Peyote Fire

Father Sun, who brings life to the Rain Bringer clan

Father Sun, who brings life to the Rain Bringer clan

 Book Launch October 25, 2014!


Peyote Fire is the eagerly awaited new novel by Mary S. Black about the first peyote shaman in central North America. The protagonist, Deer Cloud, is painting stories of the gods in a rock shelter high above the river. His grandfather Panther Claw consecrated the alcove for Deer Cloud when he was a boy. The two spent many years tracing designs on the ground to arrive at the best composition to honor the gods and preserve their greatness for generations to come. When Panther Claw dies, however, Deer Cloud’s life takes a dramatic turn.

He is urged to walk the shaman path himself. He must become friends with hallucinogenic spirit herbs, and visit the terrifying wolf shrines. When he grows too strong, his enemy engineers his downfall with a dramatic challenge to call the buffalo to the people.

The book is set about 4000 years ago in the area of the confluence of the Pecos River and the Rio Grande,

Rock art in White Shaman Shelter can be seen today

Rock art in White Shaman Shelter can be seen today

bounded on the east by the Devil’s River. This region is known for more 300  painted rock shelters and a famous bison jump site.  Some of these places can be visited by the public today.

By using archeological reports and treatises written about the people of the Archaic Lower Pecos as a factual base for the story,  I have tried to make descriptions of everyday life as accurate as possible, given what we know.

But we do not fully know the people’s understanding of that world. As a stand-in for their undoubtedly rich religious and philosophical life, I am relying upon ethnographies of the Huichol people of Mexico, whom some suspect may be distantly related.  I’ve stripped out agricultural references in the Huichol mythologies, and other modern strains, such as cultural changes brought on by contact with the Spanish, in order to seek an Archaic core.

From these core beliefs and descriptions of Huichol ceremonies, I have constructed a fictional world view that pervades the Rain Bringers’ lives.  This world view brings meaning to their lives and explains the natural phenomena that surrounded them. I’ve also tried to imagine the stories embodied in the rock art, and the rituals, songs, and legends that are lost.

I completed the first draft in a cabin on the edge of a canyon near Langtry, Texas, within view of the Bonfire Shelter bison jump site.   I am currently working on revisions, and hope to have it ready for agents by June 2014. Deer Cloud is getting stronger, and soon he will emerge!

The Great Transformer, Grandfather Fire

The Great Transformer, Grandfather Fire


6 thoughts on “Peyote Fire

    • Thanks, Kathy! You would love being at TAS this weekend. An entire day by Steve and Carolyn Boyd on Lower Pecos art and archaeology.

  1. If you need an early reviewer, please consider me. I guess I would warn you, I only give honest reviews. That said, I have read and loved all the Jean M. Auel books and loved them. I’ve lived in Texas for so long I consider myself a Texan by heart. I spent from the 3rd through 8th grades in San Antonio…ie, the grades where you learn about Texas wild flowers, Texas history, history, legends and biographies of so many people. I fell in love then and it has continued through today though many of the genres I love to read.

    I wish I could be with you in San Marcus but I am stuck in a rehabilitation facility. I hope lots of people attend and it is very successful

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s