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The Medicinal Power of Rapé: Exploring the Shamanic Snuff

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

The term "Rapé" finds its origin in the Portuguese word for "snuff," pronounced with the "r" sounding like an "h." This pronunciation has given rise to alternative spellings such as "hapé," "rapeh," "hapeh," and others. These variations emerged as individuals sought to avoid any association with an unrelated English term. However, irrespective of the spelling, all these variations refer to the same potent shamanic snuff employed in indigenous practices.


Ancient indigenous tribal cultures have recognized and revered the healing properties of plants for centuries. The use of plants for medicinal, spiritual, and transformative purposes has been deeply ingrained in cross-cultural practices. While tobacco may be commonly perceived as a harmful and addictive substance in our modern world, it holds a sacred place in the traditional practices of indigenous cultures. Unfortunately, the mass production and synthetic alteration of tobacco have led to its association with various health risks, including cancer. However, a unique preparation called rapé, a powdered blend of medicinal herbs often including tobacco, is utilized by indigenous communities for its profound healing effects.


The Sacred Origins of Tobacco

Tobacco has been regarded as a sacred medicine by indigenous peoples of the Americas for countless generations. Tribes used tobacco for ceremonies, divination, and spiritual and healing purposes. It was rarely used for smoking, unlike its contemporary use. The ancient wisdom surrounding tobacco as a sacred plant has been overshadowed by its negative association with commercial cigarettes.


Understanding Rapé

Rapé is a preparation of powdered medicinal herbs, commonly mixed with tobacco, and primarily made with Nicotiana rustica or "mapacho" in South America. Nicotiana rustica contains nine times more nicotine than the tobacco used in cigarettes, providing a heightened sense of alertness and elevation. Rapé is traditionally administered through the nose, a practice dating back to pre-Columbian times among Brazilian indigenous tribes.


The Healing Power of Rapé

From an indigenous perspective, rapé is a shamanic snuff medicine with profound healing effects. Different medicinal plants are used in various rapé blends to induce visions, provide energy, and enhance the senses. These recipes are closely guarded secrets of the tribes. Sharing rapé, known as "passando rapé," is a ritualistic practice among Amazonian tribes, often accompanied by specific chants to activate its force and confer the healing power of the forest onto the recipient.


Effects and Benefits of Rapé

Rapé contains nicotine, which increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates the release of neurotransmitters, enhancing alertness and uplifting mood. Indigenous cultures believe that rapé can amplify focus, presence, and intuition, opening the body and mind to higher communication and holistic thinking. Additionally, rapé can induce purging, both through vomiting and bowel movements, which is considered a cleansing and purifying process. Usually this only happens when taken in big (ceremonial) amounts.



Intentional process

Traditionally, rapé was shared in a ritualistic manner, calling upon the forces of nature, animal blessings, and the power of medicinal plants. In modern times, rapé is also being shared globally through cross-cultural friendships and during ayahuasca ceremonies led by traveling shamans. It is essential to approach rapé with the right intention and respect for its sacred nature. Rapé can be administered using a blow pipe, requiring another person's assistance, or a self-applicator pipe called a kuripe (see pictures above).


Selectivity when receiving the medicine

Due to its shamanic nature, sharing rapé should be done with some awareness. The act of receiving rapé is believed to involve an exchange of energy, making it important to choose trusted individuals or shamans to administer the medicine.


At Krakti, we recognize the sacred and transformative nature of rapé. We incorporate rapé as an optional aid during psilocybin journeys, always with reverence and respect for its cultural heritage. We understand that rapé is not obligatory and respect individual preferences. Prior to the ceremony, during the preparation session, we provide detailed information about rapé. On the ceremony day itself, we ensure that participants have the opportunity to learn more about rapé and make an informed decision about whether they wish to incorporate it into their journey. Our intention is to create a safe and supportive space where participants can explore the benefits of rapé in alignment with their personal needs and intentions.

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