Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Agon Literary Review: Beauty of Hellenismos" is AVAILABLE

After an extremely belated period of production (for which we are profoundly apologetic), the Agon Literary Review is available for purchase.

"The Beauty of Hellenismos" was a topic that brought forth varying submissions from the world modern Hellenic Polytheism, and we are delighted and proud to showcase the entries in this compilation.

Available as both a bound paperback and as an economically- and ecologically-friendly PDF, "The Beauty of Hellenismos" is great addition at every price point.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Aphrodite's Priestess is BACK

Technically, I haven't been GONE. Well, I took that teensy break, but that last about a minute and a half. I did change my blog name, but I realized tonight that doing THAT was just silly. Apparently the entire Aphrodisian world was linked to me as Aphrodite's Priestess. So, I reclaimed that blog name, and here I am again.

You'll be happy to know, lovers of the Golden One, that I found a most delightful statue of Our Lady lurking in a flea market today. Just what I needed for the shrine, as a matter of fact. As I am headed out there tomorrow for the retreat, it was perfect timing.

And do stay tuned for upcoming information on the Order of the Red Doves (which Elle and I have been collaborating on) and the Priest/ess Training Program (which I am still working on). I'll have updates very soon about both of those projects.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Forging With My Sisters

Lorelei Sims (blacksmith & writer)
In less than a week, I'm going to be at the Women's Goddess Retreat in Southern Indiana. It is held, of course, at my very favorite spot for magical retreat and reflection -- Our Haven Nature Sanctuary.

This is WGR's 3rd year, and two Goddesses (ONLY two Goddesses) have remained constant influences in all that time -- Brighid and Aphrodite. I have a few theories about that, but the prevailing thought is that both Goddess have a very strong influence on the land. Our Haven was founded under Brighid's mantle, if you will. There were three devotees of Brighid who came together to bless the land in Her name as one of their first acts of consecration of the sanctuary, and Brighid's shrine (a beautiful spot) is a darling of the founders.

Aphrodite may not have been at the forefront of the founders' minds, but She has staked Her claim at Our Haven. There are no less than three places on the land that bear Her name -- and none of them are MY doing, I'll have you know. =) The Aphrodite Shrine that I help maintain was built years before I came to Our Haven. I am just it's most visible and consistent care-taker. (Even so, I am by no means its only care-taker.) There is also the Sanctuary of Venus Erycina, an adults-only sacred sexuality circle tucked away into a lovely little private nook in the woods and maintained by a couple from Cincinnati.

Finally, flanking the stage are an Aphrodite Hazel and a Brighid Hazel. They were each intended for their respective shrines, but the benefactor of these lovely hazels left them in someone's care who didn't *quite* understand her instructions. So they ended up together in a separate place of prominence. Symbolically, these hazels say what I've always known -- Brighid and Aphrodite have both made indelible marks at Our Haven.

Those marks are born out again at this year's Goddess Retreat. This is the third year that I'll be presenting the Aphrodite Circle. (Not shocking.) However, I am VERY excited about the chance to help out with the Brighid Circle. Mary, one of the Sanctuary's founders and a devotee of Brighid, will be leading the Circle; and I will demonstrate and help guide each woman through a little forge-craft. It's going to be very basic, and VERY awesome. As Glaux and I told our guy (to his bewilderment), "You just can't have a women's retreat without the rebar."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Balefire -- Submissions Needed for Samhain 2011

The first (and so far only) issue of The Balefire: A Magical Magazine for the Midwest was very well-received. Granted, that was at Beltaine of 2009, and we have been lax in our duty to get this marvelous, mystical magazinical treasure out to our readers since that time.

By "we," of course, I mean ME. I have have been lax. Mea culpa!

I could give you the reasons (or excuses, as you will) for the delay, but instead, I would like to focus on what we (yes, that still just means me, for now) need to make The Balefire happen for Samhain 2011 (and beyond!).

HELP! Yes, I need help. The magazine is wonderful, and I'm very proud of its vision and voice; but in the immortal words of Velma Kelly, "I simply cannot do it alone." I need a couple of section editors, one or two artists willing to create as-needed pieces to accompany articles, and anywhere from 2-5 columnists whose work would be regularly featured in the magazine.

SUBMIT!! I'm only asking for submission of content. We accept original articles, rituals, poetry, reviews, photographs, art. At this time, we are not working under a thematic structure, but we do ask that material relate to the practice of magic and/or Paganism in the Midwest US. Our regional focus is what makes us unique, and it allows The Balefire to be a resource to practitioners in this part of the country (and world).

Regular sections to which you might consider contributing:
  • Vendor's View -- highlights a brick & mortar, online, or festival-based merchant
  • Festival Forum -- previews and reviews of area festivals
  • Group Guide -- highlights a working coven, hearth, circle, grove or other body (or group of related bodies)
  • Community Services -- recognizes the work of groups or individuals working for the betterment of the community
  • Red Straps -- discusses lore, history, culture and events related to Fire Tribe
Of course, your articles, rituals, tutorials and other submissions are always welcomed. We'll be publishing bi-annually, at Samhain and Beltane, so plan your seasonal submissions accordingly.

For more information, to submit content, or to start talking with me about being a regular contributor/editor, write to me at balefire@asteriabooks.com.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Glaux wrote a wonderful article a couple of days ago on the American Folkloric Witchcraft blog about familiars, both corporeal and incorporeal. It's a topic we've been discussing for some time, and I am very pleased with the article and the information it presents.

Like many Witches, she and I both have corporeal familiars -- animals who are our pets who show a special interest in magic and energy work. Mine is George, one of my rabbits. He's the snarky one -- the Thelemic, free-will rabbit.

Rabbits actually have a long history as Witches' familiars, and Witches often chose the shape of a rabbit for shape-shifting. Both points born out in Judika Illes' wonderful compendium The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft. In it, she says that the animal most associated with European Witchcraft was the rabbit, not the cat. They are associated with the moon in many cultures, with fertility, and with a certain invisibility.

In fact, "pussy" probably referred to rabbit before it ever did to cat --  lepus being the Latin name for rabbit.

There is a record of the names of familiars given during the witch trials in Europe, and "George" is one of the names given. My George was named after George Milton in Steinbeck's classic tale of friendship and tragedy, Of Mice and Men. ("Tell me again about the rabbits, George.") He's a very literary bunny. He eats all the best books.

I also have a familiar spirit (an incorporeal familiar). It is the spirit of an animal I had known in life as a cat -- a black cat who looks like a cross between Glaux's Mr. Jinx and Miss Hex. She was killed just as I began walking the Crooked Path, but members of my household have seen her -- a spectral black cat in parts of the house where Jinx and Hex aren't permitted. I have also seen her as a young woman, just once. Only I have seen her in that form.

Vinalia Rustica 2011

Yesterday's shrine-tending was odd and incomplete. It was good, don't get me wrong. My partners (Glaux and Iron Dragon) and I were joined by another member of Our Haven to work on Aphrodite's shrine and maintain the Great Rite Spiral in which the shrine sits. We did as much as we could possibly do with the materials and folks who were there, but we were missing two people (one of whom had agreed to bring the statue and a weed-eater) and arbor-building materials from a third.

So, the very bright up-side is that we weeded the entire area, laid gardening fabric in the most needed areas, and placed a truckload of mulch on top of the cloth. We had to take apart the stones of the shrine to accomplish it, but all of the area surrounding Aphrodite's shrine is beautiful. The roses are doing quite well, although they are in dire need of the arbor. They are climbers, after all. We cleaned all the offerings on the alter, and I'm properly disposing of the ones that nature has worn down to decay. We mended the little fiberglass statue that a friend had given me years before. I have thought of her as Peitho since Aphrodisia 2010, but it's still right that she's holding the space until the Aphrodite icon returns.

Sadly, the broken Aphrodite icon could not be repaired. We tried. Glaux sat with her for an hour, I think, trying to mend her. Poor headless statue. We've brought her home, where I will dispose of this concrete shell with proper rites. It's very funerary and sad for me.

I have to admit to suffering some disappointment yesterday due to the my friends not being available. I understand two of them -- they were both out of the state, and simply couldn't make it. The third (with the statue and weed-trimmer), though, leaves me not knowing what to think. She's vanished from my contacts, disconnected her blog, isn't answering the phone. I don't know whether I should be worried or hurt. When I talked to her three days ago, all was well.

Ah, me. I don't know. *Laurelei repeats her mantra: "I can only control myself."*

All in all, the Vinalia Rustica work has been successful, but I am not done yet. The remainder of the shrine's spiral needs to be mulched, the stones need to be laid for the spiral, a statue now probably needs to be purchased and installed, and the arbor needs to be built. Iron Dragon and I are going back out on Saturday, August 27th to lay more gardening fabric and mulch. If we have time (and the cypress posts are available) we might also put up the arbor. The stones will have to wait for more time, and the statue will have to wait for more money. Oh, the world's precious commodities!

I want to thank everyone who has donated labor, materials and/or money to the shrine. Your names sit on Aphrodite's shrine within my home, and I pray for her to bless you with her many and abundant gifts!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gearing up for Vinalia Rustica 2011

In my post on July 3, I discussed the needed renovations at the Aphrodite Shrine I help maintain at Our Haven Nature Sanctuary.

Firstly, I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed donations of money and materials to the renovation efforts. I'll keep your names confidential here, but know that they sit on my personal Aphrodite shrine at home as a prayer and a thanks for your generosity, grace, and love toward Aphrodite and this land that honors Her.

Secondly, I'd like to thank the folks who live locally to me and have already come out to help care for the shrine.

Arcadia (our cabin) in April 2010)
Finally, there is a small group of us that are planning on gathering to for a "work weekend" for the weekend when I was going to celebrate the Vinalia Rustica and restore the shrine. That weekend will be Friday, August 19th through Sunday, August 21. Currently, there are four women: Glaux (my sweetie), two of our good friends (Lily Savage and Daun), and me. We're going to have a mini-retreat at the cabin, and we would LOVE for you to join us if you feel moved to do so!

Our projects are going to include:
1.  Weeding and mowing the entire Great Rite Spiral
2. Raising a solid arbor above the shrine
3. Erecting a new statue (if it is available -- which is a possibility)
4. Laying ground cover -- either mulch or something like the fabulous spiral below

Lily's Idea (which we all LOVE)

If you would like to help in anyway (money, materials, plantings for the shrine or labor), please let me know. You can make monetary donations to the cause via PayPal:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Garden of Delights: A Sourcebook for Qadishti, Hierodulai and En Priestesses

Priestess card from Thoth tarot
I think it's time. Is it? Perhaps ...

In the service of nearly every Goddess of Love, there have been women (and men) who have performed sacred sexual functions.  This truth holds, even today, when sex is seemingly divorced from its sacred nature, and there are still those who serve the great Goddesses of Love through acts of love and pleasure.

I've collected material for quite some time that I believe will be of help to the women and men who choose to pursue this aspect of service to Love. Moreover, I know that my peers have developed and collected material, as well. Though perhaps none of us has enough on our own to create the perfect guidebook, we may find that together we have just such a resource.

I envision a book in which the many and diverse members of this movement share the vision and reality of the sexual priest/ess-hood, offer a treasure trove of practical and inspirational rituals, and provide practical advice for dealing with the ups and downs of life in service to Love.

This Garden of Delights may be approached by many gates and crossed by several paths, as, indeed, there is endless variety of color, texture and fragrance among each of its lovely blossoms.

The Lorelei (a poem)

I am the Flood that drowned Man --
the Sea that swallows and soothes.
From my cup, honey is
poured onto the stone --
and wine
and brine --
and all the Ocean is come unto you,
my Love, my Lover.
I am the raging storm,
the tempest
that rocks the bark
and whips the sails and seamen
to frenzy
before lulling all into watery dreams
of me.
Come, dive into these depths,
be dashed upon my rocks,
and be lost in the waters
of bliss.

Flight #2 (a poem)

entwined in flight
we fight
and love, my Love,
and seek new heights.
We mate, my Mate,
above the land
above the sea
with hand in hand --
and belly to spine --
we climb and find
the sun and stars --
the Heavens -- OURS!

Then fall back down
with roars
to ground
and lie, as dead.
Then curl and coil
to stretch and rise.

but in your eyes
I see the light
of flight
and fight,
my Mate, my Love.

Prism (a poem)

I once had color in my world,
the spectrum all was mine.
I burned with reds and burnished orange,
with rose and gold, I shined.

My greens were spring's awakening
and summer's heavy leaf.
My blues and purples sang of sea
and ocean's lively reef.

I danced and sang and wove them all
with beauty and with grace.
But now the task is far too hard
and I must turn my face.

When did my colors all run grey,
tinged with brown and black?
I miss the beauty of sun and sky.
I want my rainbow back.

3/10/09 Please note the date. I am currently a very happy girl. However, this is perhaps a good time to educate people a little about depression and bipolar disorder. We experience such stigma related to mental health issues, and it's time we talk more openly about our experience. I believe that my experience as a person with bipolar has enriched my life and love in many ways, but it also presents obstacles and challenges. Thank the Universe for the love and support of Glaux and IronDragon and our family!

For more info on bipolar, check out:

Mental Health Today: Bipolar Disorder Today
National Institute of Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder
National Library of Medicine: Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Education Foundation

Command Performance (a poem)

"Write me a poem," my Lady says --
a bright command swathed in
dense, sheer light,
the burning tip of the candle I burn
in Her name.

The Flame is a Mystery,
a sacred sign
in the hands of the profane,
who never take the time to consider
the brilliance

"I am a child of Flame," I tell Her
in my child's voice,
and I know the Mystery is only half-revealed.

To be the Fire and that which is consumed
To be the candle
and the match
and the woman who keeps the Flame --

Thus is She who commanded the poem
and the poet
and the dense, sheer light of poetry.

written 2/7/06

Mantis (a poem)

Walk in the temple
with cold, hard, swirled marble
small, warm feet.

Beyond the white barriers
black night has fallen.

candlelight glows on smooth walls
while incense burns a swirling smoky
path that I follow to the
chamber of the Lady.

Small bells and mellow drums
sound out the chant
that will bring me to Her --
bring Her to Me.

Pink petals, white feathers flutter
to the cream and silver floor
and She touches my shoulder --
a warm hand between my shoulder blades.
The sea flows to the ground
as we share
my body.

Her words drip from my honeyed lips.
Her eyes take in the beauty laid out before me.
Her ticklish fire exudes from my skin,
lighting passion and pleasure,
bonfires and hearthfires
and warm, fuzzy glows in those
SHE touches.

The glow dims and She is gone,
and only I am left with
the whisper:

"I am always here."

Awen (a poem)

Ancient prayer of Druid bards --
Inspiration of poetic arts --
Call for grace in tongue and pen --
The spoken spirit descends on men --
Three rays of ancient, cosmic force --
Silver, golden, and unknown source --
Holy power my words invest --
That with the Awen I might be blest.


"Alchemy" and "To Hephaestus" (two poems)

I couldn't stop myself. I had to share the other two. Consider them a matched trio. I'm particularly interested in this relationship right now, so I want others thinking about it, too, I suppose.


Tvbal Qayn
Tu’Bal Cain
Mighty man of fire
and alchemy.
Bender, shaper, tansmuter
of hardened steel
and supple gold.
Towering, hard,
sweaty, sooty, calloused,
bruised, burned and burnished.
Feared and outcast,
your gifts have two-edges.
Sword, plough, golden sash.
Her passion for you,
Her cooling quench –
These are Mysteries most won’t see.
How can Fire and Water love?

"To Hephaestus"

The iron weight of your
measured silence and step
might crush me,
though I’ve put my golden
suppleness intentionally
in your sights.
You owe me no tenderness,
no obligatory care.
I will not ensnare you.
… but …
How I long to hold you,
enfold you, caress you,
entice you, excite you, inspire you.
Oh, how I desire you!
The smallest touch is bliss,
but I am of the Ocean and
I want more.
Your light and fire and heat
to meet
my rush and flow and wave.
The lava and the sea foam –
Life’s Elixir –
for us to share.

Again, if you're interested in devotional poetry for Aphrodite, I highly recommend Crown of Violets, which contains the work of several poets and artists.

Bonds of Love (a poem)

You are
steady, strong, skilled,
kind, compassionate --

You see in me the beauty you would create --
the jewel adorned by your devotion;
the love of the mother, the matron,
the mistress.

You want me
covet me
protect me
possess me
hide me
hurt me
by denying in your heart
and mind
what I AM.

You suffocate me in the
soot of your furnace
and forge iron bars for a gilt cage.

This golden band binds me to you.

But I wear the golden belt you made for me
and from it hangs the shining key,
my secret solace.

Though I love you and choose my bonds,
Hear me, Husband:

Even a beautiful cage
inspires escape
and again.

This poem is one of three that I've written that explores the relationship between Aphrodite and Hephaestus. The other two, "Alchemy" and "To Hephaestus" can be found in Crown of Violets -- and perhaps elsewhere on the on web. The current piece is actually the first that I wrote, and I am only now typing it and sharing it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vinalia Rustica Renovations

Poor 'Dite. Her shrine at Our Haven Nature Sanctuary has been terribly battered this past spring.

The Shrine at Beltaine, in the midst of the storms.
Indiana, here in the Midwestern portion of the United States, got abused by rains and winds starting in March that lasted until ... well, they haven't quite stopped yet, to be honest. The arbor that had once beautifully arched over the shrine was uprooted in one of the nastier storms, breaking both the arbor AND the Aphrodite icon. (Yes, her head is missing. It's shameful. I hate it.)

My plan is to rebuild the arbor from sturdier materials that are rooted deeper into the ground. The statue wouldn't have fallen if the arbor hadn't hit it. The arbor, of course, is necessary for the climbing roses that were purchased by an Aphrodite devotee last year. (The roses are doing fine, by the way. They just need something to climb on again.)

I'm not the only person who cares for the shrine, but I am among very few. Those few of us have also discussed laying gardening plastic with mulch atop it in the circle where the shrine sits. The circle is called the Great Rite Spiral, and it is too small a space to mow effectively, which is why our lovely Aphrodite Shrine is always getting overgrown. (The rain this year was a contributing factor for these pictures, as well. The circle sits in a slightly wet piece of land, which is great for the Chinese Hedgerows that will eventually form the spiral labyrinth. But it can get boggy in a lot of rain, and overgrown if the mower can't get in.)

So ... on behalf of the Aphrodite Shrine and the Great Rite Spiral at Our Haven, I am collecting donations of the following materials (or money, via PayPal):

The Shrine before the storms (last July).
Aphrodite Statue
Four 4x4x8 wooden posts
Gardening Plastic
Mulch (cypress)

Monetary donations may be made to PayPal at:

Work will begin on this project at Vinalia Rustica on Thursday, the 18th of August, 2011. Donations may be made at any time, before or after.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dost Seek Balance, o Libra?

Realizing that it was time for a change in my magical life, and that Aphrodite was all in favor of said change, Laurelei runs in the direction of the Forge. The scales tip wildly out of balance. (Who'd have guessed?) Almost immediately, I am flooded (pun intended) with messages regarding Aphrodite ... ("Come speak at this event about your book...", "I have a question about Her ...", etc.).

No, little Libra, you shouldn't abandon the stars and the sea to play only amongst the soot and the fire. Balance.

But don't forsake the hammer and tongs (and alchemical magic and Father Qayin) in the golden bower.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Midwest-Southwest Tour 2011

Announcing Laurelei Black's super-fantastico tour of America's mid-section!

Okay, so truthfully, I'm going to visit my Nanny (that's "Okie" for granny) starting tomorrow. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I haven't seen her in three or four years. Shameful. Just shameful.

Then, I'll be back in Indiana for a minute and a half before heading to Louisville, Kentucky to celebrate Independence Day with Glaux and Iron Dragon. Iron Dragon's mother's birthday was on the 4th of July. She used to collect Americana decor and teased that everyone celebrated her birthday. This is the third year since she crossed the veil, and it has become the family's most important holiday together.

Either that night or the following morning, I'll be heading to Wisteria, Ohio for the 31st Starwood festival. I'm presenting 2 workshops (Creating Aphrodisia Rituals and Aphrodite's Bath: Cleansing and Creation Through Sensuality) and an Aphrodisia Ritual. Iron Dragon will be fire tending, which he's done at Starwood and Brushwood in the past. He tends fire at Our Haven all the time, but the Starwood fires are gigantic. He may be a busy boy! (I hope we'll actually get to see each other.)

I'll have one week back in Indiana before I make a return trip to Oklahoma. My second trip takes me to the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas -- the area where both my parents grew up and where I attended high school. It is very near Ft. Smith, AR., and I may even make a trip up to Fayetteville to visit some OTO Brethren there. Of course, I have a Nanny on this trip who has called dibs on visiting, so my time is going to be pretty squeezed.

July is a crazy-busy month.

Ready. Set. Go!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Blog, Re-Purposed

Another Babalon Rising has come and gone, and I'm finding myself in that weird, languid, reflective place that happens after a truly magical event. This is especially true for me of Babalon Rising since my closest friends, my dearest OTO Brethren, and my spice (pl. for spouse) are all heavily involved in the organization of this festival. It is an intense, challenging, playful, and ultimately very magical experience for me that always requires some processing time when I return to "consensus reality."

Two months have passed since I announced my change in magical/spiritual focus. So much has come into clearer perspective for me since that time. Aphrodite's role in my life -- my constant seeking out of Her as the Starry Queen of Heaven (Asteria) and my adoption of that moniker as my magical name -- paired with Tubal Qayn's omnipresence in my practice is so much clearer. Star Goddess and Forge God. Makes perfect sense!

I have returned very forcibly to my Witchcraft beginnings -- to the writings of Robert Cochrane and those who followed in his footsteps (especially here in America, many of whom have been my direct or indirect teachers). Glaux and I are hard at work on the American Folkloric Witchcraft blog, which shares with the world the foundations of the Tradition that we have been shaping over the course of the last several years. We have also been working on the Asteria Books OWLS (Occult & Witchcraft Learning Series), a comprehensive reference library for students of the Craft and Occult.

I'll be presenting at Starwood XXI in Wisteria, OH, USA  during July 5-11. Lovingly, I'll be presenting two workshops about my beloved Aphrodite! One is entitled "Creating Aphrodisia Rituals" and the other is "Aphrodite's Bath: Cleansing and Creation Through Sensuality."  I hope if you're in the area, you'll come and see me.

In August, I'll be presenting at Midwest Herb Fest, and I'll be with Glaux and our daughter at the Women's Goddess Retreat in September -- both at Our Haven in Indiana.

So? My work, now? Writing and magic. I guess that hasn't changed. Only my perception of it has shifted. I now see that I am the star-forged steel ... and the anvil ... and the star itself.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Direction

For well over a decade, I have openly served Aphrodite as a devotee and priestess. I've done work and written essays, blogs and books that I am simultaneously humbled and proud to have shared with fellow travelers on this path. I believe in the work I have done -- it was (and will always remain) genuine and meaningful to me, and it has brought me to the place where I am now.

Strangely, though, that place is different than what it has been. I've been born into a new phase my spiritual life.

Aphrodite and all that she represents will always hold a special place in my heart and life, but I am going to take a step back from the work that I have done that has put her as my constant and only focus. It is time for others to take up that work, I think -- and indeed, they've already begun.

My star guides me elsewhere on these seas.