Copal is a resin from the Bursera fagaroides tree which is native to Mexico and central America, it grows to about 100 feet (30 metres) tall and the sap from the tree is what is called Copal. The resin when burned has a uniquely powerful aroma and has some similarities to Frankincense.
History of Copal
Copal has been used for thousands of years, dating back to pre-Colombian times where the Aztecs and Mayans used it for sacred ceremonies. The word Copal is derived from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word "Copalli" meaning incense. While it was commonly used for incense it was also used for other purposes including an adhesive, binder for pigments, a chewing gum that had medicinal functions and for ceremonial figurines. The sap or resins from a tree were consider the "blood of the tree" and needless to say Copal was very revered as an important part of their civilization and spiritual practices.
While we refer to Copal coming from the Bursera fagaroides tree Mayan sacred scriptures of Popul Vuh says that the stars, sun and moon arrived on earth to come together as Copal. The Mayans and Aztecs collected various resins from the Burseraceae (torchwood) genus, not only Bursera fagaroides.
Uses and Benefits
Copal is a great spiritual and energy cleanser and can be burned to produce the smoke to clear the energy. This can be done to clear your own energy, your crystals, other objects or your house. It is also a good way to begin any ceremony and ritual both for space clearing and for it's intentional connection with the divine.
Copal can be purchased as the resin itself which can be commonly burned on a charcoal disk and also in incense sticks. Copal essential oil is another option to use the sacred plant. White, Gold and Black Copal exist all with different aromas and different uses. Read further down for more information on the types of Copal.
Types of Copal
There are different types of Copal - white, gold and black. The variation in the color is due to how the Copal is extracted and treated. Each type also has different uses.
White Copal ("The Saint", Copal Blanco)
White Copal is made from making diagonal cuts in the tree and the sap gathers in a cup. No further processing is done. The aroma of white Copel is sweeter than Black Copel but not as much as Golden and has pine scent. White Copal is associated with purity as it is not processed and holds the light white color, also known as "The Saint" it has strong cleansing ability and inviting in the divine to purify.
Gold Copal (Copal Oro)
Gold Copal is made through the complete removal of the bark from the tree. Gold copal has a richer and smoother aroma than white copal. This strong rich aroma is a powerful cleanser in ceremonial use.
Black Copal (Copal Negro)
Is darker in color through the beating of the bark. Black Copal has the least sweeter aroma and has strong grounding abilities.