Rapé [“ha-peh” – in Brasil] is a snuff that various South American indigenous tribes use. It is made from dried ground tobacco that is mixed with ashes of herbs, roots or treebark. Each tribe and each shaman has his own recipe and usually they are a bit secretive about the exact mixture. Tobacco is a very sacred plant to indigenous people which is used for offerings, prayer and energetic cleaning. Traditionally the natives of North America smoke tobacco but without inhaling it, the smoke carries the prayers to the spirit world. Used in this way tobacco is considered a sacred medicine. In the west we add tons of toxins and additives to the tobacco and inhale it which unfortunately leads to addiction and diseases.
In South America tobacco is often times consumed in form of a tobacco snuff, known as rapé. It is administered by the shaman with an applicator, typically made of bone or bamboo also called tepi, or it can be self-applied with a smaller applicator known as kuripe. Rapé is used in special times of the day or in certain moments that require, cleansing, grounding or focus. It helps to realign the chakras and the energies of the body. It is also meant for protection. And typically, since there is no body-mind dualism in indigenous cultures, rapé is as much a spiritual medicine as a physical medicine that cleanses out mucus, and disease from the body.
Interview with Haru Kuntanawa
Cultural, political and spiritual Authority of the Kuntanawa People, Acre, Brazil. Haru explains the use and effects of rapé.