Ancestral skills: Skills for connection
“Most of us think of belonging as a place outside of ourselves, that if we keep searching for, that maybe one day we’ll find it. But what if belonging isn’t a place at all, but a set of skills, or competencies, that we in modern times have lost or forgotten.” From ‘Belonging’, by Toko-PaTurner.
Wild Awake runs workshops for individuals which aim to draw you away from the city and the pressures of modern day life, back to the land where you are freely able to explore your own connection to place.
We firmly believe that it is through practising the skills of our ancestors, those who knew the land so intimately and recognised their place within it, that we can strengthen our connection to the earth and all its inhabitants. Through practising these hands-on, creative skills we can flex our own ancestral muscle memory and recognise ourselves as the creative, problem-solving and resilient beings that we are.
We try to make these workshops as eclectic and as interesting as possible, with the emphasis being to unplug, relax and reconnect to yourself, each other and to nature.
Examples of activities include:
Foraging for wild food and medicine- Learning how to safely identify and process wild plants into food and medicine.
Wild cooking- cooking without modern equipment. In the ground, with hot rocks, in leaves, on embers.
Making fire without matches- friction & percussion fire methods. Exploration and preparation of wild tinder.
Green woodwork- Learning how to safely use a knife, or flint, to create useful and beautiful objects from wood.
Wildlife Tracking and awareness activities- Exploring the tracks & signs left by the more-than-human creatures.
Wild game prep and cookery- How to process animals for food, tools, craft & more.
Hide tanning (Deer skin, rabbit pelts, fish leather)
Bone craft (Making tools from animal bones)
Basketry- Using a diversity of wild harvested plants and trees.
Making string from wild plants- where would we be without string?
If you would like to organise a workshop for yourself and some friends or colleagues, please do get in touch with us and we can figure out what’s right for you.
Rewild in the City
The Phoenix Park is awaiting your discovery…
Here is home to deer, mice, badgers, foxes, buzzards, sparrowhawks, owls & squirrels. A place rich in tree and plant life, as well as fungi, lichens & mosses.
In this abundant playground we will reclaim our food and medicine, cultivate our childhood curiosity and expand our awareness through the learning of ancestral skills, nature connection activities and community building.
Each month, we will focus on a new theme or skill which connects us to our environment, as well as to our ancestral past and a more sustainable future.
Themes (may change as we work with nature who is beautiful & unpredictable)
October: Wild dyes & inks
November: Wildlife tracking & awareness activities (Deer rut) *Date changed to Saturday 10th*
December: Prehistoric lighting techniques
January: Bone craft & tools
February: Weaving with trees & plants
March: Fish skin tanning
April: Wild Food & medicine
May: Fire craft
June: Bark basketry & root work
Suitable for ages 16+
Lucy O’Hagan is the founder of Wild Awake & Phoenix Forest School. She is an ancestral skills teacher, ethnobotanist and forest school practitioner.
Where, When and How long ?
Our Gatherings will take place in The Furry Glen, Phoenix Park. A clearing set among majestic old growth beech trees and bordered by woodland,streams and open grassland, only a stones throw from the city. We will come together for four hours on the second Sunday of every month between 11-3 pm. Suitable for ages 16+
Suggested Donation 35 euro. We want these days, and these skills, to be accessible to everyone. If you require sliding scale please contact us for a chat and we can organise something.
These days are inclusive for people of all abilities and backgrounds to learn and share together. We are queer-friendly, straight-friendly, race-friendly, gender-friendly, age-friendly—just plain friendly! If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable, please talk to us.
We provide seasonal foraging walks & workshops across the country. These can range from a simple 2 hour walk & talk, with tastings at the end, or a more in-depth exploration of how plants can be processed into food, medicine or craft materials.
Sustainability and respect for nature at the heart of what we do and so we can explore and maintain this land whilst creating something unique that we can be proud of.
In recent years, foraging has become somewhat of a trend and the number of people offering foraging workshops has grown and grown. As a foraging guide, it’s interesting to hear what draws people to forage. Knowing what to eat and how to survive ‘when shit hits the fan’ is one reason, but the vast majority are doing it for reasons beyond this. Most people simply want to connect with nature, to understand where our food comes from, to have access to more nutrient rich foods, and to consume fewer chemicals and pesticides. A return to the land and the use of such plants and diversities of flavours is, in my opinion, no bad thing. It’s rekindles our creativity and enables us to return to a more wild or natural state. Breaking free from our urban domestication and reconnecting ourselves to our local heritage.
Please get in touch if you would like to organise a wild plant walk or workshop for you and some friends, colleagues or any other group you are a part of.
Foraging course participant
“Thank you so much for today. I was absolutely blown away by your love of the subject. The way it seemed to inform your wider understanding of the universe, life, ourselves and the symbiotic relationship that has kept us all here was a joy to watch!
I am so tired of knowing nothing, and you raised my spirits this evening! Hurrah!”
Foraging at The Irish Heritage Park, Wexford
Explore how our ancestors used the plants and trees of this land for food, medicine and craft. Explore the plants and what they offer us seasonally. This course will be running from 10am to 4pm.
Forest School for schools or youth groups
Forest School is a wonderful way to encourage your pupils to spend time outdoors in all weathers. Activities can be linked to your Green School awards as well as other curriculum topics.
We can provide one-off school tours to our site. This way you can see what it’s all about before committing to a longer programme. These 3 hour visits usually include plenty of nature-inspired games, tool use & fire lighting. We also provide space for free play where the children can explore our site and the learning opportunities it offers.
Learning through the seasons…
“Forest Schools has demonstrated success with children of all ages who visit the same local woodlands on a regular basis and through play, who have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others.” Sarah Blackwell FSE
We recommend weekly visits of between 6-10 weeks. Long programmes mean more opportunity for learning and for us to facilitate deep nature connection.
During our school programmes, we aim to work closely with the school teacher so that they can integrate what’s learned at Forest School into their classroom syllabus. Forest School doesn’t need to stop when you leave the woods.
It is our hope that Forest school is an immersive process which will have a lasting impact upon a child.
Activities may include;
Nature-inspired games and sensory awareness activities; to foster connection with ourselves, each other and nature.
Wild edibles and medicines: learning to forage safely and ethically; making teas, medicines & wild cooking on the fire.
Fire craft: using fire steels and experience how fire by friction is created. Learning about keeping ourselves safe around fire & how we can creatively harness its power to make bowls, spoons, food, and much more.
Tool use and craft: learning how trees & plants can provide us with materials that we can get creative with. Participants will learn how to safely use tools such as knives, saws, secateurs & drills.
Den building: working together to build group shelters and learning the basics of outdoor living.
Rope work: Learn how to tie knots to create fun play structures to swing, balance or climb on.
Animal track and sign: Get camouflaged, learn how to stalk like a fox and explore the traces left by animals who share the woods with us
Plus plenty of free play and campfire stories, songs & jokes!
Check out our work with Hedley Montessori School who attended regular 3 hours sessions, over 2 seasons, for a period of 10 weeks. And the best bit… They’ll be coming back again in Spring!!!
Forest School parent (Child still enrolled, 2 years on!)
Susie Ahern Gray- Montessori Director
Phoenix Forest School
Phoenix Forest School is located in the beautiful surroundings of the Furry Glen in Dublin’s iconic Phoenix Park. We have been offering Forest School programmes for children aged 4 and up since 2015.
We provide forest school programmes for people from all walks of life. We also run a weekly after-school group and host Forest school CPD days for adults.
Groups we have worked with in the past include: Montessori schools and preschools, Educate Together schools, DEIS schools, Family Support Centres, At-risk teens, Transition Year groups, International college students, Traveller Youth (Exchange House), Women affected by poverty and addiction (Saol Project), Families in Direct Provision, Teacher training.
We are very grateful to all those who have come to play in the woods with us.
Why Forest School?
Here at Wild Awake, we believe that Forest School as an ethos of learning most suits our aspirations for the future generations. In our experience, Forest School fosters creative & resilient individuals by supporting them to make the choices that are right for them. We understand that it takes time to build a relationship, whether that it is with yourself, the people around you or with nature. Therefore, we appreciate the importance of long term, regular contact in a natural environment. We value play and understand the importance of sitting around a campfire listening to one another as much as reaching for that next branch up the tree. We see the value in risky play and support people to assess risk for themselves. We teach how useful a knife can be when we learn how to carve safely, we share the wonders of fire and guide people to harness that magic for themselves, we introduce our plant and animal mentors and let nature be the guiding force.
The Irish Forest School Association has beautifully outlined What is a Forest School as well as what happens at forest school here
If you would like more information for a group you work with, please do get in touch to discuss what we can offer for you. You can come to our woodland site in the Phoenix Park or we can come to you!
Forest After-School Group
A year round, weekly after-school group in the Phoenix Park where children are free to explore their own curiosity in nature.
More information and booking HERE
Camps - click to open
Our camps run during school holidays for two main age groups; 5-8 year olds and 9-13 year olds. We aim to provide a fun and relaxing learning environment for children in the outdoors where they can spend time making new friends, learning new skills and creating lasting memories.
Camps take place at our woodland site in the Phoenix Park where we have access to an indoor toilet, a campfire for warmth, tarps for shelter and water for drinking (or sliding down mud slides!)
Camp activities change with the seasons and we make sure to allow space to explore learning opportunities as they arise. As such, there is never a set schedule of activities but some of what we may explore includes:
Wild edibles and medicines: learning to forage safely and ethically; making teas, medicines & wild cooking on the fire.
Fire craft: Learning how to safely create and manage a fire to suit your needs.
Tool use* and craft: Learning how to safely use tools such as saws, knives, drills, secateurs. Using these tools to create beautiful objects from wood. *Tool use is closely monitored and supported.
Den building: Working together to build group shelters and learning the basics of outdoor living.
Animal track and sign: Get camouflaged, learn how to stalk like a fox, explore the traces left by animals who share the woods with us and what we can learn from the birds.
Nature-inspired games and sensory awareness activities to build deep connection to self, each other and to nature.
And our course plenty of campfire stories, songs, chats and jokes!
We offer opportunities for families to spend time together in nature, to have fun and to incorporate nature connection activities into your day to day lives. It is also a brilliant opportunity for parents to meet like-spirited people and for their children to play together, freely, wildly & muddily!
We work with ages 4+ and offer a range of events including; family forest days, wildlife tracking, bushcraft & foraging.
Please check here for upcoming events…