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How to Leverage Healthy Love to Deepen Psychedelic Healing

Holding the heart open in a world ripped apart by genocide, apartheid and ecocide can feel impossible. But what is the cost of losing our capacity to believe in love, to hold hope beyond fear? 


As a trauma therapist and survivor of intergenerational trauma – my perspective is inherently biased. 45 years of navigating the depths of grief and healing, alongside several years of holding space for other survivors has made certain things crystal clear. History repeats until we bring consciousness and repair to the ruptures. Carl Jung expressed this sentiment long before me. “Until the unconscious is made conscious, we will live it out and call it fate.” 


As I look around the world today, this is what I see – lineage stories of trauma playing out unconsciously, repetitively on a global stage. It’s a gut-wrenching convergence of shadows and light in a world on the verge of going completely dark. 


There’s a genocide streaming on my smartphone. My 8-year-old hears screaming when I pick it up to check my messages. “What is that, mommy? Who’s screaming?” 


What do I tell him? How can I not tell him? If I am silent, if I look the other way – my silence and non-action – whether intentional not – contribute to this perpetuating saga of perpetrator and victim, of trauma passed down the line. 


This is not the legacy I want for my children. I hold the phone as a message comes through from a client about panic attacks. Dysregulation surrounds us. What remains? Where can we healthily co-regulate and with who?


Thoughts and feelings collide as I struggle to come up with a good way to explain to my son something utterly incomprehensible.


“Mooommyyy,” he says impatiently. “What was that on your phone?”


“There are bad things happening in the world right now, honey. It’s hard to explain. Some people aren’t safe, and that makes mommy sad and mad,” I tell him. 


He looks pensive. We sit quietly as he rearranges his Legos. Then he poses two questions that land like lead in my chest. 


“Mommy, are we safe right now? Why aren’t we doing something to help those kids on your phone?” he asks earnestly.  


“You ask good questions,” I tell him and pull him into my arms – grateful that in this moment I can pull him into my arms and feel his skin on my skin, to feel the safety of no bombs falling from the sky. 


I feel gratitude and right beside it – I feel guilt. Survivor’s guilt. Powerlessness guilt. Despair guilt. Heavy, hard feelings. This survivor struggle is familiar. The place where you’re almost free, but then you realize freedom is still slippery. 


I’ve navigated survivor’s guilt before within my family of origin. But this is different. I’m the adult now – not the child trying to survive. I have a different kind of responsibility. 

“Why are you crying, mommy?” he asks.


“Because I love you, and because I am sad. Many mommies and kids aren’t safe now.” 

“So, what will we do about it, mommy?” he asks again.


“Everything we can find to do – we will do,” I tell him, knowing that the words are true and still painfully inadequate.



*** 


As I lay in bed thinking about his questions, the voices of the Medicine Women remind me when the Earth is uneasy, I must ground myself. I must kneel and pray and listen. Listen with my heart and quiet my mind. Stop thinking; start feeling. This kind of listening requires touching the Earth with my body and remembering that we – Women and Earth – share one corporeality. 


This is my call to ceremony, an invitation to return to the womb of creation. Inside the womb, the Earth Mother and I go to work scrubbing colonial fingerprints off the walls of my cells. Everywhere I look, there is blood. I see it with my eyes. I taste it in my mouth. In the bathroom, blood trickles between my legs. I am bleeding the remains of an unexpected miscarriage. How many mothers have lost children in the last eight months? How are we so desensitized to this?


I am miles away in our small house, a tiny dot barely visible from the sky, in a huge, heartbroken world. My spirit is in Palestine. I cry animal cries, loud and primal. It hurts and it heals. To feel the pain, to touch the blood, to be held by one Mother.


Blood, minerals, tissues, Earth. These words repeat until all that’s left is a non-cognitive mass with a pulse. The Earth Mother has brought me to this womb to feel the place where grief and love are forever threaded. This ceremony, this chapter in my eternal return to wholeness – she tells me – is for the Mothers. She reminds me, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.” 


At some point, I found myself surrounded by women on all sides. One by one, they hand me their wounded babies, their dead and dying babies. We weep together in the intimacy of Mothers grieving a wound that doesn’t go away, nor do you want it to. 


As my heart cracked more inside the collective pain, it opened wider. The more I hurt, the more love poured through me. While we wailed, the village of Mothers in sacred solidarity held each other. As we did, the Earth held us. Her salty tears poured down with the force of the first rains that drown the jungle when summer comes. The sky opened. The earth flooded. But inside the Mother tent, besides the blood, we remained dry and protected. Blood, minerals, tissues, Earth.


Faintly in the background, I heard the spirits chanting: all the children are my children. All the children are your children. This is your inheritance – Mother Love. 


What remained after my cells were pressure washed by the Earth’s medicine was a collection of soul matter – not white, black or brown. Rather, what remained was a swirl of colors, ethnicities and secrets from which I came. I saw a lineage of strong women doing their version of underground medicine woman work – delivering babies in the back mountains of Tennessee where women’s lives depended on their remedies and men beat them for their power. I saw how skilled they were at holding the hurt and the truth because it was not safe yet to speak. 


Then, I saw them, see me. Theirs was not a timid ask, but an unfaltering insistence. Stop the cycle now, they demanded.


Something about our clandestine, ancestral meeting in the world between worlds, in the womb of creation, helped me more completely understand the medicine of Motherhood. Like putting the final puzzle piece in place, like birthing a baby, the frequency of completion filled my body. I understood why it was essential my little family packed our bags, sold our possessions; why we turned towards the wild and away from sterile civility.


Beyond the empire, I own my Otherness, my subalternity as a living creature who cultivates kinship not only with other beings of all skin colors, shapes and sizes – but with the animals and the plants. Beyond the empire, I seek to give more than I have and to be in right relationship with the land and village around me. Beyond the empire, it’s less lonely.


Safety was almost scary at first, another unfamiliar thing to learn. The legacy of persecution trailed like a bad scent. But the farther I went from the epigenetic muck, the easier I rooted into the Earth. No longer afraid, but convicted and resolute. 


*** 


When Monday morning arrived, I walked with the wisdom of the Womb and my connection to the Great Mother a little closer than before. At my desk, Rachel Yehuda’s book on epigenetics sat beside my laptop. Maternal voices have always been there – battle cries, women warriors often pushed to the background. As the patriarchal era dies, I watch the Mothers rise and gather at the point where trauma travels time to cut the cords and cauterize the wound with love. 


A cluster of text messages from clients in need light up my phone. Old trauma activated by new triggers – a world on alert, a world fighting each other, competing with each other, lost in the quagmire of entitlements and debts. Reciprocity replaced with a fierce autonomy that leaves never enough. 


My son’s questions linger. What we will do to help those who aren’t safe? I understand my assignment, my role, my responsibility. Just as microaggressions become macro over time – so, too, do repairs accumulate and collect. Each inner child wounded by trauma who experiences being witnessed and genuinely, unconditionally nurtured stands a better chance of re-writing their story and reclaiming their life.   


In the hours while my sons are at school, I’ll spend my time being mother to inner children whose biological mothers and fathers weren’t able to show up. I’ll say sorry for hurts I didn’t cause, not to be a martyr, but simply because I can. Because this is reciprocity and the vastness of the womb of Mother. I’ll draw from the same well I draw from with the children who grew out of source into my body to become their own. 


The answer to my son’s question is love. The most potent psychedelic tool in my medicine bag is this mighty maternal instinct. This profound impetus to care without rescuing. This insistence on accountability. Modern psychology hasn’t fallen short because we were using the wrong meds, but because we colonized love out of the room. 


We forgot we, too, are animals. Ceremony helps us remember. Everything the colonizers label as savage holds a purity that is power. They build infrastructure to hold the boundaries, to keep us safe. But Love is not a violation of healthy boundaries, rather the foundation upon which they are built. How can we help anyone with our heart restricted, without hope as the greatest discipline?


Deep in the belly of the Earth, ceremony and love shine as one light. In the face of this love light, the tendrils of intergenerational trauma stand no chance. I watch them crumble. I see the ancestors dance and weep. These tears are not the suffering, survival kind – but tears of liberation. The Earth provides medicinal tools to help us remember what the empire wants to erase. In the place where karma meets dharma – the Earth is waiting for us to remember that even inside the box of darkness waits a gift.


*


About the Author: Micah Stover is a certified psychedelic somatic therapist. She is trained in Internal Family Systems and Psychedelics and has completed extensive study and multiple mentorships on how to work with psychedelic medicines in the treatment of complex trauma within a clinical paradigm. Some of her primary clinical teachers include Dr. Craig Heacock, host of well-known podcast Back From the Abyss and Saj Razvi, founder of the Psychedelic Somatic Institute. Both Heacock and Razvi were participating therapists in the Phase 3 clinical trials with MAPS utilizing MDMA for the treatment of trauma. 


Micah and her family reside in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where she has had the opportunity to study and work closely with indigenous healers and local practitioners who approach work with plant medicine in very different ways than the clinical model. Micah hosts individual healing retreats in Mexico and mentors psychedelic guides. She teaches an online course called Healing Psychedelics from which her forthcoming book is based. Micah’s practice reflects a hybrid of study and training from the clinical and indigenous approaches to working with psychedelic medicines. She is passionate about helping others navigate their healing journey and discover the overlapping space science and spirit meet within the psychedelic experience.


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