Shawãcaiá Shawãdawa – The Story of a Rapé Maker

Rupusuty: The snuff of the Shawãdawa

Rupusuty is the name the Shawãdawa people give to their Rapé, a word whose meaning is closely related both to the practical study of medicinal plants itself and the spiritual strength that revolves around the sacred power of healing that Mother Nature shares with us.

The Shawãdawa people, self-denominated Povo da Arara (Macaw People), are part of the Pano linguistic group and are spread across the territories of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia. This indigenous group has been present in Amazonian grounds for several ages now, and their history and customs have greatly contributed to the extraordinary diversity and complexity of indigenous traditions and culture throughout the Brazilian territory.

Reclaiming their culture

Over recent years, the Shawãdawa have been working on reverting the cultural deprivation suffered by the younger generations, focusing especially on reclaiming their language and passing down customs, lore, and rites that were nearly appropriated away from their own, and although there is still much to recover and work on, inspiring progress has been made as the rights to an enlargement of the territory that rightfully belongs to the Shawãdawa has been won back by the community.

Amongst their traditions are the sacred healing rituals that involve taking Rupusuty. It’s a process, just like for any other native group, that revolves around respect and requires deep understanding both of the rite itself, the composition and benefits the plants used in the making of Rapé can offer, and the cultural significance these ceremonies carry.

The craftsmanship required to make these shamanic blends is passed down through generations, with the Shawãdawa elders teaching their young their methods and recipes, which may sometimes be adapted by the younger generations, uniting tradition and modernity.

The words of a Forest Guardian

Shawãcaiá Shawãdawa, a young maker of Rupusuty, the Secretary of the Indigenous Peoples of Juruá Foundation’s, and an esteemed partner of Sacred Connection, has shared with us some part of his story as a member of this diverse and outstanding community and gives us a glimpse into the might and potency of his people’s Rapé in this interview we now share with you.

He describes the secular rites that go into both the making and the taking of rapé, and mentions how the making of this shamanic snuff is one of the many ways he and other Guardians of authentic Shawãdawa knowledge can preserve their heritage and, by selling it to outside groups, share with the world their ancestral, sacred medicine.

If Shawãcaiá’s words have reached your heart, and you’d like to find out more about him, his brothers, and his community’s work, you can read more about the Shawãdawa here, and check out Sacred Connection’s line of Shawãwada Shamanic Snuffs.

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