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The use of Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens) is traditional in South America, especially in Ecuador. According to the local customs, it is used against the “mala energia” (bad energy) (“Palo Santo para limpiar tu casa de la mala energia, Palo Santo para la buena suerte” or “Palo Santo to clean your house of bad energy, Palo Santo for good luck”), which may sometimes refer to clinical disease. Its use reportedly dates back to the Inca era. Palo Santo is common today as a type of incense.
Palo santo may be burned, similar to incense, by lighting shavings of palo santo wood. In Peru, a shaman, or medicine man, reportedly lights palo santo sticks and the rising smoke will enter the “energy field” of ritual participants to “clear misfortune, negative thoughtprints, and ‘evil spirits'”. Peruvians harvest fallen branches and twigs of the B. graveolens tree, a practice that is regulated by the government of Peru, so trees are not cut for wood harvesting. The charcoal of palo santo sticks can also be used for ritual smudging.
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