Who’s Afraid Of A Little Woo?
Me, That’s Who.
I’m talking, of course, about the infamous “woo-woo”, a phrase used to mean spooky, spiritualist, crystal-laden irrational beliefs not based in science or reality. It’s generally used in a dismissive or self-conscious way, and I associate it with the spiritualist fraud séances of yester-year – you know, sheet covered ghosts that say woooo, WOOOOO!
“Woo” came up recently on Twitter, where the lovely Bridget Pilloud and Abby Kerr were discussing why we view it in a derogatory way, and if it can be rebranded, so to speak. They got me thinking (as both of them often do) and I realized I’ve been shying away from spiritual topics here on The Circus.
Turns out, I’m mind-numbingly, progress-stuckingly petrified of being perceived as “woo-woo”.
It’s a strange fear, since I’m really not very woo-woo, even at my spookiest. And besides that, a big part why I started The Circus was to have a space where I could touch on spiritual aspects of my methods and madness. Plus, since my readers are mostly open-minded, intuitive and artistic creatures with frequent spiritual bents (and the rest are definitely tolerant of weirdness or you wouldn’t be here), it’s unlikely that you’ll run screaming at the first whiff of possible woo.
In fact, most of you seem to like a touch of woo in your morning coffee.
So What The Woo Is My Problem?
Where is the fear coming from?
Some of it is cultural, some is from family, and some is a hold-over from my last major projects, which required drawing very clear lines between science, spirituality, and pseudo-science.
But some of it comes from my own deep skepticism, combined with my dirty habit of using pseudo-science as a form of entertainment.
See, I don’t want to be hypocritical. I’m afraid someone will challenge me with “How can you giggle at the belief that mutant cows have moo’d out a message about the End of Days, when YOU believe in <fill in the blank>!?!”
My intellect is a big part of my self image, as is an overwhelming desire to be objective and rational. So I hate-hate-hate when someone accuses me of magical thinking or uncritical acceptance or hypocrisy.
It Just Cuts A Little Too Close To Home.
Because I do, on occasion, indulge in magical thinking.
Yes, I do.
It gets me past the rough spots, and I don’t particularly care if it works because of mystical-woo-fairies or because of a placebo effect in my brain. But almost everything I do that could be described as woo-woo has a rational, psychological & science-based explanation for how it works.
Because I need to know that the stuff I do *works* – I need it to not just appear to work, but to know it actually makes a measurable difference.
That measurable part? Yeah. That means that by definition, it’s not “woo-woo”, fraudulent or naive. It’s a valuable, practical application.
But I’m Going To Embrace The Woo.
At least a little of it.
At least the appearance of it.
Because I’m all about embracing the quirks and being ridiculously real.
Because I believe my personal woo-ish-ness works, and that it isn’t really very woo-like at all.
Because I believe in leading by example.
And because it’s fun.
But! Some caution about woo is reasonable.
To Woo, Or Not To Woo…
There’s a reason that religion and politics are taboo subjects in polite company (and polite company includes most businesses.)They’re polarizing topics, and revealing your views on them(whatever they are) will drive away customers.
Free-roaming woo isn’t always appropriate.
Yes, it can serve as a red-velvet rope, keeping away the wrong people, and attracting the ideal, right people. But before putting up that rope, be sure you’ve correctly identified your ideal clients, and that the woo will, indeed, attract them, and not undermine their trust in you.
And just because someone accepts one form of woo doesn’t mean they’ll not think that you’re stark raving mad for *your* form of woo.
So There Are Limits To My Woo Embracing
And some disclaimers, too.
I reserve the right to mock the very woo I embrace.
I reserve the right to appear hypocritical.
I reserve the right not to explain in painful detail how what I do is totally rational. Alternatively, I reserve the right to bore you to tears with those painful detailed explanations.
I think there’s value in an open, accepting, non-critical mind. I also think there’s value in the dismissive implication of calling things “woo-woo”.
We need to be able to distinguish not just between science and mysticism, but between valuable spiritual practices, and those that are seriously pretty crazy and sometimes even harmful. (Like, for instance, believing that Government Agents have laced your dishwasher soap with a mind-eating fungus from Planet X.)
And as warm, supportive, understanding and non-judgmental as I try to be, I’ve seen too many people hurt by wacky beliefs to dismiss it all as harmless. (If you want examples, ask me in the comments, and I’ll put together a collection of my favorite woo-ish dangers)
What’s The Point Of All This?
Yes, I have a point!
Sometime in the next few days, I’m going to launch sprout a fun new thing. It’s a little woo-ish, a little house-of-mirrors-ish, and a whole lot of fun.
To do it, I needed to get past my fear of being seen as all woo-woo.
And you need to stay tuned through next week, because when I do launch this thing, the early birds really will get the worms.
Or the early ghosts get the woo.
Or something like that, anyway.
Got it? Ok!
Now, about those comments… let’s get this woo-party started!
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How do you feel about woo?
Are you more or less likely to buy from someone who has a lot of woo in their work? Does it increase or decrease your trust in them? And just how woo are you?
Feel free to post under an assumed name and made up email addy this one time. Anonymous Woo is fine.