hand holding orange wildflowers

Ancestral Living: 10 Easy Principles I used to Transform My Life

If your soul resonates with the whispering winds of the forest, the rhythmic tides of the ocean, or the ancient stories told by a flickering campfire, then you’re in the right place. Like many of you, I’ve felt a desire to rediscover the wisdom of our ancestors—those who lived in harmony with the land, the seasons, and the cycles of life.

This yearning isn’t just a fleeting curiosity; it’s a call to return to a way of living that feels deeply authentic and profoundly meaningful. It’s about answering an inner summons to reconnect with the Earth and its natural rhythms, to rekindle a relationship with the wild spaces both outside us and within us. It’s a call I answered, and the journey into ancestral living that ensued has been nothing short of transformative.

I’ve delved deep into practices that have not only enriched my understanding of the world but have also fundamentally changed how I live, love, and interact with my community. From the simple act of honoring nature as my most trusted mentor, to mastering skills of self-sufficiency that have equipped me with a newfound sense of empowerment, these experiences have reshaped my life in ways I could have never imagined.

And so, with a heart full of gratitude and a soul eager to share, I’m thrilled to guide you through the ten tenets that have been so important in living a more ancestral lifestyle. Each one is a stepping stone on the path to a life that’s more balanced, more sustainable, and deeply connected to the wisdom of our ancestors and the Earth herself.

So, if you’re ready to embark on a transformative journey that promises not just knowledge but deep, soulful wisdom, then read on. Your path to ancestral living starts here, and I can’t wait to walk it with you.

What is Ancestral Living?

At its core, ancestral living is about reconnecting with the ways of our forebears—embracing the wisdom, practices, and natural rhythms that have sustained humanity for generations. It’s not about romanticizing the past or rejecting modern conveniences, but rather about finding a harmonious balance between the old and the new.

ten tenets that have changed my life

orange wildflowers in a field

1. Honoring Nature as a Teacher

One of the most important changes, for me, has been that of recognizing nature as not just a scenic backdrop but a wise teacher. 

This shift in perspective has been like unlocking a treasure trove of wisdom right under my nose. 

Whether it’s foraging for wild edibles, which nourishes both body and soul, or observing the migratory patterns of birds to understand the health of local ecosystems, I’ve found that nature offers endless lessons in balance, sustainability, and interconnectedness.

Tuning into the moon’s phases has helped me align my activities with natural rhythms, much like our ancestors did. Moreover, the principle of interconnectedness, has taught me that the health of one element affects the health of the entire ecosystem. 

This isn’t a one-time lesson, but a lifelong journey of deepening my relationship with the natural world, continually inspiring a sense of wonder and curiosity. In this way, I’ve come to see that I’m not just a student of nature; I’m an integral part of it.

ancestral living
Ancestral living - Me on a foraging expedition

2. Living by the Seasons, Living Fully

Embracing seasonal awareness through ancestral living has grounded me in a way that’s both tangible and deeply spiritual. 

Our ancestors lived in harmony with nature’s cycles, a wisdom often lost in today’s world of modern conveniences. By following the Wheel of the Year, a calendar that marks seasonal festivals like solstices and equinoxes, I’ve learned to pause and appreciate the unique gifts and challenges each season brings. Whether it’s planting seeds in the spring, harvesting in the fall, or turning inward during the winter months for reflection and planning, each season offers its own lessons and opportunities for growth. 

This cyclical dance with nature has not only rekindled my connection to the Earth but also instilled in me a sense of belonging to something much greater than myself. It’s a beautiful reminder that we’re not just living on Earth, but with it, in a relationship of mutual respect and awe.

me in the veggie patch
Me in the veggie patch

3. Sustainable and regenerative Living Skills: 

In my journey through ancestral living, I’ve found immense empowerment and connection to the Earth by mastering sustainable and regenerative skills. 

From growing my own food and identifying local plants to crafting soap and fermenting foods, I’ve gained not just survival knowledge but also a profound appreciation for the wisdom of our ancestors. 

This path has led me to embrace sustainable practices like permaculture gardening, harvesting rainwater, and ethical foraging. In fact, I’ve taken my commitment to sustainability a step further by having my property certified as both a wildlife habitat and a native botanical sanctuary. These certifications aren’t just badges of honor; they’re a testament to my dedication to living in harmony with the Earth. 

These practices don’t just allow me to take from the Earth; they enable me to give back, fostering a cycle of regeneration that enriches my life while safeguarding the planet for future generations. It’s a holistic approach that has deepened my connection to the land and fortified my commitment to preserving it for the generations to come.

walnut tart
A walnut tart I made with foraged walnuts

4. Eating an Ancestral Diet

Another way I’ve aligned my life with ancestral principles is through adopting a more ancestral diet, which has profoundly reshaped my relationship with food and the Earth. 

From foraging wild herbs in local woods for both culinary and medicinal uses to cultivating heirloom vegetables in my own garden using regenerative and permaculture principles, each step brings me closer to nourishing both my body and soul while honoring the planet. Now, don’t get me wrong—I still enjoy the occasional packaged treat, but it no longer makes up any real part of my diet.

An ancestral diet isn’t about mimicking exactly what our ancestors ate; it’s about eating what grows naturally around you and choosing homegrown, local ingredients. In doing so, I’ve also deepened my community ties by supporting local farmers through community-supported agriculture. 

This isn’t just about a diet; it’s a holistic way of living that connects me to the cycles of nature and the surrounding community. 

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me
Me- on a foraging walk

5. Mindful Movement and Physical Activity

Our ancestors were incredibly active, their daily lives filled with physical tasks essential for survival—hunting, gathering, building, and farming. This constant movement wasn’t just about staying alive; it was integral to their overall well-being, likely contributing to a level of health that many of us strive for today. Inspired by this, I’ve incorporated mindful movement into my own life through various practices like yoga, hiking, and daily walks.

But for me, movement goes beyond just physical exercise; it’s a transformative practice that deepens my connection to the Earth and taps into my inner wisdom. Yoga has evolved into a spiritual discipline for me, grounding my body and soul. Hiking through Connecticut’s lush forests becomes a meditative journey, each step a celebration of life and an homage to the land. Even foraging has turned into a form of mindful movement, with each plant I harvest teaching me about the intricate web of life that sustains us all.

These activities do more than just improve my physical health; they offer a holistic sense of well-being that helps counteract the chronic stress so common in modern life. 

autumn season
Hosting a Seasonal Celebration in the Garden

6. Ritual and Ceremony: Finding Sacred Moments in Everyday Life

When I first delved into ancestral living, I was captivated by the rich traditions of rituals and ceremonies that have marked human existence for ages. 

These practices, both grand and simple, have become so important in my life, grounding me in a world that often feels chaotic. For instance, the solstices are special moments for me; they’re times when I gather with loved ones to honor the Earth through feasting and bonfires.

On a daily basis, I’ve also found immense joy and focus in smaller rituals. Each day, I jot down a few things I’m grateful for, shifting my focus from scarcity to abundance. My mornings are sacred, too, starting with a tea ritual that’s more than just a morning beverage; it’s a meditative experience with homegrown herbs that sets the tone for my day. 

These rituals, big and small, have woven a tapestry of intention and meaning into my life, connecting me to something greater than myself. If you’re seeking more depth and mindfulness in your life, I can’t recommend the practice of ritual and ceremony enough.

ancestral living
Me on a Nipmuck paddle

7. Community and Tribe

In my journey into ancestral living, I’ve discovered that community is the heartbeat of a fulfilling, resilient life. 

As a member of the Nipmuck community, I find deep grounding and connection through participating in cultural events like powwows and seasonal ceremonies, such as the Harvest Moon and Nikkomo, a winter potluck centered around sharing our gifts. These aren’t just social gatherings; they serve as spiritual anchors that link me to the wisdom of my ancestors and the rhythms of the natural world. However, my sense of community isn’t limited to my indigenous heritage; it extends into other areas of my life as well.

I’ve also built a community of like-minded individuals passionate about living closer to nature, and together we share everything from our knowledge and love of herbs to nurturing recipes and gardening techniques. 

This sense of community has taught me that personal growth and resilience are cultivated in the rich soil of shared experiences and mutual support, reminding me that we’re all part of something much larger than ourselves. In a world that often feels fragmented, this sense of belonging has been a true gift.(

Presence and Purpose

8. Intuition, Connection, and Spirituality:

On this incredible journey of ancestral living, one of the most transformative aspects has been the cultivation of my intuition and a profound spiritual connection to nature. 

In a world that often leans heavily on logic and technology, I’ve found immeasurable value in trusting my inner compass. My spiritual practices, like meditation, regularly take place in the sanctuary of my garden or the serenity of the wilderness. For me, nature is more than just a backdrop; it’s my church, my sacred space where I feel the presence of the Creator most deeply. These moments of solitude in the wild serve to strip away the distractions and noise of modern life, allowing me to hear that subtle inner voice that guides me.

This practice has not only deepened my spiritual understanding but also connected me to the wisdom of my ancestors and the greater web of existence that binds us all to the Earth and the universe. It’s a holistic form of spirituality that embraces the wild as a place of worship and communion, enriching my life in ways I could have never imagined.

Immune Boosting Tea
My morning tea ritual - slowing down and savoring

9. Slow Living

In a world that often feels like it’s racing ahead, I’ve found solace and balance in embracing the art of slow living, a cornerstone of my journey into ancestral living. 

From savoring a cup of herbal tea brewed from my herbal tea garden to cooking with locally foraged or homegrown ingredients, each mindful moment has added a vivid richness to my life, like switching from black-and-white to color. 

My garden serves as a sanctuary where time seems to slow down, teaching me the virtues of patience and alignment with nature’s rhythms. 

In essence, slow living has become my hidden treasure, teaching me to value quality over quantity and offering a fulfilling alternative to the relentless pace of modern life. It’s a journey back to what truly matters, and it’s been incredibly rewarding.

my garden
How could I not be grateful for this life?

10. Cultivating Gratitude

Incorporating daily gratitude into my life has been a game-changer, causing a mindset shift from scarcity to abundance. 

Each day, I take a moment to jot down what I’m grateful for, whether it’s the love of my family or the simple pleasure of smelling lavender wafting through my garden. 

This practice has made me more aware of the small, everyday blessings that I used to overlook. But my gratitude extends beyond just acknowledging these gifts; it’s an active practice of giving back. 

By living more in tune with nature and closer to the Earth, I’ve found incredible ways to express my gratitude. I plant trees, protect native plants, and engage in other acts that not only enrich my life but also create a ripple effect of positivity in my community. 

This has deepened my connection to both the ancestral wisdom that cherishes life’s simple beauties and to the Earth itself. So, if you’re exploring the path of ancestral living, I wholeheartedly recommend embracing a practice of gratitude. It’s a small yet potent step that can infuse your life with a sense of joy and contentment.

connected to place
Me out foraging dog roses

Concluding Thoughts

These are just ten of the things that have most affected my life in truly profound ways. They have not only deepened my connection to the natural world but also enriched my relationships, improved my health, and given me a sense of purpose and fulfillment like never before.

If you’re curious about ancestral living or looking to embark on a similar journey, I encourage you to start slowly, one area at a time. Remember that this path is not about recreating the past, but about embracing the timeless wisdom of our ancestors to lead more balanced, sustainable, and harmonious lives today. Your journey may be different from mine, but I hope it’s as rewarding and enlightening as mine has been.

Author

  • Barbi Gardiner

    Situated in the heart of Northeastern Connecticut, Barbi Gardiner is a bioregional herbalist and a proud member of the Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuck tribe. With a homestead recognized as a certified wildlife habitat by the Wildlife Federation and a native medicinal plant sanctuary by United Plant Savers, Barbi is a leading voice in permaculture and regenerative gardening. Passionate about seasonal living and ancestral wisdom, Barbi aims to reconnect people with the natural world and the ancient knowledge of their forebears. Through engaging articles and resources, Barbi is a beacon for sustainable living and earth-centered spirituality.

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