It's not news that we at Holistic Spaces love to use palo santo as a space clearing tool during feng shui adjustments and in general, but what's so special about this South American material that makes it so popular for this use and others? As it turns out, palo santo isn't just a better smelling alternative to sage smudging. Its meaning and uses have rich history and have been around for centuries.
Palo santo, scientifically called Bursera graveolens after the tree from which it is derived, is a Spanish term meaning "holy wood." The Bursera graveolens tree grows in various parts of the South American coast, including Mexico, Ecuador and Peru's Yucatan Peninsula, and one of the things I love most about this tool is that it can only be harvested from dead trees or fallen limbs. The Peruvian government even has regulations to ensure this sustainable measure!
Palo santo has been used in spiritual ceremonies for years by folk practitioners and shamans and is widely recognized for its spiritual connections. The smoke of palo santo during a space clearing ceremony is thought to enhance creativity, bring good fortune, clear negative thoughts and evil spirits, and raise vibration. In fact, it is also used with meditation for all these reasons!
While it is often used as a space clearing technique and insect repellant, the properties of palo santo are also beneficial in essential oil form. Palo santo is from the same family as frankincense and myrrh and can be helpful in treating colds, flu symptoms, depression and even some cancer symptoms. It is known for stimulating the immune system and fighting inflammation and, in Peruvian tradition, is used as a powerful oil for mental clarity
Burned palo santo sticks can be reused (green living, anyone?), and the essential oils can be diffused or applied to the body directly with a carrier oil and as massage oil. It seems that the perks and uses for palo santo may be near endless! Have you used the sticks or oil in your holistic spaces?