In this post I’d like to share with you what the signs of a dark worker are so you can tell if this may be part of your own path.
What is a light worker?
You might be familiar with the term “light worker.” A light worker is essentially someone who has been awakened into a spiritual journey, and feels the call to use their gifts to help others on their path. Light workers are drawn to cultivating kindness, peace, and ascension; they hope to ripple these values out into the world.
Light workers often view emotions as “vibrations,” and seek out “high vibrational” states as opposed to “dense energies” or “low vibrational” states. Here’s a map from Dr. David Hawkins that illustrates this concept.
Some drawbacks of the light worker path
The main issue with light workers and light worker communities is that one can easily fall into repression of their own shadow. A good example is lightworkers and anger. If anger is a “bad” feeling, then a light worker may hope to meditate all their anger away, while in actuality that rage may be boiling unnoticed in their subconscious, corroding their own internal world and occasionally spilling out sideways.
Light workers might also have a tenuous relationship with sex, and many hope to transcend their bodily needs and sexual urges. This can result in spiritual groups with a leader who doesn’t know how to relate to their own sexuality, and ends up stumbling into accusations and charges of sexually violating their pupils in some way.
How dark workers are similar to light workers
A dark worker has very similar goals to a light worker. Dark workers are also on a path of spiritual development and self actualization, and hope to use the learnings from their own journey to support others in their awakenings. However dark workers differ mainly in their orientation towards embracing all experience. As Kim Crans describes in her Archetypes Deck: “Accept all. Reject none.”
Like the light worker path, there are also pitfalls on the dark worker path. Some dark workers may get stuck in negativity, pessimism, and painful emotions. Others may develop too large an ego with massive blindspots.
It’s not an either-or!
I don’t want to create a false binary here. You need not be either 100% light worker or 100% dark worker. Everything is on a spectrum — including this inquiry! I have seen myself slide back and forth across this spectrum over the years. I was 100% light worker for years, then went to about 85% dark worker for a few years, and am currently at about 70% dark worker 30% light worker.
Now that we have the building blocks in place, I will extrapolate the 5 signs of a dark worker.
And remember, the prerequisites to being a dark worker (or a light worker) are that you are on a journey of awakening and your life purpose deals directly with helping others awaken. With that being said…
The 7 signs of a dark worker
Signs of a dark worker #1. All emotions are welcome
Similar to Dr. Hawkins graph above, Vedic traditions (a light worker path) believe in three gunas, or types of energy. Tamas, Rajas, and Sattvas. Essentially Tamas refers to food, people, and music that evoke “darkness, delusion, or ignorance,” Rajas refers to energies that are excitatory, passionate, and desire-driven, and Sattvas is the most pure energy which feels like light, harmony, and balance.
To light workers this framing is intuitive and obvious. We want to feel good, peaceful, and enlightened. So we should only seek out enlightened environments and try to only induce enlightened feelings.
If you are on the dark worker path, this strategy will feel fraught to you.
You may have the intuition that your anger has wise power in it. Or that your grief is the embrace of death and impermanence. You probably view your body as an open channel for emotions to flow through and express. Each emotion reveals a wounded child from your past to tend to, and also a highly pleasurable force of energy on its own.
Signs of a dark worker #2. Sex and pleasure are a part of your path
The dark worker sees sexuality as an inherent part of being human — and even an inherent part of being conscious. Noting that there’s never been a form of consciousness without the sexual urge.
Light workers may hope to transcend sexual desires all together, or only engage in “consciousness raising” sexual practices like neo-tantra.
The dark worker may engage in such practices, but will also strive to explore all the depths of their sexuality. What fantasies, fetishes, and kinks are there to unearth? How does sex mingle with power, lust, desire, and romance?
The motto of a dark worker may be that “all desires are welcome.” Which doesn’t imply that all desires should come to fruition.
Some light workers may also view pleasure and desire as plights of the human condition to overcome. Many interpret the Buddha’s principles to mean that they should attempt to transcend their desires and take no meaning from their pleasure, other than another stimulus to bring equanimity towards.
The dark worker may instead embrace pleasure and desire. Desire is the compass to personal fulfillment. Pleasure is a healing, enjoyable, and beautiful part of life. The dark worker may embrace the exploration of sensuality, bacchanalia, and drugs; all pleasure, when kept in balance, is good.
Signs of a dark worker #3. Descension into the body, the earth, and grief
As mentioned, the light worker aims to ascend their consciousness. Perhaps seeking out meditation practices that leave their body behind as they travel through astral dimensions.
The dark worker on the other hand descends into the body. The body is where their life and wisdom reside. It is the communicator of intuition, trauma, boundaries, and wisdom.
As one descends into the body, one goes further down and finds themself in deep communion with the earth.
To the dark worker, dance serves as a way to express and understand the body, and grief serves as a portal into the core of nature.
Signs of a dark worker #4. A desire to explore power and your relationship to it
Light workers may hope to avoid playing with power as much as possible, whereas dark workers may see power as an inherent part of life, and a place for personal and interpersonal exploration.
A dark worker may see great hidden wisdom in studying the ways of money, the principles of social influence, the power differentials of races and classes, and even engage in power-play through BDSM.
When two people are in connection, there are always multiple overlapping balances of power, and the more attuned the dark worker is to their own relationship with power, the more gracefully they can navigate connection.
Bonus Shadow-Work Meditation
By the way, if you’re digging this post, you might enjoy this free meditation which will help you unearth parts of your shadow, and bring them into your consciousness. Take a peek if it calls to you!
Signs of a dark worker #5. The desire to toss out the ethics you grew up with, and completely find your own
If you are a dark worker, you may have recognized at some point that you grew up with an artifical moral code buried deeply into you. From religion, society, family, community.
Most people have ideas of what is “good” and “bad” buried so deep, they never actually check them out to see if these ideas fit. Such people are also subconsciously trying to fulfill these ideals, likely to feel like a good girl, good boy, or good kid.
You may be on the dark worker path if you’ve felt curious to upheave your ethics.
It’s a scary project. To let yourself question ethical assumptions you’ve held your entire life. To allow your ethics to fall apart, so that you can build up your true ethics from the rubble.
Signs of a dark worker #6. The desire to discover, deshame, and integrate EVERY part of your psyche. This means sifting through “sin,” “evil,” “shameful,” and “taboo” parts
Folks in the shadow work community often recite the quote “until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” and attribute it to Carl Jung. Apparently, that’s actually not an actual Jung quote. The actual quote is a bit less poetic — “The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate.”
The point is the same — our outer life is a byproduct of our inner life. Our inner life is composed of our conscious and our subconscious. The subconscious makes up supposedly 95% of our mind.
That which is stored in the shadow of your subconscious is that which you don’t want to see. Either you have shame around it (eg maybe you believe yourself to be a masculine alpha-male and are afraid to look at your same-sex attractions), or society has placed taboo on it (eg maybe you are fascinated by animal skeletons), or maybe you have desires that have been called “evil” or “sinful” (something homosexuality was viewed as for decades. Or maybe you receive sexual pleasure from causing physical pain in another).
If you are unwilling to see all of yourself then the aspects of yourself you won’t look at will be in your shadow loud and large. And they will be influencing how you see the world and the actions you take.
Those on the dark worker path are committed to seeing and embracing all parts of themself. Note that embracing something like sadism for example does not imply wrongdoing in the least. As long as one creates safe and consensual outlets for their desires, it’s just another form of expression.
There are many avenues to plumb the depths of your shadow — which could include BDSM, shadow work, inner child work, and a host of other possibilities.
Signs of a dark worker #7. A strongly fortified and authentic sense of self
The goal of many light workers is to transcend the self — an ambition not lost on dark workers, but the dark worker takes on the dual mission of both strengthening the self and letting go of it.
A strong sense of self means thought-out beliefs and convictions, clear goals, a strong sense of purpose, and a knowledge of their personal values.
Living as an authentic person with a strong self makes you a force of impact on those around you — something the dark worker is willing to embrace.
Summarizing the signs of a dark worker
Light workers and dark workers have the same mission — to self actualize and help others self actualize. But dark workers have a different path of getting there.
Dark workers welcome all emotions, embrace sex and pleasure, descend into the body, explore power, seek a personal ethics, integrate the unconscious shadow, build a strong sense of self.
And again, this isn’t binary, it’s a spectrum. But if some of these 7 criteria speak to you, consider that you may be on the path of a dark worker.
And if so, it’s a fun one, so enjoy 🙂
If you would like to take one step deeper into this inquiry, you might enjoy this free guided shadow-work meditation, which will help bring forth and integrate aspects of your shadow.
Thanks for reading