Guest Post by Mary S. Black + Giveaway of Peyote Fire

Please welcome Mary S. Black to the blog today! Mary is here to talk a bit about spirit herbs, which feature in her novel, Peyote Fire! I also have a chance for one of you to win a copy!

Spirit Herbs for the Solstice

Historically many plants have been used around the world to bring prosperity, ward off evil and commune with the gods. As the Winter Solstice draws near, perhaps you think of mistletoe. The Druids in Britain used mistletoe as a symbol of immortality because it bears fruit—the white berries—at the darkest time of year. The plant was considered a cure for barrenness and an antidote to poison, even though the berries are actually quite toxic to humans.

Vervain, or verbena, was another favorite of the Druids, who gathered it in the dark of the moon when Sirius, or the Dog Star, was on the rise. The Druids used vervain in divination, consecration, and ritual cleansing of sacred spaces. They made a magical drink from the plant, which was said to bring creative energy. The plant was connected to the Underworld, and as such was used to aid in contact with the dead. 

Mountain Laurel Beans
In ancient southwest Texas along the Rio Grande, prehistoric people used three plants in particular to reach the gods. Texas Mountain Laurel has beautiful purple flower clusters in the spring and is often used in landscapes today. Pictographs in canyons along the Rio Grande however show the red beans from this plant being used as a purgative, or agent to cleanse the inside of the body. Indeed the beans are quite toxic and can land you in the emergency room if you ingest them.

Datura, which is also called Jimson weed or loco weed, is also depicted in the rock art paintings, especially the spiny seed pods. But all parts of the plant are toxic and can cause human beings to hear voices and be quite delusional. Even rubbing the leaves on your skin can produce a psychotropic effect. The people of 4,000 years ago used this plant to communicate with their gods. People must have thought they were actually talking to the gods when using datura.

Possible Datura Pods in Rock Art
The third plant in common use by the ancients along today’s border between the U.S. and Mexico is the peyote cactus. This innocuous little cactus creates vivid visual hallucinations when chewed or drunk in tea. In the 1800s, peyote use spread through numerous Native American groups, and members of the Native American Church still use it ritually today. Some people think the ancient pictographs were painted under the influence of peyote, but others claim differently. Whatever is true in this particular case, we can say without a doubt that human beings have recognized the potency of certain herbs for many thousands of years all over the world. 

Peyote Cactus

About the Book

01_Peyote Fire Cover 

Publication Date: October 25, 2014 | Writers Press | Formats: Ebook, Trade Paperback
Pages: 350

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Deer Cloud is painting the stories of the gods when tragedy changes his life. He is called to walk the shaman path and bring the buffalo through his visionary power. The evil Stone Face will do anything to thwart Deer Cloud’s growing strength. Jumping Rabbit, a lusty female shaman, decides to mentor him and ends up taking him to bed. She introduces him to a powerful spirit plant to counter the effects of the dangerous wolf flower. When buffalo are spotted, Stone Face challenges Deer Cloud to call the beasts with his new power. With Jumping Rabbit’s help, Deer Cloud changes Rain Bringer society forever.

This book brings to life people who lived over 4,000 years ago in the southwest Texas canyonlands known as the Lower Pecos, near the confluence of the Devils and Pecos rivers with the Rio Grande. These ancient people painted over 300 currently known rock art murals, some of which can be viewed today. Archaeologists have also found evidence of a huge bison jump in a small canyon in that region that points to a catastrophic event in the lives of these people so long ago. This book is based on extensive research and is the first novel to examine these events.

02_Mary S. Black AuthorAbout the Author

Mary S. Black fell in love with the Lower Pecos more than twenty years ago. Since then she has studied the archaeology and related ethnography of the area with numerous scholars. She has an Ed.D. from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology and lives in Austin with her husband, an archaeologist, and two cats.

For more information please visit Mary's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Peyote Fire Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 13
Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Monday, November 17
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, November 18
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

Monday, November 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Monday, December 8
Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at Book Nerd

Tuesday, December 9
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, December 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Monday, December 15
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, December 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, December 18
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views


To enter to win a copy of Past Encounters please enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

- Giveaway ends on December 4th.
- Giveaway is open to persons 18 years of age or older
- Giveaway is open to residents of the US, UK, Canada or Australia.
- Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter and notified by email
- Only one entry per household.
- All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
- Winner will have 48 hours to claim prize, after being notified via the email. After 48 hours, if there is no response, another winner will be chosen.
- If you have any questions or issues with the giveaway form, please email Amy at

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. What a wonderful story line. I enjoy reading a well researched book. * 300 currently known rock art murals, that would be so interesting to see..
    dkstevensne AT outlook DOTCom

  2. A fantastic post thank you. I'm looking forward to an interesting read.

  3. Mary Black, I left a comment here two days ago, but it got deleted. In it I thanked you for teaching me so many things. I knew about jimsonweed and peyote cactus, but I had no idea the other plants are hallucinogenic.

  4. Hi there, I am sure this book is going to be a fabulous read! Would love this one in paperback. Have a beautiful holiday season!


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