“A ho.” What does it mean, and should we be using it?

An ecstatic dance, where facilitators often say "a ho"

Props to Ardian Lumi for the photo

The chorus of slow, angelic oo-ing faded out. Most people were lying down and eventually crawled into a large circle.

After a few heartfelt shares, the facilitator bowed his head and said, “A ho.” And the circle of well-worn dancers repeated back, “A ho.”

I’ve been to many ecstatic dances and connection workshops over the years. And I’ve noticed that in certain spaces, facilitators close the experience or acknowledge shares by saying “a ho.” These spaces tend to have a multicultural, spiritual aesthetic. I’ll refer to these spaces as “New Age” for the rest of this post—and I mean that term as a descriptor, not with any other type of judgment.

I’ve heard “a ho” so many times I’d kind of gotten used to it. But the dance I described above was in England, a new country for me. It intrigued me that “a ho” isn’t just an American thing. New Age people everywhere are saying “a ho.”

So I decided to do a little research to better understand this term. 

In the rest of this post, I’ll talk about:

  • Where the term “a ho” comes from
  • What it means in a New Age context
  • Whether or not we should be using the word
  • And a greater invitation to cultivate the habit of questioning norms.

Alright! Let’s get in it. Here’s what I found.


Before we go anywhere, please don’t assume I’m a historical scholar or have a personal connection to Native American culture. I put some internet research into this topic and will share what I found, but I am no expert. I apologize if I’ve misrepresented any Native cultures in this post, and open to feedback on the matter.

Where Does The Term “A ho” Come From?

There’s no real consensus on why New Age people say “a ho” or when the term popularized. 

From scanning through blog posts, online forums, and Native dictionaries, here’s the most relevant information on the origin of the term:

While there is some clarity on “a ho” as a greeting or meaning “thank you,” the water is still muddied on where the term originated and how it found itself in the New Age circuit. 

“A ho” in The New Age Space

In New Age communities, as folks here probably know, “a ho” tends to mean something like “amen,” or is uttered as an expression of gratitude and connection.

I personally find the way it’s used to evoke a warming sentiment.

So Should We Say “A ho” or Not?

I want to be clear that I’m not opposed to anyone using this word. I don’t personally have a well-formulated stance on cultural appropriation, and I’m sure everyone has a different relationship with the word itself and with Native American culture.

I will say though—after putting in some research, I don’t personally feel comfortable saying “a ho.” 

I don’t know exactly where it comes from. And I’ve found enough Native Americans online who took issue with the New Age use of the word that I would hesitate to use it myself without more deeply understanding its context. 

Plus, of all cultures to take language from, I’m especially tentative towards Native Americans, given the history of European settlers taking land and culture from them.

Whether or Not You Use It, Think Twice

So the main invitation I want to offer in this post is: if you use the word “a ho,” either as a facilitator or as a participant in circles, maybe think twice about it.

I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t use the word. Please come to your own conclusion! But maybe think more deeply about why you want to use that word. 

Is it your place to do so? Does saying “a ho” cause any negative impact? Have you just been saying “a ho” because others do? Maybe the question of which culture “a ho” comes from and if it’s problematic to borrow from them simply hasn’t crossed your mind. 

All our actions have impact. From the words we use, to the beliefs we carry, to the food we eat, to the norms we embrace. We can’t control the impact of everything we do, but we can critically examine (to the best of our capacity) our actions to best learn how to increase our positive impact and minimize our negative impact.

And maybe you have contemplated the question deeply already, and feel clear that saying “a ho” brings forth lots of positive impact and negligible negative impact. And if that’s the case, then power to you!

Never Accept Beliefs Without Inspecting Them Yourself

This post is really part of a greater encouragement to my fellow explorers in the conscious community to think twice before taking anything into your worldview. 

I believe that the conscious community has some powerful gifts to offer the rest of the world. And I also think our community could benefit from questioning the norms, beliefs, and practices we have taken as normal amongst each other. With a questioning mindset, we can discover what is helpful, what is unhelpful, and what is unexamined conditioning. 

While the conscious community does a phenomenal job of evoking intimacy, spiritual depth, and transformative experiences, I think there is room for us to more thoroughly question the origins, impacts, and validity of our shared beliefs and practices.

I’m Curious Your Thoughts! 

Thanks for reading y’all. I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on this topic.

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Warmly, Mike

And here’s a few posts on the topic of free-thinking you might also enjoy 🙂

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