Dedicated to my dearest friend and teacher, Lemice Zarka
Photo Credit to Amir Leron and AmazonCalling.org
Somewhat reluctant, I make my way and sit in front of her. She is serene, centered, peaceful and quiet. She hears me approach and opens her eyes, nodding in approval.
A slight fear creeps in, “What if it hurts? What if I purge? What will I feel?”…
She picks up a small glass vial and a beautiful hand made Tipi, a tubular Amazonian bone, and resin weapon. She pours the powder out of the vial, measuring the grayish grains in the palm of her hand, tapping the bottle with her fingers, and flattening the medicine in a neat fashion. Tap, tap, tap, I observe as more of the powder makes its way onto the surface, and with it, my fears increase and my breathing quickens.
She whistles and whispers a few powerful prayers. “Your intention?” she asks looking deep into my soul. “To face my pain and my trauma”, I whisper back, trembling as I acknowledge my own bravery. She nods quietly and lifts the Tipi towards my nose. We both take a deep breath in, and as I hear her pray one last prayer, swiftly she blows the first round into my being.
A mixture of fire, air, and intention is rushing through. My nose burns for a second; I feel a bit dizzy and cough. She quickly prepares the second dose. Before I know it, she hands me the Tipi, this time pointed to my other nostril. Again, deep breath in, and Ffffffttt, the medicine finds its way through.
A storm of energy is coursing through me. I feel it rushing through my brain and into the rest of my body. So much sensation, so many feelings making their way to the surface. My senses expand and my awareness with them. I feel the room around me; I feel the ground and the air. I feel small and gigantic all at the same time. It all happens so fast. But then… the pain… the nausea, the intensified fear of my mortality and the loss of it all. My limbs tremble and my mind is racing to all directions. Flashes of light and imagery, memories gushing and filling my mind. In my panic I reach out and grab her hands, she holds me still, grounding my frantic storm and reminds me to breathe. She whispers a prayer from the forest, whispers and snaps her fingers above my head, it all makes sense, it’s all so perfectly clear. There, right there, in the middle of this storm, I find my freedom. Minutes go by and with them; the pain fades like a fog clearing into the dawning sun. My body finds its stillness and my mind is quiet and still. I lift my head; our eyes meet in a deep trusting knowing. As if we have known each other since the beginning of time. We sit still, holding each other with the warmth of our hearts, not wanting this moment to ever end.
Challenge, pain, sickness, old age and eventually death are a fundamental part of the human journey. No matter how much we try, avoiding this natural progression is not possible, and is not intended. We might be able to skip some of the stages, however, we all know, that at the right place and at the right moment, this life, with all of its beauty and glory will find its end.
In a way, our human evolution and our technology seem to be an attempt to ease and prolong this process. Live as comfortably as we can, with the least amount of challenge and strife, for the longest time we possibly can. It seems that our lives are an attempt to accumulate as much quality and as much quantity of days above ground.
However, this attempt, to “stay in the light”, avoid pain and focus on pleasure breeds a deep feeling of fear. An intense grasp for air and a profound fear of losing all we have and all we are. Groping after each moment of happiness and pleasure, secretly fearing the moment it might all end.
Our fears debilitate us. They shelter us, holding us back and pushing us to stay small.
Like weeds taking a garden, our fears become more and more real. Having a life of their own, a story, and reason and a deep sense of purpose. However, living in fear, over time, will manifest a process of disassociation and deep disconnection from our body, from our emotions and our sense of self. When we follow our fears, we start living in our minds. Generating a façade of a reality that will hold us in a numbing sense of mediocre comfort. Maintaining us in a state of survival and putting us in a constant race, craving for more yet unwilling to adventure ourselves to change in order to feel and grow.
Rapé or Hapé is an Amazonian based snuff medicine, which holds the intention to help us face our pain and fears. Its spiritual aim is to give us the force and the strength to face our darkness and willfully take us to stand strong in our sickness. It is a medicine of free will. Other than your choice to go ahead and use it, and the intention to face your pain it has no other spiritual meaning. Of course, like all plant-based medicines from the Amazon, it has many physical healing properties, however, it’s greatest gift is in helping us face our sickness. It is called after all – the medicine of sickness. Teaching us that darkness has its purpose, that without facing the dark, our healing will never start.
The choice to go into darkness implies that you are actually situated in the light. That you have power over it and that your freedom and sovereignty are absolutely yours. It doesn’t mean you don’t have fears, pains or challenges, it means you are willing and choosing to face those and heal. When our pain is dormant, hidden or even stored within our body, we somewhat carry a silent passenger. A silent killer who might explode at any moment without any notice. Have you noticed how at times, we hold things back, store them somewhere in our guts, and they seem to always erupt at the most inopportune moment? Yup… those eruptions are exactly what I’m talking about. Dark passengers waiting to explode.
And so, in facing our pain and our fears, we are choosing to be an active participant in our own healing process and not just leave it for chance. Obviously, there are many modalities and numerous therapies, which help us, do just that.
Using Hapé is a wonderful tool, helping us process our fears and our darkness in a very physical, somatic way. The pain comes to the surface, our bodies literally purge what we’ve been holding on to. There is a physical, emotional and spiritual purging that accompanies the process. We release toxins, release stored trauma and find a place of peace and centeredness.
The other side of using Hapé is it’s strengthening force. A power of embodying and standing strong within the storm. It gives you the force to commit. To change. To carry forth and into your set intentions. It is a grounding force, a lightening bolt of electricity, shaking your inner grounds and lighting a fire of transformation. You can choose to face your darkness, and you can choose to step up, higher into your light. Into the choices you make day in and day out, the decisions that shape your destiny.
When I sit to experience the “Forca do Hapé”, the force of the Hapé, I make sure the experience is held with utmost sacredness. I ensure the source of the medicine is pure and authentic, and if possible sit with a very qualified Pajé or initiated facilitator. Hapé similar to most of the Amazonian plant medicines is an intentional medicine or an intentional experience. It is focused and based on a very clear and specific intention. Holding a clear intention and following through with it is what brings the experience to the spiritual fruition it deserves.
There are many ways to use Hapé ceremonially; on its own within its own ceremonial context, within ceremony of other medicine plants such as Ayahuasca or Wachuma, in solitude by yourself, or with another person who will either administer the medicine or hold space for you as you are within your own process.
Taking these medicines is a bridge back into the forest. A connection to the indigenous tribes and the medicine women and men who sacredly prepare nourish and harvest these divinated remedies. When offering Hapé or when being offered, take a moment to connect to the tribe this medicine comes from. Ask your facilitator to share about their experience with them, offer a prayer and your own gratitude for the immense fortune you have in partaking in this thousands of years old ceremonial process.
When you choose to be witnessed in your pain and share the experience with another, a deep bonding and connection occurs. A deep sense of vulnerability is born in both of you. Seeing a friend go through so much pain and fear, being courageous in their choices bares so much realness to it, has so much energy and power. And on the receiving end, to be witnessed in our weakness, in our pain, in purging and suffering through, though feeling vulnerable and exposed, is a deep bonding and intimate experience of being seen and received for all that you are.
When holding space for someone receiving Hapé what counts most is your ability to stay focused and centered with them. To hold their pain, their fear and just be present. Be aware not to offer touch unless asked for, or being reached for. Look at their eyes, feel their pain and hold their truest self in the light. But more than anything, allow. Allow for the darkness to run its course, and see if it awakens something dormant within you, allow the resonance and the intention to wash over you as well. As all plant medicines are operating at the core of the connected heart, they are a shared human experience, when one heals – all heal.
There are different stages within the Hapé experience. Each and every one of us experiences these stages differently. However, as the “force comes”, and the medicine is active, a beautiful intentional practice is to either verbally or non-verbally, within your heart, express what fears you are releasing, what new seeds of behavior or action are you planting within your heart and affirm that you have the force to live differently, you have the force to face your darkness and embrace your light.
In its core, Hapé is a grounding medicine. It helps us reconnect to our bodies and grow deep roots back into the earth. These roots are crucial in our process of spiritual awakening and ascension. If we are not grounded and rooted into the earth, we can’t hope to soar into the astral skies. The experience can be very rocky, purgative, challenging, scary and dark, however, the power of the Hapé is found in the peace and silence that comes after the storm. In your ability to sit centered, witnessing your body, your breath and your newfound wisdom in choosing to face your dark.
If you don’t face the dark, the healing will never start. Facing our fear is a choice; it is our divine birthright, for, at the end of it all, those fears were often our greatest teachers, our allies in growth. Choice is the name of this game – free will. That is truly where the power lies, to choose love over fear, to choose light over darkness. To choose life and live it fully.