Signed, love + light: a reflection on spiritual bypassing

I was crying because I couldn’t get my shadow to stick. Besides, I wasn’t crying.
— Hook (1991)

-- this writing originally appeared paraphrased in Sivana East --

I am a spiritual human who doesn't use the sign-off "love and light."

I pepper words like "beautiful" and "lovely" into conversation on a regular basis, so you'd think love and light would be my jam as well. 


I brought up my lack of love for the phrase one night in a circle of women and we riffed on its woo-woo element and how it has the potential to paint spiritual folx in the stereotypical flighty/ungrounded kind of way. Even more than that, there's a lack of duality inherent in the phrase that's off-putting. 

We live in a world of duality. Hot/cold, right/left, up/down, you get the idea.

Focusing on sending only love and light can be a breeding ground for spiritual bypassing.

spiritual bypassing = taking ancient wisdom (used here as a blanket term for spiritual teachings you identify with, metaphysics, philosophy) and using it to ignore, dismiss, sidestep your own feelings, reactions, emotions, thoughts.

Positive thinking can also brought into this in a way where someone is essentially following the Law of Attraction to the n-th degree: "I must think only positive thoughts in order for positive things to make their way to me. I must ignore all thoughts contrary to that." A case of the reversed Hierophant, perhaps?

When we spiritually bypass, we're dismissing our humanity. We're ignoring the other face of the world's coin. This feels like patriarchal thinking to me by accepting only the good, the love, the light, and elbowing whatever is dark, different, scary, unknown, unproven, illogical to the very back of the line.

However well-intentioned the love and light wish may be, it puts a separation between lightworkers and those who are still asleep. It separates lightworkers from folx who need/are searching for light and reinforces the idea of an individual place for each singular person ("you go this way, I go that way"), and not a collective place where we can all thrive together in all of our lovely and not-so-lovely parts.

We can live in the world and not be of the world. In this case, I mean we as lightworkers can live in the world, acknowledge one another, and still use valedictions that are inclusive and acknowledge both our own shadow and those of others. Love and light needs to be accompanied by our darkness and shadows, not separate from it.

And contrary to popular belief, the process of acknowledging the shadow doesn't have a one-size-fits-all model. There's no how-to guide, no structure, no timeline, but I think what it all begins with is acknowledging one's own pain. A mindset steeped in patriarchy dismisses the emotional. The problem with that is when we become numb to our own pain, we're numb to everyone else's.

Feel, heal, deal. That's my process with this shadow work. And feel it in my own sense, not in the conventional sense where my ego wants to logically connect points A and B to C, to make sense of whatever seems nonsensical. The why doesn't matter in that moment. What I've noticed is once the wave of the emotion inevitably passes, the why becomes a lot clearer. 

The next email you get that's signed with "love and light," respond with "darkness and shadows" if it suits you. Double dog dare ya.