Videos of young people ‘speaking in tongues’ are getting millions of views on social media – with some creators profiting in the process
In the Bible, Jesus tells his disciples that they will “speak with new tongues” in order to “drive out demons”. Some 2,000 years later, the leader of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, revealed that he prays in tongues (an apparent form of gobbledegook deemed to be a holy gift) every day. But this mysterious and little-understood language, also known as glossolalia, has always been a bit controversial, with some straighter-laced believers considering the babbling tones exotic, unhinged or even heretic, despite Welby’s ringing endorsement.
A new cast of self-styled ‘light language activators’ have recently emerged on Tiktok, broadcasting their own brand of tongues. The videos, mostly posted over the last 18 months, include some which have racked up a few million views (at the time of writing, #lightlanguage has over 237 million views on the app).
So what exactly is light language? According to one light language activator, Zia Puig-Mannah, it is when you telepathically receive “frequencies or vibration from extra-dimensional beings and/or group consciousness”, and then turn them into “gestures, sounds, and/or art pieces that factually affect, shift, change, alter the nature of our holographic reality”. Wellness gurus MindValley put it more simply, defining it as “your soul’s language that holds your unique frequency or essence”.
The light language activators on Tiktok offer animated examples of these spiritual channellings, as well as private readings where they download information from a higher realm. One recipient of these light language readings, Andrea*, tells Dazed she would typically be left with guidance and insights from her sessions. “They were always pretty accurate and on point. The first one I got, the question ‘Why am I here?’ came up and my answer was to dance, and I’d always wanted to be a dancer,” Andrea recalls. “And it was a reminder that it’s one of the most important things in my life.”
Like an ayahuasca ceremony or a hypnotherapy session, the experience ultimately comes down to the activator – and it’s difficult to tell who is legit and who isn’t. The purveyor of this “sexual energy transmission”, for example, does seem... unique. Can this ‘activator’ really help “boost creativity”? Will this one clear “abundance blocks”? (Personally, it hasn’t yet, but let’s see if this article results in a book deal). Either way, the last clip alone has amassed 2.2 million views since it was posted in July last year on TikTok. “I like the part where u were like da da di di do do do do di di da”, one comment reads. “Was this meant to give me ASMR bc it totally did,” says another.
Some recipients of one-on-one light language sessions claim online that they have been left feeling cheated, alleging that some of them are grifters and charlatans. It’s not helped by some of their more obvious money-making tactics – one even has a range of polyester baseball caps and stretchy shorts that promise to “remove blockages to success”. (It’s worth noting that we were warned prophetically of insincere light language activators in the Bible: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” reads a passage in the book of Corinthians).
Dr Alexandra Dent, who delivered a presentation on using light language in psychotherapy at the 2021 Transpersonal Psychology conference – an event organised by the British Psychology Society (BPS) – tells Dazed that being able to communicate in light language is a gift that we all possess and “should take seriously with humility”. Dent, a practicing psychologist of almost three decades, says that both light language and speaking in tongues are “ancient forms of communication”. However, she stresses that the former is not bound up with any religious practice, and that – despite any perceived similarities in sound – they are separate.
Dent also takes a dim view of some of the TikTok personalities. “There are some light language people who I don’t feel anything from despite what they claim, and then some amazing, authentic healers where my body, heart and soul really feel the energy strongly.” She says that, with anything like this, it can be “spun out” into something else. “Some people try to market and profit from it: it goes completely against my feeling of what it’s about. It can be abused and taken advantage of.”
@lilyli.ll Clearing abundance blocks and replacing them with abundance codes for your highest good right now - health, wealth, romantic love, friendship, joy & happiness. ✨ Light coded, reiki infused handmade jewels: www.LilyLi.Jewelry ✨✨✨ #starseed #starseedtransmissions #lightworker #lightlanguage #lightlanguageactivation #lightlanguagetransmission #lightcodesactivation #lightcodes #languageoflight #raiseyourvibration #energyworker #soundtherapy #energyhealing #positivevibes #spiritualtiktok ♬ original sound - Lily
So what does a successful light language reading actually feel like? When I sit through a three-minute “abundance code” clip by Lily Li – a light language activator who also sells “light coded handmade gemstone jewellery” – I go in open-minded, prepared for at least some kind of psychic or physical reaction. It is certainly a cosmic compilation of sounds, if nothing else. But it did not leave me feeling so good. The video that Dent sent me privately, however – since she does not post online – was somehow very soothing.
In the 12th century, there was an effort to supersede the seemingly superstitious and senseless with the rational and definable, this time led by Benedictine abbot Bernard de Clairvaux, who was later made into a saint. “We no longer speak the ancient language of our first parents, who sought in words full of malice to excuse their sins,” he said, suggesting that since everyone was now blessed, there was no need to speak in tongues.
But whether through American Christian revivalists, Holy Trinity Brompton Alpha courses, or the sometimes misguided light language activators who have coalesced on an app that some claim was designed to addle with the minds of western youths, the bewildering jargon appears to have stood the test of time. “There is an energy or divine source of unconditional love which we are all part of and can choose to connect with,” Dent says. “I can’t say for 100 per cent that’s where light language comes from, but when I speak it, it’s from the intention of coming from divine love.”
Andrea* did not want to use her real name since she did not wish to court attention