Peyote is a small cactus that grows only along the Rio Grand in an area of northern Mexico. The dried top known as the mescal or peyote button is the part eaten. Participants ingest between eight and ten buttons at a sitting.
“The Chichimec were the first to discover and use the root they call peyotl, and those who are accustomed to eat and drink them used them in the place of wine... Those who eat and drink it see visions either frightful or laughable... It is a common food of the Chichimecas , for it stimulates them and gives them sufficient spirit to fight and have neither fear, thirst, nor hunger, and they say it guards them from all danger.”
— Safford 1916: 401
This is a layout of a typical peyote tepee. The semicircular altar looks like the big banana with Father Peyote in the Center. This layout seats thirty members. On crowded nights an extra inside circle is configured for the extra people. Omer Stewart. Peyote Religion.
Katie followed Crowbear to the central tepee. It was the tallest one and twice as big as the others. The towering posts created a floor plan that could fit two and a half dozen souls inside. Following divine dictates, the door was on the east, with a line drawn from the middle of the door to the other side, the western side. The line follows the path of the sun as it travels from east to west.
As in any tepee, the fire logs were set in the center, evenly bisecting the east-west line. The four-inch high crescent dirt altar was built-up along the east-west line at a point halfway between the fire and the western edge of the tepee. Three young men extended the packed dirt platform to five feet on each side of the midline with shovels and hands. The platform mound was four inches high and formed into a dipping crescent that followed the outline of the tepee. The altar shape of a crescent moon, with its turned down edges, signifies the beginning and end of life. The correct place for Father Peyote is in the center of the low altar set right in the middle of a person’s life.
Once the dirt moving was finished Crowbear summoned Tal, who came with René and two others carrying a large wooden box between them. The box contained the things needed to conduct the ceremony. The men set it down and stood back while Crowbear opened it.
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