What Is A Medicine Bag and How Do I Make Mine?
by Shaman Elder Maggie Wahls
A medicine bag is an ancient item that spiritually represents the person who wears it. In 1991 the body of a man who lived over 5,000 years ago was found frozen in a high mountain range and with him was a medicine bag. The medicine bag is known in all cultures and throughout all of history. They contain objects such as leaves, feathers, stones, herbs such as sweet grass, sage, cedar, lavender or pinion, and other objects which have been added by the wearer and considered spiritually significant.
Medicine bags can be as small as 1 inch by 1 inch or as large as 30 inches in length. They are typically made of leather and you can purchase such a bag to make your own at most metaphysical stores.
The reasons to carry a medicine are for guidance, healing and protection. Most medicine bags contain a quartz crystal as one of its objects. Quartz energy resonates with all the energies of the physical body and is considered a remarkable healing stone. It connects you to your spiritual self.
Other items you might like in your own medicine bag are items you may have found a special attraction to or resonance with in your life. For example, a special shell you found at the seashore or a feather you found or a piece of pine tree or a juniper berry that holds meaning for you. We often meet up with items that seem to be just waiting for us to pick them up and carry them home and then we don’t know what to do with them. This is one place to give them a home close to your heart. The essence of these special items create an energy in your medicine bag and that energy is the force that represents you. So by creating a medicine bag and wearing it close to your heart you are connecting with your spiritual self, the authentic you and always remembering who you are.
The Shaman often carries a medicine bag that has items in it for healing oneself and others. I carry many things in my tiny medicine bag. I met with a group of healers recently who laughed at me for having such a small medicine bag! Mine is only about 1 inch by 1 ½ inches. But it is not about the size at all, it is about what it contains. My medicine bag contains items that I can use for healing others on the spot. I carry jojoba, a plant grown in the southwest for healing skin infections, bug bites and rashes. I carry a moonstone for healing trauma, a small piece of serpentine that heals all kinds of internal disorders. A small ostrich feather to heal any kind of spiritual negativity, a seagull feather to remove any lesions or other intrusions upon the body, the herb feverfew to ease fevers, a hair from an elephant who is my totem animal, the animal that I resonate the most with, and the Three Sisters: a kernel of corn, a dried bean and a squash seed that connect me to the abundance and healing of Mother Earth. So the medicine bag I carry is a healing bag and I might remove an item or use the whole bag in an emergency situation or when visiting someone who is sick by laying my bag upon the illness or broken leg for example. It works!
Your medicine bag is a holy item for you and should never be opened by anyone. It contains your holy items, those that help you heal, those that bring you protection, those items that connect you with your guides or angels. The phrase "totem animal" is often referred to and that would mean something that represents an animal that you closely identify with and feel a kinship for as I do with the elephant. You can put something to represent this animal in your medicine bag. Your item represents the power of this animal.
To make your medicine bag, you can purchase a small leather pouch or make your own from a piece of hide or natural colored canvas. The outside of your bag should be a natural color or earth tone like tan. You can decorate the outside of your bag with symbols or drawings of animals or leaves, whatever feels right in your heart. Before placing your items in your bag, take a moment to bless them and realize their meaning in your life and why you wish to carry them with you in this way. Bless Mother Earth and her creatures for providing these things for you.
Think of how each item represents your own power to heal, to guide and protect others by carrying this medicine bag. This is your connection to your spiritual nature. Carrying this medicine bag will increase your awareness of your own sacredness and the bag becomes sacred too. As you go through life you may find other things you want to add to this medicine bag. If you wear it and add to it throughout the years it becomes a spiritual scrap book of your life, your travels, your achievements, who you really are and is a wonderful thing to hand down to grandchildren who can understand its meaning and respect its value as you now do.