Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamesa Hawthorne.
Hi Jamesa, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
My interest in herbalism as a means to care for myself was sparked in my early 20s. I was interested in more natural options and bodily autonomy, especially as a Black femme. I often left doctors’ offices feeling unheard and given symptom-based quick fixes that only masked deeper-seated issues. I craved a more intimate connection to my body’s healing processes and a more holistic understanding of root causes. What I had heard about herbs at the time stimulated curiosity and wonder and still does. At 20, I sought out my nearest herb shop and began my formal exploration of herbalism as an intern at The Herb Shoppe in Portland, OR. Ten years later, and I’ve allowed the plants to guide me through various courses, certifications, and trainings in western, clinically informed, and folk herbalism. In the last few years, I’ve launched my community and creative herbal business, JamHaw Herbals. It’s an apothecary and digital community space for connecting with plants, spirit, and the elements as facilitators of liberated embodiment.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It’s been a wildly nonlinear road, with plenty of smooth grooves and rough patches. Not being able to find community and educators in the herbalism space at the beginning of my journey that were queer affirming and culturally relevant was extremely difficult. There was a lot of appropriation and toxicity to navigate in predominately white herbalism spaces when I first started out. I remember thinking, “I’m just gonna get this education, then create the spaces I dream of.” I’m so grateful now to be a part of and contribute to community who values ancestral reclamation, Black liberation, joy, afro-botany, queer and trans-affirming care, and Indigenous land stewardship in how we practice herbalism. Mentally and spiritually, it’s been a challenging but deeply rewarding (and on going) journey of shedding limiting beliefs, trusting myself and my guides, and cultivating authenticity. Holding space for other people’s healing journeys as an herbalist requires integrity and commitment to doing the same for myself.
Lastly, learning to value my role and offerings in a society that views holistic, naturopathic, and herbal approaches as less effective, valid, or “researched” than the world of allopathic care has brought its doubts. “Am I really doing the right thing? Maybe I should give up and try something more understood!” are thoughts I’ve had to weed out along the way, and I’m so glad for it.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m a community and creative herbalist with a beloved-by-many product line of herbal formulations that support the mind, body, and spirit. I also write and engage community across multiple platforms including patreon, Instagram, my newsletter, panels, and workshops. I value connection as a central part of the healing process: connection to the plants, to each other, to spirit, and the earth. I guide people into working with plants in ways that are accessible and authentic to them. Beyond taking x ml of x herb, x times a day, what is the plant saying to you? What is the pain in your body telling you? What tools do you need to hold space for and integrate what is coming up? I encourage people to build relationships with the herbs they take, learn their stories, and cultivate empowering body awareness. When I think about what I am most proud of, big press features and collaborations with established elders first come to mind. Which I am really proud of and honored! But when I really settle into the question, I am truly most proud of myself for committing to this journey, being open to the many unforeseen changes, and choosing to move in love.
If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
As a child, I loved to read, explore, and move my body. I knew how to entertain myself and others, often writing and producing at home videos with my siblings and friends. I loved to dance, do gymnastics, and was really into fashion. I was a creative kid who wanted to try and learn to do anything and everything that sparked interest. I loved dogs so I took to the library to learn everything I could and offered my dog walking services to neighbors. I loved the Spice Girls so I designed costumes for my friends and I and dreamed up going on tour. I had a wild and independent spirit and also a nurturing and intuitive side being the oldest of 4 siblings who I love very much.
- Join my Patreon at the tier level that suits you from $4-$13/mo
- Shop the apothecary for herbal formulations and sets starting at $22
- Website: www.jamhawherbals.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/jam_haw
- Other: patreon.com/jamhawherbals
Gabriella Angoti-Jones Spooky.World