Copal is sacred to the indigenous cultures of the Central and South Americas. It is burned year round in the churches in Mexico, but is best known for its use in the homes during Day of the Dead. It is said that the familiar scent of Copal helps the souls find their way back during their annual visit home. This copal has a light, sweet and very pleasant aroma. It uses can be for inspiration, attraction, invocation, happiness and celebration.
The aroma of burnt copal is said to not only fortify and invigorate the body, but also soothe the mind and relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress, and even depression. There is however no essential oil derived from the distillation of copal, and the practice of distilling its essence is not commonplace, so all aroma-therapeutic applications for it subside in its being employed as an incense.
Metaphysical Properties & Uses
Both true and false copal's greatest and perhaps most prolific employment remains in the field of the esoteric, where it has been employed since time immemorial as an offertory incense and deistic tribute. The Mayas, Aztecs, and other neighboring First Peoples Nations have long-employed copal as an incense for their deities, even so far as shaping the easily-carved substance into ears of maize and other shapes considered sacred by their society and religion. The Plains Native Americans such as the Sioux and the Apache used to trade other goods such as spear points for copal, which was used extensively and exclusively in sweat lodge rituals. Both true and false copal (tribal societies of the time placed no true distinction or importance in the distinction of either) were believed to be the 'food of the gods' just as maize was considered the food of humans.
With the later influx of Christian-oriented belief-systems, the practice of using copal for rituals remained, albeit it was integrated into Church services, were it played the role of frankincense, then a highly expensive and almost impossible-to-procure commodity for the growing Churches in the New World.
Because Christian-oriented belief systems employ incense not only as an offertory item for their god, but also believe it to be placating substance for the spirits of the deceased, it purpose then hybridized with the remnants of animalistic culture and, to this day, both true and false copal are strongly employed in the Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, particularly in Mexico and its neighboring areas as a means to 'ferry the dead and direct them' to the afterlife as well as to placate the troubled and restless dead. This may suggest that copal can be employed for exorcism rites and rituals, although, the Catholic Rite, being exacting, always calls for frankincense for such rituals. This does not preclude the possibility that the hybridized tribal-Christian religion that arose after the Spanish Conquest would not prescribe its use for just such purposes, as remnants of tribal societies that exist to this day employ copal for banishing, smudging, cleansing, and exorcism.The ancients also carved true copal into an assortment of shapes to be worn as accessories, but these generally possessed an esoteric or magical meaning, and can be understood from an anthropological perspective as serving the role of talismans or amulets more than just mere accessories. Most modern magical practices associate copal jewelry with its capacity to promote healing, the balancing of all the chakras, increasing fertility and virility, and the dispelling of negative energies. Some schools of thought lump copal with the same metaphysical properties as amber, which is said to provide protection, healing, cleansing, and enhance fertility.
How to UseTo use our Shamans Market resin incense, ignite a charcoal tablet, such as Swift Lite Charcoal Tablets, and place the tablet in a fire-safe burning bowl. You may either set a piece of the resin incense directly on top of the hot charcoal table or grind the piece to a fine powder and sprinkle on the glowing tablet.