" 'Witch' never entered my vocabulary growing up," said Anastasia Boswell. "But I became determined to reclaim it."
"Everyone in my family was a devout Christian." she added, while mixing an incense blend of mugwort, lavender, and cedar needles mimicking a forest aroma. "It purifies the air, assists meditation, opens the third eye, and creates a clearer truth," she explained.
Her great-grandmother on her father's side was a nurse healer, dabbling in her herb garden, practicing what we now call 'old wives' tales. "She could whisper warts away," said Boswell. "That is, rub a penny on a wart and bury it while reciting words and it would fall off."
Did it work? According to Boswell, "Absolutely! The stories have been passed down in my family."
What, exactly, are old wives' tales? And where did they originate?
Old Wives' Tales
The dictionary defines wives' tales as "a superstition or traditional belief that is regarded as unscientific or incorrect." Urban legend reports they're passed down by older ( "illiterate" ) women to a younger generation, originating in the oral tradition of storytelling. According to The Guardian, "The stories do not attempt to moralize, but to teach lessons and make difficult concepts like death or coming of age easy for children to understand. These stories are also used to scare children so they don't do certain things."
To be "propagated by illiterate women" many a literate male has composed fairy tale collections from the oral tradition of women. Writers such as the Grimms ( as well as Basile and Perrault ) took the stories from women, and through their protagonists turned them into morality tales for children; the exact opposite from the healing intent by women.
But are old wives' tales true despite being unscientific? As reported by various sources such as Ranker, yes.
Did you believe your grandmother when she said an apple a day keeps the doctor away? You should, because an overwhelming amount of medical evidence has been released over the last decade confirming this old wives' tale. How about "Carrots Help Improve Your Eyesight"? Yep! Just as raw garlic fights colds and drinking from the hot water tap makes you sick.
While "whispering warts" remains inconclusive, we are not aware of the 'words' Boswell's Great-grandmother whispered while burying the penny; therefore, truth may remain entombed along with a generation of 'illiterately' wise women story tellers.
Regardless of the validity of old wives' tales, Boswell has acquired a community reputation for being quite the alchemist through her small, local business, A Wild Path.
She also instructs monthly classes, held at The Perch, A CoWorking Community for Creative and Spiritual Entrepreneurs, located inside the Owl and Ivy, 180 S South St, Gastonia, NC. Her next Backyard Apothecary class is Saturday, Sep 1 at 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM.
As Boswell, you may garner a forgotten truth from an oral tradition of women, and yourself as well. Though you may find much more wisdom than than illiteracy.
The Wonder Years
Were not all wondrous for Boswell.
Birthed into a lineage of women notorious for not kowtowing to men, she is no stranger to strong-willed or assertive natures. Her great-grandmother was a Native American Cherokee who lived on the reservation, until being expelled for marrying her grandfather, an Irish immigrant. They settled in a cinder block house in South Gastonia, where Boswell frequently stayed from age five. "She taught me to be open and how to create boundaries," Boswell said. "She was funny and I always felt safe when visiting or staying with her."
"I knew when I was with her, nothing could hurt me," added Boswell.
Creating a secure environment for a child can be complicated for parents. It begins in the home, but can be shattered by trusting someone who proves untrustworthy, particularly with your child. As with so many other children, this was the sad truth for Boswell. As a victim of sexual abuse from a baby sitter beginning at age four, to a cousin and uncle up to age 11, Boswell finally found the courage to tell her parents about years of being victimized.
And, while her home environment became more secure, the misconduct continued. "I suffered a lifetime of abuse from various males," asserts Boswell.
This violation of trusting innocence contributed to a somewhat tumultuous pubescence for Boswell. As an emotional and argumentative youth, her adolescence and teen years weren't easy. She turned to the woods, where she still feels at home with heavy trees and pine needles under her feet, and also developed a love for music as a form of relief, particularly Molly Hatchet and Fleetwood Mac. "I admired Stevie Nicks' strength of character," said Boswell, as she hummed while lighting the incense blend.
"I've always hummed throughout any situation. Music is my escape."
At age 13, she was gifted her first deck of Tarot Cards by a gypsy aunt. This gift resonated inside of Boswell as something familiar that beckoned her. She began studying, and taught herself the Celtic Cross spread, experiencing her own power for the first time.
By the time Boswell was 14, she was diagnosed a depressive with bi-polar disorder. "I struggled with anger management among other personality disorders," said Boswell. "I felt like I had nowhere else to turn. But I wasn't going to wait for fate to intervene. I decided to seek my power."
"After all, Indigo Children didn't exist back then," maintained Boswell.
But, just what are Indigo Children?
The “Indigo Child”
Surprisingly, the designated word "Indigo" has nothing to do with the color of an aura, as purported by several sources. According to the Indigo Child, a site specifically developed to highlight three Hay House publications: The Indigo Children, An Indigo Celebration, and The Indigo Children Ten Years Later, it is the result of scientific observations by a woman who has the brain disorder called synesthesia.
Just what is synesthesia? The dictionary interprets it as a production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body. In layman's terms, when one sense is activated, another unrelated sense is activated at the same time. This may, for instance, take the form of hearing music and simultaneously sensing the sound as swirls or patterns of color.
Reportedly, they were originally seen and identified by Nancy Ann Tappe (1931-2012), an internationally-acknowledged synesthete who developed her own synesthetic perceptions into a formalized, structured system of information, as a part of the color system which evolved from her synesthetic perceptions, and owner of Colorology. Nancy's form of synesthesia was very rare; she saw color and tasted shape. Another famous Indigo is Derek Amato, recently featured on Ingenious Minds. Derek crosses sound and shape, seeing / composing his music via a constantly streaming series of black and white squares.
According to Tappe, there are four types of Indigoes: Humanists, Artists, Conceptualists, and Catalysts. How do you know if you're an indigo? As stated by Tappe, self-identification is much easier and usually accurate, while stressing that it does not matter. What is important, is to acknowledge and understand that Indigo energy is changing the planet and the way mankind lives.
Indigo energy is not just about who is or is not Indigo or what type of Indigo one is. It is more important to know that Indigos accept individuals for who and what they are and work for the interconnectedness of all. Their task is to integrate mankind to one world through a globalization that moves beyond political or economic boundaries and beyond personal biases and prejudices.
Want to learn more about Tappe's philosophy on synesthesia? You can view transcriptions of her classes by visiting Tuesdays with Nancy.
Could you be an Indigo? Check the Top Indigo Characteristics on Tappe's website listed above.
Love & Marriage
By the time Boswell was 18, she was living and working at Iggy's Coffee House in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is where she met her first husband, or, rather, predicted she'd marry a tall, good-looking dreadlocked guy she saw walking down the street. Lo and behold, on a regular work night at Iggy's, maybe a Wednesday like today, this handsome stranger walked by and glanced in at Boswell smiling. He soon returned, where he and Boswell talked until her shift was over.
"He moved in that night and never left!" exclaimed Boswell. "We were married within two years! He was my best friend in the world, and we had an amazing marriage."
The happy couple relocated to Gastonia and started a family. Their first child was born when Boswell was 21. While they briefly separated a year after the birth, they soon reunited and lived in an apartment off Union Road. Boswell had their second child at age 25. They were happy, and she was finally content, living the dream with a wonderful family.
Until her life was devastated by a freak accident.
When Boswell's second child turned two months old, her husband was killed in a work-related accident; a wall suddenly collapsed, crushing him underneath.
When Boswell arrived at the hospital, having been told he'd hurt his back, she was shocked to find a chaplain and her mother waiting. She was given time to say her goodbyes before the ventilator was unplugged.
"The last thing he said was, Call my wife and tell her I'm okay," said an emotional Boswell, recalling how she shut down for 6 months afterward. "My sister moved in to help me through the difficulty. It was the darkest time of my life."
After 6 months she was convinced to visit a church to see if it would help ease the pain. She was repulsed when the pastor introduced himself after an enjoyable service, and reminded her that she should tithe from the settlement she was to receive from her husband's death.
"I sought out a way not to feel," Boswell said. "I turned back to music, alcohol, and karaoke."
"I enjoyed being on stage," confessed Boswell. "It allowed me to be different, to personify, act confident - much more than I really was." It was during this time that Boswell realized that she didn't need attention from others, only herself.
It was also during this time that a miracle occurred.
On a regular work night, maybe a Wednesday like today, while Boswell was singing "Welcome to the Jungle" during Karaoke, she saw this gorgeous man walk into the bar. After her set she approached a friend she had seen talking to him, and asked his name. The friend laughed and said he'd just asked for Boswell's name too.
They met, he bought her a beer, and they talked. "I knew I would marry him!" declared Boswell. Despite her warnings that she was a widow and had two children, he loved her anyway; that was almost 17 years, and two more children ago.
Healing love brought power to Boswell, and she wanted to show her children they had power to survive and succeed as well.
She set her intentions on a lifestyle change, which would include reclaiming the word 'Witch'.
Awakening the Witch
In 2011, after practicing yoga for 14 years, Boswell attended a yoga teacher's training in Davidson, North Carolina, where she attained certification. While there, she stayed with her Grandmother. It was here that Boswell's love for apothecary became evident. "I finally got to sit down with my grandmother and tinker in her herb garden," stated Boswell. "We made jellies, teas and many other things."
It was the combination of yoga, meditation, and nutrition through diet and herbs that enabled Boswell to wean herself off pharmaceuticals by 2015. "I ingested nothing poisonous: no sugar, drugs, processed food, or alcohol," revealed Boswell. Best of all, she is teaching her children by example, which enables them to teach themselves, she explained.
"They're so used to clean food, that when they come home with diarrhea, feeling tired, and crying, I remind them of what they've eaten, and their body is rebelling," disclosed Boswell. She loves that her children are making wise food choices for themselves.
"This was my goal - to empower my children," Boswell claimed.
It is also her hope to empower others to heal through natural remedies readily available to them. Boswell studied Health and Wellness at Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, and became a yoga teacher at On Track Yoga, located in Mount Holly, North Carolina, before teaching her own in Gastonia.
In addition to offering Backyard Apothecary classes, she also provides "Eclectic Yoga - Yoga for Every BODY" each Wednesday evening at The Owl and Ivy beginning at 6:00 PM.
Boswell considers herself a Mother, Healer, Wise Woman, and Witch. "'Witch' is a word of power, not fear," she explained. She describes her practice and ritual methods as a synergistic relationship with the liminal spaces and ethereal vibrations surrounding her. "It’s organic, ever expanding, and ever changing as the spirit moves me and need arises in my living practice. I don’t follow a formulaic program, nor do I ever stop learning and growing."
When asked what advice she would give someone seeking their path, she simply stated, "Shut up, sit down, and figure out who you are. Don't create someone else's narrative."
"I've had many relationships, some meaningful and some physical," she reflected. "But I am beyond blessed to have found love twice, and to be able to help others heal."
'Witch' never entered Boswell's vocabulary while growing up, but she's determined to reclaim its true meaning of healing despite the surrounding stigma.
Undoubtedly, she is -- empowering one healed soul at a time.