Why Moonflower? The power of Datura!

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This post is not encouraging you to consume Datura, but please do check out La Abeja Herbs’ essence (link below)!

My fascination with Datura, otherwise known as Moonflower or Jimson Weed, began in a Plants and People course I took in college. Mainly, we learned about plants that are used as ceremonial plants or pharmaceutical drugs and their active constituents. I remember hearing about Datura and the vivid and terrifying hallucinogenic visions it can give to someone who consumes it. How powerful plants can be and how we must show them the respect that they deserve. They have the power to heal, to kill, and to provide profound visions. Many modern medicines are formulated as synthetic replications of natural plant constituents.

Datura plant growing next to a building at Wild Willow Farm in San Diego

So why did I choose this plant as the name of my Etsy business and blog?

  • To me, Datura represents giving death to those things that no longer serve us. Datura gives us the power to let go and let the natural world take the wheel (used as an anesthetic).
  • Datura opens the door to your intuitive self and your creative side.
  • Every time I see the blooms, they take my breath away. They seem to have a very strong spirit or ghostly presence, I want to evoke this strength in my work.

Shortly after choosing this name, Datura popped up everywhere for me. I came across this flower essence from La Abeja Herbs and immediately purchased some to try. Not long after that, Sophia Rose, the owner of La Abeja Herbs, went on the Medicine Stories podcast and specifically spoke about the Datura essence (she sells many essences). I’d see posts all over Instagram with Datura. Then, when I went to San Diego for an herbal course with Ana Victoria and Damiana of La Tierra Buena Collective, Datura was growing around the farm. It felt right, like she was giving me permission to use her name. Mariee Sioux‘s song “Wild Eyes” opens the Medicine Stories podcast. I’ve listened to Mariee Sioux since maybe my senior year of high school, and she just recently put out a new album with Datura on the cover and began growing some herself. Datura is intoxicating, alluring, mysterious, and powerful! It’s hard not to fall in love with her blooms. I want what I put into the world to be just as mesmerizing.

Datura blossom at Wild Willow Farm in San Diego

I also think it’s important to mention that I currently live in California and many indigenous groups here have a relationship with Datura in ceremony and coming of age rituals. Chumash peoples’ rituals center around a this plant and its spirit, Momoy, a wise old grandmother. Consuming the Datura helped the youths to transition into adulthood by connecting them with a spirit guide. It’s also believed to grow in areas where there are portals to the realm of ancestors.

When I decided to study Anthropology, it was after reading many of Wade Davis’ books. One in particular called The Serpent and the Rainbow is an account of how Datura was used in Haiti to create vodoun zombies. Many historically and even still today think of third world countries and indigenous cultures as “primitive” and “underdeveloped,” however, there are profound and complex medicines and rituals found in all indigenous cultures throughout history. This knowledge is many times stolen and patented while those passing down this ancient wisdom are left without credit. Datura is a prime example of the power of these traditional medicines, and the epitome of why we should respect the earth, her people, and the rituals and cycles that unite us all.

I think Vandana Shiva says it best:

“I have called this phenomenon of stealing common knowledge and indigenous science “biopiracy” and “intellectual piracy.” According to patent systems we shouldn’t be able to patent what exists as “prior art.” But the United States patent system is somewhat perverted. First of all, it does not treat the prior art of other societies as “prior art.” Therefore anyone from the United States can travel to another country, find out about the use of a medicinal plant, or find a seed that farmers use, come back here, claim it as an invention or an innovation.”

To sum it up Datura, Moonflower, to me says: Power to the people, power to each of us as individuals, to continue in reverence for the earth and her medicines that sustain us and with respect to our ancestors and all future generations. โค๏ธ

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