I Put A Spell On Youâ¦
Fiona Horne In Da House
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
I never was a big Def FX fan, despite having a friend who was obsessed with them, mainly because I had repeated run-ins with one of their members on the 138 bus home from school most afternoons. That wasnât the stunning Fiona Horne, of course, but a different bandmember. If Fiona wanted to terrorise me as part of her pre-fame daily high school routine, I would have let her!
Having an obsessive friend into Def FX and having been firmly entrenched in student media at a time when Def FX were recording and releasing popular music meant that I have had a bit to do with them interview-wise; I published a couple of interviews that I didnât conduct in 1994, and one that I did conduct in 1995. This latest opportunity to interview Fiona comes couresy of FilmInk, hence the run of film- and television-related questions at the end. I hope to have another chat with Fiona when sheâs out here, for radio, when I can bung in a few Def FX recordings as well.
Demetrius Romeo: When you were a musician, had you discovered âwiccaâ as yet?
FIONA HORNE: Iâd had an interest in it since I was seventeen years old. I never talked about it openly while I was in the band, but the song lyrics I wrote definitely reflected my esoteric interests.
Demetrius Romeo: Can you give me an example of a song?
FIONA HORNE: âSpiral Danceâ was one of the songs on the very first EP, the Water EP. âSpiral Danceâ â âThe wise witch wove her dream, spinning cold ropes of silver that wound round the treesâ â that song was about a dream that I had after doing a very long mediation to do with my witchcraft. The lyrics, if you read them â and I actually published them in my first book in Australia, Witch â A Personal Journey â went âin the room at the back of the house, the walls are soft and pulsing, wet and cool, magic wells up inside of me until it overflows, cascading down my cheeks. Starry-eyed, Iâm spinning slowly a spiral dance.â
At the time when I wrote that song, I didnât know that the term âspiral danceâ was a very magical term thatâs used by initiated witches to describe the dance of spirits through the heavens and the energy that conjured during spell-casting when we create a cone of power to fuel our spells. Itâs like an energy vortex, I guess, which weâd create using our mindâs eye, our will and our intent to fuel our goals into fruition magically. Itâs called the âspiral danceâ, and I didnât realise that. So I was tapping into some kind of universal collective consciousness â or unconscious â to be able to write that song.
If you look through the lyrics of Def FX youâll see that often there are esoteric references to tehm and thereâs also a profound love and appreciation for nature expressed through the lyrics that I wrote, like âUnder the Blueâ, many others. But really, the most overt that I ever was about it in my songwriting was when Def FX did the Majick album which was our last one, where I was very open with songs like âSpell On Youâ, âIâll Be Your Majickâ and so on.
Demetrius Romeo: From what youâre saying, it sounds as if the power was reaching out to you before you reached out for it.
FIONA HORNE: I was open to it, but I was tapping into some kind of resonance, I guess.
Demetrius Romeo: To the uninitiated â like me, for example, because I had a very religious up-bringing â my response would be, âdonât mess with what you donât understandâ. There might be something out there, but itâs got to be evil. Apart from that sort response, thereâd be people who didnât want to know about it, or could only relate to fictional accounts as presented by popular culture. So whatâs it like for you, working with witchcraft?
FIONA HORNE: Well, I was brought up Catholic, and I think that one of the greatest fictional works ever written is The Bible, so Iâm very used to being brought up to find great meaning and profound truths in fiction, or in other peopleâs interpretations of events, which is what The Bible is; itâs been re-edited and re-constructed so many times over the thousand or so years itâs existed.
I always think that what appealed to me in witchcraft are some of the most profoundly spiritual experiences I had as a young child being brought up Catholic, were when I was alone growing up in the Australian bush. I live in Illawong, which was a suburb of Sydney. Now itâs full of houses and shopping centres and things, but in my day there were two houses on the whole peninsula of land and it was a very remote suburb and very beautiful, and I used to go out and play in the bush. We didnât have Nintendo then, and we werenât allowed to watch television, and it was really in the bush that I found a great sense of âmagicâ in the world, so to speak. And so when I looked into witchcraft in my teens and realised that at its core it was pagan â âpaganâ meaning âto honour nature is sacredâ â and also that it places great reverence and respect for the goddess, the feminine principle of divinity, that was something that appealed to me a lot, because Iâd been interested in Eastern religions like the Hindu religion which has a lot of goddess figures in it. And so for me, embarking upon this path of learning of my spirituality was very much a spiritual pursuit as much as it was researching spiritualities and expressions of spirituality from other cultures, as much as the practical experience of being outside and realizing that heaven is right here on this beautiful earth. Itâs not up in the sky, out of our reach, and itâs not ruled by a man on a throne, or whatever, which is what my image of God was as a child.
I think one of the most profound privileges that people so often overlook in life is life itself, and that really is what my witchcraft is for me â itâs a way of exploring, through ritual and mythology and practical experience, the profound privilege it is to be alive.
Demetrius Romeo: Now when you put it that way, it just sounds like a commonsense philosophy.
FIONA HORNE: It is! It is very âcommon senseâ; it makes a lot more sense than my Catholic upbringing! A lot!
Demetrius Romeo: What I mean is there are those overtones ofâ¦ you know, casting spells, having control over people, being able to change thingsâ¦
- FIONA HORNE: Well there are three laws of witchcraft, which are:
- Do what you want, as long as you donât hurt anyone else;
- Do what you want, as long as you donât interfere with anotherâs free will;
- As you send out, so returns threefold.
â so, as you can see, you donât control people â and
So you have to be aware, as Jesus said, that as you sow, so shall you reap.
Demetrius Romeo: How does it make itself apparent in your everyday life?
FIONA HORNE: Different witches practice differently. Having now practiced consciously with a degree of discipline for at least the last thirteen or fourteen years â or, at least being out of the broom closet for the last seven or eight years since I published my book â in my own personal time, the ritual and work that I do could be as simple as lighting a candle and meditating in the morning; taking the time as I did last night to watch the full moon rise; saying a prayer of gratitude and thanks to the goddess, to life itself, to this amazing wonderful world; to reading Tarot cards for a girlfriend whoâs maybe having trouble making decisions regarding a guy sheâs dating, whether she should date him or not â Iâll do a reading for her. After a while the craft permeates every facet of your life. It becomes who you are, not what you do. Thatâs whatâs so lovely about it as well, because it really affects the individual. The individual expression of the craft is essential. Thereâs no one book written; there are basic laws as I described earlier and there is some structure, but youâre really encouraged to express your craft yourself, so it becomes really meaningful to the individual or to the coven or group that works together. I think itâs quite lovely, because I know, when I was growing up, that I felt quite powerless, in a sense, or very cut off and shut off from spirituality a lot in that you were told when to sit, when to stand, when to kneel, what to say. Somebody else made it all up. Whereas, in witchcraft, youâre encouraged to put your own stamp on it.
Demetrius Romeo: Where in the US are you at the moment?
FIONA HORNE: I live in Los Angeles.
Demetrius Romeo: Is it hard to stay in touch with nature when youâre in LA?
FIONA HORNE: No, natureâs everywhere. In my garden I have five birds; theyâre all friends of mine. I have my two doves, my two mocking birds, my two blue jays. Thatâs six! Gosh, thatâs right. And there was one squirrel, but now thereâs five running around the house like crazy. Thereâs nature everywhere here. I mean, honestly, my other apartment, I was up above the Hollywood Bowl area; there was a deer in my street! The funny thing about LA is that everyone who hasnât lived here thinks that itâs this sprawling mass of cement, but there is a lot of beauty and nature here. Sometimes itâs even more lovely and beautiful for the fact that itâs in the middle of this big city.
Demetrius Romeo: Thatâs amazing, because I always read that you canât get around LA without a car, so in my head it was just a series of concrete overpassesâ¦ but then, when I think about it, the big âHollywoodâ sign is on the side of a mountain with woods.
FIONA HORNE: You know, you can drive for five minutes at the top of Beechwood Canyon and just disappear into the wilderness and you canât even hear the city below, and there are signs saying âwatch out for rattlesnakes and mountain lionsâ. I think that LA, because itâs the home of Hollywood, it has this great kind of myth around it. And it is a tough city â gosh, it makes you pay your dues when you first come here; it tests you over and over and over again! But if you just stay focusedâ¦ You know, you do have to take that time. I think the great thing about Los Angeleans is that they go hiking; they go to the beach; they search out nature and they search out ways to commune with it. Weâre very spoilt in Australia because weâre kind of just surrounded by it. Here, you do have to hunt it out a bit. But thereâs some of the loveliest land and energy that Iâve experienced anywhere in the world here.
Demetrius Romeo: What took you to LA in the first place?
FIONA HORNE: Well, my first two books that were released in Australia, Witch â A Personal Journey and Witch â A Magical Year were edited together and published by Harper Collins in 2001 and that book did very well for me here. I was able to do quite an elaborate tour with book signings and guest appearances on television and radio. My band Def FX had toured here in the mid-90s and Iâd always wanted to come back to America, so I decided to move over here and try my luck and test my skills as a television presenter and actor in this town and things are going well. Really well. And my books are still doing very well. I just did a huge new book deal with Simon & Schuster out of New York, which Iâm really excited about because the publishing industryâs really tough at the moment. But Iâve just done a brand new deal â probably the best deal Iâve ever done, eight years into my publishing career, which is very exciting. Weâre just signing the contracts now. Itâll be published next year.
Iâm coming to Australia just to be there. I get so many e-mails and so many hits on my website from Australia and I still consider Australia as a very important part of my life, even though Iâm a full-time resident of America now. It was just a wonderful opportunity to come back for a lecture tour.
Demetrius Romeo: Do you still do any music at all?
FIONA HORNE: Not really. Just for fun, not for work.
Demetrius Romeo: And you have a couple of films in post-production.
FIONA HORNE: I completed a film this year, and a film last year. Last yearâs film is called Unbeatable Harold, and I had a featured cameo, I guess, playing Henry Winklerâs girlfriend. Itâs quite extraordinary. Itâs kind of fantasy love story. The main character is a guy, Harold played by the actor Gordon Michaels and itâs adapted from a stage play that he did in New York. Henry has a kind of featured cameo in it as his boss, and Iâm one of his floozies. Itâs all a kind of fantastical, exaggerated love story/romantic comedy. My first day on set, I was doing a dance routine with the Fonze! That totally spun me out.
Demetrius Romeo: Did you have a crush on the Fonze when you were a kid?
FIONA HORNE: Well, I think every girl did, yeah! Obviously, heâs older now, but Henryâs so charming and loving. His wife made cake and he brought it on the set. He put out cake, he brought lollies, for everyone. Heâs very lovely and really accommodating for inexperienced actors like myself. Heâs really encouraging and lovely. It was a wonderful experience.
We wrapped that in September/October of last year and itâs coming out later this year, quite possibly early next year.
And then I did, at the start of this year, I was asked to play pretty much a lead role in the film Cult. I play Professor Dianne Estabrook. Itâs a horror film, and horror films are huge at the moment. Itâs a massive genre. Theyâre rushing that for release this year. It also stars Taryn Manning and Rachel Miner.
Demetrius Romeo: What was it like, having a major role in a big film?
FIONA HORNE: Itâs a bit unnerving, actually, because on the second day of filming, I get attacked. I had to be stabbed in the back and then in the eye. I had the special effects and stunt guy showing me how to collapse after an attack. It was really quite confronting because the blood looked really real and youâre in character, and youâre supposed to be on the verge of dying. You really internalise that.
There were other funny moments, like when I was lying wounded on the floor, and itâs three in the morning and Iâd been lying there for a while, and there are other dead bodies around me and this and that, and Iâm incredibly tired because thereâs been some really long nights of shooting, and I hear off in the distance, âFIONA! FIONA!â And I open my eyes andâ¦ Iâd actually fallen asleep! They all thought I was acting really well, lying there as if I was dead, and I was fast asleep. That was really funny: three oâclock in the morning on the floor of a Chinese restaurant, asleep.
One thing I enjoy about acting is that you get to live vicariously through your characters â there are things that Diane would do that I would never do, and I got to do them as her. I really like that about acting. You have this excuse to do whatever your character would do, whatever the script tells you to do, and I really enjoy that a lot. I enjoy acting very much.
And I also did a SCUBA movie. I work a lot for PADI, the Professional Academy of Diving Instructors. Iâve been a SCUBA diver for fourteen years now and I make a lot of appearances in their instructional videos for teaching SCUBA around the world, as well as voice-overs for those videos and radio ads for them, and Iâve just done an âintroduction to SCUBA divingâ film which is just being edited. So Iâve been acting topside and below the water.
Demetrius Romeo: And so youâre experiencing your witchcraft â your appreciation of nature â on land and in the sea.
FIONA HORNE: Itâs a big part of my spirituality, my SCUBA diving. Some of my most spiritual and magical moments are definitely underwater.
Demetrius Romeo: When you sit down to enjoy television or film, what do you sit down to?
FIONA HORNE: I recently got Vera Drake; that was amazing. I like things that are either nature documentaries or things that are intellectually stimulating. Iâd sooner get those than fantasy or sci-fi, funnily enough. I donât draw the line too muchâ¦ for me, if Iâm having a night at home and I want to get a couple of movies just for myself to watch, Iâll get ones that no one else will sit with me and watch, like Vera Drake, or maybe something about the great whites off the coast of Africa â a National Geographic documentary or something.
Demetrius Romeo: Do you go out to the movies much?
FIONA HORNE: I do sometimes. Itâs fun to go out to the movies here, everyone makes such a big deal about it. And I tend to seeâ¦ well I went and saw Saw the horror film my friend Leigh [Whannell] â whom I knew years ago when he did movie reports on âRecoveryâ â and his friend James [Wan] made last year, that created a huge splash here. I was one of the first people to go and see it, that was very exciting. I was on a book tour in New York and I went to a cinema on Forty-Third Street because I had spoken to Leigh during the day and heâd said, âitâs premiering today and Iâm really nervous,â and I said, âIâll go and see itâ. Forty-Third Street was around the corner from the hotel I was at. But even though Iâd bought a ticket at four oâclock in the afternoon for the nine oâclock session, I still had to sit on the stairs to watch the bloody movie â they were turning people away. It just exploded here. It was so cool that James and Leigh, two blokes from Melbourne, had this massive hit on their hands
I really like taking myself off to the movies. I take myself out on dates. Iâll take myself to dinner and a movie and then shopping at Borders Books afterwards.
Demetrius Romeo: I find it hard to believe there wouldnât be any number of people willing to do that for you.
FIONA HORNE: Oh, no, LAâs really bad for stuff like that. My girlfriends and I are all resolutely single and guys are really sleazy and awful over here, pretty much. Iâm so busy and my work involves dealing with so many people whether itâs here or in Australia or wherever, that I like to spend some time on my own. Thereâs a great area here called The Grove and it has a great cinema complex and it has great boutique shops, a great Borders Books and really nice restaurants. Itâs hard in LA to find somewhere where you can just walk around, and at this place you can just walk around so itâs a great afternoon where you can just relax.
Demetrius Romeo: It sounds like a little King Street, Newtown in LA.
FIONA HORNE: Itâs more like an Italian Piazza â thereâs even a singing fountain in there.
Demetrius Romeo: Do you buy many DVDs?
FIONA HORNE: The last DVDs that I bought were Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects and Sideways. Sideways is one of my all-time favourite movies.
Demetrius Romeo: When you watch them are you just into the film or do you get into all the bonus features?
FIONA HORNE: I watch the âprocessâ as well as the film. I watch all the extra stuff and the interviews. I got the Reservoir Dogs special edition with interviews with Quentin Tarantino and everything because, as Iâve been acting more, I like learning about the process. I also did a two-day guerilla filmmaking course just to get an insight into the process of filmmaking so that as an actor, I can understand everyoneâs roles better. I think that itâs really worthwhile doing that because you realise how worthwhile the grips are, how the director of cinematography is probably more important, in some regards, than the director himself. You just understand the roles and how everyone pitches in. There are so many unsung heroes in the process of filmmaking; there are people whose roles are so essential but the audience doesnât even know.
Demetrius Romeo: Television doesnât seem to play a big role in your life at the moment.
FIONA HORNE: Iâve had more work on television than anything else. I hosted a show here last year and I was on billboards all over the country. Work-wise, I do a lot of TV. But Iâm not the kind of person who comes home and switches on the telly unless thereâs a particular show or movie I want to watch.
Demetrius Romeo: Is there no series that youâre addicted to?
FIONA HORNE: Well, Lost is one that I like. But often, my schedule is so hectic so I donât watch those things because I donât want to be tied to the TV screen. But if thereâs a good special on National Geographic or Discovery, Iâll watch it. Iâve enjoyed watching Medium over here, thatâs been pretty big. I enjoy watching Charmed sometimes.
Demetrius Romeo: How do you feel about shows like Charmed and Buffy?
FIONA HORNE: Iâve never watched either of them that much, but particularly with Charmed, people say, âwhat do you think of it? Do you find it offensive?â or something silly, and I say, âwell, itâs not a documentary on witchcraft, itâs entertainment!â So itâs great. The girls look hot, the story lines are hilarious and itâs a great piece of TV. Itâs a Spelling television show, you know. Itâs great mindless entertainment.