Spiritual guru Marianne Williamson is running for Congress in Los Angeles—and her constituents and supporters are young Hollywood royalty, from Laura Dern to Nicole Richie to Katy Perry. Mainstream types may scoff at her New Agey lingo, but as she puts it, "If everyone with a yoga mat in this district voted for me, I'd win." An exclusive from our June issue.
On a chilly night in December, I arrived at a nondenominational New Age church in Venice, California—a “sacred temple,” according to its website, where “celebration services” are held Sundays at 11:11 a.m.—to attend a volunteer meeting for Marianne Williamson’s congressional campaign. Williamson, the best-selling author of 13 spirituality-based self-help books that have together sold more than 3 million copies (her first book, A Return to Love, sold a million after Oprah praised it on-air) has met with Hillary Clinton at Camp David and the White House, officiated at Elizabeth Taylor’s (last) wedding, and preached to enormous crowds in Hollywood and Beverly Hills for more than 30 years. One might call her a guru, and many do, though she despises the word: “When someone is called a spiritual guru in today’s world, and certainly in American culture…it seems to carry a less-than-respectful attitude,” she says. The word has been employed frequently of late, by somewhat mystified political journalists charged with describing her second, apparently un-guru-like act: Last October, Williamson declared her candidacy for the seat of California’s Henry Waxman, the venerable Democrat who announced in January that he was retiring from the House of Representatives after 40 years. ( read more)