Posted in About Lauri, Authentic Freedom, church, Empowerment, Magic, Mystics, Raised Catholic

Confessions of a Catholic Witch

I have always known I was a witch. For 364 days a year, however, I simply pretended I was not.   Only on Halloween as I donned my black robe, black pointy boots and a black did I feel completely at home.  For the remaining days of the year, I felt like a fake….sort of….for if there is one place where a witch is at home (until she is found out that is), it is in the Catholic Church.


Nowhere else, among all of the western religions, is magic as prevalent as it is within Catholicism. Where else can a man utter the phrase “hocus pocus” (hoc est corpus meum) and turn the simple elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, or through the imposition of hands release a person from “the devil’s” grip?

The smells, the bells, the little altars everywhere, the haunting strains of Latin chant, the saints to whom I could pray to remedy any struggle or ill, and the votive candles that I lit to solidify my intentions bring my dreams to fruition – all spoke to the witch inside of me who knew the world was magic and that magic could be brought forth in the world. Magic in its truest sense – the Divine working through us in support of the love within that is seeking its place in the world.

The Goddess knew what she was doing when I was born into a devout Catholic family – one that had been Catholic for many generations. She knew what she was doing when she planted me within the single western religion that honors the worship of both a male and a female God. (While Jesus’ mother, Mary, is not officially recognized as a goddess by the Catholic Church, people sure treat her as if she were.  Wouldn’t one have to be a goddess to be the “Mother of God?”)  She knew what she was doing when she placed me within the only western tradition that recognizes the use of amulets (saint medals, scapulars and rosaries), magical potions (holy water and anointing oils), incense and salt for keeping evil at bay.


Being a Catholic witch has not been easy, however, which is why I have hid my truth for all these fifty-one years. While I was drawn to everything that speaks magic within the Catholic Church, in being a witch, I also saw through the lies, the deception, and the subtle ways in which the Church manipulated people through fear.  At a very early age, I became aware of the hypocrisy within the Church and was not afraid to call it out.  As an adult, I have maintained this practice and there is a big file in our local Catholic diocese with my name on it to prove it.  Apparently the Church is not interested in those who see through the mask of piety and the illusion of holiness.

It was ultimately this hypocrisy that caused me to leave the Church I once adored – all because I dared to study and practice Reiki. It is apparently ok for a priest to practice laying on of hands in support of a person’s desire for healing, but Goddess-forbid a lay person, OR WORSE, a woman should do the same.  By a Church that claims it is not doing magic in turning bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, or in healing the sick through the imposition of hands, it was of witchcraft and sorcery I was accused and then condemned for doing “the work of the devil.”  Me thinkest they protesteth too much!

Because I no longer feel welcome in the local Church which has effectively burned me at the stake, I have chosen for the past eight years to fast from the Eucharist. This does not mean, however, that I ever stopped being Catholic – more importantly, a Catholic witch.  I heal the sick through the imposition of hands.  I ordain women and men into their own giftedness (magic) and send them forth into the world where their magic can be shared.  I baptize people into the love that they are and confirm them into being that love in the world.  I hear people’s confessions – and absolve them of their “sin” by helping them to heal the deeper inner fears that cause their addictive and non-loving behaviors.  I sit with people in the pain of grief and prepare them for their death.  I preside over weddings and funerals.  I provide spiritual nourishment through the Eucharist that is within each and every one of us when we allow ourselves to BE the Body and Blood of Christ.

For living out my call in this way, you could call me priest, or priestess, but as it was in the most ancient traditions, and in response to the accusations against me, I prefer to be called a witch.


 lauriprofilecroppedLauri Ann Lumby has been called many things: mother, daughter, sister, friend, wife, lover, writer, author, poet, teacher, counselor, healer, priest, shit-disturber, heretic and witch. It is “witch” which is her favorite. Lauri lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her two teenage children and is the owner of Authentic Freedom Academy where she helps her students and clients turn their world from fear into love.  Learn more about Lauri at


Posted in church, Empowerment, Spiritual Formation

The Proof in the Pudding

I have been of the contention that it is only through sound spiritual formation (not to be confused with religious formation) that people can be empowered to become spiritually mature and through which we can bear witness to the effortlessness of authentic discipleship.  Now I have proof that it works.


Discipleship by Accident (but not really)

My first “official” role at the Newman Center (Catholic Campus Ministry) and my first “official” foray into lay ministry was as the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) Coordinator.  My job was to provide the process through which interested adults could become formal members of the Catholic Church.  From the beginning….I accomplished this task in a non-traditional way (go figure!).  Instead of providing a program grounded in religious formation (doctrine, dogma, catechism), I provided a program firmly rooted in spiritual formation.  My reasoning was that if you didn’t know God and you didn’t know yourself, what good was a bunch of knowledge about rules?  As such, the focus of this process was the rich tradition of spiritual practices that were part of the Christian tradition – Lectio Divina, Imagination/Contemplation, Mantra prayer, etc. etc. etc.  What we ended up with at the end of the 9 month process was a group of empowered individuals, excited and enthusiastically ready to use their gifts in service to God and to the world.   They had come to know God intimately and personally, in coming to know God they had come to know themselves, and in doing so, had come to identify their own unique gifts and how they were being called to share them in the world.  In a process that nationally has an abysmal retention rate of only 30%, the Newman Center’s 70% retention rate showed me that the approach we had chosen worked.  Today I thank my experience with the RCIA (and Fr. Jeff VandenHeuvel for assigning me to this ministry) for being the foundation upon which I have established my post-Institutional ministry work, and I am continually awed by the results.

The Ministry Team has Already been Formed

So, as I stand on the brink of accepting more fully my call to be “priest/ess” and to acknowledging that what I have been doing (since leaving professional employment in the Catholic Church) is and always has been “church” and wondering exactly what that might mean and what that might look like, I find that the “ministry team” has already been formed.  Standing ready and right in front of my eyes is a group of men and women who have courageously followed the path of sound spiritual formation, and who are apparently chomping at the bit to put their formation to work.  (who knew?!)  When I first dared to share this discernment in the world, my email inbox was full of inquiries, “How can I help?  You will need children’s programs and that is my gift.  We would like to offer relationship classes. Can I help with presiding?”   YIKES!  I hadn’t even mentioned the word “church” and I have a mob of people who have been fully formed ( in my opinion) and are ready to step into their own unique giftedness to help others find the peaceful contentment, joy, compassion and personal empowerment that they have all found through a 3-4 year process of sound spiritual formation.  Ha…..I knew it….this stuff works!

What tools have you discovered to help you know God, to know yourself and to empower you to share your gifts in service to love for the betterman of humankind?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Posted in church, Discernment

Coming Out of the Closet

In today’s blog, I come out of the closet in regards to the “secret” I have been discerning and where it seems God’s is calling me.  In the end, God has a sick sense of humor and is telling me it is time to GROW UP already!

Will God be the Death of Me?

On October 1st, I penned a blog entitled, God will be the Death of me, in which I shared a vision that had come to me and the journey that I was embarking upon to determine if this vision was authentically from God and therefore to be obeyed, or something out of my ego to be ignored and set aside.  Well, today, I am coming out of the closet as to the nature of that vision and what it seems to be saying to me.  The funny thing is that after posting that blog, I got a text message from one of my friends who had apparently already figured out the nature of the vision – without me offering any details.  Her text said it all, “When are you starting the new church?”  ARGH!

The Vision

In the middle of yoga practice, after stating my intention for direction and clarity and while chanting scripture in my mind (“Lord, I’m not worthy to receive you” …… and  “Let it be done to me according to your word”), I was interrupted by the following vision:  I saw an image of myself, dressed in a white robe, with a wide, red mantle hanging over my shoulders (like a stole, only wider).  I was standing behind an altar, presumably presiding over mass and before me sat a multitude of people also dressed in white, participating in this ritual.  NO NO NO I shouted at God as this vision presented itself.  “Been there (discerning priestood), Done that (participated in an off-shoot eucharistic community along with several other “alternative” projects)  NOPE NOPE NOPE  not doing it!  God, you will be the death of me. ”

And God Laughed

Now here I am, several weeks into this discernment and God is laughing at me.  “Silly girl, it is time for you to GROW UP!”  (these words came to me from God via my Spiritual Director).  And I recognize that this is true.  And….I realize that what God is calling me to is what I have already been doing.  I have been priest/ess and what I have been doing for the past 20 years is church!  God isn’t calling me to something I don’t already know or to something I haven’t already been doing.  And, God is not calling me to leave the home of my childhood(Catholicism) in search of ordination elsewhere.  In a sense, I have already been ordained and now it just might be time to actually name, claim and own who I am and what I have been doing all along.

Coming out of the Closet

So, growing up for me apparently means no longer hiding in the closet.  It seems God is calling to own my vocation as priest and my call to be church.  (NOTICE – “small c” church!!!!!).  What the details of that will mean I’m not quite sure….but there are some things about this call of which I can be sure:

  •  It will be founded upon the compassion teachings of Jesus of Nazareth
  • It will provide contemplative worship and tools for sound spiritual formation and spiritual healing
  • It will recognize that all paths lead to the same destination – recollection of the Source of compassion, contentment and joy – that which some call “God.”
  • It will be open to people of all spiritual or religious beliefs
  • It will empower people to name,claim and freely share their own unique giftedness in service to love and for the betterment of our world

Ok God, I’m listening and as I have been praying all along, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” and “I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  Time to grow up Lauri!


What closet is God calling you out of?

How have you resisted that call?

What tools do you need to step more fully into the person God has made you to be?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries