We are a North Carolina Piedmont-based 508c(c)1(a) non-profit religious organization working and dancing at the intersection of spirituality, ecology and culture. We curate events and ceremonies that celebrate embodiment, honor the earth and build community. Our guiding star is midwifing metamorphosis: stewarding transformation, healing and reconnection at personal and collective levels. The practical heart of what we do includes dance services, seasonal ritual observances, healing and rites of passage work. 

More about us

Grief Ceremony

February 25 - 27, 2022

Water Baby Tending

Shrine in The Ancestral Grove 
& Support Sessions 

Open-Air & Virtual Community Dances

In this weekend Grief Ceremony, we’ll gather in community to tend personal and collective grief as well as the deep, soul processes initiated when living with loss, transformation and uncertainty. We'll engage in various embodied practices for expression and building resilience. 

The Ceremony will include movement and vocal practices, one-on-one and group dialogue. In addition to ritual engagement, participants will receive practical tools for grieving and supporting others who are grieving.


Respect to all that we are mourning in these times, at personal and collective levels. Compassion for the ways our hearts are continually stretched and torn. May leaning in to these deep processes lead us to ever greater compassion and resilience.

From the Japanese word mizuko, water babies are known as those who die on their journey to life inside the water of the womb due to miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth.  

Heartward Sanctuary founder, Julia Hartsell, is available for one-on-one support for those who wish to meet in person at the shrine or virtually for ritual support with this passage.

If money is an obstacle, please reach out. Heartward Sanctuary has a scholarship fund specifically to support women who need financial assistance for this work. 

A continuation from The Flowjo's decade of Ecstatic Dance ritual, we now gather at Heartward Sanctuary for Open-air Dances (and other rituals) and also by Zoom. 

Our in person dances have paused for the winter, but sign up for our newsletter to receive updates.

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Seasonal observances at

at Heartward Sanctuary

We are dancers in this ancient, cyclical, life-generating choreography of the earth and the Sun. Our bodies are an expression of the Earth dancing her praise for her beloved. 


Read our reflections on our Turning the Wheel Series from 2020-2021.




The Ancestral Grove

Natural burial ground 

The Ancestral Grove at Heartward Sanctuary is a natural cemetery in Silk Hope, NC. The burial ground aspires to be a place for people of diverse ancestries, faiths and means to return to the earth in sacred and environmentally nourishing ways. We are also dedicated to reclaiming ancestral practices for tending this sacred transition, for honoring the ancestors of the land, blood and lineage.


Coming soon... 

Ancestral healing, spiritual readings (divination), herbal consultations, acupuncture, mentorship, custom personal ritual support and death doula work are available.  

You can also schedule a site visit to walk the grounds, visit the Ancestral Grove, consult about natural burial options or work with one of the shrines.