Properties of Sandalwood

Folk Names: Sandal, Santal, White Sandalwood, White Saunders, Yellow Sandalwood
Gender: Feminine
Planet: Moon
Element: Water
Powers: Protection, Wishes, Healing, Exorcism, Spirituality

Magical Uses

This fragrant wood possesses very high spiritual vibrations and is burned at seances and Full Moon rituals when mixed with frankincense. 

Write your wish on a chip of sandalwood and burn in censer or cauldron. As it burns it sets the magic flowing, but remember to visualize your wish at the same time. 

Sandalwood beads are protective and promote a spiritual awareness when worn. 

Powdered sandalwood can be scattered about a place to clear it of negativity, and it is also used as an incense base.


Sandalwood in Sacred Tradition

The olfactory characteristics of sandalwood are legendary. The warm, sweet, slightly spicy precious wood notes present a mellodic blend which is at once distinct yet not overpowering. The non-dominating fixative characteristics of the oil make it the ideal choice for creating attars and a wide range of other perfumes. It has the capacity to absorb the most ethereal notes of other plant materials, enrich and enliven them and give them back in a yet more beautiful form. Many substitutes have been tried for sandalwood but in the end one can only say that "sandalwood is sandalwood" and there is no real substitute for it.

In India the heartwood of sandalwood has divine status. One species, Hari-chandan, was said to grow only in the heavenly worlds, filling the celestial empire with its divine fragrance. The terrestial sandalwood is said to be its representative on earth. It is regularly used in the anointing of sacred idols. The fragrance of the sandalwood is said to be one of the most pleasing to the gods, hence its use in unguents, incense and fragrant oils. A paste is made from the wood for applying to the forehead in a variety of symbolic markings indicating to which religious sect a person belongs. Its cooling and soothing properties when applied in this manner are said to direct a person's attention towards contemplation of the mystery of life. In the last rites of devote Hindus, the wood is considered a most important ingredient of the funeral pyre. It is thought that the soul is carried back to its eternal abode with the scent of sandalwood. The fragrance of sandalwood and the religious life of India's people can hardly be separated. References to it appear in countless religious scriptures.

Therapeutic Applications of Sandalwood

Traditionally sandalwood has been used for treating digestive complications arising from diarrhea, nausea, colic and gastritis. It is listed as a carminative and digestive muscle relaxant. Its antiseptic properties have been successfully employed for treating genito-urinary infections. Indigenous physicians observed that the oil and heartwood possessed antispasmodic properties and so utilized it for treating bronchitis, coughs, sore throat and related diseases. Its use in treatment of skin problems is legendary. It is an excellent moisturizer and nourishes all skin types. Its astringent, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and pain relieving properties have been put to good use in healing wounds, scars, and acne. Applied to the forehead in the form of a paste it has a cooling effect and is used to bring down fevers. In cosmetic preparations it is excellent for reducing wrinkles. In the realm of mental and emotional therapeutics sandalwood is used for treating stress, depression, anxiety and nervous tension as it is both a sedative and tonic. It is thought to naturally control anger and aggression and to act upon subtle emotional centers to promote compassion and openness.

Today, sandalwood oil is one of the most valuable and expensive raw materials available in Western perfumery. The fragrance of the oil and heartwood are considered invaluable in meditation practice.  Due to its precious nature, sandalwood essential oil is commonly referred to as "liquid gold."


Sandalwood-Its Precious Heartwood

The most valuable part of the sandalwood tree is the scented heartwood.
One sandalwood tree in a forest makes the whole forest smell of sandalwood as the scent clings to other trees.  If the tree establishes itself in a favorable location it will begin forming the heartwood after 10 years of growth. At that point the girth of the tree will be about 9 inches and its height 10 feet. After 20 years the heartwood begins to form rapidly and reaches its prime in the 50-60 year range at which point the tree will be about 2-3 feet in girth, and up to 60 feet high. The trees having reached this stage and considered ripe for harvest are uprooted not cut, as the roots are highest in oil content. The appropriate time for doing this is just after the rainy season so as to reduce labor.

Sandalwood is a root parasite and extracts nutrients from the host plant by means of special formations called haustoria. It is not a single species of trees that nourishes the sandalwood but several and it is not yet fully understood what the exact conditions are that allow the tree to thrive. In creating the same conditions where Sandalwood trees are found to grow, scientists were unsuccessful in cultivating sandalwood. It grows only by its own sweet will! 

Due to its high value sandalwood is exploited by thieves and smugglers. It is sold only to perfumers, craftsman, and incense makers in India at auctions under armed guard due to its high value.  It is endangered due to modernization and strictly controlled by the Indian Government.