The Greatest Outdoors

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Halloween Celebrations with Elements

Sign up for the following activities:

Fabulous Fungi Drawing with Gabriel Knight

Halloween Forest School

We will be making bread, telling stories, wandering through the wood and learning about the beautiful time of the year.

Costume Making with Emma Foley

Pass between worlds

The shadows are getting longer and deeper. The new cycle is ready to begin. How do you wish to step out of the past and into the next year? Or, in other words…

It’s Halloween, what are you going as?

On October 31st, come into the dusk of Samhain in this rewarding workshop using natural traditional materials and methods to make your choice of a beautiful mask, wreath, or charm. 

Your safety may depend on it!

Our handwork on the day will be accompanied by a constructive, and exciting exploration of ideas relating to costume, disguise, tradition, shadow-self, story, spirit-appeasement, folk art, and a look at the cultural balance between the profane and the sacred.

You will leave prepared for whatever comes at you on Halloween night. 

Well, hopefully…..

Workshop from 1pm to 4pm.

There will be a opportunity to relax post workshop for 30 to 40 minutes around the fire after we finish work.

There will be a short break from 2:20 to 2:40. Seasonal refreshments will be provided. 

All required tools and materials will be provided for you but please feel free to bring along anything you would like to use.

[Provided: Mixed fabrics, hessian, wool, leather, felt, crystal, ribbon, fruitwoods, shells, nuts, husks, wire, twine, dried herbs and flowers]

Please notify me of any allergies before the event. 

Looking forward to welcoming you.

Dragons and Leaves: Our first Copper Smithing session

All pictures by Caron Ang

Our first copper smithing session was a blast, no pun intended. Let the pictures speak for themselves…

A very pleasing final result indeed for a first time copper smith
Setting up the session was a serious business… the equipment took over two months to put together
Matthew made anvils from scratch – well from logs and steel plates!!! That took him two weeks!!!
The tools of the trade – hammers, chisels and other implements of medieval torture
It was a full house – of mostly blokes… hammering and smithing away

The nice thing about all of our activities is that you leave feeling that you have accomplished something you thought that you could never do.

Here is the man himself showing how it is done
A graceful willow leaf!
Copper working was a highly valued skill in the Bronze Age
Some other lovely finished pieces
Delicate rings were made by the only female paticipant!
A beautiful oak leaf
Treasure!

If you would like to sign up for this coming Saturday – 2 October fill in this form! Or email hello@elementsschool.net. Come along and surprise yourself!

Thank you Heidi!

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Stationery to go gaga over

The Iona Shop in Holywood which stocks all manner of good things is sponsoring some of our art materials for the sessions with Gabriel. The shop stocks only the very best quality colour pencils, crayons, pastels and carries a wide range of papers for crafting. There is also a very small mark up on these materials as Heidi is committed to making the best art materials available to all – although they are by no means cheap, these crayons are made from beeswax and the colour pencils are vibrant and true.

No photo description available.
No photo description available.

If you love art you will love the art collection at the Iona Shop.

One Form to Rule Them All

Because we now have art classes, weekly sessions, a summer scheme and birthday parties, we have a single booking form for you to register your interest. Fill it in and Jonathan will get back to you… or you CAN email hello@elementsschool.net. Or call 07410411840.

Here are all our ad just to remind you what we have!

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Summer Scheme!!!

We cannot describe how excited we are!!! Our very first summer scheme which builds on the nearly 60 sessions we have done since we have started this year… and that’s not counting the scores of sessions we have had since we started doing Forest School lessons since 2013!

Our booking form will be made available soon or by email, so to book a provisional place which will be confirmed by next week please either email hello@elementsschool.net or call 07410411840 that’s Jonathan’s phone number.

With the Glencraig site we will have access to a beautiful naturally managed forest, historic walks and a blue flag beach – Helen’s Bay! There is outdoor cooking, crafts and storytelling. We will have wildlife and nature ID, and of course a deep and meaningful connection to nature.

Looking forward to a blissful summer!

Seeing the Trees…

May be an image of tree and outdoors
Would you like to learn how to draw this oak? Gabriel will take you through it step by step

Drawing trees with Gabriel Knight

Saturday – June 12, 19, 26 and July 3

10 am – 11.30 pm

Cost: $20 per session, material included

Elements is very excited to announce the first ever art course run with Gabriel Knight at The Quarries in Bangor. Learn how to draw beautiful, realistic and gorgeous trees with experienced teacher Gabriel Knight.

Gabriel has taught art now for more than 30 years to children as well as adults. Her personal lessons are filled with warmth and carefully planned to ensure that participants come away with something to be satisfied with! Whether you are just beginning or have done this for a while, it is the right class for you.

May be an image of 1 person, outdoors and tree
Gabriel has 30 years of teaching experience

For these lessons, trees from the locale will be drawn. These include birches, pines and fruit trees. Gabriel has also created drawings exclusively for these sessions with the complete beginner in mind. With these lessons there is a real sense of achievement. Working in charcoal (which you will make yourself from local willow!) and pastels, a very forgiving and easy medium, Gabriel will guide you through the process step by step.

The lessons are limited to 8 participants per session. Set in the beautiful rustic charm of the Quarries Farm, you will spend an hour and a half not only learning how to draw, but experiencing the peace and tranquility of this unique site.

The beautiful round house which gives the location one of its many many charms

By the end of the four sessions you will have four beautiful drawings which you can frame and keep or gift! You will also be able to say they were drawn using charcoal you made yourself!

Each session is £20 and is open to anyone over the age of 12 and over. All materials will be provided.

Make your own charcoal from local willow

£15 sessions in January and February

To help you keep your new year’s resolutions to spend more time outdoors we have reduced our Jan/Feb prices to £15 per session for each child.

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please contact us at hello@elementsschool.net

You can also book a session here.

We start on 5 Jan!!!

Green Santa this weekend!!!!

Email hello@elementsschool.net for more information. Go here to book to event.

Image may contain: text that says "OUR GREEN SANTA PERSONALISES EVERY MEETING. SEND US THE LIST OF WHAT YOUR CHILD WILL GET FOR CHRISTMAS AND SANTA WILL WEAVE A LITTLE BIT OF MAGIC!! HELD IN A RUSTIC ROUNDHOUSE BY AN OPEN FIRE. THERE WILL BE A STORY, AN ECO WILDLIFE GIFT AND A 1 FOR 1 FOREST SCHOOL SESSION. eLeMeNTS AND SCHOOL ELEMENTS GREEN SANTA THE QUARRIES, BANGOR 20 DECEMBER $20 ON 18 AND $25 ON 19 AND 20 DEC To book go to shrtco.de uyW8Nt, email hello@elementsschool.net, or go to www.elementsschool.net"

The Day of the (Un)dead

This article is about the monsters which have taken centrestage during the Western celebration of Halloween.

Book it here. If you need to find out more, you may email hello@elementsschool.net.

Halloween street scene. | Halloween inspiration, Halloween street, Halloween  america
The OTTness of Halloween now only rivaled by Christmas

It is universally acknowledged that the macabre turn that Halloween has taken is entirely due to the commercialisation of the festival. Mostly by Americans. I don’t think there is any other way to put it. When it crossed the Atlantic Ocean with the Irish, it was a festival which marked the end of summer. When it came back it was a festival which was filled with eyeball candy, plastic pumpkins and jump scares.

At some stage (the middle ages), Samhain was co-opted by by Christianity, and transformed into All Hallows Eve, with All Saints Day falling on the day after Halloween. It was then followed by All Souls Day. This is a straight up day of honouring and remembering the dead.

Day of the Dead in Mexico in 2020 | Office Holidays
Sugar skulls make death ‘sweeter’

Remembering the dead is not unique to All Souls. This is carried out all over the world. The Day of the Dead with its pretty sugar skulls and many full length animated movies can attest to this. In Chinese culture you clean the tombs of your ancestors during Cheng Beng. In many immigrant Chinese countries the honour of the dead takes place over an entire month known as the Seventh Month (yes Halloween for an ENTIRE month.) This is followed by the Moon Cake Festival, which is the harvest festival.

In Ireland, this cross day was the marking of entering a darker time of the year and with that darkness, the thinning of veils, honouring of the dead… then somehow a practice which was meant to be in equal parts reverential and celebratory suddenly became an excuse for people to frighten the living daylights out of each other.

Shout out to the Monsters

American Halloween Traditions | HowStuffWorks

It is true that in order to come to terms with death human beings can do many odd things. One of the most extreme is to invent the idea of the undead – those non or no longer humans. The laundry list of these creatures long – from the barely living like the Golem and Frankenstein’s Monster – to Nosferatu, the vampyre and zombies. Then there are the subhuman, like the werewolf and changelings, and those which deal with dodgy magical practises such as witches and warlocks, voodoo witch doctors, which inevitably will perform their animal or human sacrifices, Black Masses and Satanic rituals. It would also seem that each and every culture has their equivalent.

Asian ghosts in particular are quite gruesome. In fact there is such a panoply of ghosts in Asia which are completely and utterly believed that Asian horror takes creepy and suspense to a new level.

15 Must-Watch Facts About The Ring | Mental Floss
The Ring, possibly the most terrifying horror show ever made

All of these do have quite serious origins – their stories each tragic and misunderstood or repressed. For instance witches were women who had been falsely accused of consorting with the devil. In an unprecedented act of genocide, thousands of women and men met with a grisly end. In St Andrews in Scotland in one particularly blood soaked year there was almost one death for every day!

Boo!

Then you have your straight up ghosts. Ghosts are beings who have unfinished business. Whether it is the unfinished business of the ghost itself or that lives in the mind of the one who has been left behind, ghosts occupy the liminal spaces warning us of our limits, the border between life and death which we cannot cross and which they have. They have powers which have come into their own since they have abandoned their bodies. They are able to defy time and space, warn or lure, exact revenge, restore a balance. There are many types of ghosts of course, far too many to go into here, but what they do share in common is that they, once upon a time, were alive. So you could have ghosts of people as well as animals.

The Haunting of Hill House follow-up Bly Manor will 'more frightening,'  creator says | EW.com
The Haunting of Hill House

It is such a shame that in the modern age we have allowed our lack of reverence to almost cheapen the meanings of each of these powerful archetypes and the longings they point to. The debt we owe each of these creations and how we have twisted and bent them so out of shape that they are unrecognisable as the shadows of our own minds.

Instead they now appear as the most hideous projections which as their grotesqueness increases seems to diminish their power. It is as if making our fears literal we have diminished their effectiveness.

Perhaps the greatest fears we have are really not the monsters out there, but the monsters which we must live with – the unrecognised, unacknowledged ones. The ones which walk beside us daily, that can torture us from time to time without anyone knowing.

Do join us for a peaceful Samhain

Whatever it is, it is not where we are going with our Halloween celebrations at the Quarries. The celebrations will bring a little balance between the secular and the sacred – the unseen and seen. It hopes to restore, a little, the mystery and wonder of this time of year. We hope you will be able to join us.

Book it here. If you need to find out more, you may email hello@elementsschool.net.

Be Warned: 9 Pantang Things You Shouldn't Be Doing During The Seventh Month
Hungry Ghost Festival

Offerings to the fairies

Nowadays we give children sweets – because, let’s face it, they don’t seem to want anything else and they have come to expect it, but this practice of giving something during Halloween originated with… you guessed it, the fairies.

If you’d like to celebrate Samhain with us and the other unseens, do come along. Book it here. If you need to find out more, you may email hello@elementsschool.net. There will be a shadow play, beautiful moonlit and candle walk and we will be making rowan amulets.

Do read on about the different offerings fairies would be given.

Part of the Broighter hoard, thought to have been part of a votive deposit – possibly an offering to Manannán
The Boighter Hoard – found on the shores of Lough Foyle, it was believed to be an offering to Manannan Mac Lir, sea sea god of the Celts (s senior Da Dannan)

Now that we have established that fairies have little to do with adorable harmless beings which grant wishes, but instead can grow and shrink at will, have fun with the wind and weather, play tricks on you and curse you viciously – or alternatively bless you lavishly – we understand why there was a long tradition in offering things to them.

6 Life Lessons from a Balinese Offering | MindBodyWise
Balinese offerings

There are a few days in a year when the veils grow thin and Halloween is one of them. During this time, offerings would be laid out for the wee folk in order to be in their good favour. If you were in with the fairies, your butter would always ‘take’ your cows would always give milk and your children would be safe.

Offerings still take place in many places in the world – in Bali elaborate ceremonies would be held in temples for ancestors and the many Hindu-Buddhist syncretic gods of the island. In China ancestor worship still occurs and people leave food around for Hungry Ghosts (those with no descendants). Even in Christianity, an offering is made at the high point of the service, where the sacrifice of Christ is recalled – his death takes away our ‘sins’.

Here are somethings which people did for the fairies.

Milk

Myths & Legends | Carlingford | Visit Carlingford

Cows used to play a massive part in the rural economy. Many things were measured according to cows. For instance, if you cut down a royal tree you would have to pay the offended party back in cows, calves and heifers. Probably the most famous war in ancient Ireland was started because of a cow – the Tain, which ends with the death of Cuchulain, began because Maeve wanted a bull to match her husband’s white bull. So it is no surprise that what they produced was often left for the fairies.

When you milked a cow, you would purposely spill some milk on the floor of the barn for the fairies. This practice was still quite common until recently.

Refurbished vintage oak butter churn on stand | Andy Thornton

Butter

Butter would often be left out. If you cut butter you would not clean the knife because the fairies would take the bits that were left on the knife. Bog butter was placed in a bog – sometimes it was thought for preservation, but possibly also as an offering.

Seaweed

“Produce of sea to land,
Produce of land to sea;
He who doeth not in time,
Scant shall be his share.

Seaweed being cast on shore
Bestow, Thou Being of bestowal;
Fruitfulness being brought to wealth,
O Christ, grant me my share!”

According to the website Tairis, seaweed would also be offered since it was plentiful and necessary to life, especially on the lough shore. Did you know that all seaweed is edible – as in it will not kill you. Some are less edible than others, but it is important that you look out for gutweed and not harvest there as it indicates the presence of sewage and pollution.

Bladderwrack: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects
The gametes of bladderwarck can be pickled to make a really tasty snack!

Alcohol

In the past ale was the go to sacrificial liquid. You would either pour it on the ground, OR you could prepare a little table for the wee folk. In many parts of Asia this is till done. Food and alcohol is offered to spirits and then you partake of it after they have eaten the ‘essence’. People who do this SWEAR that the food has no more taste after the spirits have ‘eaten’ them.

Odin - Wikipedia

Being kind

You were never allowed to turn someone away. If a stranger came asking for a night’s lodging and food you had to give it to them because they could be a spirit in disguise and if you refused them they could curse you. Throughout all of history, stories are replete with this injunction. Even Christians have this as a central tenant to their practice. Muslims are not allowed to refuse anyone shelter and food. In ancient Greece you could not ask someone who they were until after they had eaten and drank and even slept i.e the next day.

The God here is Odin. It was one of his favourite tricks to wander about in disguise with a giant floppy hat to hide his missing eye – which he sacrificed to gain all the wisdom in the world.

Human sacrifice??

There is not a lot of evidence of the regular practice of human sacrifice. Bog men which have been ritually killed have turned up now and then, but the stories of killing prisoners, infants, etc may have been Roman propaganda. The druids never wrote of their practices since everything was passed down through word of mouth. The only person who writes about this most heinous of sacrifices (certainly to the Romans) was Julius Caesar – which is ironic seeing how he was responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people. It was thought that this was written in to justify the brutal repression of the druidic religion when the Roman conquered Gaul and later Britain.

Protection

You could also protect yourself from the fairies by using certain charms and amulets. The most powerful tree for this purpose was the rowan tree. It’s blood red berries and useful wood – used especially to build ships for this purpose – made sure that you were not harmed by nefarious intentions.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) - British Trees - Woodland Trust
Rowan Tree – the most powerful protection against spells

If you’d like to celebrate Samhain with us and the other unseens, do come along. Book it here. If you need to find out more, you may email hello@elementsschool.net. There will be a shadow play, beautiful moonlit and candle walk and we will be making rowan amulets.

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