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My Official Bio and and Personal Story

So, what makes me in any way "qualified" to write about, speak to, or coach on spirituality, clarity, connection to the Beloved and to Source, finding one's Higher Purpose, or anything else?

I can answer that question in two ways, which tell two halves of a complete whole Truth:

1) My Official Biography -- which is lovely for inclusion in programs and brochures
or
2) My Story -- which is personal, raw, and very uncomfortable in places

 

My Official Bio

Laurelei Black is a hedge-rider, a Cunning Woman, a traveler on the crooked path. She is  a priestess of love and pleasure, an Ishtar-woman, an Aphrodite-woman. She is a friend to daemons and a mate to the Red God. A bone collector; a temple dancer. Laurelei is the author of 13 books (including Temple of Love and The Witches' Key to the Legion: A Guide to Solomonic Sorcery), a co-Director and frequent presenter at the Babalon Rising Festival, an OTO initiate, a co-owner of Camp Midian, and the proud proprietress of Asteria Books and Events and of Blade & Broom

Laurelei began serving Aphrodite in 1999 while she was living in Los Angeles and working with with a Traditional Witchcraft (aka "European Pre-Christian Religious Traditions") coven. She became a priestess to Aphrodite within that religious tradition when she took her 2nd Degree, in 2002.

In addition to her work as a Priestess of Aphrodite, Laurelei is a Cunning Woman, a Wise Woman of the traditional path. She and her ex-wife, Natalie, founded the American Folkloric Witchcraft tradition, where Laurelei continues to explore the convergence of American magic and traditional British craft. Within this realm, Laurelei's keenest interests include ancestor work, bone collecting, and potion-making. 

Laurelei is the author of four books devoted to Aphrodite's worship, including Cult of Aphrodite (a compilation of well-researched rituals and religious festivals in Her honor); Crown of Violets (a book of devotional poetry and art); Temple of Love (a historical novel depicting the poet Sappho as an Aphrodite Priestess); and Aphrodite's Priestess (a resource book for those who would serve Love).

Laurelei has also offered the Witchcraft community Liber Qayin, a channeled gospel (co-authored by Natalie Black); The Witches' Key to the Legion: A Guide to Solomonic Sorcery; the Asteria Books' Occult & Witchcraft Learning Series (a magickal library); and the Asteria Books' Book of Shadows printable PDFs (a vast collection of about 730 individual pages -- and growing) available through Blade & Broom on Etsy.

Laurelei continues to write, teach, speak, and coach. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Joe Black, and their excrutiatingly fussy cat. Her daughter is in college, living nearby as part of her own poly-pod. Her son lives with them on a part-time basis as he completes high school.

 My Personal Story

This part is harder to tell, both because in some ways it is as twisted as a Celtic knot, and also because it is painful in places -- and we don't know each other yet. But in an effort to be vulnerable for you, to be open and honest -- to model for you the sort of connection that I know is possible with authentic communication -- I will share some key pieces from story that have given me great clarity in my life.

One is in my use of some words that might be really scary to folks. Words like witchcraft, daemon, sorcery. Even words like pleasure or names like Ishtar and Aphrodite. I understand these responses. I remember the hairs standing up on the back of my neck and all along my arms in the early 90's when I first contemplated witchcraft as a real, living practice. I had been brought up Missionary Baptist, and I was terrified, repulsed, and shocked  .... and also very, very interested. Something stirred deep inside me, but I avoided any real exploration for years.

But you know how it is when Source (which is one of the ways I now address the Universe, the Divine, Spirit) wants your attention. You just keep getting messages. Over and over and over. Friends bring up the topic. Billboards casually mention it. Movies like The Craft get released and then two different acting partners in your theatre classes at university want to talk about witchcraft with you. That was me, of course. Simultaneously, I had decided to wear a fertility Goddess pendant (that I had bought as a joke for a friend but never given her two years prior) for the first time in public and a Wiccan in a store where I was shopping chatted me up and gave me her contact info.

I experienced my first ceremonies with these people, and I felt God (the Divine by whatever name you want to use) move in my life in the most intimate and personal ways imaginable for the first time. I am so glad that some people find that in church in large communities, but I just didn't -- for a lot of reasons that aren't worth exploring here.

Since those early days, I've done so much  studying -- with teachers, in libraries, in meditation, in the woods, while cooking (because, hey! I started as a teenager and have now raised two teenagers -- and  I didn't have time to just sit on mountaintops and gaze at my navel) -- and  I know in my bones that it is not a wrong thing to call God by the name(s) you know. So whether that is God, Yahweh, Source, the Universe, Aphrodite (or all twelve of the Olympians), or the 72 names of Shemhamforash, it is well. Don't let the names I use scare you away. I use the ones that resonate with me. Find the ones that strike a resonant chord within your own Soul. That is a powerful place of connection.

The biggest key to understanding why I am able to help you Find Clarity and Connect Deeply with your Self, with Source and with your Beloveds, though, beyond my years of study and practice, beyond my credentials (which I think speak well enough for themselves), is that I have been to the burning bush. Or to use a metaphor that resonates more deeply with me: I am an Ishtar who has been laid bare, flayed open before the Ereshkigal within the underworld of her own Soul. And, like Ishtar, I have risen again like the morning star after the dark night of despair.

In 2009, I attempted suicide. I was separated from my husband of 13 years. I had left both him and our young children so I could theoretically get a grip on my own mental health, but I wasn't seeing much improvment. My family didn't understand how I could have left my kids behind. I was in what seemed like a hasty and unconventional relationship in a city where I didn't have friends of my own. I didn't have a job, and I wasn't emotionally stable enough to work. My teaching career had died 3 years earlier in the throes of post-partum depression, and I honestly hadn't recovered enough from it toget on my feet. The friends I had left with my estranged husband felt abandoned and joined their voices with the chorus of family  pointing out my flaws and failures. And then I had a doozy of a fight with my partner. It was a fight I instigated, and I pulled our other partner into it, to boot. What a mess! I can see now that I was looking to have the last piece of my life come crashing down around me. I was expecting it, so I made it happen. Of course, I didn't have that level of clarity in the moment. I didn't have that level of clarity until after I'd given up on the fight, given up on myself, and swallowed a bunch of pills. It wasn't until I was being sick in the ER that I realized what a precious gift my life was, what a precious gift all the love in my life was, and that even though all these people in my life were scared and hurt and  confused (just like me) and sometimes saying horrible things (hey! just like me), that they loved and needed me. And that I loved and needed them. I was able to reach out and rebuild my relationships with my family and friends -- on much stronger and more authentic foundations than before. My partner and I have forged an amazing relationship, and my children have benefited in incaclulable ways from the raw and real growth and truth that I have modeled for them.

I found a light inside myself  that night, a star shining in the darkness. I had been overwhelmed by the darkness that I had within me -- that I know we all have within us. The darkness is fear and loneliness and anger and bitterness. It is real and often has very valid roots. But I have learned a Mystery. Light is never snuffed out by the Dark. The stars don't shine less brightly on the darkest night. If anything, they shine brighter. We stars in our souls, in those dark places that we fear. And we have hope. And we have so much to share with each other.

And that is the greatest part of my purpose, folks. I am here to help you find the stars within your own soul, to help you connect with yourself so clearly, so authentically that you recognize the spark of Divine Light that Source put there on the day you were created, that you are able to connect that light with others, and that you find peace that the darkness within is a natural counterpoint, balance, and balm to the fire when you burn too hot.

If my story resonates with you, please connect with me. I'm available in a number of ways. I'm sure we can find a fit.

 

 

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