In most every culture, shamans embarking on a vision quest and other spiritual healers honor the tradition of their ancestors and teachers by carrying and using something known as a medicine bag. Medicine bags are various-sized pouches containing sacred objects, especially crystals, bones, feathers and stones, but they can carry any small object of significance to the shaman.
Amulet bags have been made in African nations, for the indigenous peoples throughout the Americas, and in Europe and Asia, too. It is rare to find a practitioner of any nature religion, such as Wicca, without his or her personal medicine bag.
When used with an attitude of honor and respect, the bag and its contents are able to bring the shaman in touch with powers of his or her innermost being. Very often, a shaman will carry one or more crystals or other objects that accompanied him or her on the vision quest, and will use the stored energy to enhance healing and other ceremonies and sacred rites.
Medicine bags are usually hand stitched and constructed from leather, with beaded adornment. They are small bags, typically hung like necklaces from a cord around the neck, but they can also be worn on a belt or carried in a pocket or purse. The exterior designs often act as protective influence, but the bag itself contains additional protection inside, in the form of sacred objects, crystals, feathers, shells or herbs that have meaning for the shaman, thereby helping him or her to focus intention.
Medicine bags are meant to give guidance, good luck, good health, abundance and even love to their wearers. They act as a means of personal energetic protection and can be held to invoke healing and protection. For instance, a shaman consulting with a person in need of balance may have a medicine bag embroidered or painted with balancing symbols and containing some obsidian stones used for protection. A lay individual who might carry a medicine bag could be a person going to a stressful job interview or some other important business meeting. He or she would wear or carry a small medicine bag containing malachite for success and prosperity.
Various cultures felt that wearing a medicine bag close to the body, strengthened the sacred power of the bag and enhance one’s personal power. Medicine bags are designed for protection from seen and unseen things, and are worn to enhance the wearer’s positive attitude and keep negative energy away from his or her physical and spiritual self.
The creation of your personal medicine bag is a pure example of “spiritual crafting.” It is a process in which you can nurture your art and soul, find inner peace and enhance your well-being.
More information about medicine bags is available in my book Healing Crystals: A Shaman’s Guide to Using Energy Stones & Making Medicine Bags. To benefit from the spiritual crafting lessons in Healing Crystals, all you need are a few simple supplies and a desire to connect to a mystical state of grace.