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Palo Santo Wood: A history and use

Palo Santo Wood
Palo Santo, whose botanical name is Bulnesia graveolens, has a long dating history. The use of this product is perhaps as old as the human being or better put as old as beyond the realm of any written history. The aromatic Palo Santo is native to the dry forests and the Galapagos Islands of South America. As a matter of fact one cannot miss to notice the fragrances of Palo Santo, especially when travelling along the South America's Pacific coastline from Ecuador to Peru. A trace to the perfume will lead you to Machalilla National Park in Manabí Province located on Ecuador coastline where the biggest concentration of the species is to be found.

For thousands of years Palo Santo has been used by the healers and the shamans both in Peru and Ecuador. Traditionally, the Curanderos, shamans and the healers in these two countries have used the wood as a prerequisite in each of the healing rituals and ceremonies. However, it was not until 16th century when the Spanish inhabited the land that the name Palo Santo was born. In Spanish the words literally mean "Holy wood", perhaps signifying the magic entrenched to the tree.

The Incas as well as other indigenous communities of the Andes, used and continue to use the wood as a spiritual remedy cleansing, purifying getting rid of bad and evil spirits and other misfortunes. On the other hand the wood was used for different medicinal purposes especially in treatment of terminal illnesses. As earlier mention the wood was an important component in each and every traditional ceremony or ritual.

The magic of the Holy wood also referred to as the holy stick is in its alchemical process. The process is believed to start upon the death of the limb or the tree itself. However, for this death to be considered "legitimate" and for the wood to remain or rather gain its healing powers it must pass on, not only die but do so through the natural means- natural death. These trees live for about 80 to 90 years and upon death the trees or limbs must remain in their natural habitat for a period of between 4 to 10 years. Only then will the metamorphosis be complete and its medicinal, mystical and sacred properties would come alive.

Studies have shown that Palo Santo wood is rich with medicinal components. Indeed, it is now approved and accepted as one of the leading cure for different ailments including cancer, both chronic and acute rheumatism, as an antiseptic, a sedative and pain reliever especially for muscle pains. In addition it is used as a mosquito repellant among other uses.

The beauty of this wood is that unlike the conventional incense which burn completely after lighting; the wood may be re-lit multiple times.
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