Rock goddess; author; witch; pilot; fire-dancer; animal rescue volunteer; humanitarian: Fiona Horne shares her views on life and some intimate details, many of which are exclusive to LivingNow.
Having just completed her autobiography, The Naked Witch, Fiona Horne shares with me, in a candid interview, her life’s journey to date. And how she has transformed her life experiences into ways she can best be of service in the world. Being of service is just one of the things that brings Fiona great joy. And that appears to help make sense of everything else in her life, including “the really crappy stuff”.
Having grown up in what was then Sydney bushland, adopted by catholic parents, Fiona struggled to fit in and to feel at home among family: peers, and the like. It was in these early years that Fiona discovered her own sense of God in the form of earth worship: Paganism and Wicca. Still now, as an adult, Fiona finds much solace being out in nature. She recommends creating regular time and space for solitude, as a way to be present and to feel better connected to oneself, and to “whatever your version of god/goddess is”.
Making the most of the dark times
It is inspiring to hear of how Fiona’s life experiences led her to this moment, to be harnessed in ways that assist her in being of service to the world. Even the extremely painful disintegration of her marriage to fellow pilot Jeff, had a positive churned out of it – several in fact.
During one of the darkest times of her life, when she was basically trying to drink herself to death, Fiona became inspired by some young children in Mexico who seemingly had nothing, and were talking about the amazing ‘flying doctors’. Within six months to the day of becoming sober, Fiona passed her final check-ride and became a certified private bush pilot.
The Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti
Using her flying skills, combined with people skills honed during years of being in the public eye, Fiona joined the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti (GSF), and has since been involved in flying essential supplies to an island off Haiti, severely affected by Hurricane Matthew in recent years.
The GSF has flown in educational supplies, doctors, 350 laying chicks for daily protein, and sports uniforms, as part of their missions. Their upcoming November mission will see them flying hundreds of specific seedlings in to help replenish the community garden, which will not only supply sustainable food sources, but also give the residents some empowerment and control over their daily lives.
Fiona speaks of how she likes to keep her life simple and focused, and how lucky she feels to work with the GSF, as they too, keep it simple – with “minimal interference, and maximum help”. Fiona says the best day in aid work, is the day they are not needed anymore. In Fiona’s experience, Haitians are lovely – “They have nothing in many ways, yet they give everything”. This in itself, is a humbling lesson. Fiona is hoping to spend time on one of the islands, creating a crochet circle with the locals, as a fundraiser for future missions, which would also be a way to involve, empower, and engage with the community.
The Naked Witch
The Naked Witch is a very raw and candid sharing of Fiona’s life, and naturally it brought up a lot of confronting feelings, writing about some very intimate parts of her life, and many hard times. Crochet is one of the ‘therapies’ Fiona found during the writing of the book, in particular, she loves making beanies, which she calls ‘Bad Women Beanies’.
I had a giggle at that and Fiona explained that she, “saw an article from the 1800’s stating that a woman who knitted was considered genteel, and engaged in useful pursuits because knitting meant sweaters, jumpers and scarves – ‘proper’ things. And crocheting was the domain of bad women as it was trivial and frivolous, you know – crocheting decorative edges of doilies. So, loose women crocheted, ie: bad women. And good women knitted. So, I thought well f#@k that, I’m a bad woman”. The beanies have always been given away as gifts, but recently Fiona thought how wonderful it could be to auction them off to raise money for plane fuel for future missions.
Another ‘therapy’ Fiona discovered during the writing of her autobiography, was free diving, as a way to find stillness. At the time it was, “really just the one place where I could have complete silence and just be in the complete moment, because I was living so much in the past writing that book”. This in turn led to Fiona becoming involved in marine conservation and she is currently working on crocheting a sea turtle hammock with soft ‘paracord’, to help weigh the turtles as quickly and comfortably as possible.
Diving for Hawksbill sea turtles
Fiona helps dive for Hawksbill sea turtles, which are endangered in the waters off the Caribbean. The conservation group are fitting the sea turtles with acoustic devices to ascertain how the local airport and its extended runway have impacted upon the underwater environment. The findings that come out of these studies will help in the design of future artificial structures that affect underwater environments. Pertaining specifically to sea turtles, of which Fiona says there are currently very few tangible research papers.
Like the other divers, Fiona dislikes ‘messing with these turtles’. But she wants to make sure that the runway at Brewers Bay, which juts out 800ft into the water, isn’t negatively affecting the underwater ecology. And subsequently, the habitat of the sea turtles. With the tag and release tracking system they use, they can see that even though the runway had changed the natural flow of water, it has been built in such a way that the marine habitat is actually flourishing out there.
Fiona says it’s like a baby fish nursery, plus has tonnes of brand new corals growing. One of those corals in particular is the favourite of the Hawksbill, and it is starting to grow in abundance on the underwater structure that extends the runway. As you can imagine, this is exciting and relieving news for the divers.
So what else does a former rock chick turned free diving bush pilot get up to in the Caribbean? Teaches yoga, among other things! Fiona has been a qualified yoga instructor for approximately 25 years, though officially started teaching about 5 years ago.
Yoga is another way that helps Fiona to move through and release emotions when they arise. And it is some of the advice she gave, when I asked her if she had anything in particular she’d like to share with our readers: “Don’t be a slave to the system and think that what the system’s telling you you should look like, is how you should look”.
Fiona went on to say that she doesn’t want to “look like anything other than healthy, useful and efficient. I don’t work out, I just do things that make me feel that I can enjoy my body: yoga, diving, fire dancing, etc, so do things you enjoy. Move joyfully, whatever that is for you”, and “Every step we take now, is a step toward our best self. It’s never too late to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Cry, laugh, release and trust that it will pass. Do something interesting. Move through things; step away, don’t try to change others. Love yourself, in order to allow others to love you too.”
Being a rock chick, author, free diver, fire dancer, and bush pilot might sound intense to some, but rest assured, Fiona has her frailties and insecurities just like anyone else. During the interview, we talked about vulnerability and relationship desires. Fiona spoke very openly about how much she would love to just “lay on the couch with a dude, eat pizza and watch Netflix”, and how only just recently at 51, she was “crying in a heap” over a guy.
Having had to be strong earlier in life, simply in order to survive, sustainable intimate relationships haven’t always come easily for Fiona, and ultimately one of her biggest lessons was that she really needed to just love herself, before she could expect the same from anyone else, and before she could truly be her authentic self.
Once upon a time, in fact for many years, Fiona struggled with addiction and self-sabotage. Particularly after the painful disintegration of her marriage to fellow co-pilot Jeff. Now though, with the help of writing, dancing, yoga, and of giving back to the community in really tangible and grass roots ways, Fiona is happily sober, and still actively taking part in the 12-step program.
“Everything good and bad, has a beginning, a middle and an end. I think when you’re wrapped up deep in the moment of feeling, especially something that’s pushing all your buttons, you can feel like it’ll just go on forever, and you almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I try to just move through things. Step away and you can heal a lot quicker.” Fiona said too that, “finding a way to be of service” has also helped her immensely, in moving through emotions and processing her own life experiences. “Often through your own grieving process, you have an opportunity to actually be an angel in someone else’s life”.
Life in Def FX and her craft
In the early 90’s Fiona not only fronted rock band Def FX, but came out publicly as a white witch. I asked Fiona how she stayed grounded during the Def FX days. And also how she dealt with naysayers and negative press, particularly in relation to her craft. It appears that initially, she didn’t fare well. Trying to explain, justify and defend herself to the critics and sceptics during part of her long ‘people pleasing’ period.
Eventually she learned how to let go of what other people thought of her, and that stemmed largely from her recognition that those comments and judgments were a reflection of her own self-dialogue, and in changing that, those awful things started to go away. Fiona says that “the way we perceive the world is, to a degree, how it manifests”. Now if someone writes something negative about her, Fiona deletes the comment where possible, and says a prayer for the person that they may find peace.
And as for staying grounded as lead singer for Dex FX? She didn’t. “Those were some pretty crazy days ”, Fiona recalls. The one constant thread throughout Fiona’s life however, that kept her somewhat sane, was writing. Writing and connecting with her amazing fans. Fiona loved that connection, and looks forward to the band’s reunion concert planned for next year, where she can again “be with the fans on stage, and all of us be partying together like it’s 1995”. While the visuals of the 90s clothing gave us both a laugh, I am sure Def FX fans will be equally as excited as Fiona, to reconnect and reminisce.
Music of the spheres
As a sufferer of tinnitus, no doubt gained during her time with Def FX, I wondered how Fiona would cope with such high volumes again. Fiona says that although she hears “screaming in her ears constantly”, she has managed to change her perception of it so that it doesn’t rule her life. Nor drive her insane – she calls it the “music of the spheres, the sound the planets make as they move across the sky”.
I personally think there is a lot to be said about changing one’s perception. When the situation itself is out of our control, the way we respond to things makes such a profound difference to our sense of peace, and of self. As Fiona says, “We’re not getting older, we’re just getting better – better at living, even though you might still lie on the floor and cry over a boy sometimes...”
I’d like to thank Fiona for sharing so openly with the LivingNow community, and to wish her all the very best as she herself, ironically, currently continues to hunker down through hurricanes in the tropics. May she be the stillness, in the eye of that storm.
Due to the two catastrophic Cat 5 hurricanes that hit Fiona’s island home of St Thomas since our interview, her planned Haiti mission as referenced in our interview is now on hold as she works on relief efforts for her own island community and the surrounding islands. The islands were all but destroyed; yet the community spirit holds strong.
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