What Is “Breatharianism,” The Cult Michelle Pfeiffer Says She Belonged To?


When I read that Michelle Pfeiffer was saying she’d been in a cult that tried to exist on pure sunlight, eschewing all food and drink, I thought: yeah, sure. She’s an actress, that’s what actresses do — not consume calories, I mean. The cult is called Hollywood and the shrine is the juice bar on Rodeo Drive and Grove. (I don’t know if that’s a real intersection; for me one of the consequences of being Canadian is that I have yet to set foot in Los Angeles.) They only consume burgers and fries in the company of journalists.

But, as it turns out, Breatharianism is actually A Thing, apart from the pathologies of modern celebrities. The chief proponent, as it turns out, is a white woman from Brisbane, Australia, née Ellen Grave. Like most crank prophets, it turns out that she started her career in finance. (Sigh, rich people.) She turned to the sort of watered-down Eastern mysticism that seems to be the salvation of so many Westerners, and changed her name to the exotic-sounding “Jasmuheen.” Her website, for reference purposes, bears this banner:

GOOP, eat your heart out!

Now, listen: there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with Jasmuheen’s preferred Natural Law Party aesthetic. Who doesn’t like rainbows and peace and rainbows? Everybody likes those! And everyone likes Australians. Even Australians who, like Jasmuheen, claim to have begun to “focus on vegetarianism” at the age of two.

I do have some questions about Jasmuheen’s business savvy, though. For example, she’s got the Breatharian Agenda posted for free on her website, which is just not how an aspiring guru should do things. Enlightenment should not be for freeloaders. She should not so readily be prepared to share secrets like this one:

A breatharian is said to be someone who never eats or drinks as they can exist on cosmic micro-food. These people exist but are rarely public unless it is their service to be so.

They’re a little like aliens that way, I suspect. Almost like Suppressive Persons, in the Xenu sense. And cosmic-micro-food sounds a lot like stardust, though actually, it’s not clear that it’s micro- so much as it is vibrating:

Nourishment from prana happens as a direct response to our desire for it and as a natural response to our vibration. The capacity to live on light is directly related to our ability to attract, absorb and radiate Divine Love which is determined by our lifestyle.

Hm. Love + light = nutrition, OK. But it is good to know that you don’t need to be a purist to indulge in Breatharianism.

However there are also now many people who can choose to be nourished directly from prana and no longer need to take physical food yet most of these people – like myself – still choose to drink for various reasons.

She doesn’t really elaborate on her various reasons, as far as I can tell — her site’s a bit byzantine. But one might be that Breatharianism has been blamed for several deaths in Australia, usually due to extreme dehydration. That probably loosened the rules up a bit.

The American offshoot of this “religion” is, as you might expect, a bit more blunt. It’s run by a man named Wiley Brooks, who appears to be branching out from the traditional no-eat-no-drink practice. Here’s his latest missive:

Well then. You’d better all get on it.