"If I skip down the street, she skips with me," Durek says of his royal girlfriend. "What kind of princess does that?"
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Shaman Durek and Princess Martha of Norway
Credit: Daryl Henderson

Shaman Durek, a spiritual guide to stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Nina Dobrev, has had an eventful year.

In May, the self-described “sixth-generation shaman” and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway announced their relationship. In a candid interview featured in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Durek addresses skeptics, explains the premise behind his new book Spirit Hacking and shares details about his unconventional romance with the royal.

“We’re holding the same frequency of love for the planet,” Durek says of Märtha, 48, who is fourth in line to the Norwegian throne. “And that is worth everything.”

The pair were set up by a mutual friend and instantly connected.

“She walked in and she said, ‘I remember you, I know who you are,’ ” says Durek. “I was like, ‘Yes, we knew each other from a very long time ago.’ It just came out of my mouth.”

Recalling the encounter, Märtha tells PEOPLE, “I came in the door, and I recognized him straight away. I was like, ‘I know you.’ That’s the first thing I said to him.”

Durek claims he once lived with Märtha in Egypt in a past life.

Shaman Durek and Princess Martha
Credit: Shaman Durek/Instagram

“When we’re together and I look at [Märtha], sometimes I see another face,” he says. “And she sees it in me, too. I have memories of us in Egypt, and she was my queen and I was a pharaoh.”

After their romantic debut, critics were quick to fire at both Durek and Märtha, deriding his claims of powers and their connection.

“I’m not here to tell [critics] that something’s wrong with them,” Durek says. “When people say things like, ‘That’s not real,’ to me you’re basically narrowing down your consciousness and your ability to be aware of what’s possible. You’re only seeing one angle.”

Anticipating naysayers, Märtha made her opinions clear when announcing her love for her “twin flame” on Instagram in May.

“To those of you who feel the need to criticize: Hold your horses,” wrote the royal mom, who has three daughters with ex-husband Ari Behn. “It is not up to you to choose for me or to judge me. I don’t choose my man to satisfy any of you or the norms or boxes you have chosen in your mind for me to be in. I don’t thrive there, nor do I exist in your illusion about me. I choose from love.”

Spiritual Hacking by Shaman Durek
Credit: Peter Zambouros

In his book, which is subtitled Shamanic Keys to Reclaim Your Personal Power, Transform Yourself, and Light Up the World, Durek details his ability to commune with spirits. Durek says his hope is to help people “become more independent in their own evolution, how they deal with their relationships, the way they deal with problems that arise,” he says. “All I’m doing is throwing a bunch of tools in a container and saying, ‘How far do you want to go?’ “

Moving forward, Durek says he and Princess Märtha plan to continue spreading their message, as they did on a “wellness tour” billed as “The Princess and the Shaman” earlier this year.

“I see myself in her, and she sees herself in me: the kindness, the love, the playfulness, the silliness,” Durek says. “She’s a princess, and she grew up in a royal family, but she’s real. She hugs people like I do. She plays video games with me, and she does fun things with me. If I skip down the street, she skips with me, and if I do cartwheels, she wants to do cartwheels. What kind of princess does that?”