Copal – Sacred Tree Resin of Mesoamerica

Shamans Market

Walking on the streets of Mexico, you can often smell burning Copal..

Copal comes from a healer tree family called Bursera that is sacred to the Maya. This aromatic resin has been referred to as the “Mexican Frankincense”, and it is related to both Franckincense and Myrrh. Today, it is often used in Mexico and Central America in sweat lodges and Day of the Dead ceremonies, and burned year round in the churches of Mexico.

The history of Copal use dates back to the Mayan and Aztec civilization days. Copal was widely used in ritual offerings and ceremonies, and mass quantities of copal resin were burned atop Aztec and Mayan pyramids. The white smoke produced by burning copal resin was associated with helpful spirits and “White Gods”. It was believed that the white smoke assisted in contacting deities and helpful spirit allies. While Copal's roots lie deep within Mesoamerican culture, similar aromatic resins can be found across the globe, including regions as far-flung as East Africa.

In Mexico, Copal was associated with the water element, creation and fertility Gods. Black Copal was commonly used as an offering to the Mayan deities, and was considered to be the “food of the Gods”.

The Otomi people of Mexico would read the smoke pattern for diagnosing illness, and Copal smudging is still used widely in Mexico to prevent illness.

Copal resin is a powerful healer and purifier, with the power to transmute negative energy. Copal aids in physical, mental, and spiritual healing, and environmental clearing.

The life force within Copal is said to promote fertility, as it is the life force and “blood” of the tree, which makes it a good incense to burn for birthing ceremonies.

Easiest way to burn Copal resin is to use charcoal tablets on a ceramic burner, which then heats up the resin.

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