If you frequent any kind of spiritual, new age, or consciousness-opening websites (such as this one…) you have undoubtedly come across references to “lightworkers”.
What you probably haven’t found is any kind of succinct explanation about what exactly a lightworker is, and whether you happen to be one but aren’t aware of it yet.
Many people who are drawn to helping others may indeed fall into this category, but haven’t had the right resources or guidance available to them to sort out what their abilities are, and how they can harness those gifts to help others.
What Is A Lightworker, And What Do They Do?
The most common definition of a lightworker is someone who has an enormous draw to help others. Extreme empathy and compassion tend to be present from earliest childhood onwards, and in their youth, most lightworkers either had a menagerie of rescued animals and insects that they tended to, or a number of pets that they loved and cared for diligently.
As they get older, many feel devastated by the sorrow and cruelty present in the world, and are thus drawn to professions in which they can put their passion for caring towards helping those in need.
Career paths chosen by lightworkers might be in healthcare, as nurses, massage therapists, psychotherapists, or midwives, or they may be more drawn to helping animals as veterinarians or rehabilitation workers.
Of course, this is just a generalization; lightworkers can come from all different backgrounds, and it’s just as common for one to be a graphic designer or IT consultant. They might just be really great sources of light for their friends and families whenever needed, and they may dedicate some of their downtime to humanitarian or conservational causes that they feel passionate about.
Terms such as “indigo children” or “crystal children” are sometimes associated with lightworkers, as people who were born with lightworker abilities generally shared similar traits as children. These may include the feeling of not belonging/a sense of alienation, or generally being different from the other kids. Many are able to tell when someone’s lying to them, and they can vacillate between being fascinated and bored very easily.
Typical Lightworker Traits
Most lightworkers will be able to relate to many of the following traits:
Keen awareness of the suffering of others, whether human or non-human. Many are vegetarian or vegan so as to refrain from causing harm.
A pressing desire or need to help or heal others.
Hypersensitivity, whether it’s emotional or physical: they often pick up on subtle energy shifts, or are very sensitive to light, sound, or scent.
Complete strangers may often smile at them or strike up conversations out of nowhere. Babies will smile at them as well.
More patience and gentleness than the average person.
A feeling of urgency about doing good in the world, like a pressing need to make good things happen NOW.
Physical sensitivities such as environmental allergies, asthma, or immune system disorders.
Anxiety and depression, especially about issues happening around the world that they are unable to take an active role in helping.
A sort of otherworldly “glow” – they may be described as luminous or radiant, especially when they smile.
They may have the feeling of being connected to the “all” – i.e. the spirit of the universe, or however they define “god”.
A history of having mystical or spiritual experiences, including precognitive dreams, premonitions, or awareness of other people’s thoughts and emotions.
Natural energy healing ability, like reiki or channeling healing energy through their hands.
You’ve undoubtedly come across lightworkers over the course of your life and may not have even realized who and what they were. Lightworkers tend to recognize one another on a spiritual level, so if you connected with one of them at some point, you likely felt as though you’d known each other forever, and you were left feeling warm, energized, and happy after the experience.
Other lightworkers may be more in the public eye, and have used their powers for good, so to speak. Some may be great healers or spiritual teachers (think Florence Nightingale and Eckhart Tolle), while others might be artists or musicians who are using their gifts to connect with people and spark light in their hearts (consider Alex Grey’s art or John Lennon’s music).
Many people believe that the opposite of lightwork is shadow work, and that if lightwork is all about love and peace and compassion, then shadow work must be evil and cruel. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
While lightworkers focus on rekindling people’s light and helping them find joy and purpose in their lives, shadow workers help people deal with the darker, more painful aspects of themselves that they may have repressed and hidden away. Tucked into the shadows, if you will. They provide safe spaces for people to bring forth ugly old wounds and traumas so that they can be healed, or help people get over addictions, whether that may be to drugs and alcohol, to behaviors such as cutting, or even eating disorders. Shadow work is a lot more difficult than light work, but its end results can bring immense growth and catharsis.
Some people believe that there’s a middle ground between lightwork and shadow work that they call “middle work” (for lack of a more creative moniker?), but, really, these two approaches to healing and unity generally incorporate aspects of one another.
Think about the yin-yang symbol; there is no light without shadow, and both have to exist to create a sense of balance. A person who focuses entirely on light and love and tra la la happy times may end up having a nervous breakdown because they haven’t addressed the deep wounds festering in their repressed past.
Similarly, someone who’s totally fixated on self help books and drawing forth their inner shadow may end up seriously depressed because they’re not delving into happiness and interconnectedness the way they could.
If you feel that you are either a lightworker or a shadow worker, know that you’re able to do a lot of good in the world, whether it’s just within your tight-knit social circle, or on a much wider scale. Think about what makes you feel happiest and most fulfilled as far as helping others is concerned, and consider focusing more energy in that direction. There can never be too much kindness, compassion, love, and/or empathy in the world, so thank you for helping to weave those webs.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.