The End of Woo Woo

The End Of Woo Woo |


Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you


I attended a 3-day workshop with Sally Kempton recently. We were learning about kundalini and the goddess and the joys of spiritual awakening. There was chanting, meditation and a LOT of women in attendance. At one point Sally shared a few book and website recommendations with us, describing one site as “not too woo woo”. And I thought to myself what could possibly be more woo woo than kundalini, chanting and the goddess?! But I knew what she meant because I often use that term myself.

It usually pops up when I’m with a group of people who hold a mix of beliefs — when teaching a course, for example, I never take it for granted that everyone has the same references as me and I try to be as inclusive as possible. To me that’s just being polite and respectful. But lately I’ve become more aware of how I use the term in my everyday life, too. It’s the “this might sound a bit woo woo but…”s that have got to stop.

I know where this has come from. Looking back over my relationships I see I chose partners who didn’t share my beliefs. I still remember the withering looks I received and how I always felt the need to play down that side of myself. The not-an-atheist side, completely at odds with how they viewed the world.

All this has been swirling in my head since I finished reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. While Sue Monk Kidd’s background is vastly different from mine — I had a very secular upbringing — I devoured every word of that book. As ever, reading another woman’s story has emboldened me to own my own. It suddenly hit me that when I diminish what’s important to me I diminish myself, and while I may have been quick to do that in the past I don’t want to do it anymore.


feather |


I don’t follow a particular religion or a single set of beliefs, and while much of what rings true for me lives in the New Age camp for sure, these days I’m most interested in my own first-hand experience of spirituality. The best way I can explain it is this:

It’s the connection I feel when I turn inwards, my sense of being connected to something much larger than me yet also unquestionably a part of me, too.

And there ain’t nothing woo woo about that.

I enjoy learning about new ways to connect to the sacred within — hence the kundalini workshop — and ever since I bought my first tarot deck as a teenager I have always been interested in the metaphysical. As I get older my understanding of my place in the world is deepening, which in turn makes me more confident about embodying that with others. I love my spiritual accessories — my home is filled with crystals and singing bowls and more oracle cards than is probably necessary — but really all I need do is close my eyes and I’m there. I’m home.

We’ve come up with so many names and rules for what could be ‘out there’ — god, angels, spirit, universe, source, shakti, the mystery, the all-that-is — and while I don’t think any of us will ever really know the truth until we shove off our mortal coil, enough extraordinary things have happened in the last nine years to let me know that there’s more to all this than just what we see with our eyes. I can’t prove it scientifically but I know what feels true for me. And that’s the bit that feels important — that we each find what feels true for us.

I guess you could call me a healthily sceptical believer :)

21 responses
  1. Jessica

    Yes, I have found myself thinking about this a lot lately. I led my first meditation workshop this past weekend and I was aware that some of the things I had planned could be “too woo woo”, BUT I was also very aware that I didn’t want to withhold because of fear of what participants might think. I followed my intuition and listened to my deep wisdom and approached the group with gentleness. Turns out I wasn’t “too woo woo” and the things I was tempted to chuck from my teaching were some of the most soulful experiences for the group. Like you said, the important part is to find what feels true for us :) LOVE this post – thank you! xo

  2. amy

    Thank you for sharing this and for encouraging me to reflect on the parts of my life, or myself, that I occasionally find myself apologising for or playing down.

  3. Katie

    Susannah, you’ve said it perfectly. You don’t need to cheapen or lessen your beliefs by calling them out as ‘woo woo’ before someone else does. You are you and what you believe in is your business and not for anyone else to judge or decide. I’m looking forward to what you come up with next, it sounds like you have a creative storm a-brewing. Katie. X

  4. Cherie

    I labelled one of my internet folders is labelled ‘woo woo stuff’ & contains links about tarot & spirit animals in it. But I didn’t really like this ‘woo woo’ label. I just don’t have a word that is feels right.

  5. changesofheart

    Yes, love this! And another Rumi quote which seems apt is ‘I looked in churches, temples & mosques. But I found the Divine within my own heart’. Our truth is personal & our personal truth dwells within.

  6. Kristine

    Loved This Post! Thank you for being so honest with us – Makes us feel “not so alone” in our own thoughts – Xo

  7. Linda

    Here, Here!…so well said! When we succumb to the concern about being too “woowoo”, we are worried about being judged…which is all about fear. Fear is what keeps us from the light…from being the beautiful light beings that we really are. It is what keeps us from doing the joyous work of our soul. At this stage in my life, I choose to be fearless. Some days I am better at it than others…but it is a choice that I make daily. :-)

  8. Jamey

    I haven’t yet found the balance between my ‘woo woo’ and sceptical sides. I apologise for the woo and then wonder, but why? I’m really loving reading about this part of your journey. Thanks as always for sharing so much with us all.

  9. Karen

    What a lovely blog Susannah! I always use the phrase ‘airy fairy’ and can feel as it comes out of my mouth, that I have uncomfortable -and judgmental energy with it. Your blog helped me realize why – thank you for putting it so beautifully and aptly. :)

  10. Lucy Chen

    I think what you have said here would resonate with many, Susannah.

    Many of us feel this these days, not a particular religion, but we feel that there is a higher spirit or a sacred within etc.

  11. Rhianne

    Gosh this makes me wish I could sit down with you, have a coffee and talk through stuff :)

  12. Cat athena louise

    For as long as I can remember I have been out on the fringes of *alternative thinking* and fully immersed (very happily) in the exploration of my own spirituality, our interconnectedness and divinity. It seems it flows quite unapologetically through my DNA and cellular memory…and this is a completely ordinary, natural way of being to me.

    I’ve also been lucky enough to have been shown some incredible proof…with lots of verifiable and detailed information and situations.

    The term ‘woo-woo’ I find both amusing & bemusing – it is a derogatory term coined by the debunker and ex-stage magician James Randi – “The Amazing Randi” and is synonymous with skeptics.

    All I know is there are more to ‘reality’ than meets the eye! Things are not always as they seem… and I like it that way.

    Keep rocking out those crystals, singing bowls and oracle cards! I will be too.

    Blessings of beauty,
    Cat xo

  13. Parisa

    I’ve been thinking about the same issue recently.. Thanks for writing about this Susannah. It rings so true for me. And, as I have already said, reading your blog is one of the most upliftings I do in my life. I usually don’t comment, but I’m here almost everyday azizam (“azizam” in Farsi means “my dear”). xo xo

  14. Lisa Wright

    Thank you for voicing what so many of us think. I struggle to talk about this with many of my friends and family – my own shift to a belief in the Goddess and devouring book after book on the subject (Restoring the Goddess by Barbara Walker is particularly good). I sense a shift in world thinking though. HER time is coming again, if only enough of us would shout loudly enough.

  15. Dani

    I’ve never heard of that phrase but I understand where you’re coming from! I can’t really define my own idea of “spirituality” yet but it’s an exciting thing to explore and think about!

  16. Jen

    Love this post. I’ve always been the same. Been interested in things that others consider woo woo, like crystals and manifesting and the universe, etc. I don’t have any conventional religious beliefs per se, and I too was raised in a secular household, but I definitely believe there is much more to life than meets the eye. My father has called me a hippy!

    Reading this seems like total synchronicity to me because just the other day I was thinking about how over the years I’ve gotten disconnected from myself and just recently felt like I’ve gotten back in touch with who I am (many thanks to Journal Your Life!!!). I also felt like it had been past boyfriends etc who I might have changed or hidden parts of myself for. How funny that I should read this post after only just thinking that! A nudge from the universe that I’m on the right path, perhaps. :)

  17. Sheila Bergquist

    This hits so close to home for me that I feel like you read my mind. And I love this part:
    “It suddenly hit me that when I diminish what’s important to me I diminish myself, and while I may have been quick to do that in the past I don’t want to do it anymore.”
    That really made me sit up and take notice…how true that is! And I don’t want to do it anymore either.
    Wonderful post Susannah!

  18. sheila

    I love this post and your newsletter today. Had my own “trying to be professional” moment today. They are not pretty, are they? Anyway here is a little word comfort for you. It is untitled and by Marlo Morgan.
    xxoo. Hope your mouth stops hurting.

    Forever Oneness,
    who sings to us in silence,
    who teaches us through each other,
    Guide my steps with strength and wisdom.
    May I see the lessons as I walk,
    honor the Purpose of all things.
    Help me touch with respect,
    always speak from behind my eyes.
    Let me observe, not judge.
    May I cause no harm,
    and leave music and beauty after my visit.
    When I return to forever
    may the circle be closed
    and the spiral be broader.

  19. KIM B.

    Surprisingly, I have never heard the term “woo woo”, but when I get that ‘what is she talking about?’ look from others, I often stop and say “Oh, I’m from L.A.”. It usually gets me a laugh, but regardless of where I’m from, it’s me, and I don’t want to have to mold myself to be like whoever I’m with at the time. Thank you for this post, Susannah! :)

  20. Alanna Jane

    I adore this post – and I believe that the most important line in the entire writing is this one:

    “… when I diminish what’s important to me I diminish myself, and while I may have been quick to do that in the past I don’t want to do it anymore”.

    I am right there with you, sister. And authenticity is gorgeous.

  21. Adela

    well put Susannah! I found myself saying exactly that – “this may sound a little woo woo…” etc – lately and always feel a bit odd saying that, ungenuine… thanks for this one! X

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