In August 2021, influencer Madison Vining made a big announcement on Instagram. After becoming one of the top sellers for the multilevel marketing essential oils company Young Living, she was quitting.
To her more than 250,000 followers on Instagram and her Young Living team, known as the “Happy Oilers,” the news came as a huge shock. Young Living is one of two of the major essential oils companies in the US, the New Yorker reported in 2017, along with its main rival DoTerra (both claim to be the largest oils company in the world, according to the magazine). Both reportedly reach $1 billion in sales annually and serve millions of customers. Vining, who had worked for Young Living for more than eight years, had reached “Royal Crown Diamond” status; sellers with that status make, on average, $1,645,692 annually or $137,000 a month, according to the company.
People online began to speculate as to why Vining and her husband, Tyler, would leave so much money on the table to start from scratch. When, a few days later, the Vinings announced that they were joining a new wellness-focused MLM, Modere, which is best known for its collagen supplements, rumors swirled that the couple had gotten a huge payout or some other incentive to leave.
For months Vining had kept her reasons for leaving Young Living opaque. But recently, she finally began to spill the tea on social media. One of the reasons the Vinings gave for leaving Young Living? Satan and his demons.
Yes, the prince of darkness. Vining is just one former top Young Living retailer who this month has either insinuated or flat-out said that they left the company after feeling, as devout Christians, that demonic forces were spreading “darkness” among Young Living members.
One former seller, Melissa Truitt, went as far as labeling the company a “cult” in an Instagram story highlight she posted to her account last week and later deleted. Truitt led the charge on the oily “satanic panic” by posting her series of Instagram stories last week accusing the company of spreading “demonic” propaganda through a New Age self-help book it sent to its members earlier this year. She urged Christians still working for Young Living to flee or risk their souls.
“This is so much bigger than money, this is so much bigger than day-to-day life, this is eternal significance,” Truitt said in an emotional Instagram story.
Truitt did not return a request for comment on this story. Vining did not either, and shortly after I reached out, she blocked me on Instagram.
In response to the claims, Young Living said it “did not publish and does not endorse this book in any way.” In a statement, the company said that the book’s co-author, Marcella Vonn Harting, who is a top seller at the company, sent the book to “her own list without the company’s knowledge or consent.” The company denied providing Vonn Harting with anyone’s contact information. (Vonn Harting did not return a request for comment).
“We support a culture of inclusion that we extend to our employees, customers, and brand partners world-wide,” the statement read. “We appreciate and celebrate our members and their diversity of background and belief, and are dedicated to ensuring our brand partners follow our policies and procedures and code of ethics.”
The influencers and former Young Living retailers’ abrupt declarations that the company is satanic are odd to say the least, especially as so many of them, like Vining, have jumped ship to Modere over the past several months, before even receiving the book. Truitt, who had reached the second-highest “Diamond” status, also left Young Living five months ago to join Modere. And other big Young Living sellers slash influencers, like Liz Joy of Pure Joy Home and Monique McLean, abruptly announced they were switching to Modere recently as well.
In fact, so many prominent top Young Living sellers have been leaving that last August Young Living sued some of them, including the Vinings and McLean and her husband, for breach of contract. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Utah in August 2021, was dismissed that December at the request of both sides. Still, it provides valuable insight into the breakup of the prominent Instagram essential oil sellers and the company. In the complaint, Young Living accused the McLeans and the Vinings of working to cut a deal with Modere to “raid” Young Living’s business. (McLean did not return a request for comment. Modere also did not return a request for comment.)
“I feel a lot of clarity breaking my silence for things that matter in eternity.”
“The named defendants in this case are former, extremely successful Young Living distributors who have meticulously executed a plan to leave Young Living, join a competing business venture, and take as many Young Living distributors and customers with them as possible,” the lawsuit’s complaint read. Young Living declined to comment on the lawsuit.
But now, the influencers are saying that money or alleged backdoor schemes had nothing to do with their decision to leave. Vining wrote on Instagram that the book Truitt denounced was the “tip of the iceberg on this issue,” and she feels better after “denouncing this spiritual darkness” to her followers.
“I feel a lot of clarity breaking my silence for things that matter in eternity,” she wrote.
The denouncement of Young Living as demonic is especially intriguing because so many of its retailers, Vining included, have spent the past several years blending together the principles of alternative wellness and medicine the company espouses with their evangelical Christian beliefs, and to great success.
Young Living was founded in 1993 by D. Gary Young, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who successfully blended his own devout faith with a lifelong passion for alternative remedies.
In a newsletter to Young Living members after her husband’s death in 2018, Gary’s wife, Mary, wrote that her husband’s desire to spread the gospel of essential oils was closely tied to his faith, writing, “God was his foundation.”
“He founded the essential oil movement against tremendous opposition and slander, but he never stopped in his desire to serve God’s children,” Young wrote. For many years, alternative remedies like essential oils were stereotyped to be the purview of hippie-dippie rich people, but, as Rachel Monroe wrote in the New Yorker in 2017, essential oils have also caught on more broadly among women all over the US.
“Wellness is often dismissed as frivolity, another way for wealthy white women to spend money and obsess about their bodies,” she wrote. “But you’re just as likely to find essential oils in a small-town drugstore in the Midwest as in an organic market in L.A.”
Over the past decade or so, many of the devotees who made it big in Young Living shared similarities with Vining. They were young wives and mothers in the heartland who were devoted evangelical Christians, and they also seemed to have a suspicion of mainstream medicine.
According to Vining, once she stopped buying mainstream medicinal and home products and dove into essential oils, her life changed dramatically. In 2017, she wrote about how her family had decided to start a “wellness journey” three years before after learning about “the dangers lurking in our home that were making us sick.”
“There are ingredients in everyday things like baby lotion, dish soap, dryer sheets… all linked to cancer, infertility, and disease. We just didn’t know,” she wrote. “We slowly but surely took a trash bag through our home and began to read labels. Into the trash bag went candles, over the counter drugs, shampoo — anything that was setting us or our kiddos up for failure with our health.”
Vining never specified what ingredients exactly were making her family sick but claimed that once she threw out the products she saw a huge difference. And once she found Young Living and began using oils, Vining claimed, her family no longer needed to rely on “toxic” Western medicine.
“We use essential oils for everything in our home, from seasonal irritations outdoors, to first aid type of things, to helping regulate hormones and emotions and all that good stuff, and of course restful sleep!” she wrote. “They’ve blessed our family so so much.”
As the Vinings’ platform grew (in 2017, Vining wrote she had 58,000 people under her in the business), the couple used the proceeds from their essential oil business to spread the gospel of Jesus, effectively combining the two parts of her life.
“Our prayer has always been that we would use our influence to point everything back to The One who made a way (Jesus!).”
“Our prayer has always been that we would use our influence to point everything back to The One who made a way (Jesus!),” Vining wrote. “We know that this money and this opportunity and this voice have not been given to us because of anything WE have done, and they are not ours.”
In 2017, Vining and another Young Living seller made a goal to get Young Living oils into a school in Uganda that was founded by an American evangelical Christian missionary. The Vinings and their partners were eventually able to raise enough funds to get oils and diffusers into every dorm room and classroom at the school — in order to give the students “appropriate wellness supplies to prevent icky diseases and unwellness,” Vining wrote. She felt that this plan was a calling from God.
“It’s about more than oils, you guys,” Vining wrote. “It’s ALWAYS been about so much more than oils. It’s about ‘wellness, purpose, and abundance’ (YL’s slogan) and it’s about using ANY platform we are given, to glorify the King.”
Vining’s essential oil influence also led to a career on social media, where she became a prominent Young Living influencer. As her prominence within the “oiler community” grew, so did her online presence, and she went from having 56,000 Instagram followers in September 2018 to more than 200,000 when she quit the company in August 2021.
Many other Young Living sellers also found success on social media, where they were able to share their devout faith and their enviable lifestyles while also recruiting new downlines, or Young Living retailers who report to them. McLean, the former Royal Crown Diamond who was sued by Young Living along with the Vinings last year, grew her platform to more than 29,000 Instagram followers and launched a book and video series called 24 Days of Prayer for Your Business. In the series, McLean led followers virtually on a spiritual devotional aimed at centering their faith in their business ventures, Young Living or otherwise. Truitt, who has more than 43,000 Instagram followers, is also open about her Christian faith, often discussing her religion along with her business ventures and devotion to health, wellness, and fitness.
It is because these oil peddlers connected their spirituality so closely with their careers that their sudden insistence that the company is now somehow anti-Christian has been so jarring. But according to the oilers, after years of success in Young Living they had begun to feel a darkness creep into the company and that’s what led them to leave.
Last week, Truitt kicked off the public drama when she posted a series of Instagram stories about issues she had had with Young Living. According to Truitt, after seven good years of selling Young Living and reaching the second-highest Diamond status, she and her husband began to feel like the company was “changing,” and not for the better. Truitt didn’t specify what these changes were, saying they “couldn’t really pinpoint it,” but “we heard things that didn’t really agree with our spirit.” After praying about it, they decided to resign from Young Living at the end of 2021.
“We knew that the Lord was calling us out of that,” she said.
Truitt said that, despite having resigned last fall, she received a “demonic” book in the mail earlier this month that she thought was sent from Young Living. She said the company had sent it to all its Diamond-level sellers and claimed that Mary Young, the wife of the late founder, had encouraged the leaders to read the book and pass it along to their downlines. The book, titled My Word Made Flesh, is cowritten by a self-help guru named Robert Tennyson Stevens, who runs a company called Mastery Systems (Stevens did not return a request for comment). Stevens describes himself on his website as a “masterful facilitator of individuals and organizations that choose to transform their lives into healthy, creative, loving and fulfilling experiences.” Stevens wrote the book with Vonn Harting, a Young Living Royal Crown Diamond who moonlights as a motivational speaker, and Young wrote the foreword.
The spokesperson for Young Living said Young’s choice to contribute to the book was separate from her role at the company.
“Mary Young’s choice to write a foreword stemmed from her own belief about the use of language to promote positive outcomes and her desire to support a friend,” they said. “She wrote her foreword prior to much of the book even being written based on the authors’ intent to teach people how to use positive language to help bring about change in their lives.”
I attempted to get a copy of My Word Made Flesh to see what it actually contained, but after placing an order for the $79 book on Mastery Systems’ website, my order was canceled and refunded with no explanation. My Word Made Flesh has now been scrubbed from the website.
According to Truitt, when she received the book and flipped through it, she was horrified.
“This book is one of the most darkest and demonic books I’ve ever had in my house,” she said. “I cannot wait to get rid of it but I had to share.”
In Truitt’s video, she reads from a book that she says is My Word Made Flesh. The “demonic” elements of the book, Truitt claimed, include encouraging people to do basically a “seance with oils” and telling them to repeat “I am the resurrection and the life of my lineage.” In the Bible, Jesus calls himself “the way, the truth and the life,” and says “no one comes to the Father [God] except through me.” To Christians like Truitt, she explained, the book’s phrasing is very offensive as it seems to imply you are supplanting Jesus’s spot.
“This book is one of the most darkest and demonic books I’ve ever had in my house.”
“There’s nothing more false than that,” she says in her Instagram story. “Then taking Jesus out of it and putting yourself in there.”
Truitt warned “believers” who were still in Young Living that if they did what the company asked and brought the book into their household, “it will completely ruin you.”
“Leaders of Young Living, you received this book, and so if you are hiding this book from your teams you are condoning this evil,” she said. “And if you promote it, you need a serious heart check.”
“This is so much bigger than money, this is so much bigger than day-to-day life, this is eternal significance,” she said. “And you have to stand up and rise up and run from this.”
Vining soon posted on her Instagram stories in support of Truitt, saying that she was proud of Truitt for sharing “the truth.”
“Believers be discerning,” she wrote. “The enemy [Satan] prowls like a lion, and he can look (and smell) really good… this isn’t about a book. Though that book alone would have been a deal breaker for me… this is the tip of the iceberg on this issue.” Vining added she was praying for clarity to speak out more about her experience with Young Living but knew she had to denounce this “spiritual darkness.”
The reaction from Truitt’s community to her denouncement of Young Living was overwhelmingly supportive. Commenters praised her “braveness” and for speaking out against “evil.” One woman wrote she had considered signing up for Young Living but would not after seeing Truitt’s stories. People also slammed Young Living on social media after Truitt spoke out, saying they were blending “oils and the occult.”
“Am I the only Christian woman who is not surprised one bit that an essential oil company would come out as satanic?” wrote one.
Other Instagram accounts, like Christian podcast host Blake Guichet from @TheGirlNamedBlake, have been posting about how the company is “anti-Biblical.” Guichet had previously posted “deep dives” into the supposed darkness in Young Living and said she wasn’t surprised to see Truitt’s stories.
“I knew Young Living was into some dark stuff, and everyone thought I was crazy,” she said.
Since posting about the book, Truitt has erased all mention of her claims from her account. She continues to post memes about spiritual warfare, uploading a C.S. Lewis quote that reads: “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.”
Both Truitt and Vining are now preaching the benefits of their new company Modere, which you can swipe up on their accounts to buy, or even sell, products from if you choose.
“God did design our bodies to move,” Truitt wrote on Instagram stories, adding, “I have been using Modere products for a while and it’s just been so different, my body feels so different… the youth is just flowing out of me.”
Meanwhile, Young Living’s social accounts have so far been silent on the controversy. They continue to post about the benefits of oils, encouraging their 1 million followers to “focus on you by taking some time out to practice mindfulness with your favorite essential oil blend.”
Their followers filled up their comments section with hearts. ●