The Dark Datura: A Visionary Adventure

Datura seed pod in winter

Say the word “Datura” to a knowledgeable forager and her eyes will grow wide; she may even shudder. Many tales are told about the powerful hallucinogen inside those spiny seed pods, and rarely are they anything but ominous. “Unprepared trippers often end their journeys in straitjackets,” wrote Daniel Pinchbeck in his book Breaking Open The Head.

Shadows swallowed the candlelit room my friend Wesley was sitting in, growing darker and darker, after he ate a pod and a half of the ground seeds many years ago. The air thickened. His body was heavy and walking felt like “swimming through the air.” His dry throat cried out for water but “it tasted so terrible I spit it out.” He gave up, sat back down on the couch with several friends and talked; they had conversations that went on for the whole six-hour trip. It was not until later that he realized, to his surprise, that he had been fading in and out of sleep by himself and they hadn’t really been there. “In retrospect, I realize I was seeing other entities that were present,” he said.

Now years into his studies of shamanic plant medicine, Wesley says he isn’t ready for round two. “It’s very easy for dark beings to get attached to you when you’re on Datura so I am interested in trying it in the future but I’m waiting until I feel better prepared at protecting myself to do so,” he said. “I want to exercise proper caution.”

In 1676, Datura sent some unwitting British soldiers into a stupor for 11 days, according to New York Times blogger Ava Chin.

Datura has been used as a weapon — fatal poison — according to Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel E. Moerman. Not all uses are dark, though: The Cahuilla have looked to Datura for assistance in magical shapeshifting rituals and in male rite-of-passage ceremonies; the Paiute for visions of dead relatives. And some uses are more medicinal — the Mahuna, Moerman says, used it topically as an anti-venom for tarantula bites and the Navajo in a narcotic formulation for pain relief. Interestingly, Moerman mostly refers to preparations of the root whereas most contemporary trip reports refer to ingestion of the seeds.

Sidewalk visions

I’ve seen Datura growing on the street but also in vacant lots. Even if you haven’t stopped to check out the seed pods up close, you may recognize its notorious white trumpet-shaped flower in this photo taken by First Ways reader Patrick Barabe, who passed it along during a Facebook chat. Have you ever walked by Datura on the street? Have you or anyone you know had experiences with it?

9 thoughts on “The Dark Datura: A Visionary Adventure

  1. This is Datura, no? I would find this growing at my middle school in West Orange, NJ and in high school I would convince my skeptical peers to try some for themselves. Usually this would end up in a very entertaining schoolday for myself as I would watch my friends hallucinate and freak out all day in class while I stood there ready for the come down to say, “I told you so.” Here you can find the information that you may be curious to learn about this plant

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  3. Datura is very unpredictable. there isn’t really a way to determine how potent a seed will be. You could take one seed and not feel a thing or one seed could kill you. I don’t recommend messing around with this plant unless you know exactly how much poison you are ingesting. But I cannot express how dangerous this plant really is. There are plenty other desert plants that are psychoactive that grow where datura grows and are much less dangerous. and honestly I don’t recommend messing with any of that kind of stuff unless you know what you are doing. These plants make you trip because it is a defense mechanism not so you can have a good time. Hopefully this helps and be safe.

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  6. I was very curious about this plant a few years ago and after eating many flowers of datura stramonium and eating the seed several times I only ever got a little eye distortion. one day when I was at the local botanic garden I saw what I now know is datura metel and stole a bright purple bumpy pod. I went home mashed up all of the seeds and mixed it into black tea. What followed was one of the most unplesant experiences I have ever had. after about 15 minutes I started feeling sick I got up to throw up and realized that my feet seemed to weigh about 200 pounds each. I finally made it to the bathroom and threw up and felt better so I tought I was fine I after a while I noticed I was deathly cold nd could not get warm no matter how hard I tried you wouldnt know it from looking at my body though I was scarlet red a red that was so bright and at the same time dark I have not seen the exact shade since. My hands and feet especially. Two seperate people came to my house had in depth conversations and vanished because they weren’t real. I heard voices objects were on my floor that when I reached to pick them up my hand passed through them as if it was a hologram. Or other objects were immovible. I saw spiders all over my walls but it seemed normal while in this state I took out some bleach water and scrubbed my walls maticulously for hours killing each and every spider. When I woke up the next morning I could only see shapes otherwise I was completely blind. As my eyes adjusted just a little I decide to go to my moms house. I couldnt see anything closer than a foot in front of me or past 6 feet in front of me but could see the space between when I got there my mom was talking to me and I could see her but not mormally. She had no skin. it made her skin transparent. my brother came in and out of the room asking my mother questions and her answering. It was a week day so I asked my mom why he was home. she asked me what I was talking about he was at school. I stayed in this state for the first two days and it faded on the third. This is like nothing I have ever used. Reality in this state is indistinguishable from what is actually happening which is the most realistic hillucinations I could imagine. this should never be used by anyone unprepared which I would think is everyone. Unless your into satan I could see this being the perfect drug for communication with the devil.

  7. Yar, a friend of mine – now an up-and-coming politician – and his cousin tried Datura when they were just out of high school. Both found themselves temporarily hospitalized for the pumping of their stomachs. Even then, once released. a 2-week long stupor followed. After tHaT they had to deal with heavily distorted vision for another couple weeks, and though the distortion persisted longer, it luckily eventually subsided. Now my friend’s fine.. I never really quite knew about his cousin though, but can’t say if it was the Datura or a host of other things, really. Much love to ’em both, regardless, eh? 😀

  8. Oh Datura……. When I was in my early 20’s I went into cardiac arrest from ingesting Datura flowers… It was one of the stupidest things I have ever done, and I was very luck that there were people around to call an ambulance. I will say I was abusing the plant. I had taken it a week earliler and had an experiance that was like being in between worlds… and very other worldly, but not un-pleasant… I was squatting in boulder Co. at the time, and one day I called home and my mom told me our family home had burned down and they needed me to come home to help out.. It like the best summer of my life commint to a screeching halt….I was not happy and I wanted one last wild night before going back to Ohio… so I ate some of the Jimsonweed weed flowers….. I had many intense experiences that night before going to the hospital… my first memory in the hospital is my consciousness slamming into my body as it was lifted off the gurney by the defibrillator paddles.. once back in my body I was still having intense hallucination and all of the doctors and nurses looked like hairy gorilla like monsters and I remember freeking out and ripping my iv out….then darkness……….. next thing I remember I am waking up strapped to a gurney with a hospital cop standing over me…… It took me months to come back to myself..I felt empty and vacant….. It was like my soul had somehow not fully come back to my body and it took a long time to get back to myself… Don’t disrespect this plant…… some people don’t ever come back…. the warnings and danger are very real….

  9. Your friend is brave. I’ve heard a few of those stories too, where people never really make it back. Really love the datura though, I have a friend who grows dozens of different brugmansias. The flowers of both of those are amazing.

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