Teal has a prominent tattoo of an alchemical symbol on her upper left arm. It has been observed that a number of Teal’s followers have exactly the same tattoo. The followers who bear the copycat tattoo, tend to be those who are the most devoted to Teal and her “tribe”. They include members of her “intentional community”, her workshop volunteers and practitioners of her Completion Process.
All photos and screenshots used in this blog were taken from the social media accounts of Teal and her followers, her closed Facebook group, “Teal Tribe”, and her website. The photos below show just some of the many followers who have an identical tattoo to Teal:
Faces and other identifying information has been obscured to protect identities.
Teal’s tattoo in itself, is not particularly significant. It is a fairly common tattoo design. It could be seen as just another part of the clichéd “spiritual leader” image that Teal has constructed for herself. What is significant, is what it reveals about the cult of personality surrounding Teal and the level of “commitment” she demands from her followers. Teal, however, does believe that her tattoo has a special significance. She has described herself as a “teacher of alchemy”, without any supporting evidence. Unless that is, she believes that having an alchemical symbol tattoo is enough of an alchemical qualification. In her blog, “Heavy with Blossoms”, she describes a visit to St.Vitus Cathedral in Prague:
And there I stood, a teacher of alchemy on the world stage, with the seal of alchemy etched into my left arm. I have arrived at court finally.
Teal has written further about the meaning of her tattoo. The screenshot below is taken from her old website (no longer available online):
Whatever meaning Teal ascribes to her tattoo, the symbol has become highly recognisable to her followers. The tattoo is visible in a large percentage of her photographs and videos. The majority of the publicity photos on her website’s ‘Press Gallery’ for example, are photos of her with the tattoo prominently in frame. In a recent video on Instagram, Teal complained that she was feeling cold, yet chose to wear short-sleeved clothing that ensured her tattoo was visible. Teal often chooses to be filmed or photographed with her left side facing the camera. The photos below are a fraction of the images Teal has published that appear to highlight her tattoo:
The Teal Tribe brand
Teal has co-opted the original meaning of the symbol and repurposed it to symbolise herself and Teal Tribe. In fact, her most well-known tattoo has become the emblem of Teal Tribe. Or as a Facebook admin of Teal Tribe put it- “it has become known as the “Teal Tribe Symbol”. The group itself, of course, is named after Teal. Many of her followers refer to themselves as “Tealers” or “Tribers”.
For many followers, the symbol is synonymous with Teal, not only because it is frequently visible in her photos, but because she uses it as part of her product branding. Her tattoo symbol is featured on several of her products. She sells a “Teal Tribe” T-shirt on her website. Her tattoo symbol is featured in the centre, set against a teal-coloured background with the words “Teal Tribe” beneath it in teal-coloured lettering. The symbol is also on the reverse side of her frequency tarot cards.
“When you are a teacher or a leader, or a politician or an artist, the brand you are marketing is YOU. This means that your most valuable asset is your image.”
From Teal’s blog “Ego and Humility”
It is significant to note that Teal actively encourages her followers to copy her tattoo. The screenshot below is an example of how Teal “suggests” to her followers, via comments on social media, that they should get the same tattoo. Teal sells the idea to her followers that the tattoo is a symbol of belonging and inclusion in her “soul family”. In the Facebook post below, Teal posted a photo of herself with her tattoo showing. A commenter duly compliments Teal on the tattoo, to which Teal responds:
I think it would be awesome if a whole bunch of us had this tattoo. It could be a symbol of the bond that unites us.
When a follower obliges and gets a copy of Teal’s tattoo, Teal will often give them a favourable response. By publicly ‘rewarding’ followers who comply, Teal provides further incentive for other followers to get the tattoo themselves. Given the cult dynamics at play within Teal Tribe, it seems very likely that followers will want to gain the attention and approval of their leader. A response from Teal is especially coveted amongst followers, because getting a response from Teal is rare. She never responds to her follower’s comments and questions on Instagram. More importantly, she doesn’t take the time to respond to her suicidal followers, yet is able to find the time to congratulate the followers who copy her tattoo. In the screenshots below, Teal gives her seal of approval to followers who have posted photos of their tattoos on Facebook:
The fact that so many followers have decided to get a copy of Teal’s tattoo, seems to suggest that many of her followers idealise and idolise her. This is something that Teal openly encourages. An example of this idolisation can be seen in
comments made by a volunteer at one of Teal’s workshops. The volunteer describes being “reeled in” by Teal, being starstruck when meeting her, and not long afterwards, deciding to have the tattoo done. The volunteer writes:
I was deeply fascinated by her, not only by her beauty but her charisma . . . her energy reeled me in like a cowboy with his lasso . . . from watching her weekly “Ask Teal” videos, I felt as though she was in my head . . . Meeting Teal was the most uplifting thing ever. It was like meeting a celebrity but actually having a form of connection to the person, especially on a spiritual level . . . The tattoo on her arm, when I first learned about it, is an Alchemy sign . . . I was intrigued and wanted to get this tattooed for myself . . . At first I wanted the tattoo on my left shoulder . . . However, the Korean tattooist pulled it down to the exact place Teal has hers because the print out I had, was too big. I tried to get the guy to make it fit but it looked too weird. I didn’t want to appear as a “copy-cat” to Teal or a plain weirdo, but when he placed it on my arm, it simply looked good. *source redacted for author’s privacy
Teal tribute tattoos
The alchemical tattoos are not the only tattoos that directly reference Teal in some way. Teal’s close confidant and ‘intentional community’ member, Graciela, not only has the alchemical tattoo (shown in the first set of photos above), she also has a tattoo of one of Teal’s quotes. Her tattoo (pictured below) unfortunately contains Teal’s original spelling mistake. It reads: “you were not born to use this life to refine or improve yourself. you were born to use this life as a canvass [sic] to paint yourself across”.
Teal was seemingly delighted when Graciela got this tattoo. She posted a photo of it on Instagram with the caption, “Graciela got a new tattoo of my quote in my handwriting . . . Made my day”. Another follower of Teal’s posted on Facebook a photo of a Teal-inspired tattoo. The tattoo depicts Teal’s black swan logo and beneath it are a list of names. “Teal Swan” is at the top, followed by the name of Teal’s husband, “Ale Gicqueau”.
Teal’s husband, Ale, seems to be one of the few people in Teal’s inner circle who hasn’t got a tattoo that relates to her in some way. This could be explained by comments Ale made in his blog, “Inducing Altered States Of Consciousness To Speed Up Evolution”:
“. . . all my life, I have been uncomfortable with anything that alters the original nature of the body. Teal has felt hurt by me in the past when I expressed my dislike of tattoos. . .”
However, Teal posted a photograph of Ale “trying out” one of her frequency designs on his back for a possible future tattoo. It remains to be seen if he will go ahead with it.
While Ale might not have yet succumbed to a permanent Teal-inspired tattoo, Teal has previously convinced him to have his body permanently marked. Teal coerced Ale to partake in a Kambo ritual which she knew would very likely involve Ale being left with permanent burn marks. Ale described the incident in his blog. He writes:
. . . the last thing I wanted to do in the world was to have burn marks on my forehead. I started to complain, revolt and state clearly that I did not want to do it. Teal started to experience genuine sadness and she shed a couple of tears . . . I accepted reluctantly to have Kambo administered to my forehead as I reminded myself that my relationship with her is so much more important than looking good.
Spiritual leader or cult leader?
Why would a “spiritual leader” encourage their followers to copy their tattoo? It suggests an extreme egotism that is not befitting of a genuine spiritual leader. Teal tells her followers that the identical tattoos are a “symbol of the bond that unites [Teal Tribe]”. If the bond between Teal and Teal Tribe is genuine, then why is there a need for followers to “prove it” by getting a permanent physical marking? Are the tattoos really a symbol of belonging, or are they a symbol of ownership? Is Teal covertly trying to “brand” her followers?
The symbol was not a mutually agreed upon image that Teal Tribe picked to represent their group and to have as their tattoos design. The emblem of their group, and their tattoos are a replica of their leader’s tattoo – the same symbol that Teal uses to brand her products. It’s all centered around Teal as a person, not her teachings. This is yet another cult warning sign. Teal covertly encourages idolatry from her followers. Teal could just be feeding her ego, at the expense of her followers, some of whom, will no doubt come to regret getting their “Teal Tribe symbol” tattoo.
Could it be that Teal is encouraging her followers to get the tattoo as a way of keeping them devoted members of Teal Tribe? Permanent marking, permanent member? Is it an attempt to keep her followers “chained” to her? If a follower has gone as far as to get the tattoo, they may feel impelled to stay committed to Teal and the group, even if doubts arise, or they want to move on. It is likely that Teal is well aware of this. If a spiritual leader must go to these manipulative lengths to keep their followers, then it is likely because they know they can’t retain followers on merit. A genuine spiritual teacher, liberates. A cult leader, enslaves.
Swan, Teal. “Heavy With Blossoms.” Teal Swan. Teal Swan. 18 Dec. 2014, Web blog post. 1 Dec. 2017. <https://tealswanblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/heavy-with-blossoms-blog-posts-teal-swan.pdf>
Gicqueau, Ale. “Inducing Altered States Of Consciousness To Speed Up Evolution.” Teal Swan. Teal Swan. 26 Mar. 2017, Web blog post. 1 Dec. 2017. <Available behind Teal Swan Premium>
Swan, Teal. “Ego And Humility.” Teal Swan. Teal Swan. 17 Jan. 2014, Web blog post. 1 Dec. 2017. <https://tealswanblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/ego-and-humility-blog-posts-teal-swan.pdf>