Aphrodite's Priestess
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Laurelei's Presentation Catalog

    If you're considering having me present at a conference, festival, retreat, or other event, you can choose from one of the many topics below ...

    OR ...

    Ask me about crafting a presentation, ceremony or experience custom-made for your audience.

     

     

    HERBAL MAGIC

    The Way of the Woodwose -- The Path of Magical Herbalism
    Plants offer so much to humanity -- food, shelter, spice, medicine, clothing, and more. Each of these is magical in itself; however, plants offer something beyond the physical experience, too. They give us a key into the realms of mysticism and magic that are the domain of religion and spirituality. Join Laurelei for this introduction to magical herbalism and discuss the many ways in which herbs can transform your inner reality.

    Incense Blending
    Sacred smoke is one of the quintessential elements of magical and mystical practice. Witches, magicians, seers, monks, and holy people of every religion have used smoke and fume as a method of sending their prayers to the heavens and of gaining inspiration from beyond the veil of the visinble world. In this hands-on workshop, Laurelei  will discuss the 5 basic ingredients of an excellent incense and then get our hands dirty by making some for a practical application. Everyone will come away from this class with a sample of loose blended incense and copious notes on how to make the best blends for their future needs.

    Flying Ointment and Sabbat Wine
    Learn the art of herbal astral travel. Come and discuss with us the historical ways in which the Witches of old flew to the Sabbat at the Mountain, leaving their bodies safe at home -- or how they went out into the night as hares. Laurelei  will discuss the theory and history behind the very toxic plant poisons used in the past and also explore some safe (but effective) non-toxic alternatives for modern spirit flight.

    Vision Brews

    Certain plants are (in)famous for their vision-inducing abilities -- as well as their deadly side effects. Chat with Laurelei about the visionary poisons of old, and then we'll all explore several safe and strong herbs that pack a punch for opening psychic ability and developing seership.

    Abramelin and the Formulas of High Magick
    Ceremonial Magick concerns itself with alchemy on a number of levels. Transformation happens both within the magician and without. The working of Abramelin the Mage is one of the most famous workings of ceremonial magick, and the oil formula that is created from it is highly prized by magicians. Join Laurelei as she explains the preparation of this oil and discuss its history and use in other magical formulations.

    Traditional Oils and Waters of the American Folk Magic

    Fiery Wall of Protection, Florida Water, Hungary water, Black Cat Oil, Angel Water -- You'll come away from this workshop with your own formulary of potions used in American folk magic. Some are from Hoodoo, some from European folklore, others from the hills of the Ozarks and Appalachia. We'll discuss their uses, how to personalize and prepare them, and we'll even make one so that everyone comes away with a sample.

    Gris-Gris, Paquettes, Putzi, and Pouches -- Bundles of Herbal Magic
    T
    he magical spell bag, by any other name, would still smell as .... Well, it would smell like magic, and that's the important thing. Magical practitioners of all sorts, on every continent where people live, have put potent items of a like nature together in a bundle to achieve a goal for its bearer. Protection, love, health, sleep, luck. After a thorough discussion on the sorts of dirts, herbs, and other objects usually included in these bundles, Laurelei will provide bags to participants and let them choose from available materials to make their own pouches.

    The Alraun -- A Plant Familiar
    Everyone knows the image of a Witch with a black cat familiar. But how many are aware of the wise woman with her mandrake spirit? The alraun is a carefully tended plant that acts as a spirit guide. Is it the spirit of the plant who offers wisdom and guidance? Or a spirit who inhabits the plant? Join  Laurelei in this discussion on the history and practical creation & tending of the alraun.

     

    GENERAL WITCHCRAFT AND PAGANISM

    The Witch's Familiar
    Witches have a long and storied relationship with the Unseen World and with spirits of many types, abilities, and personalities. Those spirits with whom we are most familiar have a special place in our lives and our magic. This discussion will cover historical familiars -- including those found within the Legion and those named during witch trials -- as well as the contact, care, and keeping of familiars for modern witches.

    Goetic Witchcraft: How Low Can You Go?
    "Goetia" derives from a Greek word meaning witchcraft or sorcery. It is a low (earthy, worldly) magick by nature. Its practice today, though, largely looks like other forms of "high magick." In her book, The Witches' Key to the Legion: A Guide to Solomonic Sorcery, Laurelei dives into a goetic practice that is inspired by Traditional Witchcraft with its natural, Shamanic, "low" roots. Join her for discussion of how and why to strip away the artifices from your art where the 72 spirits of the Legion are concerned.

    Nemeton: Whispers from the Sacred Grove
    Join Laurelei for a discussion of the importance of trees and the role of the grove in Celtic spirituality. We will explore tree symbolism and lore, as well as discussing the power of trees in divination, healing, and ritual. Handouts will be provided.

    Three Drops of Wisdom
    Come explore the wisdom of the Celtic Triads. Like Fionn MacCumhaill (Finn McCool) and Taliesin, put three drops of wisdom in your mouth and see what Mysteries reveal themselves for you.

    A Truly Celtic Space
    Far back in the Celtic past, ideas of directions were not based in the N-E-S-W compass that they are today. Those ideas came with Mediterranean influence. Celtic concepts were more relative and more tied to the realities of the worlds that surrounded them – the lands of Sky, Stone and Sea tied together by a binding heart of Flame. In this class, come and get a taste for the older Celtic system of raising and working with energy. Handouts and Works Consulted provided.

    Young People and Wild-Wood Gods
    A workshop for middle-schoolers thru college age young adults, we'll explore WHY and HOW Artemis (the free and wild huntress) and Pan (the playful and sometimes frightening satyr) were the favorite Gods of young people in Ancient Greece. We'll also explore (through mask-making and role-playing) WHY and HOW they are still important mentors and guides today.

    Mythical Creatures (5 sessions) 
    The magical creatures of myth and legend are very powerful beings who will sometimes lend their aid and companionship to humans. Some are searching for human companions, in fact. Others will agree to work, if asked nicely and for a just cause. In each of the following sessions, we will discuss the strengths and attributes of the race of being, fashion a talisman to carry or display in honor of that creature, and invite contact and communication with a representative of that order.
    Session 1: Winged Horse
    Session 2: Gryphon
    Session 3: Wyvern
    Session 4: Phoenix
    Session 5: Unicorns
    Includes handouts, reading list and talisman supplies.

    Warrior’s Workshop
    To be a Warrior is to know when it is time to fight and when it is time to walk away. To be a Warrior takes not only strength and bravery, but also love, compassion and intelligence. The archetype of the Warrior is desperately needed in today’s society. This 1-day intensive workshop is designed to help connect participants to the Warrior within themselves, find strength and guidance from the battle Gods and Goddesses, and fashion a first tool – a spear. The cost of the class includes all handouts, a suggested reading list, spear-making materials, and the supplies for a ritual. Participants should bring something to share for the pitch-in lunch.


    AMERICAN FOLKLORIC WITCHCRAFT

    Making Witches' Ladders
    Witches’ ladders are an old magic, but one that has been largely forgotten in modern Craft. They are simple in concept, but the magic woven into them becomes very complex with use and understanding. They can take on many forms, from a simple knotted string to a braided, knotted, twisted, bejeweled, rope. The ladder is a form of spell-weaving, of meditation, and of protection. It contains a Mystery on very deep levels, for those who would dare to look. In this class, we’ll discuss the history and applications of the Witches’ ladder, and we will make a ladder for protection. Class fee includes handouts and project materials.

    Making a Portable Circle of Stones
    The Circle of Stones is another nearly-lost tool of the Old Craft. It is a variation of the Witches’ Ladder, though this is made entirely of beads or other small objects and is used primarily for meditative purposes. In this class, we’ll make a Circle of Stones that the bearer can carry as a tool for easily accessing the Sacred Circle or Grove. Class fee includes handouts and project materials.

    The Stang
    Symbol of the Horned One, and tool of the Old Craft, this object is rarely used in American Pagan practice. The forked staff or 2-pronged pitchfork is a symbol of ancient power, with a system of decorations and ritual uses to denote the passage of time and the journey of the Old God. Come learn about its history, meanings and uses, and reclaim this tool of the Wise.

    Magic of Spinning
    The art and craft of spinning has long been in the hands of women, as the destinies of Men have been in the hands of the Goddesses. In this class, you will learn about the history and myth behind the tales of spinning, discover the magical significance of the threads, and even learn how to twist your own thread and yarn as part of a magical act. Beyond this class, as your skill grows, spinning may become part of your magical and spiritual repertoire. (This is a great class for crochet and kitting fans!)

    Lucifer-Azazel-Qayin: The Devil at the Crossroads
    The scapegoat of God, the bringer of enlightenment, the master of magic and the forge. Join Laurelei Black, co-founder of the American Folkloric Witchcraft tradition, in an exploration of the mythos and symbolism of Lucifer, Azazel, and Qayin. American Folkloric Witchcraft sees these names as three monikers of the same entity. Explore the mark of Qayin and the red thread that links witches to the potent and often misrepresented Man in Black -- the Golden Man, the Red God.

    Siren, Succubus, Seductress: The Devil's Bride
    Come close. Closer. Let me whisper a secret in your ear. It's a Mystery, my love. Are you ready? The God of alchemy, of magic, of enlightenment, of witchcraft has a Bride -- and she is the Lady of Love (and sacrifice). She is the golden star from whose iron he crafts the blade. She is the whore to whom he tells his secrets. Of old, she was Venus, Ishtar, Aphrodite -- the Morning and Evening Star. Her daughters are the sexy and seductive women of magic -- witches, succubi, sirens. Enticing, alluring, powerful ... and dangerous. Join me (Laurelei Black) in an exploration of the mythological waters that bore these temptresses and a discussion of the experience and application of being such a woman in the world of magic.
     

    BELLY DANCE AND THE TEMPLE ARTS

    Dancing the Divine
    Dance is a powerful medium for the expression of the Self. In a ritual setting, though, it also becomes a powerful generator of energy for magic and a vehicle through which the body can be ridden by Divine energy. In this session, Laurelei blends engaging discussions of ritual dance history with practical dance techniques for those seeking to dance the Divine in a broad spectrum of  applications.


    Specific Goddess Choreography
    Do you want to dance for a specific Goddess? Do you have a particular invocation in mind, but you aren't sure how to create it? Laurelei was the founder and principal choreographer for the Jewels of the Temple, a Pagan bellydance troupe who performed entire rituals through the medium of dance. Let Laurelei be your choreographer. She'll create the choreography and teach you the dance.


    Creating Sacred Space Through Movement
    The Jewels of the Temple, Laurelei's ritual bellydance troupe, cleansed the space, centered, cast and released the circle, and called and released Quarters all through the use of their body movements. Though the women remained utterly silent throughout the ritual, audiences were held spellbound as they wove step, position, and gesture together to form the dance that created sacred spaces throughout the Midwest. Laurelei leads you through the a warm-up before you, too, explore the magic of ritual movement. Bring comfy shoes and water.


    Circle-Building with Dance
    Physical, goal-oriented activities, like playing sports and dancing, can bring members of a group closer together and help them bond. Laurelei shares anecdotal evidence, along with research, to this effect while leading the group through some dance-related bonding experiences of their own. The dances are easy, fun and low-impact -- perfect for taking back to any group that needs a little circle-building-boost. Bring comfy shoes and water.


    Basic Temple Dance
    In this single session, learn the basic shapes made by the body in traditional bellydance, discuss the differences between stage performance and temple dance, and practice moving energy through the body to create ritual modes of movement. This class is open to anyone (male or female) who is willing to try to dance. Movement and dance are often based in experimentation and practice, much like magick. Since this class features BOTH, an audience would likely be unsettling for beginners. Please bring plenty of water and a towel to sit on. Wear comfy shoes (or none at all).


    Basic Temple Dance (series)
    In this 6-8 week series of classes, learn the basic shapes made by the body in traditional bellydance, discuss the differences between stage performance and temple dance, and practice moving energy through the body to create ritual modes of movement. We will also discuss the history of specific forms of temple dance from throughout the world and see examples of various temple dance styles. The culmination of this series is a choreographed ritual dance. This class is open to anyone (male or female) who is willing to try to dance. Movement and dance are often based in experimentation and practice, much like magick. Since this class features BOTH, an audience would likely be unsettling for beginners. Please bring plenty of water and a towel to sit on. Wear comfy shoes (or none at all).


    APHRODISIAN STUDIES AND SACRED SEXUALITY

    Intro to Western Sacred Sexuality
    Sex is a sacrament. It is a Divine gift – one that allows us to manifest fertility, symbolize the complete unity of masculine and feminine, and express feelings of love and joy. Sadly, many of us in Western culture have devalued and demonized this sacred act by buying into the old philosophy that sex is dirty, obscene, gratuitous and decadent. Posh! In this candid and open discussion on the origins, practice and necessity of sacred sexual practices, Laurelei will lead participants in an exploration of ideas surrounding the sometimes taboo (but always titillating) subjects of sex and spirituality.

    The Aphrodite Callings
    The Goddess of Love, Beauty, and Passion touches the lives of every man, woman and child, whether or not they choose to acknowledge her. She is present during childbirth, weddings, sex and any time two people profess their love or desire for one another. Some of us are called as devotees, while others are called into her service. Through this open discussion, discover the many facets of life that are gilded by Aphrodite’s (usually) gentle touch and learn to honor and work with this ancient Lady of love and life.

    The Sacred Madam
    Join Laurelei and other Scarlet Harlots for a discussion on the MANY roles available to the Sacred Courtesan who chooses NOT to have sex outside of her/his committed relationship(s). The door to service as a Priest/ess of Love is in no way closed to those who make the Will-affirming choice to honor their own boundaries in this way, but it does require the key of creativity.

    The Goddess of Love Is Not a Bimbo
    Too many people in contemporary society, including Neo-Pagans, have the unfortunate misconception that Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, is a fuzzy-brained, bleach blond who is only interested in satiating her own desires. They don’t see the inspiration for the arts, the protection of marriage, the quickening of fertility, or the motherly affection that are also her hallmarks. Sadly, many people are also closed off to her many pleasures and delights. In this workshop, Laurelei presents a deeper look at Aphrodite’s qualities through study of her myths, her many epithets and her Babylonian and Sumerian roots.

    Laughter-Loving Aphrodite
    Smiles and laughter are sexy. Sex is funny. The ancient Greeks knew this, which is why one of Aphrodite's epithets was philomeides -- laughter-loving. (Of course, the similar word philommeides means "genital-loving." Coincidence? Of course not. Genitals are hilarious!) Come explore the playful side of sex and sacred sexuality. 

    Look Ma: No Hands! Sex Magick Without Touching
    Who would ever want to do sex magick without touching their partner? That's one of the bext parts, right? Touch is good. Touch is important. But touch isn't always the best choice. Perhaps you're uncomfortable with touch, have made agreements with a partner that necessitate a hands-off approach, are dealing with an illness/condition that cautions against intimate touch, or just want to explore other ways of raising and heightening sexual energy. This is an experiential workshop, though participation is not strictly required. We will be practicing techniques of energy manipulation, breathwork, eye-gazing, etc. It can get very intimate and intense, despite the lack of touch. Come with a partner or plan to pair up with a new friend, if you want to practice. 

    Invoking Aphrodite
    Join Laurelei as she invokes Aphrodite in a temple setting and then leads workshop participants through the process. The Goddess will walk and talk among us, as participants learn to become the vessel of Love. A basic understanding of grounding and centering techniques and general energy work will be useful for this workshop.

    Creating Aphrodisia Rituals
    "Aphrodisia" is the common name for any ritual that celebrates Aphrodite and Her Mysteries. The Aphrodisia was celebrated in many parts of ancient Greece, with only a few remaining details left to us as to what the original rituals might have entailed. Modern celebrants can choose from a wide range of Aphrodisian themes, motifs, symbols and sacraments in order to create unique but meaningful rituals for the Goddess of Love, Sexuality, War and Passion. This workshop explores those elements, framing them in several different ritual formats (including Hellenic and contemporary Wiccan).

    Aphrodite’s Bath: Cleansing and Creation Through Sensuality
    The Goddess of Love was known for the force of Her sensuality and sexuality. Less well-known are the qualities of cleansing, creation and regeneration that are also attributed to Golden Aphrodite. Her bath, the harbor off of Cyprus where she was born, was the symbol that connected these aspects of Aphrodisian power. This workshop explores the ways in which sensuality serves as a cleansing act and is the impetus for the power of creation.

    The Touch of Love 
    As embodied souls, creatures of flesh and spirit, we have a dual need for loving touch. Pleasure is a sacred gift, a sacrament from the Divine -- because God/Universe loves us and wants us to be happy. Giving and receiving pleasurable touch allows us to connect with each other and with OURSELVES, while reaching upward and outward to the Divine. And while pleasurable touch certainly can be erotic, it doesn't have to be. The purpose of this workshop is to allow each participant (who chooses to engage) an opportunity to be caressed and loved by the other members of the loving, healing circle. Each person gets to establish boundaries for their session, which is VERY empowering. And everyone receives unconditional love and healing, loving touch from everyone in the circle. NOTE: The focus of this experiential workshop is not on sexual touch or erotic encounters. Let's explore the wide spectrum of loving, healing, connecting, pleasurable touch without the pressure of sex, for a change. =) Individual and couple sessions can be incorporated into the event, as well.

    Mythic Role Play
    The archetypes represented by Aphrodite and Her lovers, rivals, friends and children can have a powerfully transformative power in our lives. Laurelei will demonstrate how to access these archetypes through deep play, evocation, and improvised ritual drama. Participants will experience at least two mythic encounters in which they express the Gods, Goddesses, heroes and villains within.

    Aphrodisian Sacraments
    Our bodies are manifestations of the Divine; our sexuality is a microcosm of the primal forces that sustain the universe. Laughter, touch, grace and beauty are all among the gifts that Shapely Aphrodite encourages us to share amongst each other. In a revolving circle we will bestow the gifts of Aphrodite upon one another, each participant acting as priest or priestess for the others. Please come with a willingness both to be a channel of Deity for others, and to meet Deity as channeled through others. You may set your own limits regarding genital contact.

    RITUALS

    Aphrodisia
    Io, Kypris! Hail, Aphrodite! She who rises from Her bath off the rocky shores of Paphos! The ritual procession leads the icons of Aphrodite and Peitho (Persuasion) and the line of joyful celebrants to the bathing place where the statues are washed and freshly adorned, the men and women are instructed in the Mysteries of Aphrodite, and the priestess gives them gifts. The ritual is performed in the Greek ritual style, with introductions and explanations beforehand. Celebrants are encouraged to wear flowers, as this is most pleasing to Aphrodite.

    Adonia
    When Her Beloved fell into Death's embrace, Aphrodite's heartbreak was so deep and bitter that She taught a nation of women what it meant to mourn. Join the funeral procession and grieve for What Is Lost as we lay to rest that which has fallen. The ritual is performed in the Greek ritual style, with introductions and explanations beforehand.

    OTHER EXPERIENCES

    Enter the Temple (available for events only)
    A priestess of Aphrodite waits inside the temple for all who would petition the Goddess. Come with a gift (coins, verse, song, flowers, etc) as token for the temple and engage the violet-crowned Kypriot through the voice, body and presence of her priestess. Offer libations of honey, wine and incense at the Goddess’s altar. Receive Aphrodite’s blessing (message, kiss, touch) through this awe-inspiring direct contact. Laurelei, as the Hiereia Aphrodites of the Cult of Aphrodite Asteria Starry Queen of Heaven, will attend to the temple and invoke Aphrodite for 3 hours one day of the event. This is a unique opportunity to experience the manifest presence of the Goddess of Love and beseech her blessings in your life. Any simple, heart-felt gift of love or beauty will win her favor.

    Dance of the Seven Veils (class and performance)
    Salome asked for certain favors, and she offered the still-scandalous “Dance of the Seven Veils” in return. Though much speculation has been offered regarding the specific nature of the dance, many believe that the young dancer wore seven pieces of fabric that came off one by one, in an ancient striptease. Perhaps, though, the dance was an initiatory journey, like Inanna passing the seven gates leading into the underworld. Middle Eastern dance offers so much in terms of grace, sensuality, and feminine self-expression. In a 2-hour workshop, Laurelei explores the foundational shapes of the dance, a few graceful and seductive veil moves, and simple strategies for experiencing the music. Later in the evening, she offers her own pulse-quickening version of the Dance of the Seven Veils.

     

     

    Laurelei traveling with her familiar, George.

    If you're interested in having me come speak, teach a technique, lead a ritual, or offer one of the other experiences listed in my presentation catalog, please feel free to contact me.

    Of course, if you have another presentation idea in mind, I'm open to discussing it. Let's talk! Please email me to start that dialogue.

     
         

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