Every single time I post anything about datura I get at least one message or comment either warning me of the dangers of datura or asking me to give directions on tripping with her. I’ve shared about lots of poisonous plants - foxglove, belladonna, henbane, hellebore, mandrake, bittersweet nightshade, aconite… none of these seem to inspire the amount of interest and/or concern that datura does. I believe that datura is a plant that really wants to work with us humans. So what do we need to understand to best work with her?
First of all, datura can be a dangerous plant! When used improperly she can cause terrifying hallucinations that last for days, the loss of bladder and bowel control, respiratory arrest, central nervous system depression, temporary blurred or lost vision, and in rare cases coma, seizure, or death. However, most datura related deaths are the result of poor judgement and loss of coordination resulting in accidental death.
But when used properly… ah! She can be the most sweet, supportive, opening, transformative, loving presence. She is a plant that has the power to change your life for the better. To me she always feels like a wise grandmother - wrapping me up in her soft arms while still teaching me tough lessons with firm, loving boundaries.
You should wear gloves when harvesting, weeding, or transplanting datura.
You should never ingest or smoke. Even if you are under the guidance of someone with many years of experience doing so, someone who is in a long lineage of this kind of worship, I would be cautious. Ask yourself, why do I want to ingest or smoke this plant when there are other options that are 100% safe? Many times you will find that it is a desire to build ego identity or it may be stemming from a belief that healing has to be heroic, difficult, or painful. Most of the time it seems to be a desire to get high under the guise of spiritual practice. This is not to say that all who ingest are doing this, but it is certainly something to be aware of! Becoming aware of these shadows sides of plant work is difficult and there can often be many barriers to seeing them, which is why I recommend a minimum of 5 years of devotion and connection to a poisonous plant before you even consider ingestion. And even then, wait for the invitation from the plant, not the other way around. And even then, ask yourself the question, why, again.
Datura should ALWAYS be approached in reverence. I have never had a negative experience working with her, which I believe comes from the deep respect I have for her power and wisdom and always doing my best to listen to what she is telling me. I initially approached her with a big dose of healthy fear. I honestly didn't want to work with her because I knew what she was capable of. But alas, her call continued to pull me towards her. Don’t rush a relationship with her. Let her come to you.
Please don’t ever treat datura as a cheap, easy way to have a trip - I can almost guarantee it won’t be pleasant when approached this way. It is a sacred plant in the deepest meaning of the word and should be treated as such.
The safest (yet still extremely powerful) ways to work with her are through flower essences, plant spirit medicine, and just sitting in her presence. You can ask her to visit you in your dreams too. Topical ointments from a trusted source are another safe source of connection.
Ideally, we should be approaching ALL plants with this kind of respect. The plants that want to work with us will seek us out. We don’t need to go looking for them. If you want to build a relationship with a plant, treat them the same way you would treat a person you wanted to enter into a partnership with. Ask them if they want to work with you, respect their boundaries, listen when they say no, be kind and loving, and work towards quieting the mind enough to really hear what they are saying. Ask before you harvest, ask before you take in their medicine. Having a mindfulness practice is probably the most important and useful tool to have in your plant medicine arsenal.
If you want to drop more deeply into datura wisdom, check out week 3 of my Poisonous Plant Medicine course