“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” — William Shakespeare, Hamlet

The term “woowoo” often arises in discussions of spiritual things—unexplainable phenomena—or even conspiracy theories. It carries quite a dismissive connotation. Irrational. Superstitious. Nonsensical. One of the YouTube creators I follow even puts in blaring “woowoo alerts” when discussing some not-so-scientific aspects. The top-voted definition on Urban Dictionary1 perfectly captures the derogatory feelings of this word:

(adj.) descriptive of an event or person espousing New Age theories such as energy work, … often has studied in an authentic religious tradition such as Hinduism or Zen Buddhism, but now practices an Eastern-influenced yet severely watered-down and Westernized pseudo-mysticism…

Despite the connotation, yes, Woowoo is going to be one of the category tags in this blog. I argue that we have mistreated this word. It deserves a more constructive usage. What we need—regarding this word—is not dismissiveness, but moderation and balance.

Two extremes exist on the woowoo spectrum.

On one end—dismissing everything our science don’t fully understand, labeling them as scams or pseudoscience. On the other end—believing that science is flawed, incapable of dealing with these advanced new things—and we must abandon these mundane methodologies in search of something more “ascended.”

Both are unhealthy.

I consider myself spiritual—though not in the typical Western sense associated with Abrahamic religions. I seek meaning in between life’s mundane moments.

Growing up in Taiwan, I have always viewed the inherent animism of the culture as the norm2. I debugged programs with dreams, kept a pendulum on my desk at my previous job—even employing some form of divination in my day-to-day decision-making and thought processes. Heck, people in our country even regularly perform modern folk magick on all sorts of machines—including servers and semiconductor things. (The last link’s not in English, just look at the TSMC logo in the picture.)

In non-Abrahamic worlds, the mundane and the sacred are hard to tell apart. Of course, superstitious charlatans, snake oils, and all kinds of shady spiritual businesses aiming to manipulate and exploit vulnerable humans are still a thing. That’s a significant problem.

Not the most important one here, though.

The bigger problem lies in the conceptual separation of the mundane and the sacred. Excessive “woowoo” indulgence can lead one to disconnect from the reality. It’s spirituality for its sake, ignoring potential benefits to the practitioner, relationships, or anything in the tangible world. It’s dismissing the mundane world, in search of “ascension” to leave all the “non-sacred” things behind.

This is where I think the real danger lies.

We should explore these spiritual avenues with a less extreme mindset—with moderation and balance. Woowoo is not only about magick or spirits; it’s an invitation to explore the unquantifiable aspects of our existence—our dreams, our intuitions, our longings. It’s not about finding an answer—but about the process of trying to find an answer. Dismissing this part of the human experience leaves us with a superficial understanding of life—constantly chasing a horizon that always seems to be missing something. It’s an inseparable part of life. Yet, it’s not everything in life.

Take, for instance, the act of writing. It may seem mundane and intellectual; nonetheless, it offers a deep spiritual and introspective experience to us. An woowoo experience. Through writing, we find purpose, confront our mortality, and engage in a sacred creative process that appears to emerge from beyond. It possesses an element of scientific reasoning—yet writing remains tethered to the unknown—an intricate dance of the tangible and intangible.

So, when you encounter the “Woowoo” tag here, know that it comes with the intention of discovering the extraordinary, the mysterious, and the enlightening aspects of our reality—while remaining grounded in a practical, balanced way.

With a positive and constructive connotation of the term.

  1. Accessed in 2023-09-12 when I was researching for this post. Nearest archive by Wayback Machine↩︎

  2. Sure, I had some experience with Christian churches—specifically, a Prosperity Theology church. That ultimately didn’t change me too much, though. ↩︎