I received this powerful testimonial from one of the women who recently completed the full Magdalene Priestess Training and in doing so, received her second ordination. Thank you Carol K. for your beautiful words and most importantly, for sharing your beautiful Soul with all those who have journeyed through this process with you. Love, Lauri
After escaping a religious cult (and navigating my way through a spiritual and emotional breakdown), I decided to re-enter the online spiritual community. I knew that my beliefs could best be described as “Gnostic” or “heretical” (still are). Lauri Lumby’s Magdalene mini-course was the first thing I stumbled upon, via Motherhouse of the Goddess.
I’d read books on Mary Magdalene and alternative gospels by Starhawk, Elaine Pagels, and Margaret Starbird and agreed there was much more to the story.
What I didn’t expect was the open honesty pouring out of the various students. Not to mention the gentle guidance and affirmations from Lauri herself. A far cry from my previous experience with that other group, where my visions and interpretations were all shot down as products of my own ego, rather than coming from Spirit.
I think I’ve taken just about every course taught by Lauri, except those in the Order of Melchizidek. I recently completed my second ordination within the Magdalene Priestesshood.
Lauri always encourages students to find their truth. No pressure. No dogma. Because of her, I am exploring avenues I never thought would be possible for me. I’m even exploring the possibility of teaching a course myself. I am seeing more options open themselves up to me as I become more empowered in .y gifts. Thank you so much, Lauri, for helping me find my true worth!
When Eve appeared to me in the early hours of Saturday morning, she arrived with her companion. This companion, I was told, represented the tools of her trade.
If Eve’s true nature is that of Awakener,
then the tools of her trade are all the ways in which the Soul seeks to be known.
In scriptural literature, this companion was given the form of the serpent and has been cast into the role of demon for luring the original humans into disobedience, thereby causing the “original sin” which forever cast human beings into a life of suffering.
The story of humanity’s “fall” is a myth. Plain and simple, it is a story which attempts to explain the nature of the human condition, while also acknowledging a deep, ancient memory of something more. It is unfortunate that when forming its doctrine, the Christian church chose to use this story as a weapon against humanity – shaming us into believing there is something inherently disordered about us and that life was about seeking approval and forgiveness for “sins” that are not even our own. Even Jesus, it seemed, could not undo the cause of this “original sin.” Sigh!
Let’s return to the serpent. In yesterday’s lesson, I spoke of the true nature of Eve as a metaphor for the human calling to awaken – to awaken out of our fearful nature and into the truth of our Soul. This is what Eve metaphorically did when she chose to eat of the tree of knowledge – her eyes were open and now she could see as the “gods” and was given the ability to reason, discern and exercise her truth. But before she could awaken, Eve had to hear the voice of her Soul. The serpent represents that voice.
Soul is the uniquely creative way in which you have been gifted to find meaning and purpose in your life and the way in which you are called to find fulfillment in service to the betterment of the world. Soul is our true self – the part of us that knows our gift and our call, and is that which compels us to seek out, discover, cultivate and nurture these gifts and this call, empowering us to share our gifts in service to the world.
-Lauri Ann Lumby
It is the voice of the Soul that we are here to hear and abide. It is only in listening to the voice of our Soul that we are able to fulfill our purpose for being on this human plane. It is through the Soul that we are able to discover our unique giftedness, nurture and cultivate these gifts and then find out how we are called to share these gifts – first for the sake of our own fulfillment and second in service to the betterment of the world. This is why we are here and it is the gentle (and sometimes forceful) whisperings of the Soul that set us forth on that journey.
The Serpent is that voice. The ancients knew this and honored the serpent as the image of the human journey toward self-actualization. The serpent was representative of knowledge and wisdom and called humanity into its fullness. It was only the patriarchy who stripped the serpent of its rightful place as teacher and guide – because in order to rule, authority had to be placed outside of us and in the hands of the hierarchy. With the serpent, authority resides within – as is attested by all the ancient traditions that use the serpent as the symbol of humanity’s journey of awakening to Soul and bringing that Soul into form – the Kabbalah, the Chakra system, the Kundalini of the Yoga traditions, the ancient alchemical symbol of the caduceus – and even Moses’ staff.
The serpent has long been a symbol for human awakening and a representation of the voice and force of the Soul. Isn’t it time we reclaim it as such?
The tagline on my website now reads, “Self-Mastery for the Strong of Heart.” As my own work continues to evolve, so does my understanding of what I do and who I am here to serve. Or rather, how I am called to support others by sharing the tools that came through me in support of my own journey of “self-mastery.” (Trust me, I’m not there yet! I’m not sure anyone is truly a “master” and if they have to say they are, it most certainly means they are not!)
Back to the matter at hand……What does strong of heart mean? I really grappled with this one because why use so many words when we have words like courageous and brave? The answer to this is simple. Both courageous and brave have been used in our culture to our detriment. When we speak of one who is courageous or brave, the implication is that they are free from fear. This is not courage or bravery, it is stupidity, foolishness, or psychosis. In the face of danger or the unknown, one should be afraid. Additionally, when one is acknowledged as courageous or brave, rarely is their fear or vulnerability recognized. Instead, all we hear about are their daring acts of bravery and their victory in the face of certain defeat.
“In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
But unlike Brene, I could not bring myself to use the word courage to describe those who are willing and able to do the tough work required in the journey of self-mastery. While still imperfect, strong of heart more fully grasps the inner resources needed in the journey toward self-mastery…
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Who are you? No, who are you really? This is the quintessential quandary of the human experience and one we spend a lifetime trying to answer.
I used to think I knew who I was: strong, powerful, confident, craving attention, wanting to be seen, wanting to be famous, wanting to possess material wealth, accomplished, energetic, filled with the desire to take on the world so as to make it a better place, cultured, cosmopolitan, well-educated, articulate, independent, self-sufficient and able to do it all myself.
Then life happened. Life has a funny way of doing that – stepping in to tear down the illusions of who we think we are so as to reveal who we really are. When life happened, I learned that some of the above is true – some of the time. I also learned a whole lot more about myself than I ever could have imagined would be true.
What I learned about myself is that I am courageous while at the same time mostly being scared shitless! As one teacher observed about me, “Lauri, I don’t know how you survive in the world except by force of will.” She was not kidding. I’m scared all the time, but somehow I get my ass out of bed, face the day and try to move through any demons that might be trying to stand in my way. This must be one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit Paul forgot.
I’ve also learned that unlike the Lauri of my youth, I no longer crave attention. I don’t want to be famous, rich, or successful by Western standards. I’m not looking to convince anyone of anything and I care not for other people’s approval (most of the time…..but when someone who doesn’t even know me condemns my gifts, criticizes my work or questions my integrity, my heart is broken – not because I give a shit about what the other person thinks, but because I know their words are untrue.)
Which brings me to this – VULNERABILITY! I’m vulnerable! Who knew? Before “life happened” I thought I was bulletproof. I believed I was a strong, impenetrable fortress. Well, I was, but that fortress was built out of anger and resentment – both masking a broken heart. Then life happened and the fortress came crashing down, and there I stood, alone, vulnerable, naked and afraid. Sigh! I’ve had to come to know, understand and accept my vulnerability. I have also learned all the ways in which my vulnerability has taught me about myself.
My vulnerability taught me this:
I’m an introvert and I need quiet, solitude and time away from the world to recharge. And the older I get (or maybe the more I come to know myself), the more quiet I need.
I am sensitive. Sensitive to the energy of other people and to the world. Where I used to feel energized by chaos, now I HATE IT! I find chaos overstimulating, overwhelming, soul-sucking and in the face of it today, I want to shut down. I have spent the vast majority of the past 25 years unraveling from a life built on chaos. NO MORE! I have worked really hard to create a quiet, gentle and peaceful life. You can have your chaos, but please keep it to yourself! (PS Same with drama!)
I am fragile and there are parts of me that are (likely) damaged beyond repair. Medication helps but there are somethings I can simply no longer do for myself. I’m also not sure I could ever return to “a real job” because of the sensitivities I am now coming to embrace.
I want only to move gently and quietly upon this earth.
I want to create and be creative. My creations (including my books, classes, one-on-one mentoring, creating a home that is a sanctuary, cooking healthy and nurturing meals, spending time with those I love) are my way of sharing and showing my love.
I want to simply be. To meditate and pray. To send healing to the world. To hold those I love in prayer. To make every moment a prayer. This is how I commune with the God of my understanding and the way I share that love in the world.
I want to enjoy – books, movies, theatre, dance, art, and music that inspire.
While I love the arts and all that big city life provides (I have often thought of myself as a city girl), I find now I crave the slow, quiet, gentle flow of the country – specifically where there are woods and water. (Lumby literally means, “man/woman of the woods”).
My vulnerability has also taught me the value of deep and true friendships. Having moved around a lot as a child, I never really experienced true intimate friendship – only brief friendships. Then life happened and I have found true and deep friendships which I now cherish!
Then there are my children – another who knew!? My children have been the greatest gift in my life. They are my greatest teachers and have taught me sooooo much about myself – most especially that I am a damn good mom! My children are my greatest accomplishment (if we can actually say that about our kids….I didn’t do anything, I just let them be themselves and I loved them unconditionally through it). At 19 and 21, they are proving themselves to be the most amazing human beings on this planet. Each with their own gifts and challenges, I love them for who they are and celebrate all of it. They make me laugh. They bring me joy. And every time I sit and reflect on who they have become my heart wants to explode. I LOVE MY sick, twisted, hilarious, unique, too smart for their own good, mischievous, creative, thoughtful, kind, shit=disturbing children….who aren’t really children anymore. They are grown-ass adults!
And I want love. Deep, true, intimate, whole hearted, mutually honoring love. My vulnerability has also taught me that if this kind of love is not meant to happen for me in this lifetime, I will have to be content with that while feeling the pain of knowing that one of my deepest longings is going unfulfilled.
Knowing who we are is not all wine and roses. And yet, it is the very reason for our human experience – to come to know who we are and in knowing who we are, discovering how we want to move and be upon this plane. I am grateful for the Authentic Freedom processthat revealed itself to me as “life happened” and forced me on this journey of self-discovery. It is for this reason that I share this process with you here.
Hi. I’m just Lauri (only my mom and my aunt call me “Lauri Ann”). I’m not going to try to impress you with fancy titles or credentials (but if you like that stuff you can find it HERE). I’m just Lauri. The people who know me best would agree.
Just Lauri, I have spent a lifetime (lifetimes perhaps) trying to find peace in a world that was not made for me. A world that I find to be:
And waaaaaaaaayyyyyyy tooooooooo violent.
While I have not found peace, I guess I can say I have found a measure of acceptance, along with the knowledge of what I need to survive in this strange world –
Time to simply be
Ample time in nature
A place to call my own
Lots and lots of coffee
True and deep friends
My amazing children
Permission to walk and move gently upon this earth (permission that, as it turns out, can only be granted by me)
The willingness to risk rejection by moving against the fray
And a vast library of creative and spiritual inspiration.
This is why I am here: to share with you the resources and tools that were given to and came through me in support of my search – ancient wisdom and spiritual practices that have found their way into my blog, my online courses and my published books.
I won’t promise you miracles or that you will become rich. Instead, I promise you a lot of hard work that will require discipline, courage and persistence and my support as you find your way through your own journey of finding yourself.
And if you want to work with me one-on-one, I’m available for that too. Just know this comes at a premium – not because I think I’m special, but because it takes A LOT to get me to come out of my cave.
Thank you for visiting this site. I hope you find something here that speaks to you and if you do, that you are brave enough to share it with others.
Authentic Freedom Academy supports the spiritual awakening and self-actualization of change agents. As a center for experiential education, we support the transformation of human consciousness through the integration of Western psychology and Western Spirituality, equipping students to be agents of positive, non-violent change in the world.
We accomplish this mission through:
writing and publishing
one-on-one mentoring (spiritual counseling)
local and online courses
on-going service to the community
Outer change begins with inner change.
Inner change begins with self-knowledge.
Self- Knowledge leads to self-actualization.
Self-actualized individuals, are inherently non-violent, cooperative and collaborative, and are naturally motivated to use their unique gifts in service to the betterment of the world.
Authentic Freedom™ is a trademarked protocol developed by Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, MATS, founder and director of Authentic Freedom Academy. Authentic Freedom™ integrates specific tools and practices of Western Psychology with those of Western Spirituality, resulting in a powerful process through which participants are supported in becoming self-actualized and are then empowered to share their unique giftedness in service to the betterment of the world.
Authentic Freedom has applications in:
As a tool for professionals in the fields of:
Spiritual Guidance/Spiritual Direction
Reiki, massage, acupuncture, and any other hands-on healing protocols
Specific Tools used in Authentic Freedom™:
Western, Eastern and Indigenous Mindfulness, Contemplation and Journey practices
The Spiritual Exercises and Rules of Discernment of St. Ignatius
The Myers-Briggs Personality Profile
The Enneagram Temperament Tool
The Spiritual/Personal Gifts Inventory
The Authentic Freedom™ protocol
From Western Psychology, Authentic Freedom™ draws from:
Carl Jung’s creative imagination, archetype and shadow work
Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and theories of self-actualization
The humanistic theories and creativity practices of Carl and Natalie Rogers
The stages of spiritual development of James Fowler and John Westerhoff
Bill Plotkin’s development of the human Soul
From Western Spirituality, Authentic Freedom™ has its roots in the original teachings of Jesus* which were then formalized into the meditation, contemplation and service practices of Western Monasticism, specifically those favored in Benedictine, Franciscan, and Ignatian spirituality.
*The original teachings of Jesus are those rooted in the universal (and non-religious) call of love:
love of God (the God of your own understanding)
love of Self
love of Neighbor – recognizing that all of humanity is our neighbor
Training Programs which include the Authentic Freedom Protocol:
My Approach to Scripture: You will notice that scripture plays a predominant role in my writing and in most of my local and online courses. Please note that my approach to scripture is unlike any you have likely experienced before! I do not approach scripture from a dogmatic or doctrinal perspective. Neither do I use it as a way to instill fear or manipulate specific actions or behaviors. Instead, I approach scripture as the ancients did – as a collection of stories which have the opportunity to reflect back to us aspects of ourselves. In this way, scripture becomes a vehicle through which our highest self can speak to us – providing guidance, support, inspiration, nourishment and even healing. When we pierce through the veil of other people’s interpretations and allow the Divine to speak to us personally and directly through these ancient texts, we discover the transformational power of The Word as it was originally intended – as a tool to guide and sustain us on the path of love.
Last Friday I hit the wall. I found myself overcome with the darkness of our world, despairing over that which causes me pain, confusion, frustration and deep sorrow. As I shared my experience, I was surprised (not really) by the deafening silence when speaking of the darkness. The only thing interrupting the silence was a post by one arguing for the light. “Keep your chin up……” they said. At the time, I DID NOT want to keep my chin up, or look for the silver lining in the cloud. I needed to wallow in the darkness – embracing the depth of sorrow, frustration and pain. Not for the sake of self-flagellation, but for the purpose of transformation.
As a shadow worker, I have come to understand that the only way to transform the darkness, both within ourselves and in our world is to enter FULLY into the darkness. It is only by entering into the darkness that we are able to bring forth the light. While optimism has its place, there is a fine line between “the bright side of life” and repression. As the Buddhists say, “what we resist will persist,” so why not embrace the darkness so we can hasten our journey toward the light? Why wait around looking for the silver lining when the only way to the light is through the darkness?
Before I go on, I do want to thank one dear friend who shared her genuine concern that I had come to the edge of the cliff. For indeed I had…..just not the cliff she thought. Instead, it was the cliff that my Soul Brother, Jared, invited me to jump off from, “Lauri, what would happen if you just allowed yourself to freefall?” I thought I had been doing this, but apparently not enough. So (after a two hour soul purging/transformation/healing chat with my Soul Brother) I let go AGAIN allowing myself to fall into the darkness and in falling into it, I fell through it. I woke up this morning with a whole different attitude, and saw what had been in front of me the whole time. Then while in yoga this morning, I was given the outline and kick in the pants I have needed for two years to finally get my Order of Melchizedek online training program off the ground. (Official announcement coming soon!!!!)
The moral of the story is this: If you find yourself in the darkness, don’t run from it. Embrace it. As every shadow worker knows, on the other side of the dark (or within the darkness) is the light that has been there all along!
Or as the Psalmist said, “In you, darkness and light are but one.” (GO, there are so many ways to interpret that phrase!!!!)
PS Dear friends: I promise if I have truly come to the end of my rope….I will definitely let you know!
As a teacher of and guide for human development, I could not do this work without those who have gone before me. In my own journey of human development, I have come across teachers, guides and authors whose work has profoundly influenced my own journey, along with the work I do. Below is a list of my favorite books on human development, those which have most supported me in my own journey toward self-actualization. Thank you to all those who have gone before me!
Bridges, William (2004). Transitions – making sense of life’s changes. Cambridge, Perseus Books.
Kiersey, David & Bates, Marilyn (1984). Please Understand Me – character and temperament types. Del Mar, CA. Prometheus Nemesis Book Company.
Maslow, Abraham (1970). Motivation and Personality. New York, NY. Harper and Row.
Maslow, Abraham (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being. New York, NY. Van NostrandReinhold Company.
Maitri, Sandra (2000). The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram. New York, NY.Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Maitri, Sandra (2005). The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues. New York, NY. Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Palmer, Parker (2004). A Hidden Wholeness – the journey toward an undivided life. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass.
Palmer, Parker (2000). Let Your Life Speak – listening for the voice of vocation. San Francisco, CA. Jossey – Bass
Plotkin, Bill (2003). Soulcraft – crossing into the mysteries of nature and psyche. Novato, CA. New World Library.
Plotkin, Bill (2008). Nature and the Human Soul – cultivating wholeness and community in a fragmented world. Novato, CA. New World Library.
The journey toward self-actualization is in fact, one spiritual initiation after another. Spiritual initiation takes place every time we are faced with an opportunity to remain in the perceived safety and security of what we have known or take another step toward the fulfillment of our life purpose. The spiritual initiation is successful when we move through the fears and ego attachments that seek to keep us imprisoned within our small selves and away from the expansion we are driven toward by our Soul. Some of these initiations are small and some are so significantly huge that we soon become aware that we are facing a major crossroad in our life. It is at these crossroad moments that our spiritual practice becomes even more critical, as does our diligent attention to these practices.
Stephanie Azaria in Monday’s post in her column “Cosmic Consciousness” had the following to say about the crossroads:
“…a crossroad is a series of four very specific paths that are all equally available to us when we approach them from the observer’s perspective. We can send our conscious awareness down all four roads at the same time until the heart begins to resonate fully with one (or more) of these paths. At that time we can take action to follow that road knowing it may or may not be permanent…..such is the way of the new world. Nothing is permanent.”
A crossroads occurs when the life we have known has come to an end and the new life has not yet revealed itself. It is a time of spiritual initiation ripe with opportunity and danger. At the crossroads, possibilities seem endless and many opportunities (or twinklings of opportunities) may present themselves. At this stage, none of these possibilities are yet fully formed, so a decision (or even a discernment) cannot yet be made. Some of these possibilities will die on the vine. Some are not in our highest good or reflective of our soul’s purpose and therefore should not be pursued. And some are just beginning to grow roots so are not yet strong enough to support our unfolding. For these reasons, pursuing or chasing after possible opportunities prematurely will only end badly. We will know that the opportunity is not yet ripe if in its pursuit we find it either drawing away, or find ourselves coming up against a brick wall. Instead of requiring effort, opportunities that are ripe and good for the soul will fall into our laps in a miraculous and effortless kind of way.
While the crossroads is ripe with possibility, it is also rife with danger. This is true for it is at the crossroads where we make our deals with the devil. At the end of what has been, we are vulnerable and afraid. We have left behind (or are being asked to leave behind) what has been so as to replace it with something that is not yet known. It is in our human nature to crave surety and to long for “the same.” When we have neither of these creature comforts, we grow anxious, worried, and fretful. Often, our first response is to bargain for the old life to be returned. “Please let me go back to…….(insert relationship, job, home, etc. here)….at least I knew what to expect there.” But our Soul desires nothing if not growth. As such, as much as we might want to, we cannot return to that which has already died…or which no longer supports our growth. (Well….actually we can…..we just end up with a zombie like life along with the constant shame of knowing we are living an unlived life…mind numbing substances and behaviors come in handy here as we try to escape our true feelings about the unlived life we have chosen).
After bargaining, we must now face the possibilities that lay before us. Some will be known. Some will only be twinkles. And MANY will be the paths which lead us only into the “devil’s trap.” These are the paths which are ruled by fear and/or which tempt us through our ego attachments. Those paths ruled by fear are the possibilities that are based in our unhealed and unresolved fears: fears over money, time, acceptance by others, belonging, etc. etc. etc. When we choose a path that is ruled by fear (I’m afraid that the path of my Soul won’t make me any money, so I’m going to find a path that insures at least a regular paycheck…..whether or not it has anything to do with my gifts, my mission or my purpose in this life…..), this is the devil’s trap. The result of choosing this path will only be more fear and a deepening sense of imprisonment. Those paths ruled by the ego are those which tempt us through our desire for fame, power, control and material wealth…..in other words, “the lifestyles of the rich and famous” – another of the devil’s games. While fame may be an outcome of pursuing our Soul’s path, this will not be true for all, and the path of our Soul is never driven by our desire for fame. In the quest for the Soul, we must always check our ego at the door.
When we find ourselves at the crossroads or spiritual initiation we are vulnerable. We feel insecure and afraid. The possibilities might seem overwhelming and our fears are running rampant. The crossroads is the devil’s playground, but it is also the domain of our Soul. At the crossroads, the Soul is seeking after and longing for its natural movement toward growth and it will not rest until the appropriate path for its growth reveals itself. Until that happens, the Soul is restless….making us even more vulnerable to the “devil’s trap.” At the crossroads, our spiritual practices become even more critical, along with our resilience in the face of temptation and our diligence in tending to these practices. While at the crossroads we must not act, pursue, chase after or be tempted to make something happen. Neither should we make any decision based in fear or arising out of the ego. Instead, there is only ONE THING we can do when standing at the crossroads….and that is WAIT. Wait and watch. Observe and discern. And when the waiting and inaction become excruciating (which they will)….we wait some more. For it is at the crossroad where we endure the greatest of all tests in our spiritual initiation …the test of whether we can wait long enough for the path of our Soul to arrive and the next stage of our life to begin.
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS is a trained spiritual director and spiritual counselor, transformational educator, ordained interfaith minister and published author. Lauri supports the spiritual awakening and self-actualization of humanity and does so through one-on-one mentoring, writing, online classes and workshops. Contact Lauri at email@example.com to learn more.