A Complete Guide to Palo Santo Incense Sticks
Palo Santo has a rich and varied history dating back nearly 600 years. It dates back to the beginning of the Inca Empire. Incan shaman commonly used Palo Santo as part of their rituals.
Rituals featuring Palo Santo could range from cleansing a particular space, similar to how we use sage today, to removing negative influences from a person's aura.
That means that humans have been valuing Palo Santo for its earthy, healing, cleansing properties for over half a millennium. Now we all can, as Palo Santo incense sticks are available all over the world.
This couldn't come at a better time. Never before have we been in such need of Palo Santo's healing, soothing, grounding energies. That requires understanding what those energies are, though. This is where this guide comes into play.
To help you learn to make the most of this powerful plant, we've put together a thorough guide to Palo Santo incense sticks. You'll be able to invoke this ancient and powerful magic in your own home and take advantage of its many benefits.
What Is Palo Santo?
With such a long and vibrant history, much of which is steeped in mysticism and mythology, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. To help you decide which Palo Santo incense sticks and new incense products are going to best suit your needs, first you need to know what, precisely, Palo Santo is.
Originating from the coast of South America, Palo Santo is a sacred hardwood tree. It's part of a lineage that spans the globe, ranging from Frankincense to Myrrh to Copal. Energetically, it's close to Sage or Cedar, thanks to its cleansing, curative properties.
In terms of incense scents, though, it's actually closer to the Citrus family, falling somewhere between pine and lemon.
Palo Santo comes from the Bursera Graveolens tree. It's notoriously tricky to find, although it's known to prefer the dryer jungles of Ecuador and Peru. That's one reason for its rarity.
The other is that to make the types of incense that use Palo Santo, the tree needs to have died of natural causes. The decomposition process releases Palo Santo oil, which is what's used to make new incense products featuring Palo Santo oil.
As if that weren't tricky enough, it needs to decompose on the forest floor for up to seven years before it begins to produce the oil that yields its legendary scent.
It's also one of the reasons its essential oils are so potent, and so coveted, by so many different people.
Palo Santo can be found in numerous forms. Sometimes you can find sticks bundled together like you would with Cedar or Pine. These sticks are then burned like Sage bundles, and for similar reasons.
Palo Santo is also available in more traditional incense sticks, though. This is good news for anyone with a traditional incense burner, as it burns for a lot longer than the sticks.
Palo Santo Health Benefits
Palo Santo incense products aren't just mystical or metaphysical. The smoke from burning Palo Santo can ease everything from asthma symptoms to the common cold and flu to inflammation. It also has numerous applications for various physical ailments connected to psychological distress, including anxiety and depression.
Burning Palo Santo can even boost your immune system.
Research is still underway as to why Palo Santo has so many health benefits. One aspect is that Palo Santo oil contains limomenes, a substance scientists are still investigating. Preliminary research suggests limomenes may possess antioxidant properties, as well as neutralizing free radicals in general.
Limomenes and anti-oxidants make Palo Santo even more useful for treating headaches. This may be partially due to its antioxidant properties, as well.
Limomenes may even possess the ability to heal neural trauma. They've been linked to the healing of neural pathways. This is a crucial component of healing trauma, as well as the physical conditions that often accompany it.
Using Palo Santo to Cleanse a Space
Palo Santo incense can be used to cleanse energies as well as the body. One of the main reasons it's so coveted is its ability to remove negative energy from a place. If you need a fresh start after having some stressful guests or negative interactions, Palo Santo lets you hit the reset button.
Plus it smells great!
Historically, Palo Santo would be used as part of many purification rituals. It'd be used similarly to any other kind of smudging, where the smoke is blown on every inch of a person or place. Think of it as applying a kind of spiritual mosquito repellant.
Palo Santo was also revered for the specific way in which it was produced. The fact that it relies upon such a long decay process means it's naturally a link between the land of the living and the land of the spirit. It's a natural bridge between your day-to-day reality and the world of cosmic mysteries that surround us.
Other Uses For Palo Santo
Palo Santo isn't merely for meditation or rituals, though. It's got plenty of practical applications apart from its medicinal qualities.
Palo Santo is a natural insect repellant, for one thing. If you've ever been looking for a more naturalistic way to be outdoors during the warm-weather months, a bundle of Palo Santo is going to be your dream come true! It smells infinitely better than citronella, too!
It can make for a wonderful air freshener, as well. Again, it smells infinitely better than Glade, Lysol, or potpourri. It's also completely natural, so it has far fewer questionable chemicals that you have to worry about.
How to Use Palo Santo Incense Sticks
Have you ever smudged a space? A person? That's the basis of how to use Palo Santo incense sticks. Of course, with a holy wood that's been revered for its metaphysical medicinal qualities for over 500 years, there's a lot more to it than that.
Let's take a look at a few of them.
Using Palo Santo To Cleanse a Space
Start by lighting a Palo Santo incense stick (or whatever form you're using) with a lighter or match. Let it burn for roughly 30 seconds and then blow it out. This should be more than enough to get a steady ember burning.
Once the incense stick is lit, begin to walk the perimeter of the space you're hoping to cleanse. This could be your bedroom, your office, your parlor, or your kitchen. Some people even smudge their vehicles!
As you trace your way around the space you're cleansing, don't just walk like you're late for a meeting. The intention is almost as important as the space itself. You also want to allow the Palo Santo the time to work its cleansing magic on you as well as the space.
Depending on how ritualistic you care to get, you can even say an accompanying prayer or invocation. Some users recite "I ask that the plant spirit of Palo Santo please infuse this space with blessings" as they make their way around the space.
As the cleansing smoke fills the space, imagine it's also being filled with a rich, golden light. Imagine that light wiping away any stains of fear, doubt, anger, or sadness and it's left as pristine and fresh as after a spring rain.
Once you're done, put the Palo Santo out in a flame-resistant incense burner of some kind, if you're using the raw wood. You can leave regular incense sticks burning, as they'll put themselves out once they're finished.
A Palo Santo Morning Ritual
The world is created fresh and new every single day. Every time we wake up, we're waking up to a blank canvas on which to paint that day's masterpiece. We're also thinking and feeling creatures, however.
Our minds and our hearts hold on to memories, past thoughts, and outdated fears. They're just trying to protect us from getting hurt, but a life shielded by armor is no way to live. It's also not terribly accurate, as yesterday's problems disappear like the waves as the tide recedes.
Palo Santo is wonderful to help get rid of these lingering anxieties and outdated thoughts. You can even create a morning ritual, incorporating the sacred wood, reminding you of the renewal and growth that's possible.
To begin, make sure you have enough time to dedicate to your morning routine. Then light and candle or two. Open the windows and let in some morning light, while you're at it.
Next, light the Palo Santo like you did during the cleansing ritual. Once it's smoldering, put it in your fireproof vessel.
While inhaling the scent of the burning Palo Santo, practice some morning meditation in whatever way you prefer and are most comfortable. Let the thoughts arise in your mind, without grasping. Watch them slip away, just as easily and quickly.
Hopes, fears, dreams, goals, and desires will all come and go during your morning meditation, while you breathe in Palo Santo's rich, healing, grounding scent. You can imagine it washing over you, like a waterfall or a cleansing rain. Imagine all your fears and doubts as smudges on your skin.
You'll be fresh and renewed and entirely cleansed, once your ritual is complete. You'll be ready for the day with all of its challenges and potential.
Why Palo Santo Is So Important
We are living in unprecedented times. Never before has so much change happened in such a short amount of time. It's left us all feeling shaky and unsteady - at the best of times.
Perhaps more so than at any other time in history, cleansing, grounding, and renewal are more important than they've ever been. We need to be able to let go of outdated thoughts and fears. We need to learn to let go of anger and resentment.
Life has also never been so demanding. Whole industries are evolving, seemingly overnight, and we're all left trying to play catch-up. We're like Alice in the Red Queen's race, running as fast as we can and getting absolutely nowhere.
Facing unprecedented challenges such as these, grounding and cleansing rituals aren't a luxury. They're mandatory. They're a survival skill, and one we need to pick up if we hope to get anywhere close to the life that we deserve.
Having a healthy body and peaceful mind is vital for our personal relationships, as well. Do our loved ones only deserve us at our most stressed? When we're barely able to keep up with our daily obligations instead of showing up and being the loyal, loving partners and parents and siblings and children that we are?
Our loved ones deserve better than that. In fact, they deserve the best. Burning Palo Santo helps us give it to them.
This has a domino effect where their lives are better able to flourish, as well. Before you know it, our lives and worlds are taking a turn for the better - and all from burning a South American incense!
Burning Palo Santo incense sticks will remind you of all of that, with your first breath.
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