The use of Palo Santo dates back to the Inca empire. Wisdom about using Palo Santo was passed down and used by shamans (called Curanderos) during rituals and ceremonies. They also used this 'Holy Wood' for medicinal reasons. The tree is indigenous to the dry tropical forests of South America and is especially prevalent in Ecuador and Perú.
There are three kinds of Palo Santo trees. Black Palo Santo are the young trees. White Palo Santo has little to no use because of its color. Yellow Palo Santo trees are the ones used to make sticks to burn when smudging, incense, cones, and essential oil. Besides that, Palo Santo trees are either males or females. According to tradition, female Palo Santo trees have a heart. This gives them their spiritual and medicinal properties.
Palo Santo wood undergoes an alchemical process once the tree has died and fallen over, or branches have fallen from the tree. According to traditional beliefs, the spirit of the plant becomes more potent while the wood lays on the earth. Usually, pieces of the tree are only collected after laying on the earth between four and ten years. The longer the wood rests, the more powerful the products. Palo Santo is used to cleanse a space or person. Some cultures believe that using Palo Santo banishes negative energy. Palo Santo (especially the essential oil) also has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Palo Santo can be used in a number of ways to enhance your meditation practice. The sticks can be burned – much like incense. You could also use the essential oil in a diffuser. Because Palo Santo cleanses and clears a space or person from negative energy, it is an excellent way to start off your meditation practice. If you are using the oil, add a few drops to your diffuser before you sit down to meditate. You could also place a drop or two on your skin – remember to test for any adverse reactions on a small area of skin first.
To cleanse yourself (or someone else) and your space before a meditation practice, light the stick to create a coal at the tip. Blow out any flames. Let the wood smolder and smoke. Gently wave your hand through the smoke to wash it over you. You can also use a feather for this. Focus on cleansing the areas of your space and your body where you feel a heaviness or blockage. Where you want to release negativity and invite in healing and peace. Palo Santo is a Holy Wood. Using Palo Santo during a ritual or ceremony (and yes, that includes a meditation session) should be done in a way that honors and respects the spirit of the plant. It is a powerful way to clear negative energies and invite in calm.