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left: VaWengara varikuratidza chambwa chebute remudzimu muzambara (Wengara showing snuff, chambwa in a spiritual wooden plate)

To prepare Bute for spiritual use we have to keep clean throughout the process, by clean we mean not having sex, for two nights before starting and throughout the whole process. When we prepare bute we start with Chambwa. This is made from tobacco plants, which are compressed into a cone shape and allowed to dry.

When we pray for the chambwa(s), we pray to our ancestors and Yah (God), asking that the snuff that we make brings blessings and good things to people who use it. Then after the praying, the chambwa remains in the Nhumba (healing or prayer room) for one night; during that night we sleep with our mind focussed, still on the meditation for the chambwa. In our dreams we look forward to meeting the ancestors, to say that the chambwa is good to be used for making snuff for people.

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above: nhekwe ina dzebute remidzimu nematende maviri ebute remidzimu (4 small cow horn containers (nhekwe) and 2 large gourd containers (dende), for spiritual snuff 

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above: VaWengara ne nhekwe chena varikuisa bute remudzimu rakabikwa muchanja kuti vafembe (Wengara with a white nhekwe snuff container, putting spiritually cooked snuff in his hand to sniff it)

Now when the ancestor agrees that the chambwa is good, we then destroy it and grind it to powder. During the time of grinding the chambwa, the person doing the grinding should be faithful to our culture, and they do this without talking. It is a meditation, you are wishing blessings and praying for the snuff. Then it is put into containers called Bikiro, or Dende reDare (a natural gourd), and the snuff is cooked in a specific way. There is a special way to prepare the cooking pot and the fireplace for which you need advice.

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above: matende matatu emabikiro ebute remidzimu (3 gourd containers of spiritual snuff being cooked)

left: dende rebikiro rebute remidzimu pamoto (the gourd of spiritual snuff cooking on the fire)

When the snuff is back in the Nhumba, this is when Wengara takes it to the bush to bless it and pray for it. The snuff is left under a tree for one night and certain prayers should be said. When we return home, it is also a meditating night, to listen to dreams. You should be told by ancestors that the snuff is blessed. In the morning you collect the snuff and return it to the Nhumba. To do this process of preparing snuff it is important that you are properly connected to your spirits. In the Nhumba, snuff is kept in mudende, the natural gourd containers. For taking ourside and sharing with people we transfer snuff to nhekwe, containers made from cow horn.

Dende / Bikiro reDare (traditional snuff gourd) should always stay in the Nhumba (spiritual room) and should always stay clean. Noone should cross over it, even if the room is crowded. If a person jumps it, then the snuff is dead. Also women who are on period should not enter the Nhumba until their period is over, as it will also finish the use of the snuff; they should also not use snuff for their prayers during those days. Men and women who have just had sex should also not enter the Nhumba until they have bathed.

We transfer some snuff from the dende to a nhekwe, a small container made of cow horn. This you can keep in a pocket with you, and it is from this that you can take and share with people who share your faith. But giving to someone who clashes with you in faith doesn't affect you, you can still give. Sharing your snuff is a way of sharing your gifts from your spirits with others. Some may not even have faith in you, but by sharing your snuff they are sharing your gifts.

The nhekwe can go with you anywhere, however if you have sex, you should bath your body first before touching it again. If you do touch it after sex, you should cleanse yourself, and then empty out the nhekwe before cleansing it and refilling it from the dende. Manyame Linos Wengara never takes mudende from the nhumba unless it is for healing, ceremonies or a spiritual occasion, and then it is kept very carefully to keep it clean. Often when people from other cultures see these containers, from nhekwe to dende, they may think that we pray to idols, but these are not idols.

We use snuff for guidance, during the praying time we put it on the earth to share with our good ancestors, from the earth spirits to water spirits, sky spirits and Yah (God). We always have to keep the snuff clean as we know that the spirits we pray to are cleaner than the snuff we use. We could do so many prayers with the spirits not approaching, just because the snuff we are using is not clean. The spirits are there, but it is our snuff blocking us from seeing them.

Our big reason for selling snuff on the website is that many people like to use snuff for prayers, yet they end up with dirty, or unspiritual snuff. It can be made by so many people, perhaps for business only, without prayers or regard to its spiritual use. We want people to use spiritual snuff. We can also sell nhekwe, as these are a good way to keep snuff, as our ancestors were using the cow horns that were available.

The snuff from Zimbaremabwe is spiritual and traditionally made, and it is intended for the promotion of culture and for people to pray for themselves. Spiritually blessed snuff made by Wengara is for £20. It is for people who are happy to share his visions and are aware of his spiritual life and the process of making the snuff. This snuff is different as it is for healing life and is connected to and blessed by Ngara spirits.

Snuff can be used in traditional ways. It can be sniffed, a little can be put in pure clean water to cleanse our bodies, and it can be put on the earth when you go to pray in the bush. We are happy to advise our friends and customers on how to use our snuff for spiritual ways. 

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