Durek Verrett: 13 Facts About Princess Märtha Louise Of Norway's Controversial Fiancé

Princess Märtha Louise of Norway has never been one to shy away from choosing the unconventional route. Known for her belief in and practice of spiritualism, the oldest child of King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway is a self-proclaimed clairvoyant who claims she has been talking to angels since she was a little girl. After feeling like few people truly understood her, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway was introduced to the American shaman Durek Verrett through their mutual friend, energy healer Millana Snow. Immediately, they shared a deep connection.

In May 2019, Princess Märtha Louise made her relationship with her relationship with Verrett Instagram-official. She captioned the photo of the couple: "When you meet your twin flame, you know. I have been lucky enough to have met mine. [Durek Verrett] has changed my life, like he does with so many." Three years later, Princess Märtha took her devotion to the controversial shaman to another level when she gave up her royal duties in order to join Verrett in his practice and entrepreneurial pursuits.

During Verrett and Märtha's years together, royals and commoners alike have raised skepticism over the legitimacy of Durek Verrett's teachings and what they might mean for the future of the Norweigan royal family. Here's what you should know about the shaman.

Durek Verrett is a shaman of the people ... and the stars

Durek Verrett, whom many refer to as Shaman Durek, is becoming increasingly popular with those interested in meditation and wellness. Though his clientele represents a variety of people, many of his most adoring fans have fans of their own. One of the shaman's A-List supporters is the critically acclaimed actor and CEO of the wellness empire of Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Despite claims that Goop is overpriced and problematic, Paltrow has become the celebrity face of alternative therapies. She was one of the first celebs to successfully promote Verrett's shamanic practice, dubbing him her "light in shining armor." Like his "soul sister" Paltrow, Verrett has been accused of getting rich off of pseudoscience. Regardless of the controversy surrounding the legitimacy of his practice, though, a session of spiritual detox with Shaman Durek has become a highly sought-after experience for celebs. Verrett has grown a client list that includes Nina Dobrev, Selma Blair, among others.

But his services aren't just popular with Hollywood stars. When speaking with Harper's Bazaar, Verrett described himself as " the people's shaman" who wants to provide guidance for everyone. His popularity increased when he began holding sessions over Zoom. During these sessions, Verrett sits in front of a green screen that resembles a temple and guides clients through spiritual practices that help them "hack" their best selves, The New York Times reported.

He became aware of his shamanic ability at 5 years old

Durek Verrett was born into the world of spiritualism and grew up in a family who believed in his inherited ability to connect to a mystical plane of existence. Although he previously claimed to be a third-generation shaman in the past, Verrett now asserts that he is a sixth-generation shaman. Regardless, it's safe to say that a sense of and connection to spirituality seems to run in Durek Verrett's family. His great-grandmother was a Ghanaian medicine woman who spent time in both Haiti and New Orleans in the practice of shamanism, as he explained to Vanity Fair. Her son, Verrett's grandfather, also had his own shamanic ability. The powers continued with Shaman Durek's father and eventually showed up in Verrett himself when he was just five years old. At eleven years old, he began his training.

In the beginning, Verrett says his abilities manifested in both visions and dreams. Verrett described to Vanity Fair how he would see visions about classmates as well as experience dreams where his ancestors were watching him. Although he wouldn't fully explore his spiritual ability and shamanic calling until he got older, Verrett was aware of his gift from an early age — much like his future fiancé, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, who claims that she talked to angels as a child.

A psychic once told him that he was destined to marry the Princess of Norway

As detailed in Vanity Fair, Durek Verrett, it was always his fate to meet and marry Princess Märtha Louise of Norway. In fact, it was his own mother who shared the information with him. His mother, who was descended from a mix of West Indian and Norwegian descent, was herself a psychic medium who had received spiritual training from a Romani woman. When Verrett was just a teen, his mom told him that someday in the future, he was going to meet and marry the princess of Norway. Although he didn't think anything of it at the time, his mother's words surely came back to Shaman Durek when he asked King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway for their permission to propose to their daughter, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway. 

But what his mother didn't tell him was how challenging it would be to propose to the Norwegian princess. According to Verrett, he struggled to choose the perfect time to propose to his then-girlfriend because spirits kept spoiling the surprise. However, she was finally taken by surprise when Verrett got down on one knee in June 2022 under a tree in the romantic San Juan Capistrano, Californian countryside. Accepting a ring that Gwyneth Paltrow apparently approved, Märtha agreed to marry Verrett and fulfill the destiny that his mother once foretold.

Verrett will be the first Black man to join the Norweigan royal family

Durek Verrett will make history as the first Black man to join the Royal House of Norway, but there is a group of Norwegians who do not support this significant milestone, according to the couple. In an Instagram Live following their engagement, the shaman and the princess addressed the hate they have endured. Verrett referred to the widely popular and racially diverse TV show as a talking point to explain the reality of the situation. "They don't want the Bridgertons. They want to watch it on TV but they don't want the real Bridgertons, which is us," he said (via Daily Mail). 

As a result of witnessing the harsh reality of racism in Norway and elsewhere, Princess Märtha Louise began to challenge her perception of racism and admit how her white privilege has shaped her perception of the situation. She encourages white people especially to "understand that even though we don't see racism, it does exist."

Prince Harry, whose wife Meghan Markle has experienced racism and discrimination from the public as well as within the royal family, voiced his support of Shaman Durek. He said in an ABC special, "I congratulate them for that, enormously. And I don't think they've been given enough credit for what they've done."

He grew up in a wealthy area of California

For as much as Durek Verrett has shared about his life, there is still a lot of mystique that surrounds how the shaman grew up. The details of his formative years are inconsistent — even as shared by Verrett himself. What we do know is that Shaman Durek was born in 1974 in Sacramento, California. He was born with the name "Derek Verrett," though he would later change his name from "Derek" to "Durek" in 2013. However, many other details remain unclear.

The widely accepted version of Durek's childhood is that he grew up in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Foster City in California. His dad, who has been described as both an engineer and/or a construction entrepreneur, was of African-Haitian descent and his mother, who was a clairvoyant like her son, was of Indian-Norwegian descent. They divorced when Verrett was 3 years old, and he went to live with his dad. A Seventh-Day Adventist who ran a strict and well-mannered household, Durek Verrett's father raised his son in a majority-white neighborhood with access to private planes and expensive cars.

However, Verrett has also claimed that he spent his childhood divided between Foster City and Hawaii. This version of his childhood includes Verrett catching fish for his relatives and speaking pidgin, also known as Hawaii Creole. Though this version of his childhood is undoubtedly more mystical, the accuracy of this description is debated.

He has traveled all around the world

To explore and develop his natural shamanic abilities, Durek Verrett began to travel the world while learning about a variety of cultures that each have their own unique traditions. As he told Vanity Fair, Verrett studied with the Lakota and Cherokee tribes, who live in the Dakotas and the southeastern United States, respectively, in order to learn about Native American shamanism.

Verrett also became a student of the spiritual practices of Haitian, Nigerian, Hawaiian, and Cuban traditions. During this period of learning, Verrett's travels also led him to explore other spiritual traditions in addition to shamanism. Though he was already somewhat familiar with Christianity having grown up as a Seventh-Day Adventist, he expanded his knowledge of Christian and Catholic traditions by traveling throughout Europe. He also traveled to Israel, where he spent time with rabbis in order to become more familiar with Judaism and Kabbalah, as well as Turkey where he studied Sufism. These travels undoubtedly helped him become the multilingual shaman he is today, capable of communicating in Turkish, Hebrew, Italian, and English.

When he is not focused on expanding his own skills, Verrett journeys to a variety of cities and countries to do sessions and workshops. " I ... enjoy traveling. Going to other countries that I've never been to and speaking languages and being in different cultures gives me vast knowledge of how much information is available," he told Thrive Global.

Durek Verrett published a controversial book

In addition to accessing his wisdom through live streams, Zoom workshops, and private sessions, followers of Shaman Durek can read his book, "Spirit Hacking: Shamanic Keys to Reclaim Your Personal Power, Transform Yourself, and Light Up the World."

Published in 2019, "Spirit Hacking" contains advice, spiritual tools, and meditation techniques. Although the book was received positively by many in the celebrity wellness community, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Gerard Butler, it eventually landed in hot water for the validity and ethics of some of the claims it made. At the heart of the controversy is a false claim about cancer. "What Durek writes about, for example, is that when children have cancer, it's because they're unhappy and thinking about it, so yeah, I just don't have an adequate comment on this," Knut Ola Ulvestad, publishing manager of Cappelen Damm, told VG. Cappelen Damm pulled "Spirit Hacking" from the shelves in October 2019, just over a week after the book was originally published. Ulvestad claimed that "it became impossible to publish this book. If this is read literally, it can simply be harmful."

Despite the number of people who took offense to Verrett's insensitive claims, Princess Märtha Louise has been very supportive of her fiancé's work. On the day it was published, she posted a photo of her holding the book on Instagram with the caption: "This book is something else. Read it and find out for yourself how to hack your spirit, stop being a bobble head or a sheeple and get on the lit train for GIANTS."

He believes that he has died before

One of the most formative events in Durek Verrett's life occurred when he died, at least according to the shaman. Verrett is unafraid to talk about this traumatic event.

At the age of 27, as Verrett told The New York Times, he went into cardiac arrest after his blood pressure became extremely high. For approximately four and a half minutes, Durek Verrett was clinically dead. During that time, he claims, "I went to the other side, I got all the information on the other side and came back."

On the podcast "Moments that Made Me," Verrett describes how he was revived twice. After the first attempt, he was put into a coma during which he claims to have been aware of what was happening around him. When he woke up from the coma, he was expected to never be able to walk or talk again. According to his profile in Vanity Fair, Verrett used a wheelchair for almost two years and was on dialysis for eight. The shaman believes that this event was a test for him — and one that he ultimately passed. "You're only going through this so you can understand human suffering. ... What's eight years to an eternal being?" he mused to podcast host Roxie Nafousi. 

He has kidney disease, which delayed his wedding

For roughly 30 years, Durek Verrett has had to adapt to life with kidney disease. It has been a difficult journey for the shaman as well as those close to him. When Verrett needed to undergo a kidney transplant, it was his sister, Angelina Verrett, who was there to give him one of her kidneys. When that procedure took place is unclear. Some sources, such as Vanity Fair, state that the kidney transplant took place in 2012 whereas other sources claim that it happened when they were both children. Regardless of the details surrounding his past procedures, the disease has been, and continues to be, a significant issue for Shaman Durek. 

Verrett has to go to the hospital for dialysis at least twice a week and is in need of another transplant, according to the Norwegian publication Se og Hør. The shaman told the outlet that it is his belief that his health struggles are a result of "dark energy" that travels through him during shamanic practices and sessions. As of this writing, the escalation in the severity of his disease has delayed the couple's wedding plans to August 2024.

Verrett claims that a medallion helped his fight COVID-19

Though Durek Verrett is passionate about helping all people take control of their own spiritual journey, his wisdom often comes with a price tag. At the end of the day, Verrett is both an influential shaman and a successful businessman who knows how to run a lucrative practice. His one-hour private virtual sessions, for example, retail for $1,500. Yes, Verrett has found a way to share his shamanic gift while also making quite the life for himself.

In addition to the services and workshops he offers, Durek Verrett also sells products. One of these products is the "Spirit Optimizer," which is described on Verrett's website as a "crystal infused with different earth elements designed to assist you on your spiritual journey." This handmade medallion comes in eight colors and will set you back $222 a piece. As with many of his products, Verrett personally vouches for the Spirit Optimizer. As The Guardian reported, he even claimed that the medallion helped him when he was sick with the COVID-19 virus — although he did at least follow up on Instagram by writing, "Having a [Spirit Optimizer] doesn't mean you shouldn't see your doctor."

He has thousands of followers on Instagram

The rise of Durek Verrett and his shamanism for the modern era can be at least partly attributed to his effective use of social media and virtual content. He has an active influencer presence online and has even adapted the language he uses to speak about spiritual concepts to incorporate contemporary slang in addition to matching the way that people speak about technology, as The New York Times reported. For example, he calls his followers the "Litty Committee," describes how knowledge can be "downloaded" into your body, and even uses the term "spirit hacking" to refer to the use of spiritual techniques that achieve fulfillment and happiness 

Those with whom Verrett's messages resonate have a supportive community dedicated to the practices that the shaman encourages. With 283,000 followers on Instagram, as of this writing, Shaman Durek's comment sections are full of enthusiastic patrons. In addition to fostering community, Verrett uses his Instagram to promote upcoming content such as workshops and events as well as share photos of his celebrity friends and his fiancé Princess Märtha Louise of Norway. In addition to using Instagram and TikTok, Shaman Durek shares content with subscribers on his YouTube channel.

He released his own music in 2022

"Being a shaman, music gives me a chance to re-center myself, and realize what's really important, which is freedom of expression.," Durek Verrett told Digital Journal. Although he seems to enjoy all forms of music, Verrett claims to be a particularly big fan of two particular genres — house music and country. He praised the way that country music "speaks from the heart" when speaking to Thrive Global. And he decided to speak from his own heart when, in September 2022, he released "My House" — a single he created alongside his producer Mark "Blakkat" Bell. 

The song, which was recorded in a single take, features Durek Verrett freestyling about the frustration he feels when no one is dancing at a party. Accompanied by a booming bass and a hypnotic electronic beat, Verrett urges his listeners to "get up and dance because this is my house."

In his interview with Digital Journal, Verrett described how music is a wonderful exploration into expression that aligns perfectly with his shamanism. "[Shamanism is] a gateway into the feeling of the unseen. A dance that crosses all borders." He continued, saying, "A dance that crosses all borders, to me, this is in complete alignment to shamanism, and what kind of shaman would I be if I didn't access the available resources and deliver the magic?" Verrett also collaborated with The Jacketeers on the song "Afterski i queill," which was released in March 2023.

Durek Verrett will move to Norway once married

In 2024, Durek Verrett will leave his beloved home base of Los Angeles and relocate to Norway full-time, where he will begin a new stage of his life. The pair announced on Instagram that they will marry in August of that year in the west Norweigan village of Geiranger. Known for its breathtaking views of fjords and mountains, the UNESCO site of the Geiranger Fjord will undoubtedly serve as the perfect background for the wedding between the shaman and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway.

Though Verrett will not be receiving a royal title upon his marriage to Märtha, he will be welcomed with open arms. King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway may not have always been the most understanding of their eldest daughters' fiancé, but they have since shown their support and excitement for the couple. It would seem that, although it has been quite the journey of acceptance and controversy, Verrett will be able to make Norway his new home.