Of Nicotiana, Datura, Belladonna and the Solanaceae Allies: Part I

Solanaceae, or nightshade, is an illustrious family of plants with a complex and colorful history, that populates the whole planet. Research has shown that chemical constituents in these plants cause apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells and may also create lasting immunity to cancer.

Certain members of this family contain compounds (hyoscyamine, atropine, scopolamine and others) that cross the blood-brain barrier and trigger a psychoactive response. For this reason, they are both dangerous and extremely powerful, and earn their revered positions by those who use them medicinally and ceremonially as Teacher Plants.

In broad terms, Teacher Plants are used by adept practitioners to access information and experiences that lie outside the boundaries of default physical reality. There are many reasons a person, or group of people may consult with these allies, but their medicine is strong, swift, often results in ego death, and if they are not treated with the utmost reverence and respect, can result in insanity or actual death.

Datura stramonium earned its nickname as Jimson weed, or Jamestown Weed, when British soldiers were sent to quell the Bacon Rebellion in 1676. In their ignorance and disconnection from nature, they collected its leaves (which look and smell foul and give off a distinct aura of poison) and tripped balls for 11 days. Some of them likely never fully recovered.

Countless other tales of folly, danger, spirit walking, spell working, disease-curing, death, transmutation and beauty exist within the leaves, seeds and fragrant, heavenly blossoms of these plants, woven within a complex tapestry of plant-human relationships that stretch back millennia. However, there are many ways to receive their medicine safely without the risk incurred in physically ingesting them. More on that later.

Datura was the first member of the family I formed a personal relationship with. The first time I sat with the plant was on a chilly November day in a secluded, rocky beach on the Russian River. The giant, dried brown seed pods with elongated spikes were just beginning to crack open, revealing themselves as tiny bowls turned up towards me to display dozens round black seeds, as if taunting me to eat them. After clearing my energy, casting my circle and sitting with the plant for some time, I closed my eyes and began to drum. The spirit of the plant appeared as a woman dressed in white with a white skull outlined on her face against a black background.

IMG_4196She danced around the beach—a haunting, provocative dance—and stared deep into my soul. Then she beckoned me to come to her and an elevator appeared around us. Even as I stepped in, the elevator seemed to drop thousands of feet. Seconds later, we reached our destination: a hell dimension. As I stood by her side, I saw thousands of grey, silty shadows with faces buried in their twisted hands, lost in a madness of their own making. They walked right through each other, too lost in their pain to even notice each other. She must have heard me silently asking to leave this place because we were immediately back in the elevator and now blasting upwards towards the sky. At our destination, she stepped out to face me and she had transformed into angelic figure so bright I could barely see her. I could hear a pleasant, high-pitched resonance and I felt such a resplendent, warm, full feeling in my heart that I almost burst into tears of joy. And then, after just a moment that felt like its own eternity, we were back again, me and the skull-faced woman, and she was dancing again on the rocky beach.

This first teaching showed me something that has been reinforced countless times over the years: the teacher plants can lead you to heaven or hell—they are great amplifiers of human emotions. If there are unpleasant and painful fears lurking beneath the surface of our being, the teacher plants will show us. They will illuminate the pain and open a doorway to the other side. Sometimes walking through the pain feels like death itself, and dismemberment journeys (experiencing death through various kinds of dismemberment in a trance state) are quite common.

datura1They are also gatekeepers to the heavenly dimensions, as their essence exists in a state of consciousness of pure love and creativity. They can teach us to live like they do—our consciousness dwelling in love and creativity while our physical body inhabits 3D reality. In this way, the Teachers help us to remember the spiritual law as above, so below, as we begin to transform physical reality into a more loving, forgiving place through the alchemical process of transmutation. As we weave these realities, or states of consciousness, back together, we confront, befriend and shed many deep, rich layers of pain and grief, and slowly begin remembering to trust in the absolute power of love.

It’s not just the teacher plants that have the ability to guide humans in our journey back to harmony, its all plants. The teacher plants just speak the loudest—they have the strongest personalities. Working with them requires the utmost respect and humbleness—something we are not used to practicing in Western culture. I spent many years learning to communicate with common weeds, medicinal herbs, flowers and trees before opening communication with the Teachers.

Datura, tobacco and belladonna have become a triumvirate of allies for me, assisting in the re-alignment of divine masculine and feminine essences in the body, and their balanced expression through the heart.

The teachings of these plants and ways to safely work with them will be discussed in more depth in Part II.

Do you have questions, or would you like to share your own experience? Please add a comment below.

As it is in the as above, may it be in the so below, that love is all there is.

About bsteinmann

creator of the Earth Advocate Apprenticeship and creator and Editor in Chief of Satya Collective. Her Wise Women mentors include Pam Montgomery, Carolle Guyette, Rosemary Gladstar, Susan Hull Bostwick and Kami McBride. Before becoming a mama, Beth had a private practice as a healer and holistic health practitioner, and she has been leading workshops and facilitating healing for ten years. Her work is to build bridges across human communities, between humans and other life forms, and the seen and unseen. She can be found tromping through the woods with her twin boys, stepdaughter and husband in the wilds of Sonoma County, California.
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4 Responses to Of Nicotiana, Datura, Belladonna and the Solanaceae Allies: Part I

  1. This is a beautiful recounting and a reflection on your transmutative experience. It resonates with that humility and respect, which you speak of as key to understanding of and access to the teachers. I appreciate the ways your writing helps me to better understand some of the steps along this path on which you guide us. The measured approach you have taken and offer us also rings true with my own experience. Starting with a good base of understanding seems to better enhance the higher reaches of our pinnacles of greatest knowledge. I love it all! I look forward to all the parts to come. Help me understand 🙂

    • bsteinmann says:

      “Starting with a good base of understanding seems to better enhance the higher reaches of our pinnacles of greatest knowledge.” So true! Thank you, Robert, for your kind and insightful words. We’ll see how the learning continues to unfold in synergistic ways for both of us 🙂

  2. Betty Steinmann says:

    I’ ve been waiting for this for a long time. Congratulations on a “job” well done! I can tell it is done with love…knowing your subject…and wanting us to know it, too.
    Love you…your Gammy.

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