Essential Oils: The Physical & Spiritual Uses of Sandalwood

Sandalwood, to me, smells like the inside of a temple, like deep meditation, like prayer. It is the scent of a third eye chakra open and aware, peering into the cave of darkness to access wealths of insight and divine inspiration. By aligning with sandalwood essential oil and using it to attune with the vibration of universal connection we are humbly asking for intuitive wisdom to accompany our deep surrender. We are allowing the frequency of the sandalwood tree to be our companion in the quest for enlightenment and authentic living.

In India you can wander endless shops filled with statues, boxes, and trinkets carved from the wood of a sandalwood tree. You can step into a multitude of temples or pass by altars in businesses and buses wafting the scent of sandalwood incense. The burning ghats in Varanasi sprinkle shavings of sandalwood into the fires both to mask the pungent smell of human ash from the cremation grounds on the banks of the Ganga River river and to help carry souls back to the eternal heavens.

Main Constituent

Sandalwood has long been associated with the sacred and the oil has a special constituent called sesquiterpenes which directly stimulates the pineal gland and opens one to higher states of awareness. This is largely supported through its ability to relax the central nervous system and act gently on the subtle psychic centers for activation and calibration.

Origin of Sandalwood

Stories of sandalwood suggest that a specific species (hari-chandan) of these pleasing and potent spiritual trees only existed in the realms of the divine, filling the atmosphere where the gods reside. It was believed that earth was given a “lesser” strain of the tree, which would allow us to connect with the realms of divinity, though not to the same degree as actually being there—though I beg to differ.

Physical Uses for Sandalwood

Sandalwood oil has long been used to nourish and moisturize the skin, to prevent aging and wrinkles, and to support any other skin condition such as rashes, inflammation, acne, wound healing, and scars. It has also been recognized as an effective antispasmodic and antiseptic. It can be used to calm the nerves, to relieve depression, for the lungs in cases such as asthma or bronchitis, to support and calm coughs and sore throats, and to bring down fevers. It has pain-relieving qualities and supports the digestive system in a variety of ways. With so many physical uses it is obvious why it would be seen as a gift from divine sources.

Magical Lore

Sandalwood is an important ingredient in magik. To help tune one into intuition and the guidance beyond the veil, sandalwood oil should be placed over the third eye and over the heart. Powdered sandalwood or slivers of sandalwood used in a burning caldron or with a charcoal disk, lit with an intention in mind, is helpful in carrying the energy of your intention into the field of manifestation. The scent of sandalwood alone invokes a deeply mindful awareness which brings the practitioner into an open and receptive state wherein inspiration and deep inner guidance can be received. The scent stimulates the mind and faculties of articulation, assisting one in channeling the words needed in order to affect change in one’s life.

Higher Consciousness

Every level of being must be taken into consideration in order to truly access a “higher” state of consciousness. One must be physically strong and unencumbered by disease; one’s emotional state should be healthy and clear of deep, detrimental patterning or unprocessed emotions; the mind ought to be free of limiting beliefs and the spirit, nourished and free to connect deeply with what lies “beyond.” Sandalwood essential oil has the capacity to balance and free all layers of being so that deep soul communion is made possible. It works on every level to release blocks and toxins and support a higher expression.

When working with sandalwood, all of one’s dealings become elevated. The sort of people you choose to hang around changes. The foods you prepare for yourself and your family become more inspired. The music you listen to, the words you speak, the thoughts running around in your head—all seem to veer towards a more refined state. Sandalwood is this powerful.

By choosing to align with sandalwood essential oil and by using it on a regular basis with the intention of opening to deeper intuition and inspiration, the channels are cleared and connection becomes a natural effect. Sandalwood essential oil is an ally for higher consciousness if ever an oil was. It is also capable of casting out negativity, unwanted spiritual entanglements and cutting relationship cords which no longer serve. It is the mentor which must be consulted with closed eyes.

Sandalwood and the Heart Chakra

Some call sandalwood “the wish-fulfiller,” which is also another name for the heart chakra in many texts. This points to the ability of sandalwood to work with the heart and to help one cultivate self-love and compassion, to release judgment and guilt and to become accepting and loving as a way to extend healing to all. Interestingly enough, what is called the “heartwood” of the tree is that which carries the potent scent of the oil in the highest degree. No doubt the wearing and smelling of sandalwood oil helps us to open the heart and clear emotional blocks which have limited our ability to love and receive love.

The Sandalwood Trees

Sandalwood trees are mystical in and of themselves. So far cultivating a sandalwood tree has been unsuccessful; they do in fact only grow of their own volition. The trees begin to grow the heartwood of the tree—where the scent of potency resides—at around 10 years of age. They are not harvested until they reach between 40-80 years of age. The older the tree, the more potent and spiritually activating the oil is. An aged sandalwood tree makes for medicine which works with the current state of the body in order to help it return both to health and also to a deep soul-connection with Gaia and the Source of Creation.

When harvesting the trees they actually uproot the entire tree since most of the benefits are found in the roots. This says a great deal about the way sandalwood oil affects us. It is crucial to ground oneself sufficiently in order to best utilize the healing and spiritual benefits of sandalwood (which is grounding in and of itself). It is also incredibly powerful for the heart and the health of the heart to use sandalwood oil as it has the capacity to reach deep into a person and uproot the heart of an issue if used consistently with intention.


The only warning in the use of this oil for physical, or any other use, is the recommendation to dilute pure essential oils in a carrier oil so as to not over-stimulate sensitive skin. When placing on the forehead for meditation, however, full potency is usually recommended for best results.


As an oil for attuning with spirit, accessing greater intuition and higher states of consciousness, there is no parallel. I love to wear sandalwood beads while sitting eyes-closed chanting in the early morning hours. The scent of the sandalwood is released with every japa and I find my mind still, while the inner doors of perception open to places I have never been before.

Shanti OM