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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gathering Personal Power: The Medicine Bag (UPDATED)

The medicine bag is a very personal tool, each item placed in an individual’s medicine bag represents another step along that person’s spiritual journey. There is some controversy among Native Americans concerning non-indigenous people co-opting their spiritual beliefs by carrying a medicine bag. However, it should be noted that the Medicine Bag is simply another form of fetish, no different than the Mojo Bag, Aladdin’s Lamp, or even the Catholic Rosary. Medicine Bags have been known throughout all cultures at different points in history.

The Medicine Bag is typically made out of leather and can be as large or as small as you like. If you make your medicine bag yourself it will be in harmony with your personal energy by virtue of the creative process. However, if you make your medicine bag from a kit or purchase one from a retailer, I suggest that you personalize the bag in some way to set it apart from others. For example, the medicine bag pictured about is what my bag looked like when I ordered it online. Nonetheless, I have since personalized it by trimming the fringe along the sides and adding beads to the thong.

There isn't a specific number of items that can go into a Medicine Bag, however all items must be able to fit into the bag without damaging the bag itself.  I personally believe that the first thing that should go into your bag should be a product of your body such as a lock of your hair, a baby-tooth, nail pairings, etc....because it contains your DNA and therefore a portion of your spirit.

Apart from that, the contents of a Medicine Bag will change as the individual moves forward along their spiritual journey. Each item placed in the bag will have some special meaning for the individual. Many will place things such as the metals, herbs, stones, elements, roots, totemic-representations, Saint Medals, incenses, powders etc... they feel resonate with them on a deeply spiritual level. Other items may include found objects, like feathers, stones, and shells; and items which commemorate a special event in one’s life, dried flowers which adorned the altar during one's wedding for example or maybe a pinch of dirt from a holy-site that resonates with the individual.

To begin accumulating items for one’s medicine bag, I suggest compiling a list of personal correspondences and obtain a symbol for each correspondence to be placed in your Medicine Bag. Remember that one’s Medicine Bag is cumulative, that is, things will be added to it or taken away as need arises, representing your spiritual journey. For example, the first item that went into my medicine bag that was not a products of my body was a penny from my year of birth. The value of a penny is one-cent which to me speaks of both my individuality as well as my oneness with all things. In addition, I have a cowrie shell in my medicine bag which resembles a mouth because I believe in the power and value of words and words are a very important part of my personal magical style and practice. In addition, I also have a silver mercury dime in my medicine bag because I was born under the sign of Virgo which is ruled by the planet Mercury. Mercury rules over communication and the written word which further resonates with my spirit.

I know of one medicine person who includes a pinch of every herb he works with in his medicine bag. For example the first time he worked with sage, he placed a small pinch of sage in his bag. The next time he worked with sage he did not add it to his bag because it already contained sage. Modern root-workers and spiritual practitioners who work with herbs and roots may wish to adopt this practice so as to build a relationship with the spirit of the herbs and roots with which they work.

Once you have gathered all of your personal symbols they should be ceremonially placed into your medicine bag and ritually blessed according to the teachings of your tradition, or your personal practices. After the blessing, I also suggest that you carry your medicine bag on your person and sleep with it near you for at least one moon cycle in order to bond with the bag and imprint it with your energies. Some individuals like to wear their Medicine Bag on a leather thong around their neck, while others prefer to carry them in their pocket and sleep with them under their pillow at night.

Medicine Bags are believed to act both passively and actively. The powers attributed to them include, enhancing your own natural talents, amplifying your magic, giving you strength, heightened senses, aiding in psychic development and connecting you to the spirit realm. It is also said to aid in healing of the mind, body, and spirit of the person who owns it and can also be worked like a doll-baby.  Medicine Bags can be used to direct energy by holding it in your hand and pointing it in the direction you wish energy to flow as you mentally focus on the intent and purpose of that energy; it can also be used like a rattle to raise energy for a variety of purposes by shaking it over objects, people, and things to set one's intentions to bless, heal, protect, cleanse, uncross, etc...

Carolina Dean


Anonymous said...

is is an excellent entry. I have read about medicine bags, but never really thought about incorporating one into a Witch/Wiccan lifestyle. Do you keep yours with you all of the time?

Moon Blessings.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes I keep in next to me while I sleep. I carry it to work, I keep it in my pocket while hanging around the house.

I shake it like a rattle over my car before going to work/coming home, I shake it in the doorway to my home for protection, I shake it as I walk through the house to banish negativity, I shake it over objects to purify and bless them.

As I shake my medicine bag over an object or whatever, I visualize sprinkles of colored energy falling on the object.

I've lain it against my body where I felt sick (usually my stomach, being a Virgo)and put my hand over it for healing.

Its my favorite tool, because it works both passively as well as actively.

Carolina Dean