Kalm, a surfing artist poet friend who is actually on the cusp of first-time motherhood from the series La Nature des Femmes
“I believe that when a woman is turned on she creates - truth, art, children, beauty, money, and magic. I used to feel that I had to choose which of those things would come from that space, but now I know that's it's just one seamless, juicy existence down there.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative journey.
Ok, but warning: I tend to get super intimate and prematurely inappropriate!
I have my sun and north node in leo, and although I've always written and taken photographs and worked professionally in these fields, I never really believed in myself or my gifts. So for years my projects used me as truth agents, a way to filter the harshness of the world. A way to uncover what was really happening.
I documented refugees and displaced people, and was really driven to give people a voice that otherwise would go unheard. This was not only healing for those guys by raising awareness and understanding around certain social issues, but also for me, who interestingly was the one who needed to uncover their true self and find that inner sense of belonging. So creativity has always had a very healing vibe to it for me.
I didn't grow up in a creative household, and unfortunately the bogans in my family didn't pick up on my passion for writing, so I did naturopathy and astrology at uni, (possibly to sort out why I felt so bad all the time?!) so all the creative stuff is self-taught or came from a quick course or workshop (I am a bit obsessed with learning new obscure skills).
It was the journey into motherhood five years ago that really forced me into an authentic connection with my creativity, but funnily took away the time to do it ha. I literally took one look at my newborn kid and was like, “Oooooh, so that's love?! That's truth. Ok, there is a lot of crap I need to cull from my life.” I still had loads of self-love work to do and it took me until a year ago to leave a super toxic relationship which has allowed me to really own my power and pleasure as a woman, and where I'm at now is that my creativity is intrinsically linked to my sexuality, a very sacred, intuitive womb-like space.
I believe that when a woman is turned on she creates - truth, art, children, beauty, money, and magic. I used to feel that I had to choose which of those things would come from that space, but now I know that's it's just one seamless, juicy existence down there.
Milly Loveknuckles a fellow single mama artist/tattooist from the series La Nature des Femmes
I love your eclectic mix of “plants, planets and storytelling” through Naturopathy, Astrology, Writing, Filmmaking and Photography. What have been some of the challenges and/or highlights around developing a multi-passionate business?
The biggest challenge was making one business card! When I consolidated all my hats into herstory_collective, everything began to flow really well. Before that it was all a bit disconnected. I'd be on set shooting a documentary, chatting to a crew member casually about gut health, and they'd be like, “you're a naturopath? I thought you were a journo?” It was like I had split personality.
The variety is definitely a highlight for me. Although the skills are pretty different, they all share common themes of female empowerment, environmentalism, spirituality, women's health, and sexuality. Whether it's captured with a camera, pen or workshop, the message is always the same.
Bessie Baker and friend and Inma (ceremony/song/dance on the APY lands)
Talk me through your take on how storytelling is medicine, and in particular how women learning and sharing stories about their femininity and sexuality is healing.
There was a lot of trauma around me as a child, and from a young age I covered my bed each night with my entire collection of Golden Books, as like a protection thing, so maybe I was born with a sense that stories were medicine.
The thing is that by being born female we are automatically carriers of a story that isn't particularly empowering, whether that is true in your personal family situation or not, it exists in wider society. One of the biggest stories the patriarchy loves to spin in the modern world is that women should be ashamed of their sexuality. This is slowly changing, but it wasn't always like this. In the good 'ol goddess days in most ancient cultures, women were actually worshipped for their sensuality, and the body's relationship to fertility, crop production and moon cycles. The planet prospered. I don't think it's any coincidence that when this was taken away, particularly the natural birthing traditions, that the earth began to also suffer.
To reclaim these old stories that are our birthright as women, I believe we need to shed the shame around the unhealthy ones that keep us trapped in disempowered cycles. As the author and social researcher Brene Brown says, shame cannot survive vulnerability, which breeds connection, so by women opening up and sharing their shame stories around their sexuality, they are no longer held hostage by them.
There is something very powerful about women gathering in circle and being witnessed by our sisters in our wounds. Apart from laughing at the ridiculousness of some of our thought patterns, we can realise that we are loved anyway, or even despite our pain, and it also encourages other women to be vulnerable and do the same, which sets up a type of galactic domino effect into the world, singing up female connection and empowerment. We realise we are not our wounds. I've very aware that the female wound of course is not limited to actual women, men are also deeply out of touch with the feminine part of themselves.
Also, having worked as a social worker in indigenous communities which are often thick with generational trauma and complex social issues, both in Australia and around the world, on the many days when I hung my head in overwhelm in a dry creek bed searching desperately for solutions, sitting round a campfire yarning up and sharing story seemed to be the only way I saw healing begin. (Not the millions of dollars wasted on quick fix programs thought up by people in a faraway office, believe it or not!)
From an astrological point of view, the planets are the archetypal characters that are going to play out in your unique story. How they're placed in relation to the houses, and the angles affecting them determines the plot. Besides from Lilith and Venus, there are quite a few asteroids that give indicators of feminine mythology in your chart in relation to sexuality.
When I began to bring storytelling into my naturopathic sessions, I noticed major shifts in my clients' healing. Creativity is such a powerful tool as a way for women to express their true nature, and get back in touch with their natural cycles. I'm a big believer that sexually empowered women create sexually empowered relationships, communities, and an empowered earth. When you put it like that, it takes the blame and victimhood out of our pain, and you can see how it really is our own responsibility to assist the evolution of consciousness. Everyone can do something. Make art, not war!
Quechua This woman walked for four hours with her sisters to share ancient weaving/dying techniques with us despite road blocks from political protestors in the Sacred Valley of Peru when my children and I were there working on a book project about pilgrimage with kids.
Who and what are your muses and why?
I'm one of those people who is hit by the muse. I've tried all The Artist's Way thing of training the muse to show up at the same time everyday, but mine is badass and only wants to show up unannounced at times of inconvenience. So becoming a mother has been super challenging for me, as spontaneity has taken a backseat, and I'm less able to stay up all night pondering the universe, as I'm so desperate for sleep.
In saying that, my muse does not need much! There is so much damn beauty in the world, I literally only need a handful of fresh wildflowers, the breeze under my hair, leaves falling from the sky, the way the light hits a white wall. I feel it all. And to be honest, feel the frustration of having a snotty tissue in one hand and a crying child in the other and missing out on the moment.
Liz Gilbert talks about an older poet she knew who worked out in the fields and would literally run as fast as she could inside the house for a pen to capture the words coming into her head. I often wish I could dump my kids and run, but mostly I am learning how to be present and trust that the muse will show up again at a more convenient time. And write on tissues.
I also find beauty in heartbreak or things that others may perceive as confronting.
Also: Aeroplane seatbelts. My muse loves movement. As soon as I fasten mine, I reach for my journal and the words just fly onto the page, and they do not stop until the jet lag wears off when I return, normally when I get that first glance of the kitchen sink. The lure of elsewhere has been a frustration of mine my whole life, having grown up never belonging anywhere, I think I feel like I belong everywhere, and totally froth on those spaces in between.
Friends were always asking me, “yeah, but when are you going to stop this and settle somewhere?” When I travel the first question I ask is, can I live here? I used to think I was trying to run away or escape myself but these days, I've just accepted that it is part of my creative DNA; I thrive on the change.
Strangers. I love those unexpected hits of intimacy that can send you into another world, one you just cant get to on your own.
Mother Earth and Grandmother Moon for their magical life cycles.
Lovemaking. Because in that space you are truly surrendered and trusting of the universe. Divine sacred union, cosmic bliss- aahhh I'm an incredible romantic. After connecting with a lover, I can go into a creative frenzy for seriously hours.
Vulnerability. The shy teenage busker on the street, the shared smile with the old, wise homeless guy, the dude at the bank with the stutter, because I hid my true self for so long, anyone who has the courage to show themselves gets me everytime. Now I've warmed up though, I must confess, I am an emotional cliff-jumping junkie.
Dance. Music cracks me wide open. Most recently Tantric Dance.
Stories. They are my escape as well as my connector. Whether they be spoken in rhyme, sung, photographed or filmed. I can be completely disarmed as they seep into my bones.
Of course, women. The women who came before me. The women who will come after. Any woman who is willing to rock the boat and speak up or paint her craft regardless of what anyone else thinks. Any woman who dares to love herself which these days is an act of revolution.
The ancestors of this country, particularly the indigenous women that have been my teachers, and saved my life, really, with their unconditional love, wisdom and generosity in sharing sacred stories of the earth with me.
The sisters that love all of me.
My daughter, who is only two but already fierce, soft, intuitive, sensual, intelligent and courageous. I have a wild ride ahead of me.
Maku (witchetty grub) hunting in Ernabella with Rosemary and the tjitji.
What advice would you give to other souls who want to explore their own unique expression but are still working out how to go about it?
Do what feels good. You'd be surprised where all the random threads lead. Start with this Regena Thomashauer exercise from her epic book Pussy by getting in touch with yourself. Literally. For 30 seconds per day place your hands on your womb space and ask her how she feels. Don't judge her answer, just be curious. She might ignore you initially as we have been disconnected for way too long, but she'll come round, because she loves attention.
If you do it everyday her voice will get louder, until you're living each moment from her truth. She sheds anything inauthentic and is completely illogical, but she is a real creative force to be reckoned with, and life is boring without her guidance.
Or come and see me for a session! We are each born with a unique soul blueprint, and mainly just need to get out of our own way. When you tune into your personal map, it will take you on a wild shortcut to your shadow which are the blocks to full expression of your gifts. When you embrace your shadow, you will experience true freedom, and when you get in touch with your purpose, life is truly magical and abundant. You are doing a disservice by staying small, the world needs your gift, come shine.
Carly has a BA Health Science ND, adv dip Naturopathy and Nutritional Medicine, and trained with the late Astrologer and Psychotherapist Parampara Hughes. She studied writing at the Australian Writer's Centre.
She has worked with various groups of women around the world using plants, planets and storytelling as a medicinal tool for healing.
Her photography and filmmaking projects all explore themes of female sexuality, motherhood, the divine feminine, spirituality, Mother Earth and indigenous culture.
She is also a freelance journalist and author and has been published in various Australian and international press including Archer, Mindfood, The Sunday Telegraph, Green, Wellbeing, and SummerWinter. In 2013, she was the winner of the Editia Books Narrative Journalism Prize and in 2015 a recipient of the Northern Rivers Screenworks Inside the Writer's Room mentorship.
Get in touch with Carly via her website Herstory_Collective to work with her or book a session, and follow her on Instagram.
+ + THE MUSE SPOKE is a mini-interview series with inspiring humans that embody soulful creative self-expression. + +