Vera Sola

In this episode of Plantscendence, we talk to poet, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Vera Sola, whose musicianship arrived as a shot in the dark after a transformative plant medicine ceremony in 2017. Vera talks about the profound impact that entheogens, and iboga in particular, have had on her creative process, spiritual practice, and physical wellbeing, including her recovery from lifelong debilitating endometriosis. She reflects on the power of sitting with darkness, and how delving into one’s shadow self can be a means of “seeing the world through the eyes of a child.” This episode offers valuable advice for those considering embarking on their own journeys, emphasizing the importance of preparation, integration, and choosing the right practitioners.

​​Vera Sola is a poet, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose musicianship arrived as a shot in the dark after a plant medicine ceremony. The result was a sprawling, epic album, Shades, which she performed and arranged entirely alone over the course of a few months in 2017. Her follow up album, Peacemaker, arrives February 2, 2024 on City Slang Records.

www.verasola.com

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Episode Transcript

Jon Reiss

Well, I’m so excited to have Vera Sola on our Plantscendence podcast, because Vera was one of the main inspirations. The inspiration for the podcast came when I talked to several people about their experiences with plant medicine, and Vera’s just kind of blew me away and I realized how much I enjoy talking to people about their experiences. And that’s when I decided, Oh I should be recording these. And then, Oh I should do a podcast. And so here we are. So really excited to have you with us. 

Vera Sola

Thanks for having me. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah. So, as you know, I always start off with people’s initial plant medicine experiences. So do you want to talk a little bit about your kind of varied experiences, just kind of briefly, because I know, you know, you have more significant experiences later, but.

Vera Sola

Well, I experimented with a lot of things when I was growing up as a kid, and so, that included LSD and mushrooms. But I was never really able to fully experience the mystical side of things. It was just kind of fun and laughter with friends. But I was on SSRIs, heavily, heavily medicated from the time that I was 12 years old.

So, my experiences were limited. And then later in life, I would say my first in earnest psychedelic experience was with ayahuasca in ceremony, but still spiritually blocked. And so, I had the experience of being in the container, being in ceremony, listening to the music, connecting with the medicine in ways that would affect me in the aftermath. But in the ceremony, I was sort of sitting there being like, I don’t really get why people do this. And this is like, I don’t know, like you’re all making this shit up kind of thing. 

Jon Reiss

That’s amazing. So, I just want to get back to your first younger experiences. 

Vera Sola

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss

Because there are a lot of people who are on SSRIs 

Vera Sola

Yeah 

Jon Reiss 

And have questions about doing it and you know, there are cautions about doing it. And I’m just kind of curious about what your muted experiences were and if you can talk about what if you remember what a few of those substances were.

Vera Sola

Sure. Well, with regard to SSRIs, obviously there are certain medicines that it’s dangerous to take. So ayahuasca, iboga, you just cannot mix. 

Jon Reiss

And if you have a good practitioner, they’ll talk to you about this well in advance until you can titrate off of those medications and you have to be off for at least three weeks, fully off for at least three weeks before it just, yeah. 

Vera Sola

My understanding is that something like mushrooms or LSD is not dangerous. It just won’t work as well. 

So, for me, it was mostly a connection that was bound with laughter. And there were also synchronicities. I remember one really wild experience taking LSD in my bathroom as a teenager. I had this bathroom in my parent’s apartment that my friends and I would come and paint all over the walls, either on psychedelics or just on weed or drunk or whatever. So, it was this sort of dark jungle of drawings, and we were in the bathroom. 

Jon Reiss

Do you have photos of that? 

Vera Sola

Somewhere. My mom actually painted over it as a punishment to me. 

Jon Reiss

I can imagine your mom. I know your mom. I can imagine your mom doing that. 

Vera Sola

It was dark because I went through, I was- I went through a lot. I mean, we’ll get into that. But, I was a- I was a really troubled kid. And so, there were – I was grappling with things that I’ve seen through plant medicine and through plant medicine, adjacent meditations as a, as a teenager in my art. And a lot of that’s really dark. And so, I think it scared her to see these things and rightfully so. But she did paint over it somewhere. There has to be, there’s definitely maybe I’ll- 

Jon Reiss 

Do you remember any specific image that was on the bathroom? 

Vera Sola

Yeah, there was one which is the one that just came to me was a woman trapped in a tree. And that’s something that I have seen numerous times since then I think is some sort of reflection of my- my soul.

But that was the big one was this woman trapped in a tree on the back of the door. 

Jon Reiss 

So, you were having kind of some deeper experiences. Early on in the, even in those muted experiences. 

Vera Sola 

Well, yes, though I didn’t know what they were. I definitely didn’t associate them with plant medicine or with plants. I think that as I’m sure we’ll talk about at some point, my soul has been entwined with this stuff for a long time, and that specific spirits and medicine have been with me since I was a child. And so maybe I was seeing a reflection of the future or something. 

Jon Reiss

Right. So, moving on to your ayahuasca experience, how old were you then? 

Vera Sola

I want to say about 24, 25. And my first experience was in upstate New York with a really wonderful shaman there. And then my more, my deeper experiences were in Ecuador. And I did have some profound physical healings come out of that. 

I didn’t see anything. I, once again, I think that I wasn’t ready, my consciousness wasn’t ready to hold what I would see later on. But it did heal certain certain things, I think, and prepared me. I feel like there’s been this layering off of, of trauma and blockages and chains over me to allow me to get to the place I am now. 

Jon Reiss 

Because I think, you know, like one of my second night on ayahuasca also, I didn’t have any visions and you said this before, but something inside of me said, ‘Just chill out. We’re healing you. We’re doing some work on your heart here. You’ve got enough. And we’re just doing our work’. 

Vera Sola

Yep. I think that that’s – I understand that that’s common. And I know some people who will take even very low doses of mushrooms, for example, and just blackout, go to sleep, and not see anything. But it’s sort of this soul surgery.

Jon Reiss

Yeah. 

Vera Sola

And sometimes if you’re not ready to see something or process something, your unconscious will process it for you. 

Jon Reiss 

Interesting. 

Vera Sola 

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

So how many times did you do ayahuasca then? 

Vera Sola 

In the jungle? I believe it was three times. And before that, twice. But yeah, like I said, it was mostly in the aftermath. I would wake up the next day.

The first inkling I had that something was shifting in me was after my first ayahuasca ceremony. I’d been a lifelong weed smoker from the time, I mean lifelong, from the time I was 12, from the time I started taking SSRIs, I was self-medicating with weed, and I mean, like all day long, super high. I would say before going to school, I’d be like, if the teachers don’t know me when I’m sober, they won’t know I’m high.

So, I would go in and just blast it off my ass the first day of school. And I was functioning. I mean, I did really well in school. There were all sorts of other things in my life that were nonfunctioning for sure because of that. But after my first ayahuasca ceremony, I couldn’t smoke. Like I literally tried, and I physically could not smoke weed for like six months after.

Jon Reiss 

Did the shaman indicate that to you? Because my shaman said off weed, like- 

Vera Sola 

Oh yeah, they told me not to, but I wasn’t like, I like I said, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I didn’t understand the, the nature of the spirit and understand how much you need to respect the spirits and this medicine. It won’t work if you don’t respect it. And it can be dangerous. 

But no, it just kicked it off in me. I mean, of course they told me to, but I was going to go back to smoking weed as soon as I possibly could, and I couldn’t. And that didn’t stick with the ayahuasca. It did later on. And I do not, like can’t, I physically cannot smoke weed anymore.

Jon Reiss

Really? 

Vera Sola 

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

Interesting. 

Vera Sola

That was after my –  

Jon Reiss

Well, we’ll get there. 

 Vera Sola

 We’ll get to that. 

Jon Reiss 

We’ll get to that. Yeah. So then what kind of healing did you think the physical healing did you think the ayahuasca had on you? 

Vera Sola 

So, I think that I needed to, but I mean, I’ve grown up in a family that obviously believes in the other side, the other world, but there is a deep skepticism in me. And I think that there was, like I said, a blockage that prevented me from really being able to engage with this stuff because I came into this world with a lot of trauma, karmic past lives, even just in the family that I was born in. And so, I didn’t have a connection to the Divine. I didn’t really believe in God. I was blocked off from that. And so, I think that the medicine knew that even though I wasn’t ready to hold what I would see in the future, that it kind of needed to show me something pretty dramatic in order to get me to buy in. 

And so, at this point in my life, this was before heading to Ecuador, I had this really strange, it was like a blister on my foot, like a wound on my foot that wouldn’t heal. Really mysterious, doctor didn’t know what it was. I was going to the podiatrist and getting all of these light treatments and laser treatments, and I was going weekly, and it just wasn’t healing. It almost, it felt like a curse of some kind.

I mean, I don’t know that it was that, but that’s what it felt like. And I went to the doctor and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in Ecuador for a month. I’m not going to be able to come for my treatments’. And he said, ‘That’s a really bad idea. This is exactly where you shouldn’t be going. You’re going to be in like wet boots. You won’t have access to showers in the same way. You’re like not necessarily clean water. This is not a good idea’. I was like, ‘I just need to go’. 

So, I went and after the first ceremony, nothing happening, no purging, absolutely nothing until everybody else had gotten up and went to bed. And then I puked my brains out and was sort of like hunched over in the mud looking at all of these bugs and thinking, what the hell?

Jon Reiss

Oh so not in the ceremony? 

Vera Sola 

I mean, I was in the ceremony. Everybody else was out of the ceremony. I mean, the shaman had gone to bed ages ago and I was just like kind of outside crawling around. I woke up the next day and I was like, I’m never doing that again. That was awful. And I don’t know what you all are talking about.

And then when we came around to the next ceremony, I was like, I think I’m going to step out. I’m not going to sit. And the shaman said, who was a really wonderful soul, he said, ‘She will be gentle with you. She knows what you need.’ And he served me the medicine once again. I didn’t see anything, but it was very gentle, and I felt held. And the next day I went down to the river and I was washing my feet, and the scar – 

Jon Reiss 

This is after the second ceremony? 

Vera Sola

The second ceremony. 

Jon Reiss 

Right.

Vera Sola 

I was washing my body in the river and the scar tissue, and the wound just peeled off and revealed pink skin on my foot. And I have never had that weird, creepy sore again.

And I went back to my doctor in New York afterward and like, put my foot up on the table and said, check it out. And he was totally stunned. And he said, who? Where did you? Who? What is this? And I said, ‘It was a doctor in the Amazon’. And he said, ‘I hope to see him at the next Nobel Prize ceremony’.

Jon Reiss

That’s amazing. 

Vera Sola 

Amazing. Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

You didn’t mention that you had taken ayahuasca to him? 

Vera Sola

I think I just said a doctor. I don’t think I mentioned this was also I mean, it was starting to, people were starting to do it, but it wasn’t as common as it is now. I mean, this is like ten years ago now. 

Jon Reiss 

Right. 

Vera Sola 

And I don’t think I would have felt comfortable saying that. But I definitely said a doctor, right? 

Jon Reiss

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Well, all kinds of doctors in the world. 

Vera Sola 

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

And then so who was that, how many other nights did you, were you there for? 

Vera Sola 

I think there was one more that was – I don’t even quite remember. 

Jon Reiss 

But you must have thought after that when you saw that happened and was like, oh my God. 

Vera Sola

Yes. I knew that something miraculous was, was happening. 

Jon Reiss 

Right. 

Vera Sola 

But was still not, that was just a seed that was planted, a seed of possibility really. 

Jon Reiss

And then did you go back to Ecuador again or?

Vera Sola

No. So I guess we should get into the, the bulk of my medicine work, which is that I think- 

Jon Reiss

But I think all of this is super fascinating. 

Vera Sola 

For sure. And, and important and when I think about my healing and awakening process, I think about it as kind of a wheel, and they’re all of these spokes on the wheel and, you know, it’s ayahuasca, there’s high dose mushrooms, there’s somatic work, there’s obviously years and years and years and years of therapy. And then at the center of the wheel is my work with iboga. 

Jon Reiss 

Right. 

Vera Sola 

Which is where the- 

Jon Reiss 

So it’s the somatic work before the ayahuasca?

Vera Sola 

No, in and amongst – No, before the ayahuasca it was really just kind of hardcore Western therapy.

Jon Reiss

Right.

Vera Sola

I mean I suffered from lifelong treatment-resistant clinical depression and PTSD and, you know, a co-morbid snake ball. And it –

Jon Reiss 

Does not sound nice. 

Vera Sola

It wasn’t. But I do think of it now, and this is I think that this is a testament to this work is that I think of it all as a blessing, because without that, I never would have come to these medicines that have allowed me to expand my consciousness and expand my capacity for life and living and loving.

Jon Reiss

Right. 

Vera Sola

Yeah. But yeah, I think about it as, you know, these spokes on a wheel, and at the center is iboga, which is my guiding spirit and the medicine with which I have experienced true, and I say this often, true biblical level miracles with regard to physical healing and emotional healing- 

Jon Reiss 

And then your creativity. 

Vera Sola

And my creativity capacities for creativity, because it’s what gave me my singing voice and my musicality. Yeah.

Jon Reiss

So, heading into this. So then just because I’m curious about your journey and like after the ayahuasca, what was the next? 

Vera Sola

So, all of this for me, is, it – it feels, I mean, my healing path has been non-linear, but the path to iboga was kind of step by step. The woman who I went to Ecuador with ended up running into her at a Standing Rock protest in 2016 and she said, I’ve just worked with this medicine, and I really think that you need to sit with it.

And I had no idea what it was. I reached out to these people shortly after and booked into a ceremony in 27, early 2017, February 19. 

Jon Reiss 

So is that when because you, one of the things I found fascinating is you said you were called to it. 

Vera Sola 

Yes. I didn’t know it at the time, but there have been moments throughout my life where I’ve felt that this, this specific medicine has been with me, even if I had never taken it and didn’t even know what it was.

I think the most profound was that I had an accidental overdose when I was a teenager. The last thing that I saw was this very very strange vision that was unlike anything that I’d ever seen. I’ve never had visions, right, like I’ve never had a psychedelic experience, really, but I had this very specific vision in this very specific style as I was passing out from, from taking these drugs. And in later years came to realize, I believe that that was the spirit of iboga with me. Because it was so strange and so specific.

And for me, the onset of the visions they look, it’s just so stylized. It’s this sort of analog, pastel, animated, flickering when they first come on for me, I mean, then it gets into HD, really wild. But this initial, the initial onset of the visions for me once I started seeing them was this very specific thing that I then realized after working with the medicine, it was that I’d seen that when I was a child. And I think it came to me to be like, no or not, it’s not your time. 

Jon Reiss 

So then, so you book this session in 2017. How did you know where to book it? 

Vera Sola

She told me to go to the people who she had gone to. They since they’re not working anymore, I think that they’ve been. It wasn’t a responsible container. And that’s the most, one of the most important things that I can share about this medicine is it is so incredibly potent and so incredibly magical and miraculous and beyond any words that I can share about it. But it’s also dangerous. And it’s dangerous physically, you know, there are cardiac risks, and it can be very dangerous spiritually. And it’s really, really, really important that this is not entered into lightly.

I entered into it lightly, and I was very lucky that I didn’t suffer any, any consequences from it, which I do believe is just a – it has something to do with the constitution of my soul and my connection to the medicine. I believe that I had to come to it in that way, but I do not recommend it.

I barely even knew its name. I was definitely not. Like I said, I mean, I’d been smoking weed after the ayahuasca. I wasn’t adhering to these very strict protocols that you must adhere to in order to be safe. 

Jon Reiss

So didn’t they prep you or you just ignored the preparation? 

Vera Sola

They didn’t really prep. These people were not, they were not as conscientious as you have to be.

Jon Reiss

Right. 

Vera Sola

In later years, when I went back to it, I prepped stringently. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah. 

Vera Sola

Because you are entering into other realms. And you are opening the doors to a lot. 

Jon Reiss

And it’s interesting that a lot of people don’t, and what I, one of the things I find fascinating about plant medicine is that there is this cross between plant medicine and what most people refer to as the paranormal and even getting into what people refer to as UFOs in a sense.

And I think even within the UFO or the impossible community now, as it’s referred to, there’s this understanding of a confluence at least between paranormal and UFOs. But I think there’s also, you know, that it’s all one kind of not one, but it’s a spectrum of experiences. 

Vera Sola

For sure. And I’ve seen that. It’s shown me, iboga specifically, has shown me this grid for me to be able to slot in these things, you know, whether it’s spirits, demons, angels, UFOs, all sorts of things. And I’ve had actual – I’ve seen UFOs when with the medicine, like in the sky. 

Jon Reiss 

Well since we’re talking about because I other people have talked about what, what do you feel and did you get a sense of what those UFOs were? 

Vera Sola 

I didn’t really get a sense of what the ones that I saw were. I mean, I think that there’s so much beyond our understanding.

There are some people who think that it’s us from the future, coming back to take a look. I think that there are just loads and loads of inter-dimensional beings and there are all sorts of things and they’re beyond my capacity to describe or understand. 

Jon Reiss 

Right. And they’re part of that. 

Vera Sola

Yes, sure. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah. Yeah. 

Vera Sola 

You know, I come from a family where we, my dad believes in like nuts and bolts craft that crash and all of that stuff. And I think there’s far less of that than there is actual, just like, you know, energetic beings that that come in and out, zip in and out. 

Jon Reiss

I kind of like when I read Jacque Vilet for the first time and who’s that big UFO person. He’s like the French guy in Close Encounters. It’s based on him, and he doesn’t feel like they fly from other planets, like he feels they’re part of our current, that they’re just part of it and pop out, you know?

Vera Sola

I mean, that was my certainly when I saw this thing in the sky during one of my iboga ceremonies, we were outside. I was in my blindfold because, for iboga, you don’t really see things as you do with ayahuasca. You don’t open your eyes and see the hallucinations outside. It’s a oneirogen, which means it’s like a dream, dreamlike visions.

When you open your eyes, you know where you are, you’re rooted, you’re not shot out to space. So, you know you’re in the blindfold and it’s a very internal experience. And I was witnessing this grid, as I’ve described to you, and angels and all sorts of things. And these UFOs zipping around in it. And I got the message from the medicine to take my blindfold off.

And I removed my blindfold, and I was looking out over the ocean and there was this white orb. And I called to the, the doctor who was facilitating. I was like, hey, man, hey, come over here. Come over here, like, is that a UFO? And we looked at it for like a minute and he was like, yeah, that’s what that is the UFO.

And then it blinked, disappeared, blinked back, and disappeared again. And so I think that there was, they kind of, used the frequency of the medicine to be like. Hey here we are. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Vera Sola 

And I didn’t get any profound message from that. It was just like that. 

Jon Reiss

Well, that’s enough of a message. 

Vera Sola

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

So. Okay, so you’re in this place. Container is not great. You survived. So how many sessions did you do there? 

Vera Sola

So that was two nights. I was mostly entirely blacked out for that time with a crippling headache. And it was similar to the ayahuasca experience in the sense that I didn’t really see anything during the ceremony. I saw two very specific visions, had this one very specific auditory hallucination, and then I left. 

I mean, it was just excruciating, it was painful, it was dark, it was long. And I left there, and I’d gone in hoping to, really my intention going in, had nothing to do with me. It was to fix and heal my relationship with my partner at the time. And I thought, we’re going to go in and do this plant medicine and it’s going to uh it’s going to fix us and we’re going to get married and everything’s going to be great.

Jon Reiss

I know most people think of iboga for that purpose. 

Vera Sola 

Yeah, I didn’t know what iboga was. 

Jon Reiss 

Maybe like a little MDMA for that. 

Vera Sola 

And this was I mean, this is like, it’s classic. It’s very on-brand for me. It’s like, go into the darkest place and expect, expect the impossible. What it did do – so it did not – we did not get married. It split us up almost immediately. 

And the reason that it did so was because I needed to make music. And this is where it comes around to my creative awakening, which was that I’d been playing in his band as a bass player, but not really playing music. I sort of learned the bass to play with him because I loved him, and he asked me to.

He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, but I always wanted to be a musician. I always wanted to be a singer. I had dreamed of singing since I was a child and never did it. I was terrified and never thought of myself as a person who could write songs or make music. I tried to play guitar and it was, like, I just gave up. Every time I tried; I would give up. 

And I came out of the ceremony and the message was so clear that I needed to make what I thought would be an EP. So, a short – a couple of songs I needed to go into the studio and record and if I had stayed with my partner at the time, I would have only ever served his music. And I also was just so wrapped up in him I couldn’t see myself. 

So, I went into the studio. I booked it, I booked it with a friend of mine in Saint Louis, intended to go in and make like two or three songs, just me and the guitar. And I walked up to the microphone and I opened my mouth and a voice came out of me that I did not have before. And I had skills on the guitar that I did not have before. And- 

Jon Reiss

Were you just like looking at your hands going, What’s happening here? 

Vera Sola 

Yeah. And I, and that still happens to me. I have a crazy, over time I’ve had to really learn what I did there, what I really channeled in that recording session.

And I still look down at my hands and I’m like, how is this happening? Because they go really fast now. Yeah, I went in, and I ended up making this sprawling insane record. I made every sound on it myself. I did it entirely on my own. Aside from the engineer who was there recording it all. And out of that came a career in music. And my partner at the time is now my best friend. He is going to be playing bass in my band in this beautiful turning of tables. 

Jon Reiss 

That’s amazing. 

Vera Sola 

And that was the first gift of iboga was my music. 

Jon Reiss

So even in that not great container. Not great, you know, blacked-out experience. Spirit must have been really working on you. 

Vera Sola 

Absolutely. 

Jon Reiss 

On a deep level. 

Vera Sola

Absolutely. And I do believe that in my case and this is a, there’s a great caveat here, which is this is not for everyone.

This medicine is not for everyone. And this experience, this is not how everyone’s experience would go. I needed to come to it from that place of unknowing. I needed to come to it because I don’t think I would if I had known, I wouldn’t have gone in. And if I had known what we’re supposed to do, I couldn’t have gone in because I was like smoking all this weed and like, doing all of this stuff that would have been extreme, was exceedingly dangerous to mix with the, with the iboga.

And I’ve since made amends with the spirit. I have apologized frequently for that. But that also, that was just the beginning of this, this journey with it, which has continued to enrich my life and heal me profoundly. I mean, after that, I ended up stumbling into a music career and going on the road and touring this record and in many ways sort of lost my connection to what had given me this gift. And still, like I said, I wasn’t fully able to experience the medicine then because I was still super blocked.

And it wasn’t until almost five years later to the day that the medicine reentered my life, and it was from there that I’ve come to the place that I am now. 

Jon Reiss 

So is five years after that first experience- 

Vera Sola

After that first experience, I’d gone through a really dark depression after touring this record and sort of lost myself and lost my, my very tenuous, thin spider-like thread of a connection to the medicine.

And I ended up doing a number of knowing that plant medicine worked very well for me. I ended up doing a number of high-dose mushroom journeys. Which cracked me open again in a new way and prepared me to return to iboga in a clean, centered, grounded way and- 

Jon Reiss 

So, when you say high-dose mushroom journeys, that’s like how much?

Vera Sola

Between five and eight grams. 

Jon Reiss

Wow. 

Vera Sola 

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

Those are. That’s quite a hero there. You know. Wow. And how many of those did you do? 

Vera Sola

I did three sessions with wonderful facilitators. A very strong container. And it just so happened when I first, I came to them through my sister, who works adjacent to the psychedelic industry, and I came to her and I was like, man, I’m really not well and I really need help.

And through this beautiful, synchronistic confluence of events, she had just met these people. I called them up for my intake. They asked me what my experience with psychedelics was, and I was like, well, yeah, and you worked with iboga and they were like, Are you kidding? Like, that is it turns out that that was their primary medicine as well and that they’re both initiates.

And they were like, are you here for iboga? And I was like, hell no. Like, absolutely not. I mean-

Jon Reiss 

Why did you, why did you- 

Vera Sola 

Because I wasn’t ready yet. I knew that I wasn’t ready yet. I’d had a brutal experience that time before. And so, I went in, and I did these, these three mushroom journeys, which really opened me up to the spirit of iboga in a new way where I could really see the work that I needed to do when I returned to it.

Jon Reiss

What were those experiences like? 

Vera Sola 

The mushrooms? 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah. 

Vera Sola

Varied and unbelievable, really. Mostly doing physical healing on myself or laying the groundwork for the physical healing that the iboga would do. Clearing out a lot of substances in my body. I’d become really dependent on Klonopin. And so, I was clearing that out of my system to prepare myself for the mushrooms.

But it really was the mushroom journeys that opened up my spiritual center. It gave me my first mushroom journey, gave me this breath exercise and after I came out of it, I realized that that was a way to connect to whatever you want to call it. My higher self, my intuition, the spirit of the medicine, what have you.

Jon Reiss

And that just came to you, or did you learn that from someone? 

Vera Sola

No, no, no. It just came to me. It came to me from the medicine. I believe it was a remembering something that I’ve known from the past but, what it did was that I then had that breathing exercise to anchor me in between ceremonies, and to anchor me as a way to go into a trance, to then really receive messages that would prepare me for the work that I needed to do.

So, the most profound was that I, alongside my lifelong depression, I suffered from debilitating, truly disabling endometriosis from the time of my first period. My very first period landed me in the hospital. 

Jon Reiss 

Wow. 

Vera Sola 

Every year after that, I was in the hospital. In 2019, my gynecologist said, you can’t have a period anymore. And they gave me birth control and stopped my period entirely.

And in this breathing exercise, at one point I got this message that said, you need to get your period back. My first response was absolutely not. I’ve been told that I can’t have it. It’s extremely painful. It lands me in the hospital. It’s causing a lot of turmoil for my family and loved ones because they have to see me go into the hospital with this.

And, you know, I hadn’t been hospitalized, but I wasn’t well, like stopping my period didn’t make me better. It just kind of squashed the symptoms. I had actually made, I’d said to myself that week, like, I will listen to and try to follow all of the messages that I receive and see what happens. And obviously nothing like kill, kill, kill or anything like that.

But like, open yourself up to this. Maybe you should try this, whatever. And so, what I was told was, you get your period back, you got to see this doctor to get acupuncture and the rest will be taken care of. And this was three months before what would be my first iboga ceremony following 2017. So, this is 2022 and I ended up following the instructions. I went off of the birth control, I did the acupuncture. And then- 

Jon Reiss 

Who told you about the acupuncture? Was that also in- 

Vera Sola 

Me? I don’t know. My guides, but my intuition- 

Jon Reiss

The name and the phone number and-

Vera Sola 

It was someone who I’d worked with like 15 years in the past. So, I knew about it. But it was, it was a weird one. It wasn’t someone who was in my orbit, really, or that I’d thought about in a really long time, but it was like, this is the person that you go to, and she will understand. 

At some point during these mushroom journeys, it was decided that I would return to iboga. So, there was a ceremony booked for June. And I arrive in June – and one thing about iboga that I forgot to mention is I mean in a very limited way to describe it is it’s, there’s a fertility cult aspect to it. There were red and white to symbolize the blood and the sperm. And it’s well known for working on fertility issues and working with people who have not been able to give birth.

And so, you wear white going into the ceremony. I was in my white it’s the night before the ceremony and I started to bleed, and I bleed bright red blood all the way through the ceremony, all over my white clothes. 

Jon Reiss 

For how long? How long was the ceremony? 

Vera Sola 

I mean, the container itself is about five days. You sit with the medicine, two days with the night in between or two nights with the night in between. But I bled for three days. 

Jon Reiss

Wow. 

Vera Sola

Blood and blood and blood. And it was bright red. And I have had a regular period with no pain every month since on the dot. That’s 30 days. 

Jon Reiss 

Wow. And so, did you go back to your doctor who is treating you for endometriosis? After all this? 

Vera Sola

Honestly, I didn’t. I didn’t. I was, I, I mean, I guess I could, I should return, return to her, but I switched doctors. I was like I don’t, like, I guess I didn’t even really want that energy anymore. 

Jon Reiss

Right. And do you feel like the endometriosis is completely gone? 

Vera Sola

It’s gone. Yeah, it’s absolutely gone. And that is a miracle. And it showed me in this ceremony I, I had a wild, gorgeous, deep visual experience, expansive visual experience.

It took me all over the place. And one of the places that it took me, it took me into my mother’s womb, into my grandmother’s womb, my great-grandmother’s womb, and showed me the trauma that had been held in there and this sense of unsafety in the womb that had been passed down from generations, and how we had lost that connection to the beauty and the sacrament of bleeding.

And it also showed me the, one of the most beautiful visions, and talk about the miracle of life and the miracle of the fact that we can even give birth in the way that all of this happens, the way that the sperm meets the egg, and there’s a spark of life. It showed me all of that. And then it showed me this cross-section of the animal kingdom, like as in a massive tableau that you would see in the Louvre or something.

And there were, you know, two by two all of these animals and the females had their bodies bisected and you could see the babies in their bellies. I had never seen the web of life in such a way and how it really did want to show me that we are all connected, and we are, you know, all one, as they say.

But specifically, with regard to the miracle of birth and this portal that we hold within us, that we really take for granted as women, and that we are told is sickness and is pathologized, like the cycle of menstruation is really pathologized in the Western culture. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah, might have something to do with that most doctors, for the longest time, or all doctors were men.

Vera Sola

Yeah. Yeah. At least since they took over from, from the witches. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah. Yes. Yeah. When rationalized science came in. 

Vera Sola 

Yeah. And that also goes I mean, that’s where you can also demarcate the disconnection from plants, right? Because what are witches? It’s just women who work with plants, you know. 

Jon Reiss 

Right. Maybe a few. Well, toadstools. 

Vera Sola 

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

Little fungi. 

Vera Sola 

Yeah, a little fungi.

Jon Reiss

Yeah, maybe a rat’s tale. 

Vera Sola 

Yes. But really, it’s like it was herbalists that they were afraid of. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah, Yeah, exactly. And so, what was that unsafe feeling in your women? Ancestors? Female ancestors? 

Vera Sola

I mean, I think that there was a lot of repression, a lot of repression of the wild and sacred femininity, especially in my mom’s side, you know, Southern Baptists. A repression of sexuality, of sensuality. But then just of this, this wonder that we hold. And it was this story that was passed down, which is periods are painful. And then, of course, there’s like generations of sexual trauma because that’s what we suffer from as women. And I had my own sexual trauma in my life that I had to reckon with that certainly compounded everything going on. Yeah. 

Jon Reiss

Yeah, no, that makes sense. And then the other thing is one of the things I’ve heard from talking to people about iboga is like you saw the past, but it also kind of shows you past, present, future in a sense that it has that capability, not for everyone, but did you feel like-

Vera Sola

Yeah, I feel like it showed me a lot of things. How can I describe- I mean, it gave me a quick tour of, of the universe and of the evolution of man and the evolution of life on this planet, and then took me far beyond.

Jon Reiss 

Did it indicate there’s any hope for how we’re destroying the planet currently, is there? 

Vera Sola 

Absolutely. 

Jon Reiss 

That’s good to know. 

Vera Sola

Absolutely. I mean, look, we have a lot of fucking work to do. And this is not, this is not to say that one can be lackadaisical, and one can just sit back and let things destroy, let us destroy each other and let us blow things up. But this is all part of a grander cycle that we cannot possibly understand. And, you know, if you read the Vedas and you go back into all of these texts, there’s the Yuga’s 26,000 years cycles.

And I do believe that we’re in the process, however horrible it seems right now, I believe that we’re in the process of being shaken awake. 

Jon Reiss 

Right, slowly coming out of it. 

Vera Sola

Slowly coming out of it. Yeah. And that means that there will be tremendous darkness. But I think that what you learn from these medicines, what I have learned from these medicines, is that by delving into the darkness and looking at it and holding space for it, that’s where we find the most light.

And that’s certainly what iboga is all about. I mean, I know people who talk about working with this medicine and there’s like a definitely a Dantean theme that runs through it if you’re not ready to go on that journey into the mouth of hell in Dante’s Inferno, where is the portal to heaven? In the mouth of Satan. You have to go through the mouth of Satan. And then how does it end? And we came forth and once again, behold the stars. You have to go through that tunnel. 

And that’s kind of, I mean, I’m still I’ve still got many dark holes to head down. But the wonder of all of this is that having really sat with my darkness, rather than repressing it and pretending that it doesn’t exist, I’m able to really see the world through the eyes of a child, I think now, and this wonder and miracle, I mean, I am astounded daily by the miracle of existence, of creation, and it’s like, man, just everything. Trees and ants and leaves and sky and birds and- 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah, that’s amazing because people have commented that, like plant medicine can help you go back to being able to see the world in that way. And it’s yeah, I haven’t fully gotten there. I have my glimpses of it. But people talk about how, you know, children can see so much and then through language and through other processes and socialization and education, they lose that ability. And it seems like this is something that helps open it up again. 

Vera Sola

I think so. I know so for myself. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah. 

Vera Sola

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss

So, you had these amazing visions and what it allowed you to do is see things that, I kind of believe and many people believe, exist within our reality. We just can’t see them because we have limited senses. So would you feel like you’re able now since then to be able to tap in, you can see you have a greater spectrum of seeing, in a sense. 

Vera Sola

Absolutely. I mean, I also, I come from a family where that’s in my bloodline, these sort of extrasensory perceptions. Like as a kid, I would see ghosts specifically through cameras. I have all of these photographs of spirit photos which are not just like orbs, like I’m talking like fucking apparitions and photos and sort of portal jumping and all of that. That’s in my bloodline. 

So, I did always have that capacity, but through general dulling down of my senses and self, I really had lost that. And my family was so much about anthropomorphic spirits, so like ghosts, human ghosts. But since working with these medicines, I am now open to the spirits that are all around us all the time.

So, every tree has a spirit, every flower has a spirit. I’m – I consider myself an animist, so I believe even rocks and rivers have spirits. But even if you don’t want to go that far like these, what they call master plants, are not the only ones with the consciousness. We’re starting to learn that through like incredible books like The Hidden – Hidden Life of Trees, I think it’s called or Entangled Life about Mushrooms. The Mother Tree is another one. These fantastic books that are really showing you the consciousness and the community that the plants have. 

And so, I’m definitely more tapped into that and then tapped into other realms as well without plant medicine. And I do believe that everybody can do that. You just have to learn your language of how you perceive, and you have to be really clear, you know?

Jon Reiss

Right. How is this affected your creativity – like so the first session opened you up. And you created the first album. So how have the second and third sessions affected your creativity? 

Vera Sola 

So, in the interim between those two chapters, as I would look at it of my experience, I made another record in that really, really dark period which is the one that’s coming out now.

When I returned to the medicine, I, one of the main questions that I asked was, Do I release this? Can I release this? Is this wise to go back? Because I’ve done so much healing, I’ve become a completely different person than the person that I was before I began this journey. And the answer was an unequivocal yes, that it was really important for me to give birth to this piece of art and that within it, it would allow me to transmute these difficult emotions and hopefully pass that capacity on to other people, the capacity to hold sacred rage and grief and make space for them in a healthy way that then could be transmuted into art, into light, into new space.

And so, I definitely feel like my work is more intentional, for sure. I mean, I’m still processing a lot. I still like, throughout all of this, like you don’t become inhuman. You still have grief and frustration. The one thing that this did for me more than anything, at one point after a medicine journey, I got this message that said your resentment is gone. And I had all these people that I was resentful towards for various unforgivable things that they had done to me, truly like unforgivable. And I just let it go. In this one breath, it was like I let go of this resentment and I was flooded with forgiveness. And that has given me such a new space to create from. 

Because resentment holds, it’s so heavy and it takes up so much space and so much mental space and heart space that that was a major clearing. And so, I think that I’m – I’m really able to be more intentional with my art and with my words and have more joy, like generally just far more joy. The music that I want to make from now on still goes into heavy things because that’s part of my work on this earth, is to dive into the darkness, and that’s part of what I do with my music.

But to bring a balance of joy into that. And love. You know, I grew up my mom’s Southern Baptist, my father’s side of the family, sort of like Roman Catholic and Anglican. My grandfather was a theologian in many ways, and I grew up with religion around obviously in not a super religious family. But I went to Catholic school and surrounded by Christianity, but I didn’t really know what it was or like the actual core of it aside from the religious dogma. 

And iboga gave me the experience of the Christ consciousness, like truly what they call the Christ, not Jesus, but the Christ, which is this, this love and understanding for all of creation, just all-encompassing love that I could feel vibrating out of my heart and expanding to everyone and everything, including those people who had hurt me and including those people who are committing unimaginable atrocities.

I move in a far more compassionate way because of that and a far more understanding when with far more ease. And so, of course, that translates into my art. And I’m still giving birth to this record right now, but I’m really excited for what, what’s to come next. 

Jon Reiss 

One of the things that struck me when you said giving birth to your album, and iboga being a fertility-

Vera Sola

Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

That it’s not just necessarily biological fertility and creation, but artistic. 

Vera Sola

For sure. I mean, there’s a reason why it’s – we use that same word creation, right? I mean, we’re all put on Earth to be creators, like with our art, I believe that we’re bringing new life into this world. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah. And then the other thing, so, I mean, it sounds amazing, and it’s like every time I talk to someone who’s done iboga, it’s like, okay, when am I doing iboga?

Vera Sola

Yeah.

Jon Reiss 

But I know I think I have some more work to do before getting there. Because I know it’s super intense. And what do you recommend for people who are inspired to start on this journey and how people should find the right person and what kind of questions they should ask – you feel just from your perspective?

Vera Sola

From my perspective, you want to make sure the primary thing is you want to make sure that A, that you are healthy enough to go into it. I mean, like I do believe that it has the capacity to heal almost anything, but you do need to be strong enough to be able to hold it. So, you want to proceed with extreme caution with iboga specifically, I mean, with all psychedelics, but specifically with iboga, you want to make sure that you are strong enough, you are ready to dive into the most difficult, painful parts of your life. 

Because of course I’m talking about all of this wonder and miracle. But I did have to go through like deep, deep, painful, excruciating memories. I mean, there was one moment where it was just throwing down, it was like Polaroids of all of the worst times in my life, just like, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. So, I could see them finally, I actually was like, can you please just stop? And I said, okay. And then like, took me somewhere else. 

But you really have to be ready. Your, your spirit has to be ready for that psychologically. You have to be ready. You have to make sure that you have a safe and supported place to return to. Integration is like obviously the most important thing of all of this, but especially with iboga, the integration period is like a year. So, you want to make sure that you’re going to actually do the work, ready to do the work that it tells you to do, because it can give you some really tough homework and it can tell you things that you might not want to hear. It can, like, truly blow up your life, which you need to do in order to rebuild, right? 

Jon Reiss 

Who did you do your integration with? Because that was actually something else I wanted to ask you. 

Vera Sola 

Partially – with the people that I worked with. They offered a few integration sessions and then I also worked with a separate psychedelic informed integration specialist. But also, just myself.

I’m like, I’m a poster child for how wonderfully it can go because I had this scaffold of therapy of you know, I’d done 12-step programs, so I had this scaffold to slot this information into, really, and then a support network. So that’s really important. But then also physically with iboga, you have to make sure that the people who are doing – this is different from ibogaine. So, we won’t get into that. But ibogaine is separate – it’s from iboga, but it’s a separate substance. In a separate deal with iboga, you have to make sure that the people are going to give you an EKG. 

They have to check all of the medications that you’re on because there are so many medications that interact with it. You want to ask how many people are going to be there, how many people are going to be holding space, obviously, where it’s going to be. And then even more important than that is what is their lineage, who did they train with, and what clearances were they given to be able to administer this medicine? That’s really, really important. Where did they initiate and are they actually trained by a master to be able to give this? Because you need the lineage, the protection of the lineage to go into this. Yeah. 

Jon Reiss 

Yeah, yeah. So last question, what’s in your future and then in the near future? 

Vera Sola 

So much, and I have no idea what but- 

Jon Reiss

Perfect answer. 

Vera Sola 

Yeah, a lot. I mean, I’m releasing this record, I’ve made a deal with myself and with the medicine that I would follow through with this process, with this record. So, it comes out February 2nd. It’s called Peacemaker, which is a name that was given to me by the medicine as my performing name. And we’ll see what happens there. And then, you know, constant, constant self-work, just digging down into the trenches and coming up into the stars.

Jon Reiss

Right. And where can, do you have a website? 

Vera Sola

 www.verasola.com  

Jon Reiss 

Great. Well, thank you so much for being with us today. 

Vera Sola

Thank you.

Jon Reiss 

This is amazing. Really grateful to you and being able to share that with so many people, so. 

Vera Sola 

Thank you very much.