What Is The Twin Flames Universe And Who Are Its Leaders?

The concept of true love and belief in the existence of soul mates is nothing new. Such romantic notions underpin huge swaths of Western culture, from medieval poetry to the golden age of Hollywood, to even the plots of several modern video games. And though in the 21st-century society has in many ways reformulated the way we think about love, sex, and relationships to account for such issues as mental health, power dynamics, and gender balance, the truth is that many people find the idea that they have a god-given soul mate somewhere in the world to be hugely seductive.

In the internet age, it is no surprise that an obsessive community has emerged to take advantage of those who seek the kind of romantic love that exists in movies. In the parlance of a certain New Age worldview, a soul mate is a "Twin Flame," whom countless creators on YouTube and other social media channels post content that promises to assist their audiences in identifying and unifying with, no matter the obstacles. But among the noise, one particular platform, Twin Flames Universe, has emerged as a virulent source of Twin Flame content. Investigators from several outlets have come to describe Twin Flames Universe as a cult.

"​​The Twin Flame Ascension journey is a process of inner purification. You will attract and keep a healthy relationship when you heal the hurt parts of you that push it away, even unconsciously," readers are told on the sign-up page for the free introductory course. Elsewhere, the Twin Flame Universe offers courses costing up to $4,444 per person.

The founders of the Twin Flames Universe

The couple at the heart of the Twin Flames Universe go by the names Jeff and Shaleia Divine, though Vice reports they were previously known as Ender Ayanethos and Megan Plante. The website of their "community" — as Jeff is prone to describe the Twin Flames Universe – focuses on Shaleia's story. Writing in the first person — and beginning with the phrase "I know you." — Shaleia claims that she had gone through years of loneliness and depression in living a life without love. It was only when she met Jeff, whom she identified as her "Twin Flame," that she went through a fundamental and transcendental shift in consciousness, and, she claims, her life was changed. Shaleia writes: "Communion with your Twin is sacred, beautiful, and divine. What I really want to say is that it's the utter opposite of what others on the internet say about Twin Flames. They say that it's toxic and unhealthy but that's not my experience and I'm not alone." 

According to Vanity Fair, the couple had met through a friend in 2012, after which Shaleia, who studied spirituality, introduced Jeff, then an Airbnb owner, to the concept of "Twin Flames." They began the "Twin Flame Universe." In time thousands of people in search of their own relationship like that which Jeff and Shaleia seemingly enjoyed were sucked into their world.

The Twin Flames Universe exposed

The Twin Flames Universe began to catch on in the late 2010s, and became a multi-million dollar business in 2019, allowing Jeff and Shaleia Divine to purchase a luxurious property from which to record their content, which now runs to many hundreds of videos. However, in 2020 the Twin Flames Universe became the subject of much controversy after investigative reports by Vice's Sarah Berman and Vanity Fair's Alice Hines alleged that the organization wasn't as benign as it first claimed.

Berman tells the story of one Twin Flames Universe devotee who was encouraged to believe that a man she knew from the gym was her soulmate — despite the fact that he was married — and spent around 30 hours a week helping to grow the business, to which she gave thousands of dollars. Hines, meanwhile, has highlighted the founders' manipulative practices within their community, including their forcing out of coaches they described as "leeches" and — and here's where all cults seem to revert to type — their declaration that Jeff and Shaleia represent the second coming of Christ, with the daughter he said they will have someday completing a new Holy Trinity.

The furor over the Twin Flames Universe shows no sign of slowing, with a new three-part documentary series, based on Hines' report, landing on Amazon Prime TV in the fall of 2023, with a Netflix series airing the following month.