Attention west-coasters: You’re officially the luckiest because you have the best weekend plans up ahead of you. It’s called Mercado Sagrado, a two day celebratory community festival in Topanga Canyon that brings together artisans, healers, and lots of good vibes. The idea for Mercado Sagrado came in 2014, when co-founders Heather Culp and Carly Jo Morgan craved to build a community centered around creativity and the healing arts.
While we will be stalking the event on social, which takes place this weekend (October 13 + 14), we will be having our own east-coast wellness weekend, spending time with friends and doing all the fun fall activities. There’s a lot going on this time of year, so Heather spoke to us about the 5 ways she heals and repairs after a long weekend. Get Heather’s story and all the juicy details about her dreamy Mercado Sagrado below.
Kendall: Why and how did you start Mercado Sagrado?
Heather: It just seemed like the right time and place and that there was an opening for an event that served as a creative, community incubator as well as a channel for healing and esoteric arts. Also, living in Topanga Canyon, up in the mountains can be isolating so it was also initially about getting people together, in nature, in person.
We started it in my friend/co-founder, Carly’s back yard as an experiment —and also because we didn’t have any money for a location. Looking back it was really perfect because it ended up feeling intimate and cozy. I think often in life if you know less about what you’re trying to do and just go for it, magic can happen —if I had known then what I know know about event production and permits and health codes, etc etc it would’ve been totally overwhelming.
Kendall: How is the festival changing the landscape of the wellness industry as a whole?
Heather: When we began in 2014, the landscape was different. I wasn’t aware of the term ‘wellness’. Our idea was to create an event that was a sort of incubator for creatives and healing arts and include things such as palm readings and aura photography —my childhood friend, Christina launched Radiant Human around the same time and Mercado Sagrado was her first event. I was really into esoteric arts —read a lot of books on spirituality and magic, was going to meditations with famous crystal skulls (one was named Max!) and attending events like Contact in the Desert. It was wonderful to investigate those worlds but it didn’t feel like my people. So the intention was for the event to be a bridge of sorts and an extension of our lives —inviting friends to play music, serving the food we would serve in our own homes and including teachings about alternative healing modalities that we had found helpful or inviting speakers on topics we were intrigued by. The intention’s still the same —to be able to include teachers we admire or discussions on whatever we’re curious about and more fringe topics such Astral Projection or Scalar Technology but in casual manner so it feels more like you’re at a friends house than at a convention.
Kendall: What definitely have to research those! What specific events and artisans are you most excited for this year?
Heather: I’m so exited that Elliot Bergman could join us this year —he’s a musician and fine artist who’s creating a site-specific installation in the chapel. He melts down guns and bullet casings, transforming them into sound vessels he calls Peace Bells. They’re gorgeous to look at and also sound amazing —he’ll be doing a few performances with them each day.
Feeling deeply honored to have Botanical Dimensions as our non-profit partner this year. Founder, Kathleen Harrison is an amazing ethnobotanist with 50 years experience and was married to the late Terrence McKenna. She’s going to present a talk on The Roots of Plant Ritual: Respectfully Weaving the Personal, Archetypal and Cultural —touching on appropriation and ways in which we can cultivate respect for indigenous knowledge and ritual.
Also so exited to have the Peaking Lights Family Band perform —and a music line up curated by Zebulon, plus a wonderful panel discussion on Living and Eating Righteously, led by Amanda Shaprio, editor of Healthyish, hand-made clothing by Milena Silvano who is coming all the way from Forest Row in England and hats by one of our all time faves, Sam Roberts LA —plus so many others, I really love them all, so it’s tough to just name just a few!
Kendall: Wow! Some of my favorites- I love Milena Silvano. How can we transport a little bit of the Topanga Canyon magic to the east coast? Can we expect any sister gatherings anywhere else in the US?
Heather: We are working on it! But until details are solidified I hesitate to say — however, we will be heading up to Big Sur right after the event to scout the location at which we’ll be hosting an event late Spring! Sorry east coasters, the west is just where we’ve had the warmest welcome so far!
Kendall: How do you see the event growing in the next five years?
Heather: A few additional events at sister locations plus our version of retreats —Mystery Tours. And the dream is to have a permanent location to live and host intimate happenings and workshops.
Kendall: A lot is happening this time of year (festivals, markets, fairs, bonfires). What are your five tips on recovering from a long weekend?
Heather: Actually, this year, for the first time we’ve created a little follow up event called Morning after Mercado. It includes my five favorite tips listed below.
- Spending some time in nature —even just a few minutes earthing outside or a quick morning walk or hike can be a wonderful reset.
- An energetic tune-up via Sea Salt or Epson Salt —in the bathtub, or placing a little sea salt on your crown in the shower, or of course ocean immersion, if possible!
- 20 minute morning meditation —or whatever time allows.
- A nourishing potion with your favorite adaptogens or medicinal mushrooms —one of my current loves is Sun Potion’s Matcha with Hemp Milk, a little Ghee and Reishi + Lion’s Mane.
- Good food —especially if the weekends adventures were indulgent. For our morning after we’re doing fresh fruit, a few salads, jackfruit tacos and ceviche.
Kendall: What’s your beauty philosophy and how is it fulfilled by Mercado Sagrado?
Heather: For me, beauty is holistic, it’s radiance — feeling good in your body and good about who you are and what you’re doing. A lot of the workshops or talks we offer at Mercado Sagrado are about self empowerment and self knowledge and even with those we work with who are specifically focused on beauty, such as Shiva Rose, the message is really beauty as well-being and at the core, connecting with oneself and the natural world.
Kendall: How do you stay in the moment?
Heather: Usually by spending time in nature —swimming, hiking, tending the garden or plant projects such as making flower essences. Or by engaging in creative projects such as photography or cooking.
Special thanks to Heather!
Photo courtesy of Mercado Sagrado