The Modern Shamanic Guide to Taking Rapé – the Sacred Medicinal Snuff of the Amazon

An image of two indigenous people using shamanic snuff.

How to Take Sacred, Medicinal Rapé with the Right Intention

Rapé (pronounced ha-PAY) is a preparation of powdered medicinal herbs – often with a tobacco base – that the Indians of the Amazon basin blow through the nose, either with a small V-shaped self applicator, or with the help of a buddy.

In contemporary Amazonia, sharing rapé is a common social activity with spiritual, pre-Columbian roots. Rapé is considered to be a sacred, shamanic medicine. It’s traditionally prepared by a knowledgeable shaman; however, the art of sacred rapé preparation has been passed on to non-indigenous rapé enthusiasts, so you can find makers of high-quality rapé outside tribal communities and in other parts of Brazil.

Sharing rapé was traditionally done in a ritualistic way. Because the medicine can have stimulating or psychoactive effects (depending on what plants were used to make it), receiving rapé can bring about a profound experience of the Forest. Because the medicine is sacred, the Indians take rapé as a prayer calling upon the forces of Nature, the blessing of the animals of the forest, and power of medicinal plants to heal us and give us strength.

Video Thumbnail Credit: Geenss Archenti Flores

Nowadays, medicinal rapé is also making its way all over the world, through increasing cross cultural friendships between the Indians and non-indigenous friends, as well as through ayahuasca ceremonies held by traveling shamans. Rapé is increasingly being consumed in a more social context, in the way that sharing sacred tobacco shifted to social cigarette smoking.

To prevent your relationship with rapé from turning into an addiction and a personal vice, here are some tips you can follow to maintain the sacredness of the rapé ritual as a modern shaman.

MUST READ: The 4 Best Huni Kuin Rapé Snuffs

The Right Way – and Wrong Way – to Consume Rapé Medicine

Rapé is administered with two different types of pipes, which are typically made from bamboo or bone. The first type of pipe requires the assistance of another person, who blows the snuff with a powerful blast into each nostril of the partner who is receiving the rapé. For that reason it is generally referred to as the blow pipe and, in Brazil, the two-person pipe is called the “Tepi.”

Here’s where you can buy mahogany or copper Tepis.


Beautiful Tepis made of bone

MUST-READ Step by Step Instructions on How to Give a Someone a Soplada of Sacred Amazonian Rapé

If you don’t have a buddy to blow medicine up your nose, don’t worry, you can do it yourself with a self-applicator pipe called a “Kuripe.” A Kuripe is a small V-shaped pipe that connects your mouth to your nostril. While it’s always harder to blow yourself than to have a friend blow you, trying to get a noob to blow you (who has no idea how to do it) is the least desirable option. Thus it’s always good to have your own Kuripe, and learn how to blow yourself, if you are a bona fide rapé enthusiast.

Here’s where you can get copper, marble, and mahogany Kuripes!


Modern style Kuripes inlaid with stone

What you don’t want to do is snort rapé off a smooth flat surface with a rolled up bill or straw. That is a major Amazonian faux pas – it won’t score you points with the Indians and might get you arrested by unamused Policia Federal for public cocaine consumption.

MUST-READ Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Self-Administer Sacred Amazonian Rapé

The Appropriate Set & Setting for a Rapé Ritual

Because the act of taking rapé is a prayer, the set and setting will impact the experience of your prayer. The best places to take rapé are outside in nature, at the altar during an ayahuasca ceremony, or in a quiet sacred space indoors, with high-vibrational music playing. Avoid taking rapé while waiting at bus stops, in busy commercial areas, in common areas with a lot of movement that is unrelated to spiritual activity, or where you might be interrupted by someone who has no idea what you are doing nor what it means. An ideal setting allows you to fully experience the effect of the rapé without distraction and have the space for quiet contemplation.

Also, depending on the medicinal plants that were used in the rapé blend, you may experience a wide range of sensations after taking your rapé; from emotional upwellings, to vomiting and bowel movements. Here are some tips to set up your space – and yourself – for comfort:

  • It’s a good idea to have a bottle of water nearby and tissues or a roll of toilet paper for blowing your nose.
  • If you think you are going to be thirsty, drink water BEFORE snuffing your rapé, because any water you drink afterwards will task like rapé.
  • Don’t eat immediately before taking rapé, because it may come right out after.
  • Make sure you have an easy place to vomit in case the urge suddenly descends upon you.
  • Make sure you are also close to the toilet in case that kind of expulsion is needed.
  • Make sure your friends are aware of what you are doing (so nobody interrupts your moment of deep contemplation by asking you the best way to get on the I-80).

What to Expect From Your Rapé Experience

Your rapé experience will depend a lot on the medicinal rapé blend you are consuming. There are a myriad of medicinal plants that can be used in rapé and thus a wide range of experiences you can enjoy: from a nice blast of fragrance in your nose, to an eye-opening nasal expresso shot, to a transcendental, wildly psychoactive experience where you can fly like an eagle for hours.

There are a few common side effects to taking rapé that you should be prepared for and certainly not ashamed of:

  • Your nose will start running, and your sinuses will want to clear themselves out. Lean forward – try not to tilt your head back, or your rapé filled mucus will start backdripping down your sinuses, which may cause you to gag, and then vomit. Hocking loogies during a rapé session is totally socially acceptable.
  • You may want to projectile vomit. It’s OK. Rapé is purifying and you are getting well. Try to vomit in the bushes.
  • You may want to take a giant dump. Bowel movements are good for you. If you have trouble staying regular, take rapé in the morning. It’s better than coffee.

Rapé Safety Tips for the Modern Shaman

As with any kind of potent medicine, rapé can be abused and consumed in ways that are less sacred, and more recreational. Rapé can be hard on your sinuses, so overuse can create sinus problems and damage to your respiratory system. Also, because the medicinal plants in rapé blends vary, its effects on your system can vary. Misuse can lead to addiction or even send you to the hospital. For this reason, it’s important to test your rapé and with any drug, know where it comes from. Also, using rapé with other drugs, like MDMA, is not advised as the contraindications may be unknown. Rapé is frequently offered during ayahuasca ceremonies, but you may want to tune in and decide whether rapé is really what your body needs at that moment.

I took MDMA at a conscious music festival, and afterwards, I did rapé. It was a terrible combination. I felt nauseated, dizzy, and had no energy to walk around. I immediately had to go to the bathroom. Then I threw up. The rapé totally wiped out my MDMA experience. I will never to that again! ~ Anonymous

Because rapé is used shamanically, passing rapé can be a means for someone with ill intentions to put an enchantment or curse on you. It’s not a good idea to share rapé with people you don’t know and trust, or receive rapé from a shaman who you are getting “bad vibes” from.

Sacred Rapé Kit Storage & Care

As medicinal rapé appreciation grows around the world, rapé kits are increasingly part of the modern shamanic toolkit, and global shamans are finding themselves traveling with rapé and storing their medicine for longer periods of time due to the difficulty of procuring fresh rapé outside the Amazon. Here are some tips on how to care for your rapé and rapé applicators.


Taking Care of Your Rapé Applicator

Care for your rapé applicator is going to depend very much on what materials were used to make it (bamboo, bone), hold it together (beeswax, durapox), and adorn it (string, feathers, stones, paint). Rapé applicators are sacred shamanic tools and typically kept at home on an altar or carried around in a medicine bag. You may want to keep your feather adorned tepi at home and have a simpler tepi for travel, because it’s really a bummer to discover that your beautiful tepi macaw feathers got crushed and broken in your backpack. Kuripe self applicators tend to travel better.


Rapé Applicator Hygiene

In the Amazon, sharing rapé has become a common social activity. In indigenous culture, everything is shared, so the Indians don’t tend to place as much importance on keeping personal use items, well, personal. If you come from an individualistic society, like the United States, your rugged individualism and hangups about your personal stuff is going to stand out. Also, Indians tend to have a strong belief that using a shared object to consume medicine isn’t going to get them sick, because the medicine is sacred, powerful, and will prevent that – magically. That being said, what do you do in a situation where you have five people wanting to pass your tepi pipe around, and one of them visibly has a cold or flu?

  • Using a Q-Tip, periodically clean your rapé applicator with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Depending on what materials were used to construct your rapé applicator, the drawback to this is that the chemicals can cause bamboo to crack or adhesives holding the two bamboo tubes into a V to dissolve.
  • Use a lighter flame to disinfect the ends of your rapé applicator. Again, depending on what materials were used to construct your rapé applicator, the flame can cause the ends to blacken, and look unsightly.

The Amazon is a humid place. Using soap and water to clean your rapé applicator can be tricky as moisture can build up deep inside your applicator and grow mold, which is the last thing you want to be inhaling into your nose.

Storing Medicinal Rapé

In the old days, rapé was stored in hollowed out gourds or giant snail shells. Nowadays, rapé made in the Amazon is typically stored in used soda bottles. Old plastic may not be the best container for long term storage of medicinal snuff. A preferred container by non-indigenous Brazilians are glass test tubes with screw tops. Not only are these easy to carry around, pouring rapé into the palm of your hand is also easier, because the shape of the container minimizes the avalanche effect that bottles with narrow necks can have.

With a container with a narrow opening, you increase the likelihood of not being able to get all your rapé out, or know what’s going on at the very bottom if the container isn’t clear.

Glass test tubes are a great way to store and carry rapé.

Glass test tubes are a great way to store and carry rapé.

Rapé needs to be stored in a cool dry place. Moldy rapé will tend to have a distinct, acrid smell to it. If you find that your rapé is starting to go, you can spread it out in cloth or smooth clean surface and dry it out in the sun.

Do bear in mind that medicinal rapé has a shelf life and loses its effectiveness over time, so holding onto it for as long as it will last is not the best idea.

Use it or lose it.

Purchase ethically-sourced rapé from our partners at Sacred Snuff!

What Do You Think? Please Share in the Comments Below

  • What is your favorite rapé blend?
  • Do you have any tips on sacred rapé kit care?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is rapé?

Rapé is a traditional tobacco snuff used in many indigenous Amazonian cultures. It is used as part of other plant medicine ceremonies, or as a plant medicine in its own right.

Is rapé addictive?

Rapé contains strong tobacco, and nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Therefore, rapé certainly has the potential for addiction. As with any plant medicine, moderation is recommended.

Is rapé legal in the US?

Rapé is simply a tobacco product, so is legal in the US.

How to use rapé?

Rapé is insufflated (snorted) through a pipe called a tepi, with the assistance of a trained shaman. Otherwise, you can take rapé yourself using a special pipe called a kuripe.

How to make rapé?

Rapé is traditionally made by drying tobacco and mixing it with the ashes from a variety of local plants, or finely ground fresh plants, to make a fine snuff.

How long does rapé last?

The immediate rapé experience will last a few minutes after insufflation – but the afterglow can last hours, or even days afterwards.

Image Credits

The Rapé Indígena Facebook Group
The Rapé Sagrado da Floresta Facebook Group
The Arte do Rapé Facebook Group
Eskawatã Kayawai Festival
Festival Huni Kuin Eskawatã Kayawai Humaitá Acre Brasil
Ivan Kuxan Sum'

About Lorna Liana

Lorna Liana is a new media strategist and lifestyle business coach to visionary entrepreneurs. She travels the world while running her business as a digital nomad. Lorna's boutique agency provides “done for you” web design, development and online marketing services for social ventures, sustainable brands, transformational coaches and new paradigm thought leaders. She is also a personal development junkie, and 20 year practitioner of shamanism, with extensive training in Tibetan Bon Shamanism and the ayahuasca traditions of the Amazon Basin. A self-professed ayahuasca snob and perennial ayahuasca tourist, Lorna has been drinking ayahuasca since 2004. She's been in approximately 150 ayahuasca ceremonies (from terrible to fantastic), and tasted wide variety of ayahuasca brews (from awful to exquisite). Her ayahuasca experience spans 30+ different shamans and facilitators, 7 indigenous tribes, several Brazilian churches, and a host of neo-shamanic circles, in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Europe, the US, and Asia. Through this widely-varied background, she hopes to shed some perspective on the globalization of ayahuasca.


  1.' Darbell on August 26, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you for an informative read. May the ancestor continue to embrace you….

  2.' Serafim Kotsogiannis on October 23, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Lorna,

    I have been following your offerings of your knowledge of the sacred medicines for a while now and I have to say that after my initial resistance to the “internet” part of it, I have found myself more open and willing to extend that earthly wisdom through the net myself.
    I am recently working with and adding rapé to my healing practice, so I’d love to exchange knowlege/ideas if you feel inclined to it…???
    Also, if you have a source for an ethical bone tepi maker would be highly appreciated!!!

    In love and light,



    •' Andy on August 15, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      Good information, thanks for helping to make things clearer, first solo application tonight.

  3.' Allison on November 22, 2018 at 10:37 am

    I had a horrible experience with Rape prior to a Bufo ceremony. I felt like my heart was going to burst and had a hard time breathing. I was super dizzy as well. I purged even though I didnt have much in me. That was OK, I know that can be part of the process, but I was so dizzy that I could barely take in the bufo smoke and it was hard to stand up and look around. I felt like my body was in survival mode and I couldnt connect with the spiritual level. I couldnt sleep that night because my nervose system was still so reved up. I will never do it again, even if that excludes me from using other sacred medicines!

    •' Teresa on September 30, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      Yes I had an awful experience.Felt like I was poisoned.Beware.

    •' mitchel on September 1, 2021 at 7:13 pm

      isn’t it just possible that you did way too much?

  4.' Rhys on January 3, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Very informative hand helpful, thank you for taking the time assist others in their initial process of understanding Rapé and its traditions!

    •' Poison Ivy on November 30, 2020 at 7:49 pm

      Yes, that will happen to you if you take a rape that is strong. My first time using rape, I thought I was going to die. My heart was racing, I had a hard time breathing, I was DIZZY;couldn’t even stand for 1 hour, but, clarity hit me,I felt my energy in full force become aligned, I felt grounded; it was like, my soul jumped into my body and I was one with mother earth. That experience was 3 weeks ago. Since then, I have took rape multiple times and every time, my energy becomes more aligned and I feel like my body is already grounded. The more I take rape, the less I feel the plant spirit working through me. Its like I feel healed, but the plant spirit is just tightening a few screws. I feel aligned and complete. I bought my rape powder from chakraopenings. Beware, do not start out with Awareness Rape.

  5.' Simon on February 21, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Very much enjoyed this read and it was educational.

  6.' Geoffrey on October 23, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Great article, thanks for all the info! I do have a few questions that maybe you can answer?

    1. Curious if you have any rough estimate about the shelf life of rapé? (tying to figure out how much to order, I’d like to order as bulk as possible to minimize the environmental impact)
    Would placing in the freezer help the shelf life? I live in Colorado so humidity is not really a factor.

    2. Wondering what exactly you mean when you say test? is there a test kit to test the contents / quality of the rapé? or do you just mean do a little bit before you go all in or share it with anyone?

    Also on that note, is there anywhere you can recommend that you know to have quality rapé online?

    Thanks again for all the help!

  7.' KEVIN on November 22, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    hapeh might be a good thing for some people but for me personally i feel like i’ve lost something precious mentally like my short term memory or ability to understand complex things easily. should be cautious with it. any solution in my case tho?

    •' mitchel on September 1, 2021 at 7:15 pm

      how much were you using, and for how long?

  8.' Kuripe Tepi on February 27, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Just to try and help with Geoffrey’s questions:

    1. The main idea with storing rapé for longer periods is to store it in an airtight jar like a Mason jar. I would keep the rapé in a sealed bag and place this in the jar and seal. Store in a dark place away from sunlight. It’s all really about moisture retention. Storing in the freezer would possibly help slow down any chemical degeneration. I’ve had rapé stored properly in jars for several years and it still feels fresh.

    2. Test – I feel is referring to trying a small amount first through your Kuripe or Tepi pipe. Some rapé is very powerful not only makes your eyes water, it can make you purge so always start small and treat it with respect and use with intention.

    With regards to buying quality rapé online, there are lots of store selling it. I would advise finding genuine tribal rapé. The best I have found comes with the name of the actual person who blended as the tribal peoples usually always blend it with intention.

    Hapeh days!

    Hope this helps.

  9.' toby langford on May 5, 2021 at 5:45 pm

    i use it almost daily.. it has helped me in so many ways.. i use it with bufo, changa, mushrooms etccc. its simply amazing. sometimes a little rough but always beautiful and beneficial..

    •' mitchel on September 1, 2021 at 7:16 pm

      how often do you use it? do you have a tolerance/how quickly does tolerance develop?

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