Holistic Survival School

Holistic Survival School

Luke McLaughlin is a naturalist, teacher, ReWilding mentor, survivalist, and founder of Holistic Survival School (HoSS).

HoSS teaches ancestral earth skills in order to help people live a life more rooted in the Earth. Luke McLaughlin is a naturalist, teacher, ReWilding mentor, survivalist, and founder of Holistic Survival School. Luke has committed his life to mastering and teaching ancestral and indigenous living skills in order to help people find their balance and connection to the Natural World. Luke has mentor

Operating as usual

Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 28/03/2024

I believe in reincarnation, Perhaps not in same way certain spiritual traditions speak of, but rather in a more practical way. When I consume life and death, I take those cells, that life and integrate into my being. The fat and meat find a way to become one with my fat and meat and bones. This being, that had its own life, feelings, emotions and experience gets to live on in my own experience, until I die and I become transformed. What a beautiful trip.
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There are still a few more spots in my sacred harvest workshop for next week. From Friday- Sunday we will be honoring, butchering, eating, and feasting. Come join us.


10/03/2024

I hear many folks desire a deeper connection with nature but don’t know where to start. Many might dive into the philosophy or intellectual reasoning why we are nature. Which is all good and fine. Yet, the intellectualization of our connection to nature often feels empty to me (personally). I am the kind of person who needs to feel it in my bones, to feel it physically. So I find that physically interacting with nature helps me feel so much more connected! I desire to have a deeply embodied relationship with nature, as did all of our ancestors.

So how can we expect to have an embodied relationship with plants, rocks, animals and fungi unless we work with them? Smell them, sit next to them, make medicine from them, replant them? It is easy in my “modern “ life to go without needing anything from nature (or at least, interact with things that I didn’t harvest from nature directly). But the more I find little ways to get my needs met directly from my landscape the more deeply I feel connected.

Some of those little ways I try and get my needs met from nature: spring water, tinder and fire making materials from my land, small wild edibles daily, timber for shelters, meat and hides from roadkill, medicinal plants and flower essences from my land, enjoying birdsong.

I know this is not the only way to connect. But I do believe it’s the fastest way to get people to connect to their land and thus care and protect their land.

Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 09/03/2024

Processing wild and domestic animals for meat is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I love being covered in blood, snacking on bits of raw meat all while giving thanks and dancing for this animals life. I know what an honor it is to witness death, process death and procure my own meat which will become me. The ultimate reincarnation!

Every time I butcher a large animal I think of my ancestors processing a mammoth or a kudu, and how happy the village would have been! For the next few weeks or a month there was nothing to do but processing meat, sing, eat and be merry!! Can you imagine how that would have felt?! Knowing you are well fed for the next few weeks! I have felt that before in Africa when I hunted my two impala. Unbelievable gratitude!!

And one more saucy bit…it’s likely that ancient women didn’t ovulate until there was enough calories and fat in their diets so when meat was on the table everyone was likely mating and making babies!! Literal life from death. Babies born from death.

Do you want to learn the skills of butchering and animal processing? Check out my class in early April! My website has all the info and tickets! Holler if you have questions!

29/02/2024

Classes for 2024 are up! All classes take place outside of Asheville, NC. Questions? Email me HolisticSurvivalSchool.com
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**o

Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 23/02/2024

Every ceremony and ritual is inevitably preparing us for our own death.

I have been really sitting with this phrase for this last year and noticing how true it feels for me. Being with death, thinking of my death and the impermanence of all things, really helps me feel my aliveness and gratitude daily. The fact that we are all going to die could be the impetus for us all to live our lives differently, but most of us (especially in the industrial, western world) don’t allow ourselves to go there. So we deny, avoid and pretend like we will live forever.

But ceremony helps us transform, a mini death if you will. Ceremony and ritual helps us acknowledge where we are, what we are leaving behind and then what we are going into. And hopefully we can do that with acceptance, compassion, grace and play.

Death is our teacher. Whether we want to learn lots of little lessons from them, or one big lesson at the end, but eventually we are going to be with them.

Wanna practice being with death? I will be teaching an animal processing class April 5-7. We will be taking about these concepts, honoring life, and learning how to honorably process meat, fur, sinew and bones from animals. This momma bear will be there to help us along our way. She was sadly killed by a car this fall.

Love to all of you, cruising through life, somewhere between your birth and your death. ❤️🔥

20/02/2024

One of my students told me this year, “you know Luke, you look like a wolf, but you really are a golden retriever”. 😅And she went on to explain that I might look intimidating at times but deep down inside I am a big softy who wants to support everyone in their journey of nature connection and compassion.
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Wanna feel the support of a golden retriever in your life? Join me (and 16 other awesome humans) in deep remembering 2024! 10 months. Earth skills, community, healing. It’s a blast.

15/02/2024

Throwback Thursday: (it feels like a throwback to do “throwback Thursday” 🤪) me, post showing off all of my natural goods and wares. Bone, stone, antler and some odds and ends thrown in as well. This world offers us so many different kinds of things. Each with their own characteristics and beauty. I love how clever humans are and continue to be by using these beautiful things to make even more beautiful things.

Currently roadtripping to get more pretty natural things.

12/02/2024

One thing that I strive for in my teachings is helping folks EMBODY our spiritual connection to the Earth by learning ancestral earth skills. Most folks can understand mentally that “I am nature” and “ I am a part of the cycles of this earth” and “I am connected to it all” but very few humans in our modern world know how to practice FEELING those concepts in our bodies.

That’s why at Deep remembering we offer a buffet of skills that connect you to this landscape. It is impossible to do them all, but hopefully you find at least one skill or activity that you fall in love with and you keep doing it for the rest of your life! With all of our modern separation from the land, we need to find skills crafts and rituals to help us remember that we are connected.

Deep remembering combines these skills with community building and healing to create a beautiful antidote to many of our modern world’s griefs. This program meets for 4 days (Thursday -Sunday) every month for 10 months. What a treat to have a little retreat for yourself every month!

We have one spot remaining for 2024!! Interested? Curious? Shoot me a message and I will be happy to answer your questions.


09/02/2024

Wanna learn how to commune with rocks? Check out my flint knapping class this summer! July 5-7th. Come and do one of my favorite things in the whole world with me and feel what it is like to do what your ancestors did 2 million years ago.


Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 08/02/2024

Deep remembering is a way to experience the world and yourself in a new way. By leaving “the normal world” and going into the woods, with like minded folks who are also searching for something else, we can slow down and get some space from our normal ways of being and take a look at our lives.

Many of my students are at some transition in their life. Leaving home, they quit their job, divorced, retired, or are just refusing to continue living the way they are. This program works as a beautiful mirror for folks at those crucial times in life.

We have 1 more spot for the roster for 2024. Was it reserved for you all along?

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21/01/2024

I have been listening to “The comfort crisis” on Spotify (it’s free if you have premium!) by . I can’t recommend it enough! It covers so many topics that I teach, everything from rites of passage to, epic wilderness encounters to how nature resets us and heals us.

I am only halfway through but it’s a great look at all of the science that backs up rewilding and its benefits. Some of the research shows how 3 day jaunts into the woods can help depression, creativity, and a whole host of modern day health issues.

While it’s no shock to me that living in greater alignment with our ancestral life ways is healing, it’s great to see the science back it up!

My next big curiosity is how much more beneficial is time in nature when you add in ancestral earth skills. I wanna research that!

Read this book, but most importantly get outside today!

19/01/2024

Skills alone aren’t enough. I sometimes say I only teach skills because I want to help folks tell a better story about who and what we are. Skills are amazing, and help us connect so deeply. But skills alone can only get us so far. Skills, + community + compassion + awareness + love. That’s the really good stuff. The stuff that changes lives and culture.

Here is our guest instructor Tyler Lavenburg helping out a student in Deep Remembering. 4 spots left for 2024!

19/01/2024

Ancestral technology is simple. It’s so simple sometimes that we might doubt its effectiveness. But there are many ways in which these simple technologies are more effective than any modern invention.
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I still haven’t found a better tool for scraping animal hide membrane than stone tools. And sinew for arrow making is far superior than any other material because it shrinks when it dries and it’s made of glue (collagen)!
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And beyond stone tools and sinew string there are also the ancestral technologies of the emotional and social realm. Consensus, singing, sitting quietly in the woods, group grieving, gratitude, dancing around a fire. All of these techniques are amazing medicines for all humans around the world and are unbelievably effective at helping us feel alive.

What ancestral technologies do you use to help keep you alive?

Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 16/01/2024

What does modern day survival actually look like? What things are actually killing us? It’s usually not getting lost in the woods or getting eaten by a bear. Instead it’s stress, lack of community, lack of meaning, lack of connection and lack of aliveness.
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It’s time as a society to realize that without deep cultural experiences humans don’t survive. Sure, many humans exist on this planet and help produce but too many folks are just barely alive internally. It’s time to up our survival game. It’s time to think of the survival of our hearts, souls, planet and ecosystems. And the only way we can do that is by connecting deeply to ourselves, each other and the natural world.

Deep remembering is a program designed to help you experience all of those things. It is a container that helps you feel what it’s like to deeply connect to yourself, this natural world, and other beings. It’s a program designed to help you connect-regulate with whatever is happening in your life. It’s a program that begins to reconstitute the lost ancestral village we all crave.

Come join the fun. Applications are open for 2024.

Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 14/01/2024

I love what I do in this world! I love helping folks live a life of deep connection, meaning ritual and community. I do this work in a lot of ways, but my favorite way is through deep remembering, my 10-month nature immersion program.

This program combines, ancestral earth skills, community building and healing modalities to help folks get a taste of what life can be! For 4 days a month students gather to learn skills, play together, be real and observe themselves! What a treat it is to have 4 days for yourself every month. I wish every human could experience this.

If you are feeling called to live a life of greater connection (to yourself, the earth and others) check out our program. Applications are being accepted for 2024.

Thanks for supporting this work, any and all shares or referrals are welcome!

happy day.

https://www.holisticsurvivalschool.com/immersion

14/01/2024

The basis of what I teach is rewilding. Which means to live more like our ancestors, or what our DNA is adapted for. If you live in accordance with your DNA you will more likely to be happier and healthier. If you don’t live like your ancestors, you will be more likely to get mental and physical “illness” (which are really just adaptations). A dog that is not allowed to do “dog things” (I.e. run, sniff, play etc) will become very sick.
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Seems simple enough right? Move your body a lot, be in community, eat wild plants, interact with your environment, make things etc. All of those things will be medicine for you and your body. But here’s where it gets trickier!! WE ARE EXTREMELY SOCIAL ANIMALS!!
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So focusing on my individual rewilding skills are important but perhaps THE most important ancestral skills are being in COMMUNITY where you are completely loved and accepted. So many of our survival needs are actually greater cultural needs. We need to be in a group of humans to be our happiest, we need to be seen and loved for who we are, we need to contribute to something bigger than us, we need to see all stages of life in a greater context. THIS IS WHERE MOST NATURE TEACHERS FALL SHORT!
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These human social interactions and needs are much more complex but they are perhaps the most important to human health. Indigenous teachings have and continue to tell us how important RELATIONSHIPS are. We are relational humans. That’s why I love blending nature connection, rewilding and psychology together. It helps create a much more holistic view of rewilding. .

And although the modern village is not easy to recreate in our modern world because of individualism, stress, our psychological armoring etc, I have created a program that helps you live in a mini village and get a glimpse of what that can feel like! Check out Deep Remembering, our 10-month nature immersion program. Learn the skills. Remember who you are. Come back home.

Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 13/01/2024

After doing wilderness therapy for a number of years I got asked to do some survival challenges on TV with . I first went to Namibia for 21 with a partner, then 40 days in Colombia with 11 other folks; and then finally I did 21 days alone in South Africa 🇿🇦
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During those 21 days I experienced the most spiritual 21 days of my life. It was a chance for me to LIVE the skills I teach. To practice gratitude, stalking, hunting, bird language, survival and spiritual survival. For 21 days I became a different being and it was mystical, psychedelic, intense and so beautiful.
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That experience has stuck with me and actually was the driving force for me creating deep remembering. My prayer is that all humans get to experience what it feels like to be so deeply connected to a landscape. I pray that all humans know what true gratitude feels like and get to intimately partake in the life and death cycle of this world. Gratitude for those beings and that place that helped me feel these truths and lessons in my body.
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Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 12/01/2024

People often ask me how I got my start in ancestral skills. Most of my life I was living for others, doing what I thought I should do. Go to college. Get a job. I got a degree in education, because I wanted to teach and mentor. And pretty quickly I realized how much I hated the job. Tests, too many students to mentor, and lots of big issues in my students lives (emotional unawareness, lack of health; movement). And I had to legally teach them about ribosomes!!

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So I eventually decided to live for myself (which felt impossible and so scary at the time!). I decided to move out west and “become a mountain man” (whatever the hell that means). I eventually found a job in wilderness therapy. I worked with at risk youth in the high desert of Utah and my job was to help them get back on track by teaching them how to survive and make things from our landscape. It was hard but it was so beautiful.


3 months into that job I dedicated my life to teaching these skills for the rest of my life. That night I made that commitment, I was visited in the night by a wild horse (that’s a whole nother story).


So now 12 years into this journey of transformation and rewilding I look back at my older days (2nd photo) and remind myself of how far I’ve come, and how far you can go!! It’s never too late to start living for yourself! It’s never too late to start learning skills! When you follow your heart the universe conspires in your favor!


08/01/2024

I am fighting for humans to learn how to love being humans again. How to revel in our super powers. How to change this world for the better. How to create your own joy and connections from the ashes of past cultures. And I am grateful that I got to practice those skills with these men for the last few days in California.


Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 18/12/2023

The wife and I went to visit some family in Virginia and I went searching for my favorite tree in the world, Osage orange. I did some research of the area and found an old plantation / homestead and knew there were probably old hedgerows of Osage…and bingo! I was right.

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These massive trees were planted in rows to keep livestock “fenced” in. Osage was the trick before barbed wire was invented. So cool to see these beasts holding their ground for a couple hundred years.


Although I make my bows out of this wood I did no cutting it that day. Instead I just said my thanks and enjoyed their being.

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Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 14/12/2023

Last weekend Deep Remembering 2023 wrapped up our 10month journey. It’s impossible to convey the magic, love, growth, grief and fun we had together as a group. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and pride in seeing the ways this group showed up. It is my deepest honor to witness humans FEEL IT ALL! To experience life fully. Such a blessing.


A huge thank you to all of these humans! Thank you for your trust and love and courage to remember!!


I have noticed that it feels “edgey” for me to be so happy and proud and connected in our current world situations. I feel so honored and lucky and privileged to be able to experience this way of connecting in my life, despite the rest of the worlds way of being. Gratitude.


We are still taking in applications for Deep remembering 2024. Is 2024 the year that changes everything for you?

20/11/2023

Some of my latest workings with stone. Getting better and still so far to go.


Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 08/11/2023

November solos

In our second to last month of Deep Remembering 2023 we went deep into the mountains and had our Survival II class. During our time students constructed their own debris shelters using only leafs and sticks. For a full day and a night students isolated themselves, prayed, fasted, sang, napped, and asked themselves questions like “what is my meaning in life?” “How can I take better care of myself?” “What is my next step in life?” It was awesome to see so many students take advantage of the challenge and really push their own edges and limits.

And while they were out in the elements the staff and the 2nd year students stayed at base camp and prayed for our questers. We reminisced about our year together and named the gifts we saw in each student. We prayed for them and even ate food for them so they wouldn’t feel hungry.

When the students returned they were covered in nature magic, a little wider and little more feral. We celebrated their return to our village with some feasting. We processed and ate some wild foods, some wild animals and had a blast coming back together and hearing each other’s stories of their solos.

And the whole thing was capped with a short hike up to max patch to see the sunrise! What an epic sunrise it was!

I am so proud of all of these humans. In 9 months I have seen unbelievable amounts of growth, vulnerability, connection and joy!! What a blessing this group of people has been in my life. Thank you for letting me witness your (and my own) journey and growth. I love you all.


What lucky souls will be on max patch next November? Imagine what it would feel like for you to be in this position next year. Applications for Deep Remembering 2024 are open now. Link in my bio.

Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 30/10/2023

and I had a great time teaching for what an amazing group of women!

During our perfect fall day we talked about physical survival as well as “holistic survival” aka how to keep our bodies and souls alive in our modern world. We also made some debris shelters, talked about plant friends and even had time for a little survival challenge.

I feel so honored to be invited into a group like this and be able to hear them speak to all the fears and inequalities that come with being a woman in the outdoors scene. Thank you all for your words, bravery and badassery.


25/10/2023

Bear hunting has been a tradition in southern Appalachia for hundreds of years. And while I am for ethical harvesting of bears in overpopulated areas, I don’t love how the bears are hunted here. GPS collars on dogs and guns once the bear is treed. Not my cup of tea. I would be more on board if the dogs didn’t have collars and the humans had to communicate and keep up with their dogs. But I have also benefited from lots of bears being dropped off to me after a hunt with this technique.


I have been thinking hunting bear one of these years. It never felt right for most of my life. The bears are so beautiful and I had rarely seen them since moving to southern Appalachia. But now I see how many there are and how much they are relying on human waste for food.


So I might take Bo and Fenrir out one of these days and see if Bo can’t put one in a tree for me. Then from there I can send some stone arrows up and get the job done. I wish I was able to do this earlier in my life because Bo has already treed about 12 bears in his life. He loves it!


Here is a photo a paw from the largest Bear I have ever processed. He was around 400 pounds. Processing an animal this big shifted me in a big way. It stirred something deep within my ancient body. I still have his skull on my altar. Forever grateful for this animals life and death.


Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 19/10/2023

Are you looking for a big change in life? Are you wanting to connect more deeply to nature and a like-minded community? Are you wanting to remember lost parts of yourself? Check out our flagship program, Deep remembering, a 10 month nature immersion program. Here are some quotes from students this year.

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Applications can be found at www.holisticsurvivalschool.com/immersion

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17/10/2023

Just another gentle reminder that in order for humans to care about this planet we need to be active participants in it. Philosophically understanding that we are nature is great but thoughts don’t usually create change. Instead, we need to feel our connection to the Earth in our bones. We need to have a somatic based understanding of nature in order for us to make changes in our lives.


And since many of us didn’t get a chance to play with animals, smell dirt, and bang rocks together, it’s hard to know how to do it and it’s even harder to teach it to the next generations. Many students I see say “I know I am nature, but I don’t feel it”


That’s why I strive to teach with a huge emphasis on our senses, movement, and why I leave space for the poetry and beautify of it all. Because once you FEEL that you are nature, there’s no going back.


Applications for Deep Remembering 2024 are open. This program encompasses nature connection, ancestral earth skills, authentic relating and trauma informed healing. Class runs one, 4-day weekend per month from March - October.


16/10/2023

Another amazing weekend connecting with these wonderful humans. 😊❤️🔥


This cohort of deep remembering folks continues to amaze me. Every month we go deeper and deeper as individuals as well as a group. So much love for these humans and their beautiful processes. ❤️


October marks our last time out in hidden valley, the place that has held us so beautifully this year. Every year the participants say how the land itself is a member of the cohort and it’s so true.

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During our time this month we went into shadows, grief, death and darkness. We held an ancestor feast, we took life with intention and love and we co-created a grief ritual. It was all so magical and beautiful to witness a group release the grief and pain that all humans carry. What a bonding experience.

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Can you imagine yourself here next year? 8 months into a deeply connective and challenging program? What might that version of you look like?

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Applications for Deep Remembering 2024 are open online. Check out the online info and see if it might be something you are looking for. Maybe it’s time for you to come back home to yourself.


Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 09/10/2023

Another amazing falling leaves rendezvous! I got to help folks make some hand drill fires, break flint for the first time, and talk about our human superpowers and how “holistic survival” can help us in everyday life! It was a blast.

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Gratitude for my life and making that choice 12 years ago to start living my life for me. To run head first into the woods and the life I dreamed of. It was scary but the universe has always reminded me that it has my back. Happy day.

Photos from Holistic Survival School's post 25/09/2023

A little Deep Remembering photo dump.
This year continues to be so freaking amazing! Last month we had our willow basket class at the lake and this month we had our “plus one” weekend!


It’s so difficult for me to explain how awesome this year (and every year) has been. I forget how far folks come every year in connecting more to themselves, nature and as a group. It’s such an honor to witness.


And part of me feels embarrassed at bragging about how amazing it is. But it’s not really me. It’s nature, the students, and the contrast to our normal culture, that’s what makes it so special. I love these humans

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Also, if you are looking for change in your life and are curious about Deep Remembering, applications are now open. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions at all. Maybe you will be part of the next cohort that I gush over. 😊


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