Rapé is a mixture of pulverized natural substances gathered from deep in the jungle and used for thousands of years as a sacred shamanic tool by indigenous tribes, mostly from the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon rainforest. The powder is traditionally prepared with mapacho (Nicotiana rustica) and can be blended with bark ashes, smashed roasted seeds and a significant number of medicinal plants. Rapé, also known as ‘healing powder,’ is usually ingested through the nostrils by sniffing or inhaling the substance through a particular tube or blowpipe during shamanic rituals or meditative practices.
Why use Rapé?
Rapé is traditionally believed to be sacred and holds the power to clean the third eye, decalcify the pineal gland and bring a sense of grounding and a deep-felt connection with mother earth.
It is said that rapé releases emotional, physical and even spiritual illnesses, easing confusion and negativity. Also, some of the physical benefits of blowing snuff into the mucous membranes of the nasal passage are the release of pressure, toxins, and congestion in that specific area.
In ceremonial events, it is often used to connect with higher realities. To clearly see the origins of a disease or problem, shamans of the Amazon jungle sometimes use rapé before they treat a patient. Often hunters use the snuff to see where the prey is hiding, as rapé enhances the ability to stay focused and alert.
- Traces of the use of snuffing powders have been found throughout the world, although the Caribbean islands and South America are by far centers of psychoactive snuff use.
- It is difficult to determine when humans first began the practice of snuffing, but archaeological findings indicate that past civilizations have been using snuff for centuries.
- Rapé found its way to Europe in the 1500s with a French monk called Friar Ramón Pané, who had returned from an expedition with Christopher Columbus. After seeing the Indians snuffing mapacho, he introduced this ritual practice to Spain, which was later spread to different areas over the continent.
The use of Rapé
There are many kinds of traditional snuff tools, mostly made from bamboo or bone. They are often covered with representative ornaments of the shamanic worldview such as spirit animals, chimeras, erotic scenes, divinities and winged beings.
Rapé, which is a very fine and dry powder, is blown in each of the nostrils one after the other, with the help of a snuff tool called an applicator. The most common blowpipe is called “Kuripe,” and it’s used for self-administration when a person blows the powder into his/her nose. Another applicator is called “Tepi,” where one person administers the snuff and another receives it.
Blowing snuff immediately generates a highly intense and overwhelming feeling in the nose and the mind. A few minutes later, it gives a sense of grounding and opens the awareness of oneself. There are a lot of different rapé blends on the market, and each of them has a unique character and profound purpose. How much snuff to use for a blow depends on the level of experience, so we advise starting with a pea-sized amount of powder for both nostrils.
How much snuff to use for a blow depends on the level of experience, so we advise starting with a pea-sized amount of powder for both nostrils.
We suggest trying different rapé blends and quantities to discover the perfect balance during the ritual.
- Berenguer, José. 1987. Consumo nasal de alucinógenos en Tiwanaka: Una aproximación iconográfica. Boletin del Museo Chileno de Arte.
- Brewer-Carias, Charles, and Julian A. Steyermark.1976 Hallucinogenic snuff drugs of the Yanomamo Cuburiwe-Teri in the Cauburi river, Brazil.