True Nature: A modern day rite of passage for young women 11-15
Do you remember the challenges in your life as an older girl? The awkward years between 11 and 15, when you were trying to make sense of the adult world?
How would it have been for you to have wise, reliable adults other than your parents to talk freely with?
Would it have made a difference for your teenage years if you had a friendship group of peers that accepted each other in vulnerability, saw your gifts and supported your growth?
Imagine if you had learned communication skills, conflict resolution, listening and being heard; knowing your voice has a valid place, knowing you are worthy.
Would you have felt more capable as a woman if you learned to trust yourself, your friends and your own capacities?
How would you have felt if you had also learned to make a fire, track animals, build structures? Strong? Resilient? Capable?
Faced with a changing Ireland, one where the Catholic Church is no longer at the helm of Irish society and bodily autonomy and equal rights are at the forefront of peoples minds, young girls may find themselves with many questions and few people able to offer authentic answers.
With the lack of modern day rites of passage in our society, young women may seek to initiate themselves in ways that are unhealthy for their development; such as drug abuse, risky sex or alcohol.
After the recent news of Ireland having the highest rate of young girl suicide in Europe, can we really continue to allow our younger generations to navigate this toxic cultural landscape on their own?
Founded on our own personal experiences of our teenage years and 15 years working with young people, we, Lucy O’Hagan and Kathryn McCabe, have a burning wish for young people to have support in this time of transition.
Through this 9 month long programme, we are offering a supportive community in nature, outside of a young girls regular friendship circle, away from phones, media, cliques and school pressure, and with strong female role models.
We intend to support girls in their emotional literacy and development of identity, to discover their gifts and innate potential. We intend to do this through personal development, building a sense of community together and offering ancestral skills, as a means of building confidence and resilience, and deepening connection with our inner and outer nature. When we learn to build a fire, follow a set of animal tracks or create a basket with plants, there is no denying that you are a part of the natural world, and you do belong.
Each month, we will spend one day out in the woods, learning skills, playing games and building community, and one evening indoors, gathering our thoughts and holding a safe space for fun, reflection and vulnerability. In these evenings we will focus on topics which arise during our exploration of ancestral skills on Saturdays. For example; personal agency, gender & sexuality, body image, navigating toxic culture, and coming to know themselves and their needs.
It is crucially important to us that there is a strong focus on supporting relationships with family and community. Therefore, the girls immediate family, in whatever form that takes, will be included and guided to provide the best kind of support for them in this transition.
Our programme will end with a residential, at a venue yet to be confirmed, close to nature, where parents/primary care givers will be invited on their own journey of personal development. They will stand witness to the rite of passage ceremony of this younger generation. This residential will include a solo journey for each girl, encountering both their inner and outer landscapes, and a welcoming back into a supportive community as a whole person.
*We are very sensitive to the fact that not all girls share the same experience, in fact, they rarely do. Not all girls menstruate, or share the same body. It is not our physical bodies which make us women and we believe that both gender and biological sex are not as binary as our society makes them out to be. We welcome Trans children on this programme and will dedicate time and space to discussion around gender expression and fluidity. We trust you and your child to make the right decision as to whether or not they would like to take this journey, regardless of the body they were born into. Our aim is to promote body positivity and awareness and we welcome children from all backgrounds and of all abilities.
If you love the sound of this, but can’t participate, please consider donating to our CauseVox page so that we can offer scholarships and offset the cost of this programme for those who need it. TrueNature.causevox.com
The Furry Glen, Phoenix Park, Dublin
Saturdays (10am-3pm) & Thursdays (4pm-6pm)
September 14th & 26th
October 19th & 24th
November 16th & 28th
December 14th & 19th
January 18th & 30th
February 15th & 27th
March 14th & 26th
April 11th & 30th
RESIDENTIAL & RITE OF PASSAGE CEREMONY: 15th – 17th May 2020
Total Cost: €650 (Residential Price not included)
Deposit: €65 (Required on booking to secure your place), cancellation policy details below.
9 Monthly payments of €65. To be paid one month in advance on the Saturday of each month.
Price includes monthly e-mails which will provide parents with information on what will be covered in the next session and suggestions on how to talk about these topics with their child.
Residential price Approx €250-300 for parent & child, including food & accommodation. Every effort will be made to keep this as low as possible.
We have launched a Crowdfunder campaign which you can find here (https://truenature.causevox.com) to create need-based scholarship opportunities for young women to participate in our programme. If you need to avail of this support, please contact us directly.
These bursaries are prioritized for participants from underrepresented communities including (but not limited to) Irish Travellers & other Indigenous peoples from around the world, people from refugee/migrant families, people living in Direct Provision, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQ2IA+, people transitioning out of foster care, among other communities. We recognize that systemic barriers, along with the cost, can make this program inaccessible for many people.
Who are we?
We are both white, cis gender women from Ireland. We are able bodied and from a working or middle class background.
Lucy O’Hagan is the founder of Wild Awake, an organisation which seeks to rekindle cultural and environmental resilience through the (re)learning of ancestral skills in nature. She is also the founder of Phoenix Forest School, Dublins first independent forest school based in Dublin’s iconic Phoenix Park. She is a certified Ethnbotanist, Bushcraft instructor and wildlife tracker. This year, she has spent 4 months living wild with ancestral skills teacher Lynx Vilden and a community of others. From the ancient caves of the Dordogne, to the northern lands of the Sami, she has been deepening her love and understanding of the natural world and ways in which we can repair our culture. She has long felt the call to provide a program of this kind in Ireland, and is very much looking forward to what she can learn from the experience.
Kathryn McCabe is a social ecologist, professional facilitator, program-design consultant and leadership development specialist. She studied Science and Applied Physics at Maynooth University, but continued seeking academic pathways that would explore a big picture approach to changing the world. A radical masters in Australia, Social Ecology, enabled her to engage with complex systems, design context-specific change strategies and, crucially, feel inspired about what is possible when people feel respected and trusted to take their next step towards transformation. She has lectured at the University of Western Sydney, has worked internationally guiding NGOs and large multinationals towards sustainability and well-being. She has a special interest in youth Rites of Passage; directing and delivering a summer program on Vancouver Island, Canada. She is a published author in Social Ecology; Applying Ecological Thinking to Our Lives and Our work.