In today’s Metaphysical Monday, I’m talking with Phoebe (@hearthfireheart) about their upbringing in a magical world, how that shaped them, and how their spiritwork helps them to heal from past trauma. As a polytheist from a different religious upbringing, the conversation was super fascinating; it was also interesting to compare our devotional writing.
If you like what you read about Phoebe’s work and creations, consider following her on Twitter and watching out for her upcoming book of poetry! And without any further ado, the interview...
Hi Phoebe, thanks for agreeing to talk with me! Would you please start with introducing yourself and telling my readers a little bit about who you are as a witch?
Of course! I'm Phoebe, a nearly 21 year old eclectic pagan witch. I was raised in a magical home, but I started developing my own beliefs when I was around 13. A lot of what I do magic wise is astral work, but it is also deeply religious. I view my craft as a way to honor my deities and to better myself and my situation. I am oathbound to Hekate, but I follow Freyja, Odin, Loki, and Hermes pretty closely as well!
That's really fascinating! I was raised Christian, and came into my faith myself; what was it like being raised in a magical home?
In my experience, it wasn't actually the greatest. My father was exploitative of my psychic abilities, and he ended up abandoning witchcraft altogether when I was about 9. I am thankful for the things I learned though, especially beginning my journey with divination when I was about 7. But yeah, he practiced an extremely patriarchal form of Wicca, a very bastardized version of magic, and after one of his spells backfired, he gave up on it completely. A lot of what I learned was in secret because he thought I was too young, but that never stopped me from stealing his books at night. It mostly just felt like keeping secrets and learning as much as I could. I will say this, though: it showed me exactly what NOT to do when/if I have children and want to raise them in a magical way.
I'm sorry to hear that you went through a difficult time, but glad to know that you were able to grow and overcome your trauma to become someone brilliant today. Working with your deities is a really good way for you to do that, from what I've seen of our interactions online.
It definitely sucked but I am still thankful for the knowledge it gave me, that's for sure.
What drew you to polytheism, and to the deities that you work with? What are your relationships like?
My upbringing is what drew me to polytheism actually! We had statues of Bastet all around the house and little me would kiss them every time I left the house for protection. Aside from that, I really resonated with the Triple Goddess as a child, but a few years ago I realized it wasn't the Wiccan goddess influencing my life, rather it was Hekate. I don't view her to be the stereotypical Triple Goddess, but with my Wiccan upbringing, it was no surprise to me that's who I thought it was. I guess I have always been a polytheist. Even as a child, I thought the concept of just God and Goddess was reductive to the reality of divinity (which is why I fought so hard for the statues in the house, I was OBSESSED w Ancient Egypt.)
As I grew up, I mainly focused on Hellenic deities, getting closer to Hekate and forming relationships with Hermes and Apollon as well. Nowadays, my "god squad" is pretty consistent in who I worship. Hekate is a mentor to me, a goddess who has guided me out of the darkness and into my own strength. Honoring her has brought a depth to my craft that wouldn't have existed without her. I honor her by doing witchcraft and death magic. Hermes and I have a similar relationship to that, except he is more distant, I typically honor him when I am studying or doing psychopomp work.
The Norse deities I follow didn't come into my life until I started honoring my ancestors and healing generational trauma, which makes sense to me. Odin came to me at the lowest point in my life. I had to move back in with my abusive father, and my mental health was in absolute shambles. I have CPTSD, and it got so much worse being in that environment. The best way I can describe my relationship with him is that he basically "adopted" me. He is very paternal and kind of an asshole sometimes, but in the loving way. It's funny to me that my girlfriend is devoted to him. He is a being I can't really escape. I have been researching seidr for a while now, and I plan on developing a practice in that style as a way to honor him and Freyja as well as my ancestors. It's a journey though, as I'm sure you know.
Oh, definitely. I love the Old Bastard, but there is a reason why I call him the Old Bastard...
Freyja also helps me a lot with the trauma stuff. The work I do with her primarily is to get me out of the victim mentality and step into my power. She has been an amazing force in my life, her aspects of war and death as well as love and beauty remind me that it is okay to embrace my own duality. She really has helped me integrate my shadow, learn to love it, and utilize its strengths in my magic. I adore her to an infinite extent.
As for Loki, he simply helps me destroy. I am a person with a lot of unfortunate trauma responses, as we know trauma rewires the brain, and he is my designated intense shadow work deity. The space he creates allows me to feel confident in destroying patterns that were given to me by the abuse I was brought up within. He has a Ragnarok joke about it, but essentially his vibe in my practice represents how first there must be The Tower moment before you can rebuild something better for yourself. I didn't realize how intensely all of my relationships were about healing myself until typing this out. It is no surprise, though. I am thankful for them all and the grace they give me.
It seems like you have a good little support system with your deities all helping you to focus on different needs and parts of yourself, which must be fantastic. It’s good to have something in place like that to help you heal.
It really is a nice support system! I love them so much.
😊 I’m happy to hear that.
Moving on, you said that you like to honour your deities with your practice. In what ways?
Well, my oath to Hekate deals with me being a witch. I won't go into details because it's extremely personal. However, casting spells is my favorite offertory act for her. I especially like doing protective magic in honor of her. I honor her whenever I do spells that require tangible tools, more specifically. Freyja and Odin both being deities of magic plays a big part, too. For Freyja, a lot of the magic I do is astral work. Again, can't go too deep into details with it, but she has been giving me "lessons" in the astral, especially in the context of justified baneful magic. My favorite way to honor her with my craft is to curse abusers. I believe cursing can be justified, and if you abuse anyone in any context, you deserve whatever is coming for you. Also, learning more about seidr and adjusting my practice as I do is all for Her.
And as for Odin, I honor him in the ways I channel with music and poetry. Even as a child, I would channel things and they would speak through me. (That is part of the reason my father got so afraid and gave up magic- 7 yr olds chanting in Latin out of nowhere mid ritual can be scary I'm sure haha.) I have been practicing refining that gift in the context of music and poetry for him. I find that channeled messages are more digestible in forms of art, and I already had a spiritual connection to both music and poetry, and it has been a fun way to expand both my artistic ability and my psychic ability. It has been so fun, and writing songs hits a bit differently nowadays! To honor them all, I try to weave magical intention into my everyday mundane tasks.
Could you talk more about your spiritual poetry?
I would love to! I start with offerings of incense and usually a hot drink, either tea or coffee. I meditate on whatever I would like to channel, and then I kinda just go for it while still in the meditative state. It is similar to automatic writing, but I wouldn't call it that. I also have a ritual that I occasionally do that shouts out to the Mead of Poetry, but that includes blood offerings so I won't explain that too in depth. However, whenever I do that ritual, I tend to write more and the messages are more potent. I have a rune I associate with Odin drawn on the back of my guitar, as well as enchantments on my channeled poetry journal to keep the energies pure and focused. A lot of it is heavy meditative work translated into artistic action. Of course, there are times when the channeling is spontaneous and not planned, and that often breeds the more beautiful works.
What does channeling feel like? Would you say you’re always aware of it?
When it starts to happen my body gets very tingly and a warmth begins to pool in my forehead. All I really feel is the "coming up" and "coming down" of it. I don't remember the middle parts. I write things down simply because I will forget literally anything and everything about whatever I just spewed if I don't. I am not always aware when it happens, but I am definitely always aware AFTER it happens. I get very tired, physically tired, and very hungry and thirsty. I like to joke that it feels like I got hit by a bus until I take care of myself. Whenever I try to stay conscious of what is happening when I channel, I end up not being able to channel altogether. I tend to try and only do it in controlled settings because of the toll it takes on me, but sometimes the gods have other plans hah.
I'm the same with channeling and divination; they tire me out, so I understand that. Self care is very important in magic.
What kind of poetry do you tend to write? Do you find you need to edit it afterwards, or do you go with the organic ‘first draft’?
I tend to write free form stuff. I don't know if I'd ever be able to classify it into a type. As for editing, I only really go back and fix spelling and punctuation. I feel that if it was channeled, it was channeled for a reason. I simply just fix errors in typing.
That's a good approach! Do you have a favourite poem you've channeled, or a particularly touching experience you'd like to talk about?
I do have a favorite poem! The one I shared with you earlier, Meditation on the Mothers, is probably my favorite. That experience was one of the unplanned channeling experiences. I was meditating with Frigg, lying face down in some moss having a full blown panic attack. She drew my attention to the passing clouds and I got the tinglies and whipped out Google Docs. I was very touched by how much I had written. Usually what I channel is short and concise, a few stanzas at most. That was the most cathartic experience I have had with channeling. I remember after I made a meal in honor of Her and went back outside until it got dark. It was a moment of self actualization of my purpose and I am infinitely thankful. Even more surprised, as it came from a goddess I don't work with as much as my other deities.
Would you say that your channeling is more ritualistic than other parts of your faith, or is it indicative of your religion as a whole?
It is definitely more ritualistic than other parts of my faith, simply for the sake of my own safety. I take precautions because I know the dangers of unknown entities trying to mess with me because it has happened multiple times. Very unpleasant. So I make sure I am well protected and do what I need to do to ensure my safety and the success of the session. The rest of my practice is really based on intuition, it flows as it pleases.
What kind of measures do you take? Do you use warding or protection when channeling, or do you invoke your gods or...?
Yes! All of the above. I always have wards on my person, but I have specific ones made for channeling. I cast a circle and invoke my deities and go for it. I usually wear oils corresponding to them and jewelry I offered to them as an extra layer of protection, too.
What sort of oils and crystals?
I like patchouli and lavender usually for that purpose. I don't use crystals as much for channeling, but when I do, it's usually amethyst, clear quartz, and obsidian. I have amethyst prayer beads that I wear whenever I do any ritual though.
Very interesting, thanks. New witches, take notes!
Do you ever do channeled writing or services for third parties? If so, what is it like? If not, have you ever considered it?
I haven't yet, no. I have definitely considered it, but I want to refine my skill and be more in control of it before I do that. Definitely something I really want to do though!
I look forward to the day that you do!
You mentioned on your twitter that you want to publish a book of poetry? Will it be just your channeled writing, or other poems too?
That's so nice of you! I think it will be just channeled writing, I feel like that's what I am being called to create. But who knows really? Creativity has no rules and I am still in the early phases of even figuring out what I want the book to be.
Very true. Awen strikes when it will.
Finally, what is one piece of advice you would give a spiritworker interested in channeling and devotional writing?
Be sure to ground and protect yourself. Protection I cannot emphasize enough. I personally have encountered negative entities who have posed as my deities, and I know I am not the only practitioner who has. Channeling can be scary and intense if you don't remember to ground yourself, protect yourself, and take care of yourself after. As for devotional writing that isn't channeled, my advice is to simply go for it! It doesn't matter if you think it's good or not as long as it comes from the heart. Specific notebooks set aside specifically for deities can help focus the intention of devotional writing, too.
Phoebe is a nonbinary lesbian who is an eclectic pagan witch following Hellenic and Norse deities. They specialize in astral magic as well as musical and poetic magic. You can find them on their Twitter, @hearthfireheart.