‘Rapé‘, Medicine of the trees
Rapé is a tobacco snuff, popular throughout the native cultures of the Rain Forests. It has been a part of Huni Kuin culture for as long as the tribe can remember. It is made with strong tobacco as its base and the ash from a specific tree blended together and refined to the desired consistency.
Rapé is applied with a pipe or ‘Tepee’ into the nostrils by another person, having a stimulating effect, it can be used as an amplifier for spiritual experiences, and it has a lasting calming and grounding effect once the initial sensations pass.
Much like drinking ayahuasca, the consumption of rapé is both a prayer and a communion with the forest, specifically a communion with the trees included in the blend. One’s relationship with it is much like an apprenticeship with the Master Tree Teachers in the blend.
Rapé is often offered during an ayahuasca ceremony. It’s an effective way to ground into the present, especially if one is feeling disconnected from one’s body during the ceremony, or if your visions are haphazard. When the Huni Kuin hold ceremonies for Westerners, there will typically be announcements for participants to receive rapé from the pajés, although technically you can go up and request rapé at any time.
Sharing rapé – or “passando rapé” – is a traditionally a ritualistic practice among the Huni Kuin which can include specific chants to activate the force of the rapé and to confer the healing power of the forest upon the rapé recipient.
Rapé can be mixed also with other mind-altering plants, like coca, jurema, or yopo, and can potentiate the healing capacity of other plants, like ayahuasca. Furthermore, rapé helps release emotional, physical, and spiritual illnesses and eases negativity and confusion, enabling a thorough grounding of the mind. Likewise, we use rapé to re-align our energy channels and with our higher self and to intensify our connection with the forest. In addition, rapé paves the way to detoxify the body and clean out all excess mucus, toxins, and bacteria.
Tobacco-based rapé contains nicotine, so its use increases the brain blood flow and affects the release of several stimulatory neurotransmitters leading to antidepressant and stimulatory effects – thereby heightening your focus, presence, and intuition and opening the body to higher communication and holistic thinking and understanding.
The art of making rapé has been passed onto non-indigenous people so that you can now find rapé-making enthusiasts and groups in parts of South America outside the Amazon. The use of rapé has also been adopted by the Santo Daime communities. Outside of Brazil, rapé is often offered by Western facilitators of ayahuasca ceremonies. While there is a great deal of debate among the tribes and between the elders and younger generation over the extent that this knowledge ought to be shared with outsiders, appreciation of the sacred art of making and taking rapé is growing in the global shamanic community.