Palo Santo. Also known as Wood of the Saints and Holy Wood. It seems like everyone is using it but do they know why, where it comes from or how to use it respectfully?
Palo Santo is a sacred tree native to Central and South America that’s been used in sacred Indigenous medicinal and spiritual rituals for centuries. In recent years, Palo Santo has entered the Western zeitgeist, becoming part of the lives of people in and outside the wellness community. Although the wood itself is what’s probably popped up most on your feed, Palo Santo also can be found in incense, brewed into a tea, or found in essential oil.
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Palo Santo has a penetrating woodsy scent, slightly sweet, citrusy, and intense. Some say it reminds them of black licorice. It’s an enchanting, aromatic scent that is certainly unforgettable and distinct.
Palo Santo belongs to the same Burseraceae family that frankincense and myrrh trees are also part of with hints of pine, lemon and mint. It’s one of the most aromatic and rarefied woods in the world.
Smudging is one of the most well-known Palo Santo traditions that dates back to ancient times. It’s a ritual still practiced today by Peru’s revered shamans, or “curanderos,” in order to energetically clear and cleanse a person, space or object.
Curanderos believe burning the sacred wood will drive away dark energies while also inviting positivity and healing into a body or space. Palo Santo was and continues to be used by Indigenous shamans in order to assist the dying as they transition into the afterlife.
Healers and shamans of South America believe that Palo Santo itself possesses a strong spirit that must be acknowledged, and treated with respect. They believe the spirit continues to live in the wood long after the tree has fallen, and when treated properly, will assist in restoring your physical and energetic well being.
This is one of the reasons that properly harvested Palo Santo trees are never cut down, and the wood and essential oils can only be extracted no earlier than three years after the natural death of the tree.
While smudging with Palo Santo is a closed practice, traditionally done by Indigenous shamans, “cleansing” a space is something everyone can attempt to do on their own. If you do attempt this yourself, it’s important to understand the cultural origins of the ritual.
You can respectfully attempt to cleanse a space with Palo Santo by setting a good and pure intention. Invoking the spirit of the plant, offering gratitude, and reciting a blessing as you cleanse is also highly recommended.
Some suggest cleansing a home with Palo Santo in a specific order. If you want to energetically cleanse a house make sure to start at the front door first and move on to other rooms one by one. Corners are believed to hold the highest level of negative energy so it’s recommended to pay special attention to them. Open all the doors and drawers too.
In addition to being used to cleanse energy, Palo Santo has other lesser known and surprising benefits for you.
Palo Santo oil can be directly applied to skin in order to help alleviate pain, and inflammation. A 2017 NIH study attributes this to limonene, which is found in Palo Santo oil and was discovered to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Palo Santo is used to repel mosquitoes and flies. Limonene is also a substance with insecticide properties and is frequently used in natural insect repellants.
Palo Santo was traditionally used by healers as a remedy for common colds, headaches, and stress. While clinical studies on the wood’s medicinal effects are limited, it is rich in antioxidants which aid in recovery.
Palo Santo essential oil is considered a high-vibrational oil with profound healing and grounding potential. Generally associated with the Root chakra, it amplifies our sense of connection, courage, and grounding to the planet. It’s a key ingredient in our Alchemy: Inspiratio CBD-infused candle because smelling the oil can elicit a sense of peacefulness, clarity and calm.
Tap into Palo Santo’s uplifting properties in order to raise your vibration before meditation or an important task. By keeping both your energy and the energies around you rooted, you can establish a deeper connection to your authentic inner self, and the earth.