Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Anh Stanley, Founder and Owner of PYRAMID Appalachian Magik + Remedy has over 120 organic, local, and wildcrafted herbs on hand.
We first interviewed Anh Stanley, Founder, and Owner of PYRAMID Appalachian Magik + Remedy, back in March. You can read the full interview here or listen to our favorite clips from the interview here. We wanted to highlight Anh again for Pride month to amplify the LGBTQ+ voices in the wellness industry.
Q. How are you?
A. I'm great. It has been a busy few weeks. I just got the new window decal up. I've got lots of new stuff coming into the shop tomorrow.
Q. Congratulations on one year in business.
A. Thanks. It was technically in April, but I was closed.
Q. Because this is Pride Month, we wanted to highlight businesses and people who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
A. Since we're focusing on the LGBTQ+ community, I'll start with how I came out. I came out when I was 15 years old. It was not initially received well by my family. They sent me to conversion therapy, and that didn't work. Then I continued to live out my shitty time through high school, and when I was 19, I hit kind of rock bottom, and I had to move back home. It was a very low point for me. I tried to commit suicide and failed at that. Through that experience, I realized there was something more I needed in my life. So I dealt with my pain. I dealt with my anger. I started connecting to myself more spiritually. I started connecting to my higher powers—that path kind of led me to find my voice. I found who I was. Language started emerging as well that helped me; words like non-binary, queer. These words helped make it a lot easier for me to identify myself.
Eventually, I got a job and worked at Trader Joe's for about 12 years, which was awesome. I started focusing more on my practice and my work. I hit 33, and I was like, I need to get out of Hampton Roads. So I moved up to the mountains in Waynesboro and started my business Pyramid: Appalachian Magick + Remedy.
Q. Did your mysticism come from wanting to understand yourself, or in understanding yourself, did you find mysticism?
A. I looked for mysticism after my attempted suicide because I knew something was missing. I initially turned to Buddhism, and Buddhism is not mysticism. It does work a lot to build yourself and your relationship with others in the world around you and make different connections. Buddhism helped me through my development in my early 20s. The more I practiced, the more I ventured out. I was a regular at the New Age section of Barnes & Noble for those who remember what that is. I found that there were pieces of Buddhism that were missing for me, and I started studying different occult practices (occult just means hidden knowledge). The more I studied, the more I found that I have a place in this world. I always told myself, you know, I'm just always in the middle. I'm always in the gray zone, even with gender. It was just kind of my M.O. I started reading more into mysticism around the world and how people who identify as both genders or neither are in this cool in-between area of everything already. And they make really good mediums. They make really good spiritual guides for people. So to answer your question, it was both.
Q. You spoke a little bit about conversion therapy. How did you know you weren't wrong with how you felt?
A. My family struggled when I came out, but I never felt it was wrong. Around the age of five, you start being sentient. I'm not saying as a five-year-old, you're sexually active, but you start noticing attraction, and you start noticing mannerisms in yourself. Then you go through grade school, and people make you very aware of your mannerisms and who you are. I never felt it was wrong because, as Lady Gaga says, you're born this way. I grew up with the Baptist church. It doesn't matter how many times people tell you you're wrong. If you don't believe it, it's just never going to happen. Going through conversion therapy, I didn't listen to anything anyone told me. My conversion therapy was truthfully, just this guy who worked under Pat Robertson and me. As an "ex-gay," he converted, and if that suits his lifestyle, then so be it. But, I was just really tenaciously stubborn. I ended up getting kicked out of conversion therapy because, and I quote verbatim, "there's nothing I can do for him." And that made me so happy. So they sent me to a psychologist, and the psychologist reassured them that there was nothing wrong with me and that my parents needed to calm down.
Q. You're very empathic. I think it takes a lot of courage and confidence to stand in your truth. Did you always have that confidence, or was that something that came later?
A. That confidence came later. I was still in high school and, you know, granted, I had the best friend group anyone could ask for, but it was still difficult. Kids are mean - they don't know things yet. I will never know his name, but I remember I would walk to the bus stop every morning, and I would pass this black gentleman on the way, and I used to hunch over, and I used to sulk and look down. I was a little goth kid. So that's what we did. I remember every morning he would repeat to me, straighten up, or stand up straight or pull your shoulders back. Every day, in a matter of seconds, he helped me build my posture, and it's such a weird thing to talk about, me carrying myself differently because of him. Actually, that was the beginning of my self-confidence. He ended up passing away shortly after I graduated, but I will never forget that man.
Q. This is a little random, but we've spoken numerous times, and you have a very grounded and respectful approach to correcting people. Is that something that you learned over time?
A. So I talked about how, you know, after my suicide attempt, I looked into Buddhism. I did a lot of studying, and one of the Buddhist monks that helped me is famous, Thich Nhat Hanh. The first book I read was called Taming the Tiger Within. It was a really easy read. I finished it in four days. It helped me deal with my anger, my anger with myself, my anger with other people. When you're in your 20s, you're still just a kid. It was through my 20s, though, I learned to work through my anger, and of the things he taught was, if you can learn to understand something, you can learn to love it. So, even when people are speaking out of line or out of anger, I just try to remove my emotions from the equation and understand why this person is the way they are. I try to be respectful because 80% of the time, they're not coming from a place of maliciousness.
Q. From your perspective as someone in the world of "wellness," what do you consider some of the gaps or services needed at the intersection of LGBTQ+ and the wellness community.
A. I do have to lead with the fact that I'm so proud of the LGBTQ+ community. Because we focused our aim, and we're focusing on our black and brown communities within our community. And you know, we are disenfranchised. Not to the extent of Indigenous Americans and Black Americans. We're going to take it back to the old school, and we're going to celebrate the exact reason why pride exists. And that's because of a trans-black woman. As far as filling in the gaps in the community, I ask nothing from the LGBTQ+ community. I think they're doing awesome. I would like to address the “wellness community," my biggest gripe is if you're going to take or borrow black or brown spirituality (that goes right down to smoke cleansing/smudging), you need to be better about supporting that community. In our current environment from the metaphysical community, it seems too easy to talk about spirituality, but when they need our help, everyone goes silent. That just pisses me off, and I'm not here for that.
Q. How do you feel there should be more support?
A. Our black and brown communities need our help, and you know, you can draw your circles in the sand and put rocks in the center all you want. But we live in a third dimension, and our most powerful magic is our action. I'd like to see more of that. I don't mean to chastise anyone. You know what, "Yes, I do." Y'all need to listen. Use your voice. Use the privileges that we have to back up a community that is crying for help right now. I'm directing this to the metaphysical community. I'm directing this at the metaphysical shops in Virginia. If you don't want to go to the protests, donate to organizations, do something- put your money where your mouth is, help someone in your community help a person of color in your community. I've just seen this mute button from all these shops that I follow, and I feel like you can't be a witch and not support black and brown lives.
Q. I applaud that you're so outspoken. What do you wish more people knew about the LGBTQ+ community?
A. Well, I want to address the toxic masculinity that existed and still exists in the gay community. I'm addressing the gay men right now - lesbians, I love you, you're awesome. My trans and non-binary people I love you, and I love my gay friends. But you know, growing up, masculinity was called straight acting, and any deviation from whatever straight acting means if you had exhibited any femininity, you got ridiculed. I always felt like an outsider. I've never even been to a pride parade. Let me tell you that first because I’ve been told to my face by gay men that, and I’m quoting a person here, "People like you give people like me a bad name." Someone told me that when I was at the store Michael's.
Q. The craft shop?
A. Yes, I was in an arts and crafts shop. I see a lot of straight people and their allies, and I love that, and I totally support that and thank you so much. I really wish more people knew that the queer part of the LGBTQ+ community especially has struggled the hardest. For the longest time, we didn't have a place. Now you watch Queer Eye, and you have Jonathan, who's non-binary and gorgeous. It's accepted, almost sought after, but it wasn't always that way. It was tough. When I was growing up there were many people who were disenfranchised in an already disenfranchised group. It was hard. And I want people just to know that. They don't have to do anything about it. I just want people to acknowledge it. I disassociated a lot with my sexual and gender identity because I didn't feel like I had a home. But here we are, and I'm walking back out, and I'm being funnier.
A. It's survival. That's the only way to know how to put it. And I'm not the only one. There are thousands of people who are doing the same thing.
Q. That was going to be my next question. What advice would you give someone who hasn't come out yet?
A. I would say stop seeking that acceptance and start doing the work to accept yourself and also begin to accept others. This is a two-way street. I don't care what level of victim you are. Fuck what everyone else thinks, truly. If I can open a witchy shop in a little mountain town - you can do what you need to. Don't worry about other people. My mantra is to be unapologetically yourself. Also, exercise your rights. Be loud. Don't wait for someone to notice you. People will never know the good things you do or who you are if you don't use your voice and take action. Be unapologetically yourself.
Q. Is there anything that you'd like to add that I didn't ask about?
A. Yeah, I'd like to do a little plug for my own business. I want this to be a message for our black and brown communities, especially in Appalachia, specifically, the valley. I have your back. And if you need a safe space and you need a home, and, or you want your voice to be heard if there's anything I can do, to, you know, project, your voice, just talk to me. The same thing goes for the LGBTQ+ community. If you feel disenfranchised, by any means, come sit down, I'll put on some tea. And we'll talk. Lord knows it's helped me, so all I can do is pay it forward. So if you need to have your voice heard, just see me. To shop Anhs Store Click Here To follow Anh on Instagram, Click Here