Community Spotlight: Erica Valera
Tell us about who you are and your body of work...
I’m Erica Valera, evidentiary medium, witchy intuitive mentor, mother, artist, and bruja. In typical Gemini fashion, I wear many hats so it’s hard to pin myself to one thing. I’m constantly learning new healing & divination modalities and ways to express myself.
What is your origin story? Tell us where and how you grew up. Are there details from your culture and upbringing that influence your work today?
I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts that’s working class and lower income. I’m first generation, both of my parents came from the Dominican Republic in the 80s. Our neighborhood was predominantly Dominican and Puerto Rican, you can say island culture definitely had a huge impact on me. Trying to navigate both American and Dominican culture was like navigating two worlds, and I always saw myself as being in a liminal in- between space. I was often the interpreter for my mom, and I’m seeing that carry over as I play the intermediary now between Spirit and my clients.
Folk religious practices and spirituality from the Dominican Republic, definitely has influenced the work I do; there’s a huge focus on ancestral veneration. I was surrounded by women who read coffee cups, tea leaves, and divined with Spanish playing cards. It was always in my periphery even if I wasn’t an active participant.
Where do you currently live, and how does your community inform/influence your work?
I currently reside in Brooklyn. NYC has had a huge impact on my spiritual practice, I’ve been able to connect with so many amazing spiritual practitioners and creative people. It’s been fantastic especially for collaborating and learning. Most of my mentors have been in the NY/NJ area. Pre-Covid, I was fortunate to have been able to collaborate with a few stores here in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and in Soho for tarot and divination based events.
What led you to start your journey in the healing arts, and how long have you been doing it?
It was around the time I moved to NYC and was going through a separation and my mom’s death. Having major losses back-to-back, I was trying to make sense of everything I was going through. That’s what lead me towards learning astrology, numerology, tarot, and candle magic. I also found a place that did psychic development meditations. I’ve been developing ever since then, that was about 10 years ago.
What words of advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur, artist, healer etc. that is wanting to get started?
I would say don’t second guess it! It also helps to try to find your community, or mentor. It’s always great to be around others who can offer insight, and have a knowledge base that you can learn from. A huge thing I realized that In the beginning we might have one particular idea of what business or spiritual path is supposed to look like and that can change once you set things in motion and that’s okay!
Before getting into mediumship & tarot, I was working as a bench jeweler. I definitely didn’t see myself working with and supporting people through my witchery and spirituality years ago.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning one’s own healing journey?
Sitting in the power or sitting in the stillness would be a good way to anchor oneself especially since we’re constantly dealing with visual-stimulation and communication fatigue. It helps bring yourself back to center so you can start figuring out what healing modalities would work best for you.
WHAT’S YOUR RITUAL? What are some of your most important self-care rituals?
I normally start my day with a sitting power meditation and skin care routine. I try to keep my rituals simple and accessible by using a lot of visualization techniques involving color & breath work. I try to work with the natural rhythms of the week by working with planetary correspondences. I pay attention to what I consider my “power” days. For example, Tuesday is Mars day, so it would be it’s a good day to take on more work and challenges.
The nighttime is also sacred to me, this is when I usually sit in the quiet and cleanse myself by burning incense resins especially Frankincense, Myrrh and Dragon’s Blood.
Do you have any favorite spiritual tools—plants, herbs, crystals, decks, etc.—and how do you prefer to work with them?
I don’t use as many tools as before since I’m relying on visualization techniques, but I’ve gotten into abstract forms of divination so—an obsidian mirror, coffee and tea leaves. I’ve been using Marcella Kroll’s Priestess for bibliomancy. Also, I try to keep rue on hand as well for its cleansing and protective qualities.
Tell us about things you incorporate into your day/life that help you feel more connected with yourself and your community?
It’s a little tough for me since I’m at a distance from my family, but I try to make up for it when I am around them. I am very close still with childhood friends who are also brujas — we are always sharing tips so it helps with creating that sense of closeness with our traditional practices.
What is your favorite product or service you offer?
Intuitive mentoring, tarot classes, ritual building, and spell consultations! To be honest, I love it all. I try to incorporate ritual suggestions even for my mediumship & energy readings. I’ve also started making witchy products in small batches, like beeswax candles, oils, and salt bath soaks.
What is the most fulfilling aspect for you about doing this work?
I love helping people tap into their own intuitive processes and giving different techniques and rituals to help them through their own individual journey.
What are some of your biggest challenges you’ve encountered so far and how have you overcome them?
Imposter syndrome for sure! I try to do as much writing as I can when I’m feeling this way and let the doubt and emotions out of my system.
Who are some of your favorite spiritual workers, artists, and/or designers that you are inspired by?
Do you have any books or podcast recommendations or any other links you’d like to share with the community?