11 things you never knew about Palo Santo

11 things you never knew about Palo Santo

in Prabhuji's Gifts Blog
About Palo SantoIf you were to stumble upon a palo santo tree while trekking around the Amazon rainforest, it likely wouldn’t be a jaw-dropping visual experience. Palo santo branches can look a little gnarly after their leaves have dropped and the tree is not impressively majestic like, let’s say, a huge oak or towering maple. But it’s what is inside that has made palo santo wood so sought after. This tree has a strong spirit (more on that shamanic wisdom later) and plenty of good stuff to share, but only long after its natural death. And yes, the part about the “natural death” is key. The concentration of essential oils that give its wood an irresistible aroma and remarkable healing properties do not develop until after the tree fell on its own accord and it is given ample time to rest peacefully on the forest floor.
  1. The wood of the saintsPalo Santo 1 

    When Spanish monks discovered the wood and experienced its ability to cleanse and heal, they named the tree “palo santo,” which means “holy wood” or “the wood of the saints.” The scientific name of this tree that grows in the South American rainforest is bursera graveolens, or “a bag of oil” and the naturally aromatic wood from this truly unique tree is used in several ways for energetic and healing purposes. Its primary use is to burn small palo santo sticks as incense but keep on reading to discover its other uses.

  1. Palo Santo 2The most grounded harem you’ll ever stumble upon

    Those who harvest this wood discovered that not only are there male and female palo santo trees, but that they grow in groups of one male and eight females. The lone male outlives his female counterparts by a long shot. While female trees tend to live around 40-50 years, the male can live up to 200 years. Their wood also has distinct characteristics. Wood from female palo santo trees is yellow, solid and heavy, whereas that of the male is white, hollow, fragile and light. Shamans teach that these trees have a distinct spirit that lives in the wood long after the tree’s life has ended. It should be no surprise that shamans treat this tree as a living entity!

  2. Palo Santo 3Purification may take some time

    One of the most stunning qualities of palo santo wood is its inherent ability to purify all that it comes in contact with on an energetic level. Wherever its smoke goes, it cleanses and purifies, so it can be used to purify a room, an entire home and especially people. But there’s a bit more to it than that. Shamanic wisdom explains that an attraction to the aroma of palo santo is a sign of emotional and spiritual purity. There are some, however, who feel a peculiar discomfort when in the presence of its aroma. If this happens to you, do not be discouraged! This is all part of its purifying effect and gradually you will also enjoy its natural fragrance as the wood’s cleansing and purification takes effect. Just try, try and try again, and you will soon find the palo santo aroma irresistible and enjoy a feeling that can only be described as being lighter (energetically, of course!).

  1. Palo Santo 4Attracts positive energy

    While some smudging herbs are used solely to cleanse a space from negative energy and others are then used to attract positive energy afterward, palo santo is rare in that it does both at the same time. It both purifies and attracts positive energy. Palo santo’s spirit is often generous with its healing powers as its smoke enters the energy field of those it reaches to clear negative thoughts and misfortune. It is through the process of burning, much like smudging herbs and incense, that it releases the sacred wood’s oils that cleanse the space and people it comes into contact with, attracting positive energy, and even healing people on both physical and more subtle levels. This increases the ability for people to concentrate and it enhances their meditation.

  1. Palo Santo 5Shamanic wisdom and the tree spirit

    For centuries, before it was introduced to North America, it was used by shamans to clear negative energy, attract positive energy, re-establish peace and balance, enhance concentration and meditation, and heal people on physical and spiritual levels. The ancient practice of shamanism believes that plants have spirits and that the spirit can be a strong medicine. The shaman turns to the spirit of the plant and lets this spirit do the healing. The spirit of the palo santo tree carries a wisdom that enables the smoke of just a tiny piece of wood to heal people physically, emotionally and spiritually. This spirit must be respected, however, and never misused. This is one of the reasons that the tree cannot be cut down and we must wait years after it has fallen on its own to harvest it.

  2. Palo Santo 6Sustainable harvest

    There are strict local laws that forbid the logging of palo santo in the Amazon rainforest and these sacred trees cannot be removed until they have rested on the forest floor for several years. On top of this, the tree can never be cut down. It is only permitted to be harvested long after dying a natural death. And though this may be enforced for environmental reasons, spiritually it’s a must. The tree simply doesn’t give us what we need unless we respect it and harvest it in a sustainable manner.  It’s through the process of this natural death, followed by years on the forest floor that its essential oils and healing properties develop, giving the wood the power to purify, attract positive energy, heal and smell, well, simply amazing. While we cannot guarantee that everyone adheres to sustainable harvesting, we can tell you that Prabhuji’s Gifts palo santo sticks are harvested in this way that does not interfere with the trees’ natural cycle. On top of this, every fallen tree is replaced with a seedling to rejuvenate the palo santo population as well as natural biodiversity. It is a delicate process of not only respect for the environment, but also for the powerful and generous palo santo spirit.

  1. Palo Santo 7The metamorphosis

    Palo santo wood undergoes an impressive transformation that gives us humans unimaginable gifts. Unfortunately, there have been palo santo trees that have been cut down, but they taught a valuable lesson. These trees did not contain nearly the amount of oils of those that had fallen naturally and spent years on the ground. We now know that palo santo must undergo a metamorphosis that starts with falling in its own due time and resting for years. It’s during this time that a concentration of aromatic oils develop, intensifying its unique fragrance and healing properties.

  2. Palo Santo 8The cream of the crop

    There is something extremely rare and these are premium palo santo sticks. As we know, palo santo trees must rest on the ground for several years before they can be harvested to allow for the aromatic and healing oils to develop. So while most of the tree is in contact with the earth, there are some branches that never touch it. For years they are washed by the rain and dried by the rays of sun that peak through the forest’s canopy. Sticks from these branches are classified as “premium” as everything that they offer – aroma, purification, positive energy, energetic healing, medicinal healing – is even stronger. Shamans know that the palo santo branches that never touch the earth have the power to elevate the soul, as it is always inspiring to stay above the earthly plane. Due to this wood’s extreme rarity, these sticks are not always available, but they can be found at Prabhuji’s Gifts.


  1. Intentions abound

    Want to improve your life? Chances are that palo santo can help. Using palo santo sticks as incense and aromatherapy is known to improve people’s meditation and concentration. Its natural properties, released in its gentle and light smoke, purify space and people on an energetic level as well as attract positive energy. It is also used in various ways to heal people from many different illnesses by shamans. It is widely used as a great insect repellent.
  1. Palo Santo 9Burn it down

    Are you wondering how to burn palo santo sticks as incense, in order to smudge or simply enjoy its aroma? Hold a piece of wood slightly upside down and light the tip until there is a small flame. After 1 minute, blow it out so only smoke is produced. Place it on an angle embers-down in a fireproof bowl in a way that will allow it to continue burning and gently blow on the embers when needed. This is called smudging. It may need to be re-lit several times so it will continue to release its essential oils and energetic properties. Some prefer to keep small rocks in a fireproof bowl and the put the embers into the rock bed in order to put it out when finished. The stick can be reused several times until it is all gone. The aroma is similar to tree resin.

  1. Palo Santo 10Inhale it, enjoy it

    There are several ways to enjoy palo santo sticks and benefit from their properties. The most common way is to burn it as incense, but the sticks can also be cut into shavings and added to a resin incense blend. Another popular way to enjoy the aroma is to put the sticks in a satchel and place them in a drawer or closet.


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