Smoking with the "Holy Wood" - Palo Santo

Maybe you've experienced it at a ceremony or at home... there's a special scent in the room. The smoke dances as if it were animated. You feel relaxed, in contact with yourself, somehow just good...

Incense is an ancient tradition in all cultures of the world because it works deeply on a mental and spiritual level. Incense is mainly used for energetic purification and purification.

From our Christian environment, myrrh and frankincense are particularly well known. Anyone who has been to a Christian-Orthodox church may have seen how, shall we say, generously incense is smoked there. The entire church is then covered in fog.

Palo Santo

What is Palo Santo and where does it come from?

Palo Santo, the "sacred wood" (botanical name Bursera gravolens), has played an important role for the indigenous people of South America for thousands of years. They use the wood of the gnarled, very branchy tree, among other things, as incense to drive away evil spirits and attract good ones. The more than 100 different essential oils create a strong balsamic smell when you smoke it, which has a euphoric, stress-relieving, clarifying and calming effect. Like myrrh and frankincense, Palo Santo belongs to the balsam family.

The wood of the Palo Santo is not comparable to the wood as we know it here. Primarily from rain-poor forests in Peru and Ecuador, Palo Santo has yellow flowers and hard, resinous wood. The smell is very unusual and can hardly be described. But the closest one would say might be sweet, a bit lemony with a hint of incense.

The Life Cycle of the Palo Santo

It takes many years for Palo Santo to develop its extraordinary character. The resin only gets its characteristic scent after the tree has died after a lifespan of about 40 to 50 years, the branches of the tree have fallen off and then remain on the ground for about 4 years before they are finally collected. Only in the 4 years on the ground do they develop their very special aroma. (I actually think that's a pretty encouraging metaphor for us humans when we feel down again and this feeling lasts for a while... :-) )


Smoking with Palo Santo

What is Palo Santo used for?

In Peru, Palo Santo, which is generally said to have great healing powers not only spiritually but also physically/medically, is often used to support healing and cleaning of rooms. It is said to have a strengthening effect on the immune system and is used to treat asthma, bronchitis and even syphilis. The good effect in the treatment of syphilis was one of the reasons why the Spaniards brought the Palo Santo wood to Europe in large quantities and sold it for a lot of money.

Nowadays in our latitudes, you may have smelled the scent during a yoga or ayahuasca session.

We also like to use the special aroma of the "sacred wood" in our ceremonies. In our experience, the soothing scent has a very supportive effect when engaging with the cacao spirit and our inner world.

Where does get its Palo Santo from?

We were looking for a particularly high-quality smoking wood and have now found it - in the Piura region of Peru. Coming exclusively from natural stocks of the local dry forests, this Palo Santo is characterized by a very high quality and oiliness. In Piura, the tree is under nature protection and must not simply be cut down. So he lives a natural life. Peasant collectives collect the fallen wood - so-called harvest wood - after it has "matured" for 4 years and the Peruvian forestry company (SERFOR) pays attention to the amount of wood that has been collected. He then determines the compensation area that needs to be reforested.


Smoking with Palo Santo

How do I smoke with Palo Santo?

The application for incense is very simple. Just light the piece of wood in one spot. You have to hold the wood over the fire for a while until the wood burns properly. The many essential oils ignite the wood and thick black smoke comes out of the wood, which is a sign of quality. Then wave the fire out and place it on a fireproof surface, preferably in a bowl. The wood then continues to glow there. It is said that one should not blow out the flame, lest the good spirits be driven away as well. In our part of the world, people might smile at such instructions - but it's safer than sorry and it doesn't hurt, so make sure you just wave the flame out!

You can walk through the room with the piece of wood and especially smoke out the corners by waving the smoke into the room with your hand or a feather. You are also welcome to open the windows and doors of the room so that the unwanted energies can drain and escape. You can also purify yourself or of course other people by waving the smoke over your body from head to toe.

If you have enough, briefly stick the smoldering end of the wood in some sand to extinguish the embers.

What are your experiences with Palo Santo or with incense? do you like the smell Can't you get enough of the dancing clouds of smoke? Does incense help you meditate?