What is Amazonian Hapé (Rapé)?
Rapé is the preparation of powdered medicinal herbs, often with a tobacco base. Hapé is typically made with mapacho - Hapé elicits a feeling of alertness and elevation that surpasses most other natural plant-based effects.
The effects of hapé are experienced rapidly and intensely because the powdered snuff is administered through the nose. The practice of consuming powdered plant medicines through the nose is much more ancient than we realized (dating from the pre-Columbian days) and was first observed among the Brazilian indigenous tribes.
In Europe, herbal snuff was introduced by the doctor and botanist Francisco Hernández de Boncalo in 1577 - and the elites of that time often took snuff as a headache treatment. During the XVIII century, inhaling snuff became fashionable among the European aristocracy.
Today, indigenous tribes in the Amazon basin continue to use hapé in all aspects of life, from formal ritual use in rites of puberty, initiation, cashiri drinkings festivals, social gatherings and healing ceremonies, to simply tuning into Nature and the healing power of sacred plant medicines alone or with friends.
There are several tribes that traditionally used hapé - which include but are not limited to the Katukina, Yawanawa, Kaxinawa, Nukini, Kuntanawa, Apurinã, Ashaninka, and Matses - often produce their own specific kinds of Hapé blend and have different ways of preparing the herbal snuff, from techniques to songs that are sung during the rapé rituals.
From the indigenous point of view, hapé is a sacred shamanic snuff medicine with profound healing effects. Hapé is made from different medicinal plants for different purposes – to induce visions, to have energy, and to enhance the senses with the aromatic fragrance of the plants used in the blend. Given that there are myriad medicinal plants you can blend into hapé, there are many various hapé recipes in existence - and these recipes are often closely guarded by the tribes as secrets.
Sharing hapé – is traditionally a ritualistic practice among Amazonian tribes that may include specific chants to activate the force of the hapé and to confer the healing power of the forest upon the hapé recipient.
The ritual use of hapé is also making its way around the world, introduced to the West through ayahuasca ceremonies by traveling shamans and by visitors who have spent time in the jungle with indigenous communities.