by Nan DeGrove
The Sun keeps the measure of our days, with their hourly tasks and rituals, but the moon and stars watch over us at night, sending dreams and sometimes strange visitations that come with the shadows and night sounds. Night blooming flowers seem to share a special kinship with the heavens.
My datura has grown huge this summer, and for the last few nights has opened seven blooms, like seven stars that appear at twilight. With the cool mornings, the flowers remain intact for a few hours before they fold their pleats and fall. I wondered if the datura was transmitting a message the stars, and I thought of the Pleiades, a cluster of seven stars in the constellation of Taurus. Many myths and stories have been woven about these stars, often called the Seven Sisters. To the ancient Greeks they were linked to Aphrodite, who gave birth to seven daughters, then turned them into a flock of doves who became the stars of the Pleiades. As datura comes into full blooming in the dog days of July, when the dog-star Sirius rises with the Sun, I have also felt that the datura embodies the spirit of that brilliant star, the “blue star,” of the Egyptian goddess Isis.
Most, if not all, night-blooming flowers are white, perhaps to better reflect the moon and starlight and attract the moths that pollinate them. The elusive sphinx moth, also called hummingbird moth, is especially attracted to datura.
Datura is a psychotropic plant and has been used as a sacrament by native peoples of Mexico and the Southwest. I have spent many hours drawing and painting the leaves and blooms. Just sitting with the plant in quiet contemplation and inhaling its divine scent brings an awareness of its power as a healing and visionary ally.
Nan De Grove is a gardener, painter and astrologer. She contributes regularly to The Lore of the Garden and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org