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Rosaleen Norton was variously described by the media of her day as a witch, eccentric, decadent, exhibitionist, crank, genius, freak ... and she defiantly agreed with her incriminators. However, for her peers in Magick and Wtchcraft, both past and present, she was a "Child of the Shadow", an Initiate of occult mysteries and lover of the great god Pan.
Roie is best remembered though by the general public for her art work, produced in the Bohemian Sydney district of King' s Cross, during the 1950's, It was her art which scandalized the moral Australian public of the time and which subsequently led to her numerous court appearances on chargesofv'obsceniry". Since her death in 1979, writer Nevill Drury and publisher Wally Glover have released two books dealing extensively with her art and life-the most recent of which is Pan's Daughter, Collins Australia, 1988. Her unique position in Australian history brought Witchcraft before a sleeping society, unaware to a psychic reali ty. For Australian witches who are rediscovering Rosaleen Norton,


Witch of the Cross





ffl6 1960's

her art ideals, beliefs, and her brave and forthright stand against authority-she has become a true symbol of what it means to be called a WITCH.

a house surround by pepper trees called "Railway Cottage", which she later located in Chatswood, (a Sydney suburb); and a spectreofa shimmering dragon. But Roie's adventures into Witchcraft did not commence until, at the age of seven, two small blue marks appeared on her left knee. The significance of these she attributed to being "the natural sign of a Witch". At fourteen, she planned to experience everything-good, bad and indifferent, and to begin fully expressing this in her own life and art. ' Later, she realised other bodily peculiarities that marked her out as different-a pair of freak muscles from the armpit to pelvic bone on either side of her body; a "Darwin's Peak", ~ rare atavistic formation of the upper ears; and her claim to possess quasi-feline vision, that is, sharper and clearer sight in subdued light than in bright light. In 1924, Roie's parents moved from New Zealand to settle in the leafy suburb of Lindfield, in Sydney, Australia. Her father was a captain in the Merchant Navy, her mother, a highly strung and emotional housewife. In an interview given by Roie in 1957,reminiscing about her childhood, she said-" I remember it as a generally wearisome period of senseless shibboleths, prying adults, detestable or depressing child ren whom I was supposed to like and parental reproaches". Roie struck-out, she wanted an independent childhood, so... she would enjoy meals on the roof top and would sleep in a garden tent. It was here she acquired a furry pet night-spider who "protected" the front of her tent and det~rred any prying relatives. She had a passion for anything grotesque or animistic, developing a fascination in the study of zoology and entomology(along with her instinctive kinship for animals). This love of the animistic nature is strongly reflected in her art work. For now, dvring her developmental years she w,ould lead a wild crew of street urchins, who would plague the neighbourhood. Initiation into the membership ofthisfraternity required one to break into a house and receive a branding with a stick of burning cane-the mark of the devil no doubt! She was a natural leader, though her followers were of dubious loyalty.

At school she was unpopular and was regarded with, a mixture of dislike, derision and fear. In an Art class Roie had produced a drawing entitled "Danse Macabre", depicting every sort of grotesque horror she could put pencil to. The headmistress expelled her for being a "corrupt influence at school" and wrote to Roie'smotherstating ".. she had a depraved Nature which would corrupt the innocence of other girls at school". However, Roie went on to study Art at the Sydney Technical College for two years, under the tutorship of Rayner Hoff. She became Australia's first pavement artist, displaying her skills at the bottom of Rowe Street, near Pitt Street in Sydney City-she was earning $1.90 a day. Later, she modeled for the great Norman Lindsay. Although he obviously appreciated this slim and attractive brunette with sharply angled features, he criticized her as an artist because she would not discipline herself. Roie's own artwork was strongly dependant on anatomical realism. Her provocative paintings of half-human, halfanimal forms were more controversial than Norman Lindsay's nudes. She lived in a world populated with spirit beings and astral entities which manifested in her paintings. She had a penchant for cats both in her paintings and at home. She believed that they were superior to people because they embodied a spiritual sensitivity, which was lacking in mankind. In the late 1940'sand early SO's Roie moved to live mainly in and around several houses in the Kings Cross district-it was here she became affectionately known as the bohemian Witch-lady of the Cross. She identified strongly with this image and started wearing more flamboyant clothing; such as billowing blouses, vivid bandanas and would be seen puffing on an exotically engraved cigarette holder. For the Christian mores this all added up to an affront to human decency and counter to orthodox Christian practices. The stage was set for an explosive confrontation with the powers that be. In 1934, the national newspaper Smith's Weekly announced that it had discovered Australia's own Edgar Allan PoeRoseleen Norton; she was only sixteen. But after only eight months with Smith's

, Things of darkness
Rosaleen Miriam Norton was born in Dunedin, New Zealand on the 2nd of October 1917, at 4 a.m. during a violent thunderstorm. Her love of the night and things of darkness continued to influence her throughout her life--"Night is for me the time when all my perceptions are alert, when Ifeel most awake and function best; this idiosyncrasy was a perpetual bone of contention with my mother, since persuading me to go to bed was no easy task-nor was waking me in the morning." Aust. Post. Jan. 3rd 1957. Roie'sartwasproduced by automatismthat is.. produced automatically by a concealed motivative power. Her first drawings were at the age three and a half, titled "Nothing Beasts" and "Flippers"; the latter resembling hostile ghosts while the Nothing Beasts kept these at bay. "Apropos of apparitions, various psychic manifestations both subjective and objective have always been an integral part of my life; consequently I accepted them unquestionably as part of the natural order of things." Roie continued to have many psychic experiences during her early years . At the age of five she claimed to have seen the following apparitions-a lady in a grey dress standing beside her bed; a vision of


Witch of the Cross

Roseleen found the atmosphere to be too dull and so she resigned. Roie set to work "_.l in preparation of holding exhibitions of her paintings. She had moved in with her current boyfriend who was living in a room at Sydney's first pub, "the Ship and Mermaid Inn". This was the haunt of artists, musicians and of course drunks, and it was here Roie had her first formal contact with mystical writings 'of the occult. She read Levi, Crowley, Dion Fortuneand various Theosophical writers. She also read Gerald Gardner's works, the man acknowledged as the Father of Modern Witchcraft.


Freedom, Marriage & Art
Role's firstdefacto relationship was short lived and was soon replaced by another, this time a dapper young man whose name was Beresford. Roie and Beresford quickly became infatuated with each other and decided to get married. This was in 1934, they were both only seventeen and the following year was the outbreak of the Second World War. Beresford, in a fit of patriotism, went off to fight. Roie was not impressed, and so when he returned she demanded a divorce. A Numerologist had worked out Roie's name chart-"Iife would lie away from the beaten track" ... and with her desire to extract the utmost from life this certainly seemed to be her destiny. It would be destiny at work too which would cross and intertwine Roie's path with that of a young poet, Gavin 0eenlees. During the war years there were few publications available for artistic outlet, but one such magazine was the Pertinent. This was a pocket-sized monthly magazine, a blend of "fiction, fotos and fact". Rosaleencontributed various works, the first, a pencil study titled The Borgias and a couple of fantasy worksdepicting ghosts and elementals. Gavin Greenlees had also contributed some poetry to Pertinent, but it wasn't until 1949 that the two met, in the same year that Roie held her controversial art exhibition at Melbourne University. Roie was a bit too strong for the delicate MelixlUrnites and caused quite a stir amongst the art lovers. Some of her exhibits featured panthers making furious love to ladies and maggots


crawling out of rotting skulls. As if the Melbourne populous had not had enough, Roie returned for a second exhibition later that year. It was during the second exhibition, held in Melbourne's Rowden-White Library, that Gavin Greenlees entered Roie's life and was to become a permanent part of it. Gavin Greenlees was aged nineteen, thirteen years Roie's junior, but they were deeply in love and totally devoted to each other. Controversy was just around the corner and would test their love for each other. The second exhibition was to run from August 1 to 23 (1949). On the second day of the exhibition the police descended on the gallery, seizing four of Roie's

paintings-Witches' Sabbat , Lucifer, Triumph, and Individuation. They charged Roie under the Obscenity Act! On the 3rd of August Inspector Tannahill and Detective John Olsen stated that they had received a number of compliants about the drawings. Words used to describe her worl~ were "lewd and disgusting" , "stark ~suality running riot" and "a gross shock to the average spectator, as a witch's orgy". Roie was unimpressed, she responded by stating, "Obscenity like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Thisfig leaf morality expresses a very unhealthy attitude". The court hearings were held before Stipendiary Magistrate Mr. Addison. Roie's legal councillor was Mr. A.L.Abrahams who argued in her


Witch of the Cross



hands of the, Official Bankruptcy.



The Government and Police stand against Roie can be viewed in retrospect as a repressive stand against Witchcraft. Rosaleen Norton, thro,ugh trance states, accessed a pathway to dimensions, which for most people, was a completely unknown, uncharted and therefore feared domain. The psychic reality and the supernatural, have both been repressed by the Christian Churcb /Covernmentoffhis country (as well as others). Psychic experiences are sanctioned only by those who the Church consider touched by God . and have safely departed this world. Roie was too visually prominant. She did not acknowledge her earthly masters and came to believe that the cosmic" beings who contacted her in trance states existed in their own right. While in their realms they were master-not she or the Authorities. Like the traditional shaman or witch under-going a visionary journey of the soul, Roie had discovered an inner realm of being which was much more profound, much more total, than the events in the everyday world. Knowledge of such things is still looked upon with suspicion even today, and was certainly a taboo subject in the 1950's.

The Great God Pan

defence--"We have to cater for people with normal reactions to sex, not morons, the subnormaz and neurotics ... The ad under which this prosecution is launched is based on a Olseheard during Queen Victoria's reign in 1836... " Role's case was thrown out of court. The Magistrate dismissed all charges against her and awarded £4/4/costs against the Police for wasting the courts time. Hereafter, it would seem the police were never far from sniffing around Roie's door.

The Book
In September 1952 Gavin and Roie, with the support of Wally Glover as publisher, released a book of illustrations and poems. It was a limited edition of 1000 copies.

The book made an immediate impact. Roie even received an invitation from the American Consul for a copy to be bound in bats skin. However, the Post Master General threatened prosecution over what he was claiming to be a an indecent publication-the offending article being certain female figures in the book who were displaying pubic hair. Wally.GI?ver was subpoenaed to attend court and fined £5 plus costs for including two ilIJstrations described as "offensive to public chastity and human decency" Only after two of the plates ("The Adversary" and "Fohat" ) were blacked out was the book allowed to proceed. By 1957, with many other complications involved with the book, Wally Glover was bankrupt. The copyrights to the book were now in the

Roie began now to more openly practise Witchcraft and gave many newspaper and magazine interviews. She tried to bridge the gap between herself and a voyeuristic and fearful public by describing her experiences as a form of psychism, similar to certain forms of Yoga. But inevitably she would be asked-"Is Pan the Deoil?" Her comments and views on Pan were quite unexpected by the Press of the day"Frankly I don't care whether anyone else agrees with them (her views). I think thegod Pan is the spirit whose body--{)r such of it as Oln be seen in these four dimensions (the fourth being Time)-is the planet earth; and who, therefore in a very real sense, is the ruler and god of this world. Perhaps that is why he was given the name Pan, "Pan" which in Greek means "All", for he is the totality of lives, elements and forms of being organic, inorganic and otherwise comprising the earth

Witch of the Cross

as a whole: much as an animal body is the totality of a myriad of cells, bacteria, &c, in which these live and function; having their own forms of "intelligence" and perception ", according to type ... A god is a very different . form, involving other laws and dimensions and could manifest simultaneously in any number of places and shapes to those who form part of him, or others, without disturbing any plane of his multiple consciousness and activities elsewhere ... Man creates the devil in his own image; generally convenient scapegoat for shortcomings." as a very his own

Child of the Shadow
In mid September 1955, Anna Hoffmann, a migrant from New Zealand (and at the time a vagrant), made claims to the Police of having attended Devil worship rites with Rosaleen Norton. When asked what was involved she described the participants as wearing black robes and performing a Black Mass, having sex orgies and parties. The newspapers were again alive with reports of Witchcraft, which only served to reinforced thf public image of Roie as the Witch of the Cross. During Hoffmann's trial it eventually came to light that she had no direct knowledge of her claims, but the damage was done. Later, in the same month David Goodman, owner of the Kasmir Cafe, was charged under the Obscene Publications Act. He was displaying some of Roie's paintings.
• •

It would seem much of what happened to Roie and those associated with her, was designed to discredit her. Roi'e did from time to time run Occult Circles, but she by no means encouraged followers. These meetings varied from being simple trance workings, much like those conducted b.y Spiritualists, to pagan rituals performed mostly in private. She took her oCt,ult practices quite seriously-experimenting and researching in altered states of consciousness, or trance. Here she describes her early experiences:
"I decided to experiment in self-induced trance; the idea being to induce an abnormal state of consciousness and manifest the results, ifany, in drawing. .. I decided to apply psychic stimulus to the subconscious: stimulus that the conscious reasoning mind might reject, yet which would appeal to buried instincts as old as man, and would (I hoped) cause psychic 'automatic refkxes'. (Religious

Pan is a very significant deity for the present day; as god of this world he protects and conserves the natural bea uty and resources of the environment. Hecan be seen alive and at work in the consciousness of the anti-pollution .. lobbies, such as Friends of the Earth and new age groups like The Findhorn Foundation. Roie regarded Magic "Panther

of silence; god of Night; cults use ritual, incense, etc. for the and Witchcra~ as .a spearhead Lord of the wild and inhuman stars: same reason). Consequ~tly, I for the protection of the planet •. collected together a vanety of Earth, and as the ultimate You are my own; teaming soul of salt tude. things such as aromatic leaves, source of her own artistic Here is no loneliness secret Masterwine,alightedfire,amummified inspiration. She had many , hoof, etc ... all potent strmu/r to the spontaneous magical experiences You, Dark Spirit are with me." part of the unconscious that I wished to
invoke. I darked the room, and focusing

long before becoming acquainted with the means of structuring them in the terminology of Demonology and Witchcraft. Roie was a natural medium for the expression of an alternate and psychic reality, dimensions normally outside the grasp of most people. Roie tried to depict these powerfully im pressive experiences through her art; capturing wild Boschean whirlpools of energies and the _great supernatural entities riding in the eddies. Some of her experiences could be compared with simultaneously watching and taking part in a drama, in which all the cast performed; using music, ceremonial ritual, shaping light and sound patterns which would be blended into one-"There was was darkness; the living darkness of the Void, vibrant and pulsing with power. And then appeared deep-coloured luminous rays of manifestation. Slowly unfolding lines of force flowing stealthily, relentlessly, like the iridescent coils of a mighty python."-A

Finally, only a few weeks later, in October, the Police from the Vice Squad descended on Roieand Gavin, laying charges against both of them. It transpired that two men, Francis Honer and Raymond Ager had tried to sell some photographs (stolen from Roie's flat), to the Sun newspaper for £200. The photos depicted Roie and Gavin practicing pagan rituals and performing "an unnatural sexual act ", The Central Court h~arings dragged on for almost two years resulting in Roie and Gavin being convicted and fined £25 each. There were a couple more run-ins with the Authorities after this time----one of which involved Sir Eugene Goossens, at one time conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Sir Eugene had apparently been bringing into Australia a collection of ceremonial masks, intended for Roie's occult rituals, but he also had with him 1,166 pornographic photos of which the Customs Officials took more than a passing interest!

my eyes upon the hoof I crushed the pungent
leaves, drank some wine, and tried to clear mv mind of all conscious thought. This was a beginning {and I made many other experiments which were progressively successjul)."

Roie Norton lived simply, with few possessions and without wealth; her art was the only on-going reality in her life. A natural trance medium, energies filtered through her, as through a funnel, transmitting a current of expression she sought to show in her art. Looking at her work, one cannot help but to be affected strongly by the presences depicted in these pictures. Somehow one knows that the canvas is but a thin veneer between our reality and theirs (as it must have been for ,Roie). Rosaleen Norton died of cancer on December 5th 1979 in the Sacred Heart Hospice at Darlinghurst, aged 62. Gavin Greenlees, her companion, died on the 5 of December 1983 on the anniversary of Rosaleen's death.

vision experienced at her Bayswater Road flat, Kings Cross circa 1940's.


Witch of the Cross ..
hand it is a desire to spiritualise sexual energies and thereby getting involved with more tantric sexacts(suits her Venus in Scorpio). I feel with this aspect there would have been many times Rosaleen where fell into low energy states and depressions. Her Uranus would then be activated and willfully she would refuse to be subjugated, repressed or depressed in any way. A strong statement in Rosaleen'schart isthat of the unacknowledged child. With the South Node in Cancer, we have one who is fixated in child state, maybe from a past life of death as a child. Cancer South Node may also be an entity not fully incarnated. Rosaleen in fact refers to a past life when she had been a poltergeist, a disembodied spirit. Isense that underneath all we see of Rosaleen there is a hurt neglected child, with an impetuous nature demanding to be seen and heard. The child, authority, parent conflict plays largely in her life.


This conjunction in the 12th (area of inner hidden realms and resources) give her trance and channeling abilities. The Mars, Saturn would immobilise her physically and consciously while the transpersonal energies flowed through her. She had remarkable mental abilities, a strong mind and a great intellectual understandi ng of the Occult realm, cosmic Hierarchyand the archetypes. This shows up with her Mercury in Virgo, analytical and discriminating qualities and drive plus her Sun in Libra being an air sign in her 1st house (house of self). Her full Moon nature of Libra Sun opposing Aries Moon is a statement of father vs mother; Yang intellectual vs Yin emotional, feeling; adult vs child. Rosalcen respected her father (Sun) and : hated her mother (Moon). Her Moon fecling nature therefore ends up in the 8th house, repressed. Her mother complex and her own emotional nature would play manipulative games and slowly corrode all creativity and purpose (Sun).

Some interesting transits fo'r those who understand astrology. 1941- Transiting PlutoconjunctherNeptune. This is when she opened up to trance modiurnship. Priortothissheseemed tobe coming from a more intellectual space. 1952- Trans it ing Pluto crossed her ascendant. Pluto usually brings an end to things and a tfansformation but not without a high emotional cost. Psychic phenomena occurs as well. An unexpected death occurred which created an opening for Rosaleen to launch her book; her father died; at the launching things went wrong and the project crashed; her books were banned and burnt. 1964- TransitingSaturnconjunct Uranus (authority: rebel), She was arrested for vagrancy. 1967-Transiting Jupiter conjunct Neptune, Mars, Saturn, ascendant then into her 1st house. Opportunities and expansion. Rosaleen emerged and returned to Kings Cross, built up her following to 200 and openly announced herself asa witch and that she fights people with hexes and charms. 1974-Transiting Saturn (authority) conjunct Pluto and South Node (herinnate occult activities). The Anglican Archbishop called an inquiry into her

Rosaleen died of cancer of the colon. The colon is anorgan forelimination of toxins. I feel that Rosaleen may have held onto a lotofheranger, rage and resentments and slowly the toxins built up. This is a fairly common thing for Librans as they have difficulty in acknowledging these intense emotions on a personal level. With Chiron (the wounded healer) in Pisces, Rosaleen would have felt the hurt and suffering of humanity, I wonder if she acknowledged this in any way. In Pisces it's very much the martyr experience, being crucified. Rosaleen and her works suffered many crucifixions.

5/12/1979-Transiting Pluto has been opposing her Moon in the 8th house. Her physical death, transformation and rebirth into a new domain and dimension of life. D

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Our special thanks of appreciation to: Wally Glover for supplying photos; Nevill Drury and Collins Australia for permission to reprint quotes nom "Pori's Daughter. Collins 1988; Natasha Marfutenko for relevant articles from the Sydney Morning Herald Library. Kate Bekesi for the Astrological interpretation of Rosaleen Norton' schart.


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