Rapé (pronounced “ha-PAY”) is a sacred shamanic snuff popular throughout the native cultures of the Amazon. It typically uses strong tobacco as its base, and often includes other plants.
Rapé snuff (sometimes spelled hapeh, rapeh, or hapé) is administered through pipes into the nostrils, having a stimulating effect. Rapé can be used as an amplifier for other spiritual experiences, or even as a psychedelic in its own right – it all depends on what plants are included in the shamanic snuff blend.
The Huni Kuin people, also known as the Kaxinawá, live across Brazil and Peru and are one of the groups of Amazonian Indians who use rapé for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, as a communal group, among friends, or as a personal, spiritual practice.
Much like drinking ayahuasca, the consumption of rapé is both a prayer and a communion with Nature, specifically a communion with the medicinal plants included in the blend. One’s relationship with rapé is much like an apprenticeship with the Master Plant Teachers included in the blend.
Because rapé opens up the consciousness, you open up communication with the spirits of the medicinal plants each time you consume the rapé. The continued consumption of the rapé blend in question, is much like an ongoing conversation with the Plant Spirits within.
The Huni Kuin are prolific rapé makers and have developed many different rapé recipes and mixtures. Here are four that you can try, without having to go all the way to the Amazon to get it!
The Huni Kuin Cacau rapé is made using ashes from the cacao tree. These ashes are mixed with the finely-ground tobacco to make a deep red, earthy-toned rapé with a lot of power. The alkaloids in the cacao plant can be highly activating, by increasing blood flow and energizing the body. Mixed with the powerful tobacco used in Huni Kuin rapé, this mixture is guaranteed to give you an intense rapé experience.
Cumaru rapé is made using ashes from the cumaru tree; one of the longest-living trees in the Amazon. It is revered as one of the hardest woods in the forest, and is thought to never rot – potentially living for over a thousand years.
The cumaru rapé blend mixes cumaru ashes with ground tobacco, making a very dry snuff that is thought to provide robust spiritual protection.
Coumarin, one of the main compounds in cumaru wood, can be dangerous to ingest in large quantities. It has been shown to be toxic to the liver if you take more than a teaspoon every day. So if you take cumaru rapé, try not to use it every single day!
The Floresta rapé mixture is made using a blend of traditional herbs that grow in the Huni Kuin regions of the Amazon (eastern Peru and western Brazil). Most notably, this mixture includes ashes from the bonatur tree, the leaves of which have many medicinal properties. Traditionally, people suffering from dizziness are given baths in the juice of the leaves to treat them.
This rapé blend is therefore excellent for treating things like headaches and stomach problems, and is considered a gentle and relieving mixture.
This rapé blend is the most common rapé used by the Huni Kuin, and can be considered a standard rapé for general use. It is made using ashes from the murici tree, which produces sweet and strong-smelling yellow fruit.
The Murici rapé is designed to use the joyous spirit of the murici tree to make a rapé blend that fights fatigue and can amplify the spiritual properties of the tobacco.
Murici is a great rapé blend to start with for beginners, offering a medium strength without being too try or activating compared to other blends.
How to Enjoy Huni Kuin Rapé
The Huni Kuin will often offer rapé during ayahuasca ceremony. It’s an effective way to ground into the present moment, especially of you are feeling disconnected from your body during the work, or if your visions are all over the place. When the Huni Kuin are holding ceremonies for Westerners, there will typically be two announcements for participants to receive rapé from the pajés (shamans), although technically you can go up and request rapé at any time.
In an indigenous ceremony, you will likely hear people taking rapé all night long, throughout the work. The amount of rapé consumption among the indigenous might seem astounding or excessive to an outside visitor, but shamanic snuff is one of the oldest plant medicines in the world, and very much a part of daily life in the Amazon.
Tobacco snuff is to the Amazonians as wine is to Europeans. There is an art to making the shamanic snuff, and this role was historically performed by the shaman, although, in contemporary times, many Amazonian snuff enthusiasts make rapé as well. It’s quite a laborious process to make rapé; much goes into the preparation of the plants to make each blend. The flavor, scent, and effects of the shamanic snuff depend as much on the skill of the person making it, in addition to the plants selected for the blend itself.
To truly enjoy rapé, you need to take into account the medicinal properties of the plants included in the blend, tune into the subtle aromas of the rapé, including how it “tastes” when insufflated, and most importantly the effect of the medicine on your consciousness, especially if you begin to perceive the consciousness of the Plant Spirits communicating with you.
Because each rapé blend has its own qualities, and characteristics, it’s simplistic to refer to all rapé made by any Huni Kuin maker as “Huni Kuin” rapé. For this reason, we invite you to go deeper and gain an appreciation for the shamanic art of making rapé.
How to Take Rapé
We have a bunch of in-depth content at EntheoNation to help you learn how to take rapé; either on your own or with a friend!
- The shamanic guide to rapé – including equipment, traditional accuracy, and what to expect
- How to take rapé on your own
- How to give someone else a ceremonial dose of rapé
- Learn more about how rapé is made, and its medicinal benefits
Enjoy Exploring Huni Kuin Rapé!
We hope this has been a helpful introduction to the different kinds of Huni Kuin rapé blends.
What are your favorites? Are you trying rapé for the first time? What benefits do you get from rapé? Comment below and let us know your thoughts!