About Ancient Earth Skills

Through the practice of ancient Earth based and traditional living skills, we bring greater health, happiness, and harmony to the Earth and her people: humans, plants, animals, creepy crawlers, soil, water, air, and future generations.

We reclaim our role as Care Takers of this planet and stewards of her natural resources by sharing the essential skills of the wilderness and primitive cultures across the world. Including: Self Reliance, Survival, Wildlife Tracking & Naturalist training, Traditional Arts, Crafts, Music and Dance, Wellness & Self-Care, Personal and Group Fitness, Ninjutsu and Self Defense.

We recognize we cannot change what we have done to the Earth, but we can change what we do. By practicing traditional skills and processing natural resources with our own hands we deepen our respect and connection to the natural world and its limited resources. We live a more biodegradable, Earth friendly life.

Unfortunately, we are bearing witness to the destruction our planet’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the mass extinction of potentially a million species, and we sadly see that our ability to live here on the planet is being destroyed along with them. We know if we continue in this manner, that, even though in time the Earth will recover from the devastation, the future for our children and grandchildren may be very grim.

We act now to avoid an unfortunate future by developing our local/global situational awareness and make what we need, instead of buying a “cheap plastic crap” version that is thrown into the garbage, only to pollute the waters and soil… Now, we take the time to craft a sustainable lifestyle.

We move toward sustainability by living with the same respect and tender loving care for Earth Mother our ancestors did, to ensure abundant health for the planet, the waters, and our children. We practice permaculture, land stewardship, and raise as much of our own food as possible.  We spread seeds and encourage local species who provide food and medicine, and we value and consume animals nose to hoof. We do not waste anything, not a piece of skin, feather, or bone. 

Evolve, Adapt, Inspire & Thrive!

We take responsibility for our own form of personal self-care, health and wellness, and act accordingly to grow and maintain optimal fitness of our bodies and minds, hearts and souls, thereby providing a positive example for our communities, both local and abroad. We do the best we can do, and approach this with humor… knowing that we are just a human being: a critter with a large brain.

We are committed to Develop our own Individual Approach to Wellness of body, mind and spirit. Here you may tan a hide, make a coal burned bowl, practice meditation, yoga, dance, ninjutsu, learn Earth based philosophies and healing techniques, or sit quietly bathing in the forest, take off your shoes and ground yourself into your happy place. But, Please note: What we offer are studies to test, skills, experiences, and mysteries to explore… we do not have all the answers about the meaning and purpose of life, or where/what your happy place is. There are as many roads to health and happiness as there are folks walking the path of life. What path to take?

That’s for you to decide. 

Here at Ancient Earth Skills you will:

Gather round the fire to learn skills, celebrate, share food, stories, and enjoy the company Nature brings.  All people: ages, genders, races, colors, shapes, sizes, hairstyles, and backgrounds are welcome.

Deepen your connection to the Earth as you interact with the Landscape by learning and processing edible/medicinal plants, tracking the patterns of animals, etc. Become more aware of natural resources and act as a caretaker would, learn to satisfy your needs while helping the landscape become more abundant with resources.

Build a stronger healthier physique and boost your confidence via exercise gathering debris for a shelter, making fire by friction, moving with the gait of an otter, jumping like a frog, or climbing a tree like a porcupine. 

Enrich your life with art, beauty, and functionality. You may craft a handmade basket from invasive species, a string from wild fiber, or a life-giving vessel born of river clay, or tell a story moving the way the animal did, reliving the moment you saw it.  We believe that art is a form of pure communication, and we play with the many forms of expression our muse may guide us to.

Be real with yourself and one another as we learn and grow. There is no quick fix, or real safety in life. The weather changes constantly, rain, snow, ice, flood, drought… we drive to work, and in a moment, we can be on the other side of life. The blistering heat and numbing cold, or the hole we just stepped in, do not care how we feel. Mother Nature is in charge and we must surrender to her laws. In order to survive and to thrive we must live in unity and harmony with her rhythms and with one another.  The more we are attuned to the landscape and all its creatures, the more self-aware and skilled we become, the more we can avoid potential trouble, and the more adaptable we can be in any given situation. As my friends and mentors say, “The more we know the less we need.” We train these skills to have a deeper understanding of natural materials and ourselves, and we realize it takes work to become more durable, more capable, more aware, more proficient… it’s a life-long process full of ups and downs. 

We recognize that we are not here to fix or change each other, as we cannot do that. True Growth & Change is a personal decision, motivated intrinsically, and happens over time. However, we can be present with each other through our learning and life changes. We experience countless real-world failures along the way and grow together by accepting and moving past our differences, our personal challenges, preconceived notions, egos and imperfections. We find success as we move in unity, explore our boundaries, and develop true proficiency with our skills; be they interpersonal relationships, making a fire, a warm shelter, or physical self-care.

Len Mackey

Len Mackey is a highly motivated earthling with years of study, performance and teaching experience, and countless hours of community service.  Growing up in the north country, as a boy Len spent his time in the woods with his father, hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, and tracking game outside of the ADK park in northern NY state.

Always enamored with the healthy wisdom of ancient and foreign cultures he began his study of yoga and meditation, sweat lodge, African drumming, and Reiki in 1999, later receiving Reiki Master training. In 2004 while pursuing a degree in photography at RIT, Len began working with BushMango Drum and Dance company in Rochester, NY, and a year later traveled to Guinea w. Africa, with MBemba Bangoura and Michael Marcus, to further his learning.

See the photo documentary “Guinea Music” Len made of his trip here.

In 2012 Len immersed himself in the study of ancient living skills and survival at Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School in NJ.  This led him to Caribbean Earth Skills in St. Croix, Roots School in VT, and to Belize in pursuit of jungle survival skills.

As a teacher and artist Len offers programming in the form of survival skills and wellness training, yoga, corrective exercise, personal training, and west African drum and dance. He has been the recipient of Art$tart and Decentralization Grants provided by NY State, via the St. Lawrence County Arts council for over 7 years now, and a guest faculty for the American Collegiate Dance Assoc. for multiple regional gatherings.

Len is the founder of Ancient Earth Skills – Wellness and Wilderness Training, and Song of the Spheres, Inc. a multimedia company specializing in education and entertainment for children of all ages. He has recorded and produced three albums (with another on the way) inspired by traditional w. African, Aboriginal Australian, and Native American music.

Over the years Len has provided high quality entertainment and educational opportunities for Roots School VT, Nature Up North, Kripalu Yoga Center, Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University, North Country Community College, SUNY Potsdam, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and nearly every school district in St. Lawrence County.

He is forever grateful to all his teachers: the kind elders and friends who offer experience and guidance, the stones, the creepy crawlers, birds, fish, plants and animals, and especially the Earth… “All I am, and all I have, is made of her.”

Len was recently featured on the St. Lawrence University website, in an article Tracking with Len.

Guest Faculty

Ashley Goff

Ashley, an artist of many mediums… is a horse lover, budding herbalist, and art teacher. She has a BFA in visual arts, and has incredible skills in drawing, painting, and sculpting mediums, as well as fiber-based arts: which she has been working with since the age of ten. She loves connecting art to nature and using organic materials in her work. Her passion is to inspire the creative child in each of us through connection to the process of art making.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

Ben Gill Goodrich

  • 4th Dan Bujinkan Ninjutsu
  • Only authorized affiliate of Greg Kowalski outside of CT

Ben Gill Goodrich, the founder of New England Ninjustsu of VT – Yugen Dojo,

has been training in martial arts for over forty years, and Bujinkan Ninjutsu for the past 27+ years under Shihan Greg Kowalski, the founder of New England Ninjustsu. Ben’s dojo is the only authorized teaching affiliate of New England Ninjutsu outside of CT.

From his classes you gain a greater awareness of yourself within your physical body by exploring how to become effective (in movement, and self-defense). Ben has offered training to military personal and law enforcement, college students and many children over the years bringing greater instinctual and situational awareness to countless people.

He also offers public, private and specialty classes, and for the last ten years has worked in conjunction with Roots School in VT as part of their Ancient, Advanced, and Winter Scout programs.

Rohan Kensey

Rohan Kensey is a bird biologist by trade, with a BA in Conservation Biology. He travels the country and surveys birds for university and company study, collecting population and species data. Aside from his professional career, his passions include primitive skills, tracking, and the art of bird language. Forever a bird fanatic at 13 years old (2003) his team received first place in The World Series of Birding.

He has trained wilderness skills at the Tracker School in New Jersey, completed the 9-month program at Wilderness Awareness School in Washington, and was also faculty at Hawk Circle in upstate NY. He especially enjoys teaching and sharing what he has learned with adults and children alike.

Shane Hanna

The wilderness has held a special place in my heart since my younger days, and always I’ve looked for something more, a deeper connection. The adventure of learning ancient skills began in 2009 when a friend handed me a primitive skills book to look at, and in a moment, I knew it was the answer I’d been searching for. I then attended intensive trainings at Tom Brown Jr.’s “Tracker Survival School” in New Jersey in 2011, and also attended classes at Roots School in Vermont.

I am fascinated by all the skills I have learned, and even more greatly affected by the healing power of practicing simplicity in the wilderness. Primitive skills helped me find a deep union between humans and Mother Nature.  For the last few years, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to teach primitive skills to family, friends, and a local group of boy scouts. Tanning hides and working with buckskins, collecting edible and medicinal plants, and sharing these skills has brought me so much joy!