“…Humanity alone cannot engender children — instead it is the entire living environment which produces the child and keeps it alive — the air, soil, plants and animals of its immediate environment. We are the children of our particular place on earth. This is why the land is sacred and sex is sacred and eating is sacred; because they are all parts of the same energy flow…”

– Dolores LaChapelle, Sacred land, Sacred Sex. In Deep Ecology, edited by Michael Tobias. 1985. Avant Books.


These days, many people live in mostly artificial environments, with all their needs and wants piped into their boxes (cages?). We have forgotten most of the memories of our species, which were once the key to our success. For an ephemeral time we’ve been released from our need to understand and live with nature since we get most our energy nowadays from fossil fuels.

One day we will have to go back to ways of living directly with nature or we will go extinct. We all have the instincts to be curious about the natural world around us, to try and understand it, but most people have stifled these instincts.

Humans are still part of nature, and to recognize that is the first step in repairing our relationship with mother earth and sustaining her resources for future generations. In my work as a student, various roles as a teacher, and communication with friends and family, I’ve found the best way to re-connect people with nature is to show them its many uses. Once someone finds out a plant is edible, or can be made into medicine, one cares about protecting the plant and its environment. Otherwise it may just be a nuisance weed on wasted land.

To this end of making people care about their surrounding communities of species and the rocks, earth, water, and air making up their environment, I established Ancestral Arts and my career on teaching and publicizing ethnobiology: the study of the human-nature relationship.


I created this blog to enhance public awareness of my favorite subject: ethnobiology. (The blog started as ringtailcats.wordpress.com in 2013, but as it developed, I changed to ancestralarts.net.)

I was trained as an ecologist (B.S. Biology UT Austin), and am continuing this training (towards a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley). But I find most of my inspiration and knowledge coming directly from nature or being handed down through millennia of trial and error and human experimentation. Our ancestors and the earlier inhabitants of earth knew much, much more about these subjects than people do today. Since I was a child I have ravenously learned anything and everything I could about the way American Indians and other hunter-gatherer  / aboriginal cultures around the world lived in harmony with nature.

I’ve lived most my life just outside or in Austin, Texas. I’ve traveled throughout Central America, the Peruvian Amazon, the US Southwest, and California. I moved to California in 2011 for grad school at UC Berkeley’s dept of Integrative Biology, dropped out of the program in 2015, and since have been back in Austin continuing my ethnobiological research.

I hope to convince the world that the only future of humanity is returning to our place as stewards and caretakers of the forests, grasslands, tundra, deserts, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Because (in the words of Eric Pianka), “There is no planet B.”

– Cyrus Harp

My curriculum vitae: C.Harp_CV_June.2014


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