Who Is QAnon Shaman?

The Jan. 6 Capitol riot participant known as the "QAnon Shaman" is making waves on social media among both critics and sympathizers alike. The man is known variously as Jacob Chansley, Jake Angeli, "Q Shaman" and "Yellowstone Wolf." With years of conspiracy theories and far-right activism behind him, there is a lot to unpack to understand Angeli.

Angeli is best-known for participating in the Capitol riot while wearing a furry headdress with horns, and the colors of the American flag painted on his face. He was shirtless, exposing many upper body tattoos, including some with relevance in Norse mythology, and he wore simple old-fashioned brown trousers. Angeli carried a gnarled wooden staff with a sign reading "Q sent me!" and he espoused conspiracy theories on any platform he could get his hands on.

Angeli has been an outspoken conspiracy theorist since at least 2019, and a devoted supporter of President Donald Trump. He comes from Arizona, where he has participated in political rallies for the last few years, according to a report by The Arizona Republic. In 2020, he told the outlet that he puts on his eccentric costume at such events as a way to attract attention.

Details on Angeli's personal life emerged when his mother was interviewed by ABC 15 Arizona. She defended her son's actions on Jan. 6 as patriotism. Locals provided yearbook photos showing that Angeli attended Moon Valley High School.

Angeli served in the U.S. Navy for two years, but was discharged for refusing to take the anthrax vaccine. He then pursued a career as an actor and voice-over artist, as detailed in his profile on the website Backstage. At the same time, Angeli self-published two books — Will & Power: Inside the Living Library (Volume 1) and One Mind at a Time: A Deep State of Illusion.

Angeli's writings and social media output show that he has a long history with many kinds of conspiracy theories — including the Bilderberg conspiracy, the idea that Freemasons designed Washington, D.C. along "ley lines" to capture magnetic power, and the idea that TVs and radios emit "very specific frequencies that are inaudible" and "affect the brain waves of your brain." Like so many Americans, the QAnon theory took hold of him even more strongly.

Angeli became an ardent believer in the false claim that Trump was a religious martyr working to oust Satan-worshipping criminals from within the U.S. government. After he was arrested for the Capitol riot, Angeli made public calls for a presidential pardon from Trump, then denounced Trump when he did not receive one.

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What remains vague is Angeli's claim of religious shamanism and his insistence on an all-organic diet in prison. According to a report by CBC, prosecutors initially suggested that Chansley may suffer from drug addiction and mental illness. They added: "Chansley has spoken openly about his belief that he is an alien, a higher being, and he is here on Earth to ascend to another reality."

Still, a federal judge ruled in Angeli's favor on Friday, and as a result, he was moved from a federal detention facility to one in Alexandria, Virginia, where his organic diet could be accommodated. It is not clear when Angeli is due back in court.