It’s funny to me that a widely abused substance in our modern world can have so many healing properties. Both my parents were smokers and I remember trying one of my moms Kool cigarettes when I was eight years old. I quickly barfed and ran home to tell my mom how gross smoking was. She laughed, wasn’t happy that I lied, but acknowledged that the outcome was worth it. Needless to say, my deep programming about tobacco being bad for you played a role in my understanding of this deeply medicinal substance.
Tobacco is a sacred shamanic medicine that has been used by tribes of the Amazon basin for thousands of years. It’s an essential part of their tribal culture and history. Rapé is the name of many of these snuffs used by shamans as part of important medicinal rituals. Of course it’s fine, ground-up and not the type of tobacco you smoke. It’s administered into your nose with a special blow-pipe called a Tepi (Administered to you) or a Kuripe (self administered).
On the opening day of our psychedelic mushroom retreat we went on a hike down to a waterfall in the mountains of San José del Pacifico. This little town is located over 2300 metres above sea level, nestled in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. People come here for magic mushrooms to use recreationally and in ceremony. We were here with deep respect for the sacred mushrooms with indigenous elders, in ceremony, for healing purposes only. There are steps to take that include many other ceremonies before embarking on such a journey.
Opening with Rapé is a beautiful way to detox the body and mind and clear your energetic field. Other benefits include the grounding and calming effect on the emotions which lasts much longer than the initial sensation; the clearing of sinuses, mucus and bacteria to combat colds and respiratory ailments; the sharpening the mind; and it can be used in conjunction with other treatments for addiction and mental illness.
Today I was especially mindful to what I committed myself to do on the retreat. I was hesitant with past, less than positive, encounters trying Rapé without the proper guidance. I told myself I am here to open up to what I need to release. I felt better knowing that the facilitators Jessica and Andrew would be guiding us and told us to set our intention before hand. They said that we would be receiving this Rapé with love and the most beneficial way to approach, was from a place of love and not fear.
Beginning all ceremonies with the common practice of smudging, we light sage, copal, and palo santo. Standing with our arms out while they move the burning plants around our body to clear our energy. On our foreheads and back of our necks, we put Agua de Florida, a spiritual cleansing water and mixture of herbs from the elders. My understanding is it’s cleansing and a way to not take in others energy and focus on our own work.
Andrew, serving the Rapé, had such a gentleness in his demeanor, warm eyes and a calming spirit that made it easier to put past experiences aside, be present and listen with deep gratitude. Jessica, our other guide is a sage with a brilliance about her, tranquil and grounding in her presence. As Andrew administers the Rape´, all I had to do was listen to Jessica’s instructions. She told me when to breath, when to spit, blow my nose. The first thing that happened after I got past my nose burning was a warm sensation in my pineal gland that expanded to the rest of my body.
One thing she did warn of us before was that nausea can happen and there may be a purge. This is why we hiked in a fasted state. It is just the way it sounds, yes I threw up. My nose drained the entire time and I kept spitting to clear my throat. Jessica’s hand on my back and Andrew’s presence helped me remember why I am here. I am here to serve. How I do this is by healing myself, first, by letting go of what is no longer serving me. What I have come to understand was that I had quite a bit to clear before even beginning this work. Many thoughts passed through my mind. Mostly familial, since the basis of the retreat is to work with healing ancestral wounds and to remember who we are without the layering that occurs throughout lifetimes and generations.
This was just the beginning. The entire event lasted a couple of hours before we would hike back. The most magical part of it all was the appearance of three donkeys on the way back. In a few words donkeys are used to be an emblem of power. They symbolize determination and hard work. I took it to mean that this wouldn’t be easy, but I have it inside of me to find personal power with in me on my path to freedom.
A special thanks to Andrew Barron and Jessica Calvo for their amazing work at One Spirt Infinite Journeys. https://www.onespirit-infinitejourneys.com