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
September 9-17, 2019: this 8 day journey for women weaves together wildness experience, traditional folk singing, kulning, nature connection, embodied movement, and storytelling.
We gather in the wild landscapes of Scandinavia, whose beauty and remoteness offer precious opportunities for immersion into nature. We connect to the rich pastoral herding tradition of this land through kulning, the ancient Nordic women’s technique of calling animals and communicating with each other and the community. The tradition of kulning helps us to strengthen our own personal freedom and expressiveness as we sing with the land.
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.
- Learn the ancient vocal art of kulning and traditional folk songs
- Be immersed in the wild beauty of the Swedish landscape
- Nourish your inner life through authentic movement and embodied storytelling
- Enjoy nourishing meals, grounding walks and time in the sauna
- Nurture time for soul repair, nature connection and creative practice
The Nordic Woman Is For You If…
- you want to connect to and empower your own voice
- you’re ready to embody your creativity and personal power
- you’re seeking a deeper connection to wildness
- you want to plug from life’s pressures and urgency
- you desire sacred inner time with your inner world
- you are drawn to the haunting beauty of kulning and want to discover your own unique call
The Nordic Woman
Your journey includes:
- 8 days lodging at a rustic hotel with delicious meals, comfy beds, hot showers, and traditional Swedish fare.
- daily kulning instruction, voice work, and traditional folk singing sessions.
- a field recording of your own kulning in the mountains.
- authentic pastoral culture experiences such as guided hikes, cooking dinner outdoor over fires, carving your own wooden spoon, and visiting a traditional Sami site.
- authentic movement group work and embodied storytelling.
- a supportive curriculum that mixes nourishing group process and alone time.
- an intimate group of 12 participants.
Tuition: $3,900 USD
Final Registration deadline: August 15
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 own travel. Participants should book flights to Oslo, Norway and a connecting flight to Rorås, a small airport. We will provide detailed instructions on how to book your flights, and we’ll pick you up from Rorås and get you to the retreat 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.
More Than A Tourist Experience…
Find Wildness Within & Without
Real Wilderness. Real Voice. Real You.
The Nordic Woman is much more than a tourist experience — it offers time and space to reconnect with our souls and the wild, free and untamed places within us. Kulning naturally brings us to look at our own relationship to wildness, authenticity, power, voice, and the body.
We will guide you safely through a process that strengthens your freedom, so you can bring back your insights to your own life. We do this together as a respectful creative community that strengthens us to be on our unique, individual paths and resources us with the vibrancy and diversity of the community.
“Nature — the outer nature we call ‘the wild’ — has always been the essential element and primary setting of the journey to soul. The soul, after all, is our inner wilderness, the intrapsychic terrain we know least and that holds our individual mysteries. When we truly enter the outer wild — fully opened to its enigmatic and feral powers – the soul responds with its own cries and cravings.” – Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft
In September the Scandinavian mountains show themselves from their most beautiful side. The light and colors are fantastic and the temperatures are perfect for hiking and outdoor activities. This and the fact that the mosquito season is over makes it the very best time a year for the perfect outdoor experience.
Nature here knows and echoes the kulning that has been a part of it for a thousand years. The experience of sounding in this landscape is incredible. We welcome you into a real adventure and look forward to sharing a world of natural magic with you.
Frequently Asked Questions
All your lodging, transport, and food within Scandinavia — just get yourself to and from Rorås! The best practice for people flying internationally is to book a return ticket to Oslo, Norway and then buy a separate flight to Rorås. We provide detailed packing lists that cover what kind of outdoor gear you should wear to be comfortable in the mountains, but we’ll also have the comforts of Fjällbäcken Lodge: hot showers, comfortable beds and delicious food.
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. 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 and 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:
Body Tales® is a somatic practice developed over the past 40 years by Olivia Corson, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Body Tales interweaves improvisational movement and personal story for creative expression, communication, and healing. This form combines elements of dance, movement, theater, therapy, and expressive arts. Leonore has studied Body Tales since 2017 and looks forward to sharing this nourishing, creative practice with the group in Sweden! You do not need to have any kind of movement, theater or performance experience to do Body Tales. Much like kulning, it is a practice for authentic creative expression that allows us to contact and bring out who we really are.
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 and sexuality educator whose work lies at the intersection of soul, myth, eros and intimacy. She is a trained practitioner of Internal Family Systems therapy, helping people transform their emotional and sexual patterns and awaken their innate erotic intelligence.
She is currently training with Olivia Corson of Body Tales to offer workshops that encourage embodiment, creative expression, storytelling and witnessing. Having lived in the wild landscapes of Scotland, Vermont and now California she sees a deep connection between nature, sexuality and the soul. Her practice is guided by Internal Family Systems therapy, the feminist vibrancy of the women’s spirituality movement, and an animist worldview that seeks to restore intimacy with all of Life.
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.