The energy of crystals and stones has been worked with for millenia to support health and well-being. Working with the energy of stones encompasses many traditions and modalities, from ancient and modern indigenous to new age woo-woo, from Stonehenge and Mayan pyramids to complex crystal tuning and gridding protocols with newly “discovered” crystals.
Medicine bags provide a way to carry the energy of crystals, stones and other talismans with you, wherever you go. You can carry one for a specific purpose, for example, to support yourself in a time of transition. You can carry a medicine bag for a long-term intention for healing or well-being. You can carry a medicine bag because it feels good to have it with you! Some can be worn around the neck, others can be attached to a belt or carried in a pocket, bag or pouch. They can be as small or as large as needed to fit your need.
Assembling Your Medicine Bag
There are many ceremonies and protocols used to assemble medicine bags, from indigenous spiritual traditions to new age woo-woo ones. If you’re not a member of an indigenous tribe, don’t get all hung up on trying to create an “authentic” native medicine bag – you’re not, so it’s not! Yes, at some point in your ancestral family past, your ancestors were the indigenous peoples of that time. This is NOW, and we encourage you to create your own ceremonies and protocols to honor yourself and the world as it is now.
The steps for creating your medicine bag include
- Setting the intention
- Selecting the materials to go into the bag
- Selecting the bag (this can include making one yourself)
- Cleansing, clearing and/or charging the bag and materials
- Filling the bag
- Wearing it and keeping it in awareness
- When needed, revisiting the bag – has your intention been met? Has it changed? Do the items or the bag need clearing, cleansing and/or recharging?
Some of these steps depend on each other. If you have a particular crystal that MUST be included in your medicine bag, and it’s 3” long, you’ll need a pouch big enough to hold it. If you have a particular pouch that you want to use for a medicine bag, and it’s only 3” long, you’ll have to select items small enough to go into it.
The steps below are intended as a rough guide, not a formula to follow. Always do what feels right to you.
Setting Your Intention
What do you want to support in your life? In one way, the medicine bag you create is like a visual, tactile prayer of thanks for the support that is already available to you from the Conscious Universe (aka Spirit, God, whatever name you work with). The medicine bag helps you to keep your intention and gratitude in your awareness, and that helps to manifest your intentions. The energies from the items in the medicine bag are frosting on the cake!
Some common general intentions include
- Supporting change in my life
- Bringing more love into my life
- Bringing more abundance
- Strengthening my personal energy “bubble” and boundaries
- Bringing more joy and energy into my life
There are as many intentions as there are people, and they can be general or specific to your situation.
Selecting the Materials
Be creative and have fun with this part! If you obsess on getting exactly the “right” or “perfect” objects, you’ll fill your altar or bag with frustration, not love. Especially if it’s your first time, just play with the selections. If you can’t find the “perfect” stone or object, trust that you either don’t need that one, or you already have something that will work.
Using your intuition alone, or with a guide to crystal properties, select one or more stones and crystals that feel right. If every single book and website you read says to use rose quartz for your situation and it doesn’t feel right to you, then look for something else. Trust your gut. Or – play with it! Try rose quartz and see if it really does work, maybe it was your mind getting in the way. It might be one crystal or five stones, only you know the answer.
- Green aventurine
- Heart-shaped rock
- Rose quartz heart
- Fluorite crystals (3)
- Dark green tourmaline crystal
- Oxidized feldspar
- Quartz crystal
- River stone
- Staurolite crystal
Select other items for your medicine bag, such as plants (tobacco, corn, sage, or cedar), flowers, seeds and seed pods, leaves, grasses, and feathers.
- Hollyhock seedpod
- Yarrow flower head
- Dried head of yellow flower
- Lakota sage
- Grass seed head
- Dried corn kernels
Personal mementos – a photograph, piece of jewelry, scrap of fabric, medallion, a word or poem or affirmation. Try any object that has special meaning for you in context of your intention
- Word affirmations
- Metal heart
- St Stephen medallion
- Warrior Goddess symbol
- Wooden heart “coin”
- Nuevo Sol coin from Peru
- Wood “coal” from fire-walking ceremony.
Selecting the Bag
The medicine bag itself can be the inspiration, or it can simply be the carrier of the items in the bag. The size and shape of the bag need to work with how you plan on carrying it and the size, shape and quantity of items that go into it.
Leather and beaded pouches are traditional choices for medicine bags. Less traditional and no less effective and “authentic” are bags you create or purchase from fabric, from yarn, or even from heavy paper or other materials. Whatever you choose, it needs to feel right for YOU and be functional for your needs.
- Leather pouch with drawstring strap
- Zippered pouch
- Blue and white beaded “peyote pouch”
- Hand-knitted beaded medicine bag
Clearing and Cleansing Stones and Other MaterialsBooks have been written on how to clear and/or cleanse minerals and stones. The simplest methods are (1) to place them under running water for a few seconds, and (2) let them sit in a bowl of salt water for a few minutes then rinse and dry.
This doesn’t work so well for feathers, photographs and other delicate components. For those (and the crystals if you want) try smudging them, or simply hold a prayer of thanks to spirit that they are clear. Trust in whatever appeals to you.
Filling the Medicine Bag
While focusing on your intention, place the objects in the medicine bag, one at a time. Giving thanks to each item brings more love to the pouch. If it suddenly feels like one or more items do not need to go into the bag, trust your feeling and leave them out. Maybe they’re for a different intention or a later time.
When the bag is full, close it. You might choose to close it by wrapping addition leather, ribbon or fiber around the top to secure the contents, or to add a feather or bead. Before wearing it, hold it against your heart and repeat your intention and your prayer of gratitude for all the support you already receive.
At right, an example of what you might put into your medicine bag for support with your boundaries in these changing times:
-Skunk figurine – they’re great at boundaries!
- Staurolite crystal for stability
- River rock for strength and fluidity
- Feather for mental flexibility
- Nuevo Sol coin to welcome New Earth energies
- Bison yarn to represent strength and abundance
- Selenite crystal to welcome lunar, feminine energy
- Wooden heart symbol for love
- Sage for continuous cleansing
- Feldspar for self-awareness and change
- Quartz crystal to energize the bundle
Wearing and Working With Your Medicine Bag
Many people wear their small medicine bag around their neck, out of sight under their clothing. It helps if the strap is long enough that it sits closer to your diaphragm than your throat. Alternatively you can place the bag into your shoulder bag or pocket, or attach it to your belt. There is no one right way to wear a medicine bag.
Throughout the day, you might notice the medicine bag against your body. Let this bring your intention and prayer into your awareness. When you remove the medicine bag at the end of the day, give it an extra dose of attention and thanks.
After a few days or weeks, it’s probably time to check on your intention and the energy of the bag.
- Has your intention been met? If so, give thanks, and you can dismantle your medicine bag if that feels like the right thing to do.
- Has part of your intention been met? If so, give thanks, and see if any items in the bag need to be removed, and/or others added. It’s a good time to re-clear all the items.
- Has no part of your intention been met? It’s a good time to reflect on your intention and see if there is an alternative way to meet your need. Then go through the process of selecting materials again.
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