The sinister thornapple (Datura metel) is a powerfully hallucinogenic plant in the nightshade family. Thornapple reached medieval Europe from India. (At a later date, datura was used by the cult of the Thugee, who practiced ritual murder in the service of the goddess Kali, to drug their victims.) The psychotropic properties of Datura were exploited in the famous “flying ointments” used by European witches. At least some medieval and Renaissance writers recognized that the sensation of flying through the air, and other experiences reported by witches, were not due to demonic agency, but were induced by the use of psychotropic plants. Photograph by Barbara Bell.