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Australian Media on Paganism

Bewitched

Sept, 1998 - Ralph Magazine

By Milissa Deitz

FIONA HORNE, lead singer with now-extinct Sydney band DefFX, is a witch. Not that you'd notice by looking at her, but she has written a book all about it. She penned Witch, A Personal Journey while contemplating her musical future as a solo artist, and took time out to talk to Milissa Deitz.

Do you think you'd still be as popular as a witch it you were ugly?

"I know our society has an elitist aesthetic attitude. I try to focus not so much on being attractive, but being healthy and happy in my skin. I've gone through all the hang-ups and obsessions - weight, droopy boobs, cellulitey bum, or whatever. One of the great things about surviving through your teens and 20s with your sanity intact is being able to accept yourself as you are.

"Being beautiful isn't about how well you scrub up in cleverly lit photographs with nice make-up; it's how you feel about because that always comes through. I felt beautiful the day of the photos.

"In the past, I had to overcome the assumption that I was a lightweight, blonde bimbo. I persevered through being portrayed like that for about five years. I busted through it by becoming a writer and showing people I had a brain.

"To answer the question though, yes, I would be as popular. If I couldn't back up my witchiness with an intelligent mind and a healthy dose of common sense, I would have been written off by now."

Given that you're vocal about being a feminist and strong woman, do you think people will be surprised to see you in RALPH!?

"I only agreed to do the shoot if I was in complete control. I chose the photographer, the stylist - I chose everyone involved. I respect the hard political battles women have won because, thanks to them, I can now do what I want, when I want. Part of being a feminist is being happy being yourself, and these photos express my femininity and my sexiness on my terms. I feel confident that the photos are strong and passionate and sexy and difiant."

"There's a chapter in my book dealing with sex magic, called 'Beds, Knobs and Broomsticks'. Witches consider the body sacred and not something that can be debased or handed over to the devil. We have a very healthy attitude towards our bodies and sex.

"The union between a heterosexual couple is symbolically represented at every coven gathering. It celebrates the idea that a male and a female can create life - and that's sacred. Ninety-nine per cent of all sex magic in ritual is expressed symbolically. I certainly don't think that's any more bizarre than the ritual of communion, where you eat the body of Christ and drink his blood. That's cannibalism!

"We don't celebrate the union of a heterosexual couple as being superior to that of a gay or lesbian couple. All expressions of pleasure and joy are divine to the Goddess and the God.

"Love and sex and sexuality, expressing a love of sex and a love of life are all considered divine. I no longer suffer the guilt I did as a Catholic schoolgirl, being led to believe I had the choice of being Madonna or whore. The parameters of witchcraft have encouraged me to explore my sexuality in a far more constructive environment." Fiona Horne, profile

What about orgasm as an energy source?

"People get too attached to the idea of orgasm as a quick thrill, but an orgasm can be cultivated and expressed far more profoundly than a quick 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am'. Or sir. One of the greatest gifts of being a human is being able to orgasm, and I think we should take advantage of that."

How do you cultivate an orgasm? "In my book, I talk about how witches doing sex magic - using the power of orgasm as a fuel - focus on their body's power. A male witch - instead of sitting in a corner jerking off with a dirty magazine - would concentrate on the ability his body has to have an orgasm.

"It's an all-engrossing thing; I'd liken an orgasm to all the joy there is at the core of the universe. You transcend the physical, you transcend the boundaries of flesh and lose yourself in that amazing moment. You cultivate an orgasm by focusing."

As a witch, is the pressure on when you're having sex to give a man an out-of-this-wodd expedence?

"No. I'm in a monogamous relationship with someone incredibly sexy who I love. We always have great sex because we love each other. Being a mature woman and being comfortable with my body helps. He appreciates that I'm comfortable in my skin. I guess being a witch helps, because I feel that my body is sacred and there's nothing wrong with it, so I tend to be uninhibited.

"I'm not being taken; I'm sharing. I share my body with my lover. We have lots of fun, and we have a pretty wild sex life. We can be as raunchy and hard-core as we want, but it's anchored by the fact that we love each other.

"I think there's pressure for people to feel the old the-grass-is-greener thing, but I think there's a lot of validity in monogamy. Sex becomes deeper and more profound when you can really explore another person.

"I also think people need to slow down. The pressure on individuals to compete can limit their ability to connect with others. Worshipping a nature-based religion can help that - you're encouraged to get back to your roots."

How often do you work 'skyclad' [naked]?

"Isn't it enough that I'm in my underwear on these pages? Now readers have to imagine me naked as well?"

Yes.

"OK. The last time I worked skyclad was with a group of people. It was a women-only gathering. Part of the weekend involved a ritual where we were all naked. It was a very healing and empowering time. There were about 40 women, aged from 15 to 70. It was incredibly liberating, there were so many body types and shapes: bodies that hadn't had children; bodies that had had five kids; bodies that had had five kids and 13 grandchildren.

"We're brought up on a diet of these two-dimensional air-brushed images, so it was fantastic being surrounded by real women. I wish more people could experience that. Working skyclad is empowering, because there are no illusions and no masks. It's about not having anything between you and nature."

How are your plans going for a solo career?

"I've been recording demos and writing songs and developing a big picture of what I want to do as a solo artist. For the last few months I've been focussed on publicising my book, but I have found time to work on my music.

"I'm working with a lot of different people, which I find liberating after the strict creative parameters of being in DefFX - after seven years that tends to happen in any band.

"It's been fantastic writing the songs I want to write. Consequently, they're very different to DefFX and lyrically they deal with different issues. The lyrics, in many ways, are more accessible to a greater part of the community because they're less esoteric.

"Musically, I'm working with a lot of programmed sounds, as before, but overall there's more of a pop feel and a bit more of a groovier feel. The screaming and heavy guitars are of the past. I might do that again, but right now I don't feel like expressing myself that way. I've got a new record deal, which is exciting."

How much more pressure do you feel as a solo artist?

"It seems like a sensible and obvious evolution for me after so many years in one band. I've been in the public eye for quite some time. As the lead singer in DefFX, a lot of the attention was on me anyway. I've learned how to enjoy that. It's something that can be quite alarming - you can end up asking yourself, 'Where does the public's opinion of me end and I begin?'

"If anything, I feel less pressure because a solo artist is liberated from a lot of expectations you're expected to be mutable, more of a chameleon. Plus, I'm not a young girl. I'm a 32 year-old woman. If I was 21, I'd feel pressure, but I know who I am at this stage of my life. I still feel very creatively charged and ready to go, but I have the benefit of experience.

"At this stage of my career it's not about raking in millions of dollars; it's about feeling creative fullfilment. Part of that is having other people enjoy and appreciate your work. My greatest thrill is the feedback I get on a one-on-one basis from the public."

Tell us about the book.

"Writing the book was part of the cathartic and healing process I went through, over the band breaking up, getting to know who I was and what I wanted again.

"It became semiautobiographical for those reasons. It is full of anecdotal stuff about the band and my relationships. Putting it together was like putting an album together, except I did it by myself, which could be why I feel prepared to pul out an album as a solo artist.

"I thought the book could be seer, as just a fringe thing - fans of DefFX would buy it, and that would be it.

"Part of my research involved talking tc academics about the rising popularity of witchcraft ir Australia, so I became more aware of the growing interest in the mainstream community. I talked to Professor Gary Bouma, from Monash University in Victoria, who recently completed a comparative study of the 1940, 1991 and 199, census reports. He has concluded that nature-based religion - in which witchcraft forms a cornerstone - is the fastest growing religious trend in Australia. There was an approximately 150 per cent increase between 1991 and 1996.

"People seem to be impressed by the book's honesty an the slightly irreverent approach to the subject of witchcraft I wanted the book to say, 'This is a sensible lifestyle choice!

"A lot of men have told me they've enjoyed the book, and lot of men are drawn to witchcraft. Men are just as frustrated a women are by the roles and stereotypes they have to fit into in a patriarchal society."

Witch, A Personal Journey by Fiona Home is published by Random House

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