What Actually Is Palo Santo & When Should You Use It?

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As you might already know, there are all kinds of ways to deal with negativity, from crystal gridding to burning sage. But one of the oldest and most revered tools for spiritual cleansing is actually quite humble: Palo Santo. Spanish for "holy wood," Palo Santo is simply wood from the Bursera graveolens tree. And in addition to its spiritual pedigree, it actually has quite practical uses, too.

Many trace Palo Santo's spiritual significance back to the Incas, and it has figured prominently in indigenous South American medicine as a sacred incense. Burning it was believed to cleanse a person's energy field (the area around a person that absorbs and deflects outside emotions and energetic influences) and heal physical ailments. It's recently had a surge in popularity among casual spiritualists hoping to cleanse their home of similarly malevolent vibes.

Modern-day Palo Santo is usually sold alongside other occult goods as a bundle of incense sticks. Burning a stick or two can help if you move into a new house, believe you might have a ghost, or if you just want to up your Instagram presence. The smoke should have a purifying, grounding effect that might even increase your focus and good fortune, which is why some people like to light a stick while meditating.

And for the witch who likes to make their magic last, Palo Santo sticks don't burn out after one use. Feel free to use and reuse yours.

Even if you aren't interested in cleansing rituals, you still might want to keep a stick of Palo Santo handy. Its smoke and essential oil actually make a good natural alternative to insect repellent. And seriously, who doesn't feel an increase in negative energy while getting eating alive by mosquitoes?

If nothing else, burning Palo Santo smells fantastic (like a blend of citrus, pine, and mint), and it's almost definitely cheaper than a scented candle. No matter why you use it, we're pretty sure your home will be better for it.
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