The Sacred Datura





Summer Nights at home in Central Texas...

...some call them Moonflowers, but no, these are...

Back in 1936, out in the New Mexico Desert,

 Georgia O'Keeffe must have seen them too...


photograph by K. Niagra


1936- Georgia O'Keeffe standing in front of her painting

In fact Ms. O'Keeffe must have made an astute observation indeed!

She must have embraced this subject, worthy of her big bold style,

as the trumpet flowers unfurled throughout the night, revealing their structure and

 delicate detail... she was captivated by their beauty and she began to paint...

and through her paintings she gained knowledge.

A groundbreaking Modernist painter who digressed from realism to express her own visionary style. Raised in rural Wisconsin, which gave her a love of nature and formed the basis for her revolutionary artwork, O’Keefe is best known for flower paintings which made up a significant percentage of her work. Expressing what she felt, rather than what she had been taught, O’Keeffe painted enormous close-ups of flowers, transforming their contours into fascinating abstractions, and highlighting their importance in a manner that commanded attention. One of the most influential and innovative artists of the 20th century, O’Keeffe was the first woman to have her own exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  ©  


Jimson Weed. Oil on canvas by Georgia O'Keeffe

Like Ms. O'Keefe, the Dollmaker finds the Datura plants fascinating,

photographing them every time they bloom...

  every angle...


And Painting them!

One of the Dollmaker's paintings, in progress... 

Who could resist trying to paint the Pinwheel!


photos by K. Niagra

Unfurling quite rapidly just before dark,

they are pollinated by nocturnal visitors, usually the Hawk Moth.

That's a BIG Moth!

Painting by Kandra Niagra


Now for the rest of the story!

Spiritual and romantic, artistic, and beautiful to behold 

but poisonous to ingest!!!

(This is the Seedpod)

Why would anyone want to eat it?


"In Native American tribes of the Southwest,

as is often the case with tribes elsewhere, in rites of passage,

a young person coming of age would fast and pray for days in order to purify himself.

 In some cases, the initiate might be isolated or left in the wild alone.

At the appropriate time, a Medicine person (Shaman) or tribal spiritual elder

might accompany the initiate to a holy place, possibly a mountain top or cave,

and a tea would be made from a plant called Sacred Datura.

The individual would drink this tea and wait for visions, and the initiate,

[if he lived], would definitely have visions."

Link: Sacred Datura

The Indians knew that the idea was to get the visions without dying- they administered it along with other plants which would reduce the negative effects.

(check out the above link)


Not too many (white) people knew about this plant UNTIL

a fellow by the name of Carlos Castaneda started writing some books

about a Yaqui Indian Sorcerer named Don Juan, under whose tutelage

Mr. Castenada was encouraged to use Datura (otherwise known as Jimson weed),

in the Sorcerer's words:

 "to enlarge his vision of reality."

Casteneda reports that he became a Crow.




Well, that did it. After that, people got mad at Casteneda because of the mortality rate

 of college students migrating to the deserts of the Southwest,

where, unescorted by professionals

and in jubilant anticipation of a hallucination which would kick LSD's butt,

they triumphantly located and feasted upon

the Sacred Datura,

whereupon, the plants promptly killed them!

OOps! Not good. 

Well, not all of them died.  News coming from college:

 Johnny is in a coma somewhere near the Mexican border:

Yow! Didn't know THAT could happen!

None who ingested Datura escaped the experience of wild and violent agitation,

fall-down-drunk-style incoordination, unquenchable thirst and dryness of the mouth,

 temporary blindness, high fever,

and deliriously vivid scary hallucinations which lasted for days...

blessedly, they couldn't remember most of it.


Wait, but:

 "their vision of reality was enlarged!"

(Next time they might want to go with the Sacred Rattlesnake Bite...)


Okay, okay but  I ask you now-

What could be more irresistible than real-life Convulsions, Death and Sorcery! 

 Hollywood was all over it!

Out popped the movie:


 which even further implicated the Datura plant...

Now we find out that it's one of the ingredients Haitian Shamans use

 when they turn people into

(So THAT'S why Zombies stagger the way they do...)

(and the throat-clutching, due to extreme thirst- it all makes sense now!)

Link: Deliriant

Link: datura poisoning

Even touching the plant and then rubbing the eyes

can blur your vision for up to 48 hours.

The Dollmaker, fond as she is of Ordinary Reality,

doesn't cut, prune, fuss over or even touch Datura plants.


Working Policy: Leave them alone.

see image at:

However, while fully engaged in the process of leaving them alone,

the Dollmaker has quietly observed 

a  predator:

 The beautifully patterned ice-green Tomato Hornworm,

Who is, believe it or not, the Larvae of the Hawk Moth! (remember, the pollinator?)

(AND who actually bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar.... )

and who, all day long, consumes leaves potent with Datura toxins!



...we can only speculate as to whether the Hornworm dreams of flying....



Of COURSE the Hornworm dreams of flying!


"Jimson Weed" (1932) by Georgia O'Keefe 


Sacred Datura Plants

The Dollmaker will just stick to photographing and painting them!

A beautiful photograph of a Datura flower opening, by Jeri Cyzak


Kandra Niagra, Dollmaker

PO Box 326

Smithville, Texas 78957