Camila Celin is a musician and composer from Colombia. She began playing the guitar at age 9 and has been studying the Indian Sarod for years in Kolkata with sarod master Tejendra Majumdar and in the USA with sarod maestro Alam Khan. Her former gurus include maestro Krishna Bhatt and Sougata sougata roy chowdhury. In 2009 she was nominated for a Grammy for best world music album in collaboration with the Hindustani slide guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya. Camila performs around the world and has composed music for film, theater, and commercials. She lives between New York City and Kolkata, India.
"A bad lover is like a bad musician. Judicious listening is like, being so present that the mind stops. And then, that is the state in which one can start to receive, as opposed to being trapped in an endless loop of noise. This receiving is everything. This is the receiving where inspirations come from in books, and great music, and in wisdom, and even the map for our own lives."
Camila: A bad lover is like a bad musician. Judicious listening is like, being so present that the mind stops. And then, that is the state in which one can start to receive, as opposed to being trapped in an endless loop of noise. This receiving is everything. This is the receiving where inspirations come from in books, and great music, and in wisdom, and even the map for our own lives.
Lianne: I'm Lianne. Welcome to Strippers & Sages. Camila Celin is a phenomenal musician and composer from Colombia. She began playing the guitar at age nine and has been studying the Indian sarod for years with Buddhists in Kolkata and the United States. In 2009, she was nominated for a Grammy for Best World Music Album, in collaboration with the Hindustani slide guitar maestro Debashis Bhattacharya. Camila performs around the world and has composed music for film, theater, and commercials. I met Camila when I was helping to produce an event with Brooklyn Ragamassive and the ethnomusicologists Alexon Tonoose and let me tell you, when she plays Sorode, I feel every part of my body come alive. And I mean every part. I'm definitely recruiting her to score my first erotic film. In this conversation we talked about the relationship between music and sensuality, among many other intimate topics, and this episode features some of her original music, which is a real treat.
Lianne: I wanted to start by asking you how you came to be a sarod player. What was your musical journey?
Camila: Um, well, I've always been a guitar player. I still am. And when I was growing up in Bogota, Colombia, I started playing South American music at nine years old. And then I went to the music academy when I was 15. And some musicians from my community, my musical community, in Colombia who are very good, went to India. One brought back a sitar, the other one tablas and then they were teaching us a little bit about Indian music. And one time when I was in the classroom of free music, I thought and promised to myself, I want to go as deep as I possibly can in music in my life, this is what I want to do. And when I got a glimpse of Indian music, I knew that that was one of the deepest forms of sound in the world. So immediately, it was just certain that that's what I had to do with my life.
Lianne: Mm hmm. And at what point did you begin studying sarod?
Camila: Sarod? I started it 10 years ago, 11 years it's going to be in February. So yeah, yeah. And I went to India for the first time 14 years ago, and I began to study with the guitar.
Lianne: And when did you move to New York City?
Camila: 1999, end of 1999, yeah. Yeah.
Lianne: What brought you?
Camila: The turn of the millennium. I wanted to be in the biggest party of the world. And I figured it was New York City. And once I arrived, it was home from the very beginning and it treated me very well. And I met wonderful people, started making money, like, easily.
Camila: No, no as a waitress, but it was more money than I've ever seen.
Camila: And I did meet amazing musicians, and started performing soon after. New York has always been very, very good to me.
Lianne: How did you celebrate the turn of the century when you first got here?
Camila: You know, it's funny thing, because in Colombia, we really know how to party in Colombia. We're really good at partying, and we can party for a very long time. And when I came to New York, it was 12 of us Colombians going around trying to find the best party. And we were like, what's going on? Why can't we find the best party and then we ended up crashing this party in Soho, and everybody looked really bored. And when we got there, we made this huge party and didn't leave for like, three days. As Colombians. And we were like, man, if we stayed in Colombia, we probably would have had like this party, but we made it in New York. We did it.
Lianne: Wow. So, you went to India. Then a few years later...?
Camila: I went to India, I believe it was in 2005. Yeah, well for the first time.
Lianne: And what was that trip like for you?
Camila: Oh, it was incredible. It was a life savior, because I felt stuck with my music for a while. And I didn't know which direction to take, and I just knew that I needed guidance to go deeper into music. And so, um, so then when I went and I was introduced to these-- my first guru, who's a renowned guitar player, world-renowned guitar player, he was like... it was the elixir that I needed for my life. And the guidance was just like incredible. It opened up a whole world for me musically, and in my life as well.
Lianne: What distinguishes a guru from just your average music teacher, or guitar teacher?
Camila: So much! Well, a guru... First of all, Indian music, how complex it is, and how deep it is, it requires that you have a very close relationship with the person who is trusting you to give what they have been researching their whole lives, and that their teachers and their gurus trusted them with, like they have to trust that you are the person who is going to really be serious about it. And who is worthy of the teachings that they have been fought for in their lives. You know, especially before when they didn't have the internet, they really, really went through a lot to get this teachings. These are not teachings that you can get from a book, you have to be with your guru, learning all these subtleties of the music. And I have found that you do learn a lot in class, seeing them with them. But I learned a lot of the sentiment of the music, when I'm hanging out with my gurus in a close, intimate setting late at night, they're well-fed, they have mood there and illuminated, you're making them feel good, you're having a good hang, and that's when they drop the most important wisdom of the music. So if you don't have a relationship with your guru, like that, that is so close where you're serving them as best as you can, and giving him the best mood that you can, the teachings are not going to be unlocked. That's the difference.
Lianne: And how do you find a guru? Do they need to adopt you? Do ask them? What is that process of finding the right fit?
Camila: I mean, I don't know for other people. I know for myself, I have been introduced with people... well, my life partner... he was very inside the music, and had some of the best legendary gurus in India. So I was introduced in the scene, like, from inside the scene with some of the greatest personalities in India. And so, my dedication, I think is what unlocked it. And also, these guys... teachings of how to treat the culture so that you can actually give them enough mood, so that they're going to take you seriously, you know? So I'm fortunate to be under the wing of some of the great maestros of Indian music, and they have recommended me to other maestro's, you know, and taken me under their wings. So I've been very fortunate, actually.
Lianne: Beautiful. Can you tell us then, just give us a little bit of a crash course in raga music, and what we can know and appreciate about it as an art, and as a complex spiritual system as well?
Camila: Well, that's a big question, but I'll try to be brief.
Lianne: Or you can start with even, just, what were some of the first aspects that you learned as you were transitioning from otherwise Western or Colombian music?
Camila: Yeah, I can tell you some of the basic things. So like, in Indian music, there is the raga system. The raga system is, raga is almost sort of like a scale, what would be a scale for Western music, but is very different because a scale is just notes, a group of notes going up and down. In Indian music raga, what a raga is, it is a group of notes, but it's a group of notes that have different relationships between the notes that are very specific, that makes a certain raga have a certain flavor, and fragrance, and mood and sentiments in different aspects. It's almost like a character of a movie, or a character generally, that has strong traits. But it's also something that you can continue to discover throughout your life as you become closer to that group of notes. So it's not just a skill. Like you can have 20 raagas with the same notes that sound very different to one another, because of which notes you are using, in which order, sometimes, some raagas you go up in one way, come back down in another way, you know, the relationship between the notes, how to approach a certain note, from which place to approach it, in which nuance to approach it. I mean, what you can do... each raga has its own traits, and its own sentiments, and there's a lot to each raga. Some raagas are more complex and more heavy than others, some are just lighter and easier to to play. But each raaga really requires a lot of learning from your gurus to see what are the main characters of your raagas. Like I said, you can continue to discover a raga for the rest of your life. You know, and so that's one aspect and there's like, you know, at least 1000 raagas, you know, where in western music, I think that we might use like 10 different scales, you know. And also there is the tala system, which is the rhythmic aspect of it. So in Indian music, you don't have harmony, you don't have chords, per se. You have mostly rhythm and melody. And raaga is the melody and tala is the rhythmic cycles. And then again, the most popular one is 16 beats, which are all the different speeds, but then you have 12 beats, seven beats are most popular, and then there's many more in between. Okay, so it's a lot of materials. There's a lot! It's never ending. you can never... it's more than an ocean, you know?
Lianne: And it's always improvised when you play?
Camila: North Indian classical music is mostly improvised, and you play within a certain, like raga, and then within a certain framework of it's peaks and tempos, and you utilize a composition, but then in between playing the composition, you're improvising the whole time, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Lianne: Yeah, I was reading about some of this in this book, The Mysticism of Sound and Music, the Sufi teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, who was talking about, you know, that the great raaga masters would not know what they were going to play until they were in that moment. And that as you're saying, this element of mood, and what that brings out, and then also speaking about seasons and time of day, and how every raaga is tuned to the planets, and has a different moment for it to be played...
Camila: For sure, for sure. And my teachers, all my teachers, all my gurus, are definitely very strong about that. And not everybody's, but my teachers are. Like, they won't teach me a night raaga in the morning. They're like, nope, you know? And so, I feel like from 14 years of going to India, and listening deeply to whole hours of music like nine times, like all night, like, when the morning raagas are playing, what I feel is the morning raga, like if you had played that in the middle of the day, it feels so off. I can't even stand it, you know? So it does have a certain sentiment, and a certain quality, and a collection of energies and vibrations that have a certain ethos, you know, a sentiment. It's beautiful.
Lianne: Hmm. And how did your study of this music I was going to enhance, but I don't even know what your spiritual life was before... Before you started playing, and during, and now, can you just speak about sort of how this music has informed your spirituality?
Camila: Well, it's kind of crazy, because when I arrived in India, a year later I discovered what would be the strongest spiritual practice and path that I have. And whereas it doesn't have anything to do with India and it did not come from India, it started in India. And so then, what happens is like, even learning sarod was part of that spiritual journey, when I stopped being afraid, and I like jumped into the unknown with absolute trust, and so the music was there to get me.
Lianne: What is the spiritual tradition that you fell into, or spiritual practice?
Camila: Basically, basically making your own mind a peaceful place, you know? And following... I see the thoughts as a net. And there's so many different possibilities. Some are low vibrating, some are high vibrating. So the whole idea is to follow a thread that gives a nice emotional environment within myself. And to follow that. And, in following that, it's what kind of led me to playing sarod, actually, and Indian music and making a life in it. And in enjoying the music, and understanding the music, and seeing how I can utilize the music to work on my own mental harmony, and how while working in it, through the music, there are pathways that open up. And then the question becomes, am I generating my own thoughts? Or am I receiving some thoughts? And this is very important because generating our own thoughts can be... it can be a nightmare. Because it becomes these loops of junk, of stories and conditionings and fears, and just a repetitive bunch of BS that doesn't take us anywhere. And the other one is to put the mind at ease enough so that something else can be received. And that's why music is so important. Because one thing is to assert yourself and play your notes. They can be in tune, they can be in rhythm, but they're meaningless unless one is actually receiving the notes that should be played and one is just a vessel to channel. There's something that is coming through from something higher. Yes.
Lianne: Yeah, you and I met through attending sound meditations with Alexandre-
Lianne: Who speaks about judicious listening? Right?
Lianne: So what does it mean to be a judicious, judicious listener of this music?
Camila: I think that this, what you're talking about, is one of those endless topics, but I think that it is an endless eternal discovery of what that means, but I think that one can at least start with paying attention, you know, to the music, without a judgment in the mind, without allowing the mind to put labels into things, and to judge it. Like, I like this, I don't like this, this is like this, what is this, or to drift away. So, judicious listening is like being so present, that the mind stops, and then that is the state in which one can start to receive, as opposed to being trapped in an endless loop of noise. And this receiving... this receiving is everything. This is the receiving where inspirations come from in books, and great music, and in wisdom, and even the map for our own lives, and in dreams and purposes, it can be utilized for the possible of our life as guidance for - what is it that we're all about? It's quite a powerful practice.
Lianne: Absolutely! What a way to move through the world. If that's your mantra, your aim - just to be a judicious listener and to be receptive.
Camila: Imagine that! It seems simple, but it unlocks so much.
Lianne: This is an unexpected segue. You know, we're here to talk about music, sound, mysticism and sexuality. And, you know, I think we'll get into sound is vibration, and vibration was the thread that I thought we would maybe go down, but as you're speaking I'm thinking about receptivity, and quieting the mind, and absolute presence, and judicious listening in the body. And so I wonder if you can kind of just riff a little about that idea, and how it relates to our sexual beings?
Camila: Well, you know, I'm not like a Tantra expert or sexual educator expert at all, beyond my own polyamorous, bisexual experiences of my life, but in a way, this listening, playing music listening in that way, and engaging in sexual sacred union, or sexuality, whatever, even if it's a one night stand, it doesn't matter. The same principles apply for everything. One thing you know, like a bad lover is like a bad musician. A bad lover is somebody who's thinking, "oh, I should do this and that" and it's completely off whack with the flow of the other person, and of your own self. You know, I think that we'll have come through that which is, like what the fuck are you doing, man? I don't know what the fuck you're doing like, or like why are you yourself thinking about something and then getting out of whack? Same with music if I think like oh, I'm gonna play this note, it can get you out of whack from the flow of what presence is actually going to give what is the receiving then again, it's like, it's not my own awesomeness - it never is - it's actually being empty enough so that the awesomeness of something greater than us can come through. And I think in sex, a good sexual experience is where the mind is. It takes a second plane, and there's so much presence that you know what the other body wants in your body, and in the other person is going in consonance. And then, the magic of the spiritual communion can be experienced.
Lianne: Beautiful. So you were raised in Bogota, how was sex talked about in your household when you were growing up?
Camila: So from what my sister used to tell me, she was always embarrassed because when I was very young, maybe three, I was talking about sex and asking my mom all kinds of questions about sex, which she was answering. I don't remember. But I remember my sister being very embarrassed. And I remember I was very active since I was a little child. I was doing all kinds of things when I was like five and six and seven and eight and hooking up with all my guy friends and girlfriends -
Lianne: At that age?
Lianne: What did that mean about age?
Camila: I was just horny. I was damn horny.
Lianne: Tell me, what is an eight year old hookup look like?
Camila: You know, you kiss, and then you just rub each other, and then you touch each other, and you don't know what you're doing but it feels good, but also I remember people feeling kind of bad about it. And, I mean, I never had any shame about it, around it, just only when people brought shame into it, you know? And like, I remember the school sends me to the psychologist and the psychologist was asking me questions. I was very embarrassed and ashamed. And she said would you like if we started a sexual education class for the school? I was like yeah! So they started the official sex ed because of my mischievousness!
Lianne: You were caught rubbing it out with some friends, and then they took you to counseling, and --!
Camila: There was all kinds of complaints from parents, and things around my sexual activity.
Lianne: See, I knew you'd be good for this show. I had a hunch. Takes an erotic being to know one.
Camila: That's right.
Lianne: I saw psychologists for mischievous behavior.
Camila: It's so crazy!
Lianne: Of course.
Camila: Because it's like, why are you shaming...? I mean, it's a weird thing, because it's a powerful thing. And that's why sex is like, there's got so much around it, because it's a powerful thing. That triggers a lot of what we were talking before, a lot of trauma and abandonment issues and stuff. So I think there's a lot of tension around it, because of how complex it is.
Lianne: And so what was the education that got instituted - what did that consist of?
Camila: You know, just like normal sexual education that is around these days, you know, where everything comes from, wow, sex is done with the baby. To do doo doo doo doo doo doo doo, all this stuff, just like very basic stuff.
Lianne: What do you think sexual education should consist of? In our utopian, vibrational society?
Camila: I think you should be more spiritual, and more emotional, and more about presence. More about feeling comfortable, because I know that, at least in my experience as a woman growing up, I know that I fucked a lot of guys that I didn't want to fuck, you know, but you're just kind of there. You don't want to make them feel bad. You're just like, well, like us, like, alright let's just do it, you know? And I think that one should be definitely taught to be like- it has to be a hell yes! And to not feel bad if it's not a hell yes to be like, "nope, nothing is gonna happen." That's one. Another thing is also to know how to manage your emotions, when there's triggers of abandonment, you know, or rejection - which happens to everybody. You know, it just happens to everybody that we will go through that. How to manage that? What does it mean? What does it mean to your self worth? How to not make it about your self worth, and to make it about self discovery? You know, this is crucial. I think that if we've we learned these things there would be less insecurity in the world for us, and also about presence and how to be so present, that the experience is a really, truly satisfying experience for both people.
Lianne: Beautiful. So talk us through your sort of sexual development from going to school psychologist, to being a teenager, like when did you lose your virginity? When did you stop fucking guys when you didn't want to, what was your sort of path?
Camila: So since I was a little girl I remember like being about six years old and feeling like a little gentleman. I was definitely a boy when I was little. And I just was kind of chill, what's that word?
Camila: Thank you, chivalrous to my little girlfriends and I had crushes on them. I didn't know what I meant. But now I know that it was just all these lesbian emotions, you know? But then when I turned nine, I remember thinking, it was hard to be a boy when I was a girl. And it was kind of shameful when people were like, what's your name, "oh, you're a girl!" You know, it was weird. And I remember feeling like, okay, when I grow titties, I'm going to have to... like something's going to happen. And then I remember one day, I wore a little skirt, and then I kind of liked being a girl. And I was like, "oh, my God, this is a lot easier". And so I switched from being a boy to being a girl, like nine years old. And then I started to have a crush on men. And then I kind of completely forgot about women. I never even knew that I had a thing for women. Up until I was, I met this girl. And she was from Miami at 15. And she was showing me pictures of her boyfriend and her girlfriend and I was like, "oh, you can do that?" And so I was like, I want to do that, you know. So I had a boyfriend at the time and had hooked up with a bunch of boys at fifteen. But then I got obsessed with being with a woman. And then I had my first sexual experience with a woman in a threesome with a woman who was 28 and the guy was 30 when I was 17. Wow. But I lost my virginity at 13.
Lianne: Oh, wow.
Camila: To a friend. Then I was raped by somebody really close --
Lianne: After that.
Camila: Yeah after that. And then yeah, I was in a very heavy... I was a drug addict at 13.
Lianne: You were what?
Camila: A drug addict. So my sexual experiences were kind of like, traumatizing.
Camila: And I ended up in rehab at 14 and was clean for... basically I was recovered from then. And I've always been recovered, but those were my early sexual experiences. They were traumatizing. But then later, all this sex that I had, like, it was... I didn't like any of it. But I was having sex with boys and a few women, there was this one, but it was not satisfying. I just thought like, that's what to do. You have sex. But I actually didn't enjoy sex up until my first girlfriend that I had when I was 19. And she was like my real girl. She was the first one who gave me an orgasm. That's when my sexuality really woke up. And it woke up to men too. And I cheated on her a bunch with men. You know, also after a year, being with her. I started to really crave men, which is when I met my husband - the one who would become my husband later. And so we had a lot of threesomes, her and I, you know, but I thought I was a lesbian for a while. I thought I was a lesbian with bisexual tendencies. Up until my husband took my heart. That's when we fell in love.
Lianne: What was it about her, and your relationship with her at 19 that allowed you to have your first orgasm?
Camila: Ah, well, we were into each other. You know, I was really into her, she was really into me. And she was determined to give me an orgasm. And our bodies were good together. She smelled good. I smelled good to her. And she just, she was hot. And it was hot.
Lianne: That helps.
Camila: That helped! And then she just did it. It took me by surprise. And then it was incredible. We had a lot of sex.
Lianne: So given the sort of trauma that your early sexual experiences induced, was there intentional healing that you pursued or was it healing that came through having now more amorous and affective affairs or what? You know, how did you heal from those early days?
Camila: I know, my relationship with dick was very interesting, because a lot of the times it would hurt me. Uh huh. And that's why I thought it was a lesbian in many ways. But when I met my husband, at the time, he just felt good, you know, he felt really good. It was very safe, and he felt really good, but sometimes you don't feel good. So I was always like, am I kind of like, sort of a lesbian with, you know, these tendencies. And I thought that for a long time, but the more I experienced things with him... but then later I started to sleep with other men, and it was weird sometimes, like, certain men would hurt me, you know? And I just thought that was only me. But now that I've experienced a lot of relationships with women and men, I just realized that just, certain men are not for me.
Camila: And that it wasn't like, my vagina was a lesbian.
Lianne: And do you think that that is about fit or about a sort of more metaphysical or energetic alchemy on your own body in terms of your state of receptivity?
Camila: I guess both.
Camila: But I think it has to do more with the metaphysical match, you know? Because I've been with guys who have exactly the same penis as another guy, but one --
Lianne: How do know, do you have a mold?
Camila: I mean, I, you know, I look at it. And I compare. Yeah, but it's been a quite a discovery, like, even just... I always wanted, even when I was with my husband at the time, I always wanted a wife, and I thought that that would complete me. And after going off and having a full relationship with a woman once again, I just kind of came to realize that I feel better in a relationship with a man long-term, than with a woman, you know? Even sexually, like, after a year with a woman or so, I really start to to miss the experience with a man.
Lianne: Mm hmm. We were talking earlier before we started recording about this idea of sacred union, and union through sound, union through breath, union through sex - can you speak about how these different avenues can bring us back to source and how you think about that, that search that we are all on?
Camila: Yeah, of course. So, in terms of, you know, we were talking about this: us looking for this completion and this satisfaction, and how, at first, we look through our toys, you know, and our parents, and then later purpose, friendships, romance, career, money even. But then every time we take any of those pathways, we always come to the realization that this complete satisfaction isn't in any of it, that there's something greater. So then we end up going through the spiritual journey. But my understanding of it is that there's no one moment of perfect communion, where it's done, and then we have gotten a diploma, and then we're like, perfectly in satisfaction. I think that what it is, is a discovery. It's an eternal discovery of that communion, that divine communion, because that divine communion, it's the discovering of who we are as consciousness, and that consciousness is discovering itself with the experience of life. So it's not like oh, I found God and now we're cool. It's an endless unfolding of a playful discovery of who we truly are. And in that there is, like, infinite possibilities. Now, at the same time there is like kind of being out of it, and kind of being in it, in that eternal love-making, and I think that iin that, that's when we utilize this music, or sex, or spiritual practices to kind of attune ourselves to that eternal love making of discovery.
Lianne: Do you know about any experiments with sound and sexuality? You know, I'm just thinking earlier about when you were talking about this idea, again, of judicious listening, and how that could be such a powerful practice. I think certainly, as a woman, I'm relating to a lot of what you're sharing about your upbringing, and how there's also just the piece of being so stuck in your head. Right? There's all of these anxieties when you start off exploring sex. And for me, it was all about like, I can't even pay attention to what is happening or feeling, because I'm just like, in this inner mind-work of anxieties and dialogue. Yeah, and so, then also thinking about how sound is being used for healing right now there, you know, there's this trend of sound and meditation.
Camila: It's a big one.
Lianne: And so I wonder whether, even if you were to just think about it now, how these really powerful tools of sound could be used for sexual healing and awakening and enlivening what that could look like?
Camila: Sound in sexuality is like dancing. You know, when you have a partner on the dance floor, it doesn't mean that they're your partner, but sometimes you rendezvous with people who you have something to share with, you know, it is a beautiful discovery, but I feel like when the mind is not there, you know, and there is this surrender and this trust to the present moment, and there is the sound of music and then you're dancing with somebody and you can, really let yourself go... Even better if you have a level of attraction that is mutual, then you can really explore that. I think that through dance, because music moves our bodies, and in utilizing the sound, and also to go into this flow with the other person, it is an amazing way to, kind of, really surrender, you know? Because we're talking about all this as surrendering to the present moment, and the gifts that are given in the dancing with life itself, without our mind getting in the way, and breaking the flow. Yeah. So I think that there's a lot to explore there.
Lianne: Speak about the effect of sound on the body and the mind - on the nervous system.
Camila: Well, I without, like, being an academic expert on it, I can talk from experience that... I mean, we all know that music is uplifting, right? And with careful listening, judicious listening, I have discovered an incredible universe, really, of what careful listening can do to me. There's a lot of things that can happen. In careful listening, one is being present. And being present, and not having the mind... a very powerful thing happens. One, is, to enjoy the music means to uplift the spirit, and to uplift the spirit means to prepare oneself to receive more of the gifts of... of existence, you know? So, I know that when I am listening to music, I am being uplifted. I'm being taught. I'm being uplifted. My vibration is is growing, is higher. And some of the things that happens to me, when that happens, is like I start to get guidance about my own life journey. And maybe guidance about music, what great music is, what I should try for when I'm when I'm playing music, what is it that makes awesome music? Discovering, you know, the tools that allows the gateway... to have the key to the gateway of, of divine sound. And another one is just simply realizations of playfulness and clarity about my life's purpose, and my life's path, and clarity about what to do next, you know? And also, a third one would be to utilize that time also to create, you know? In the life that we want.
Lianne: Yeah, this idea of sound as creation, right, is so fundamental to all of the mystical traditions - you have in the Bible, first there is sound and then there is light. The Quran echoes that, and of course, nada Brahma nada as being sound and creations, the creator. So yeah, can you speak about this idea of sound and creation, and creating, through sound, the life that we want?
Camila: Yeah, well, so, I was watching a documentary yesterday by a guy called Mateus De Stefano. He claims that he remembers all his lifetimes - a bunch of lifetimes in this planet, lifetimes before this planet, you can believe it or not, and in the moment in which consciousness realizes itself and says "I am!" And then it starts to breathe. He's saying that this breathing of consciousness, like, it starts to make waves of sound, that sound, kind of, like, goes out, without, and then comes back in to reflect what that is. And that reflection is the creation. And then it just becomes more and more and more and more and more complex. So yeah, everything is sound, like we are sound. And I guess that's why music is such a powerful tool to get back to the center of who we are, and not get lost in the creation. But more be the creator. And in being the creator, finding home, and not being lost in the confusion of the outer edges of creation. You know sound, also, it gives us presence. And that consciousness, it leaves in presence, it leaves in the now, in the silence, in the hearing, in the listening, you know? And in that listening, I think is where we can be one with who we really are. I think it's powerful, I think it's one of the most powerful practices that there are. And I think we're all lucky to have music. And I'm certainly lucky to be a musician.
Lianne: Yeah, I'm thinking about, you know, so, in Hindu philosophy, and this musical tradition, that sound is the tool of creation, as you're saying, and then in Daoism, or post-Daoism, Daosim as my teacher Zhen Dao would discuss, there's this idea that desire is the tool of destiny.
Camila: Ooh, I love that. That's so beautiful.
Lianne: I'm thinking then about how desire, destiny, sound, and creation of sound is a tool through which we create- how all of those interplay in this sort of cosmic realm.
Camila: It's so beautiful. Yeah, exactly. So like, if our thoughts, our vibration, go out into the universe with some sort of sound frequency, I mean, we don't experience it like that, because we don't, I don't experience my thoughts as a note, but for what we know and what we have studied, it is so. And also, then, the word, right? Then the word. Because, first is the thought that has vibration that is sound, and then the word is actually sound. And then in that word, there's a creative power. So it is, I mean, in that creation, I see this creation as the discovery of oneself. And that is why it's so important because this whole jungle, in circles of experiences, is to look back at ourselves and be like, I am this, you know? So it is all sound. I mean, it's fascinating, this eternal quest of discovery through sound, and words, and sounds, I think that we're just at the brink, at the beginning of something enormous of how we are going to utilize sound to create more, and to heal ourselves, and to do all kinds of things. I think that we're, this is just something that we're starting to tap into in this society right now.
Lianne: Mm hmm.
Camila: More to come.
Lianne: Yeah, I'm thinking also about... so you're speaking about self discovery. And of course, there's a tremendous self gnosis to come from pleasure, and from desire, and from our own sexual practices, including our own self cultivation. And so I'm curious if you could speak about the role of self-pleasure in your own trajectory. And I'll just say another thought that I'm having as I asked this question, and as you were speaking is, how integral the voice is for so many of us in unlocking and tapping into our sexual liveness, right? A lot of healers I've spoken to speak about really using the voice, and letting that be the thing that can guide you into higher states of ecstasy, or at least liberation, or at least just healing through that. And so I can wonder if you can speak about also the voice and just its vibration. It's all vibration, right playing ourselves like an instrument, allowing our voices to vibrate us, bringing that into lovemaking.
Camila: That's beautiful. Yeah, so you're talking about first desire as a tool of destiny, yeah? And so, I do think that desire is that impulse to express that which we are, you know? And the voice is like clarity, and articulation of ideas. It's the tangible, physical manifestation of something that is. And so, I think that what desire's do is like, think poles of consciousness, primal consciousness, it pulsates, and it pulsates in the form of desires. And it just sends us a quest, that it's first to come out of the center, because the first thing desire has is incompletion. It means I have a desire, it means I don't have this thing that I want. And that immediately takes us off center, and it upsets our balance. So it's almost like the pulsating of that desire is being thrown out from home. I'm no longer complete, and I'm on a quest to being complete, and then life starts, in their experience and in that journey, of following that desire, that is the journey of self discovery back to home. But then home again is going to pulsate us out, you know, and this goes on for eternity. I think the voice is utilizing this quest from the beginning, you know, as a way to, what is the narrative? Because the word is all creating. So the narrative that we have regarding those very desires is what is going to take us farther away from home, or coming back to home, and bring in that desire incompletion into home. It's all related, really.
Lianne: And can you speak about self pleasure and how that, if it has played a role in your--
Camila: Self-pleasure, right! So self pleasure, it's the seeking of this state of bliss, you know, I mean, that you know, that the masters talk about so much, this bliss, this state being like, nothingness and stillness. But, the impulse of desire is the impulse to search for ourselves, and to discover ourselves, and to experience who we really are, and to get to know who we really are. And I think that to follow our pleasure means to go on this quest. So giving self-pleasure to oneself, is a discovery of doses of who we are!. And you know, I am a true believer that who we are is a profound state of well being, you know? Also. And so I think that seeking pleasure is seeking that communion with our home, and who we really are.
Lianne: Hmm. Did you start exploring your own body when you were young around that time of 6, 7, 8 that you were speaking about earlier?
Camila: Yeah, definitely, like, when I was little, I was definitely pleasuring myself. Yeah, you know, I don't have like a super sacred practice with my own self pleasuring. I'm just gonna like--
Lianne: Tuesday, nothing on TV.
Camila: Like I'm horny, nobody's around, let's do this. But, I just think that all pleasure is that quest for communion?
Lianne: Tell us about your events that you put on.
Camila: Yeah, I have.... there's a few events right now that I have going on. One is a women's platform for female-led projects, in all kinds of traditions. And then there's like a... so I book, like, one professional act. Men can be involved but under the leadership of a woman. And then there's an open mic that is for anybody in the community. All women in the community are encouraged to come and share some of their creative endeavors. It's almost kind of like, you know, you see a lot of places where it's like, all these men playing... How many male bands are there in the world? Like, too many. How many women's bands? I mean, few? Maybe, you know, not that many. Why are not we women doing as much as men do together? And I actually think that we were competing for a long ass time you know? Nobody was making any money, women were not making any money, you had to compete for the man, and you had to compete for your survival. And I think that we're just kind of starting to get rid of that, and starting to open more spaces for collaboration and sisterhood, so that we are not mirrors of each other. And when we need to, we're more like team players, and supporters of each other. And so that was one of the events. And then another one is a psychedelic wall. Musical, music experience that we've been doing with our team since 2012? 2011? It's very powerful. Everybody comes out with tons of tools, and healing things, and you know, it's like an Alexandre thing, just like with live musicians who are masters from like all different traditions from around the world. It's powerful.
Lianne: Hmm. Speak about the role of psychedelics then in your life.
Camila: Oh, psychedelics are amazing. I mean, it's a tool to discovering who we really are. It's like a short path to back home really, and it just gives clarity, and it opens up the brain to be the receiver, again, of the wisdom of consciousness, and also just guidance about our own life. Because we're all very, very absorbed with our personal stories. It means a lot to us.
Lianne: Right. And why do you think that music and psychedelics go so well together?
Camila: Well, because sound is a powerful tool for self discovery and being in a place of surrender, to receive, and so is psychedelics. Psychedelics puts the mind in a different place that it is suspensed and helps us to receive. and then in that receiving is where epiphanies, and clarity, and ideas, inspirations and direction comes from.
Lianne: Absolutely. Beautiful. And what's on the horizon for you in terms of your creative life?
Camila: Well, I'm working on my album, and I'm working to record it. So right now I'm looking at some shows to play with the musicians you know, get the material tight, and also presented in these events that we do. And also, we were given a house, upstate by this art patron. He has a beautiful land upstate and he's given it to us virtually for no money. So we go there to co-create, to collaborate and to study music, learn from one another, so that then we can present all these different materials and the events that we have coming up.
Lianne: Beautiful. And how can people follow you and your work?
Camila: Well, I guess Facebook is a good way. Okay. Or Viewcy. .
Lianne: Okay, wonderful. Yeah. And we'll link to your work and your music. And so people can also buy your upcoming album.
Camila: Oh, yes. I have one one song released.
Lianne: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us such intimate and beautiful insights.
Camila: Thank you so much for having me.
Lianne: It's my pleasure.
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