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How to Use Palo Santo | Shamanic “Holy Wood” of South America

Palo Santo The Powerful Cleansing Properties of Palo Santo

Have you heard of Palo Santo? I'm in LOVE with it!

I first learned about the uses of Palo Santo when I was working at a small crystal and metaphysical shop in Lake Tahoe. We sold these wonderful little sacred sticks there and I was immediately drawn to them.

Fascinated, I looked up the properties and discovered the incredible magic that these simple looking little “holy sticks” of wood held.

I immediately started burning palo santo in the morning before opening the shop and found it to be a wonderfully effective way to energetically cleanse the shop and quickly raise the vibration at the start of the day.

I also started to share and recommend it with many of my customers so they could experience the blessings of this plant as well.

However… We need to be mindful when it comes to buying and using this sacred wood today, and here's why:

It's Endangered!

To be honest, I was saddened when I saw posts on Social Media about Palo Santo being endangered… At first glance I felt I had inadvertently contributed to this, by blogging and sharing about the benefits of this wood and essential oil.

But with some digging I learned that there's more to this story than at first glance it appears…

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So is Palo Santo really endangered?

Yes and no.

The name “Palo Santo” or “holy wood” en Espanol is a name that has been given to two different tree species in South and Central America.

One of these species is endangered, the other is not.

The two species are Bursera graveolens and Bulnesia sarmientoi.

Bulnesia sarmientoi is endangered!

Bursera graveolens is not. And while much of the PaloSanto sold today for smudging is of the Bursera graveolens variety…

This whole issue popping up is a really good reminder about sustainability in general.

When it comes to using natural plants in our spiritual practices, whether that is as tea, essential oil, incense, etc…

It's important to be mindful of the source!

Has the material we are using been harvested in a sustainable way?

Buy sustainable, and know the source!

If you'd like to learn more about Palo Santo being endangered… Here are a couple of additional resources:

Is PaloSanto Endangered? -Sacred Wood Essence Article

Not a Myth… A Misunderstanding – Third Eye Wood

So Wait… What is Palo Santo?

PaloSanto is a type of wood that comes from the tree of the same name. It is indigenous to South America, and its name means “holy wood” thanks to the many healing and spiritual properties it carries.

Palo Santo Much like sage, the smoke of palo santo sticks is so powerfully cleansing that its commonly used in Central and South American Shamanic Rituals.

For generations, medicine people, shamans, Incas, and other tribal people in the Andes and South America have used the process of burning this sacred wood for healing and clearing purposes.

The spiritual properties come during the death of the tree. Each tree lives for up to 90 years and then lies dead for at least four years before any wood is harvested for rituals. It’s during this time, when the living tree transforms, that it gains its sacred properties.

The Many Benefits of Palo Santo

As you might expect, the list of benefits from using Palo Santo is a long one as it has many clearing and healing properties

Palo Santo Uses

  • It's pungent fragrance relieve stress and anxiety
  • Can help to eliminate headaches and symptoms of the common cold
  • Reduces inflammation, asthma, and allergies
  • Eases emotional or mental trauma like depression
  • You can use it in conjunction with other healing modalities like crystal healing or Reiki
  • Deepen your spiritual connection
  • Raises your energetic vibration
  • Enhances creativity
  • Use in massage therapy to relieve pain in the joints and muscles
  • Relieve difficult skin conditions and promote healthy skin
  • Potential anti-cancer effects
  • Evokes a sense of peace and calm
  • Calms the immune system
  • Cleanse a crystal or other sacred objects
  • Release negativity
  • Evoke a sense of love and connection with Spirit.

Burning Palo Santo Wood

The power of burning PaloSanto is that its smoke is incredibly clearing and purifying. And so as a result it is most commonly used for purifying energy, cleansing people and objects, healing illness, inspiring creativity, protection, attracting good fortune and love, and clearing negativity.

If you have a meditation practice, consider burning a little PaloSanto during before and during your practice to tune into the benefits. When you consciously work with this sacred plant with respect, not only can it raise your vibration, but it also can help to connect you to the divine source as well as Mother Earth.

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Many people enjoy using it as an energizer to lift their spirits or prepare for a task or project as well.

Steps for Cleansing with Palo Santo 

This process for using PaloSanto to cleanse your space is similar to smudging with sage, so if you’re familiar with that process, you can simply add a stick of palo santo to your sage bundle and have at it.

If you're new to all of this… Here's the process. 

First you obviously need to obtain some PaloSanto.

You can find Palo Santo in many local crystal and metaphysical shops, natural food stores, or even on Amazon… Just remember to look for companies who are sustainably harvesting PaloSanto, and who are replanting trees as a part of their process of creating products from this wood too!

Click here to purchase Palo Santo online. 

Get Palo Santo Essential Oil from Young Living Here

I like to use Young Living essential oils because of their commitment to sustainability and quality in every step of the process from growing, harvesting and replanting, to actually creating the essential oil.

How to Burn Palo Santo?

  1. Hold one stick of PaloSanto in your hand, and move the end furthest from your hand into a flame to light it on fire.
  2. Next, hold the stick (and sage bundle, if using) and set an intention or say a prayer.  This can be for clearing negative energy from your space, body, mind, or energy.

Note- PaloSanto doesn't light nearly as easily as say, White Sage… So when you light the palo santo, be sure to let the open flame burn for about 30 seconds before you blow it out so the flame properly catches. It is a piece of wood, so just as you may blow on a campfire to help the wood catch on fire, once the PaloSanto has been burning for a while, blowing on it can help to cultivate the smolder.

Palo Santo Prayer

Ask that the cleansing smoke of the PaloSanto cleanse your space, raise the vibration and draw in positive energy.

Now, allow the sacred smoke to fill the room you're in.

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Walk methodically around the room, being sure to wafting the smoke up toward the ceiling and down toward the floor.

Move through your house until you’ve entered each room.

Palo Santo Cleansing Ritual

When cleansing yourself, begin down near your feet, wafting smoke all around you until you end at the crown of your head.

You can also use Palo Santo Wood to cleanse negative energy from a crystal from your oracle card decks, pendulums, or any other magical or sacred objects.

Be aware that, unlike standard incense, palo santo may relight itself several times while you use it, or you may have to hold it in the flame for quite a while before it lights at all.

When you’re finished with your particular cleansing ritual, if the stick is still burning, you can place it in a fire-safe metal or ceramic bowl in order to let the ember die out naturally on its own.

What does Palo Santo Smell Like?

I find the scent and power of Palo Santo Wood to be quite strong so that a little goes a long way.

It has a piney, mint and citrus like smell that’s really quite unique – so unique that it’s hard to believe that you’re burning wood when you smell it.

Is It More Powerful Than Sage?

Personally, white sage and palosanto are my favorite smudging combo! They each have a slightly unique energy and yet both are powerful.

PaloSanto also pairs wonderfully with sweetgrass, juniper, or cedar.

Smudging Prayer With White Sage and PaloSanto

Click here to read the Smudging Prayer! 


Buy sustainably… Give it a try… And enjoy the benefits!

With love and light,

Melanie Beckler

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about our creator:
Melanie Beckler

Melanie Beckler is an author, meditation guide, and the soul behind Her meditations, angel messages, and bestselling books, including "Archangel Michael Speaks," inspire individuals around the world to realign with their higher potential, inner light and soul purpose. Her work is rooted in love and compassion, empowering you to shine brightly on your unique spiritual journey of growth and transformation.

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