Ancestral Healing Magick with Self Love Tribute

By Janice Faith Heinrich
Art: Self Love Tribute

Elia (they/them/iel), also known as Self Love Tribute, is a trauma-informed critical thinker and creative healer who works with various divination forms, such as astrology, reiki or tarot to help creatives, change-makers and queers connect with themselves and their communities. Elia is currently working on publishing their Ancestral Healing Magick Tarot Deck which is focused on ancestral healing through a Black and queer witch lens. After experiencing Elia’s (Self) Love workshop, DADDY’s Janice Faith Heinrich talked to them about the inspiration for their deck, their work and their interpretation of creativity.

Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a creative healer? What does being a creative healer look like?

 It all started with a bad relationship and a bad job. I was a business analyst and hated everything about it. Until that point, I had never asked myself what I truly wanted and needed for my career and relationships. It led me to rediscover my love for writing because I needed a way to self-reflect. I read everything I could about anger, sadness, jealousy, resentment... All the things I was experiencing and couldn’t make sense of. After a while, I had an overflowing notebook that I later called Tributes to Self-Love. I decided to create an eponymous newsletter in February 2018 and sent it to a few friends. At the same time, I got fired from my job and knew that it was a sign. Putting yourself out there and standing up for yourself and the worth of your work is not easy. I always tell people that the biggest shadow work is creating your own company or creative project. But it also means that you meet lots of amazing people and create more space to be and heal. Healing and creating are part of my everyday magick.

Do you consider creativity as a form of magick? 

Definitely. For me, it manifests in a lot of cast spelling, channelling what needs to come through me from Spirit for my communities and me. I go through intense waves of creativity during which I can’t do anything but create and after that, I crash and grieve. I love this process of self-undoing that creativity brings. It forces me to step outside of capitalism and what we consider as being “productive”. Creativity isn’t linear. And neither am I.

It allows me to reconcile with my pain through the ceremony of creating. It also helps me to transform and transmute the pain into art magic. The process of creating helps me dig my roots further and deeper into the earth.

You offer different practices such as birth chart readings, reiki sessions or tarot readings. How do they help us connect with ourselves?

Like a lot of other queer Black people, I can feel pretty disconnected from my body. That’s why I started doing reiki. It’s a great way of reconnecting with our bodies in a way that feels safe and intimate. By listening to our energy, it helps us to treat our bodies with curiosity instead of forcing it to comply. It was very easy for me to connect to energy because I am what people call "extra sensitive". Reiki has helped me set energetic boundaries to protect myself from situations where I take on other people’s energies. 

Astrology on the other hand has helped me find belonging. Through it, I've found my selves and realised that we belong to the whole universe. Ancient navigators used to look at the skies to find their direction. To find direction emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually it is important to look up. Reengaging with nature and asking for directions instead of relying on outside forces is part of my ancestral healing practice.

And lastly tarot picks up energies around us that can be difficult to articulate. Images on tarot cards mirror experiences we might be going through. They help us reframe them and find the healing and lessons that they bring. I pick a card every day to know what Spirit is trying to tell me. Every night, I think about this card and how it manifested throughout my day. I love Tarot but in Europe I have never found a deck that I can really identify with.

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You’ve recently started working on an Ancestral Healing Tarot Deck. Could you tell us more about the process and inspiration behind creating your tarot deck? How does it help you reconnect with your ancestors? 

I didn’t know that this tarot deck would come to life when I started creating it. I was going through a very difficult time in my life and needed a place to rest this pain somewhere. The themes of finding home and belonging have always been dominant in my work. I struggle so deeply with "feeling at home" – geographically but also within my own body. I felt very isolated and lonely, and so I started creating. The entire process was like a dream and I don’t really know where it began or where it ended. In early February, I decided to create one card a day until my birthday. Through this process, I could make sense of my pain, go deeper within it and find its genius. By February 22nd, I had created the twenty-two major arcana cards. During the process, I had received so many clues and signs that this work was beyond me. I continued creating and four weeks later I had created the full deck with eighty-three cards. Creating the images was a very quick process for me because I felt like I was in trance.

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You’ve created “The Dreamscape”, a capsule that is specially designed for queers, QTIBIPOCs, and creatives. What led you to create this space and what are your hopes for the growth that can happen within it?

The Dreamscape is something I’ve always needed. Everything I create is because I truly need it and don’t see it around me. I have been part of so many healing spaces that claim to be “inclusive”, “queer” or “decolonial" but they’re absolutely not. I was really tired of those spaces because they often benefit from queerness and Blackness but do not center us at all. Right after attending another workshop that made me super angry, I started writing the Dreamscape.  

The Dreamscape is a sacred space where we are safe to hold our inner child. Where we can transform and reconcile with our ancestral wounds and flourish in community. Trauma happens in relationships and so healing has to happen there too. I love every single client I’ve worked with. I’m so happy to attract such amazing artists, change-makers, and thinkers to my practice. Together we create magick.

You can find Elia on their website, Instagram or listen to their podcast Ancestral Healing Magick on Spotify. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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