Rapé and Sacred Tobacco

Rapé (pronounced “ha-peh”) is a cleansing snuff used by shamans in Brazil and Peru as part of their medicinal rituals. In the Amazon, it’s used to connect to the spirits of the forest and is an ancient tradition that’s considered sacred.

What is it made from?

The main ingredient in Rapé is the tobacco species Nicotiana rustica. This Amazonian tobacco, also known as mapacho, is used extensively in tribal rituals and is much stronger than the type of tobacco found in cigarettes. Because of this, it can be addictive and therefore, must be treated with respect. In addition to Nicotiana rustica, Rapé also includes a combination of leaves, seeds, spices, bark, oils, herbs, and flowers from medicinal plants, roots, and trees. These ingredients are then mixed with the ash from sacred wood which is usually Tsunu, Sanu, Cumaru, and Pau Pereira although other woods can and are used as well. Other ingredients may be added for different reasons and some of these may include Cacao, Tonka Bean, Kava Kava, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Yopo seed, and other visionary elements. The combination and potency varies between tribes and often times they keep the exact ingredients of their blends a secret.

How is it administered?

Rapé is taken through the nose while it is blown into both nostrils, one at a time. It is important to receive Rapé through both nostrils in order to harmonize and balance the energy of the forest. It’s blown through a bamboo or bone pipe called a Kuripe (self-serve) or Tepi (to serve others) and the way the Rapé is served determines how long one can stay in the power of the effects. Rapé must always be done in a ceremonial fashion and never to be mixed with alcohol or recreational drugs. Of course, intention setting is a key part of the process - both for the administer and the receiver.

There’s a certain whay to breathe when receiving Rapé and I’ll explain more on this when we’re in person.

Why do we use Rapé in Kambo ceremonies?

When Rapé is served in a Kambo ceremony, the intention is to aid the client in moving through a blockage and to facilitate purging. It’s not to be depended on and usually given only after other techniques have been exhausted. It could also be used before or after a ceremony however, I’d like to reserve its usage for when it’s really necessary.

In other situations, Rapé can be used to:

  • intensify concentration

  • ground and center yourself

  • relax the mind

  • clear up your sinuses

  • cool down in heat

  • minimize a headache

  • release an energy blockage

  • connect with the spirits of the forest

Rapé is a cleansing medicine, so after taking it, you may experience side effects such as vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea. You do not have to refrain yourself from anything that needs to be released and can do so by spitting, blowing your nose, purging, going to the toilet, etc.

Kambo, Rapé, and Sananga are a beautiful combination.

Vincent Fiore