Switzerland’s teenage pseudoscience queen
As the cameras rolled, Christina von Dreien sat cross-legged on a large gray sofa, arms folded onto her knees, as if in meditation. She moved only occasionally, to reposition an orange cushion next to her. The informal studio decor reflected the target audience of the Swiss TV show “Time to Be,” which is aimed largely at young people, but the conversation was strangely earnest.
Von Dreien, a fresh-faced 19-year-old, spoke to host Norbert Brakenwagen with great seriousness about emotions being stored in human hair, reincarnation and our individual missions “as human beings here on this planet.”
“When we love ourselves unconditionally, that love will automatically heal us,” she said.
In recent years, Von Dreien has become a leading light of the Swiss New Age scene and a highly lucrative brand. The Swiss media frequently refer to her as an “esoteric star.” On her website, she describes herself as being “blessed with a multidimensional awareness and other paranormal abilities.”
Von Dreien has made her career by sharing these self-proclaimed gifts with the world, via various social media channels, at speaking engagements and in writing. Looking at the comments on her website, it appears that her audience is mainly composed of middle-class, white women with an interest in spiritual growth and self-improvement.
Some of them may not know that Von Dreien is not her real name. In her pre-fame days, she was known as the somewhat less aristocratic-sounding Christina Meier. Her professional alias is actually a reference to Weiler Dreien, the small village in the mountainous, German-speaking eastern part of Switzerland, where she grew up.
It is not unusual for entertainers and influencers to operate under assumed names and, with all her talk of inner harmony, love and peace, Von Drein often sounds like any one of countless similar figures around the world. The difference is her reach — in a country of just eight million people, her YouTube videos frequently attract hundreds of thousands of views — and that she bolsters this following by expressing questionable views on a variety of serious matters.
In a March newsletter, Von Dreien shared her thoughts on Covid-19. “I don’t think the coronavirus is as dangerous as it’s being made out to be right now,” she wrote. “In my view, it is an attempt to put people into a state of panic. She went on to add that “people who pull the strings have brought this virus into the world to further their plans.”
Von Dreien has strong views on the deployment of 5G networks around the world. In April 2019, she wrote that “5G can manipulate the thoughts, emotions, behavior and bodily functions of people and animals.” Again, she attributed the technology’s rollout to powerful individuals working behind the scenes, in service of their own ends.
She has also made problematic — if rather nebulous — pronouncements on matters of racial identity. At a February seminar, held in a small Bavarian town, she spoke of what she believes to be fundamental differences between the collective consciousness of people from different parts of the world. After describing the “earthly energy” of people from South America, she went on to state that those from “Mitteleuropa” are more in tune with “higher levels” and a true “beacon for the world.”
Her words resonate with a growing global mistrust of academia and science. A recent article in Science magazine reported that only 50% of Americans plan to be immunized against Covid-19 when a vaccine becomes available. Meanwhile, anti-5G sentiment attributing the effects of the coronavirus to the technology is growing, from the United States to Russia.
A family business
Three books feature prominently on Von Dreien’s website. The most recent, titled “Christina: Consciousness Creates Peace,” is by Von Dreien herself.
Bernadette Meier, a former Swiss marathon champion and Von Drein’s mother, is the author of the other two. “Christina: Twins Born as Light,” was published in 2017 and documents her daughter’s “extraordinary birth, childhood and youth,” as well as her “remarkable insight into today’s world affairs.” The second, “Christina: The Vision of the Good,” came a year later. Both occupied the top 10 non-fiction bestseller list in Switzerland, Austria and Germany for months and are available in German, French, Italian and English-language versions.
Von Dreien’s affairs are managed by a company named Christina von Dreien LLC, in which Meier plays a prominent role. One of the main jobs carried out by Von Dreien’s team is coordinating her schedule of public appearances. Her next tour, billed as “Create Peace Consciously,” will take place in Bern, Switzerland; Salzburg, Austria; and Friedrichshafen in Germany.
According to the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Von Dreien’s seminars usually sell out weeks in advance. Her last event, held in the Swiss city of Wil, was attended by 500 people, each paying nearly $220 — a total of more than $120,000 in one day.
Nicola Good narrated the audio version of Von Dreien’s book. According to the Swiss daily Tagblatt, she is also working with Meier and Von Dreien to establish a school inspired by Von Dreien’s teachings. She is quick to dismiss any suggestion that Von Dreien spreads conspiracy theories and disinformation for personal gain.
“I don’t know what this word disinformation is supposed to mean. There is only different information,” she told me, via email. “The mainstream media no longer fulfills its function as the fourth estate, but rather reflects the wants of the government.”
Representatives of Von Dreien’s company declined requests to comment for this article.
Cornelia Gatz, a Munich-based feng shui consultant, is a keen follower of Von Dreien. Recalling one seminar she attended, she told me that she had “rarely seen a room with hundreds of people that seemed so harmonious and peaceful. Christina was calm itself, inspiring people with her love.”
After reading Von Dreien and Meier’s books, she felt the need to connect with people who found them similarly valuable.
Gatz founded a Facebook group dedicated to Von Dreien’s work. More than 2,500 members spend hours every day discussing such topics as auras, energy fields and levels of perception.
“I founded the group, in order to put Christina’s teaching in practice with people that are interested in working on themselves in this way,” Gatz explained.
Many of the group’s members see themselves as spiritually hypersensitive individuals and seek to deepen their connection to a wellspring of healing power that they refer to as “the source.”
“Can I connect to the source to protect myself against radiation?” one member asked in a recent group discussion.
Still, Gatz refutes the idea that Von Dreien is peddling conspiracies and pseudoscience.
“I think it is important to understand what Christina’s actual intentions are when she writes about issues like 5G or Covid-19,” she said. “She’s primarily interested in the self-determination of people, which I completely support.”
For Von Dreien, the pursuit of self-determination appears to entail an absolute distrust of government, established expertise and what she, in a May newsletter, termed “our so-called democracy, which is only interested in control and surveillance.”
Instead, she actively promotes “alternative” sources of information, such as Transinformation.net, which she frequently links to on her website. Founded in 2014, this German-run site serves its readers a cocktail of esotericism, pseudoscience and conspiracy theory.
On protests against coronavirus measures that took place in Berlin in late August, it stated that “Germany is an extremely important energetic node on the planet, which the cabal has always tried to suppress and manipulate.”
Transinformation’s authors go on to state that over the past two years, the consciousness of the German people has expanded and that “with the protests, maybe we are now seeing the physical manifestation of this.”
These words, like Von Dreien’s own, go far beyond ideas of rainbow-hued spirituality, alternative healing practices and pseudoscience — all of which are worrying enough at a time when the world is still battling a virus for which there is no known cure. Instead, they speak to ideas of secretive groups, clandestine plots and the inherent superiority of ethnic Europeans. Now, more than ever, this kind of thinking is a dangerous thing to open people’s minds to.
Illustration by Gogi Kamushadze
The story you just read is a small piece of a complex and an ever-changing storyline that Coda covers relentlessly and with singular focus. But we can’t do it without your help. Show your support for journalism that stays on the story by becoming a member today. Coda Story is a 501(c)3 U.S. non-profit. Your contribution to Coda Story is tax deductible.