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 or tribal spiritual elder that would
nominally be called by others than Native Americans, a Shaman, might
accompany the initiate to a holy place, possibly a mountain top or cave,
and a tea would be made from the roots, leaves and even the seeds from
the prickly seed pod of a plant called Sacred Datura. The individual
would drink this tea and wait for visions, and the initiate would
definitely have visions.
Besides those sacred rites of passage, Datura, which is
referred to in
some cultures as la Yerba Del Diablo, but known to the Chumash people of
California, the Mohave, Yuma, Cahuilla, Zuni and others as toloache from
the Aztec toloatizn, "to incline the head" (and the person
administering the Datura as a tolachero), has been used to hex and to break hexes, to
produce sleep and induce dreams, and for protection from evil. It has
also been used for divination, to find one's totem animal, to allow one
to see ghosts, for communing with birds, for long hunts and strength,
for sharper vision, for sorcery and to increase supernatural powers.
Like other tropane-containing plants that have been used historically
for so called Flying Ointments, Sacred Datura has been used in certain
rituals related to inducing the ability to fly through eating or
drinking and sometimes an ointment.
Datura is still widely used in
the Caribbean for the same or similar reasons as well, and called there
"herbe aux sorciers" (herb of the sorcerers) among the various French
speaking islanders. On the English speaking islands, Jamaica for example,
those who practice the spellcraft Obeah are also known to incorporate
almost interchangeably with Datura another Nightshade herb they call
SACRED DATURA: Nightshade Family [Solanaceae] is found in western Texas,
New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, southern California, Mexico, and
the West Indies and grows within an elevation range between sea level
and 6,500 feet. The name Datura, its generic name, is from the Hindu
Dhatura (dhat=the eternal essence (of God)), which was derived from the
Sanskrit name D'hastura.Sacred Datura bloom at night starting early
evening and typically closing around noon the following day. They are
pollinated by nocturnal visitors, usually sphinx or hawk moths.
The tea from Datura is extremely hallucinogenic. The hallucinogenic
effects are reported to be stronger than Peyote, Psyillicibin, or LSD.
However, Datura is also very toxic and can cause permanent psychosis.
Solanaceous plants such as Sacred Datura contain relatively high
concentrations of tropane alkaloids, primarily Atropine, Hyoscyamine,
and Scopolamine, the primary alkaloid being Scopolamine. It is
apparently Scopolamine that produces the hallucinogenic effects. It
induces an intoxication followed by narcosis in which hallucinations
occur during the transition state between consciousness and sleep.
When Datura is used in a Native American ritual, it is always under the
guidance of an individual of certain tribal spiritual resolve such as a
Medicine person or tribal elder. These experts on the use of the plant
know what other plants to add in order to neutralize the harmful effects.
They also know how much to administer and when and where to pick the
plants, such as age, season, time of year, whether under a full moon or
no moon at all.
Chemical constituents and levels vary greatly from plant
to plant, time of year, and from one area to another just generally, but
especially so if the plants are obtained through ritual or from a spot
known for having special powers like the Sun Dagger site on Fajada Butte
in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, holy places of some sort such as Vortexes,
or sacred grounds. The plants are very toxic, poisonous and lethal,
especially if consumed in quantities unmetered by someone not versed in
their safe administration. They can, however, when properly dealt with,
produce the end result sought after, and quite adequately so, in the