Embrace the Woo
Embrace the Woo
Host Anna Borges explores our processes of faith and belief with astrologer Jessica Lanyadoo, and how “woo” can be used as a non-judgmental tool for guidance and self-determination.
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Anna: Guess what? It is time for an astrology episode. Because let’s be honest, I wasn’t going to make it through a season of Mood Ring without one. But also because I think a lot of us could really use it right now.
Jessica Lanyadoo: People turned to astrology for lots of reasons. A big common reason—especially during this global pandemic and time of social unrest—is anxiety. If I'm looking for a way to not feel anxious and an astrologer rattles off a ton of stuff and a ton of advice, in a way, in the short term, it's scratching that itch. I want order, I want to be told what's real. I want to be told what to do. Okay. This person's telling me. This person seems to have a grasp on the, on the universe and they're telling me what to do this week.
I’m Anna Borges and this is Mood Ring, a practical guide to feelings … and sometimes, if I’m being honest with you guys, I do wonder if being TOO practical can hold us back.
You just heard Jessica Lanyadoo, an astrologer, psychic medium, and today’s guest. I invited her on because I love astrology as a self-care tool and definitely wanted to talk about it, but, at the same time I’ve always felt like there was something kind of holding me back from really getting the most out of it.
Because on the one hand, I feel exactly what you just heard Jessica describing. I want to be told what to do. I want to be told what’s real. I want to believe my horoscope when it tells me how I can find happiness and trust when a meme tells me that my Leo Venus means you know, I’m really good at love.
But on the other hand, my skeptical little Virgo brain is like, “Uhhh. You don’t actually believe in this, do you?”
So, that’s what we’re talking about today—how we can turn down the volume on our logic and our doubt to really lean into, well as Jessica calls it, “the woo.” Jessica herself specializes in helping people cultivate self-understanding and emotional intelligence through what she refers to as … woo. And I am ready to embrace the woo!
If you’re sitting here thinking, “Can’t relate, fuck astrology,” this doesn’t just apply to that. You know, you might have another complicated relationship between something you doubt the effectiveness of, or the truth of, but that you really kind of want to believe in. Our brains reject everything from the magic of meditation to our own self-worth—like haven’t you ever stopped to wonder, like “Hey, what would happen if I just trusted the process? Like, would I start to believe in it? Would it work?”
So, that’s what I wanted to talk to Jessica about. Why it’s so hard to embrace the woo, and how we can.
Anna: I feel like the question that comes up whenever people talk about astrology is, do you really believe in it? Like, I hear that all the time, whenever I express an interest and I'm curious: A, I mean, do you and B, what's your reaction to it?
Jessica: Hmm. I don't believe in astrology. [Anna: gasps, whispers “amazing”] I don't believe in astrology, and I don't believe in ibuprofen and I don't believe in the internet. I use them because they work. And that's how I respond to people asking me about it. And it's also how I respond to people being like, I don't believe in astrology. I say, cool. Yeah, me neither.
Anna: You’re like no, yeah, me neither.
Jessica: It's a tool, it’s a, it’s a system and a tool. And I think, I should just pull back to say, when someone asks me about astrology, I don't think about memes. I don't think about apps. I don't think about AI. I don't think about sun signs. I don't think about compatibility and I don't think about stereotypes. Or like, “I would never date a ———,” to me none of that is astrology, That's like pop culture around astrology.
Anna: That's like a good response and I'm gonna steal it. Like, what do you think people are really asking when they ask, do you believe in it? Like what's real, what's beneath that question?
Jessica: It depends on who's asking. A lot of the times people have asked me that question, what they're really saying is, “I went to university. I'm really smart. I don't want you to think I'm not smart. And, I just think it's fun.” But usually they're trying to affirm their intellectual prowess and competency as a person and that is what they mean, I think, yeah.
Anna: But like the reason that I start with the question of like people asking, do you believe in it is because my little gremlin brain asks that all the time. Like every time I kind of wanna like shut up and enjoy and like lean into it as a tool, in the back of my head there's like a little voice going, “Is this even real? Like, what's the point of doing this?” [Jessica: yep] So every time I wanna give myself to the woo, embrace the woo, logic gets in the way!
Jessica: I, first of all, really like reclaiming words that are used to minimize or, like, belittle. So, you know, not so much anymore, it's 2022, but in the nineties I was dyke-identified because you're not gonna call me a dyke and get me, get me mad. I'm going to call me a dyke and enjoy it. And woo is something like, oh, that's, woo-woo, that's like, you know, a way of being dismissive. And so I'm really big on embracing it. So that's one part of it. But in terms of like, what I think woo is, I think it's a really big umbrella of … esoteric spiritualities that are not necessarily part of any kind of religion. I think they can be associated with like new age stuff. But even like, I don't even know what new age exactly means. It's woo. I can say astrologer, psychic medium, animal communicator, tarot reader, but that just feels like a lot of fucking words to confuse a person with. So woo. It just really kind of works.
Anna: Absolutely. Yeah. I, I connect with that so much, and then have like, kind of the underlayer of knowing that I probably lean on it to signal to other people who might judge, if I said astrology or tarot or whatever that like, “Don't worry. I don't take it too seriously. I know it's woo.”
Jessica: And think like, this is, this is like, I'm glad you said that because this thing of … there's so much judgment, especially towards women, or, women and femme people for being into things that are not quote “proven.” But I can use astrology to tell a person when a thing happened in their past, when a thing’s going to happen in their future. I was able to see an airborne pandemic coming in 2020 through astrology. There's no religion that gives any kind of like … evidence. Right? Because people do attribute astrology to faith and it is spiritual, right? So it’s, it's just really an interesting thing to me that people have to distance themselves to prove their intelligence. When in fact studying astrology takes years, it means learning a new language and there's a lot of math. But most people don't know that.
Anna: This is why I can never fully embrace the woo! Math.
Jessica: Math is hard! It’s not a joke.
Anna: Math is hard! [laughs] I'm really glad that you mentioned like faith so early on, because when I was like getting ready for this interview and this episode, I did realize that it's like, not so much about astrology as it is, “How do I develop a sense of faith that I can trust? The same way that I'm not great at trusting my gut or trusting all of these things” ‘Cause I think so many of us second guess anything that we can't point at and be like, “Factual. Valid. Cool.”
Jessica: Yes. Agreed. Well, you know, I'm one of those people, I don't have faith, easily or frequently, but I, I'm a fan of evidence. And so for me, I think a lot of people are surprised because I'm a psychic medium and an animal communicator and astrologer, people assume that I believe in the things I do. I don't. And people who assume that I am a faith-based person. I’m not. I would like to be more, honestly. And also I love evidence, and I don't think there's anything wrong with requiring evidence of the things that guide our lives and guide our choices. But, but like to answer your question in a way that's, I think, slightly more helpful, is … it is hard to have faith in others or in, or in, other things, when we don’t have faith in ourselves and we don’t know how to listen to ourselves-
Jessica: I'm sorry!
[Anna and Jessica laugh]
Anna: I mean it’s true, but you don’t have to say it, Jessica!
Jessica: I know, I know. It was like I slapped you. You were like, ouch! I’m so sorry. But that’s it. That’s what it is, is like. If you give strangers on the internet—or like, whatever people, your mom, your ex—power over your self esteem and your identity, like if we have that habit to do that with others, then we're really likely to do it with like faith-based things. And it is a, kind of a survival mechanism to say, “I'm not going to believe in things if I don't know how to assess whether or not they're accurate. And if I make a mistake, I don't know how to take care of myself around that mistake.” That's the key.
Anna: There’s like risk in trusting your faith or having faith.
Jessica: Yes. The risk is that you're going to be wrong. That you're gonna be silly, that you're going to be dumb. That risk is that you, you know, you will lose yourself. You will give away your power. There's so many things that people can do in the name of faith. I mean, I think it's wise to have a critical relationship with where we give our faith, with what we believe in, and the tools that we use.
Anna Borges: Well. Wow. Jessica just pretty much summed up exactly what’s so scary about giving ourselves over to the woo, huh? It takes a lot of self-trust to let go and that can be really terrifying for many of us—or I mean, at least a lot scarier than staying in control.
After the break, we’ll talk about how to get over that—but, like, in a way that’s actually true to you, I promise.
Anna Borges: Hey all, welcome back to Mood Ring. We’ve been talking with astrology and psychic Jessica Lanyado. We started with why it can be so hard to embrace the woo—so now let’s dive into how.
And trust me, the irony is not lost on me that even in an episode about woo and rejecting the practicalities that hold us back from woo, I still couldn’t resist the urge to ask Jessica for practical answers. But honestly, I’m glad I did. The rest of our conversation really didn’t go as expected for me—and I may or may not have left with an entirely new perspective. Let’s dive back in.
Anna: Do you have, like, any guidance for how people who are kind of in this push and pull relationship with like belief, faith, whatever we want to call it, but want to be able to fully lean in or start leaning in? Like where do we start embracing the woo?
Jessica: That's really good question. Let me think for a second here, because—let me tell you why I'm like pausing to think. Because it does depend a little. Some people don't embrace the woo because they have a hard time being in emotion. [Anna: yeah] And some people have a hard time not identifying first and foremost with their intellect. And those are very different problems. And they look kind of the same on the surface, but they're very different issues and they take different remediation. I also think some people have religious damage and are scared of believing in anything because their belief was turned against them. And I think it ultimately really just does come back to figuring out how to trust yourself [Anna: yeah] And how to use tools—and I would say in this context, belief is a tool—as a way to make your life better and to identify whether or not it's actually not making your life better.
Anna: I love that, so like what does tapping into their intuition and deciding what to do with that information look like? Because I know that it's like, some people are more prescriptive than others, you know, like some astrologers I like, but sometimes it's very vague, like the planets are doing this and that means it might be a good time to do that or whatever. And it's, what do we do? What do we do with that? What is it like, I'm like, sure. And then I forget the next day.
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah. So I am a fan of taking notes. If something seems important that you're reading or hearing or seeing a “woo” say, I think it's important to jot it down and to then sit with like, okay, this person has said it's a great time to flirt. And then when the day comes, you can check in and be like, do I feel like flirting with anyone? And if the answer is no, because I feel shitty about my body today, then you can be like, “Okay, do I need to flirt with myself? Like, can I actually work with this energy?” [Anna: yeah!] You know what I mean? And if the answer is like, “You know what I do, I wasn't going to go to this party, but maybe I will go to this party, cause some fucking nerd told me it was a good day to flirt and let's see what happens.” And then you go and it's terrible. Cool. Okay. Good information. Or you go, you go, and it's like, actually you flirt with someone. Great. You're getting information that you can use. And if it's not useful, don't use it. And if it is useful do use it. So again, I guess I keep on coming back to pragmatism. Faith will organically bloom when you feel safe. Yeah.
Anna: Yeah. I think it's so funny because I really have been craving the ability to give myself to the woo, to turn that off that part of my brain. And this is very validating and this is going to help me, like, lean into the woo, by not trying to give myself to the woo.
Jessica: That's it. It's like, it's about accepting your nature. You're a critical thinker. You're somebody who's questioning things. Don't give that up to have faith. Bring that in. You know, and I think this is like, this is like, you've just kind of gotten to this core thing of, if you have to give up your essential nature in order to do something, maybe it's not for you. And maybe it is, maybe it's the challenge you need, but why not enter into everything with critical thinking?
Anna: Man, yeah no, literally on that note, I think, I think that really sums up everything we hope to get at and didn't know we would be getting at.
Jessica: That's so exciting, that’s so exciting. Well, this has been a true joy for me so I thank you.
Anna Borges: Little did I know when I set out to do an episode about embracing the woo that I was really doing an episode on … embracing myself.
Okay. But seriously, I, I do want to bottle Jessica’s last answer for us and apply it to just about … everything. The idea that we shouldn’t force ourselves to do things that don’t work for us feels really simple, like I know, but how often do you find yourself doing it anyway? Like especially when it comes to taking care of our mental health.
We try to turn ourselves into morning people, or people who meditate, or people who follow specific routines—and when that stuff doesn’t work? Ugh, I mean, I don’t know about you, but my first question is always, “What is wrong with me and how can I change?”
As for all the woo, I really love how Jessica highlighted how we can use it as a tool for, you know, intentional self-care and self-compassion, like that kind of stuff we talk about on the show all the time. Think of the party example that she gave—the point was not whether or not the planets know for sure that it’s a good time to flirt. Sometimes it’s simply about creating an opportunity to open ourselves up to a new experience, like going to the party or thinking intentionally about what we want, or treating ourselves with kindness and love, like flirting with ourselves.
And I think the same can be said for so many mental health tools, right? Like, at the end of the day, it’s about understanding ourselves and making those tools available to us, work for us as we are. Which, hey, I am not saying that’s easy by any means, but, at least with woo, it’s a little bit more magical.