In all the decade plus I’ve been practicing magick, I have got to say, I never really was much for the “love and light” thinking.

For those out of the know, “love and light” is a mantra that reflects a thinking that is supposed to be all loving, all welcoming and very much positive and happy. No jinxes. If anyone slights you, you just feed them positive energy to bring them back into balance. You’re strictly good and that’s that. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being happy. Happiness is great! Problem is, not everything is all happy and perfect all the time. That’s not how life works. Life is sometimes really scary, frightening and angering. I feel that the “love and light” mantra neglects the more negative aspects of life.

Growing up, I had never seen it wise to look at the world through rose-colored glasses because it’s not the positive things in life that cause the most chaos, it’s the negative things. One could focus on the good as if the bad don’t exist but I think that leaves them open to be blindsided by negative events they could have prepared for. Or they may try to ignore the more sudden unhappy events and pretend everything is alright as it all gets worse. I rather focus on the problem and get it out the way and then focus on the good. That way, I can enjoy the good in peace. I may not like facing my problems (I strongly dislike confrontation) but I think it’s the best way to keep a problem from becoming a major hassle.

I do agree that the “love and light” thinking tries to keep people erring on the side of good, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. Anything to convince someone into doing the right thing and to prevent more negativity making it into the fold, I get that. The problem is that the thinking just isn’t realistic for those with harsher realities. For some folks, there isn’t always a good side to a bad situation. The bad guy isn’t always caught – sometimes he’s lauded and it’s the victim who is demonized. It’s just issues are far more complicated than good v. bad. In every story, just about everyone thinks they’re right or the hero, even the villain.

I think a good example that comes to mind is a scene I saw in the documentary “Century of the Self”. New school psychologists during the 1950s and ’60s thought that if people had a chance to vent and say their piece and be heard, this would be a better world. They tried applying this to racism, bringing in the Black Panthers and other Black individuals as well as White folks who wanted to participate. The psychologists already had managed to calm down the White revolutionaries with making them feel like it’s okay to ignore injustices as long as they were right with themselves (and had stuff to buy), and erroneously thought they could do the same thing here. It went horribly. During the meeting of the minds, a Black man was rightfully pissed and explaining how White-centered the world was but the White guy he was talking to kept being dismissive, saying the Black man wasn’t enslaved anymore, that he himself has not owned slaves (if the excuses sound familiar, that’s because they are oft touted, even today) and that if the world was so bad and mean, how come he, a White man, couldn’t see it? Thing is, the White revolutionaries the psychologists reformed could ignore injustices because it didn’t personally affect them. They’re White, they don’t have to worry about racism so they have room to be very “I’m all good vibes, man. Good vibes.” For the Black individuals, racism is a very real part of life that can be a real buzzkill – or, as seen recently, a real killer.

Actually, come to think of it, I think the “love and light” thinking came borne from that era. It definitely does not show up anywhere else in any other witchy or metaphysical writings because I imagine it would be too unrealistic. You just can’t have the good without the bad, that’s wildly imbalanced. If anything, the more general feel I get from other eras is “Try to do right for yourself and your loved ones and your community but don’t be afraid to defend yourself and your loved ones.” That’s more realistic. It doesn’t ignore that bad happens in the world, it just goes along the lines of “Hey, try not to be a douche.”

This doesn’t mean that people can’t strive for niceness and kindness towards others. I think it’s great that people do still want to be good and to do good by others but it is important to note that reality is not always as pleasant. It’s fantastic to be good, you shouldn’t strive to be a terrible person, but it is important to remember that just like there’s room for good, there is room for bad and that neither are 100% pure of themselves. It’s important not to harm others but that doesn’t mean you can’t defend yourself. However, this is implying that we all know who is exactly in the wrong and who is exactly in the right, which also can be complex.

Instead, just try to be a good person that’s fair to others. You don’t have to be a self-delusional bubblehead to be happy and peaceful, happiness and peace can be many things. You don’t have to lose grasp with reality to experience it. Instead of trying to be “love and light”, just try to be nice and fair.