In Defense of the “W”
At The Wellspring School for Healing Arts, we are quite familiar with the question, “What’s with the “w” in (w)holistic?” Students ask. Clients ask. Other practitioners ask. Even new staff members ask. As the originator of the “w” in relation to the school and its programs, we asked Rylen to write a brief snapshot of the reasons why we hold firm to our “w.” Below what she put together with her assistant, Casey.
Contributed by Rylen Feeney & Casey Cole
We the people, who believe that the “w” is sometimes warranted when spelling the word “wholistic,” would like you to understand that we are not illiterate.
We recognize that the accepted cultural spelling of “holistic” lacks the “w,” but we are not swayed because we know that that extra letter carries meaning, and that meaning is vital.
If a person uses the wrong word, they are usually misunderstood. Using the “w” conveys a different meaning; hence the different spelling.
Simple, yes? Perhaps not.
More personally our foundational program is the lineage art of Amma Therapy. Amma Therapy was brought to the United States in the early seventies and its masters and practitioners created The New Center for Wholistic Health, Education, and Research to pass along the wisdom and teachings of Tina and Dr. Sohn. For us here at The Wellspring School for Asian Bodywork, in honor to our lineage, it looks just wrong to drop the “w.” We like to see the wholeness of the word, with the “w” firmly in place.
We like to see the “w” when we’re talking about something associated with the Whole person: body, mind, energy, and spirit.
Sometimes “holistic” reminds us of a hole or a hologram; in other words, something missing or unreal. Having the whole word is nostalgic and comfortably familiar. It’s where we came from and where we’re wholeheartedly going. In the therapy world, the now ubiquitous holistic spelling was originally associated with homeopathic medicine. It was an easy distinction to make from our wholistic practices. Then some editors probably got involved and decided that the shorter word should prevail—for clarity, consistency, and brevity.
At The Wellspring School for Healing Arts, we graduate Certified Holistic Nutritionists because that’s what fits with the rest of the educational community and the nutrition industry.
This doesn’t prevent us from having classes named “Wholistic Nutrition I” and so on, because, really, each version of the word has its place in our world.