Yesterday, we learned about a little something called “Spirit Wood”, or in local terms “Palo Santo”.
We came to learn about this interesting magical incense when we started asking around about natural bug repellents. It took us a few days to get it in our hands, but it was really just about asking the right person and knowing where to go to get it.
The person who sold it to my husband, said “To keep away the bugs and the bad energies.” We just giggled and thought it was charming, it didn’t used to be a common thing to hear people say things like that. But, in a culturally rich location like Ecuador, people who talk in such a away, usually believe it. At first, we thought this local elder was referring to bad ghosts, but that is not quite the case. Apparently, the indigenous refer to bad energies as any type of illness, from cold and flu, to serious disease and even mental illness.
This wood is also used in many religious practices, and Carlos even mentioned that the scent reminded him of church.
Historically, this wood is known to have been used in the religious and medicinal practices of Ecuador and Peru for as far back as the Inca times. The name of the tree literally translates to “Holy Wood”, and is related to the Biblically mentioned Frankincense and Myrr.
We bought a small bundle of the wood for $3, and have been letting it smoke around the house day and night since we bought it. The scent is calming and does it’s job at keeping the pests away. The scent is something like a sweetened mix of cedar and pine with a hint of citrus.
The tree grows on the coast, and the wood is only taken from fallen trees that have been on the ground for 3-5 years. Essential Oils that are sustainable harvested from the tree by vapor distillation may be found in places where the tree is not native.