Through Altar Places*, Dr. Maila Davenport, cultural psychologist and executive director of Black Seed Dreaming, seeks to inspire communities to re-claim, re-shape, and re-story the places they live to make way for the place’s natural resilience, as well as their own, to break through. Since 2005, Maila has co-created active thresholds of power and sanctuary with people through the use of traditional tools of story and ceremony. By aligning with the webbed borderland of place, deep imagination, and spirit, the innate recuperative forces awaken people’s higher potential. Highly committed to human creativity and meaning making, she invites groups to delve into the unfolding Mystery available to them right where they live.
Maila’s expertise of healing through story and ceremony began through eighteen years as a licensed counselor trained in therapeutic storytelling and sandtray therapy, working in the field of trauma. To broaden her scope to healing communities, she pursued a PhD in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis in Depth Psychology. As a cultural psychologist, Maila specializes in applying mythic and spiritual engagement to the wounded pulse of places neglected or environmentally misused to re-align, re-link and rebuild the bonds between the place and people. Formally trained as a shamanic practitioner, Maila weaves her healing craft, artisan intelligence, and mythic sensibility with grounded insight in the psychology of culture to enable communities to reach new levels of connection.
“I am driven by the question ‘What brings life?’ By studying the 30,000 years
of human culture you can be sure certain themes arise.
The idea is not to use story to create a utopia – which is a vacuous
depersonalized existence really –
but to allow us to live a storied relationship with the places we live, and love,
to allow the organic cycle of transformation to whirl along for environment and people alike.”
Altar Places provides two paths to build these skills and get people involved:
- 10,000 World Trees — a grassroots movement for neighbors, artists and activists wanting to actively manifest sacred place so their community is “resilient and awake.”
- Pilgrims of Place — a series of experiential workshops for people who want to re-awaken their ancestral self, apprentice themselves to the land, and lead their own communities through ceremonial placemaking.
The wisdom of traditional culture has much to teach the modern public to co-create a breathing earth and interlaced world where thresholds to Life are abundant.
“From what I have seen, people do not want to have to move or travel far
to experience their world as soul sustaining,
they want to be able to have that threshold close by
in the places they live, right here and now.
The re-enchantment of our world is an unfolding event – not a daydream.”
*Altar Places is the education and training program of Black Seed Dreaming, a not-for-profit organization working to uphold vibrant indigenous culture through a continuing active ceremonial life.