When William met “Katie” at Burning Man in the summer of 2012, sparks flew. They dated for a time afterward, but eventually William ended it. And then, things spun out of control.
Katie (not her real name) wouldn’t accept that their relationship was over. William claimed she sent threatening messages, relentlessly called, and seemed to show up he was — at clubs, at home, and even in a European city where he was vacationing. William eventually got a restraining order, and after Katie repeatedly violated it, she was arrested. Still, she persisted.
“She was trying to call me from jail,” William said on the new podcast “Twin Flames,” out now from Wondery. “Not even sending her to jail gave her a hint.”
As the new six-part podcast reveals, Katie’s behavior may have been influenced by classes she was taking from self-proclaimed gurus Jeff and Shaleia Ayan. The couple promises to help those looking for love find their “twin flame,” or ultimate soulmate.
Because they teach that God gives everyone one “eternal divine complement,” those who are rejected by former or potential partners should be determined in their pursuit. It doesn’t matter if your other half is married, dating or not interested in you, according to the couple’s video titled “What if my twin flame is with another?” from 2017.
“Claim them,” Jeff says. “Let nothing else stand between you and your one true love.”
Jeff and Shaleia have denied claims that they promote harassment, according to a December 2020 Vanity Fair article, in which the couple was interviewed.
Jeff and Shaleia run the “Twin Flames Universe,” which includes classes, workshops, a book, videos and a meal delivery service. For several years, they have been posting videos about relationships and love, and their YouTube channel has more than 25,000 subscribers. More than 23,000 follow them on Facebook.
In addition to the allegation that the couple condones stalking, former students told Vice they were “gaslit and manipulated” into providing free labor.
†[Shaleia and Jeff] have a group of people that trust them completely. They know that,” “Twin Flames” podcast host and actress Stephanie Beatriz told The Post.
Bail for Katie was set at $150,000, and she was charged with 17 counts related to harassing, stalking and violating the restraining order, according to the podcast. But a few weeks after she got out on bail, she returned to her Twin Flames classes. In a recording of the class played on the podcast, Jeff tells her: “You are courageous.”
She later left the group and has denied intentional wrongdoing in her criminal case.
Katie’s story is not unique among followers of Twin Flames. “It’s really dangerous how far some of them have gone,” Beatriz said. The podcast, she said, “delves into who [Jeff and Shaleia] are and what their motivation might be.”
‘Incredibly lucrative world’
Jeff and Shaleia once went by the names Ender Ayanethos and Megan Plante. Their last name has been reported as Ayan, and according to their church’s website, Jeff also uses the last name Divine. The Vanity Fair article about them and former students says the couple met in 2012.
They started posting videos about love and twin flames — an idea that is not new or singular to their teachings. Public figures from Norwegian Princess Martha Louise to Megan Fox have described their partnerships this way.
But the couple have been able to monetize the concept through their “Twin Flames Universe.”
They have “crafted this incredibly lucrative world,” Beatriz said.
Jeff and Shaleia’s online classes cost over $2,000 for a year, according to the podcast, to help people find their twin flame. On their website, people can purchase the couple’s book, sign up for a $129 workshop, pay $699 for “Dreams Coming True E-Course,” or take a “Sermons of Life Purpose Class” for $499.
“Twin Flames Universe is valued at more than a million dollars… closer to 2 million,” Jeff says in a 2019 video on Facebook, according to Vanity Fair. VICE noted that in videos, “the couple claim to drive a Corvette” and “lease a Porsche.”
‘Sent by God’
Two years ago, the couple founded the Church of Union. On a page titled “Gurus” on the church’s website, it states that they were “sent by God to bring us the teachings of Union and partner with us in creating Heaven on Earth.”
Before they established a church based on their teachings, the couple were referring to themselves as “the Master Christ” in Facebook posts, according to VICE’s February 2020 investigation. Former students and parents told the publication that followers of the couple’s teaching often cut themselves off from their families and that they were “discouraged from seeking professional mental healthcare.”
The world they created is insular and those who question the couple run the risk of pushing out of the community, Beatriz explained.
The couple denied they were running a cult to VICE and other wrongdoings, like exploiting students or encouraging family separation. They did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.
The “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actress was drawn to this podcast because “the story is, for lack of a better word, wild.”