The Nordic Woman
September 7-16, 2020, Sweden
FREE YOUR VOICE AND REWILD YOUR SPIRIT
in this journey into the scandinavian wilderness
Free Your Voice and Reclaim Your Wildness
Learn the ancient art of kulning on this journey through the wild landscapes of Sweden
The Nordic Woman is a totally unique journey into the wild landscapes of Scandinavia, and into a singing tradition that has the strength of the female voice as its core. There is no other program devoted to this unique vocal tradition in its original landscape, where the voice is seen as a source of personal power and expression.
About Our Location
We are delighted to host the Nordic Woman at Fjällbäcken Lodge in western Sweden, close to the Norwegian border. Fjällbäcken Lodge is a timber-framed wilderness hotel and retreat center dating back to the mid-1800s, now run by Mia and Jon Wagenius, the grandson of the original farm’s owners.
Fjällbäcken offers comfortable accommodations with private and shared rooms, hot showers, sauna access, delicious meals and incredible proximity to the wild landscapes of western Sweden. It is close to a number of historical sites important to the indigenous Sami people and the pastoral herding culture. We are truly excited to be going to a place that offers rare access to undisturbed natural wilderness, the original birthplace of kulning, and an exceptionally high level of creature comfort.
The Nordic Woman Is For You If…
- you want to connect to your voice and embody an ancient connection with nature
- you want to experience the power of the Scandinavian wilderness
- you want an authentic experience of Swedish folk music and pastoral culture
- you want to unplug from life’s pressures and urgency
- you are drawn to the haunting beauty of kulning and want to discover your own unique call
The Nordic Woman
Your journey includes:
- 9 days lodging at a wilderness hotel with gourmet meals, comfy beds, wood-fired sauna and a traditional Sami hut (Kåta).
- daily voice work, kulning instruction and traditional folk music singing sessions.
- authentic pastoral culture experiences such as cooking dinner outdoor over fires, carving your own wooden spoon, and visiting historical cultural sites.
- grounding embodiment practices.
- day hikes in the Swedish mountains and pastures.
Earlybird Tuition: $4,000 USD ($4,500 full tuition)
Earlybird Deadline: April 1, 2020
Payment plans available
Note: since participants fly in from all over, travel to and from Scandinavia is not included in the tuition — you’ll need to book your flight to Røros, a small airport in Norway. Detailed information about specific flight bookings will be provided upon registration. Transport will be provided from Røros airport to the Nordic Woman site.
What is Kulning?
Kulning is basically a call, a holler, a command, but with melismatic lines and high musical beauty. This demanding vocal technique that has evolved over centuries in the Scandinavian herding culture, enabled the shepherdesses to communicate with one another and with their flocks over long distances. The word itself comes from the Swedish “kuh-lock” (calling the cows). The technique is a kind of shout in a very high vocal register and the sound is at once very powerful and very beautiful.
It is not known how old the tradition is, but there is general agreement on the fact that Viking priestesses intoned their incantations (called “galdr”) in a way that may well refer to this ancient Nordic vocal sound. The word invoke – “gale” – in this context means high, sharp and penetrating vocal characteristics – exactly the sound of “kulning”!
Listen to kulning
The voice is a complex physical instrument, rooted in the mechanics of the body. At the same time, the voice mirrors the depths of the soul and can express profound emotionality.
Music is a universal human language the goes beyond the reach of words and sets free the power of the soul. The human voice is full of possibility and in order to reach its full potential, the voice and the singer body must be trained and exercised – as with the body in any other sport.
In the language of art and music, however, the goal is not to compete but to be able to joyfully express oneself authentically and share the bliss of music with other people. We believe that music is the primal language of humankind — and that joy, ecstasy and bliss become our rewards when we release our voices in communion with others.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is included?
Tuition includes all your lodging, transport, and food within Scandinavia. You just need to get yourself to and from Røros, Norway where we will pick you up and take you over the border to Sweden. The best practice for people flying internationally is to book a return ticket to Oslo, Norway and then buy a separate flight to Røros. Specific details about flights will be provided upon registration.
What kind of gear do I need?
The basics are sturdy hiking boots, wool base layers, waterproof shell garments, hat, insulated gloves and a 30 kilo backpack. Many warm wool layers and waterproof garments are key. Even though this is not full on winter, being in the mountains requires being prepared for rougher, colder, windier and wetter weather than you might expect. We provide detailed packing lists that cover what kind of outdoor gear you should wear to be comfortable in the mountains.
what level of physical fitness is required?
You should have a baseline level of stamina and fitness to be able to walk for multiple hours over rough terrain, through potentially wet, windy and cold weather. In addition to local walks, we will do several day hikes up to 4-10 miles (6.5-16km).
Where does this take place?
The Nordic Woman is based at Fjällbäcken Lodge near the town of Bruksvallarna in Härjedalen — western Sweden close to the border of Norway. This is a beautiful part of the country with farms, forests, mountains and a long historical tradition of folk music. The closest airport is Røros, Norway, about a 90 minute drive. It is easy to take a flight to Røros from Oslo, Stockholm or other airports.
Do I need to be an experienced singer to do this?
No, you do not. You will become one. Helle has taught kulning to people who don’t consider themselves to be singers at all and we are able to work with people at a wide variety of experience levels. Kulning is traditionally taught orally and experientially. More important than technique or training is curiosity and the desire to experiment. Helle’s approach to voice work is holistic and embodied. She brings the technical skills and tools of a classical singer and actress in order to understand and liberate the locked potential in a student.
Besides kulning/voice work, what happens on The Nordic Woman?
Our group curriculum will include:
- experiencing traditional aspects of the Vall (pastoral) culture, including dinners outdoor over open fires, in a local cabin from the 1800s, and visiting historical/cultural sites.
- some traditional outdoor skills such as carving your own spoon, making fires, map and compass navigation
- guided hikes and excursions on the land
- relaxing at Fjallbacken Lodge with gourmet food, wood fires, hot showers and sauna
- grounding, meditative practices that connect you to your body and to nature.
About the Facilitators
Helle Thun is a professional singer (classical mezzo-soprano), actress and former wilderness guide. She has an extensive background in vocal improvisation, deep therapeutic voice work, composition, classical music, and ancient Scandinavian folk music. Originally a farm girl from southern Denmark, she has performed and taught internationally across Europe, North America, Australia and Japan and, in 2014, received the prestigious “Zorn” bronze medal for her skills in kulning. She is known for her high level artistic technique, distinctive kulning voice and the use of traditional Scandinavian singing styles, drawn from the years she spent in her 20s as a wilderness educator in Sweden — immersed in the mountains learning traditional crafts.
As an educator, Helle draws on tools from acting, and mindfulness traditions like Zen, in helping people access their own artistic presence and authenticity. She enjoys working with students at a variety of skill levels, helping them to liberate and express their unique sound. Her exceptional voice skills and unique knowledge of kulning has led to work for international film companies and renowned professional choirs. She is featured as composer and performer in “Good Shepherds” by Faudon Movies (USA) and doing voice and energy coaching, in the production of “The Neolith” by Daniel Boocock (GB) this summer. Read more about Helle here www.nordicvoice.dk.
Leonore Tjia, raised in New York and now living in Oakland, California, is an artist-healer, singer and educator whose work lies at the intersection of ecology, myth, and creativity. She has a private practice doing Internal Family Systems therapy and runs somatic workshops around creative storytelling, embodiment and nature connectedness. Leonore brings a deep love of traditional singing and Norse mythology along with years of experience producing, facilitating and leading women’s empowerment workshops and retreats.
About The Nordic Woman
Leonore first encountered the unique sounds of kulning on some Nordic folk recordings in the early 2000s and was immediately drawn to its haunting, soulful quality. In 2013, soon after moving to Vermont, she heard Helle Thun perform with the Village Harmony choir on tour and asked Helle for a private kulning lesson. That experience was a powerful catalyst of personal/artistic expression and, finding common ground in their unusual life paths and creative interests, Leonore and Helle were inspired to create an immersive experience that would blend their love of the wilderness, kulning, folk music, and artistic expression. The Nordic Woman first ran in 2014 in Dalarna, Sweden in collaboration with Murphy Robinson of Mountainsong Expeditions. Now jointly run as a collaboration between Leonore and Helle, The Nordic Woman is the synthesis of many years of studying and training in artistic expression, kulning, voice work, group process, embodiment, earth-based spirituality and wilderness experience.