The Real ‘Gurus’ Behind Instagram’s Popular Affirmation Accounts


Social media is going through a change. The ‘gram seems to be evolving. From listening and learning to the black squares that “healed racism”, there has been a shift of people seemingly wanting to be more conscious.

In this period of enlightenment, daily affirmations and mantras have permeated the Instagram zeitgeist in a unique way. Lunch pics and selfies still remain in the stories, but now exist between something deeper, something that signals a connection with one’s higher self. You know, ~ vibes~.

Whether it is Bella Hadid sharing a slideshow of 5 Things You Should Hear Today or Precious Lee captioning a photo, “Affirmation Tuesday: I am abundant,” self affirming language and content have become a welcomed addition in the social media space.

“What I have noticed most recently are people resonating with the posts linked to healing, linked to letting go and linked to emotional growth and maturity all around”, explains Alex Elle, author of After The Rain. “I feel like everyone is on the same page with what they want to see and how they are healing.”

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After a year of chaos, it would be naive to not connect the rise of affirmation accounts’ popularity and 2020. “It seems like a lot of people over the past year have really started trying to get to know what their younger self wanted and needed and what makes them feel safe, seen, and supported,” adds Elle.

Elle hopes affirmations on personal growth give her followers permission to show up in their own truth and in their own healing, in a way that works for them, “the more self-aware we can be, and the more open we are to being our own inner expert and greatest teacher, the more curious we can get with our truth and that in itself offers us a different type of clarity.”

For Elle, it’s simple to know the truth. Sprinkled between her sticky note mantras and slideshows of affirmations to remember, are intimate photos of her family, allowing her followers to meet the real her. This isn’t a Zanu-type situation or false prophet, the audience gets to see who and where the advice is coming from.

Being able to put a face to the words is helpful, and as her followers and commenters read: “I struggle with this so much letting it go with you” and “Can I just tell you how proud I am of you.” There is a bond she has fostered and a community she has built by providing words and snapshots of her life that are relatable content.

But, what about the affirmation accounts without a visible person behind them? Apart from Elle’s account, other affirmation accounts like @MoonOmens and @afffirmations are relatively nameless and faceless but have garnered 4.2M and 213K followers, respectively. They similarly provide jewels of wisdom to their large followings but without any real visual presence of who’s behind the candelabra. Who is running these accounts? Is it a notable astrologer? Is it just a daily affirmation factory akin to a TikTok house where a group of people vibrating higher churn out really positive thoughts?

Short answer: It’s a mix of both.

The Moon Omens account is an assortment of moon affirmations, monthly astrology updates, zodiac-specific messaging, and mantras with famous followers such as Parris Goebel, Lil Nas X and Iman. This account is great for people that want a positive word that can also be contextualized by astrology. And while it’s not first apparent who runs the account it is run by a duo named Shawn Fontaine and Lukas Abromaitis.

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Fontaine and Abromaitis, two former coworkers, launched the account in the Summer of 2019 with friends and some family, but ultimately ended up running it themselves. “There weren’t many things like this online and on Instagram at all, explains Abromaitis. “There weren’t spirituality, meditations, moon, and astrology mixed together as we did.” “It was kind of our experiment to see how people would respond and like it and it went well and people started liking it very quickly,” he added.

The account was inspired by their mutual love for the book, The Alchemist. The Alchemist— a book that has sold over 150 million copies worldwide— has an author Paulo Coelho who mirrors that of the social media stars. The book is based on traditional wellness and ancient religious teachings, but the author did not, however, study Buddhism or foundational practices. He rather wrote the book in two weeks “from his soul,” he told The Guardian in 2009. Fontaine echoed the same sentiment, the “moon represents the emotional aspect, and represents the heart. So moon omens are about following your heart. All of the messages we put out on moon omens are [about] going inward and following their heart and seeking clarity and purpose from within ourselves. There’s purpose in the storm. The moon is all about looking at life as phases and the endings are just disguises for new beginnings.”

Fontaine and Abromatits don’t have any specific astrological training however, Abromaitis is also the sole content creator of @mindsetofgreatness, the other affirmations account that he started in 2014 that boasts of 2.8M followers. Beyond just the two, they have a team of about eight contractors that largely consist of self-described astrologers and people that can help support their Moon Omens vision.

Unlike most social media accounts where analytics and data reign supreme for growth, they both were ” unaware and not tracking” any analytics or metrics. Both also have no desire to profit from their Instagram account. “We didn’t think about monetizing it. The focus was on helping people rather than selling products” Abromaitis said. Anything they have sold has been at a nominal and accessible cost or it has been completely free. Fontaine added that they want to create awesome things and figure out how to get them in the hands of their community, “The best way to do that during this time, when people are having trouble gathering money for bills, is to give something away from them for free.”

“People feel the love and the vibes and energy,” says Abromaitis. “They feel community. They feel the soul family. They feel appreciated and seen. Other brands and pages you get the energy and particular vibes because you feel like they are trying to sell you something. There’s a lot of people that jump on the train just to make the money because they see that something is trending but they cannot replicate it because it is not the same energy. It’s not the same vibes.”

So, why not reveal themselves on their page? Fontaine and Abromaitis wanted the page itself to be “neutral” and wanted to come up with a message-based brand that would outgrow them that could live on its own and be evergreen. They wanted this to be absent of ego, and while it wasn’t intentional and as Shawn put it, “it was just a natural expression of our desire for this to be way bigger than us.”

For the account, @affirmations created in 2021, it’s a different story.

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The affirmations account is atypical of the “traditional” Instagram affirmation page. The page is a mix of ‘90s stock images, aura-based colors, and word art. If you are going off of the literal definition of the word “affirmation” this is definitely affirming something, what that something is specifically, I am not entirely sure.


The mastermind behind @affirmations is Mats Andersen, a 20-year-old Norwegian who would consider himself an artist. He arrived on our Google hangout a few minutes after me, with his shoulder-length blonde hair grazing the top of his Adidas zip. His best accessory is his facial expressions which framed either an animated or deadpan delivery of sentiments such as, “I’m afraid my ego may be inflated. It’s already at an all-time high.”

In October 2020, Anderson began an identical account in his native language Norwegian. Due to its popularity in Norway, he thought it a natural progression to create an American account that would reach a lot more people than he could in Norway. He made his first post on his new American account in January 2021. “I wanted to do something of artistic nature, of artistic quality. I wanted to do something creative and I did some hard thinking you might say, some reflecting and pondering about things. Because of the way society is looking right now, and we are spending a lot of time inside I figured that the format of the affirmation is a very effective way of reaching out to people online because it is sort of an imperative command in the first person.”

Anderson says, “we are in the era of individualism; for good or for bad.” He added, “wellness is a huge topic right now and I am aware there are a lot of accounts dedicated to the wellness topic. I believe that this is of course very positive and important for the mental well-being of young people especially.” However, he is not sold on their effectiveness compared to what he is doing on his platform, “The other wellness accounts, in my opinion, are very boring and bland. I don’t think they are very effective at reaching out to people and that’s perhaps one of the reasons that I am doing what I am doing.”

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Anderson, a self-proclaimed artist, suffers from color blindness and finds that this account has been a creative outlet where he can edit his own pictures and use expressive colors to garner attention from followers. What makes his account so great, in his words, is the seriousness of it all.

I cannot tell you if it’s satirical because I am being quite serious about what I am doing. I am not joking around. I spend a lot of time on making these pictures and planning and thinking. For me, I struggle to categorize it as satire. I consider it art. People are more than welcome to interpret it however they want. I am summoning forth very strong emotional reactions from the audience. People are really blown away when they are seeing these pictures and for good reason. I have constructed them in such a way that they are not just normal affirmations. Tap and you will get $1000 double tap and you will see $1000 dollars flying through the window. BOW! BING! I’m not doing that. I’m doing something different.

Without contest, Anderson is doing something absolutely different compared to Alex Elle, compared to Shawn and Lukas of MoonOmens, but what was true for all of them was their desire to connect people and build community. While they all had different approaches, what made them all similar was this calling to provide something people have been missing during the pandemic; connection.

The people behind these accounts had the commonality of wanting their audience to take their messaging and tap into something within themselves. While the methodology at how to arrive at this goal varied across all three accounts, they were all doing this not only to serve people positively but in a way that let them internalize that positivity in whichever way was meaningful to them. When what is being shared is rooted in that energy, then following along can sometimes muffle the sound of the big sad trombone that can be world news. For some, knowing the powerful Oz behind the account isn’t necessary. Who needs to tie positive words to a face, when you can receive the message and the message alone, no brass tax.

These types of accounts and their popularity speak to a broader yearning for some positivity, some advice, for a word because in the imitable words of Mats Anderson, “It’s such a pity to miss out on great content.”

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