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Australian Media on Paganism

The Horne witch project

ALI GRIPPER Sydney Morning Herald Friday, 01 Oct 1999

From section: Metro Mind, body & soul

ALI GRIPPER is almost spellbound as Fiona Horne initiates her into the ways of witchcraft in the '90s.

The nation's most glamorous witch is calling from Melbourne on her PR manager's telephone. Her mission: to redeem several centuries of persecution and bad press about witches. This one-woman crusade can sometimes be exhausting.

"Witchcraft is such a maligned term," she says brusquely. "People still see us as inherently evil, or as cackling old hags who cast bad spells on people. Most of it is about worshipping nature and the world, and enriching your own life."

If anyone can make the image of witches more appealing, it will probably be Horne. Over the past few years the former rock star (she fronted Def FX but is now solo) has carefully cultivated the image of a minor celebrity; a pin-up girl for the New Age. She's got terrific cheek bones. Her nude shots with a snake for Playboy caused a buzz. She says "cool" quite a lot. And you'll be hearing more from her.

Underneath all the jargon and pop psychology is someone hell-bent on promoting herself, as well as gaining public understanding and acceptance of witchcraft. Three minutes after telling me that "all the magic you ever need is inside you" and "heaven is already here on Earth", she's asking for the date this article is to be published, hoping it helps with "cross-promotional opportunities".

Her new book, Witch - A Magickal Year (Random House, $24.95) is written in a perky, Dolly-magazine style and makes witchcraft seems like a kind of game or lifestyle statement. There are secrets, spells, a Wiccan marriage ceremony and even a handy glossary of terms such as "Merry Meet Merry Part Merry Meet Again" - the traditional greeting and farewell performed by witches.

Witchcraft, says Horne, is a benign, inspirational, alternative way of living and its time has come again. There's no denying that ancient, pre-Christian beliefs such as witchcraft and Wicca have attracted the interest of many young people, particularly women, as a far more appealing explanation of spirituality. The Internet is swamped with witchy activity, mainly by those disillusioned with a conventional "patriarchal" church system.

Horne admits she was a Catholic. "I could never understand that you have to eat the body of Christ. Why should we, when we are already complete in ourselves, when our bodies are already sacred?"

Despite all the ceremonies and rituals, however, witchcraft is not really "spiritual" as such, says Horne, nor is it a religion: it simply fulfils the same need that a Christian or a Jew finds in their faith. But this doesn't stop it bringing tremendous emotional and physical gains, she says.

Horne says she knows many professionals who are witches and incorporate rituals into their daily life.

A man can be a witch, too. You don't have to dress in special clothes and you can take your witchcraft into the office.

"One woman I know, is working her way up the telecommunications industry and has cauldrons and crystals. She has a pentagram [a star sign used for blessings] over her office door," she says. "And she's making a s---load of money."

Witch - A Magickal Year by Fiona Horne is on sale today.

Witchy speak from Witch - A Magickal Year

Athame: A knife used for casting circles and channelling energy. Not used for cutting up chickens.

Blessed Be: Traditional witchy farewell and blessing.

Handfasting: A wedding ceremony for witches.

Pentagram: A star used for blessings performed by witches.

Poppet: A doll made to represent a person or an animal and used in spells and rituals.

Skyclad: "Clad only by sky" - in other words, naked.

So Mote It Be: Chanted at the completion of a spell or a blessing. Used in the same way as "amen".in the same way as "amen".

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