong in following something for many years. People want to think of themselves as smart, but actually, this idea is what gets in the way of people being able to see that they have been deceived.
This is what is known as ‘The Dunning Kruger Effect’. Diego showed me how to develop my logic and reason. I worked those muscles every day. These tools are so vital to have in life in order to be able to think properly and make better decisions, to not have them is to be like driving drunk.
You are bound to crash sooner or later. Why risk it?
I decided to share my concerns and new realizations with my followers. They ended up turning on me. They said I was a traitor, a liar, and compromised. Diego was evil. They thought Diego had brainwashed me, but I kept sharing.
I thought people would understand and see it. I was naive thinking it would be so easy for people to question things that are so near and dear to them. But I kept on sharing, and more and more people started to understand what I was saying. They saw their own problems that were coming from these beliefs.
Diego and I set up the EOF Project. It uses critical thinking, metacognition, and memetics to help people via coaching and courses, to have a better understanding of the mechanics of irrational fear and flawed thinking.
The project focuses on helping people to transition from being a believer to a skeptic/thinker, and how to be both logical and emotional at the same time.
I later started to speak about my transition at a skeptics’ conferences. It was challenging and humiliating to show people how credulous I had been! However, my determination to prevent others to fall in the same mental traps was stronger.
Now, I find it fascinating how I used to think and it’s quite therapeutic to make fun of my old self and to use blasphemy on beliefs that used to have such an authority over me.
Working on improving our thinking skills, being savvy to our blind spots is not easy, unfortunately, critical thinking skills do not happen naturally. Its everyday work on our mental muscles that show results. It is one of the hardest things I ever had to do, but also the most fruitful as well.
Now, I am working on a documentary about my transition from mystic to a skeptic. I hope that with my story people will be able to see their patterns and biases, so as to prevent them – and for them to see the importance of being able to think in a healthier way. My documentary is called Memoirs of a Former Mystic: Caution too much love and light will make you sick.
Image Credit: Jessica Schab.