Today I want to share a bit about the cleansing ingredient that I use the most at home to lighten the moods. Having lived most of my life in South America – born and raised in Argentina – I’m more than used to the sweet smell of Palo Santo. This sacred wood has been used for centuries for spiritual purposes and also in aromatherapy.
It only takes one breathe to realize that its aroma is very relaxing. If you are noticing any bad vibes at home, I recommend you burn a little of this holy wood. Its aroma is mostly citric and it won’t irritate your nostrils. On the contrary, it can help you breathe better as it clears the airways!
When it comes to meditating, doing Yoga, starting your morning devotional routine or simply looking for a moment of contemplation, it’s a great incense which promotes clarity. Shamans have used it for sacred rituals but you don’t have to be a shaman to use it respectfully. It’s widely used in households all across South and Central America.
Video: What is Palo Santo?
“Palo Santo” means sacred wood (or holy wood) in Spanish and as such, is widely used for spiritual purposes. Many claim that it has healing and tranquilizing powers, which is why it has fascinated civilizations since ancient times. Among others, it was widely used by the Inca Shamans in their religious and spiritual practices. Modern practitioners use it as an ingredient to ward off negativity and achieve clarity and wisdom.
How to Use Palo Santo to Cleanse
Usually Palo Santo comes in a set of short sticks ready to be lit. To burn palo santo sticks all you need is a lighter or a candle, and an ashtray (or your cauldron).
Light the tip of the stick with a lighter or candle flame.
You will see a black smoke coming out. This is the surface of the wood burning.
Wait for 20 seconds. Blow it off and watch the white smoke rise.
Stroll through the space where you want to clean the energies.
When you’re done, place the stick in an ashtray our fireproof container.
Enjoy the naturally soothing scent of palo santo.
You can light the same stick again whenever you need to.
My Palo Santo Won’t Stay Lit!
Some people get confused when using Palo Santo as an incense claiming that it doesn’t stay lit long enough. The thing is, it’s not supposed to stay lit for too long! Usually, it will burn for about a minute, releasing its soothing white smoke.
When the wood stops burning, you can light it on again if you want to continue cleansing the space. To keep palo santo burning longer, you can use charcoal disks (Amazon link) and place your palo santo sticks on top, inside an ashtray.
Where to Buy Palo Santo Wood
The Palo Santo tree (Bursera graveolens) is under government protection in some countries. In Ecuador, it is illegal to cut down or damage live trees so the wood is only harvested from wild trees that have naturally fallen on the ground in the protected forests. It can take between 80 and 90 years for a tree to complete its life cycle. After falling over, the wood should remain in place for 4 to 10 years and its during this time when it’s considered to become sacred.
When buying Palo Santo, make sure to buy from an environmentally sustainable provider who respects this process. Otherwise you won’t be getting sacred wood. Some brands also take part in reforestation programs. Here’s a link to my favorite shop on Amazon for Respectfully hand gathered Palo Santo
How to Tell if Palo Santo is Real?
What does the label say? The Palo Santo tree is known as “bursera graveolens”. Make sure to find this scientific name on the label, as there are other types of wood which are also considered “holy wood”, but aren’t the exact same plant.
What does palo santo smell like? The smell of burning Palo Santo is easily recognizable. This tree is part of the citrus family and its aroma has tints of pine, mint and lemon. If you detect an unpleasant smell when burning it, you might have bought fake palo santo.
What does the color look like? Real Palo Santo has a very pale color. This light yellowish hue is a clear sign that you have the actual product. If you notice a darker, brown surface color, you might have bought something else.
What about the smoke? Palo Santo will have dark smoke coming from the flame when you light it. Then it will have white smoke while it is smoldering.
Spiritual Benefits of Burning Palo Santo
Smudging with Palo Santo is used to expel negative energies and attract positive ones. It is said that it has the power to balance all energies.
It helps in meditation as it relaxes the mind and induces a sense of calm. It is very useful in Yoga, Reiki and Aromatherapy practices.
It relieves nervous tension and helps in conflict resolution.
It cleanses and purifies any environment, at home or work.
Its smell is aphrodisiac: it stimulates sweetness and the ability to give and receive love.
It raises self-esteem and improves the mood.
It is a natural mosquito repellent.
Health Benefits of Palo Santo
Respiratory system: It clears the lungs, treats asthma, bronchitis, constipation, flu, laryngitis, cough, cold and sinusitis.
Effects against Cancer: Research finds that limonene, a substance found in wood, is active against many types of tumors.
Skin: Its oil has powerful healing action. When used as a skin tonic it can treat pimples, ulcerations, cuts, and wounds.
Ways to Use Palo Santo
• Essential Oils (burning or massage)
• Incense (burning the Palo Santo wood)
• Applying its ashes on the wrists, below the navel; or in a bag in the form of a protective amulet.
• Smoke - inhalation (allergic care)
How to Make a Protective Amulet with Palo Santo
In a tissue bag, place a handful of Palo Santo ashes. Seal it tying a know with colored ribbon.
Say the following consecration to bless your amulet:
"Palo Santo, bring me strength,
Your sacred scent can heal me.
Your holy smoke will take care
Rise and fly freely. "