This is what magic looks like. Datura seems like a simple flower, a common roadside weed, but it is so much more. It has many names but some people call it Sacred. All over the world people use it for surprising reasons: to be initiated into womanhood, to create zombies, to peer into future. Datura is also medicine; healing hurts both in the body and the mind.
I caught sight of this blossom early in the morning and it really did glow with something otherworldly: moonlight, starlight, life.
I have pictures where the camera looks at it directly. Some show it curled into a perfect mandala ready to unfurl. But I liked this one best. Here the solitary flower faces the morning sun just as it is about to rise over the housetops. In a few moments its magic will fade and the flower will wither. Because like all magical things, it cannot bear being exposed to the light of day.
Just as its magical use takes people to the edge to explore all kinds of boundaries, the plant itself lives on the edges of the world: places like roadsides or anywhere the soil is disturbed or defeated. Datura likes it hot and dry but share a little extra water and it will flourish. Too much love and it will rot. It has several known associates. Most are not photogenic enough for the tastes of bloggers: Trichobaris weevils, the three-lined potato beetle, tortoise beetles. But the caterpillars of the gorgeous giant leopard moth also eat the leaves. I really like the idea of that large white moth visiting this flower in the moonlight. I want to see that someday.
This is a flower that collects legends and myths. Did you know that the only visitors from the stars you can trust are the ones bearing datura flowers?
Another tells of boys wandering late at night under the stars seeking the flower to learn the language of the winds.
I love a pretty story but this next one is the one I think I will remember.
Some say the desert is a punishment for our misdeeds. When people behave badly the creator blasts the soil into a fine sifting dust and turns away. Everywhere, for as far as you can see, the water withdraws and the desert is born. Where there once was life, the empty places fill with despair. That was how datura first came into the world. Late one night, unseen, a being of water brought forth from the wasteland a small but bright mercy. But, that was not the end of the story. Because some things cannot be forgiven. Discovering the flower standing upright in the heat and dust, the creator cursed it causing all parts of it to become forever toxic.