“Until the lion tells his side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” – African proverb.

The erasure, appropriation, and lying about the “Black Experience” in this country has been ingrained in its history and culture. The fortunate ones of us had access to oral history passed down in our families about the truth and most of it was the opposite of what is sold in American propaganda. This is one of the reasons that influenced Lucretia VanDyke to write her first book: “African American Herbalism.”

As a lifelong practitioner with over 20 years in the wellness industry, VanDyke poured her heart into this book, which focuses on integrating indigenous healing rituals, plant spirit medicine, holistic approaches to food/herbal medicine, ancestor reverence, and meditation into your modern daily practice.

I sat down with my sister to hear her fascinating story.

Ikeoma: How did you get started in your herbalism journey?

VanDyke: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t connected to plants. I come from farm families who practiced folk remedies for healing. Before I knew what hoodoo and conjure meant, I was a child playing mixing plants, mud and roots while chanting prayers and wishes by our barn. As I became an adult, my life’s journey brought me to using herbs in ceremonies for healing purposes. Although I grew up mostly with my white side of the family, I feel that the plants were bringing me closer to my ancestral African side. I didn’t take a class; I am the class.

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Ikeoma: Can you tell us a little about your book?

VanDyke: This book has been three to four years in the making.  I remember reading a book written by a white man that triggered me to write a book about our story and culture from our perspectives in the culture. In his book, he had a chapter about Black people’s contribution to native medicine in North Carolina. According to him, they used Black children as blankets and foot stools to cure rheumatoid arthritis. Also, they used the saliva of highly melinated people’s saliva for healing purposes. He wrote, “we were taking advantage of them.” It inspired me to research Afro-lachian (Black people of the Appalachian mountains) and other parts of African American herbal cultures to tell our story.

This book encompasses the history of our cultural medicine here and through different modalities. It’s a tribute to our ancestral talents of being true alchemist and how they used this magic to adapt to the harsh conditions here. Personal ceremonies that I have used to overcome grief, manifesting recipes, how to make spiritual baths and tinctures are just the tip of the iceberg with this book. The last chapter is a contribution to herbalist and Hoodoo practitioners that I admire.

Ikeoma: What sets your book apart from other Hoodoo books?

VanDyke: I want people to know that they are the altar. This is a personal ancestral path. This book simplifies the process so that people don’t feel intimidated on their own path. I also want to encourage people to document their own experiences so that we can control the narrative of our own stories.

Ikeoma: Where can people find you and your book?

VanDyke: The release day of the book is Oct 4, 2022. I will be having an event in Lagrange, Georgia. More information about my workshops and events can be found on my website:, and on social media platforms @Lucretia.Vandyke.