In a recentish episode of Demon Slayer (not sure when this will be published), we found out that wisteria keeps demons away. This caught my attention. I was familiar with the name of course, but I realized through the episode that I didn’t actually know what wisteria is. Let alone why they would be a good holistic defence. So I did what I usually do and asked my good friend google.
First thing I found that is that wisteria are really beautiful:
I don’t think we see the flower much in Quebec, our weather is quite finicky and only the hardiest plants can survive. Then again that may not be the issue as I will go into a bit later. The second thing I found out, by combining the words “wisteria” and “demon” in the search field, is that there is no obvious correlation between the two. A bit more digging was necessary!
Wisteria is in fact in the pea family and is an Asian plant species. It seems to be originally native in China and Japan, although I figure it probably spreads to the surrounding regions as well. It was brought to Europe and America some time ago and several American variations now thrive in the United States as well.
Classically, the plant, therefore, derives its meaning from Chinese and Japanese cultures. The flower is more commonly associated with luck, youth and births but has also been used in Kabuki theatre as a symbol of Love, Sensuality, Support, Sensitivity, Bliss and Tenderness. I guess all these caring and tender associations could be considered antithesis to demons but I’m not sure that’s all there is to it.
The flower is in fact quite hardy with single specimens being able to live in the hundreds of years. Apparently, the oldest living one is currently in Japan and has been around for over 1200 years. It’s not surprising that it is therefore also associated with immortality. Sure there are trees that dwarf that lifespan but for a flower, it’s pretty amazing longevity.
Here we have a bit of a parallel with the Demons. I haven’t read the manga and so far that anime hasn’t given us too many details on the Demon lore but I’m treating them as vampires essentially. Mostly because the sun kills them which is generally associated with vampires although their behaviour is a lot like zombies as well. Basically, I’m assuming Demons do not age and die naturally but the anime has yet to specifically confirm that.
Moreover, Wisteria is a rather aggressive plant. When introduced to new environments, you have to cut them back regularly or else they are likely to take over and smother the other plants around.
So rather than being opposed to Demons, in many ways they are similar to them. A potentially lethal presence that encroaches on other living organisms and lats forever!
The fact is there is a simple canon explanation for Demons’ fear of the flower. A poison can be made from the plant which is deadly to them and you could simply take that as the reason why Demons want to avoid them so badly. Badly enough that they are willing to starve themselves on an isolated mountain rather than cross the grove. I’m not sure there’s any more to it in the actual story.
But because we like to see significance where there isn’t necessarily any, I want to add my headcanon to it. Find an extra little reason why the author would have chosen that specific flower over the dozens of other poisonous plants that could have been used. And I don’t think the traditional meanings are enough to go by. Rather a combination of those symbols and the natural behaviour of the plant.
If you think of Wisteria as an emblem of birth and immortality and combine it with their long lives and predatory behaviour, they become a mirror image of the demons. Both preying on others for their immortality but where one is a harbinger of death, the other is the idea of new life. One brings images of decay, rot and darkness while the other represents our ideal of freshness and beauty while being associated with sunshine. They are like funhouse mirror images of each other in concept.
Ok, this one may be pushing it a bit far but I like this reading of Wisteria’s place in the Demon Slayer lore. If you guys are watching the series, what do you think of it? Do I sound crazy here? Maybe I missed some clues in the show (or plain statement – I’m slow sometimes) that would lead us to believe the complete opposite. If you have your own conspiracy theories, I would love to know!
Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!