My name is Lara Irene Vesta, daughter of Ellen, granddaughter of Mary and Barbara, great-granddaughter of Irene, Louise, Marija and Borghild. My people come from Norway, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and a multi-generational ethnic Czechoslovakian community in Ukraine. I am an artist, writer, storyteller and educator living in the Pacific Northwest.
My inspirations include the olden practices of my ancestors and a spirit-led life.
I have been shaped and influenced by many teachers on my journey. As a child I was inspired by southern Oregon storytellers Jim Martin and Barbara Griffin. Later I trained as a writer of fiction and nonfiction and worked with fantastic mentors along that journey including Eric Allen, Vincent Craig Wright, Lawson Fusao Inada, Elinor Langer, Judy Blunt and Jack Driscoll. After earning my MFA in Fiction from Pacific University in 2007, I taught English, Writing and developed the Community Stories civic engagement program. The late Dr. Lorelle Browning and the joyfully inspiring Dr. Pauline Beard and Dr. Darlene Pagán were incredible supports in my time as a teacher.
I am a self-trained artist, art is part of my devotional practice and my spiritual path.
Another aspect of my spiritual path has been illness and disability. In 2016 I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomeylitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disease caused by viruses and inflammation with an infectious trigger. I became progressively ill and finally spent years homebound and mostly bedridden before receiving treatment, a time in my life I refer to as a death transition or rite of passage. After this initiation I was asked to take the name Veleda as a commitment to my ancestors and their transformational magic.
I went into remission in 2019, but my journey was not over. Covid transformed my body yet again, through three infections and a bad vaccine reaction. In the past two years I have experienced a relapse of ME/CFS symptoms multiple times.
In this embodied experience I have found that art, writing and spirituality are the antidote to despair. My work is an offering, with hopes for healing and reconnection to all who receive it.
This myth path continues to transform as I practice the ancestral lifeways and animist traditions of my ancestors. You can read more about my journey with this work at Olden Practice. I am also working to craft community around unlearning online behaviors, and building a sacred writing workshop.
Creating community is my priority, and that community begins with my family. In my most important work I am a mother of three (nearly) grown children, collaborative partner with the most creative person I've ever known, daughter of two active elder parents, granddaughter of my nonagenarian babička and part of an incredible extended family web woven between Oregon, California, Canada and Norway.
When I am not healing, creating or connecting, I love tending gardens, reading and spending time in the wild.