Shrouded by shamanic mysticism and gifted with a powerful aroma, palo santo is a native tree in South American countries such as Peru and Venezuela.
Also known as “Bursera graveolens” or “Holy Wood,” this wild tree is not that majestic from the outside and is nothing more than a messy thin tree. But it was already highly used and valued by ancient civilizations for what it treasures inside.
So what’s the deal with the palo santo tree? Can you use it as effectively as indigenous people did? What does it smell like? And is it sustainably harvested?
We’ll answer all of these questions and more! If you want to master the art of using palo santo wood, make sure to read this blog!
Palo Santo History & South American Origins
Palo Santo’s history runs deep through Amazonian landscapes and the ancient cultures of South America.
Indigenous populations held palo santo wood to high significance. For them, palo santo was a sacred tool used in various ways: ceremonies, shamanic rituals, cleansing, folk medicine, spiritual healing, and more.
Wouldn’t it be for its unique fragrance and benefits generations felt, palo santo wouldn’t stay as relevant as it still is.
What Does Palo Santo Smell Like?
If you ask different people what palo santo smells like, you might get a different answer every time. For some, palo santo wood gives off an aroma reminiscent of lemon and pine. Meanwhile, others smell notes of tobacco, leather, and amber! And that’s not all!
Some palo santo users describe the aroma as delicate with exotic notes of either vanilla, coconut, or mint.
That’s the beauty of burning palo santo; the experience is unique for everyone!
How Native Shamans Use It?
Whether it’s Ecuador, Peru, or even Mexico, the traditional shamans and healers used and still uses palo santo to repel negative energy and attract more good fortune.
Peru is one of the most documented countries when it comes to using palo santo. A Peruvianshaman or healer would light palo santo sticks and utilize the rising smoke for spiritual purposes. Strategically wafting the smoke around, the shaman will introduce the smoke to the energy field of ritual participants to clear misfortune, negative thought prints, and evil spirits.
Benefits of Palo Santo & Various Uses
Palo santo is mainly used in three different forms:
- Wood sticks
- Palo Santo Essential Oil.
Aromatherapy with palo santo transcended time graciously and introduced all of
the current methods used in the past.
Here are the different palo santo uses:
Palo Santo Tea - Yes, you can drink your palo santo! Some
believe it’s a way to introduce anti inflammatory benefits and relieve
stomachache and symptoms of colds and flu.
Mosquito Repellent - palo santo has a complex and rich
chemical profile that includes limonene, a big part of the plant's defense
The Uprising Smoke - cleansing the space by wafting the
smoke around can be used for spiritual purposes. By making your area pure,
you may feel more uplifted, optimistic, and clear your mind of unwanted
Diffusing Palo Santo - releasing essential oil into the air
or burning palo santo stick can give a strong relaxation response, resulting
in stress relief.
Applying Oil on the Skin - It is believed that palo santo oil can relieve physical pain when applied to a specific body area.
Spirituality with the Sacred Tree of Palo Santo
Like various ancient cultures, you can also use this holy wood to enhance your spiritual rituals and practices.
Foster a deeper connection with your inner-self and embrace new realms of spirituality with palo santo and these techniques:
Meditation - rich aroma of palo santo can help you focus
and relax during meditation. You can also cleanse your meditation space,
so it remains pure.
Reiki - this energy healing practice requires a lot of
focus and a space free of negative frequencies. Burning palo santo incense
can help with both - focus and make your Reiki space suitable for
Yoga - palo santo aromas can help enhance yoga practice
for better performance through significant relaxation effects.
Cleansing Crystals - If crystals are a big part of your
spirituality, they need to be cleansed frequently. Wafting palo santo smoke
around your crystals for at least 5-10 minutes will purify them.
- Chakra Balancing - some people use aromatherapy to balance and cleanse chakras. The powerful and sacred fragrance of palo santo will work wonders for recalibrating the body's energy to keep things flowing smoothly.
Before You Go: Sustainability Concerns & Thoughts
You may wonder if you contribute to deforestation and adverse environmental effects by buying palo santo. According to the >International Union For Conservation of Nature, the palo santo tree is at “Least Concern” status with a stable population.
South American countries are applying various conservation efforts to protect the sacred tree. In Peru, it is only allowed to collect branches of fallen trees. Meanwhile, in Ecuador, various reforestation programs are taking place.
However, the demand for palo santo remains high, and mindful purchasing from reputable sources is encouraged.