In the United States, the religious practice of polygynous (a.k.a one man and mulitple women) polygamy is mostly associated with Fundamentalist Mormons. Only one the family on the current season of TLC’s Seeking Sister Wives fits into that belief system (the Winders,) but many of the couples on the show over the years mention religion and spirituality as motivation for what they choose to do. The Snowdens, however, are an exception. Although they are spiritual, and seem to have a lot of spiritual practices, they are clear that they do not practice polygamy for religious reasons.
Why do the Snowdens practice polygamy?
Ashley states at the start of season three of Seeking Sister Wife that they “do not practice polygamy for religious reasons. We chose this life because family is at the center.”
Dimitri goes on to state that women are at the center of family. “We want to take that idea of feminist intricity and build a legacy around that.”
They appear to have a grand vision for their lifestyle that involves building an enterprise and a multi-generational legacy. Vanessa explained some of this vision to her family before she (briefly) married the Snowdens in season two. She spoke about how one wife might stay home with the kids while another wife ran the family dance studio. This led her sister to question whether or not the structure was kind of like a pyramid scheme that relied on them to keep bringing in more wives to do the tasks the other wives didn’t want to do so they could fulfill their dreams.
The Snowdens elaborated on their family vision bit more for a 2018 radio interview with Sway’s Universe.
Dimitri came to the conviction to live polyamy in his early 20s. “I determined and decided that this was the vision and version of the family unit,” he says.
Dimitri says he told Ashley this right away when they met in 2009, and she immediately aggreed to his vision. Ashley was familiar with polygamy because she studied anthropology in college.
When asked to calrify exactly why they practice polygamy, and explain the reasoning behind it, Dimitri expounded on his vision:
“Part of our why is, if human evolution takes place through women. If women are sound, happy, whole. If they’re epic, then anything that comes from a woman will be epic: whether she has children, or she’s an artist, or she’s in the corporate world. Everything she does will inherently be epic if she’s sound and happy.
If I can provide, if I can be the catalyst for that, so She doesn’t have to work, subsequent wives won’t have to work. You have to also just be a baby factory either, You can express your creative freedom because we have services that help around the home.
The net of that means I have generations that are now happy and fully creative humans that are not abated by economy or these other challenges that may happen in the less than what I think is structured family.”
Ashley then took over explaining her point-of-view, which included a bit of inspiration from School house Rock:
“For me, I kind of move on vibrations. I’m one of those ‘good vibes’ people. I always had an affinity for the number 3. And three was just always my magic number, from my days of school, Schoo House Rock.
We can raise our children. I don’t want to just be raising children. I want our children to be able to be creative, and have more women, more role models, because I don’t know everything, I don’t have everything.
And so, when we’re thinking of bringing this woman in, she’s going to be an amazing woman. And our children are going to be able to go to me for certain things, and go to her for certain things.
We’re building together, so I’m imagining this huge family enterprise. We’re running the business together, and we’re keeping the economics in our family. That way we’re passing it back down through the generations, our children can then have that. That, to me, is kind of like the anthropological part and why many families do choose to do it, not even in religion. Many African nations, they’re not doing this for religion. This is normal. This is everyday women coming together. The men are just, out fighting each other, war, or making the money, and whatever it is that they’re doin’ and that’s fine. But it’s the women are the ones that are working together.”
Dimitri’s father was from Havana, Cuba, and was a “rolling stone,” implying that he had mulitple women and never stayed one place for too long. Dimitri says he was able to observe that, and developed his own version of it.
Even though the Snowdens aren’t using religious as the reasoning for what they do, they are clear that they are not seeking a polyamorous or polyandrous structure. Polyamorous (multiple love) relationships are becoming more common in the U.S. They are structured in a way that as long as consent and agreements are made, everyone in the relationship can date both within and outside of the relationship, depending on what works for them. Polyandry (multiple husbands) is one woman with plural husbands. The Snowdens (and other couples on the show) are practicing strict polygny, which means a closed relationship where one man has multiple wives, and the wives cannot have outside relationships, or even be in sexual or romantic relationships with each other.
What religion, or spirituality do the Snowdens believe in?
The Snowdens don’t seem to have a name for their spiritual beliefs, but they do seem to have a lot of rules and lifestyle choices. Many of these rules are applied to any woman who wishes to join their family.
Dimitri told Sway in the above 2018 interview that he believes in “feminine centricity.” He states that we know scientifically that the first carbon-based bipedal lifeform was a woman. “So why would we think God has a pen1s?” he asks.
When asked if they are athiests, they replied that they are not. They do believe in a higher power, which they call “He/She/Them.”
When Dimitri proposed to Vanessa in Season 2 he gave her an anklet and a bindi. The anklet goes on the right ankle at proposal, and is moved to the left after marriage. This is borrowed from Dimitri’s culture, which are the Taino Indians from Cuba.
Ashley wears a bindi, and has her daughters wear a bindi. She says that the dot isn’t religious, but spiritual. Her daughters also wear the dot. She believes it helps them have more awareness and insight. Bindis are traditionally worn by Hindu people. Often, it is a sign of a married woman, although there are part of India were men wear bindis for religious reasons.
The follow a mostly vegan, highly restrictive alkaline diet as designed by Dr. Sebi, a self-proclaimed healer who does not actually have a doctorate degree. They never eat dairy, beef, or pork for spiritual reasons, though they sometimes eat fish and its implied that they may allow people in the family to eat poultry.
Ashely decided that any potential sister wife go on a 21-day pH detox diet in order to get her pH balance to line up with Ashley’s before they sleep with Dimitri. This practice seems to have started with Vanessa in season two, and continues on.