Walking the Walk

I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis. You see, I was not sure I wanted to be an herbalist any longer. I cannot in all good conscience align myself with a good portion of “the community” with all the social influencing and scare-tactic marketing. Especially when some of those marketing types have sat silently by when racists and Q-anon conspiracists have been openly thrashing our credibility.

Sometimes, I am embarrassed to tell people here about my profession you all, and that is not okay. I worked hard for my education and experience. I should be proud of it, but no elevator commercial is long enough to get across that I am not all about that kind of boutique, bougie life.

I spent some time asking people questions and researching why people interested in holistic health seem particularly susceptible to being sucked into the dubious world of Interwebz herbalism and conspiracy theories. It boils down to the fact that reliable sources of information are expensive and inaccessible.

This goes against everything I am working for locally. I didn’t get teargassed this summer because I think late-stage capitalism is grand, you all.

• I am going to start offering free consults again. No sliding fee bullshit, no forms to fill out to prove you can’t afford it. If you are herbal clinician who wants some guidance, you can book an appointment also. Maybe when I am having a rough time, you can send me some cookies or something like that? That’s the mutual aid my collective does locally and that’s what I want to see in the world.

• I just jumped on an Herbalist Without Borders committee that is working towards the goal of providing accessible herbal education to people.

• I am working on a transcription project that I will be publishing to get a scholarship fund started. It’s going slowly because I’ve had to stop for a few paying gigs, but I am getting there.

Before Covid I did not think I had the money to do this. I mean I really don’t. But it did happen, and most my income went out the window and we managed to get by.

I do not have a wealthy partner to back me up like a lot of the people who make a go as herbalists, but at least I have one. I put a couple more meaningful projects on the backburner to work on crap articles that kept the lights on. Our boys got jobs, recently. We will be okay.

I will never have a fancy house in the middle of the woods or be able to buy myself that herb farm I’ve always wanted. But I will be able to work with my collective and not feel like a fraud.

This is going to upset some of the people who will see this as undercutting them. They will drag my name through the dirt like the people who market elderberry did when I wrote that post.

(This seems as good a time to bring this up. I wrote that article because one of my local students asked me to write something she could share with her mom’s group after a class discussion we had. It was not to make a name for myself or any or the other things the mean girls said. My student feels terrible about the fact all those things got said about me, just because I did her a favor.)

To the capitalists who will get upset with me about this. The people I am reaching out to can’t afford to pay you, and they are turning to crappy social media groups offering potentially harmful advice. It’s not part of my moral compass to look the other way while that happens. You can keep marketing yourself at the wealthy worried well. You will be fine.

People should not have to pay for healthcare, and they shouldn’t have to turn to social media influencers for information about herbal interventions, because they can’t afford a consultation fee.

Power to the people.