My name is Lara Veleda Vesta. I grew up in the deep woods of Wimer, southern Oregon, on twenty-four acres of creek bottom and mountainside. My parents were homesteaders, and it is from that place--the rich living spirit, alive and animate in all--I learned to tell stories. I am a storyteller, a myth weaver, a mother, an artist, an educator living at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers. My work is an offering.
Ten years ago I graduated with an MFA in Fiction from Pacific University, divorced, and transitioned from my role as an at-home mother of two young children to a working single mother and long distance parent.
From these transitions came a necessary return to my root, to connection with spirit in the natural world, to spirituality as nurturing sustainer. From the root was born Moon Divas, a workshop series for women in transition co-facilitated by my dear friend/spirit sister Deva Munay. We were teaching what we most needed to practice: womb connection, community ritual, herbal medicine, ceremonial storytelling.
In 2008 I changed my surname to Vesta, choosing a Goddess name to honor my sovereignty.
In 2012 I published The Moon Divas Guidebook: Spirited Self-Care for Women in Transiton based on these experiences. I wrote the book by hand over two years of healing. The creation was my healing, the story was my healing. The sacred creative is my medicine. I sought to delve deeper.
That same year I completed my Celebrant Certification through the Celebrant Institute and Foundation. This comprehensive education in ritual history and practice gave a foundation for what, at that point, had been book-learned, experiential and intuitive. Since that point I have incorporated ceremony into every aspect of my work, from university teaching to making art.
Still, something was missing. It wasn't until I began connecting with my own ancestral lineage through work around the Runes and sacred mythologies of northern Europe that I experienced coalescence. In my spirituality, in my life, I came home.
This ancestral reweaving is central to my time at the California Institute of Integral Studies, where I began a PhD in Philosophy and Religion with an emphasis in Women's Spirituality. Part of my work is re-membering the rich earth-based sacred traditions in our collective heritage. When we root into our ancestors we can begin to understand our fragmentation, make visible disconnection, stop appropriation, and develop a centered allyship to start deconstructing and healing the pain of dualistic systems that oppress us all.
This is, as you might imagine, a difficult and imperfect practice.
A new phase of my journey began through chronic illness and Dís-ability, a sacred, embodied initiation tended by my ancestors. I spent nearly two years in cycles of illness that often leave me homebound and in bed. Everything was upended and uncertain. In that ceremonial time I took a new working name, that of the Veleda, not as a title but to honor the power of our collective inheritance, a reweaving of the potent relationship between autonomy, reconnection, weaving women and natural divination. You can read about the Veleda in Max Dashu's blog by the same name.
Naming is sacred, the first of magics. As a writer and story artist I bow to the power of names. Lara Veleda Vesta was first conceived as my name song in a course taught by Afia Walking Tree. Vest relates to Vestr, or West in Old Norse, rooting me both in place and in heritage, paying homage to my name of origin, Vestnys.
As my rite of passage concludes, I am learning to live and create in new ways. My vision is to reweave stories through work that is divinely guided, honoring to earth rhythms and the ancestors. My current projects include The Moon Divas Oracle Deck and Book, gift classes for the Wild Soul School, CIRCLE to heal the witch wound, and dark moon stories for my supporters on Patreon.
You are invited to participate in the journey.
By this and every effort may the balance be regained.