Mikaela Valentino is originally from Los Angeles - occupied Tongva territory. Currently, she lives in San Diego - occupied Luiseno, Cahuilla, Cupeno, Kumeyaay, and Northern Diegueño territory.
Her life’s work is to witness people find their path to power and educate whenever possible in the traditions taught to her. She is a mother, a friend to many, an educator, an entrepreneur centering entheogenic motherhood, yoni steaming in the ma’at tradition, and ancestral veneration.
In this interview for Amplify, let’s dive into Mikaela’s journey with plant medicines and learn more about the incredible work that she does as a mother - and with mothers.
This interview was conducted by Jessika Lagarde.
WOOP: Could you tell us a bit more about your personal journey and what led you to do this type of advocacy work?
Mikaela: Unordinary states of consciousness had always called me, since I was a little girl. I was in the Christian church and experienced my first transcendental, out of the body, merge with the divine type experience after a long night of praying. It was a complete merge with unconditional love as so many feel when they come into plant medicines. What they describe is something my 10-year old self had a taste of through prayer and song. That laid a foundation for me to expand and explore my spirit and consciousness.
I tried LSD for the first time when I was 18 and it completely blew the lid off of what I thought I understood about my life. About a year later, I came in contact with the intelligence that is psilocybin and I pretty much devoted my entire life to managing, healing, and activating my very wounded mental health to the entheogenic earth medicine teachers because of the tremendous help they were to mend me.
It certainly is the birthright of every person to have sovereignty, to heal in the ways that they are called to heal, especially with these medicines.
WOOP: What are Plant Medicines for you?
Mikaela: Any molecule that derives itself at the source of Pachamama. Of course, these are all molecules in essence, but the plant medicines I consider have not been denatured as most of the pharmaceutical medicines have been. These molecules are intact with their unique symphony of alkaloids, some of which I am aware are responsible for the richness of the experiences we have as journeyers.
These Earth Medicines range from all the herbal medicines, the four sacred plants of the North American Indians: tobacco, cedar, sage and sweetgrass, to the entheogenic earth medicines: ayahuasca, mescaline containing cacti - san Pedro, Huachuca, hikuri, peyote (they are known by many names), psilocybin-containing mushrooms, Kambo, bufo, cacao, coca leaf, ergot (LSD), cannabis.
WOOP: Can you tell us more about the intersections of your work with plant medicine and pregnancy and motherhood?
Mikaela: Well, I'd been practicing with these teachers for the last decade, and when I became pregnant with my son, the medicines called me forward more. After I'd gone to an elder in our community and consulted with them, I was told that mothers continue their relationship with the teonanancatl, sacred mushrooms throughout the motherhood experience. She is a wirarika elder and I deeply trust her wisdom. So, I made the decision with the support of an abuela to take the steps to continue my learning with them.
In reality, I've struggled with alcoholism my entire life, so when this came forward, it was the safer and more gentle choice. Integrating psilocybin within my pregnancy was actually the final push towards leaving alcoholism. The medicine is non-habit forming so whenever I was in a situation where alcohol was present and I felt the pressure. I chose psilocybin instead and that completely altered my gestational experience and now that I'm almost two years out of that experience, I am so grateful that I had made that choice.
There were some larger journeys during my pregnancy, one most notably at 3 grams when I was 6 months pregnant. It was a profound healing for the soul of my child and myself. In the bathtub where I spent three hours during my journey, I reviewed a lot of ancestral programs, fears and curses and was able to cleanse myself, rewire and recrystallize my brain so that I may mother from a different, more evolved place. The medicine told me that this was the last journey and I did not eat mushrooms again until my son was 5 weeks old.
Through postpartum, I felt that other medicines would be of great help and they offered themselves to me. I drank ayahuasca when my son was almost a year old, I continue to journey with the mushroom teachers and maintain a relationship with cannabis.
WOOP: What would you say was your most transformative experience with psychedelics?
Mikaela: The first time I ever ate mushrooms was the most transformative experience with these medicines. I was a suffering young woman. Constantly sad, manic, promiscuous, a danger to myself and others. Not to say that the first journey completely healed this personality within myself because it was years and years before these lessons began to change me for the better.
The first time, though, that I ate the mushroom teachers, I looked at myself in the mirror and knew myself as someone better than I'd ever seen myself. There was a comfortability in my skin, I washed my makeup off, I let my hair go natural, I wasn't judging my thoughts or what I looked like. The focus turned to what I was FEELING like and that began a profoundly impactful healing with the earth medicine teachers that was situated and rooted in my personal sense of comfort and nothing externally assigned.
WOOP: What are the most common difficulties that women face when they come to look for Plant Medicine ceremonies with you?
Mikaela: Sexual assault and manipulation are prevalent in these medicine circles. Period. Beyond stigma, many women and men face being taken advantage of spiritually and physically while in delicate states. I have seen predators and abusers serve medicine, I have spoken to people who work with them. I have heard of facilitators who prey on children. This is a MAJOR problem. What compounds this, is when the women speak to expose, they are not listened to.
There was an experience in a peyote sit where a woman was unconscious on the floor, covered in dirt and vomit (although this can be seen in purgative ceremony - the condition of the woman was dyer). I had to stand for this person and ask our facilitator to dismiss her. He did not want to let her leave or anyone else leave to care for her. This was a dangerous situation for many people. Including the group.
At the same ceremony, I had to help another woman who was fainting over the cedar pile. I mean this is harm reduction 101, body language reading, and the facilitator, who was an indigenous Lakota man, was taking risks with peoples' lives. Mind you these women were white women, so I deeply understand the cultural and ancestral implications, wounds, and pains that were being played out. But just because these women were given their skin, doesn't mean we pray harm on them and that goes for ANY person.
Now regarding stigmas from society, I mean... the society I roll with reflects who I am so I really feel nothing from support. When the people I consult with come with questions about their communities stigmatizing them, especially as it comes to very Christian/ puritanical and conservative neighborhoods, I often deal with the spiritual entities and the spirits of the people in my dreams. I often actually have to educate, advocate and talk to the spirits of fundamentalists in the dream world to begin doing the unlocking there.
WOOP: Any tips on how to talk with kids about psychedelics?
Mikaela: Welcome them when they show interest, never force. I always just show my son, who's almost 2, the medicines I work with and I never call them drugs. We lead by example and can communicate more with children by DOING than by TALKING.
WOOP: What advice would you give to a woman looking to work with extraordinary states of consciousness for the first time?
Mikaela: Connect with people whose lives you'd like to see yourself have. When you eat the medicine someone gives you, you become like them. You merge intimately with who they are. Find facilitators who make you feel comfortable and that you feel at ease with, this will translate into your ceremony.
If you have any doubts about the safety of your experience, sit on it, there's no need to rush. It is not worth the safety concerns. Look for elders, especially women elders. The abuelas know about this subject more than I ever will.