It's an honor to be in a position to help bring plants and folks together.
I have a pretty specific way that I work within this relationship. I love phyto-chemistry and physiology. I love learning about how the human body responds to various processes and what can be understood about how plants interact with them. White supremacy and the oppressions it umbrellas, like capitalism, ableism and patriarchy have an errant approach to the body-self as split between body/matter and mind/spirit. Having eliminated its land-based relationships, mythologies and the practitioners which utilize(d) 'magical' techniques to sustain health, address illness, and affirm connection, the psycho-spiritual domain has become a battle ground of hyper-individualism and isolation. To have emotional or mental health needs is a pathology in this context.
The more I work with trauma theory in constellation with social justice and physiology (something I'm exploring deeply in the Allostasis Project), the more I feel called to sit in the tension of these dynamics and support folks who are also struggling with them. Folks, who like myself who have spent way more of our life energy trying to figure out what is going on with our bodies or what is in our heads and where do we start? It can feel overwhelming to navigate the amount of crappy information about supplements, what helps, etc. what causes anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc.
My approach is more about collaborating to shift a specific pattern, area of tension whether it be expressing itself primarily physiologically or psycho-spiritually, then matching plants and practices to shift its inertia. There are a lot of clinical herbalists, who make important recommendations about dietary changes, supplementation, and herbal protocols based on symptom patterns. For some of us, that's exactly what we need, without much support to begin or sustain the recommendations. For some of us, the struggle to implement those changes is immense. I know, as person with long held patterns of anxiety and depression stemming from developmental traumas that until I habituate and teach my autonomic nervous system that feeling OK is actually OK, that I will always find my way back to depletion. That's a unique consideration for those of us with CPTSD/developmental stuff. Sometimes, we start feeling a bit better physically and the psycho-spiritual isolation we are experiencing pulls us back into the undertow. Sometimes we make these awesome gains in taking care of our 'mental health' only to have more energy now to feel the sensations of fatigue, pain, or depletion which can then spiral us back down emotionally. The journey is a non-linear conversation between all our dimensions of self.
It's here that I like to work: a combination of physiology positive exploration with a dose of trauma theory partnered with plants who might help us broaden the range of our nervous system's comfort zone, reduce rigidity where it isn't helping and increase support where it might be needed. Many of us who experienced early or frequent traumas have been initiated to depths of meaning and engagement with the world that wants to be matched. My approach to working with plants + people is to take that seriously.
An initial session involves looking at the over all picture of how it feels to be you at the moment, with a focus on what pattern you want support exploring. Sometimes that latter part is clear and sometimes we work together to determine where might be the most efficient to start.
After the session, recommendations are loaded up into a private drop box folder where they can be downloaded or directly commented on in case there are questions. Any other relevant materials or links will be there as well. I usually check in after a couple weeks to see how things are going as well.
Sourcing herbs: I do not stock an apothecary, for many reasons, so I work with the unique circumstances of each person to source herbs according to budget, access and sustainability. As a settler-colonizer living on lands belonging to the Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi, in what is called Burlington, Vermont, I do not wild-harvest or forage and only gather leaves and branches which fall after storms. I grow some plants in my little apartment window, primarily plants of my ancestry. Most individual formulas can easily be filled and shipped through Railyard Apothecary.
Follow up sessions help with deepening the work based on experience/growth/changes since our last connection as well as shifting focus to new things. I find folks who like having some type of personal spiritual/contemplative/devotional practices, or who are wanting to build one to enjoy doing multiple sessions the most.
Access: Oh if I could sit under a tree and do this all day without ever asking for money I would. Access is an issue for everything when we are low income. I know it well. I offer three sessions a month that are via donation, regardless of ability to pay. Almost all of my sessions were that for about three years and honestly, as a low-income, single, CPTSD & chronic pain managing person I gotta be thoughtful about income and work load moving forward. So, three sessions a month, which you can look at the calendar below and find availability for. I don't ask for proof of any income; I need to trust you to gateway that (most folks with middle class income feel very broke, which is different than actually being low income). These sessions are also available regardless of income to black and indigenous folks as reparations for the ongoing harm of white supremacy. Otherwise, sessions are priced according to what helps me sustain offering them.
While some folks might not see this as 'real' or the most cutting edge 'clinical' herbalism, detailed observation of relational patterns that express via physiology and the cultural containers they exist in that sustain traumatization, literally the mythos we are operating within is important work. I hope my life's work will add to the dialogue about how essential the practitioners who guard the boundaries of healthy human-to-human and human-to-non-human relating are for maintaining the various layers of collective health. The witches weren't burnt for no reason. The material = real and relational = subjective and thus lesser in realness is utter bullshit. Mythology has somatic origins, magic harnesses physiology and it is long time for the lens of pathology and the normalization of suffering to be dismantled.
I feel pretty strongly about that. So, these herbal consults are an exploration of that stuff: how our patterns are showing up, what a multifaceted approach might look like that can be sustained and build momentum in a direction we are choosing.
The process looks a bit like this:
a session gets booked via the calendar below, if it is not a donation/solidarity session, payment is entered at time of booking
an email is sent with a link and password to a resource page with a video talking about these resources and saying hello
all the pre-session work is optional
shortly before our time together I'll send details on how we are going to meet up in cyberspace based on the method you chose
we'll hang out in cyberspace together, look at the bulk of whats happening, any patterns we might notice and put our hearts together about what might be most efficient or accessible to target
after we do our thing, I'll upload recommendations/resources to a private dropbox folder to be accessed anytime, as well as commented on with questions or thoughts
if I am helping to order/source some herbal things we will get that in order as well
I'll check in after a couple weeks if we haven't already connected before then to see if herbs have arrived/any support is needed or just to say hello
Herbal consults are pretty intimate, if you'd like to connect in a way that involves less immediate sharing of intimate info, tarot readings can be great for that.