The princess and LA shaman: a spiritual guide to wedded bliss
He is LA's favourite 'healer 'and Martha Louise of Norway's new boyfriend. So what is behind Shaman Durek's charm?
It reads like a paperback romance: Shaman Durek, a spiritual guide from California (handsome, in touch with his emotions) captures the heart of a beautiful princess, Märtha Louise of Norway (certified physiotherapist, divorced, three daughters).
Yet, this love story is far from fiction – announced last week on social media by the princess herself, who called Durek her “twin flame”.
Having met 44-year-old “spirit hacker” Durek Verrett in 2017, and been thoroughly dazzled, I can understand the attraction only too well. The man is mesmerising.
We convened in central London – where he will return this week to lead a workshop – for an hour-long healing session, during which he apparently connected with my spirit guides, who turned out to be unnervingly knowledgeable about my inner life.
A shaman supposedly acts as a bridge to the spirit world; communicating with the dead to impart advice and channel healing energy. Durek claims to use his ability to free clients of blockages that are preventing them finding love, success, or escaping addiction. He divines information by reading your “shamanic signs” – breathing, eyes and bones (he feels my knuckles).
He won’t use plant medicine, preferring to tap into his clients’ natural resources, “showing people the power they have”.
It’s fair to say that Princess Märtha Louise, 47 – eldest child of King Harald V and Queen Sonja, and fourth in line to the Norwegian throne – has always been comfortable with her own power. She is progressive, independent and forthright. Pre-emptively silencing critics, she added in her online post: “I don’t choose my man to satisfy any of you or the norms or boxes you have chosen in your mind for me to be in.”
Despite qualifying, she chose not to practise physiotherapy, instead launching a music-based entertainment business. In 2002, she started paying income tax, giving her more freedom from her constitutional role (though she has declined public calls to renounce her title). That year, she married Norwegian author Ari Behn, but they split in 2017 – the first divorce in modern Norwegian royal history – and share custody of Maud Angelica, 16, Leah Isadora, 14, and Emma Tallulah, 10.
What Behn thinks about his ex-wife’s relationship with the shaman is anyone’s guess. But if he is anything like me, he may be swiftly won over.
I had arrived stiff with cynicism, but Durek waved away my outstretched hand and squashed me in a hug. He was charming in his absolute certainty (when I told him I was fine with disappointments in my life, he retorted that I was being dishonest: “I just read your thoughts”). He’s a whirlwind of energy, talking non-stop and consulting ethereal “council members” – possibly including my late father – on issues such as my gall bladder, childhood and sex life. He inspected my hands and said: “You give way too much of yourself. There’s not much left for you.”
It was most beguiling – who doesn’t love to hear about themselves, especially if many insights highlight one’s better qualities? His famous clients would likely agree.Durek – a sixth generation “no bulls**t” shaman for the 21st century, with a crack PR team and comprehensive social media presence – is a friend of Gwyneth Paltrow’s (eye roll), plus many other celebrities, politicians and CEOs who seek his wisdom in bringing harmony and happiness into their lives, at a cost of $400-$1,000 (R5,750-R14,300) per detox.
“Everyone says ‘yes, yes, yes’ to these VIPs,” he told me, but “in relationships they let everyone walk all over them”.
He is, admittedly, starry. Durek has African heritage – his father’s mother was a spiritualist and healer, originally from Ghana, who fled to New Orleans to escape slavery – but he was born in Sacramento and is a child of LA. His father is a “businessman” and a Seventh-day Adventist; it was his mother, an East Indian Norwegian, who was the driving force behind her son’s spiritual growth.
“I was only two years old when I learnt what it meant to be a shaman,” Durek wrote in a Facebook post in 2015. “My mother told me that she realised while she was still pregnant with me that I was marked and that I’d always been a very special child.” He describes her playing drums, so that he “fell into a trance and was then able to see my [shaman] ancestors” who would “visit” him throughout his childhood, often at night, with the result that he was scared to sleep in his own bed.
He discovered his own gift in kindergarten. “I touched this little girl and saw her hair falling out, and realised she was dying of cancer,” he said. “I thought everyone could see it and no one else could.”He began to devote himself to shamanic training at the age of 12, and went on to study with shamans in Bali, western Africa and Israel, over the course of 15 years. He attended a holistic school and has a degree in health education. But it wasn’t a smooth journey, and Durek previously told Voyage LA magazine that he had gone through a period of “partying and doing drugs, to being an alcoholic”.
On social media, he has described himself as bisexual. Perhaps it has enhanced his powerful empathy, because he knew precisely what ailed me: identifying that my hips ached and that I was brooding about animal cruelty. He was funny, astute and kind. And women like kind, astute, funny men.
I thought of this while reading Princess Märtha Louise’s Instagram post to her 115,000 followers. “He has made me realise that unconditional love actually exists ... He embraces all of me without question ... I feel so happy and blessed that he is my boyfriend.”
Durek (125,000 followers) has also posted, praising his princess as a “bright light of wisdom, profound grace and immense beauty”.
Märtha Louise has more in common with her shaman than it might first appear. Twelve years ago, she co-founded a “spiritual centre” – or, as the Norwegian media sniffily dubbed it, “an angel school” – providing classes in “healing, reading and touching” (it has now closed). She also reportedly believes she can communicate with animals and angels.Durek has faced similar cynicism and, during a joint appearance on Norwegian breakfast TV last week, was forced to deny claims that he can cure cancer or defy ageing, although he stands by those that he can communicate with animal spirits, hence his vegetarianism. “When I eat something that’s dead,” he told me, “I feel all of it. All the memories of that animal, when it died, how it died.” (He also claims to have come back from the dead, following an undisclosed illness that put him in a month-long induced coma.)
No wonder, then, that they bonded after being introduced in 2018. That the pair have so much in common will, no doubt, stand them in good stead during their current venture – a five-city Scandinavian speaking tour called “The Princess and the Shaman”, which promises “a journey to the mysteries of life, how to get into deeper contact with your inner power and raise awareness so that you bring out the true you, no matter where you are in life”. Tickets cost between £50 and £110.By contrast, his appearance at the Wellbeing Festival at London Olympia, on Saturday, costs £20 for a two-hour workshop on “Shamanic Wordsmithing for Manifesting and Creative Intelligence” and comes ahead of the publication of a book, Spirit Hacking, in October.Hack them he does. But, despite his connection to the ancient world, Durek embraces modern life. He’ll take an Uber, not a train as it’s too noisy: “Everyone’s spirit guides are talking to me: she just went through a divorce ... chatter, chatter, chatter.” He’s neither materialist nor ascetic. “I love opera,” he told me. “I do like hip hop. I won’t go to a pop concert, but I will go to a country music concert.” He loves gaming, but not violence: “I play enlightened video games.” He also loves action figures (so LA): “You should be playing with toys,” he said.
Ultimately, though, Shaman Durek wants to teach his high-profile clients how to live authentic lives. “Are they using their money just to buy more stuff, or to actually benefit another person?”Märtha Louise, patron of eight charitable organisations and events, appears to share his values. At Easter, before confirming their relationship, the couple posted a photo of themselves wearing bunny ears, and sending “love and blessings to every soul in the world”.It seems like a match made in spiritual heaven.– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)