Well Woman Interview: Heather Culp, Mercado Sagrado

Thrilled to share this interview with Heather Culp, the beautiful and talented woman who inspires me with her connection to self, nature and who has grown and supported a community of artisans, artists, healers to come together for an annual fair in California, Mercado Sagrado.

Heather’s path has been mostly guided by intuition and a trust to follow her instincts to unknown places, lands, dreams and beyond.

Read, enjoy, be inspired and if it’s available to you attend the fair! This years Mercado Sagrado runs October 13 + 14 in Malibu Canyon.

Hi Heather! Tell us about you. What is your favourite quality in yourself?

Probably my way of seeing behind the veil —I’m not sure how to explain exactly…I perceive things from many perspectives intellectually and energetically rather than taking them at face value.

Do you have morning rituals and if so what are they? What’s the first thing you do when you rise?

I love rituals and have so many but noticed lately that I’m little more relaxed in relation to them —they come and go or shift depending on life. Right now I love listening to a podcast while making a potion —this month it’s coffee spiked with raw butter and Sun Potion Lion’s mane + Yin Powder, and then sitting outside in nature or having a hike before I dive into work. 

What is your philosophy on food + nourishment? What is your ideal meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

I believe we are energetic beings and so it’s important to me where my food comes from as the frequency effects the nourishment. And also because of this I believe it’s important to tune into what the body wants/needs. I don’t stick to a system but generally feel best eating mostly lighter fresh vegetables and fruits and if consume dairy or meat seek out raw + grass fed, ethically farmed. 

What does a typical day of work look like for you? 

I guess what I love most is that I don’t really have a typical day. I have a lot of work on my laptop —writing, coordinating, production. but I’ve made an effort to live and work in places surrounded by nature so I can take breaks to swim in the ocean or hike. But because I’m curating experiences, everything I do is research —from going to a lecture, reading a book, going to see a healer or intuitive. I feel so lucky to be constantly connecting with so many inspiring people — doing studio visits or having brainstorming sessions for collaborations. 

You’re one of the co-founders of an annual fair, Mercado Sagrado (which I love btw) can you tell us a bit about what it is and what to expect there?

Mercado Sagrado’s annual event is a creative and healing arts festival that we hold at Paramount Ranch, a National Park in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu. The event is our kind of collection of intentional experiences. We want to build community and support and inspire a generation of caretakers —teacher, healers, artists. 

We focus on an array of expansive programming on subjects from folk remedies to emerging healing technology, philosophy and theology, food as culture, medicine and ritual, the esoteric arts and also many workshops for children. Feeling somewhat like a bridge we really appreciate those teachers who have a foot in two worlds such as James David Adams, a professor with a PhD in Pharmacology who also trained for 14 years with a Chumash Healer. 

We’re sort of a hybrid in that we have a full music line up (this year Zebulon is curating) but also take much time to focus on and curate the other experiential aspects and all the amazing creators/makers, many who defy definition but include sculptors, makers of ancestral goods such as naturally tanned hides, conscious fashion designers such as Sam Roberts LA and Milena Silvano —plus intuitives, numerologists, and so on. We’ve always been blessed to be able to include amazing chefs as well —all food at the event is organic and artful and this year there’s a special focus on nourishment as Healthyish will be joining us.

How did Mercado Sagrado come into being?

Exactly the right place and time now looking back —five years ago when I had first moved to Topanga Canyon. I had been living in an Earthship in Taos, New Mexico after being in NYC for years and was incredibly happy but needed to be closer to the city —mostly because I didn’t know how to make a living, I had been working as a photographer. In the city I had also been working on a project (never realized) for a creative arts hybrid space in Seoul for a client. 

Carly our cofounder, also my first canyon friend, had also left NYC for Joshua tree but ended up settling in the canyon. Upon her landing in LA she opened a gallery, The Sacred Door that she operated for perhaps a year or so. With our varied  passions and experience —in the arts, the esoteric, etc.. it was perfect alchemy. A casual conversation was ultimately the catalyst. 

Living somewhat isolated in the mountains, we both craved community were feeling anxious as social media and internet interactions became more the norm —that was one initial goal early on, to get everyone online together in person. At that time so many of our community had only interacted via Instagram and so it was magical to finally all get together. It’s been amazing to see so many of the relationships forged there serve as catalysts for incredible projects beyond Mercado Sagrado. 

Any plans for expanding to new cities?!

Yes! I’ve been dreaming about expanding for a long time now, thinking about what that will look like, figuring out what is what and where it will all be —full disclosure, I’m also a Gemini thus many (maybe too many) ideas to wrangle. However, we do now have a few exciting new projects in the works —one of which I feel like I shouldn’t mention until we have our location secured and another in Big Sur in late Spring. 

What are you looking forward to, personally and for Mercado Sagrado?

Every year for Mercado Sagrado we select a non-profit partner to support with a portion of the event proceeds and include in our experiential program. This year it’s Botanical Dimensions —a non-profit founded by Kathleen Harrison, an amazing ethnobotanist who has been working among indigenous cultures and bohemian subcultures for fifty years, and also, wife of the late Terrence McKenna. She’ll be giving at talk at at the event, Saturday on The Roots of Plant Ritual: Respectfully Weaving the Personal, Archetypal and Cultural —it’s really an honour to have her at the event. Post event it will be wonderful to have some downtime to hopefully travel a little and spend more time with my boyfriend and friends.

What does self-care look like as a business owner? How and when do you carve this time out for yourself?

It’s always a dance…sometimes I get into a flow for months with certain rituals like my twice a day meditation practice and I feel very balanced then something shifts, maybe I’m traveling more or get really busy with a project or a number of things could happen and all the sudden I really have to remember to check in and carve out time for myself because I’ve been thrown out of rhythm. Self care for me now is in part learning not being so hard on myself when that happens and gently centring, finding creative ways to nourish —it can mean making time in the afternoon to drive down and swim in the ocean for an hour in the middle of a work day, maybe taking an entire day off to do nothing where I can just go with the flow perhaps listen to music, go for a hike, listen to a podcast or read, attend to my plants, lay in the sun…..often just super simple activities that allow space for inspiration and connection to nature. 

What advice would you share with other woman to empower them to feel strong and confident?

Maybe it sounds like a cliche but honestly it would be to always trust yourself. To be honest —with yourself, with your loved ones, whomever. We are human and life is messy…we can only do our best and aim to live in integrity and in love moment to moment.

What does being a ‘well woman’ mean to you?

Living in pono as Hawaiians would say. 

Stay in touch with Heather here and learn more about Mercado Sagrado here.

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