Serenity K. Valeri, CISSP
Hello. I’m Serenity Valeri, a certified Death Doula and Tarot Advisor.This is where you’ll find information about me and what led me to end-of-life care, work with the Tarot, and provide Reiki healing to clients and those in hospice. You’ll also learn about my other interests, like storytelling, spirituality, and my work as a cybersecurity engineer.
About the Author
Hello, I'm Serenity Valeri. I'm thrilled to share my unique and incredible journey with you. Since my upbringing in the American South, I've always been drawn to exploring and expanding my horizons. This insatiable curiosity led me on a path of self-discovery from my previous role as a security engineer, ultimately steering me to a fulfilling career in holistic spiritual guidance. With a diverse background to match my diverse experiences, I continue to uncover my calling in positively impacting people's lives.I live in Shelby Township, Michigan, where I continue to expand my skillset, deepen my knowledge, and connect with a diverse community of individuals seeking guidance and support on their path. I believe we can harness the healing power of our interconnectedness to facilitate balance and harmony within the mind, body, and spirit. This
assists individuals in navigating life's challenges, empowering them to make informed decisions and embrace their potential.Having already transitioned from one successful career in IT, being a Death Doula is a role I hold close to my heart. I'm passionate about creating a safe and supportive space for individuals and their communities during the end-of-life transition. My empathetic nature allows me to provide comfort, guidance, and emotional support to those navigating this profound ultimate transition. Every person deserves a dignified and peaceful passage home surrounded by love and understanding.As an ordained Minister, I'm grateful to officiate ceremonies for those passing on as well as those celebrating love, unity, or spiritual connection. With a deep respect for diverse beliefs and cultures, I'm committed to facilitating meaningful ceremonies that reflect the unique journey of each person, community, or family. I specialize in creating custom celebrations of all types with non-traditional partnerships and eclectic spirits.
What I Do For Fun
I treasure engaging in a wide range of various activities that bring me fulfillment during my free time.I'm an avid reader and enjoy engrossing myself in literature of all kinds, ranging from academic works and non-fiction to science fiction, fantasy, and comics. My library is eclectic and well-loved. I also enjoy writing short stories and creating fictional universes with others.Gaming, especially immersive role-playing games, is one of my primary sources of entertainment. I love being a part of captivating digital worlds, embarking on epic quests, and forging friendships with fellow gamers.Printing 3D models and painting them is a way for me to explore my creative side and produce unique works of art. I love bringing characters and creatures to life in vibrant colors. Recently, I've begun sculpting jewelry and household trinkets out of clay to paint along with my miniature figures. Anything that lets me stretch my creative muscles in a relaxing way is worth trying.Caring for isopods, whom I affectionately call land lobsters, is a more recent hobby of mine. Creating mossy, plant-filled terrariums for them to thrive in is a quiet, meditative process that brings a sense of peace as their tiny worlds become a canvas for my vision.As a member of the LGBTQ community, advocating for LGBTQ equality and acceptance, particularly for Transgender rights, is of utmost importance to me. It's crucial that everyone feels safe and supported to thrive in their lives. When everyone can achieve their goals, the world is a better place.Having a robust life outside of work is extremely important to me. Whether supporting causes, reading, caring for isopods, gaming, or storytelling, I enjoy expressing myself creatively and positively impacting the world.
My Views on Reiki
You'll often find Reiki marketed as an ancient practice, but the man credited with rediscovering it, Mikao Usui, most likely invented it himself. That isn't to say that Reiki doesn't have value.Not everything must be uncovered from lost works of another time to be a valid practice. But I believe it's essential to be honest about the history of my modalities and explain why they're part of my practice.As a naturally inclined skeptic, I'm usually hesitant about using anything labeled as alternative medicine. However, in my twenties, before a surgical procedure, I went to a Reiki Master for a session. After months of chronic debilitating pain, I was hopeful that I'd find relief one way or another. During that hour, I felt more love than I knew what to do with, and at one point, I became aware that I was crying.My surgery went well, and the pain didn't return, so I pushed the profoundness of that Reiki session from my mind. I wasn't ready to confront past hurts and sit with my emotional discomfort. A further nine years would go by before my desire to volunteer for hospice would bring Reiki back into my life.When I learned that hospitals, hospices, cancer centers, and care homes across the United States use Reiki for patients as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), I had to understand more about it. After expressing my skepticism to my husband, he shared that a friend used Reiki for animals.This person came from an evidence-based mindset, like me, and according to her, she had seen the benefit for the animals she worked with. Through her, I came to the Let Animals Lead system created by Kathleen Prasad and found that her framework was based entirely on evidence. I dove in.My first step was to become certified as a Usui Reiki I practitioner. Once that was complete, I could return to Kathleen's system and begin using it for the animals at home. So I ordered two books in preparation for my Reiki graduation and started my hunt for a Reiki Master.I soon discovered becoming certified is relatively simple. The process involves a few hours of classroom or self-paced study on the aforementioned history of Reiki and the supposed mechanics of energy healing. Then there's a practice session or demonstration and an attunement where the teacher embeds the Reiki symbols into your energy field or aura.Let's be clear; there's no scientific evidence at this point supporting the existence of an aura as New Age folx usually describe it. The same can be said of chakras or energy meridians from traditional medicine systems, but we can measure the impact when practitioners manipulate these invisible formations. Both acupuncture and Reiki are amassing more and more scientific evidence supporting their beneficial effect on individuals. So while science can't identify how exactly Reiki works and by what mechanism, we use the terms, explanations, and language as they're passed on from our teachers.After I'd received my attunement and completed a few days of practice, I'd already noticed a difference within myself. I felt brighter, less sluggish, and more open-minded. Even my husband could see a change in how I held myself and interacted with others. When the suggested twenty-one days of practice were complete, I immediately returned for my Reiki II certification.At the same time, I cracked open my animal Reiki books and started to employ the Let Animals Lead system with my cats and dogs at home. The results were nothing short of life-changing.The animal companions I live with are an assorted bunch of rescues that, along with my partner and myself, make up what I affectionately call The Misfit Family. One of our cats, Ray, had been taking a daily inhaler for asthma since the middle of 2020 when she was hospitalized with fluid in her lungs, wheezing, and shortness of breath. A few weeks before I began to learn Reiki, we still had to run a scorching shower and create a kitty steam room for her a few times a week.Ray could use the inhaler as needed after just two sessions of Reiki in the first few months of 2023. We haven't had to create a makeshift steam room for her once. She also finds her way to my lap while I'm performing my daily Reiki practice.And Reiki helped me establish trust when I found myself caring for a feral cat colony at our rental home. I asked the Reiki to flow to not only the cats that appeared on our doorstep but to the food we put out for them and the shelters we placed nearby. Thanks to Reiki and the assistance of a local animal shelter, we were able to save the lives of seven adult cats and three litters of kittens.I could see with my own eyes how impactful Reiki could be on the lives of those around me, and I wanted to keep going, to keep helping or find new ways to help others using what I'd learned. Once I'd finished the practice period for my second-level certification, I began volunteering with a non-profit hospice that utilizes evidence-based CAM, recommended by the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health.In addition to my daily practice, I perform Reiki for hospice patients weekly. Although my primary focus remains on practicing Usui Reiki and Animal Reiki and better developing the foundation I've built for myself, I plan on taking my Master-level certification within the next year.Of course, other forms of Reiki are being taught and utilized worldwide, and arguably, Reiki is another modality of energy healing among the hundreds.So I encourage anyone inspired by the spiritual nature of these methods to find the practice that suits them and their needs. However, I recommend using Usui Reiki for those more concerned about having a systematic process backed by decades of fieldwork and research.As the medical community continues to see the benefit of Reiki, I look forward to further helping patients and those in need.
This page was reworked into an article with additional context about Reiki:
Death Doula & Hospice Volunteer
My early experiences with aging adults and death shaped my perspective on end-of-life care and my choice to become a Death Doula.I spent part of my elementary school years living with my grandmother and great-grandmother at their assisted living facility. One of my fondest memories was sitting with those incredible women and hearing their stories, which taught me so much about life at a formative age.But what seemed idyllic wasn't meant to last, as death became a significant part of my life from age eight onwards. Due to an illness in the family, the facility was sold. This event marked the beginning of a series of losses as older family members and one grandparent after another passed away.Then 9/11 happened, and my fear that my father, who deployed multiple times, might not return home. I suppressed my fears and grief and didn't confront the pain of these early losses, among others that followed, until I received a call years later, in 2020, that my estranged mother was dying in hospice.I couldn't visit her due to the pandemic lockdown and could only communicate with my mother over the phone before she passed away. It was a devastating experience. Amid all the chaos and stress in my life, I tried to ignore my grief and pain—until I couldn't anymore. I knew I needed to find healing.Delving deeper into my grief, I learned that death isn't something to fear, as it's an integral part of life, which led me to explore the field of death work.I started volunteering as a respite companion and Reiki practitioner for a non-profit hospice. By serving my community this way, I found my way back to those formative years and those things I had so cherished—sharing time and being there for another person when they need closeness and companionship.It felt like a natural step forward for me to obtain a certification as a Death Doula to assist patients and their loved ones in navigating the final stages of life with grace and respect. As a Doula, I provide support, education, and companionship for my patients, caregivers, community, and loved ones throughout the dying process.As I sit here, reminiscing about my youth, I can't help but feel like I've come full circle. My grandmothers and the people they cared for were always a significant part of my life, and I'm grateful for the experiences I had with them. However, there are some notable differences from back then. Growing up, my family didn't place much importance on funerals or attending them. But now, as a Death Doula and member of the National Home Funeral Alliance, I've come to understand the significance of these rituals and the comfort they bring to those who mourn.For thousands of years, humans have been paying their respects to deceased members of their community. It's an honor to continue this tradition and incorporate it into my own family's history. I take great pride in my work. As a Death Doula, I'm qualified to assist families with end-of-life care and support them through their grieving process. Every person deserves a dignified and meaningful farewell, and I'm privileged to help them achieve that.Many people today prefer to pass away at home, surrounded by their loved ones. In such cases, a home funeral can be a more intimate and less costly alternative to traditional funeral homes. As a National Home Funeral Alliance member, I'm well-equipped to assist those planning and carrying out the final arrangements for a friend, loved one, or community member.Looking back on my experiences with death and the incredible women who influenced my life's direction, I feel deep gratitude. Their presence and the personal stories they shared helped shape who I am today and the work I'm passionate about. I believe that my role as a Death Doula is not just a profession but a calling, and I'm committed to serving my community with compassion, respect, and empathy.
My Views on Tarot and Its Historical Significance
The Tarot is a multipurpose tool that's existed for hundreds of years in dozens of forms worldwide. What started as a trick-taking card game in Europe is now used for everything from self-discovery to predicting the outcome of future decisions. Each reader has their style and beliefs about how it works or performs for them.My beliefs are grounded in history and scholarly work reported by those with specialized expertise. Much of what we know about the Tarot can be reconstructed by following the trade routes between Europe and the Arabic peninsula around the 14th century.Packs of cards called Mamluk were introduced to merchants and travelers on these routes. The cards were used in a game called Tarrochi, which became the game of choice for Italians of means. One common belief is that the cards came from the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, but there’s no evidence that was the case. It was when the cards arrived in France that they were named Tarot.Interestingly, despite the popularity of using Tarot cards for divination today, there is no proof that they were used for anything other than entertainment until the 18th century. The first place we have evidence of this is Bologna in 1750, where someone wrote brief notes on what some Tarrochi cards meant when consulted by a cartomancer. From there, it seems that the practice of cartomancy inspired esoteric groups and entrepreneurial occultists who began tying the imagery to metaphysical concepts from the past.The Tarot has a family history for me, as sometime in the early 1900s, my great-grandmother began reading cards for other women. In my youth, I, too, found my way to the cards and started my journey. But it wasn't until two decades later, after doing readings for myself and others, I dug deeper into Tarot's historical and scholarly aspects.That was how I came to the Tarot de Marseille. Still considered the oldest cartomantic Tarot packs, most versions are relatively devoid of the occult metaphysical tweaks which became popularized with the Rider-Waite-Smith and Toth decks of the early 20th century. Almost all modern Tarot decks in stores and online are based on the Golden Dawn’s 1907 deck illustrated by Pamela Coleman-Smith. While I respect the tradition of this organization, I don’t believe their interpretations of the original Tarot should be viewed as the only source of truth.I use historical decks like the Tarot de Marseille and Rider-Waite decks, among others, in my readings and those for clients. The versatility of the decks I utilize helps me connect with the needs of my clients, providing a personal experience. When doing online readings, I choose a deck with bold designs, so my client can connect with each card. In-person, I have a range of Tarot decks from various sources and artisans. All of my decks have a different feel, like tools in a toolbox, each with its own purpose and incredible versatility.The Tarot is part of my daily routine and sometimes my decision-making process. I perform a reading for myself when I need clarification on what path to take in a given situation and want more insight. I'll also use the Tarot to help me connect with the root cause of a problem or issue that keeps appearing in my life. By allowing the symbolic language of the cards the loudest voice, my anxiety, doubts, and second guesses don't have room to take hold in my mind. Instead, I can focus on a beautiful image, a word, or an idea from the Tarot. At times these experiences are part of my spiritual journey.There are people who state the Tarot is a demonic or satanic influence, capable of opening portals, allowing entities to influence people or circumstances. That’s simply not possible. Pieces of art printed on cards, no matter how beautiful or terrifying, can't transport or contain beings of any kind.The look of cards in a deck and any symbols are artistic renderings. If a demon appears in the corner of a person’s room that isn't because they had a Tarot reading at a Renaissance Fair. That isn't to say the artwork or symbols have no value or tangible importance. However, if bad things happen, having a Tarot reading isn't the cause, nor is a deck of cards.The power of the Tarot and a given Tarot deck rests entirely in the hands of the person or people involved in performing the reading and interpreting the cards themselves. I've witnessed the transformative power of Tarot advising sessions in the lives of my clients. So while the Tarot may seem magical or divinely inspired, it doesn't have to be that way for you to gain value from it.We carve our paths in life, and tools like the Tarot can be liberating when approached with a growth mindset.
National Home Funeral Alliance Association Board Member
As a member of the National Home Funeral Alliance board, I'm thrilled to be part of an organization that aims to educate communities and individuals on how to care for the deceased. To fulfill our responsibilities, board members are required to serve for three years and volunteer for at least 15 hours per month. It's crucial that we act with integrity, accountability, and flexibility to support the organization's mission, vision, and values.To achieve our common goals, effective communication is essential, and we must take into account the diverse perspectives and experiences of the communities we serve. Attending regular board meetings and participating in community activities are also critical responsibilities of board members. Additionally, we must attend the biennial conference and formal in-person meeting, participate in planning and assessment activities, and actively engage in activities designed to improve the organization's performance.As a board member, I am responsible for the organization's financial obligations, and it's important to read and understand all NHFA financial statements. Adhering to conflict of interest, confidentiality, whistleblower, and other policies is also crucial in acting as an ambassador for the organization with donors, supporters, corporations, funding partners, and other stakeholders.To contribute to the growth and success of the organization, board members should ask questions when they have concerns or need more information. We are also expected to participate in at least one board committee and/or take on one board project. It's essential to be aware of our strengths and areas for development while seeking and applying feedback.
My Previous Career in Cybersecurity
Having spent six years in the field of Cybersecurity, I earned the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) from the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) in early 2020 while working as a Security Engineer for a national telecommunications service provider. Preparing for the exam involved months of study, and many professionals take it multiple times before passing. To increase my chances of success, I created a study guide for myself and my colleagues and organized research and practice groups. All my hard work paid off when I passed the test on the first attempt, joining the ranks of other certified Cybersecurity professionals worldwide.Apart from the satisfaction of earning the certification, I was attracted to CISSP because of its emphasis on ethics, privacy, systems security, and legal compliance. These align well with my attention to detail and dedication to personal excellence. Although I no longer work full-time in Cybersecurity, my CISSP certification remains current. I spend dozens of hours each year keeping up with the global technology-related legal and compliance landscape, particularly the downstream effects of the absence of comprehensive privacy laws.Working full-time in a field that transcends national borders and is interconnected has allowed me to be part of international and interdisciplinary teams, which has been critical to my professional success. I strive to recognize the diverse perspectives and lived experiences of individuals in every aspect of my life. By being adaptable to different environments, I maintain an open mind towards various ideas and new ways of thinking. This enables me to gather and analyze information from multiple sources, ensuring that I understand a problem thoroughly. Additionally, I can accurately summarize and interpret data while being aware of my biases. In all settings, professional and otherwise, I advocate for inclusion, equitable practices, justice, and empowerment for historically marginalized communities.My experience as an IT professional and CISSP has enhanced my ability to collaborate with others to achieve common goals. I routinely exercise the ability to compromise and be agile while proactively anticipating project or client needs and prioritizing action steps.
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