The Greatest Outdoors

Author: ElementsFGS Page 1 of 8

How busy have we been!!!

There is literally NO EXCUSE for having such an out of date website, but we have been very busy. What has happened since we last updated with our session in Glasswater Woods?

Thank you note from parent of child who participated in the Glasswater session

Well, here’s a run down.

We ran a five-day Summer Scheme in Oakfield Forest in Carrickfergus at the start of summer.

We made nettle fibres for our activity in Carrickfergus

We started the After School in Holywood Steiner School, and are once again fully subscribed.

Some very cheerful after schoolers!!

We ran the last of the Fostering Network sessions in Gosford Park.

We gathered fungi and made leaf art using a felt cutting at Gosford Forest.

And we started the New Moon Goddess Journeys in Bangor – our next session is fully booked out!

Finally we have a birthday party coming up…

And the feedback has been great!

Oh yes, and Stephanie attended the Regional Forest School gathering at Monaghan and learnt all about mushrooms!

We are now members of the Irish Forest School Association!!!

Sticky Post

New Moon Goddess Journeys

We have decided to hold a New Moon Goddess Journeying session every month – our second meeting will take place on June 18th at 5 pm.

New Moon Goddess Journeying – 18 June 5 – 7 pm –

Quarries Farm, 403 Gransha Road Bangor

Bring something to share and a couple of quid for the hire of the space. We will drum and journey, share our New Moon stories and connect to the many incarnations of the Goddess. Celebrate the New Moon and the Summer Solstice – and make a new start. No need to reply, just turn up.

For more details call 07540075991 or email steph@elementsschool.net

June 2023 Update

Hard to believe that 2 months have passed and we have been up to loads!

As usual we have had two excellent sessions with the Fostering Network. We worked with the Antrim and North Down sectors and delivered 2 four week sessions in Ballymena People’s Park as well as Glasswater Woods.

The Green Man… we made masks celebrating summer!

Fairy doors were just adorable!

Blown away by the beauty!

We also kept on with our After School although there were so many Bank Holiday Mondays in May and June!

We got loads of fun out of the new archery set we bought!

And our new slackline also got a premier!


Water festival!

Goddess Workshop

We held our Goddess Workshop in Newtownards…

Stories, drumming journey and making horses

Siuban put together wire frames for the horses…

Macha is Mother. Is every aspect of mother. She brings her ferocity. Her assurance. She says, you are enough. More than enough. We are all that … and some.

As we enter the height of summer, we dance with her, for her. We no longer doubt. Everything is possible. Everything exists here – for us- in this time.

Updates!

We have had a most busy 2023 to date. We started with a return to our After School at the Hol;ywood Steiner School, the first of our Goddess workshops as well as a session with the Fostering Network, promoting our Easter Holiday Scheme for 2023 and developing a Forest School training day with GROW NI.

Here is a snapshot of how we’ve got on.

After School – Holywood Steiner School

Discovering Physics through pulleys
It’s cold in March!

Our After School sessions are full with a waiting list. Children engage in deep play while developing their bushcraft skills. Running around is essential to stay warm while cooking over an open fire keeps our spirits up.

If you are interested in starting an After School with us, why not give us a call on 07540075991 or email us hello@elementscshool.net.

Fostering Network – Belfast

We spent a remarkably unseasonal warm three days in February at Belvoir Park Forest doing not just forest skills, but history, plant ID, bird song and geography. We are very lucky to have such a beautiful forest in the middle of Belfast and for a few of the participants, it was the first time they had been there!

Birthday Party

It was a beautiful return to the Quarries where we held our first birthday party of the year! We had 11 children and a very happy birthday boy. Party games were played and we celebrated another year around the sun.

If you are interested in booking a party with us email us on hello@elementsschool.net. Each child is £12 with a minimum of 10 children. The party games are an hour with another hour at the Quarries in their traditional Tea Barn.

Sometimes dream do come true! We held our first goddess workshop at the Navan Centre which worked with the Goddess Brigid and looked at the Maiden in ourselves. The day was bright and beautiful and the moon guided us back to amazing dreams! Our next one is on 14 May when we work with Macha. You can sign up for it here!

New year new things!

We spent nearly £400 on new equipment, including a slackline, target, arrows and lots and lots and lots of rope and tarp – AND a kelly kettle!!!! We are a REAL forest school now 🙂

Well that’s us all caught up for 2023! With our next outing which is the Fostering Network in Antrim, Easter Holiday Scheme, GROW NI workshop and more goddess workshops, it looks to be a very very busy year!

Because I Have a Voice: The Heroine’s Journey

Drawing from the Triple Goddess in Irish mythology, this series of workshops will explore and honour the Divine Feminine in all of us over the course of the cyclical year

Dates: 

14 May 2023 : Bealtaine – Macha – Apple/ Oak

5 November 2023 : Oíche Shamna – Cailleach – Yew

Time: 10 am – 4 pm

Cost: £60 pp

(6 participants minimum, 12 participants maximum)

Facilitators: Siuban O’Hare, Stephanie Sim, Jemma Weymss

To register for the course, please click here. Please take note of the different closing dates in the form for each session.

Brigid

All original artwork for this course was created by Siuban O Hare

Introduction

The idea for this series of workshops began with a conversation between Siuban O’Hare and Stephanie Sim around tree journeys, the Goddess, mythic time and consciousness.

Over the course of the year, frequented the hills of Craigantlet and forests of North Down, to explore putting together something which would draw on the wealth of Irish mythology to enable participants to develop their connection with the unseen consciousness. A consciousness which, because it is quiet, almost forgotten and unspoken, has had little currency in our culture and soul life, and flown under our collective radars.

We spoke about the importance of thresholds and the Divine Feminine, her beauty and sublimity as Maiden, Mother and Crone, and wondered how we could work with her blessings and bounty through a mythic narrative which would simultaneously strengthen the Sacred Feminine presence in our lives as well as root it in nature, the land making the experience an earthy, practical one.

Jemma Weymss then joined the conversation and over several sessions we discussed the phases of womanhood, as well as the importance of the feminine consciousness in the lives of not just the women we knew, or the women we were, but men who were part of the picture.

Macha

The topics were wide ranging and covered everything: from the experience of girlhood, periods to the blossoming potential and perils of teenagehood, the triumphs and challenges faced by young women, mothers, and single women, as well as society’s impoverished and debilitating attitudes to the riches of the menopause and elderhood. We covered what wisdoms the ancient myths held for us as we reconnected with a renewed spiritual consciousness in the 21st century. It spiraled out into social constructs, economic systems, religion, the media, including social media, as well as the historic suppression and abuse of the feminine and how impoverished we were because of this. Yes, it did feel like we were setting the world to rights a bit.

In late June, we began to speak with the Navan Centre. This was very exciting. As the home of the Goddess Macha herself and the ancient spiritual centre of Ireland, the Navan Centre’s unique location would be the perfect place to explore these ideas and renew our connection to the land, through a series of workshops which worked with the Triple Goddess.

The workshop is called Because I Have a Voice – The Heroine’s Journey as we were reclaiming and reframing that forgotten and long abandoned space through story, song, poetry and art. Of great importance as well was reestablishing a connection with the land through blessing as well as working with the trees as a medium for journeying into mythic time.

Cailleach

Content

The three sessions can be attended as stand alone workshops, or as a full set.

The idea is to take the participant on a journey through the threefold incarnation of the Triple Goddess – Maiden, Mother and Crone.

During each workshop we will work with an aspect of the Goddess and very closely with a tree.

This will be done through various media, including sand play, poetry, art, woodland skills, music and storytelling. Each workshop will explore what that aspect of the Goddess means, and how it has informed and continues to inform the participant’s own journey.

Lunch will be held outdoors, as we cook over a campfire, reconnecting with the mood of the season.

At the end of the session, participants will leave with a momento of time spent in mythic space, as well as, hopefully, a deepened understanding and connection of the role the Divine Feminine which they will be able to continue to strengthen independently in their lives.

The workshop will be facilitated by Siuban, Stephanie and Jemma.

Who should attend?

Anyone who is interested in journeying, nature and conservation, mythology, tree lore, creativity, woodland and outdoor activities and skills, exploring their own relationship to the Goddess in all her aspects and forms. You can be brand new to the process or a seasoned practioner yourself. No experience is necessary and depth of experience will be welcomed!

If you are on a threshold yourself – or would like to retrospectively look back at your own experience of those thresholds. We hope to offer a space where all are able to share of their experiences openly and draw from the journey of the Goddess herself to develop a nourishing narrative.

Ages: 16 and above

Gender: Open to anyone who seeks to connect with the Divine Feminine within them. It is important that as a participant you must respect the experiences of everyone else.

Mobility: Allowances can be made for people of varying mobilities. If you have a question about ability, please contact us directly by email.

What to bring

Participants need to bring a Journal and Pen – although loose leaf paper and stationery will also be provided. All food will be provided. All art materials will be provided.

Must be dressed for the weather (outdoor element). Dress comfortably to enable movement during workshop.

The Venue

Navan Fort (Emain Macha) is an ancient ceremonial monument near ArmaghNorthern Ireland. According to tradition it was one of the great royal sites of pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland and the capital of the Ulaidh. It is a large circular hilltop enclosure—marked by a bank and ditch—inside which is a circular mound and the remains of a ring barrow. Archeological investigations show that there were once buildings on the site, including a huge roundhouse-like structure that has been likened to a temple. In a ritual act, this timber structure was filled with stones, deliberately burnt down and then covered with earth to create the mound which stands today. It is believed that Navan was a pagan ceremonial site and was regarded as a sacred space. It features prominently in Irish mythology, especially in the tales of the Ulster Cycle. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, “the [Eamhain Mhacha] of myth and legend is a far grander and mysterious place than archeological excavation supports”.

Facilitators

Siuban at Hill is Uisneach this year

Siuban O Hare

Siuban is a fulltime artist, sculptor and storyteller, who lives and works in Bangor Co,Down. She has exhibited her work with the RUA annual exhibition in the Ulster Museum Belfast, Scuplture in Context National Botanical Gardens Dublin, ForM Sculptural exhibition Walled Gardens Bangor and the Chimera international Gallery Mullingar WestMeath. Siuban is a member of a local writers and storytelling group. Her knowledge also extends into Irish mythology and Folklore, Divine Feminine and Irish Indigenous beliefs and practices.


Before becoming a fulltime artist, for over 25 years, Siuban worked as a Trauma and Systemic Family Therapist. Using art, play, poetry, storytelling and journaling as a form of communication. With children, adolesences and their families, in residential and community settings.


Siuban designed and delivered training and workshops on Trauma and Systemic Family therapy.

Stephanie and Gary, her cat

Stephanie Sim

Stephanie has had a long standing interest in mythology, especially Goddess mythos. She has delved into shamanism, tree journeys and has facilitated workshops with teenagers – boys and girls – to enable connections with the world around them to assist with sense making.

She currently teaches in a Waldorf school and has also been a Forest School practioner for the past 11 years. She started Elements Forest School in 2020 and is working closely with the Fostering Network to deliver their Wild About Learning Programme.

She has a MA degree in English Studies and holds amongst other certifications, a diploma in Steiner education and has been an accredited Forest School practioner for the past 11 years.

Jemma Weymss

Jemma Wemyss is a Play and Creative Arts Therapist and Forest School Leader from Bangor, County Down. She specialises in a technique called SandStory which is a creative Therapeutic approach using sand, symbols and storytelling for wellbeing. Jemma became involved with Elements after responding to an opportunity to volunteer. The immersive engagement with nature inspired her to become a permanent member of the team. This series of workshops is a unique opportunity for Jemma to bring together SandStory, creativity and outdoor skills to facilitate a connection with oneself, the stories we hold and the natural world around us.

What’s next?

Well, quite a lot actually…

The Goddess Journey

Starting in February, at Imbolc, we will be starting a series of workshops honouring the feminine and everyone is invited, regardless of gender.

We will be taking a voyage with Brigid (Imbolc), Macha (Bealtaine) and the Cailleach (Samhain) through the course of the year. Along with the goddesses, we will be working with trees as well as the land. The venue is being confirmed now, but it is quite close to being confirmed! So we are most excited about this.

Cailleach by Siuban Regan

After Schools

We will continue our After Schools club in Holywood Steiner School. But if you are interested in having one for yours, please contact us and let us know.

Easter Scheme

Processing potatoes…

The dates for the Easter scheme are the 4, 5 and 6 of April.

Summer Scheme

The dates for the summer scheme will be confirmed soon.

Fostering Network

We will continue to work with the Fostering Network. We are planning a session over the February half term already for somewhere in Belfast!

If you are interested in any of these activities or getting in touch with us email hello@elementsschool.net or call us/ WhatsApp 07540075991. You can also drop in on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/elementsschoolni/.

Oíche Shamhna

and Halloween was back! Sadly we didn’t get too many photos of it, but here are a few that were captured by the parents. It was a collaboration between Elements and the Parents and Friends of the Steiner School. over 150 people attended despite the downpour! It was a truly memorable evening.

This was Emma Foley’s station – the amulet making
Apples anyone?
The shadow play by Siuban Regan
Art by Siuban Regan as part of the cailleach story
The eternal other
We turned the portacabin into a shadow play theatre! It was rather magical!

So, what’s next?…

Working with the Fostering Network

We were very lucky to work once again with the Fostering Network, this time in Antrim. We operated out of the Compass Network farm in Ballymoney and went through four native trees here.

The activities centred around the birch, alder, ash and oak. The sessions which lasted four weeks included storytelling, knife skills, den building and working with trees.

We worked with ten children regularly, ages between 7 and 12 years, with varying abilities. Some of the feedback was…

We learnt…

❤️‍🔥How to survive

🌿Everything about trees

⛺️How to make things

😍How to stay alive

🪵Doing whittling and deciding to do woodwork for GCSE said an 8 y.o… 😘 the rain stayed off. Thanks to CAN for the use of their barn and baby forest. Can’t wait to go back and see it in 20 years time. 🌈

Learning how to make a fire
Making smores on the last day
Learning about the oak
Whittling

We hope to work with them again in the future!

What have we been up to?

I must apologise for not updating the site since June! Unforgiveable!

In my defence, it has been extremely busy the past few months though.

Here is a run down on what we have been up to:

After School Sessions at the Holywood Steiner School

We have had full session of up to 18 children here on Monday afternoons between 3 to 5 pm. The children who attend these sessions are now so well seasoned, that they engage in deep play. We set out our activities and the children then self direct play. There could be some who play int he hammock.

Others choose to hone their knife skills.

Yet others play in the woods, creating worlds which are limited only by the imagination. Others build dens. It is the sort of thing which you really want to do after school, with friends…

Here two students have made a bug house on their own…

After that, most importantly, we all have a good feed…

Bon apetit!

And that’s just one thing which we did!

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