Who are the starseeds?

a journey into the esoteric faith shaping the american fringe

I’m sitting in a lavender room filled with books with titles like Bringers of Dawn and Gods of Aquarius

The room is a quasi-museum in the exurbs of a large city, bedecked withcrystal grids, psychedelic paintings, and singing bowls. Someone is burning sweetgrass and frankincense in an abalone shell making the place smell something approximating a yoga studio, and a short, blonde woman who I once knew as Sarah*, but is now going by a new, celestial name she received during a Pleiadian download, is DJing a mix of EDM, science fiction themes, and vaguely Eastern-sounding religious chants and mantras, showing no favoritism towards one religion or another. 

My ears perk up when I hear a Khmer rock song with a slightly esoteric bent—I recognize it from a playlist my Khmer tutor had made me some years earlier. 

A white man in a white kurta is swaying next to me. He has piercing blue eyes, and earlier had been brewing some kind of entheogenic tea that I’d been too scared to try because I didn’t trust these people to measure out dosages correctly. He asks me, “Isn’t she great?” meaning the shaman-formerly-known-as-Sarah. I nod and tell him that I love this song, and without missing a beat, he asks me, “Is it inspiring you?” 

I can’t help but answer honestly: Yes. This song makes me imagine another world so vividly it’s like I’m there.

A crowd starts to gather around Sarah, as she tells a story that’s one-part Alex Jonesian doomsaying and another part New Age prophecy: They’re taking children to the desert to sap their lifeforce…the world is quite literally run by pedophiles… If you’re in this room, it means you’re waking up, exiting the matrix… We’re riding the waves of this matrix-show…We are clearing our souls’ old programming… 

The rest of the night continues on this way. It’s difficult not to buy into the energy, to feel like you are being ushered into something bigger than yourself. Sarah is a charismatic storyteller, and she delivers her message with a determined sincerity. Whatever might seem corny or campy at first glance is embraced so wholeheartedly, it is impossible not to sing along.

The atmosphere she’s created is both welcoming and deeply spiritual. And it’s a spirituality with fervor—real belief. There is nothing languid or “hippie-dippie” about it: it is a call to action that the people in the room are taking seriously. 

Our responsibility tonight, and perhaps for the rest of our lives here on earth, isn’t just to ascend, but to use our newfound knowledge to save the world. We are the Conscious; a potent wave of alien souls who are here to help shift the current paradigm.   

What are starseeds? 

Where does one begin with an overview of starseeds?

The answer to this question is more complicated than you might first imagine. It’s tempting to view starseeds as one of modernity’s many freakshows, a ridiculous-seeming subculture that arose out of a stew of ahistoricism, New Age spirituality, and Ufology. There’s a lot more to the story than that. But first, let’s start with a definition. 

Starseeds (also known as starchildren, star people, lightworkers, crystal children, et al.) believe that they’re human bodies inhabited by advanced extraterrestrial or interdimensional souls. 

It’s difficult to estimate just how many starseed believers there are and even more difficult to estimate how many people self-identify as one. We know there’s at least one—the “Q Shaman” who stormed the Capitol on January 6th—but who else?

The number might be anywhere from the tens or hundreds of thousands (assuming everyone who subscribers to YouTube channels like kloee taylor, Zoey Arielle, and Moon Omens, which have 47,000, 143,000, and 29,000 subscribers respectively, is a genuine believer) to as high in the millions, with a startling 12 million Americans reporting to believe in a reptilian alien race, a core component of starseed thinking which we’ll get into in more detail below. 

While there’s no unified starseed religion or doctrine, there is a general belief among the starseed community that they’re here to help earth undergo a paradigm shift, from the 3rd dimension to the 5th dimension. Sometimes, this may be couched in terms like “raising the earth’s vibration,” or even more mundane descriptors like “authenticity” or “living your truth.” Where you see references to vibrations, frequency, or ascension, typically starseeds aren’t far behind.

Bringing about this shift typically first starts with their own awakening or activation, which happens via introspection and lifestyle changes like switching to a vegan or fruitarian diet and intentional daily practices like yoga, meditation, box breathing, and manifestation. 

The second, and perhaps most central, pillar for an awakening starseed is that you yourself can change reality. There are no coincidences, only synchronicity. 

In Tanya Volentras’ wonderful Interiority and Objectivity with Starseeds on This Pale Blue Dot, she writes of this belief: 

[…] an integral Starseed (and New Age) premise [is] that a person’s conception of reality is central to how reality actually is for them. It is the ‘spiritual’ depth of the relationship between one’s self and the ‘here-and-now’ that is given primary importance.

This is how the starseed changes the world, especially when in harmony with other awakening or already awakened starseeds. 

The process of awakening isn’t an easy one though, and you’re cautioned not to move too quickly. You’ll receive a lot of overwhelming information, that even the most prepared individuals struggle with. Most starseed literature warns of the “dark night of the soul,” or a period of where you lose faith, and experience existential dread, as a product of understanding the reality of our current moment.

Although the awakening process does involve lifestyle changes, there is no one way to awaken. The awakening process is about accepting what you innately are and what always has been, not about bringing something new into your life. That is to say, awakening to your starseed identity is not the same as being baptized Christian, which may require you to become celibate, attend church, or stop drinking alcohol. The lifestyle changes that starseeds make are a product of aligning with your true self, not a prescriptive set of behaviors that will help you achieve some spiritual goal.

Part of this may be explained by the belief that in starseed-land you are born a starseed. There is no conversion process. Your extraterrestrial or interdimensional roots are encoded in your soul’s DNA, and it is up to you to get in touch with it. 

There’s some debate though over whether everyone’s a starseed (just not one who’s awakened) or if there are a finite number of starseeds on earth. Because there is no one starseed dogma, this belief appears to vary from book to book, website to website, meet-up to meet-up. 

In Meet the Hybrids: The Lives and Missions of ETs on Earth, a survey of people throughout the world who self-identify as starseeds, the answer changes literally chapter to chapter. Some subjects say their souls are reincarnated; others go as far as to identify as shapeshifters. Barbara Hand Clow, one of the more famous spiritual teachers in the scene and author of the seminal work The Pleiadian Agenda: A New Cosmology for the Age of Light, channels a Pleiadian goddess, but it’s unclear whether or not she herself is one. 

Unicole Unicron, a “digital cult” leader and TikTok influencer, states they are an “Arcturian consciousness,” and speaks often about how it’s a “lonely experience,” seeming to suggest that not everyone is like them. And still, websites and Facebook groups throughout the Internet offer myriad advice about how to trigger the awakening process. The galactic spirit is in all of us, but are all of us ready to face it?

The awakening process may also include developing special skills, like strengthening your intuition, a stronger ability to manifest, or learning something called light language, usually via downloads, which are also a common experience among starseeds

Light language is similar in character to glossolalia, more commonly known as speaking in tongues. It is not a single, cohesive language, but literally light that is channeled into the starseed’s mind and “translated.” The experience of channeling is often referred to as a download.  

Laura Marjorie Miller offers a beautiful description of light language in Enchanted Living Magazine

Some people speak it, some sing it, some sign or draw or write it, as light maps or codes or inscriptions. It’s called light language because that is how it appears to the inner eye as the practitioner is speaking—words that are on fire or really lit with gold. They transmit states of being, full of emotion, charged with presence.

Other times, downloads come to the channeler via images or simply through the channeler’s own internal monologue.

Downloads serve the same function as prophetic religious messages—to warn (for starseeds, not infrequently about the Illuminati or reptilians and how they might affect global politics), to offer guidance, to offer love, to share messages of peace or destruction. Barbara Marciniak, one of the most famous starseeds, shares channeled messages on YouTube. In this one, posted in late February of 2020, she speaks briefly of the “coming global health crisis.”

Types of starseeds 

I’ve flirted with the New Age my whole life. Am I a starseed? Unfortunately, the answer is probably not. I’m not exactly an ethereal person nor do I feel a deep, emotional connection with some sort of mystical Other, as much as I’d like the reality to be different. That said—a sure fire way to get me to show up somewhere is to link it to a new religious movement, particularly one with a celestial bent. As a result, I’ve been to dozens of New Age conferences, parties, events, three-day workshops, and retreats. I’ve been to every metaphysical supply store to every city I’ve been to (seriously).

I recall a conference I attended in San Jose in 2019, where I met a starseed who shared that her particular extraterrestrial affiliation resembled anthropomorphic foxes. She wondered out loud if this meant she “technically counted as a furry.” She also told me that she believed there were “as many kinds of starseeds as there are genders on earth.” I didn’t take this comment for granted. 

Astronomers estimate there are 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, so it would make sense that there are an infinite-seeming number of expressions of starseed identities. There are, however, a few identity groups that are more common than others. These are sometimes referred to as “soul families,” other times referred to as starseed groups. 

Starseed groups function similarly to astrological signs, Ayurvedic doshas, or—and please excuse the comparison—Hogwarts houses. They include physical traits, but they also often offer guidance on your disposition and health. 

Here are some of the most common ones, from the popular New Age resource Gaia:

  • Sirian: These souls come from the planets Sirius A and Sirius B. Sirius A is the brightest star in the Earth’s sky. Its original inhabitants came from Vega, in the Lyra constellation, the supposed home of Earth’s ancestors. Sirius B is a smaller star and home to the water beings like the Miengu and Merpeople. These two planets initiated the awakening of all human beings. It is said that Sirius A gave us Ascended Masters like Jesus and Mother Mary. 

  • Pleiadian: Pleiadians are the record keepers for Earth and claim the planet is more than 600 billion years old. The Pleiadians exist within a fifth-dimensional frequency, which is where love and creativity are born. They are a matriarchal society that elevates women, children, and families. The Pleiadians behave much like humans, except they are far more emotionally and spiritually evolved. Some might use their advanced skills to maneuver human beings, although most have come to Earth to help it expand its consciousness and evolve.

  • Orion: The Orions will ask questions about every detail. They’ll try to create living beings here on Earth who are based in mind. They are obsessed with science and research, and sadly, lack an understanding of their hearts. The Orion mission on Earth is to help improve our understanding of the value of science. Their personal, group, spiritual mission is to learn from humanoids how to be more trusting and faithful. 

  • Reptilian: Also known as Lizard People, Saurians, and Draconians, these shapeshifters seek to control Earth in the pursuit of selfish benefit. David Icke has reported on the Reptilians, noting that they seek political power on Earth to manipulate human societies, cultures, and human development. Many believe that some Reptilians are living among us with altered physical appearances. Others say that Reptilian spirits enter the bodies of our most prized politicians and sway them away from values and decisions that would benefit the people of the Earth. Luckily, the Reptilians have many enemies who live in the light and have the mission to combat all darkness. 

There are myriad resources online that can help you determine what your starseed type is, including psychics who can divine it from tarot cards or channeled messages from groups like the Galactic Federation of Light, which is a political body that some believe are helping guide starseeds here on earth, or the Ashtar Command, another galactic law enforcement agency, popularized by George van Tassel, who you may recognize as the designer of Joshua Tree’s Integratron

What’s striking and what I should underscore is that there is no final say, nor central dogma. All of the information we have about starseeds is from channeled material. Some of the material even conflicts.

Dimensions and the starseed worldview 

For many starseeds, the mission is to help the earth ascend from the 3rd dimension (the Matrix, where we are living now) to the 5th dimension. Between that is the 4th dimension, and after that, I have read about dimensions as high as the 11th.

But what is the 5th dimension? In fact, what does any of this mean?

The Pink Dolphin, a Bed and Breakfast which offers a “traveler’s guide to the fifth dimension” writes: “The Fifth Dimension is the beginning of Expanded Consciousness, not the destination.”  Another blogger describes it as, “Yes, the fifth dimension is not somewhere you GO, it’s a place you begin to inhabit with your energetic frequency – it’s who you ARE.”

The easiest way for me to parse it is the 5th dimension is a “perfect” state of being. It’s when and possibly ‘where’ you transcend the constraints of the material world, the 3rd dimension. A detailed explanation of the role of dimensions play in the starseeds’ cosmology, the intermingling of souls and dimensions, is enough to fill several books, but it seems to borrow quite a bit from Buddhism’s 31 planes of existence.

The Reptilians

Another component of the starseed hero’s journey is fighting against or otherwise transcending above the Reptilians, a malevolent alien race responsible for everything from the Illuminati to Nazi Germany to global warming. A popular book on the topic, Alien World Order, summarizes their influence, “[…] the human race is enmeshed in a skillfully concealed plot to enslave humanity and exploit our planet’s physical and biological resources. Revealing Hitler’s pact with extraterrestrials and the Reptilian influence on the Nazi state, he shares new documents that disclose the rescue and rehabilitation of Nazi war criminals to assist in the Cold War, which then corrupted many U.S. government institutions. Focusing on crucial events in the decade after World War II, he examines the Reptilians’ human allies, the Illuminati, who control the levers of financial, technological, and military power throughout the world through various secret societies.”

Some argue that “defeating” Reptilians is how you ascend, and some still will say that “not all Reptilians are bad,” though this social justice messaging is often also couched in confusing New Age terminology. On /r/starseeds, a subreddit for and by people who self-identify as starseeds, one worried poster writes:

On a high psychedelic dose I saw what I want to call “my true form”. I’m a chameleon. Changing, shape shifting constantly. I saw myself as self-serving. I didn’t know how to NOT be that way.

He goes on to explain that he wants to be good—he’s always wanted to be good. Commenters below assure him that “good vs. evil are human concepts.”

But you may already be familiar with the Reptilian mythos. According to The Atlantic in 2013, a startling 12 million Americans hadn’t only heard of it, but believed in it. You may also recognize some of this rhetoric from David Icke, QAnon, or Alex Jones, who major starseed thinkers share a significant amount of overlap with.

Where does it all come from? 

You may have noticed that the starseed belief that reality is malleable so long as you develop the skills to change it reads quite similarly to the occultist Aleister Crowley’s definition of magick: “Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one's conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action.” This similarity isn’t a coincidence. 

Their foundations are anchored in the same places: western esotericism with a special emphasis on theosophy. 

When I set out to write this article, it was my goal to present a concise history of the movement, however decentralized and undogmatic it was. 

I wanted to track where this movement came from, how it developed, and how we got to the point we’re at today. The more research I did, the more I realized just how rich the history was. I said it before, this isn’t a mere freakshow of modernity. The real story of starseeds doesn’t even start in with early UFO religions or even other New Religious Movements (NRMs).

To me, the true story of starseeds begins with al-Kindi, an Islamic philosopher born in 800 CE, and his Stellar Ray Theory. Dr. Justin Sledge describes it concisely, “For al-Kindi, the stars act as a kind of primal radiators of the Platonic forms. These are the universals, like Beauty itself, Justice, Equality, Oneness, and Goodness. These forms, according to al-Kindi, are filtered down from the cosmos to the sublunar world, where we live.” (Sounds pretty similar to modern astrology, huh?)

But I also believe it makes detours through alchemy, theosophy, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1960s contactees imbued with psychic powers, the work of Jacques Vallée, among many other bizarre blips on the historical radar. 

In so many ways, the story of starseeds is the story of the New Age, neo-paganism’s mirror, one that desperately needs to be told, and one that has shockingly little scholarly attention.

A less complete history though might begin in the early 70s, with Dr. Timothy Leary’s tracts Starseed: Transmitted from Folsom Prison (which he wrote, as the name suggests, during his time in Folsom prison)and Terra II: The Starseed Transmission. In these books, Leary suggested that the human nervous system was capable of communicating with “the Galactic Network.” While these weren’t the first books to present a theory like this, they were the first books to give it the name starseed. 

Leary’s vision of what a starseed was based on the theory of panspermia, which postulates that life (microorganisms) exists throughout the universe, and is distributed by asteroids, meteroids, and so on. In fact, that might be how we came to be ourselves. The starseed worldview, however, paints a spiritual veneer on this. 

Then in the mid-70s and into the 80s, writer Brad Steiger throttled the term into the mainstream with his books like Gods of Aquarius, Starborn, and The Star People. From there, we see Nancy Ann Tappe’s theory of indigo children, Barbara Hand Clow and Barbara Marciniak in the 90s. 

The story marches on with Gaia, Goop, Unicole, and TikTok star-fluencers

A conclusion 

What do I make of starseeds? They satisfy three needs in our culture: radical individualism, re-enchantment, and a transcendent purpose. The starseed story, as varied as it is, provides an outlet for heroism, community, and culture—something sorely missing right now.

Their worldview hinges on Unverified Personal Gnosis yet many of them share a unified goal that is impossibly heroic; they appropriate science fiction tropes and create something sacred from it; they feel at odds with being human in a world that is increasingly alienating and seek to transcend it; they strive for a unity between spirituality and science, perhaps in an attempt to re-enchant their own worlds. 

Starseeds are the symptom of a culture where anything and everything can become a niche you can find purpose in. The same world where people identify as otherkin, as psychic vampires, and trusters-of-the-plan. The same world where our profound ability to choose means one’s own value is one’s own project and one’s own project alone. 

This is what a modern religious movement is.

-Default Friend