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Naysha: Save the Palo Santo tree

A couple of days ago I called my mom in Peru to order some Palo Santo wood that I use in my work. To my surprise my mom said that the Palo Santo tree had being declared IN DANGER OF EXTINCION and I would therefore like to ask the people buying online to make sure the Palo Santo comes from sources with certificates to prove that they protect the environment. If you are in Peru there are places that are authorized to sell Palo Santo.

Palo Santo means “Sacred Wood” and is the name for Bursera Graveolens. It was also called Quebracho by Spanish settlers because it was so hard that the axe broke when people tried to cut it.

The tree

At about 18 meters high it is a medium tree with small leaves, lots of branches and dark green fruit capsules. The tree lives in the South American region of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil’s Mato Grosso. The Palo Santo we import comes from the dry forest of Lambayeque region of northern Peru and is known worldwide to have the highest quality of all because of its privileged location.

To use essential oils by steam distillation the tree should die by itself and should be allowed to dry for at least 4 years. From the wood of the tree body oil, incense and aroma are obtained. The bark macerated in alcohol is used to increase sweating and against rheumatism. The leaves are used against spasms and as an insecticide.

Aroma

It has a surprisingly strong and sweet smell when burned which is why the Palo Santo is used as incense. It is considered to be a tree with medicinal qualities. Its multiple benefits make it a perfect energy cleaner due to substances like LIMONENE, which there is a high percentage of in the trunk. The LIMONENE belongs to the family of solvents or turpentine which are responsible for cleaning physically and spiritually.

The Palo Santo is used to cleanse and purify the environment from evil spirits, negative energies and other negative forces. By burning a small piece of wood you will have a peaceful environment which leads to a relaxed state of mind. This wood has a very pleasant and soothing aroma, not comparable to any other .

The aroma of Palo Santo is sweet and woody. Palo Santo fragrance reminds of a combination of sweet incense, atlas cedar, sweet grass, lemon, eucalyptus and a subtle hint of mint.

Collection process

The tree must die naturally and should remain uncollected for about 7-8 years. In this natural process of decomposition the tree secretes oil and acquires its medicinal and aromatic properties. In fact, if we cut the tree without all this we will not benefit because there it will not have acquired its properties.

By collecting dead Palo Santo trees we contribute to cleaning the forests where they grow and protecting the habitat in a completely organic way .

Origin

Widely used by ancient pre-hispanic cultures like the Tiwanaku and the Incas.

Inca Shamans used it in their religious and spiritual rituals as a tool to attract good luck, ward off signs of negativity and as a means of getting a better spiritual communication with their gods. Their settlers used it on a daily basis in their spiritual activities, in prayers, for luck, to improve mood and for cleaning spaces and environments.

This tree is also present in the ritual of indigenous marriages. In the absence of witnesses the couple must plant a seedling of this tree to link their destinies and to make their union last forever.

It was used to ignite Sacred Fires in ceremonies and rituals, thus protecting the space in which it will work. It has been used in rituals to harmonize with the natural elements to this day.

The Language-Maskoy have the belief that a fire made with Palo Santo wood prevents evil spirits from coming to the houses. They attribute this property to the particular clarity of flames emerging from this wood when it burns. In fact, it can be seen that many Language-Maskoy make their fire almost exclusively with Palo Santo wood. If someone from the indigenous population has seen an evil spirit or had contact with a person who has seen a spirit they purify all the people with this smoke.

Often you can see that old Palo Santo trunks are hollow inside. In these holes rainwater remains. The Paraguayan Chaco, where this species is naturally distributed, has a dry climate and seasonal water shortages. The Language-Maskoy drank from it during their migrations or hunts when supplies were exhausted . Nivacle indigenous however never drank the water found in the hollow trunk.

Women use an infusion of the tree as birth control and the ash is used in the treatment of external wounds.

Naysha Silva Romero

Photo: Palo santos against Beagle Lake by Sara Yeomans on Flickr

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