We recently returned from an incredible trip in London to take part in Fulgar Esoterica’s two week long esoteric and art event, I:MAGE. Of all the amazing things that happened for us during the trip, one of the most exciting was purchasing a new painting for the Star & Snake – the breath taking oil painting by Francesco Parisi which is pictured above.
While this particular painting was not exhibited during I:MAGE, we were familiar with it as it was on the cover of the first issue of Abraxas, which is where we became familiar with Parisi’s work. It was couple of years ago that we first saw his work in that issue and honestly, his paintings had continued to haunt us both. So when we had the opportunity to view and purchase this piece, we could not turn it down.
The strange thing is that I personally remembered the woman in this painting as holding a Y shaped stick – I did not at the time recall that she was holding the dried pod of Datura stramonium – a plant I had originally learned by the name “Angels Trumpet” (although this is technically incorrect) and is also called “Devil’s Trumpet” or “Devil Weed”.
Coincidences. When I met with Emily Rose Michaud, the first artist who contacted me about a residency at Star & Snake some months ago, our original talk was about how Datura kept coming to her mind when she thought about the work that she was going to make during her residency.
I thought that this was interesting because only a week before I had discovered a Datura plant while weeding just outside the entrance to the church.
The first piece of artwork that we purchased for the space was “Angel’s Trumpet” by the Australian artist Katia Honor and now the new Parisi. Interesting!
The indigenous peoples across the Americas, such as the Algonquin, Cherokee, and Luiseño have used this plant in sacred ceremonies for its hallucinogenic properties. Datura has also been used in this manner in Ethiopia and in India where the plant is ritually smoked by Sadhus and believed to be a favorite of Shiva Nataraja.
For me, Datura has always been a very special plant as it is what gave me my first experience of plants “speaking”. While living in the Superstition Wilderness in Arizona I used to visit a circle of these plants at dusk when the air began to cool and it’s night blooming flowers opened. I loved sitting with them not just for beauty of the huge white flowers but because the plants themselves had a sort of quiet, velvety presence to them that I enjoyed being close to.
At the time I was not familiar with the plant and knew nothing of its hallucinogenic properties. It wasn’t until it started speaking to me that I asked the medicine man I was staying with about it and he explained what it was used for. However, he cautioned that each plant had a different potency so in order to ingest it “safely” the indigenous people were able to speak with the plant and determine the particular dose from each plant. Good thing I already had that covered!
What all of this means in terms of Star & Snake is a story unfolding. However, it is clear that this plant and it’s powerful spirit has spoken up – in a way that most anyone could hear – as an ally for this space.
Natan & K Lenore