God is dead. Or, at least, she has shed her physical vessel, ascending from this life to a higher plane of existence, one of pure love and enlightenment. So say the followers of Love Has Won, who believe that God is a 45-year-old woman.
On April 28, 2021, Miguel Lamboy walked into the Salida Police Department and told authorities that they would find an enshrined, mummified corpse, formerly Amy Carlson, at his house in Crestone, Colorado. Officers documented Lamboy’s full report in an affidavit, in which his association with the group is downplayed, describing the followers living in his house off and on for years as people who temporarily needed a place to stay. He apparently had no knowledge of Amy’s death, or how her corpse — she died in California — ended up in his Colorado home. “Mr. Lamboy stated that he got up this morning (April 28, 2021) and left for Denver, Colorado,” reads the affidavit. “Mr. Lamboy stated that he left Denver and went to Buena Vista, Colorado and then returned to his residence. Mr. Lamboy stated that is when he found a deceased female,” whom he knew to be Amy.
When Saguache County police officers arrived at Lamboy’s house in Crestone, they found Carlson immediately. They could see the twinkling, multi-colored makeshift shrine from down the hallway. The scent of sage hung in the air, according to an officer on the scene. The room was decorated much like a child’s bedroom, with rainbows and hearts and stars. A few stuffed bunny toys perched atop the mantle above Carlson’s body, as if keeping vigil.
She sat atop a bed, wrapped in what appeared to be a sleeping bag, and decorated with Christmas lights. Her body was in an advanced state of decomposition. Her eyes had deteriorated to the point that they appeared to be missing entirely, and the area around the empty sockets had been dusted with glitter makeup. Her lips had receded, causing her teeth to protrude from her mouth. She was shockingly thin, and her skin was blue — though authorities wouldn’t have known that her skin had already begun turning blue over the previous few months. “Wow, they painted her,” one officer is heard remarking on body-cam footage that was later released.
“That’s just decomp,” said another. He leaned forward, shining a flashlight onto Amy’s face, illuminating it for the other officers in the dim blue lighting. “Decomp and mummification — that’s what I’m guessing at this point.”
Seven of Amy’s followers were present, along with two sleeping children, including Lamboy’s two-year-old son. “I’ve never seen a group of people be so nonchalant about a dead person in their back room,” Corporal Steve Hansen later told the local NBC affiliate, before he was hit with a gag order. Seven of Amy’s followers were arrested and charged with abuse of a corpse and child abuse. All of the charges would later be dropped.
The scene was a grotesque spectacle unlike anything that Crestone had seen. But how things developed to this point — and how they would progress in the aftermath — offer a glimpse into what happens when streaming culture, a fringe spiritual sect, and conspiracy theory thinking collide. At the center of it all is the story of one central character, Amy Carlson, a woman who aspired to live — and die — as a god.
Former Love Has Won members have described it as a “cult,” but it was also an Internet content machine — churning out videos, social media posts, and blog articles at a fevered pace, while supporting itself on donations and snake-oil e-commerce. Though the group has since splintered, it has left behind thousands of hours of video content, as well as tomes of written material. To date, Love Has Won’s primary YouTube channel features over 2,700 videos, and the group continues to release content on a daily basis. Their messaging is unlike other religious groups, openly brash, energetic, and foul-mouthed, able to insult members of their audience in one breath and tell them they love them in the next. They are unafraid of offending. In fact, they seem to revel in it.
God is a Woman
Before she was Mother God, Amy Carlson was a manager at a McDonald’s in Houston, Texas. Other facts about Mother God, according to her followers: she loves sriracha, Beat Bobby Flay, and cell phone games. She has a close relationship with the spirit of Robin Williams, who provides her with spiritual counsel. Amy’s acolytes claim that Mother God is over 19 billion years old and has lived over 500 lives. She is in constant conflict with the Cabal — a shadowy global organization determined to keep humanity in a “low vibrational state.” In her most recent life — the one that just ended — the Cabal tried to assassinate Amy nearly 600 times, but she foiled each attempt. The Cabal is described as a group of minions of reptilians and the Annunaki, ancient extraterrestrials and/or Sumerian deities, depending on whom you ask. They are the global elite, tied to the Illuminati, and they pull the world’s sinister strings, orchestrating the dark sham that is modern life, in which everything from wars to mass shootings and pandemics are all illusory, engineered to keep humanity mired in a state of fear.
A high level overview of Amy’s role in Love Has Won lore, according to their YouTube videos, reveals the belief that Amy Carlson was Jesus Christ, Cleopatra, and Marilyn Monroe, among other historical figures. She was the queen of the mythical ancient city of Lemuria before its violent fall, during which time, they say, Donald Trump was her father. Amy’s goal was to lead 144,000 believers into the awakened “5D” plane of existence, leaving behind the shackles of the broken “3D world.” Those left behind will be destroyed, and their energies will be “recycled” into the sun. Love Has Won has always been clear that ascending to the 5D world involves taking their physical bodies — not dying. The concept of “ascension” in Love Has Won theology is not an eschatological system, and there is no life and afterlife in the conventional sense — these are all a part of the same reality. Amy herself was expected to ascend in a starship — or, perhaps, through a portal in the ocean.
Over time, Love Has Won had a few dozen core members who have resided with the group in-person, as well as an estimated 100 to 200 “ambassadors,” remote followers who stayed connected online. Ambassadors tended to communicate through Facebook and large group chats on Skype. Outside the main group residing with Amy, there were also auxiliary groups meeting in person in Australia, South Africa, and Central America.
But to understand what any of this has to do with Amy’s rapid decline in health and ultimate death, it’s important to understand that in the Love Has Won belief system, all the world’s external suffering had to be played out physically upon Amy’s body. According to their doctrine, Amy’s body acted as a filtration system, cleansing the world of negative energies and “low vibrations,” causing her indescribable physical suffering. At various times, Love Has Won followers even claimed that if Amy died, everyone on the planet would die. Her followers were meant to shield her from damage through their faith and “right action.”
Amy Carlson was not supposed to physically die. That was always a possibility, but it was nobody’s plan.
The Origins of Love Has Won
In the beginning, Amy Carlson was a sweet and pleasant country girl, the eldest of three sisters, born in a small Kansas town outside of Wichita. According to Linda Haythorne, Amy’s mother, her parents separated when she was a child. In 1984, when Amy was nine years old, her mother remarried and moved to Oklahoma City. Her father remarried around the same time, and a custody battle ensued. In the meantime, Amy split her time between her mother’s house in Kansas and Oklahoma, where she, as family and even Jason Castillo (“Father God”) would later describe, had a difficult relationship with her stepmother.
Amy’s teen years were much like those of her peers, though her mother recalls that she clung to childlike aesthetics, decorating her room with unicorns. She relocated to Dallas, and later to Houston, and she flourished in a suburban, middle-class lifestyle. Averse to athletics, she found a creative outlet in the church choir and in theatrical plays. “She was the sister I looked up to and wanted to be,” her youngest sister, Chelsea Renninger, tells Rolling Stone. “She was smart, beautiful, and had an amazing voice.” By all accounts, Amy was popular and charming, but not a dominant personality. Her mother puts it simply: “She was not a leader. That came much later.”
According to Love Has Won lore, Amy’s latent divine powers had already begun manifesting at this time. Archeia Faith, one of Love Has Won’s longest-standing members, recounts being told that by four or five years old, Amy was talking to angels, and her parents had taken her from church to church, seeking insight and advice from pastors. In one instance, she was said to have had an outburst in the middle of a sermon. “The pastor said something that she knew was a lie, since she was Jesus, and she yelled ‘You’re lying!” and had to be removed from church,” says Faith, who requested we “not use her former name.” (Amy’s family denies the veracity of these stories.)
By her early twenties, Amy had three children, and had been married and divorced once. Her family asserts that she became increasingly disconnected from her kids. “She wasn’t very maternal,” her mother remarks. “She just didn’t have that warmth. She had no problem leaving her children with other people.”
By the mid-2000s, Amy had begun to develop a preoccupation with New Age spiritual thought. She became a regular on the website Lightworkers.org’s forums, where she began chatting with a man who went by Amerith WhiteEagle. WhiteEagle, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, would later become the first “Father God” to her “Mother God.” It’s also then that Amy first publicly claimed to have begun experiencing otherworldly phenomena, specifically in a post from September 1st, 2007, when she claimed an etheric voice revealed to her that she would one day become the President of the United States:
“…And I am cleaning the kitchen, baby just down for a nap…and I feel a tap on my shoulder and a wisk [sic] of air in my left ear…and then I heard a lower toned voice not really even a voice it was like a message a violin would play in its music and it said President of the united states…. I thought what? What in the world does that mean… I dismiss it and then I hear… You are going to be President of the United States.”
She was inching closer and closer to abandoning her former life completely. She began referring to Amerith WhiteEagle was her “twin flame”— that they were two bodies sharing a single soul. Amy would go on to find several twin flames over the years, but she explained that each of these subsequent partners was a vessel for the same Father God energy, which was too large to be contained to one human being. There could be many Father Gods, but there could only be one Mother God.
It was Amerith WhiteEagle who told Amy that she was God, and it was the beginning of a story that would continue long after WhiteEagle was out of the picture. Tara Flores found Amy’s departure from her family jarring and unexpected. “It seemed very sudden,” Flores says. “It was Amerith. And I could tell by the way that he talked. It sounded like the things Amy was saying when she left. She wasn’t even making sense. I couldn’t get through to her. That’s when she completely flipped a switch.” Severing her connection to everything she’d known before, Amy headed west towards Colorado to fulfill her mission: to awaken every human on the planet.
The Bloodless Valley
Crestone, Colorado, with its jaw-dropping vistas and vast expanses of wilderness, was the ideal place for Love Has Won to blossom. People feel close to the divine there, nestled on the edge of the San Luis Valley. Crestone is home to everything from Hindu ashrams to a Roman Catholic monastery, all in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo — Blood of Christ — mountain range, so named because of their deep scarlet color at sunset and their jagged peaks, which encircle the valley like a crown of thorns. Native American tribes called San Luis the “Bloodless Valley.” It was a place for sacred pilgrimages, where violence stopped.
In more recent years, New Age spiritualists, healers, and UFO enthusiasts have found the area, including those who think Saguache County’s concentrated spiritual energy makes it a prime location for interdimensional portals, a place where a higher level of communion with the divine is possible.
In short, Crestone is full of believers.
On Dec. 10, 2007, Amy wrote that she had “released her 3D relationship” — left her husband and kids — and that as soon as she had the funds she would move to be with her “Mountain Man in Colorado.” It wasn’t long before she did, leaving behind her family permanently and heading to Crestone.
Jan. 14, 2009 marks the very first Love Has Won YouTube video. Amerith WhiteEagle speaks in a calming, loving tone over the soundtrack of “Closer to Heaven,” by the Alan Parsons Project. WhiteEagle told viewers that they were loved unconditionally, and to look inside themselves for his own divine likeness — that if they did so, their “joy [would] overflow.”
Soon, producing video content became a more or less daily activity. WhiteEagle’s initial uploads were often simply short clips of clouds floating above the Sangre de Cristo’s peaks, which both he and Amy claimed were cloaked starships. Most of Amy’s initial videos were published as “The Galactic Free Press,” and were either audio-only or featured her speaking directly into the camera in a newscaster style, updating viewers on the interstellar spiritual plotline that she claimed was playing out all around them.
At this point, much of Amy’s professed cosmic worldview was unoriginal, a synthesis of New Age writing she picked up through newsletters, forums, and chat rooms. She was reporting on celestial events as she understood them, repeating information disseminated by New Age groups online. Ashtar Command, for example, features prominently in early addresses. The idea of Ashtar Command — essentially an extraterrestrial law enforcement organization that would save humanity — stretches back into the 1950s. But as she grew into her role as spiritual leader, her teachings increasingly became her own.
Amy’s relationship with WhiteEagle did not last, and this marked the moment that Amy transitioned from playing a supporting role as WhiteEagle’s partner to asserting herself as a deity. Details of the split are murky, but when Amy left, she went with a man named Miguel Lamboy, who would soon come to be known as Archangel Michael Silver. Soon, Amy was living in a lovely forest home beside a river — typically with Lamboy behind the camera.
Many components of Love Has Won’s beliefs began falling into place. Amy spoke frequently of the need to tune into “higher vibrational frequencies,” and that she was placed upon the Earth to help guide humanity into a higher state of being.
When he joined Amy in early 2014, Lamboy, then 35, became the first true member of the nascent Love Has Won. Lamboy and other current adherents claim that when he entered Amy’s life, he suffered from end-stage lung cancer, and had already had one lung removed. They say Mother God had healed him, and in doing so molded a true believer. Lamboy quickly positioned himself as a valuable logistical asset, an organized thinker with a talent for quiet leadership and the ability to handle money. When Love Has Won later became a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization in 2019, it was Lamboy who made it happen. Likewise, it was Lamboy’s name that appeared on the LLC formation documents when they launched their first businesses. In early videos, he’s often the primary broadcaster, though over time he would fade into the background. He’s soft-spoken and handsome, with kind eyes; he comes across as serene and spiritual.
There’s a persistent school of thought among Love Has Won’s critics that Lamboy has always been the puppetmaster at work behind the scenes, and that through his control of the group’s money and legal rights he has also controlled Amy. Other current and former Love Has Won members — and Lamboy himself, who has not resided with other members of Love Has Won for several months as of this writing — argue that he is as true a believer as anyone, and that Amy’s desire to relinquish control of the nuts-and-bolts side of the operation came from both a desire to focus on leading the group spiritually and a practical need to shield her from potential legal entanglements.
From 2014 to 2018, others joined the group — many via the Internet, as well as in person — and a constellation of adherents steadily grew around Carlson, believers in the orbit of her celestial body. In those early days, Carlson was charming. She was vital, charismatic, and sunny. She appeared healthy. Behind the scenes, her worst impulses were gaining ground. Amy drank, and by several accounts was a mean drunk, frustrated with those she saw as working against her. Soon that version of Amy — domineering and self-destructive—took center stage in livestreams with increasing frequency.
Finding Father God
One of the crucial turning points that led Amy down the path to self-destruction came after she met her final twin flame, the last Father God, Jason Castillo. Castillo first appeared in Love Has Won’s videos in August of 2018. After that, the group would settle into a structure and culture that remained consistent until Amy’s death.
Castillo was ruggedly handsome, with long dark hair often pulled into a ponytail. For those watching the livestream regularly, Castillo’s arrival may have seemed sudden. He became a fixture in streams, typically seated beside Amy in bed, laptop resting on his legs, often smiling, usually shirtless. Over time, he would grow a beard and take to often wearing black and white, which his sister says was a way to represent the “yin and yang” of his spirituality. He had a love for old school country singers like Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and John Prine, as well as a rough-around-the-edges attitude to go along with it. He himself sang and played the guitar in Love Has Won videos.
Castillo grew up in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, a town about 100 miles south of the banks of Lake Superior. It’s deep within the territory known as the Northwoods, renowned for its vast forests and lakes, and even then he was enraptured by the divine, fascinated by the idea of a living god. “I remember being five years old — maybe six — sitting on the weekends in my grandparents’ house,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I’d sit on the stairs and look at this picture of Jesus. There was beautiful cracked gilded glass above the lamp in the hallway, and this auburn glow. I would sit there and just stare at Jesus, who was myself.”
According to his sister, Mindy Boyer, he was confident, athletic, and attractive, making a name for himself as both a football and baseball player. He earned the nickname “Chavez,” after Eric Chavez, then a third baseman for the Oakland A’s.
For most of Jason Castillo’s formative years in Rhineland, his mother was single, and according to his sister, Castillo dutifully stepped into the role of “man of the house,” always seeking to support their mother. Castillo echoes this sentiment, asserting that he started to take on that role at the age of three. “That’s when my father left,” he says. “It was the day after my birthday. He came in and started arguing with my mom. He said to me that he was out. I calmed my mom down and said, ‘I’m right here.’ That’s the earliest that I can recall the responsibility of being a father.”
Around 1999, when he was in his mid-twenties, Castillo relocated to Sacramento. There he met the woman whom he’d be with for almost 20 years, raising four children. He would come to call this his “3D” family. (The woman, who Rolling Stone chose not to name, did not reply to multiple requests for comment.)
By 2007, the family had settled in Las Vegas, where he worked for an appliance installation company. His sister asserts that he began struggling with substance abuse at this time — in particular crystal meth. (Castillo doesn’t deny the addiction, but says that he’s been clean for years.) By as early as 2013, Castillo had already developed an interest in Amy and Love Has Won through her online presence. He began talking to his family about “ascending,” about how Jesus was a woman, and other concepts in the Love Has Won ideology. A few years later, he was invested enough to join Amy in person, leaving his kids behind. “My 3D children are the greatest children on the planet,” he tells Rolling Stone. And yet his duty was elsewhere. “They’re well aware that the needs of a few are unimportant compared to the whole planet. There are 8.5 billion children,” he says.
After Castillo moved to Crestone, he stayed glued to Amy’s side. Her drinking was taking a heavy toll and as her body grew weaker, he carried her everywhere she went. At the same time, in the videos, he appears to be the most volatile presence in the primary Love Has Won household, prone to threats of violence, aggressive outbursts, and generally unpredictable and domineering behavior. In at least one case he seems to have acted on those threats, when he claimed to have broken member John Robertson’s nose. “You could say I broke everyone’s fucking noses,” he says, when asked for comment. “Everyone on the planet.”
Dispatches from the First Contact Ground Crew
By March 2018, videos from Love Has Won began to feature updates from the First Contact Ground Crew Team, around 10 members who would pile into a room together and speak directly to the camera for a few hours each day. These were the core group of in-person followers who both assisted and protected Amy in her quest to help the world ascend. Most were young, and all were enthusiastic, kicking off every video with a group cheer, shouting “Love Has Won,” and breaking into applause.
For a time, watching the Love Has Won livestream was like watching a very strange season of The Real World. The First Contact Ground Crew Team sat in front of colorful tapestries and joked together, argued, and proselytized. They took questions from the livestream chat audience. Mother and Father were not regulars in these videos. In the beginning, they sometimes appeared, but over time Amy’s presence dwindled and eventually ceased altogether. Member Ashley Peluso (aka “Archeia Hope”) explained that Amy couldn’t appear on video, because if she did, the viewers’ bodies would explode, “because her vibration is so high and all of yours is so low.”
The real stand-out content were the day-by-day updates on Mom’s ongoing battle against the Cabal. On Aug. 1, 2018, viewers were informed that dark witches had attacked Amy. Three weeks later, the audience was told by member Archeia Faith that another assassination attempt had taken place, during which a “sword sliced one of her hearts,” she says in the video. “The etheric have been doing surgery on it for many hours now and Mom is throwing up, diarrhea, she was shaking.”
Love Has Won’s narrative was becoming more paranoid, and Amy was described as being under constant assault from dark forces. Stories of assassination attempts continued in videos into 2019, including supposed incidents in which Amy was struck with etheric darts, and another in which her spleen and pancreas were “infiltrated” by the Cabal.
The content of many Love Has Won livestreams during this period mirrored the book of Revelation, with followers talking about Amy breaking through seven seals, after which she’d move on to transitioning seven trumpets, then seven bowls. Predictions were made. Goalposts were moved. Each day, Amy’s progress was updated, though she virtually never appeared on camera. By Sept. 13, 2018, she had “processed 99.3” of the world’s negative energy. The rate of growth slowed exponentially as she approached 100 percent. Her pain was described as reaching “50 out of 10.” Miguel Lamboy described her situation as “very dire,” and warned that something may happen to Amy’s physical body. Her followers said that Amy was bedridden, and eventually that she was paralyzed from the waist down. It’s difficult to know the actual state of Amy’s health at this time.
The seeds for something dark were already there. While they talked about how the idea was to “bring love and enlightenment to all living beings,” they also talked about “final warnings” to non-believers. “There’s no fence sitting. You either stand by Mother God, or you’ll be taken out,” member Ryan Kramer (aka “El Morya”) remarked in one video. “You’re gonna be like a fly on the windshield, smashed,” he said in another. When asked if they had weapons in the house via livestream chat, he awkwardly stated, “we’re supposed to say no.” (Kramer did not respond to requests for an interview.)
Perhaps the most shocking instance of threatening the public outright came from a video address by member Adam Haller in 2019. “Anyone who tries to fuck with us? We’ll kill you,” he said. “We will fucking kill you, because there’s no time left. And we’ve seen our mom suffer so much. I know that so many people watch these livestreams. I know that there’s rich people out there with millions of dollars who watch these, and how dare you? We’re coming for you.”
Haller remains a stalwart Love Has Won supporter. “That statement was spoken with no violent intention, bloodlust, or will to do ill harm, merely a friendly warning to all who refuse to return to the ways of natural law, life, and existence,” he tells Rolling Stone, when asked for comment, adding, “These people will be cut down by the forces of nature and the universe herself.”
On top of generally threatening and adversarial rhetoric, Love Has Won members regularly express racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic views in their live broadcasts. These run the gamut from bigoted racial comments to an in-depth alternate history surrounding Hitler and the Holocaust.
For critics of Love Has Won, statements like these appear directly at odds with the group’s portrayal of themselves as striving to live fully in love. Amanda Ray, a self-described victim’s advocate and founder of the watchdog group Rising Above Love Has Won, has been outspoken in her desire to hold the group accountable. “For a non-profit organization that claims to represent love, their actions prove otherwise,” she says. “This is a direct example of a dangerous coercive control group.”
One thread that ran through it all: the world’s external suffering had to be played out physically upon Amy’s body. Amy had to process all the negative energy in the world, which meant that when followers were doing something wrong, they were causing her to physically suffer. If team members made a mistake, either Mother God or Father God might lose their temper on them in a spectacularly explosive fashion. They could be punished or even banished. Amy also communicated with followers through Skype regularly, even while living under the same roof. “Amy would rant and scream at people quite often,” ex-member Jeremy Brown recounts.
Amy’s drinking became dire. Calling it “her medicine,” followers explained her increasing use of alcohol was the result of the intense physical pain she was experiencing. Near the end, she sometimes had trouble keeping it down. In videos, she slurred her speech, and she was prone to erratic outbursts. In one video, she rails against members for not delivering her tequila promptly enough, asking, “Where is my tequila, you dick whores?”
In videos and communications posted on YouTube, we see members subjected to hours-long sessions in which they’re criticized by other members in an effort to weed out the negative energies infesting the group. This was sometimes called playing “Find the Whore.” These sessions could involve multiple members calling each other out for behaviors deemed inappropriate, or they might focus on a single member, often reducing them to tears. In cult terminology, this is referred to as the “hot seat technique,” wherein a member is bombarded with accusations and criticisms, eroding their confidence and sense of self.
“With an otherwise unpersuasive message, lowered self-esteem helps a weak message seem more reasonable,” says Dr. Kelton Rhoads, an adjunct professor at University of Southern California and an expert in the psychology of persuasion and influence. “After a humiliating public display of one’s own failings and culpability, the leader’s uncontested version of reality seems increasingly valid.”
In one session, John Robertson was admonished for transgressions he was told he committed in the year 1431:
Patterson: What about the moment when mom specifically commanded you not to jump into the fire, and you jumped into the fire?
Robertson: Yeah, in that lifetime, I disobeyed a direct command. Mom, as Joan of Arc, told all of her soldiers at that time that they were going to burn her, and not to come after her in any way to try to save her. In that lifetime, I defied that command and jumped in the fire anyways to save her.
Patterson: Only killing yourself in the process. You didn’t save her.
Critics of the group maintain that the authoritarian behavior didn’t stop there. Members’ money became Mother God’s money —members were encouraged to contribute funds towards Love Has Won projects and to pay for counseling and etheric surgery sessions. They were encouraged to cut ties with unsupportive family members. Ex-members claim that Amy and Castillo would control their food intake and sleep schedule, and most members were expected to live celibate lives free of romantic relationships.
New members of the community allegedly experienced what psychologists and cult experts call “love-bombing.” Daniel Shaw, a New York psychoanalyst, cult recovery expert, and author of the forthcoming Traumatic Narcissism and Recovery: Leaving the Prison of Shame and Fear, describes the practice as “showering the newcomers with hyper-friendly, hyper-empathetic attention,” in order to win them over. “Successful love-bombing overwhelms the potential recruit with the feeling of being deeply cared for, deeply understood, and deeply welcome,” he says.
Former member Jeremy Brown, who was with the group physically for six weeks in 2019, says he experienced this kind of onslaught of attention, though the high wore off after a few weeks. “I lost 25 pounds in 6 weeks,” he says. “Days were filled with lots of housework. We would do lots of recreational things like have dance parties, play basketball together, and hold hands and pray at meal time. To be quite honest, the first two weeks were the happiest time of my life.”
Love Has Won members talk about loving one another (and the entire world) all the time, even when their behavior doesn’t line up with that ideal, and members were told they hold positions of great otherworldly significance.
Apart from livestreaming for hours a day, members wrote blog articles, performed online consultations, and worked on their e-commerce business, Gaia’s Whole Healing Essentials, which sold things like essential oils, crystal pyramids, and colloidal silver, which Amy herself took obsessively. Colloidal silver is a substance made by suspending silver particles in a liquid, often marketed as a cure-all dietary supplement. Frequent use can cause argyria, wherein one’s skin turns blue. One of the group’s biggest money makers has been etheric surgery, a form of remote energy healing said to cure any and all diseases. As per the “Ascension Guide” that Love Has Won sells — which retails at $22.22 — members are prescribed “grounding tools” to aid in their ascension, which include Sun gazing (literally staring at the Sun), smoking cigarettes (only organic, hand-rolled tobacco), eating red meat at least twice a week, and taking long, cold showers.
In April 2020, Gaia’s Whole Healing Essentials received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. They had claimed that its colloidal silver products cured Covid-19. (That claim was removed from their website.)
As Love Has Won’s narrative developed, it began to incorporate many elements of the QAnon conspiracy, such as the idea that a network of global elites “are literally eating our children,” as put by Love Has Won member Gabriel Gomez (aka “Buddha Kuthumi”) in a livestream, as well as the idea that Donald Trump is working behind the scenes to fight the cabal. In the QAnon community, Amy and her followers found a group that was eager to engage and eager to donate money. Currently, QAnon is responsible for Love Has Won’s most popular social media outlet — a Telegram channel with roughly 35,000 followers that posts a mixture of QAnon and Love Has Won content.
Just like QAnon, Love Has Won ties its followers into an epic storyline about the struggle for the fate of humanity. Within this belief system, believers are soldiers for the truth. They’re empowered to feel that they’re fighting in the world’s greatest battle, but how they carry out that fight is simply by consuming and sharing the group’s materials. You get to be a soldier without the messy business of actual fighting.
The Goddess of Fire
By August 2020, Love Has Won had grown to include around 200 dedicated adherents. Their reach was steadily growing online, with more and more online followers joining the fold. They attracted attention in a bigger way that month, when they set up shop on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Fourteen members took up residence with Amy and Castillo in a luxury beachfront rental in the community of Wainiha.
Residents of Wainiha were immediately suspicious, particularly when Amy announced that she was Pele, Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes — and the creator of the Hawaiian islands. Over 100 people gathered outside the Wainiha rental home, and things quickly turned ugly. The protestors were incensed at Amy’s appropriation of Hawaiian spirituality, and they also accused Love Has Won followers of flaunting local Covid restrictions. Love Has Won’s rental car was vandalized, and a handful of small fires were set near the rental property. Within a week, Mayor Derek Kawakami got involved, eventually telling Love Has Won that he couldn’t guarantee their safety. “I am blown away by the ignorance,” protestor Mahina Laughlin told local newspaper The Garden Island. “They’re predators. They’re not here to be part of the community.”
Frustrated, some Love Has Won members lashed out in video addresses to Wainiha residents. Amy herself addressed them in her characteristically blunt manner: “Fuck off!” she said in a video. “I’m Pele, bitch. Don’t push me.”
Love Has Won pivoted, trying instead to relocate to Maui. According to a statement from the Maui Police Department, officers confronted Amy, Castillo, and Lamboy at the airport, informing them that they’d found issues with their travel documents — they’d made lodging reservations at an unapproved location. After some discussion, all fourteen members of Love Has Won that were staying in Hawaii voluntarily returned to Colorado.
Just days later, Dr. Phil devoted an episode of his show to Amy and Love Has Won, featuring her mother, Linda Haythorne, and two of her sisters, Chelsea and Tara. Amy herself, as well as two other Love Has Won representatives — Ashley Peluso and Lauren Suarez — participated via video call. The daytime host brought up several of the more well-known instances of Amy’s alleged abusive behavior. Among these are alleged incidents in which she mistreated a cat, as well as one in which she locked a distressed child in a closet repeatedly as a form of punishment, commanding them: “You need to surrender. Surrender, now.”
Both Dr. Phil and Amy’s family also brought up that she’d left behind her three children (aged two, seven, and 12 at the time), with whom she no longer had a relationship. “For me, I did not abandon my children,” she replied. “I begged my angels. I didn’t want to leave, but they told me I had to fulfill my mission. And I had to make a jump, and I had to make a decision.”
Amy’s family was most concerned with getting her medical attention. They believed she suffered from mental illness, but her physical deterioration was also becoming extreme. Her skin was now strikingly blue from argyria, a result of her excessive use of colloidal silver. She was extremely thin, and each time she appeared in a video she looked somehow thinner still.
While Amy’s family had hoped that Dr. Phil would prove a turning point in getting Amy out of her surroundings, the episode ended anticlimactically. They felt that Dr. Phil was their last chance to change Amy’s trajectory, and they felt deeply disappointed that nothing came of it. “It’s important for us to let everyone know that Amy was a person. She wasn’t a monster,” says her sister, Tara Flores. “She’s a victim as well of coercive control. But we didn’t have much of an option for getting her help. Part of me wanting to speak is to bring awareness to that.”
Those around her describe the last months and weeks of Amy’s life as physically torturous. She spent most of that time in bed, as she had for the last few years, but Castillo and others would carry her to the shower as well, where she often spent hours. The water provided some relief from her pain. According to Archeia Faith, “Amy was like a tortured lab animal.”
In April 2021, Amy was at the group’s rental property in Mt. Shasta, California. Amanda Ray of Rising Above Love Has Won claims that she spoke to the group’s Mt. Shasta landlord, who told her that he spoke to Amy on April 10 and that he “told her goodbye” — her condition seemed so dire that he had a sense she would soon pass. Around this time, Amy’s family and concerned viewers contacted authorities in Mt. Shasta, which resulted in a wellness check. Amy’s followers informed them that she had relocated to another property. It’s unclear if she was even alive at that time, though Love Has Won members maintain that she had “moved out” of that rental property. (But with no answer as to where she could have gone.)
Perhaps most shockingly, Amy at times asked for medical intervention, and her followers apparently denied it, worried that the cabal might get to her. “There have been moments when Mom has asked us to take her to a 3D hospital and we’re like ‘Nope!’ Because there’s just, there’s no way, and we know exactly how hijacking works,” member Lauryn Suarez said in a broadcast on Sept. 15, 2020. “And, you can bet your fuckin’ ass that someone in that hospital, whoever it would be, would get hijacked and go straight for Mom, try to do who knows what. They would try to take her to surgery. They would try to do some crazy shit. So, absolutely not.”
It’s unclear exactly when Amy passed away. According to leaked private group chats between Love Has Won members, in April 2021, photos began circulating of Amy in bed, unconscious and potentially already deceased. At this point, Amy was in California. Back at the primary Colorado headquarters, members received regular updates on Amy’s condition. On a livestream on April 16, member Bobby Leseman told viewers: “Mom is not good. She is very, very, very close. And that’s pretty much all we know. So, pray….She’s slowly, slowly pulling out of her vessel.”
Later on the same day, Bobby Leseman and co-broadcaster Dylan Woodward offered an update.
Leseman: Mom is going to ascend tonight! Woo!
Woodward: For shizzle, my nizzle.
It was these comments that prompted Amy’s family and concerned viewers to contact authorities in Mt. Shasta, which resulted in the wellness check. According to both her family and her followers, the ambulance was turned away.
The following morning, on April 17, Leseman and another member, Jerri-Lee Svenson, seemed to believe she was gone. “We don’t get to just stop now. We have to keep going. For Mom. So grateful that she’s not in pain now,” Leseman said. “So grateful she’s at peace,” replied Svenson.
But a few hours later, in a follow-up stream, Leseman seemed to indicate that Amy was still alive, saying “Mom is still resting. She’s still kicking ass for us.” Police recovered Amy’s body on the 28th. At the time, authorities believed she’d been dead “for some time,” though they didn’t know how long. As of this writing, the coroner’s report has still not been released.
Though she wasn’t present in California in Amy’s last days, Leseman described that time as grim in a live broadcast on May 2, 2021. “She experienced the most horrific death, which was very much like Lou Gehrig’s or Parkinson’s, where her whole body was paralyzed but her brain was functioning,” she said. “And she did it all for us.”
According to Miguel Lamboy’s statement to police, he believed that sometime before April 27, Amy’s followers loaded her into a member’s car, then drove roughly 1,235 miles back to Crestone, Colorado, returning her to the primary home they’d used over the years.
Followers insist that Amy had a pulse when Saguache County police recovered her body, despite her body’s advanced decomposition. They also claim that she occasionally moved her hands during the time in which her followers kept her enshrined. Archeia Faith remarks that she’s eager to see the results of the autopsy, as she suspects it may detail inexplicable phenomena that have never been scientifically documented. After all, why wouldn’t an autopsy of God incarnate have the potential to turn up something miraculous? Saguache County authorities maintain that Amy was dead at the time of her body’s recovery and that an autopsy is forthcoming.
And yet, for those in the group, the results of the autopsy are essentially moot. It is the position of Love Has Won that Amy Carlson, Mother God, has ascended to the 5D plane of existence, shedding her bodily vessel, but that she has not died in the way most people would understand it. She is bigger than life or death, and she is bigger than a corporeal body. They believe that she is, in fact, still among them — believers talk about feeling her presence in their lives and, in some instances, receiving regular direct communication from her. Jason Castillo takes this claim even further: “Mother is still fully alive and breathing in that box,” he says. For Lowes, those who transported and enshrined Amy’s body had innocent, simple reasons for doing so: “They love their Mother and wanted to bring her home.”
Love Has Won in Diaspora
In the immediate aftermath of Amy’s death, some familiar with Love Has Won feared that things might take an even darker turn — and like Heaven’s Gate before it, attempt some sort of mass ascension. In a Nov. 2020 livestream, Castillo had told Love Has Won members that they should be willing to die for Amy, and after her death, those old comments sparked renewed fears that members might hurt themselves or others. “Search for your true identity, your divine higher self,” Castillo had said. “It cares about God. It cares so much it will lay its life down for her, like the rest of creation.” But despite swirling rumors on social media of drastic measures allegedly being discussed in Love Has Won’s private group chats, no ideas about joining Amy took hold.
In the meantime, Love Has Won members have scrambled to adapt, and in the process have splintered. Their website and social media channels have undergone a rapid rebranding. “5D Full Disclosure” emerged as the current name, complete with a new web store selling spiritual surgery services. The Gaia’s Whole Healing Essentials store is down, with the former URL now redirecting to motherearthnaturalessentials.org. Likewise, an Article of Amendment for the group’s LLC reveals an official name change to “Mother Nature Natural Essentials LLC,” with a new name attached to the paperwork — that of Ryan Kramer.
Since core leadership of the group was gone, a power vacuum remained, and the dynamic rapidly changed. The majority of members joined 5D Full Disclosure, where livestreamers are now seen doing things like drinking from Starbucks cups, suggesting increased freedom in terms of how they spend money and what they consume. They’re able to sleep more freely. They aren’t under the direct influence of a divine authority. 5D Full Disclosure members say that this is a natural progression. The idea is that many of the rules and routines for their daily lives that they previously adhered to were designed to help them “shield” Amy from spiritual attacks, but that no longer applies, since Amy has ascended. As such, a slightly more liberal atmosphere has taken hold. Within the larger 5D Full Disclosure group, there are spats and disagreements, but some members liken these to the differences between members of any family, nothing that will ultimately destroy Love Has Won as a whole. Member Lauryn Suarez has referred to this as a “period of crumbling and rebuilding.”
Jason Castillo has also started his own offshoot, albeit with a smaller membership, which he refers to as “Joy Rains.” He asserts that he is now “MotherFatherGod,” and that he is the new God, having unified with Amy’s energy. Castillo has referred to the others as “the false team” in Facebook Live streams, and several core Love Has Won members remain with him. At times, they appear to be living in tents. In Castillo’s first videos after his stint in jail — after he got out on bail, but before the charges were dropped — he appeared with a well-kempt beard and dark, straight hair. He looks especially unhinged, simultaneously hurt and angry, as he rails against his former children. “You were going to starve God, take everything, and go feed your dicks and your pussies,” he said. He claimed that “only four beings out of 8 billion” turned out to be true believers, and asked: “Do I need to reheart you who the fuck I am, children? I’m Father. Who the fuck are you going to go around to Heaven?” (“Reheart” is a Love Has Won term, a replacement for “remind.”)
Castillo and the six other Love Has Won members who were criminally charged with abuse of a corpse and child abuse awaited trial throughout the summer of 2021. However, in September, the District Attorney’s office for Colorado’s 12th Judicial District quietly dropped all charges. “I am extremely angry the case was dismissed,” comments Linda Haythorne. “We don’t even have the cause of death yet. I’m determined to find out the truth.”
Love Has Won — in all its new forms — continues to draw in more people, receive more donations, and sell more products. They continue to sell etheric surgeries, which they advertise as still being performed by Amy, albeit from the 5th dimension. The 5D Full Disclosure team also continues to work on its long-planned “Crystal Schools” charter school program.
For Amy’s family, and for the friends and family of the many Love Has Won members whose lives have been subsumed by the group, the message is different. They hope members of Love Has Won — as well as anyone else — will come to believe that there are other, healthier ways to feel and spread love. They believe that love does not create systems of control, nor does it thrive in guilt. It does not abuse in the name of “calling out” bad energy. It does not compel people to leave their families and surrender their autonomy, individuality, or previous identity. They argue that when someone asks you to take them to a hospital to save their life, if you love them, you do it. “There’s nothing we can do about Amy now,” her mother says. “But she was a human being. She was my firstborn. I loved her, and she knew I loved her. Nobody deserves to die the way she did. I want people to understand that this is what can happen to you if you get involved with a cult. I want to warn people about just how dangerous it can become. She was a victim, too.”