Raye loved playing dress-up so much that she went on to study costume and makeup for her BA, then got an MFA in surface design.
A Ritual Pouch or Bag
In many cultures, you will find the practice of carrying a bag of significant objects, items considered to aid and carry power and which help in times of healing. Whether the Native American medicine bag, the African-derived gris-gris or the Caribbean Oanga bag, all of these items are small bags used as charms or fetishes. They are blessed items which hold smaller ritual objects, prayers, and items of personal importance and symbolism.
Medicine bags as used by Native American shaman were actually quite large, carrying ritual masks, herbs and medicinal plants, ritual totems and more. In essence, if you want to make yourself a medicine bag, you need to make it large enough to hold whatever it is you wish to carry in it. For bags taken to rituals and festivals, you might want something small enough so you can tie it to a belt as a pouch, or you might want something the size of a moderate purse or tote bag.
More about Medicine Bags
- Medicine bag - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Medicine Bag is a traditional North American Indian container for various items of supernatural power.
- Exciting Scout Crafts - Medicine Bag
A medicine bag was very special to the Native American Indians. The bag held treasured herbal medicines or special objects.
- What Is A Medicine Bag and How Do I Make Mine? by Shaman Elder Maggie
A medicine bag is an ancient item that spiritually represents the person who wears it. The medicine bag is known in all cultures and throughout all of history.
Designing Your Medicine Bag
Most often the bag itself is made from a natural fiber or material. Silk satins and velvets are popular choices as are cotton fabrics. Lightweight to moderate leathers can be used for heavier pouches and large bags as well. These can be machine or hand-sewn depending on your equipment, time and skill. Remnant bins at fabric stores or the leather scrap barrel at the craft store is a great place to find a new medicine bag. Or you can find something pre-made.
Varying traditions have differing color suggestions for magic bags. You will find many of the usual colors mentioned: black (shielding), white (protection), red (energizing). Or the color can be something that is a favorite of yours. You might find a pre-made bag that can still be dyed or painted on to customize as you wish.
Frequently these bags close with a drawstring top, but you can also make a flap that ties or buttons shut as well. If you put a really long drawstring on a small bag, you can make one which you can wear around your neck.
Learn About a Traditional Medicine Bag
What Goes Inside A Medicine Bag
Most often for a personal mojo, just a simple drawstring bag will suffice. Many people like one that is small enough to fit into an ordinary pocket or even something small enough to be worn on a sturdy cord around the neck. These tiny pouches are good for keeping small crystals, little prayer scrolls, feathers, bits of incense, pinches of herbs, tufts of fur, tiny animal totem figures and other items of strong personal significance.
If the medicine bag is larger, like the size of a purse, they can be repositories of bigger items that hold personal power for you or some of your magickal tools. A magic pouch might protect a deck of tarot cards when they aren’t being used, or you might assemble a special one that you can wear if you were doing magickal work for manifesting or for healing work. Larger pouches sometimes can hold small musical instruments like shakers or bells. I have one that I wear on my belt when I dance at my fire circles that holds all the things I want to keep on hand at all times: small musical instruments, organic lip balm, a pen for my journal, a tiny flashlight in case I have to look for something in the dark away from the firelight, incense to add to the fire and crystals I am working with.
What do you keep in your Medicine Bag?
Mark C on January 30, 2012:
A medicine bag should never be made for a stranger but rather a person that is very near and dear to your heart. before it is given to that person it should be smudged in white cedar. Don't devalue a medicine bag by commercially selling for profit.....Cherokee by blood....American by choice.
dancingclouds.etsy.com on January 21, 2012:
I like what Rena said about carrying an item that relates to your intentions. Hopefully our intentions are all positive when it comes to medicine and magic.
Raye (author) from Seattle, WA on November 02, 2011:
Obviously, people should work with herbs and plants to which they have affinities, and be sure to leave out anything you don't like or have an allergy to.
Barbara on October 27, 2011:
What if you do not have white sage, and are allergic to cedar? What is a subsatute?
jamterrell on July 18, 2011:
Great hub, VOTE IT UP.
Baron on June 14, 2011:
every medicine bag should at the very least contain the sacred herbs of the 4 directions, tobacco, sweet grass, white sage and cedar... and a white shell but the shell is regional...
Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on August 20, 2010:
Great hub, Relache. I make medicine bags and pouches, too. I love them. A medicine bag is so personal and can be so powerful for the person who owns it. Thanks for sharing your wonderful and well-written information.
Mystique1957 from Caracas-Venezuela on March 07, 2010:
This is beautiful. There´s so much energy in the way you suggest things. Perhaps because I am open to receive I feel these good vibes. In any case, it´s been a helpful hub! Thanks for sharing!
Love and Light for you, sister,
Maryelle on October 18, 2009:
Thank you Relache, I always love your writings.
trimar7 from New York on September 10, 2009:
I teach about the indigenous people and found your hub very interesting.
magickshop on March 16, 2008:
Wonderful, informative, well written, I love this article! And the idea of the flashlight in the bag for outdoor rituals is great, I will make a special one for myself!
Whitney from Georgia on March 15, 2008:
You always have something interesting to read.
Rena Klingenberg on March 15, 2008:
Wonderful, Relache. I also love gorgeous amulet bag necklaces designed from seed beads, with the beads "painting" an image. I use something similar to the magic pouch idea here for carrying around with me whatever small object relates to one of my current intentions - such as a found coin for prosperity, etc.