Witchy Wednesday: My study of Datura

Datura flower

My Datura plant Summer 2012

Last year I said I was going to blog about what’s going on in my garden, but then I got busy with the garden and didn’t get around to talking about it.  The suburban yard has a bunch of herbs that are useful for healing and witchcraft growing every year like a few lavenders, bee balm, Echinacea (native), wild roses, foxglove, angelica, but last year there was a new edition.  A surprise edition to the garden even: not by my doing Datura sprung up.  First it came up underneath the deck with the ferns, then it moved over by the  basement doors into the foxglove and wild roses bed.  Despite the heat and drought, it grew, and grew, and grew: until, it had taken over the foxglove bed and the underside of the deck stairs.
I took the plant’s proliferation in my garden as a sign and began working with it.  Before I talk about this part let me be clear, Datura is dangerous. I don’t recommend messing with it unless you have really done some research.  In other words, don’t try this at home: and if you do, I am not responsible for any illness or death that may occur.  You have been warned.

Now, the first thing I to do when something pops up in the garden and makes me go “What is this?” is identify the invader.  So okay: final growth of about four feet, herbaceous and somewhat woody, large white trumpet flowers, and “pointed” leaves.  I am not a botanist, despite having taken many botany classes while an undergrad, I don’t remember the scientific descriptions of leaves.  At first, I was a little unsure of the plant identification because once, years ago when I was a sophomore in college, I did attempt to grow what were marked “moonflowers.”  My mom had thought that’s what these were (like really, six years later they’re gonna come up?) BUT the “moonflowers” that I had planted were not Daturas and had heart-shaped leaves; these leaves were not heart-shaped.  The original moonflowers I planted were nontoxic, for the safety of the dogs.  I was pretty sure but if I had any doubt in August and September, the spiny “thorn apple” fruits appeared dangling down from the branches.  Once I identified it, I was thrilled.  I began studying the plant, taking pictures, and spending a lot of time just sitting by them and hanging out.  Getting to know plants is a difficult process to describe but, if you just hang out with them, you’ll be able to “know” them.

What is Datura like?  Well, Datura is a pretty mischievous plant.  It can be helpful, it certainly is powerful (Datura is a member of the Solanaceae family like Belladonna), and also somewhat dark.  Now, I am not a fan of saying “dark” is a bad thing but that’s the only way I can describe the plant’s energy.  It was pretty much a powerful, foreboding vibe; not that it did not want to be used but that I think inexperienced herbalists and witches, or those with spiritual struggles, may not want to venture into it.  Additionally, this plant does not want to be ingested, it has a very trickster aspect to it and I don’t get the feeling you should eat it. Traditionally, Datura has been used in love magick and in spirit work.  I can see both of these connections, to me at least, Datura seemed to have somewhat of a moon and otherworldly connection.  Love magick I think is interesting because the plant itself is very attractive, bewitching even – enchanting.  Based on this energy I can see why some would use it in a love spell but also want to point out here that the “dark” energy would make me hesitant to use it in this fashion.  In this case I feel like the plant would be saying “be careful what you wish for.”  I would almost certainly say if I were to use Datura in a love spell, I would utilize the flowers (which are also where highest concentrations of alkaloids are that and in the seeds).  I would also say, this plant is a sexy plant so the kind of “love” one might get from this energy may be more along the lines of obsession and lust than a more spiritual or companionship love.  This plant may be excellent for bewitching.

Native Americans may have used this plant in spiritual rituals to meet spiritual challenges and regarded it as a sacred plant.  It’s said they made a ritual drink from the leaves to give to pre-teen boys to spiritually prepare them for manhood; which is NOT safe and I wouldn’t suggest you, dear reader, try this.  Interesting to note that, I can see how this goes because yes, some boys died and I guess if you can’t take a little poison perhaps you are not spiritually strong enough for manhood.  So, the leaves I would use in spirit work. In this vein, the plant can also aid in shapeshifting as well.  Indeed, I did harvest some leaves and have used in them in incense blends (to be burnt outdoors only) and in worship.  I worship gods who have traditionally been associated with the use of mind altering substances so it seemed fitting to leave the leaves and flowers as offerings for Dionysos and Hecate (and Aphrodite got some too, but I can’t say I thought she cared for them really).  The pods are what I found most intriguing about the plant.  First of all, though the flowers were lovely there was something… magical about the way the heavy fruit hung from the branches.  The fruit’s energy was the “dark” aspect of the plant.  I find them excellent for powerful protective charms.  I also expect they may be wonderful to use in curses as well as they are… spiky.  The fruit are also very toxic so be careful when handling them.  That pretty much sums up my thoughts on my Datura – and I hope they come back this year!

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About Pixie

I'm just your average 20-something trying to figure it out. I am also a theologian, yogi, witch, pagan, dirty hippie, activist (progressive politics), feminist, knitter, environmentalist, and friend. I've also been accused of being a hipster - I am not sure about that. I am sometimes happy to be Gen Y (go Harry Potter) and most of the time confused (seriously guys... ) by everyone else. My hobbies including knitting (and maybe crochet), quilting, recycling, cooking, writing, reading, and biking. I'm finishing up a masters in public policy and when I worked worked in political nonprofits as an activist.
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