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What the Puck? The Gentle Wind Project, a Quasi-Religious New Age Alternative Healing Organization Open Access


Other title
religion and health
Gentle Wind Project
The Gentle Wind Project
complimentary health
alternative medicine
new age
complimentary medicine
alternative health
Gentle Wind
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Swanson, Kayla M
Supervisor and department
Kent, Stephen (Sociology/Religious Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Smith, Susan L (History and Classics)
Gow, Andrew (Religious Studies/History and Classics)
Religious Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
The quasi-religious space is important for examining groups and organizations that exhibit qualities of both the sacred and the secular, particularly when groups have a vested interest in being perceived as either secular or sacred. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the Gentle Wind Project, a quasi-religious, New Age alternative healing movement, and to demonstrate how the group fit the category of quasi-religious. First I examined the category of quasi-religion, using Scientology and Transcendental Meditation as two examples of it, followed by examining the religious and secular aspects of Gentle Wind. As part of the examination of Gentle Wind as a quasi-religion, this thesis also briefly explores the role of the internet for Gentle Wind and critics, as well as examines one of the main lawsuits in which the group was involved. Gentle Wind ultimately sued former members and critics over statements made about the group online, and the results of this lawsuit have implications for a long-standing debate within the sociology of religion. This debate revolves around the reliability of former member testimony regarding groups with which they were previously affiliated. In order to conduct my analysis, I followed two research methods. First, I relied heavily on primary source material regarding the Gentle Wind Project, which required me to use an archival methodology. Second, I examined secondary sources on a range of relevant issues in Gentle Wind, including, but not limited to, quasi-religion, New Age, the power and use of scientific language, alternative health practices, and magic. Furthermore, by examining the small and relatively unknown group, this thesis not only demonstrates the value of the quasi-religious label for examining New Religious Movements (or other ambiguous movements) but also draws attention to the group itself.  
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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