Fiona Horne laughs when she says she "came out of the broom closet" 20 years ago. She has good reason to. Witchcraft not only changed her life, but maybe even saved it.
The singer, television presenter, author and now commercial pilot is considered an expert on modern witchcraft and Wicca. She has written 11 best-selling books about it and received awards from her Wiccan and witchcraft peers for helping to dispel negative stereotypes and myths about what is now acknowledged as a world religion and respected spiritual path.
But it hasn't been an easy journey. Her childhood was tough and beneath the glossy veneer of celebrity adult life wasn't much easier. Horne was writing about witchcraft but not practicing it. Driven by the most primitive of instincts - survival - she was working the celebrity circuit and rapidly losing her sense of self.
It is only when she fully embraced witchcraft that she was granted the direction she needed to break free from the negative influences in her life. Horne gave up alcohol, drugs and other toxic habits and chose to live a more simplistic existence.
"I decided to step away from it all and reinvent myself as a private pilot who would fly aid to stricken communities and help with animal rescue work," she tells Weekender.
"I wanted to be useful in the world. When I left Hollywood in 2013 and moved to the Caribbean, I got a job as a marketing manager for an aviation company and taught yoga and fire-danced at events and resorts for three years to save money to go to flight school and get my commercial ratings. I achieved these in 2016 and I have been working as a commercial pilot since then.
"I still perform donated flight and organisational duties for aid and relief efforts and animal rescue but my day job is flying people and cargo around the Caribbean in Aztecs and Navajos - twin-engine passenger aircraft with five and nine seats respectively."
She laughs again and says the pilot's seat is far more comfortable than a broom.
In 2017 Horne coordinated relief efforts in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Matthew and flew two humanitarian aid missions into Haiti. Later that year two catastrophic hurricanes hit her island home and she was involved in recovery efforts. She felt useful. Viable. Horne was in a position to write for love, not money, and penned her autobiography The Naked Witch.
Her latest book continues that positive theme. Rockpool Publishing are releasing The Art of Witch next month and Horne's debut oracle card deck, Magick of You, in July. She will conduct a spoken word tour along Australia's east coast to coincide with the book release and play a handful of gigs with her Def FX bandmates along the way.
It was music, you see, that made Horne a household name in the 1990s.
Def FX cracked the ARIA top 50 with Psychoactive Summer in 1995 and recorded four albums before disbanding in 1997. Horne's world was turned upside-down.
"My band had just broken up and I was flailing and trying to hang on to a sense of identity and self. Everything I had known for seven years was torn away in an instant," she says.
During that time Horne had also turned her attention to television. She had her own show, Party, on Channel Nine and regular appearances on Hey Hey It's Saturday, Good News Week and Good Morning Australia. But something was still missing.
Then a friend suggested she write a book.
"It was a question of survival," Horne says.
"My girlfriend at the time, Helen Razer, had just published a book, 3 beers and a Chinese meal,with Random House. She introduced me to publisher Jane Palfreyman who said 'A rockstar writing a book about witchcraft? That should sell a few copies'. And it did.
"Witch: A Magickal Journey went on to become a best seller and launched a publishing career that has spanned two decades now.
"My motivation to write books continued to be survival and work for a long time - but it's different now."
Horne moved to Los Angeles in 2001 on the back of Witch: A Magickal Journey. Television interviews, more books and a starring role in the SCI FI Channel television series Mad Mad House followed.
"I was known as 'The World's Favourite Witch' but deep down I felt increasingly lost and separated from a sense of purpose in the world. Something as spiritual as witchcraft had become my job," she says.
"I was one of those celebrities saying yes to everything and attending the opening of an envelope in a desperate attempt to survive and make a living in the entertainment industry. It's largely a shallow, harsh world."
Her new book, The Art of Witch, is her manifesto. Her life's work. It is a culmination of all she has been through and all she has learned along the way. And it was written with the intent of helping others.
"I'm motivated by a desire to be of service, to share what I've learned magickally and practically on my life's journey and hopefully enrich and inspire other people's lives," she says.
"As a witch I know anything is possible. I've learned that it's not the spells I cast but the rituals of gratitude I perform that shape my life. I talk about this in the new book. When I define my 'success' by what I am giving rather than what I'm receiving I find all my needs are taken care of, and more, often beyond my wildest dreams and most fierce spell-casting efforts.
"My witchcraft has formed a spiritual foundation that has supported and nourished me along my life's journey. It has grown and evolved over the decades to the point where now, 30 years along the path, I am considered an Elder and I feel sufficiently experienced to share a manifesto about what I've learned."
So, what exactly is modern witchcraft? It's a far cry from the medieval stereotype. When Horne first identified as a witch she was up against myth, superstition and fear. Times have changed.
"Witchcraft is a very feminine-centric spiritual path which is a healthy, balanced approach after centuries of patriarchal dominance," Horne explains.
"It respects and honours the natural world. It encourages individuals to forge their own path and identity in a way that is profound and enriching. It celebrates strength in diversity."
Embracing each moment with a clear mind and appreciating it, she says, means that something as simple as lighting a candle or diving into the ocean "can have profound magickally transformative effects".
"That is where magick happens ... your perception is the glue that puts the pieces together and it is also the trusting hand that humbly releases its micro-managing grasp and trustingly allows the universe to take over."
Horne will be encouraging questions from the audience at Maitland Library on June 13 where she will be talking about The Art of Witch.
"I want people to have the opportunity to ask me questions personally - to connect in a meaningful way," she says.
"The book starts with a letter to the reader that includes a lot of practical tips from eating mindfully, moving joyfully, working happily, loving self and others in an authentic consistent and joyful way - all the secrets I've learned in how to grow not older but better.
"The second part of the book is a point-by-point explanation of how to live and practice a magickal life as a witch. I want to share what I've learned that has brought me to this place of feeling fulfilled and joyful consistently and sustainably in my life."
As for music, it was her first love and remains an important part of Horne's life today.
"I'm so excited to be performing live again," she says.
"It's amazing to start rehearsing and all the songs are still right there on the tip of my tongue. Music inspires, motivates and drives me."
Def FX are playing at University of Newcastle's Bar on the Hill on June 21. Tickets are on sale now.
"This is the last time I will do something like this, I'm quite sure - I never expected to step back in to public life after stepping away to work a regular job," she says.
"I'm so grateful for this opportunity to connect with everyone magickally and musically in Oz this year. After that I'm going to quieten back down and just get on with my own magickal journey again. Though as a witch I know anything can happen and usually does ... so we will see."