2 min read

Smoke of the Incas

A few months ago, my selection from BespokePost was titled Sanctuary. The main highlight of the box was a Turkish bath towel, that I thought would go well with the other Turkish bath towel I already had. Also included was a three-piece bathroom set made of concrete, which was something I lacked. The final item was something I was undecided about, but has quickly turned into a favourite of mine: palo santo incense sticks.

Scents are something I have not explored much of in my life. I keep to only one cologne for special occasions, and go with mild scents for soaps and shampoos. Another box in the fall from BespokePost had offered a candle with the scent of tobacco, which I quite enjoyed in the evenings while reading or writing. That started to crack the door towards me exploring more with scents and discovering what I enjoyed.

The description for the palo santo sticks was simple enough, a pleasant scent to calm a man in the bathroom while getting ready for the day. After I received them, they stayed in my bathroom drawer for a quite awhile before I decided to try lighting one up. I watched that stick glow red for about a minute, and then blew it out, smoke billowing upwards in a black streak. I was mesmorized, inhaled deeply, and was brought back to my childhood of sitting around campfires at the lake.

Smoke has such an instant connection for most of us, whether it’s campfires, the fear of wildfires in the hot summer days, or the disgust (or coolness factor) of watching someone light up a cigarette. It’s instantly recognizable from a distance and can be overwhelming when closer to its source. Different cultures around the world have used it in religious ceremonies or other events. I have always been aware of the importance of smoke and smudging in First Nations cultures, but never had the opportunity to experience it myself in their sacred rituals. These incense sticks are as close as I can get to that experience while at home.

Palo santo comes from Peru and Ecuador, part of the citrus family of trees, and its name in Spanish means, “holy wood.” The trees are not harvested themselves, but people gather up the twigs and branches on the ground to use. The smoke and essential oils produced from the tree have many different uses and effects. Besides having a calming effect, it is also said to enhance creativity and bring good fortune to people.

For me, it’s enhancing my little home with the scents of pine, lemon, and mint. I burn it during the day when alone, or in the evening after a long day. It’s pleasant and peaceful, bringing me to a place of calmness without having to escape to Kasugai Gardens or Paul’s Tomb.

Palo santo is available on many different sites:

  • At BespokePost, as part of the Sanctuary box for $45 USD + shipping
  • On Amazon (Canada or US) in little bundles of sticks

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