I don’t know if you’ve heard it before.
It’s a word commonly used in the female entrepreneur space. And particularly in the spiritual entrepreneur space. It usually refers to the conglomeration of ritualistic practices that women (usually white) have adopted from different traditions and placed under the umbrella of modern spirituality. But perhaps woo-woo is easier on the tongue than modern spirituality.
It could be anything from the reading of tarot cards to the utilisation of crystals, to the wonders of ayahuasca, to yoga and meditation, and rituals of shamans and the saging of your house.
The incorporation of these items into a new term gives off the appearance that these entrepreneurs have discovered something new and have had to come up with a name. Except that that is not true.
All of these practices have their roots in older – or ancient – traditions from other cultures and civilisations.
I wonder sometimes about how different these practices are from Christianity and why Christianity isn’t considered woo-woo. Perhaps because it’s familiar.
These women are not dumb and they’re not lazy. They’re highly successful businesswomen that are deeply inspirational. So it’s difficult to understand why they clump all these practices under this ambiguous banner.
You know – learn the name of the religion or the tradition you’re cherry picking from instead of clumping it into the woo-woo category. If you’re going on and on about productivity, don’t be sloppy with the ancient traditions you’re admiring – learn their names. Learn the history. The thing is, Islam is so uncool at the moment, that it hasn’t made the cut to ‘woo-wooness’. But I can imagine my frustration if it begins at some point.
I mean – consider Rumi. If you’ve ever read him, you would have stumbled upon a word he likes to use a lot. That is – Beloved. While many people think Rumi’s poetry is romantic – in most cases, the Beloved is God, or what Rumi would call Allah. The Beloved is God – not a woman and certainly not the universe. You can read more about the intentional separation of Rumi and Islam in this awesome article from The New Yorker.
I mean, imagine if ablution (ritual washing before Islamic prayer) was suddenly adopted by one of these influencer/healers etc and decided it was some cleansing practise that helped align the chakras or something. And called it woo-woo. That would be bizarre.
Anyhow – that was my mini and slightly incoherent rant. I’ll wrap this up by listing a few fun facts about ‘woo-woo’ things.
- Tarot Cards:Tarot cards are thought to have originated in ancient Egypt. They became popular in Europe in the 1500s. They were also closely associated with witchcraft, so it was dangerous to own a deck. In 2013, the ABC reported that The Witchcraft Act of 1735 that criminalised tarot card reading was going to be repealed in the Northern Territory. Yes – in 2013!
- Ayahuasca:It originated in the Americas, particularly in South America. Again, once invaded by the European colonialists, the drink was outlawed, especially after ‘identifying the central role [it] played in aboriginal religion and ritual’. The drink has survived today only because it went ‘deeply underground, remaining hidden from the hostile and rapacious European-imposed dominant culture.’
- Yoga:Yoga is old. Really old. It dates back to 2500 B.C.E. It most likely changed and evolved overtime in the subcontinent but is inextricably linked to Hinduism. The yoga that has taken the modern world by storm is an extremely watered down version of what it is actually meant to be. Chakras also originate in Hinduism.