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Native American Copal Mythology
Copal is an important ceremonial herb of Mexico and Central America, long used as a sacred incense
by the Maya, Nahuatl (Aztec), and Zoque peoples. It is not actually a plant but a plant product, being the resin
of the torchwood family of trees (which are sometimes also referred to as "copal trees" in Mexico.)
"Copal" is a Spanish variant of the Nahuatl word copalli, meaning "incense."
The Mayan names for copal resin are pom, poom, or poomte. Copal played a very important
role in the ancient Mayan religion; copal was considered the food of the gods and was burned as
offerings to them. Today, although few if any Maya or Nahuatl people continue to worship the old gods, copal
is still used for ritual purification and other traditional ceremonies, and is often burned at mainstream Mexican
celebrations such as the Day of the Dead.
Native American Legends About Copal
Mesoamerican Copal Resins:
Article about the spiritual uses of copal (pom) incense among the Maya and other Mesoamerican tribes.
Recommended Books of Copal Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
Plants of Power: Native American Ceremony and the Use of Sacred Plants:
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Interesting book about the importance of copals and other native plants to traditional Native American spirituality.
Native Plant Stories:
Excellent collection of Native American stories about plants, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Native American Medicinal Plants:
Comprehensive book on the traditional uses of copales and other medicine herbs throughout Native North America.
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