The word copal is from the Nahuatl language word for incense copalli. Known in various Mayan languages, Copal resins are used as incense, and medicinally.
Copal, considered to be the "blood" of trees, was designated as a worthy offering to the Gods. In ancient Mayan and Aztec ceremonial uses there was a distinct symbolic connection between maize and Copal. Maize(corn) was the primary human food staple. Copal was an offering in ritual for Food for the Gods. There is evidence of Copal being modeled into ritual objects shaped like 'ears' of Maize, and into miniature tortilla, disk-shaped incense. These are similar to pre-hispanic copal offerings found in a cenote (pool) at chichen itza in the Yucatan, and elsewhere in central Mexico. The smoke from Copal was inhaled by shamans for inducing trance states.
The various Copal resins of Mexico and the Americas are closely related to the Copals of Africa and the Damars of India and Indonesia. The American Copals generally have a sweeter aroma.
Burned upon live coals in incense burners, the fumes and smoke are promoted to cure various illnesses, to protect against sorcery, sickness, and misfortune, and to cleanse the body after contact with the ill or dying, and others considered to be spiritually "unclean".
Its sweet and husky, resinous aroma is used for celebration, invocation, protection. It is sacred to indigenous cultures of Central and South America. It is burned year-round in churches there, and is still used in homes during Day of the Dead celebrations. It is thought that the familiar scent of Copal helps souls of the departed to find their way back to visit among the living.
Copal is added to love and purification incenses. There are over 300 types of copal available in the world - our copal comes from Northern Mexico.
A piece of Copal can be used to represent the heart in poppets as well. Copal is ruled by the element of Fire and the Sun.
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