Hapé, a sacred shamanic medicine utilized by Amazonian tribes for millennia, holds a pivotal role in their tribal culture and history. Crafted from a blend of tobacco, tree ashes, and other ingredients of the tribe’s preference.
Also known as tobacco snuff, Hapé is traditionally prepared through the ceremonial pounding of tobacco (N. rustica) with tree ashes, followed by meticulous filtration through a fine mesh, resulting in a finely powdered substance. The tobacco varieties used in Hapé differ from the commonly known N. tabacum; instead, N. rustica, such as "Corda" or "Moi," and occasionally "Mapacho," contribute to its potent and mind-altering effects.
In contrast to traditional snuffs, Hapé is not sniffed, snorted, or inhaled. Instead, it is administered by blowing into the nostrils using a specialized blowpipe known as "Kuripe" for self-administration or "Tepi" when administered by another person. This administration is quite forceful and can be quite startling at first.
The ashes, a crucial component of Hapé, are derived from the bark of various medicinal or sacred trees. The production process, the selection of ashes, and the specific composition and ratio of ingredients remain closely guarded tribal secrets.
South American shamans consider tobacco a sacred and wholesome medicine, establishing a profound connection between tobacco use and shamanism that differs significantly from Western tobacco consumption. Indigenous tribes employ tobacco in ceremonies for weather prediction, fishing, harvest rituals, spiritual experiences (such as vision quests and trances), and healing practices, with smoking playing a minimal role.
The utilization of tobacco by South American tribes like the Kaxinawá, Nu-nu, Yawanawá, and Katukina is deeply embedded in their culture. This practice dates back to at least the Mayan civilization, serving ritual, medicinal, and recreational purposes throughout the ages.