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Tree Symbolism

Symbolism & Magical Properties of Palo Santo

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Written by: Tina Caro

Palo Santo has very ancient origins; Inca shamans used it in their religious rituals to ward off negative energies through a dense smoke with great spiritual power. Are you curious to learn more about its magical properties and usages?


Palo Santo, with its origins in South America, has a rich history dating back centuries, used by indigenous cultures for its spiritual significance.

The wood of Palo Santo is renowned for its unique aroma, a blend of pine, mint, and citrus, making it a popular choice for spiritual and cleansing rituals.

Its magical properties include purifying energies, raising vibrations, and enhancing focus, making it a valuable tool in meditation and spiritual practices.

Palo Santo is believed to bring luck and protect against negative energies, fostering a sense of positivity and well-being.

For those engaging in shamanic rituals, Palo Santo is often used to create a sacred atmosphere, facilitating a deeper connection to the spiritual realm.

Palo Santo origins and history

Palo Santo, or Bursera graveolens, is a tropical tree belonging to the Burseraceae family native to Central and Southern America, where it grows spontaneously especially in Peru and Ecuador.

Depending on the precise area in which this shrub is born (and dies), it acquires specific substances and properties from the soil.

The Palo Santo, whose meaning corresponds to “sacred wood”, can reach heights of about 18 meters, has small leaves, and produces dark green fruits.

Bursera graveolens has very ancient origins. It was used by the Inca shamans and the indigenous people of the Andes in their religious rituals to ward off negative energies and as a mystical tool to communicate with the gods. When burned, this wood produces a dense smoke with great spiritual power, so much so that it was used in indigenous ceremonies and rituals to light sacred fires.

IndigenousUsed for spiritual purification and cleansing rituals, warding off negative energy, and connecting with ancestors.
ShamanismConsidered a sacred wood used for healing, spiritual protection, and enhancing meditation and ritual practices.
FolkloreAssociated with good luck, love, and attracting positive energies into the home or sacred space.
Table 1: Palo Santo Symbolism in Different Cultures

Since ancient times, this tree was used in rituals and for therapeutic purposes because of its medicinal properties. Thanks to its healing powers, its essence was used to heal skin and muscle problems; the cooking water from the bark was used to treat stomach ailments; and finally, the ash from its wood was used to heal wounds.

In fact, in Peru and Ecuador, the smoke of Palo Santo is still used today to ward off mosquitoes and flying insects of different kinds, in a completely natural way.


The wood of Palo Santo

The benefits deriving from the wood of Bursera graveolens are only when the tree used died of natural causes or for old age, or after 90 years from its birth (average life of this shrub). To take advantage of this product, it is necessary to allow about 3-4 years to pass after death so that the plant continues its decomposition process.

In this period, the plant absorbs all the energy and sacred virtues, charging itself with supernatural and positive properties; in this same period, it produces an oil that, once burned, generates a dense and whitish smoke with high spiritual powers.

On a scientific level, in fact, the particular scent that wood takes on in this period is because, from the moment the tree lies on the ground and comes into contact with it, fungi and microorganisms grow inside it.

Its aroma is somewhat reminiscent of a blend of already known fragrances, with a very strong tone of mint and citrus.

Therefore, a very precious essential oil is obtained from this wood and handicraft objects such as incense, traditionally obtained through cutting with a machete and extracting sticks to burn about 10 centimeters long, all without damaging the forest in any way.

The more years that pass before the tree is used for these purposes, the more it becomes charged with sacredness. Those who come into contact with it in this period of immobility fully respect the shrub and the place where it is located, without violating the surrounding nature. They limit themselves to absorbing, even with simple proximity, the first positive energies that the tree receives and, at the same time, emanates.

Also read:
What is the Purpose of Smudging? [Finding the Right Herbs]
Where did Smudging Come From? [History Explained]

Magickal properties of Palo Santo

CleansingBurning Palo Santo releases purifying smoke that can be used to cleanse people, objects, or spaces of negative energies.
Meditation AidThe aroma of Palo Santo is believed to promote relaxation, focus, and spiritual clarity during meditation or energy work.
Ritual ToolPalo Santo can be used as a ceremonial tool in rituals, spells, and spiritual practices to invite positive energies and intentions.
Sacred OfferingConsidered a sacred offering to deities, spirits, or ancestors as a symbol of reverence and gratitude.
Table 2: Magical Properties and Uses

For cleansing rituals

Palo Santo is also generally used for the energetic cleaning of environments, thanks to its medicinal properties.

When this wood ignites, the flame should last about a minute before it goes out. From there on, the wood gives off smoke that can generate very hot energy. The smoke emitted is also able to keep mosquitoes and other insects away.

This feature makes it one of the main products used by those who live in Ecuador and Peru. The effect is very similar to that of sage, from an energy point of view. But it releases a more enveloping aroma, considering it belongs to the citrus family. For this reason, it releases sweet notes of pine, mint, and lemon.

To raise your vibration and focus

This scent can raise vibrations, clear emotions, and is a great help to prepare for meditation, as it supports a deep connection with the source. About meditation, however, the use of the smoke created by the combustion of the derivatives of this shrub facilitates the connection with nature, with the source of life and everything that surrounds us.

Often used for emotional and spiritual guidance, Palo Santo is an effective natural remedy for anxiety. When inhaled, it moves directly through the olfactory system of the brain, where it helps stimulate the body’s relaxation response to combat worry, anxiety, sleep disorders, and depression.

To bring luck

Palo Santo enhances creativity and brings good luck. If you feel you need a boost of luck, Palo Santo can help, especially if you feel that the evil eye is on you and that’s the reason why you cannot attract luck all by yourself. It’s like it makes room for what’s next, cultivating positivity and wealth too.

To perform shamanic rituals

The very pleasant fragrance of Palo Santo is very often used in rituals that involve the use of psychedelic substances, especially when it comes to voodoo traditions. So, let’s talk about Ayahuasca, psychedelic mushrooms, mescaline cacti, and salvia divinorum.

The effect of their oils that enter us through their fumes would be similar to that of sacred music, connecting us to the inner source of all harmonies and all healings. In fact, in the Mesoamerican esoteric heritage, as well as in the East and in ancient Europe, the Divine is within us and not to be sought in some ultra-cosmic sky.

Palo Santo magic tea

When used as an herbal tea, Palo Santo allows you to create a protective shield around you while it helps support the immune system and reduces inflammatory responses caused by diet, pollution, environmental stress, and disease.


  • Palo Santo
  • Water

How to make a cup of Palo Santo tea:

  1. Cut a piece of Palo Santo into four pieces.
  2. Place them in 500 liters of water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.
  4. Let it boil with a lid for 5 minutes.
  5. Filter the mixture and transfer the water to a cup.
  6. Let the tea cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Add additional elements to enhance the flavor, such as honey, cinnamon, or fresh herbs like rosemary or lavender. These herbs help you boost the protective effect while attracting positivity and relaxation.

If you need more protection in your life or you need to cleanse your energy from negativity, I can cast a spell for you! Check out my shop and choose the perfect one for you and, if you can’t find what you need, rely on a custom spell available in both white and black magic!

Tina Caro

Tina Caro is a witch with more than 10 years of experience, a yogi, an astrologer, and a passionate supporter of all things holistic! She’s also an owner of the website Magickal Spot where she discusses a variety of her favorite topics.

Magickal Spot has helped thousands of readers worldwide, and she’s personally worked with hundreds of clients and helped them manifest desires to have a happier and more abundant life.

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