By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 2003
This interview was conducted just as Fiona Horne’s “Witchin’: A Handbook for Teen Witches” was about to come out in America. Since that time, Fiona appeared in “Mad Mad House,” a reality show on the Sci-Fi Channel. In the show, Fiona lives in a house with a Naturist(Nudist), Modern Primitive, Vampyre and Voodoo Priestes. Collectively called ‘the Alts,’ they invite 10 guests to stay and compete to win $100,000. For more info on the show, click here.
I saw you perform with Def FX in the early 90’s – are you still doing music?
Fiona Horne : “I am actually, but not through a record deal or anything like that. I’m going to launch an online store on my website soon. I’ve had a website for many years, but have never used it to generate income or charged anything. I thought that it’s such a good medium to bypass the dying infrastructure of the music industry. Rather than get a record deal…. I’ve had some interest, but I just don’t want to go through all the crap of it. I’d rather just make the music I want to make without anyone telling me if it’s marketable. So we’re just going to release our music on the internet. You can buy the cd online, and access the videos, and just do it all online.”
What inspired you to write a book aimed at teen witches?
Fiona Horne : “This book was originally released in Australia nearly 2 years ago, and it was actually released under a different title, ‘Life’s A Witch,’ with a different cover. And I re-edited it for the Northern Hemisphere, bringing a few bits and pieces of information up to date. When I wrote that book, it was because I had so many queries and questions from teenagers who had read my previous books that were geared towards a more mature audience. So many of them were asking me specific questions relating to issues that were affecting them. Primarily, teen love, parents, school, and peer pressure. And so the book addresses a lot of that, those particular issues. Not just in spells … there are spells in there that can work in those different situations…. but also from the lifestyle perspective, the spiritual perspective of witch craft. Witchcraft isn’t all about casting spells. That’s one aspect of it, but it’s a whole way of living life. There are a few other books out on the market aimed at teenagers. There’s Silver Ravenwolf’s ‘Teen Witch’ which was probably the first to really make an impact at that level. But a lot of them are very mumsy, sort of parental. And I wanted to write a book that rather than talking down to teenagers more talked with them. And that’s what I tended to do.”
How does the recently released US edition differ from the original version?
Fiona Horne : “It hasn’t changed that much to be honest, at all. I made sure the Northern Hemisphere correspondences were included. In the Southern Hemisphere, when we create a sacred space, we do it with the sun, which in the Southern Hemisphere is counter-clockwise but in the Northern Hemisphere is clockwise. A few things like that, where directions change a little because you’re on a different part of the planet. Being a Pagan religion, witchcraft is practiced according to the seasonal changes of the land that your physical body is in at that time. So the book reflects that. And that’s really all; the information is still very contemporary and relevant so I didn’t need to do a big re-write. I’m actually in the middle of writing another book at the moment, so I’m caught up with that.”
Can you describe the book that you’re working on?
Fiona Horne : “It’s tentatively titled ‘The Coven.’ It’s about working witchcraft in groups. Because the other books that I’ve written have been more geared towards solitary practitioners. It’s aimed particularly at the new breed of eclectic witch emerging now not tied to a tradition or who hasn’t been initiated into an established coven. Who perhaps has been drawn to it of their own volition and is sort of looking for ways to link up with other people and do the rituals and work with other people. Share the life with other people. And that means creating their own groups. So the book is geared towards that.”
What made you decide to make witchcraft part of your professional career?
Fiona Horne : “It wasn’t a conscious decision to make it part of my career. It’s a good point that you bring up, though, because I was in the band for seven years and I never openly spoke about it. The song lyrics certainly reflected my interests, and I wore a pentacle on stage sometimes or on an album cover. But it just seemed to happen. When the band broke up I was toying with the idea of writing a book. I’d been working as a journalist for a while, and friends of mine encouraged me to write some pieces on witchcraft. And then I was commission to write a big piece by Marie Claire magazine in Australia. And that just led to writing a book. And at the time I didn’t expect it to become such a part of my profession, because it was always my personal spiritual thing that I kept very quiet and I spent my time learning about it at my own pace. It’s kind of like…. I don’t want to say ‘what you’re called to do’ because that implies some kind of divinity outside of us telling us what to do, which I don’t believe in. But I felt compelled, that it was appropriate to share what I knew after 12 years. There’s a loose kind of agreement among long-time witches that you usually study for 7-10 years, and the next 7-10 years you teach. And then you go back and study again, also teaching but teaching the deeper mysteries. It’s not as public; it goes back to being more private. Because of the nature of my job … I’m working in the entertainment industry and have been for the past 15 years … if I were working in a bank, I’d probably be doing money rituals in the bank with everyone [laughs]. I don’t know! So it just kind of happened, and seemed appropriate.”
If teenagers have parents who don’t understand their interest in witchcraft, what advice would you give?
Fiona Horne : “This what I said to my parents…. That you have more to do with Satan than I do, because you’re Christian. I don’t believe in Satan, it’s not part of my religion. It’s a bit cheeky, but it’s like Allah, the Muslim god, doesn’t register with us. We don’t worship Allah, why would we worship Satan? It’s not even part of our religion. What’s real witchcraft is obviously being confused and swept up in the Christian worldview. Because in establishing itself as the dominating kind of force in the mind set of people it had to declare everything that came before it evil and heretical. And that’s why witchcraft got such a bad rap. I think with teenagers, I encourage them to calmly address the situation with compassion and love. Because generally what their parents are expressing is fear and ignorance. So you say to them ‘This is what it really is, here’s a book about it, have a little bit of a read and then we can discuss it.’ And that’s what you need to do with them. Sometimes it’s hard with parents … I have teenagers writing to tell me that their father or mother has confiscated their Book Of Shadows or thrown out all their incense or whatever. Again, I just think it’s about being patient and sharing knowledge about what real witchcraft is. Explaining to them that we don’t worship Satan, that we honor nature, recognize a goddess as well as a god. We want to be the best we can be, and we use our spells and magic and ritual to express our greater strengths that lie within us.”
Based on your conversations and correspondence with teenagers, how do they tend to initially develop an interest in witchcraft?
Fiona Horne : “Certainly in the past five years, there’s been an explosion of television shows and films that deal with magic and witchcraft. That’s fueled a lot of interest among teens. But it’s kind of a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Those films and television shows were developed because it was perceived that there was an interest, an audience to market to. And then marketing to that interest compounded it and on and on it goes. Having been practicing for as long as I have, I’ve seen ebb and flows of interest in witchcraft come and go. I know in the mid-80’s with the New Age movement there were some books coming out. But then it kind of got swept under the mat again in the late 80’s. Then I came through again in the mid 90’s. I’ve had people ask me, ‘well don’t you find the shows on TV and all that offensive? Don’t you think they’re attracting kids who are more interested in the fashion statement than real witchcraft?’ And I don’t agree. The shows on television aren’t documentaries on witchcraft; they’re fun entertainment pieces that make you think. And that’s what art is, whether it’s good art or bad art. It’s an expression of creativity. That’s an integral part of our evolution as a species. Whether it’s a television show that talks about witches or has a fantasy element, a figure of a witch portrayed, and that sparks an interest in witchcraft, then that’s a good thing.”
What are you feelings on the portrayal of witches on TV and in movies?
Fiona Horne : “I find it funny. I watch them and find little bits of where they extracted stuff and then they just go off on massive tangents. Like ‘The Craft’ was like that and so was ‘Practical Magic.’ I always thought that ‘Bewitched,’ the original television series, was more like real witchcraft. Some of Endora and Samantha’s incantations are really good! They rhyme and connect with the subconscious effectively. The way that things happen in that show, funnily enough, sometimes to me speak more of life. Because there’s a sense of humor in it. I find that one of the big differences between witchcraft and say, being brought up a Catholic, was that it [being brought up a Catholic] was so somber and serious. Based around mistakes and pain and problems. Witchcraft is more about having love.”
What else are you working on right now?
Fiona Horne : “I’m really busy at the moment. I moved to America right at the end of 2001 with the purpose of developing a television show based on my books. I came up with an idea that is part entertainment, part educational. Maybe making that show that is more content oriented, with substance, and is also able to be very entertaining and provocative. I’ve got a big agency representing me now, William Morris, and we’re working hard to create this television show and get it up. And I’m also writing this book, and working on music, and launching the online store.”
Can you describe the music you’re currently working on?
Fiona Horne : “The music that I’m doing now is very dark and moody, and very different from Def FX. It’s very different from anything I’ve done previously, but based around music I’ve always loved. Definitely inspired by bands like My Bloody Valentine, Rhy Cooder’s soundtrack to ‘Paris Texas,’ and sort of avant-garde 70’s film soundtracks. Lyrically, really nothing to do with witchcraft, just to do with life and living, sadness and darkness. It’s quite dark, the music, but has a euphoric feel to it as well.”See all interviews →