Medicine Bag & Sacred Objects

Medicine Bag

In the Native tradition, one would often have a Medicine Bag or Pouch, to carry sacred objects and sacred substances. These might include special rocks and gems, pieces of plant, tree or sap, tobacco ties, feathers, bones, tooths and skins from animals, sacred art pieces and sacred symbols – anything which has special sacred meaning or represents a certain power or good spirit to that person.

The objects or substances might represent and invoke certain Animal Powers or Plant Powers or Spirit Allies. The objects are really only powerful in their relation to greater powers and energies. Some objects or symbols are considered as charms or good luck, often based on the tribal stories and beliefs. Certain objects may be for protection or abundance or vision or healing. The objects are generally considered to be for strength, aid, and protection, and the personal Medicine Bag is a kind of preventative medicine, keeping the person attuned to spiritual energies and in balance. Each sacred object in the personal or tribal Medicine Bag has a special significance or a special power associated with it, and it has its own special spiritual vibration.

Some Medicine Bags are created for specific purposes, such as dreaming, vision, fertility, good harvest, battle, or for special healing needs. Some special Bags are passed on in the family, and many tribes have Tribal Bags of sacred tribal objects, which is passed on from Chief to Chief or held protected by a designated Medicine Person.

The full contents of a Medicine Bag should never be shared or revealed, though if there is a good reason, such as in teaching or in healing, many of these objects can be revealed to those who will respect them. The fundamental rule is that the Bag and its contents must be treated with utmost respect. It is allowed to let another copy some of your objects, but the most sacred object should always remain in secret. One can also give away certain objects to those in need of them, and one can also pass on their Bag to another, but only usually when near death or when the person chooses to create a new Bag, and this should only be done if the giver is assured that the receiver will respect this Bag as his own.

It is permitted for a Medicine Person or Teacher to make a Bag for someone else, in view of their special needs, but it is generally best to create your own personal Medicine Bag, choosing your own sacred objects of special significance to you. Creating a personal Medicine Bag or collection of sacred objects can be a gradual process, and the collection can evolve over time and experience. There should be no rush to create the complete Bag or collection.

Some Shamans don't carry a medicine pouch, or they only carry certain objects for special occasions. They may not need to hold actual objects, because they have a direct receptive connection to the Powers. But generally, all medicine people have at least some personally-sacred objects, which connect them with the greater powers of nature, according to the natural law of sympathetic vibration.

So, in a Medicine Bag (or Pouch) are one’s own particular sacred objects and symbols, or natural charms most meaningful and significant in attracting certain powers of Nature. These can also be placed on a sacred alter or somewhere within one’s living space. Or, they can be placed or painted on clothing or directly on one’s body.

Choosing objects of power and relation

Our life can be an exploration of the sacred wholeness as found in the natural world and reflected inwardly in our being. Discovering our connections and relations in nature is wisdom. It is a gradual process of self-insight and recognitions in the world of Nature. Thus, there is a gradual recognition of our inner connections with Nature, as our inner nature reflects the outer world of nature, and visa versa.

Having parts of the natural world around you and in your life can add to the sacredness of your life, as long as you hold a special reverence and appreciation for the sacredness of these natural things. First, you must be receptive to the powers and energies found in Nature. Then you must want these energies in your life.

As you study and understand more of the natural world, you gain a greater sense of what you need for healing and balance. You may feel especially attracted to certain parts or life-forms of the natural world, which is a sign that these particulars of Nature are special and healing for you. Each person’s needs and choices may be somewhat different than others, and each person will find a natural attraction to some parts of Nature more than others. What you are attracted to and what you choose will be what is right for you. Trust in yourself and your natural feelings. Trust that you will know what you need. The wisdom inside you knows what you need, so trust your feelings.

Choose what you need and also what you find is especially beautiful. These are the two best criteria for good choice. The essence of all this is to find what you need in Nature, or find what is beautiful and significant to you, and hold this sacred, and respect the good energies it gives. First, one must want and be receptive to these powers or energies. Then, one must choose which powers are to be received, those energies which one feels to be useful and good medicine. Each person’s needs and choices may be somewhat different than others. So each must decide which particular energies and powers are most useful and helpful, or which energies shall be invoked.

Knowing what is needed is wisdom. This may come through the Sweat Ritual, the Vision Quest, through self-meditation, through omens given by the natural world, or from counseling or divination. The right attitude in all this is being humble, and accepting the fact that you need assistance and help along the Trail of life, and that the various powers of Nature and Spirit Helpers can assist you, if you wish.

Meditate on what energies you need. You may need the particular strengths or qualities of a certain kind of animal spirit, or the special healing qualities of a certain kind of plant or tree, or the particular vibrations of a kind of gemstone. Or perhaps, special objects will just come your way, and you’ll recognize their special importance and sacredness to you. These then become your own sacred objects, charms, and energy attractors, which have a special power and significance for just you. It doesn’t matter what others think or feel about these things. They are special to you, and their power especially applies to you. The power of these things increases as we give them the energy of sacred respect, recognition, gratefulness, and our faith in their aliveness and potency.

Recognition and developing receptivity

Find some natural object which feels special to you, like a crystal, a stone, a feather, an animal tooth, or whatever. And give this your undivided attention. See it fully and study it, as though you needed to memorize its impression. Touch it. And begin to feel its particular energy. You need not think about it. Just get to know it with just the senses. Now begin to recognize its particular beauty and its feeling of sacredness, realizing that this is a manifestation of Great Spirit in this particular form.

Now, become purely receptive to its energies. Open your mind’s eye and your sensitive feeling to what it is sharing with you. Open to the energies which are coming through it. If the object seems to have a symbolic meaning to you, or seems to be representative of a greater energy, then open up to this meaningful energy. Hold this energy in your feelings and try to recognize its particular quality of energy or that which is particularly meaningful. Finally, just allow its energy and meaning to settle inside you. Just simply allow the energy, or the greater power coming through, to be received and cherished with gratitude.

This practice should be done slowly and with complete attention.

Give the experience at least a few minutes to unfold. The basic essential steps are giving full attention, receiving what is given, understanding what is given, and being grateful for the sacred energies or greater powers coming through the object. We need to spend time in this way with each object of which we hope to be sacred and of good medicine and of good use. The more we give attention, recognition and agreement to the sacredness or spiritual power of particular things, the more they will come alive and serve us. More of its particular spiritual energy will come alive and be potent and effective.

The same principle applies to all sacred objects and healing tools, such as the rattle, drum, and shield. All sacred objects are like conductors of greater energies or powers. You might have a rattle or a crystal, and believe that a certain power comes from it. Yes, that is so. But a truly sacred rattle or crystal carries much more power. It is channeling a greater power or special energies from the spiritual world. It is more than itself alone. It’s a conductor, or a way for greater energies to reach the person, a way for spiritual powers to enter the manifesting world.

Yet you have to recognize this and respect this, for otherwise the object is just an object. The sacred connection is made possible by recognizing and respecting sacredness. A certain object may be specially sacred to a particular Medicine Woman, and so the power works for her. She experiences the sacredness and the power, and it works for her. But if you don’t recognize the object’s sacredness and power, then it won’t work for you.

You see, recognition and respect open up the channel and the sacred connection. You need to recognize that sacred connection, have faith in it, and allow it to work. Making sacred is recognizing the sacred connection, that the object is a conductor or transmitter for greater spiritual energies. It radiates those energies. It radiates sacredness. And the more one recognizes, respects and makes use of the object in a sacred way, the more that object will carry and radiate greater energies which are attuned to it. As you recognize what those energies are, you acquire greater understanding and can more skillfully apply them.

Increasing an object's sacredness & power

It is possible to increase the sacredness and power of any kind of natural or created object. First, the more one gives love and respect to an object, the more its sacredness and power is increased. The more one gives meaning and specialness to an object, the more its power is increased.

Here also is a way to increase sacred power of an object. Take the object in one hand and hold it in an energy of strong protectiveness. Then hold it in the other hand with an energy of gentle appreciation. Strong protectiveness and gentle appreciation are the male and female qualities of energy, which you can share and give to the object.

Spend some time with each quality of touch, and really be in that quality. Feel being the protector of its specialness and sacredness. Give the object confidence that you will always respect and protect it. You might even feel the object’s appreciation for this loving protection. Then, feel being the gentle appreciator, for its special beauty and for what it represents to you and for the greater energies it carries. Feel the object become more and more dear to you and special. Then ask that its energies protect you, and that you may receive its special qualities. The object will become more alive and radiant.

Then, meditate on the special quality or special energy this object has for you, or what kind of greater spiritual energy it is connected with. This may be a certain emotional vibration or quality, or it may be an animal power or quality, or it may be connected to a certain kind of healing. Use your natural intuition and simply recognize what makes this object special for you. Why is it special? Or, what is it’s special spiritual quality? Gradually, you come to know the unique energies and qualities of the object.

Then, raise the object up to the Sky, hold it out, and prayerfully ask that the Power of Great Spirit charge this object with sacred power and meaningfulness. You might feel and maybe see a bolt of power enter the object, and the object’s energy aura will expand and become more radiant.

Our recognition, our faith, and our gratefulness are the nurturing energies that we can give to sacred objects, places and lives of nature. Faith and receptivity opens a channel for the potentials of natural objects to actualize. But we have to consciously receive and allow these sacred energies and powers to come into the world, first into our own conscious recognition, and then into manifestation. Then this recognized sacredness spreads into larger and larger circles.

So, the key in actualizing sacred energies, or in bringing forth medicine powers into manifestation, is recognition, faith and receptivity. And then, just allow energies and powers to come forth and circulate to where they are needed. This is the key to healing and in making the most of the sacred energies which are potentially available.