“Woo” Are You?
Excuse the rather clumsy allusion to The Who’s song; it was the first thing that came to mind that would work as one of my trademark quirky titles. Although I’ve been involved with natal astrology, tarot and other esoteric practices since 1972, I had never heard the expression “woo-woo” until I joined the Aeclectic Tarot forum in 2011. I quickly learned that it’s a derogatory term for starry-eyed gushing over the “dubiously or outlandishly mystical” babble that passes for tarot-reading excellence among the general public in the 21st Century. It’s also often applied to tarot decks of the “fluffy bunny” kind with no roots in any traditional system (that’s another euphemism I had never heard before, and it’s a good one) .
It seems that there are two incompatible camps in modern tarot culture, each with a different worldview: the young and clueless and the old and toothless (well, not quite but you get the picture). Those who have been around for — ahem — “a while” know that there is no quick-and-easy way to learn the tarot to the point of proficiency. It takes contemplation, concentration, dedication and practice, practice, practice. Those who are new to the art are given the impression that “It’s so easy a caveman could do it.” Dumbed-down approaches that are intended to be quickly absorbed and artlessly regurgitated at social gatherings to impress the credulous form the basis for those “Learn Tarot in a Day” tomes that beguile the unwary, much like “lucky number” numerology and “daily horoscope” astrology. It’s not enough to “feel like” you can do it if you try, you have to buckle down and do the work. Anything less amounts to child’s play.
I had thought that the notion of fortune-telling as a casual “slumber-party” pursuit had gone out with teenage girls’ fascination with the Ouija board in the late 20th Century. For me at least, it has never been an occasion for social mixing; I don’t need nosy drunks at cocktail parties hanging over my shoulder and drooling on my cards. I don’t spin imaginative, intuitively-contrived yarns for the lovelorn and the idly curious, my style is mainly knowledge-and-experience-based with a touch of creative free-association thrown in. I may be an irrepressible storyteller, but I still need a coherent plot and a storyboard to hang it on.
When they aren’t nattering on social media, the “woo-woo” crowd typically hangs out at places like Etsy where they sell $5 readings that are almost certainly ginned up from a tarot app. The sad part is that these shameless shills are probably making more money at it than I am. YouTube also draws hordes of them, those who don’t have the patience (and perhaps not even the skill) to read a tarot book. Those I’ve run into on the tarot forums and Facebook pages at least have the honesty to admit their “noobness” and the intelligence to ask questions beyond “What does this card mean?” But most of them are just marinating in their inanity. Woo indeed.
Originally published at http://parsifalswheeldivination.wordpress.com on April 26, 2022.