Thursday, August 20, 2020

All of Me

Real honesty time. I've had a hard time writing (and actually connecting on social media) since about 2016. There are a few interwoven reasons for that. The still-rippling trauma of my divorce in 2015 and the re-shuffling of priorities the following fall/winter are the big ones that spring to my mind, but the ultimate is that I have felt myself split and isolated. 

I've made no secret about the fact that I have anxiety, and like the character in this Tarot deck (Enchanted Tarot by Farber/Zerner), I have overthought -- and then become paralyzed with inaction over how readers view my brand. My BRANDS -- multiple. How my work will be received. How I can present all of that in a way to attract people who want to hear what I have to share. (And just let me say before I go any further ... blech. I legit HATE the marketing aspects of being an indie writer. The fact that I have to spend ANY time thinking about any of this dulls my shine just a little. I just want to write what moves me, and have it be found by people who would find it useful and moving. But that's not how the algorithms work. So ... marketing.)

When I first started writing and publishing, I was doing so as "Laurelei Black: Aphrodite's Priestess" -- and that is the work that drew readers to me. It was what made me different, special. It was my niche. I presented at festivals on topics related to Love Goddesses, sacred sexuality, and sex magic, and I got heavily involved with Babalon Rising (eventually becoming a Director). Khaire!

But ... I'd been practicing Traditional Witchcraft for  almost ten years already before I ever published about Aphrodite -- and working with Her for most of that time within both Craft and Hellenic models. I'm a Witch, folks, and not a particularly sugar-coated one (however "soccer-mom, Barbie doll" I may present). My path is Luciferian in nature -- as I seek enlightenment, empowerment. Gray path -- neither White, nor Black. Crooked path-- neither entirely Right Hand, nor entirely Left. I work with Spirits -- heavily. 

To that end, I've also published about the Craft, and done plenty of presenting from a Trad Craft model. I even now have a very witchy YouTube channel -- not to mention the glorious Book of Shadows pages I've been writing and selling  ages. (Super good reviews, if you're in the market.)

Never, at any point in my practice, have I left the Crooked Path of the Witch. However, I have agonized over not confusing or turning off one set of readers by over-exposing them to the other side of me. The other brand. The other Laurelei. (I've gone so far as to publish my witchy fiction under a pseudonym -- Delilah Temple -- which I will certainly maintain, just so bots and the very general public can handle it.) I feared that Aphrodisian readers would find Witchy Laurelei too frightening and dark, and Witchy readers would find Aphrodisian Laurelei too light and airy. 

Really, though, the division is stifling, time-consuming, and mostly a product of me reading too fucking much about marketing and branding from Pinterest gurus and Instagram experts (who may only have more followers than me because they paid for them). There are things I like about the visual concepts of "branding," but my personality and my Self are not so cleanly split. Yours aren't either, right? You like more than one thing. You have more than one aesthetic. Same here.

I've chosen a look for my shop (Blade & Broom), and I've chosen a look for my own personal web presence; but the person behind all of it is still me. And I, Laurelei, love both the color pink AND talking to certain demons. I resonate deeply with all the shades of copper verdigris and also have a deep affinity for bone collection. I giggle, scrunch my nose, laugh at my own jokes, go batshit over bunnies, flirt like I'm breathing, and curse a person five different ways for harming my Family. I grow healing herbs and talk to the Dead. I am more than one thing. 

I know what the core of my magic is. Who I am as an eternal being. I don't know that social media gets to have that from me fully, but if I can figure out how to share that -- as a way to connect more authentically with people who genuinely wish to connect in return -- I will do so. Because that remains my hope, really. That's why I write, present, teach.

To Be. To Share. To Connect.