Since the beginning of Scoria, we have stocked up on Palo Santo sticks to take our meditation to a cleansed, calmer and grounded mental place. Or so we thought. Well, even though it does, we kind of ended up missing the original purpose of Palo Santo's smudging.
What we wanted was for our customers to be able to burn intentionally natural wooden incense to create an energetically cleansed and calm space for their meditation or yoga practice.
In the past few years there has been a crazy flock of popularity for Palo Santo. We can possibly credit social media for the rise of the Palo Santo trend. And over time Palo Santo has been making its way into more stores, crystal shops, events, meditations and yoga studios.
So, first what is Palo Santo?
Palo Santo, (Bursera Graveolens) is a sacred tree that grows on the coast of South America and is used by indigenous communities as a sacred practice. In Spanish, the name literally means “Holy Wood”.
In harvesting, the trees are legally not meant to be cut down (even though it is hard to control and be clear on this transparency), and goes through a process that is specific for the utmost healing and spiritual benefits.
So, why we have chosen to discontinue stocking it? Well, it's definitely not because it isn't a darn amazing tree with no health benefits, but it's primarily because over time we have become more aware of the effects of contributing to the popularity of its demand. And as a company it isn't something that we even want to be possibly contributing to.
Here are a few reasons why we are discounting Palo Santo:
1. The Endangerment of Palo Santo
Most of the time, we as a buyer have no idea if it is true that the process of harvesting has been the most sustainable. We don't know if the harvest has been done by the most environmentally knowledgeable people.
Palo Santo sticks should be harvested from fallen branches legally, and it is illegal in Ecuador and Peru to cut down these trees. Unfortunately, it's difficult to enforce that law.
The environmental damages of these harvests or transparencies of Palo Santo are unclear. Looking at some lists, Palo Santo has been added to a list by International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) as an "endangered" tree. And under the Convention on International Trade in Endagered Species, it has been noted that the tree must be controlled due to a certain level of popularity in international trade, in order to prevent becoming threatened, endangered or extinct.
Even though the tree is not really near extinction, it is on many watch lists. According to the United Plant Savers Medicinal Plant Conservation, there are less than 250 mature adult trees in the wild, and the numbers are rapidly declining.
Knowing this information, we know it is definitely the safest thing we can do to help protect our earth is to not actually be buying a sacred tree used for ceremony only because it has become trendy.
2. Transportation, effort & emissions
We know there are still many things we still have to supply from different places in order to have innovations. However if we can have plants that we can actually smudge and enjoy that are local and can be grown here in North America, then why are we not home-growing, locally (sustainably of course) foraging and using them?
There is no need to be getting wooden sticks so far away from Peru or Ecuador if the alternative can be right here in our hikes and in our local forests that are filled with all kinds of natural medicine for us.
3. Recognizing Palo Santo's indigenous roots & purpose of use
Smudging Palo Santo is a sacred and religious ritual, and as it gets more and more popular in the western world, it is losing the sacredness behind it.
After asking and hearing from indigenous folk, it has become loud and clear that Palo Santo should not be sold as a product and is meant to be given in ceremony as a gift from the earth, and given to you by a spiritual leader. It is not a commodity to be sold, but to be embraced only as a gift in a sacred space.
So, we have come to a conclusion, that in the west we are turning this sacred gift into a commercial commodity. Which has taken away from what it really represents, and that is something that we don't want to take part in anymore!
So how will Scoria provide natural cleansing in a sustainable and respectful way?
Well we have some good news, believe it or not there are actually locally grown plants that can be used in exchange for Palo Santo! Who would have thought!?
Here at scoria we will be replacing Palo Santo with new locally grown bundles that can be happily burned! Our bundles have been hand crafted with love by a dear friend of ours in Canada who puts so much love and good energy into everything she creates.
We are so excited to launch them in our store so we can replace the Palo Santo with these local, home grown, and sustainably foraged plants on local grounds! For these bundles, we aren't aiming for actual commodity profits, just to be available to spark joy in everyone's practices and homes, and as a replacement for sacred smudging habits in the western community.
The Scoria Team
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