Ancestral Grove at Heartward Sanctuary

Tending Cycles of Life and Death on a Natural Burial Ground
Heartward Sanctuary has the honor, responsibility and privilege to steward 37 acres of land in the Piedmont of NC. Several acres of forest, meadow and imminent orchard space have been dedicated for natural burial. This Ancestral Grove at Heartward Sanctuary will provide a beautiful home for natural burial for humans and animal companions alike. This will be a membership-based green burial service.​

The Heartward Sanctuary Ancestral Grove is a non-dogmatic, animist, natural burial ground. By changing the practices around death and burial, we seek to decolonize the end-of-life processes. It will be a place for earth-friendly burials–buried in simple shrouds or other natural materials with no embalming–and also a place for transition, ritual, grief tending and celebration. Returning to ancient ways of honoring our dead, we seek to help restore balance, connection and wholeness for the living, the dead and the earth.

Over the past 150 years, our culture has dramatically shifted its way of tending our the dead. As medical and funeral industries have taken the place of traditional death rites and burial practices, the end-of-life passage has been packaged for profit and stripped of its sacrality, creating great economic strain on families in grief-stricken times. Some families cannot offer the desired rituals for body disposition due to lack of land or financial constraints. Our conventional burial and cremation options are environmentally toxic and disconnect our bodies from completing the life cycle: the return of our remains to the earth. There is a dire need for more ecological, relational, and ritually connective practices for meaningful transitions and soul processes.

While we finalize our membership agreements, we’ve spent the past two years getting to know the land, consecrating the space and shrines, developing an earth liturgy, cultivating community. One of our missions is to create space and meaningful rituals to honor the cycles of life, both the literal and symbolic deaths we experience on the journey of being human.

In August 2020, we buried our first beloved animal companion. On April 30, we buried our first beloved human from our dance community.


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