Trance and Dreaming Incense by Katlyn Breene

 

Datura

“I have come to get you, but not without a purpose. You were placed here as medicine, and it is for medicine that I seek you. Be not harmed, oh powerful one. I thank you...”

(The words of Luiseno, Medicine Man , said before picking the Datura)

            The Datura plant has long been used in Mexico and the South west U.S. by tribal shamans  in ceremonial vision quests. It was also used to aid the magickal divination of illness and the finding of lost objects. Datura continues to be a widely used divinatory hallucinogen in ceremony. In Mexico it is known as “Ololiuqui” and there was much confusion over the use of the plant as the tribes tried to keep its secret from the invading Spaniards. The Aztec priests used Datura to commune with their Gods and receive messages from them.  A small portion of the plant is used by the Navajo as a protection from evil witchcraft and is called “Lightning Herb”. In the U.S. it is known as Thorn apple, California Mandrake or Jimson Weed . It is a beautiful plant with large fleshy leaves and white trumpet shaped flowers. All parts of the plant are poisonous if taken in large doses since they contain  the potent alkaloid atropine. The medicine men  of the Southwest know the techniques that allow them to administer the Datura as a medicine, but it is still treated with great  respect and  caution.

            When the seeds are ingested they promote heightened visual perception and awareness, followed by a hypnotic state of calm dreaming and euphoria. The roots and leaves are also smoked or inhaled to achieve visions and dreams. There are several species of Datura.

"The most beautiful feature of Daturas is certainly their trumpet-like flowers which emanate an unusual heady scent at dusk....The Datura bud unfolds its petals in a gorgeous spiral pattern, which is a beautiful example of the Fibonacci sequence in nature."

"In the mythology of Native Americans, Datura was a sacred plant used for both magical and medicinal purposes. Native American mythology is composed of traditional narratives and spiritual stories which are deeply rooted in nature. In such a religious system, rich with the symbolism of plants, Datura holds a special place. In the culture of aboriginal America, an area populated by Indian tribes living throughout the North and South continents, Datura was one of the most widely used hallucinogenic plants. The plant was prized for its ability to help mortals communicate with gods and with the spirits of the dead."

The Zuni Legend of the First Datura

Whenthe world was young  there lived in the dark underworld a boy and girl. They searched for the light and found a path to the world above. They emerged with lovely wreathes of white flowers It made them sleep and have powerful dreams, it let them see spirits. When the  gods saw this they became worried that man was not yet ready for such visions. They sent the boy and girl back to the world of darkness. But at the place where they descended they left the white flower wreathes. These began to grow in the high desert where men could find them again when they were ready to use its power . Some say that where the Datura grows there is an entrance to the underworld.

Calea zacatechichi

 Dream herb; Leaf of God; Thle-pelakano; Bitter Grass -  This herb was smoked and taken as a tea by the Chontal Indians in Oaxaca , Mexico for divination and oneiromancy (dream induction).

 
Blue Lotus Flowers 

Nymphaea nouchali var caerulea ( Blue Lotus; Blue Water Lily; Egyptian Lotus)

These dried flowers were smoked, made into a tea, or macerated in alcohol for a mild sedative effect.

"Comparisons are made between ancient ritual uses of the flowers of Nymphaea (Nymphaeaceae) in Maya and Egyptian civilizations. Recurrent motifs encountered in the art of both of these ancient civilizations suggests that the role fo the water lily was that of a narcotic (psychodysleptic) used to mediate ecstasis among a priestly caste. Relevant literature is reviewed as are chemical data. Elements in the complex belief systems of these two civilizations need to be reinterpreted in view of the use of two water lilies as ritual narcotics. "

This article was published on Monday 28 May, 2012.