Voice and sexuality are deeply connected. Do you believe it?
For starters… Check out this diagram of the vocal chords and larynx.. what does that remind you of?
Nearly every person I’ve talked to and worked with around sexuality has also described difficulty with their voice, for example:
- feeling unable to ask for what you truly want during sex and in intimacy
- freezing/fawning when you feel pressured or unsafe
- saying “yes” because you fear your “no” not being taken seriously by the other person
- not trusting yourself to negotiate
- deep patterns of conflict avoidance and self-blame
- staying silent about what you’re tolerating until it boils over into anger and resentment
Ugh — I feel this revulsion in my body when I write this list because I so deeply know these struggles.
Here are some signs of unresolved voice blocks:
- chronic sore throats, infections, or strep throat
- shallowness of breath and difficulty connecting to the breath in general
- dreams in which you lose your voice in key moments (like being unable confronting an assailant)
- patterns of resentment and people-pleasing in your relationships
- feeling unable to be your authentic self
- holding in your true thoughts and feelings and being unable to discern what you actually feel and desire
If you’ve listened to the free training I did a little while ago about sacred feminist archetypes, you might already see how much this is connected to the archetype of the Siren.
Siren and the Voice – Longing and Belonging
The original Sirens came from Greek mythology and were half-woman, half-bird creatures who enchanted sailors to their death with their beautiful songs.
More broadly, I consider the Siren archetype to be a cross-cultural figure: female or feminine water spirits known for their enchanting voices and being half-human, half-wild or being able to transform into wild animals.
Consider the poignant story of the Selkie, from Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia and the Arctic — the creature that is a seal in the water, and who takes off her sealskin to become human.
Many stories about selkies describe how it’s possible to gain power over these exquisitely beautiful creatures by stealing their skins.
Once you possess a selkie’s skin, you can control her — and they are usually compelled into marriage and motherhood. With disastrous results, often, because no matter how long you separate a selkie from the ocean, she will always yearn for her wild home.
Selkies are wild and magical beings who represent freedom and the loss of freedom in heart-rending ways. They speak to the parts of us that may feel stuck between two worlds, that know the pain of not belonging.
(For more stories about the selkies, look up the wonderful films The Secret of Roan Inish or Song of the Sea. And buy some tissues.)
In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes says the sealskin symbolizes the wild nature of our own souls — the parts us that never fully belong to civilization, to the controlled, logical “day world” of consensus reality.
The soulskin symbolizes our belonging to the deeper, instinctive liminal realms — the waters of the Unconscious, the primordial realm of dreams, intuition, and communion with the more-than-human world.
How do we, as modern humans, lose our wild sealskin/soulskin? Dr. Estes offers the following list:
- Becoming too exacting
- Being too involved with the ego
- Unnecessary martyrdom
- Being driven by blind ambition
- Denying our gifts to the world
- Saying yes when we need to say no
“Truly,” she writes, “there are as many ways to lose the soulskin as there are women in the world.”
Do you know, as I do, what this struggle feels like?
I am talking about a kind of pain that is not understood or welcomed in this culture. This is not the pain of “someone hurt me” or “I’m having a hard time” (although as we lose our sealskins, we are indeed often hurt and suffer greatly!).
No, this is a level of longing that seems to have no source, no explanation, and no language — and therefore often goes unwitnessed. We may seek out our private spaces in nature, our lakes or beaches or rivers where we can shed our tears of loneliness, but most of us siren-people go through it alone.
We yearn for a way back to our wild home, to being able to express and give voice to what’s truly inside us.
We want the safety of the wild places where our survival no longer requires so much shapeshifting, acquiescence, self-policing and self-surveillance.
Again, these issues are deeply connected between the voice and sexuality. Because sexuality is about our raw life force, creativity and desires.
I’m not just talking about who and how you fuck, I mean how much you can welcome and channel the pure red-hot life force of your own intensity and actually give voice to it in the world.
I’m talking about being who you TRULY ARE.
Now I want to share with you about one the most powerful voice traditions I’ve ever encountered:
For thousands of years in the Scandinavia, in the boreal wilderness just below the arctic circle, women would take their herding animals out to pasture for the long summers.
For these earthy people, life was farming and herding, and sheep, cows and goats were life. They gave their animals poetic names and traveled with them during the Scandinavian summers of almost-endless light.
They needed ways to call to their animals, to direct them, to command them. Because they were often alone, these women also needed ways to communicate with one another: to call for help, ask about a missing animal, or send a warning about predators.
To do this, they did kulning. Kulning is a kind of loud, high-pitched call with beautiful melodic notes. It’s incredibly haunting and beautiful, and you can listen to it here.
I first heard kulning on an esoteric folk music recording back in 2005, and all the hairs stood up on my arm. I felt I was encountering something incredibly wild, profound and soulful.
Here are a few reasons why I love kulning:
- it comes from the indigenous earth-based traditions of northern European peoples and I feel connected to my northern European ancestors when I hear it
- it’s a haunting mixture of beauty and sadness and gives voice to the sorrows and grief we often don’t allow ourselves to express
- it’s incredibly empowering to practice shouting/screaming at full volume
- it actually feels good in the body because you are working with breath, sound and vibration on such a deep level
- it’s a deeply female vocal tradition that has the strength of the female voice at its core
- it’s intimately connected to the land and entices you to find your favorite spots in the landscape with the best echoes
Here’s what other people have said in response to hearing kulning:
“Hauntingly beautiful – spine tingling!”
“It tears my heart open and brings me to tears. Songs of my ancestors.”
“This feels like the first step on a new path for me, back to my Swedish ancestors. I welcome it.”
“Beauty and Land and Creativity !!! holy what thank you for this”
My beloved friend and colleague Helle (pictured above) is an incredible professional singer, artist and former wilderness guide.
Together we are leading the NORDIC WOMAN EXPEDITION to Sweden this September to explore kulning in its original landscape.
The Nordic Woman expedition 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
LIMITED SPOTS ARE AVAILABLE in this unique wilderness/creativity immersion. There is no other experience like this, where you can step into the unique power of kulning in its original landscape — in a safely guided and empowering environment.
We will enjoy:
- learning kulning and traditional folk songs — totally guided and supported by a vocal coach who has made it her life work to teach this tradition
- a wonderful wilderness hotel with hot showers, comfortable beds, traditional Swedish food, sauna access and a nearby historical Sami site
- hiking, making fires, carving spoons and exploring traditional wilderness crafts in the backcountry — in the best time of year to enjoy the Swedish wilderness
- solo time, meditation, introspection, sacred unplugging time from the distractions and urgency of modern life, deep restorative rest.
If you’d like to join us I strongly recommend you book a call with me to discuss enrollment.
For more information about the Nordic Woman, visit www.thenordicwoman.com.