Hannes Vanaküla in 2015
|Known for||esoteric claims|
In 2004, Vanaküla claimed to have transported "energy pillars", supposedly mystical structures helpful of magical work, from throughout the world to Estonia, supposedly their original and rightful positions. These claims, as well as the controversy over reality and transportability of those energy pillars between Vanaküla and Vormsi Enn, another esoteric practitioner, were reported in various media. Reportedly, the procedure involved Vanaküla and 21 followers entering trance for "several days" and "identifying with energy pillars throughout the world". The original locations were reported as Egypt, Tibet, United States and Lapland.
In 2008, Vanaküla and two of his followers participated in Selgeltnägijate tuleproov (Estonian: Ordeal for seers), a TV show formulated as a contest between magic practitioners and based on the format of America's Psychic Challenge. His followers were noted for applying unusual items, such as mace and bucket, for divination.
Shortly after the TV show series began, Vanaküla and his two followers from the show agreed to take on the skeptik.ee 10 000 EEK challenge in a test of their telepathical powers. The agreed-on protocol involved a "transmitter" being shown various household items randomly drawn from a duffel bag whose content had not been revealed to participants before the experiment, and asking the "recipients" – the rôle of Vanaküla and his followers – to guess the items. The results were to be considered positive if any of the three participants would have guessed correctly at least three items out of six "transmissions".
On 28 January 2009, ETV's Pealtnägija (English: Witness, an Estonian popular documentary series similar to Canada's Witness) ran a segment reporting on activities of Vanaküla and his followers, sometimes referred to as tokronauts, spurring media interest in Vanaküla and his followers. Reportedly, most of the followers consider themselves gods and Vanaküla a god of light, Vanaküla himself explaining in the interview to Pealtnägija that he believes that every creative human being is a god. According to cited and interviewed sources, Vanaküla's followers are encouraged to think of outsiders as "people of lower quality" and to withdraw from them; on the other hand, Vanaküla himself is considered a "person of the highest quality", which gives him the power to "repair" women through sex.
Reportedly, the tokronauts have repeatedly attempted to kill various people through "spiritual means". A particular target of such an assassination attempt – admitted by Vanaküla in the interview by Pealtnägija but dismissed as a simple experiment by a single follower – was Condoleezza Rice. When a journalist of delfi.ee asked Harrys Puusepp, the spokesman of Estonia's Northern Police District whether such an admission can lead to criminal investigation into attempted murder or conspiracy to commit murder, Puusepp responded by asking if the journalist was sober, then stated that such an investigation would be contrary to sanity.
On 18 February 2009, nine members of Riigikogu from the opposition party Keskerakond made a formal inquiry to Estonian Minister of Internal Affairs Jüri Pihl regarding the activities of Vanaküla's sect, asking whether this sect – which they characterised as an 'extremist group' – and others like it are being investigated by the Estonian police and how such activities are regulated under Estonian law.
In 2007, Vanaküla self-published a book Maagia alustalad. Kakskümmend ülekandeliini (ISBN 9789949152223). His publicity stunts, such as advertising his book, caused some media interest.
The book has been translated to English as The Basics of Magic. The Twenty Energy Transfer Channels (ISBN 9780979462436), printed by Noria Books. Although Noria Books has undertaken the printing, the book is a self-publication, fully paid for by Vanaküla himself.
- Pealtnägija 28 January 2009: part 1 on Youtube, part 2 on Youtube
- SL Õhtueht 28 January 2009: Maag Hannes Vanaküla koondab ajupestud sekti, edited by Kaspar Käänik
- SL Õhtueht 24 October 2013: VALIJA: «Mina, maalanna, valin enda juhiks suure valgusjumala Tokroda!»
- (in Estonian). Ohmygossip.ee. 26 November 2012 http://www.ohmygossip.ee/articles/16750-hannes-vanakuela-ohmygossip-eele-taenu-selgeltnaegijate-tuleproovile-kaotasin-klientuuri?locale=et. Retrieved 20 September 2013. Missing or empty
- Õhtuleht 19 September 2008: Maag Hannes: kellelgi on väga vaja Eesti nõidadele ära teha! by Kaja Roomets
- Õhtuleht 31 January 2009: Soolapuhuja Hannes Vanaküla löödi pärast tema sekti paljastamist töölt minema by Eve Heinla
- Postimees 22 February 2009: Keskerakondlased nõuavad Pihlilt maag Hannese kohta aru by Hanneli Rudi
- SL Õhtuleht 4 August 2004: Nõiad läksid energiasammaste pärast tülli by Kadri Paas
- skeptik.ee 22 September 2008: Selgeltnägijate tõeline ja päris tuleproov by Martin Vällik
- skeptik.ee 26 September 2008: Selgeltnägijate tõeline tuleproov. Katseprotokoll ja pildid. by Martin Vällik
- skeptik.ee 31 October 2008: Real Psychic Challenge (+Randi kommentaarid) by Martin Vällik
- James Randi 27 October 2008: Estonian Psychic Test Results
- delfi.ee 27 January 2009: Sekt ja seks “Pealtnägijas”
- delfi.ee 30 January 2009 17:12: Politsei peab selgeltnägija mõttemõrva jaburaks
- lass24.ee: Pealtnägija saade oli IRL-i tellimustöö? by Hannes Vanaküla
- enquiry (in PDF) available at the public document database of Riigikogu
- University of Tartu ESTER: bibliographic entry
- Postimees 17 December 2007: Nõid Vanaküla: me ei ole vaimselt vabad
- Õhtuleht 15 October 2007: Nõiad tülis! by Eve Heinla
- Noria Books: product page