Home to me feels like a return. So much of the path to liberation is the coming home, the return to the full potential of what we are and I find that home is the container that allows us to unfold in this way. Whether it is the womb, a place, people or Spirit, home is where we get to witness our selves becoming who we are and tap into the miracle of our selves.
Elia Fushi Bekene
It’s been a while since we introduced anything ‘new’ in this space. From last autumn to this, it has been a year of deep rest, purposefully not keeping up, experimenting with labouring as little as possible.
So it feels particularly special to return to the ‘home’ of my little shop with this beautiful interview with creative healer Elia Fushi Bekene.
Based in Berlin, Elia is a Black genderqueer femme, an artist, tarot reader, somatic practitioner and care consultant (amongst many other things!) Their expansive work is rooted in principles of radical care and homecoming, and they are currently in the process of bringing their deck, the Ancestral Healing Tarot, into existence.
I spoke with Elia last week to learn more about their practice, and the ‘journeys home’ that inspired the birth of this work.
Hey Elia! How’s it going over there in Berlin? It’s a bright, warm, windy October day over here – blue skies, racing clouds and lovely autumn colours.
Hey Beth! It’s going well. We are having beautiful fall days too, although winter is upon us. I love the in-between seasons, fall & spring, they are the most contemplative seasons for me.
Could you introduce yourself to our community? You describe yourself as a creative healer – such a beautiful ‘job description’! You’re a holistic practitioner and an artist, and I really get the feeling from your website and from talking to you that the two are very much one – does it feel that way to you?
Yes, my artistic practice, as well as my healing practices are very much interwoven and work together.
I do a lot of things – I practice astrology, tarot, Reiki, hypnosis, somatics, and I am right now training to be full-spectrum doula. I am also a Transformative Justice (TJ) practitioner and all of my work is informed by TJ.
But all of what I do falls under Care, and that’s truly what I love doing the most, Care.
Sometimes I call my selves a Care artist, but right now, my email signature reads: “trauma-informed Care practitioner & artist who works on re-membering experiences of awe, connection, miracles & Care”. I am also a Care consultant and Belonging designer. I consult businesses for them to practice Care in a more authentic way. And I design experiences for people to feel home and bring home to their loved ones.
This really encompasses for me the full scope of what I practice, every day, in my relationships, with my selves, others, Land & Spirit.
I also often say that I mainly focus on Black interiority, somatic memory & queer intimacies.
All the work that I do relates to those topics, in some way or another. And my art practice, too. I truly believe that Care is an artform in this society that constantly devalues Care and so that’s where those two practices find their way towards one another.
Historically, Art & Care have been survival tools for communities that have been marginalized.
Care & Art continue to save our lives in so many ways, because it allows us to transmute and alchemize pain into something bigger and that allows us to connect to Spirit.
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My queer relations workshop, one of Elia’s community offerings.
How did you come to the work you do?
Need. All the work that I do is truly the work I have always needed and it still is.
I often think about Chiron when people ask me about my way towards this line of work. Chiron is an asteroid in your natal chart that speaks to your biggest wounds. It’s the wounds that you will be called to heal in others but you might never completely heal them within you. We each bring the medicine that we’ve always needed as a child. The offerings I bring to this world are the medicine that help me reconcile with my biggest wounds.
You’re busy publishing the Ancestral Healing Tarot… wow, congratulations!! It’s been in the works for a while right? How are you feeling about the project now?
Thank you! Yes, just like a baby, I’ve been working on this project for the last 9 months, and it still feels unreal to know that at some point, people will engage with this deck to get closer to themselves and Spirit. What a privilege.
Right after the birth of a creative project, grief always finds its way to my body. It’s beautiful, but painful.
Right now I feel so hopeful for this baby, and grateful to be able to share this baby with you Beth and anybody reading this interview (thank you!) I really feel that this baby will go places I am not even capable to imagine right now, but I would love to see this baby become a solo exhibition in a beautiful space.
In this tarot deck’s guidebook, I included QR codes to lead people to somatic hypno-poetic trances about the 4 elements (Fire, Air, Water, Earth). I want people to feel somatically those elements, they’ve been so paramount to the development of my work.
I am now doing an exhibition in Sweden where I will be offering those audio pieces. I am hoping that at some point, I get to do the same with the Major Arcana cards and create a series of workshops around tarot, radical imagination, love, and collective liberation. Fingers crossed!
On your website you write “I often say that we all walk each other home, and so I hope that with the work that we create together, we get to bring each other closer to what feels home to us”. What does this mean to you, to walk each other home, to be home, and how does it come through in the deck?
I really love this Rumi quote, “we all walk each other home”. I am also a Pisces Sun in the 4th house, and so belonging & ancestral healing have played an active & essential role in my life (just like the Sun in our solar system!).
Right before the pandemic changed the course of our lives, I created a series about home, called what home means. I try to answer this question in this series of photographs and a movie created in Ghana during the Year of Return.
Home to me feels like a return. So much of the path to liberation is the coming home, the return to the full potential of what we are and I find that home is the container that allows us to unfold in this way.
Whether it is the womb, a place, people or Spirit, home is where we get to witness our selves becoming who we are and tap into the miracle of our selves. Home, although it shouldn’t be, is a privilege. I often dream about what it would be like, if any body, at any given moment, any where, had the capacity if they wanted to, to feel home. In their bodies, on land or water… I think our interactions with others and the world would be so different.
Belonging is one of the core needs we have as human beings, along with safety and dignity. So for me home is a feeling I aspire to give people I love.
And I hope it comes out in this deck, too!
I created this deck when my connection to home was the most broken. I was really depressed and helpless about the world. Tapping into the energies of ancestors that have passed on and the stars (astrology) has saved my life.
I hope this deck helps people find some kind of witnessing that is necessary when times are tough and when times are full of joy and pleasure.
Minor arcana cards from Elia’s Ancestral Healing Tarot.
This tarot deck was reimagined through the lens of ancestral healing and belonging. I often say to my clients that while facing our fears is never comfortable nor easy, but it doesn’t make them more real but easier to disprove. I hope that with this deck, people will be able to face what’s painful and reconcile with it, too.
I know you were considering a crowdfunding campaign to publish the deck, but then you decided to work with an indie publisher instead – can you say a little about why you made that choice? I’m always so happy to see creators taking this route rather than the exhaustion of a big Kickstarter – I think often people feel like this is their only option.
Yes, I am also so happy I went this route and not the Kickstarter one. I found Flower Press thanks to funny series of event, it felt like it was meant to be.
I decided to go with a publisher because like many artists, especially Black trans artists, I am overworked and underpaid. I am also practicing asking for help more and I slowly realized that doing everything on my own would be an easy way to keep my selves in burn out for at least a good year. (I created absolutely everything in this deck, the images, the box, the guidebook etc.!)
I was also facing houselessness and plenty of difficult situations that made me realise that I didn’t need to do this on my own. Asking for help to the people who are willing and can help you is so vulnerable.
I’m happy I made that choice.
What do the next few months look like for you?
I believe they look like work! I feel like I am riding a wave right now, this time is really a momentum, and like a lot of artists I am scared this comes to an end if I don’t take every opportunity I am given. I am working on that.
I hope to be able to open an online shop with plenty of derived products from this deck (prints, notebooks, totebags, phone cases…). I also hope to be able to go back to the US for work and create life-changing exhibitions, workshops & residencies that center ancestral Care & imagination.
Elia, thank you so much for taking the time to share your life and work with us. I’m so excited to see the finished deck and wish you all the best with these hectic last stages!
So thankful for this interview! Thank you Beth!
You can find Elia’s work online at selflovetribute, where you can explore their offerings and sign up for their newsletter. You can also follow them on Instagram @selflove_tribute.
We’re proud to be stockists of the Ancestral Healing Tarot (you can sign up on that page to be notified as soon as it’s available.) Or, if you’d like to support the creation of this deck, you can pre-order it from Flower Press (US) now!