Over a year has passed since I visited the jungles of Costa Rica where I was antiquated with Mapacho. It first seemed an odd phenomenon seeing so many others taking pulls from their hand carved wooden pipes or rolled cigarettes, thick smoke bellowing out like chimneys. Despite the clouds, the smell was very mild and soothing, like a light incense rather then the harsh chemical burn from a cigarette. I quickly found the benefits of working with this Mapacho and have continued to do so since. This post will explore a bit of background as well as how I personally work with Mapacho.
Mapacho, also called Nicotina Rustica and is a powerful strain of tobacco grown in the Amazon jungle that has been used for many thousands of years by indigenous people and shamanic practitioners. It boasts several times the nicotine content of western strains with none of the additive fillers. Mapacho is a master plant medicine to be respected and taken with intention, rather then smoked out of unconscious habit. Consciously working with Mapacho, as I have over the last year, can provide an increased sense of well-being, which may seem contradictory to what we have learned of the plant in the west.
What is plant medicine and a master plant teacher? Today we largely put emphasis on chemicals as healing agents, either in the form of pharmaceuticals. This is a recent viewpoint taking a perspective from human history. For much of our past healing has been plant based in various forms such as salves, tinctures or teas. These plants were viewed less as chemical reactions and more as conscious living beings with an intelligence on to themselves. There is a bit of a hierarchy in the plant medicine realm and a master plant is one which can grant profound spiritual insights and healing if worked with correctly. With intention and ceremony and often following a specific diet.
So what are some of the benefits one might see working with Mapacho? For one, the spirit is grounding and provides users with a sense of ease and connection to their bodies. This brings about a sense of wellness and presence within the eternal now. Mapacho gives us a greater connection to the earth and the interconnection of all things, as well as granting an increased sense of vitality and courage to take on our lives as we make our way through our own individual journey. Mapacho gently reminds us of who and what we are, although a bit subtler then other plant allies. Mapacho purifies our energies and subtle body as well as cleanses our surroundings much like sage. Burning Mapacho helps with intention setting and brings us insights related to our own personal power- opening a door to communicate with the spirit world, while keeping a sacred space pure. Mapacho can bring us insight into our own being, resourcefulness, and helps to bring clarity to our goals and visions.
If you do use Mapacho consciously you will find it both grounds and stimulates, something unique as often we are granted one or the other when using medicines. This is how it clears space and energetic blockages while also enhancing manifestation of our intentions. We can feel more while still remaining present.
Why do I suggest only smoking Mapacho with intention? Mapacho can become an addictive habit and can lead to dependency much like other strains of tobacco, but with the added oommf of the extra nicotine. You must choose to either use this with intention to enhance your personal power or as an escape from your shadow work and life lessons. Be warned to not use this to escape your fear -becoming addicted to Mapacho’s protection, much like how medicines been abused in recent centuries like cannabis. This takes away from the healing power of the plant spirit.
So it’s use really comes down to the individual, it can be used for profound healing and power or as an escape from our shadow work- which of course never works, the shadows will always come- Mapacho can be our ally if we allow it. If you choose to use as a tea or snuff, please do so with a trained practitioner as these can be less safe then smoking. I do not have experience in these forms myself.
How do I use Mapacho?
You can find Mapacho online, I suggest you work with a reputable vendor over Ebay. Your Mapacho will often be shipped straight from Peru, and while still affordable will be much more expensive than if you were buying locally. I use Shaman Dealer and have been happy with both their product and customer service and feel it comes at a fair price. I prefer buying a log rather then cigarettes both because I have a pipe that is meaningful to me and because the cigarettes are often rolled in printer paper which is not very healthy to smoke.
Your tobacco will come in a thick log wrapped in leaves should you get a log. You will want to store it in a humidor or a fridge. I personally use this humidor & these packets.
These packets should be interchanged every 3 months or so but make storage easy.
When your ready to use some you’ll cut some Mapacho of the log with a knife and cutting board and cut up the piece a bit with the knife. Then place the tobacco a herb grinder to shred it. Note it’s a bit sticky so use a fork to get it out of the grinder. From there I put your Mapacho in a sealed jar- I got this pack myself with everything you need.
Choosing a Pipe:
I use a hand carved pipe I received in Costa Rica, you might come across a similar pipe in your own journey. If not you can find hand carved ceremonial pipes on Etsy or you might be happy with a nice beginner pipe like this one to start with.
Packing your Pipe:
- Take some Mapacho out and part any clumps. You might leave some out the night before if its moist in the jar and you smoke regularly.
- Fill your pipe head about 3/4 of the way full and lightly pack it down with your thumb or a packing tool. You should still be able to suck the pipe with just a little bit of resistance.
2. Top the pipe with a little more so its just overflowing but still loose. You should still be able to pull with just slight resistance. Lightly pack this down again until level with the bowl.
3. Char the top with your lighter. Note I use this to burn with hemp wick instead for a cleaner and healthier smoke. Once you char the top all the fluffy stuff on top will now pack nicely within. This is why the tool comes in handy so you don’t burn your fingers on this step! Now your bowl is ready to smoke! If your pull has to much resistance your best off repacking it from scratch rather then struggling.
Smoking your pipe:
From here your personal ceremony takes over. For me, I whistle and sing and send my prayers and intentions into the pipe and the Mapacho and ask for healing and guidance. This is a very personal ritual that you will develop on your own working with the plant. One thing shared with me when I received my pipe, its very important you keep your pipe for yourself and don’t let anyone else use it or touch it. This is because your pouring your intentions and prayers into it and it becomes a focal point of your own energy. I have a larger pipe I use as my community pipe to share the medicine with others.
Now I start smoking the pipe like a cigar in that I fill my mouth with the smoke, but do not breath it in. I take several hits blowing the smoke all around me to all 4 corners, I also move the pipe side to side to clear the space around me. Once I have cleared my body and space I then take 3 more inhales each of these I do breath in, to allow the medicine to work within my body as well. I then thank the spirit and set the pipe down and let the smoke continue to bellow out of the top until it naturally subsides on its own, like an incense.
From here I now start my daily meditation and yoga practice and let the medicine work through me and enhance my breath and body connection.