Sunday, August 27, 2017

PsychKicks©: Are Metafoofoos Still Hokey?

Psych yourself up with like-minded sidekicks by exploring the symbols all around us—together.

Source of Inspiration
Art, a bumper sticker,
and my day in court

I laughed till I cried the first time I saw a bumper sticker in the ‘80s at a massage school that said Metafoofoo. Here is was, finally: Metaphysical pride! The crystal users’ way of laughing at how others think of them as woo-woo. When I was looking for art depicting a psychic for one of my posts here, I could barely stand how hokey and stereotyped most of the pictures were. Talk about caricature and hyperbole. The photo here’s a sample of what I mean. It made me wonder, do Muggles still think we’re hokey, or worse yet, that we look like this lady?

The psychics, astrologers, tarot readers and related practitioners I know look like your garden variety neighbors. Some of them might wear a celestial t-shirt or star earrings but few look like they came straight home from a circus. Many of them have day jobs in respectable professions or have made their esoteric art their respectable full-time job. The vast majority of people I know who do this work are well-dressed, well-spoken, caring, responsible and honest.

However, the entire world hasn’t quite caught up to this modern view of “New Age” phenomena and those who tap its wisdom. I put New Age in quotes because these arts are as old as the hills. For instance, astrology in the west goes back at least 12,500 years. [1] For as long as humankind has existed, so have psychics. [2] Tarot is the new kid on the block who moved in around the year 1440. [3] The only thing new about these tools is a modern day revival of them since the last quarter of the 20th century that seems here to stay.

I prefer the word metaphysical to describe these arts and all that is implied in that term, namely things that transcend or go beyond the typical reach of the physical senses. Thus, metafoofoo tickles me in an ironic, self-deprecating kind of way. People who had direct experiences with God and the heavens used to be considered mystics, but today a surprising amount of prejudice still exists for us spiritual freelancers, especially in the name of religion. (I’ve given up trying to explain that astrology isn’t a religion and does not involve giving up your will to serve any master.) What I do appreciate is that the times are so much better now than they were when I was casting my first horoscopes in the early ‘80s.

Past Trips to Hokey

When I first moved to Sacramento in 1973, it was still illegal to practice astrology here. Astrologers could not get a business license and were lumped together with fortune tellers. This blessedly shifted the following year and had been kosher for more than a decade by the time I hung out my shingle in 1988.
Some of my more memorable encounters with stereotyped reactions include the response of an old high school friend I hadn’t seen in at least 20 years. He is a writer and playwright, someone different enough himself compared to the middle of the Bell curve. When he heard I was an astrologer, his first question was did I wear turbans? (He wore a cape!)

I have a great sense of humor and I never needed it more than when jury duty threatened to interfere with my living as an astrologer. I had dropped my time base at my day job to 4/5ths so I could do readings on Fridays. That was 20% of my income, and if I had to do jury duty on a long trial, that’s what I’d lose. The judge wanted to know if I had a black cat. I was sorry to disappoint him. I had cats but neither was black. (Now I could say I have such a raven-furred familiar.) He cracked me up and let me off. Judging by the laughter at my banter with His Honor, the whole courtroom seemed to enjoy these lighthearted metafoofoo moments.

Other than a lot of eye rolling and not being taken seriously or considered somehow immoral by certain individuals, I didn’t have it all that bad … but I learned that for others to respect what I do, it’s mandatory to view my work as valid myself. And to let people know I do. (Their opinion of me is none of my business.) Standing up to the judge as a small businesswoman, never mind what the business was? That was a real personal turning point. I doubt I’d flinch telling the Pope about my modern-day mystical adventures. Take yourself seriously and so do others.

Reminds me of the time I explained to someone that I had a different last name from my husband because I elected not to change it when I married. The response was, “Oh. One of those.”  Indeed! Back then, that individual’s obvious response to me as a fanatic bra-burning Women’s Libber pissed me off. Today I’m more likely to be the one who needs to resist eye rolling when I am lumped into one of those of any kind. These caricatures just amuse me and I feel no need to explain or defend myself.

Going Forward

How can we be good representatives of the metaphysical, astrological and mystical arts community? Not by proselytizing for sure. We have learned from the Jehovah’s Witnesses that zealous invasions of privacy hurt more than they help public image. I doubt the Witness conversion rate could come close to matching the PR damage and automatic duck-and-cover response upon seeing someone bearing The Watchtower come down your street. I have even included religion in my No Soliciting sign.

What has worked for me, so far, is not to duck a conversation about beliefs if it comes up outside the sanctuary of my home, but to respond with respect for my beliefs and the other person’s. If there are misconceptions, I give a short response stating the facts. I stay positive, happy and considerate. Often these conversations are relatively sweet, and  I suspect I’ve scored one for the team. Meeting an astrologer/psychic who clearly doesn’t have horns or breathe sulfur makes an impression. Enough of those impressions and people begin to use you as a reference point when others demean what you do or people who do it. Positive impressions spread as easily as negative ones, especially if you make people laugh—as I did in my day in court.

One last caution: Know when this kind of conversation is futile and don’t touch it with a ten foot pole. While I thank the LGBTQ community more than anyone for showing us how to come out of the closet with dignity, which applies to nearly anyone living outside the "accepted" norm, there are times when it just doesn’t pay to share who you really are. While I’d have that conversation with the Pope (OK, maybe only because Francis is the coolest Pope ever), I wouldn’t have it with a neo-Nazi. The situations where we encounter this are likely to be less black-and-white than lovers versus haters. My last landlord was what we used to call in the day a fanatic Catholic. I should have known better than to discuss the bad bathroom Feng Shui with him. He told me my immortal soul was lost and I should get back to The Church ASAP. He didn’t kick me out of my digs, but I could have kicked myself for having too much Metafoofoo Pride in front of someone so unable to comprehend who I really am. (I told him my soul is just fine, excellent in fact.)

I would love to hear your experiences with metaphysical stereotypes and/or prejudice and how you deal with them … and your opinion on whether things are getting any better in this regard.

This Week’s Questions

  • Do you have any good stories about people who consider your work or interests in the “occult” as stereotypically stupid or evil? (Do share!)
  • How about comebacks? What worked to help people reorient their thinking about “you lot,” one of my favorite British expressions that, without much subtlety, lumps people into an unsavory group of some sort.


Photo Credits: Kids side kicking ~ keigo1027yasuda –, Female gypsy fortune teller with crystal ball ~ © Scott Griessel -

Feature Background
See announcement post.


  1. Astrology Horoscope Readings, “How Old Is Astrology?”
  2., “A Look at the History of Psychics,”
  3. How Stuff Works, “Tarot Card History: Are they Really That Ancient?” by Lee Ann Obringer, 

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