PALO SANTO: This Spiritual Wood Is All About Good Vibes
Let’s talk about palo santo, the holy wood. What is it? How is it harvested? How do you use it?
What is Palo Santo?
The palo santo tree, known botanically as bursera graveolens is native to Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, and other coastal regions of South and Central America. Wood from the palo santo tree can be complicated to process in its wild natural state. That’s because the tree needs to die naturally – usually after 70 years or so – with its wood left on the ground for several more years to age in order to produce the best quality oils. This lengthy process has tempted unscrupulous middlemen and others to prematurely harvest younger trees. Shady players have also marketed a synthetic form of the plant — along with its characteristically warm sweet scent — to unsuspecting consumers.
Benefits and Uses of Palo Santo
For centuries, indigenous tribes in South and Central America have burned palo santo wood in ceremonies. Its aromatic smoke is reputed to clear a space of negative energy when used in smudging and is considered as a “sister” to sage in spiritual clearing. Reported benefits of palo santo include:
- Neutralizing bad energy from your personal spaces including home and office
- Relieving stress, anxiety, and depression
- Lifting the mood
- Massage work (using palo santo oil)
- Natural alternative to insect repellent
Ethical considerations for palo santo
Thanks to the demand for palo santo and the numerous properties attributed to it, sellers can’t seem to keep enough in stock. While the bursera graveolens variety of the plant is not currently endangered, some irresponsible harvesting practices by greedy middlemen may be putting the future of the plant at risk.
To add to the confusion, there is another related species that goes by the same name but whose botanical name is bulnesia sarmientoi. This species is used in making essential oils and furniture and it is indeed endangered.
Palo Santo is a great way to easily cleanse the energy around your space, purify the air, and recharge your mood. Give it a try!