The History of Palo Santo

Sacred wood palo santo - Bursera graveolens

Palo santo, also known as “Holy Wood”, is a tree native to South America and has been used for thousands of years by indigenous people for spiritual purposes due to its aromatic properties.

The tree is part of the citrus family and its wood is known for its sweet, woody, and earthy aroma.

In recent years, palo santo has become increasingly popular as a tool for meditation and energy cleansing, but its history goes much deeper than that.

Origins and Traditional Uses

The use of palo santo dates back to the Inca empire, where it was considered a sacred tree and used in spiritual rituals. The indigenous people of South America believed that the tree held strong spiritual powers and used the wood to purify their homes and bodies.

Palo santo was also used in rituals and other spiritual practices, where it was believed to enhance intuition and clear the mind. The tree is often associated with good luck and prosperity, and is still used today by indigenous communities.

The Spread of Palo Santo to the Western World

In the 16th century, Spanish colonizers arrived in South America and discovered the spiritual and aromatic properties of palo santo.

As travel and trade between South America and Europe increased, so did the popularity of palo santo.

Modern Times

Today palo santo is sold throughout the world in the form of smudge sticks.

They are often found and used in yoga studios, meditation centers, and new age stores.

Environmental Impact

The popularity of palo santo has brought both positive and negative effects to the environment. On the one hand, the increased demand for the wood has created new economic opportunities for local communities in South America. On the other hand, illegal harvesting of palo santo has become a major environmental issue, with many trees being cut down prematurely and without regard for their impact on the ecosystem.

To address this issue, many organizations are working to promote sustainable harvesting practices and protect the species from becoming endangered. By choosing responsibly sourced palo santo, consumers can help support these efforts and ensure the preservation of this sacred tree for future generations.

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