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The Meaning of Medicine Bags

A medicine bag is traditionally a small pouch filled with talismans such as stones, herbs, found objects, personal memorabilia, etc. and is intended to bring protection, good luck, and/or for use in healing to/by its owner.

Native Americans have carried these bags for centuries, but in recent years, they've also become popular in our modern day culture, becoming rear view mirror adornment, wall hangings, and decorative displays.

However, medicine bags are generally worn about the neck or on the belt because in Native American culture, it is believed that the spiritual power is best when worn on the body, but now-a-days people feel the spiritual power surrounds the bag wherever it is.

Medicine Bags come in all shapes and sizes, fringed or not, decorated or not, but, generally, are all made of leather, and, ideally, hand-stitched, as Native American beliefs tend to shy away from machine stitching as it is believed that machines 'steal' the power from the bag.

Each person who acquires a medicine bag should place their own individual power objects in it, being a few or many. Herbs, stones, feathers, fetishes, found objects, personal items, photo's, a snip of your hair, a special jewelry piece or anything that is of significance to you. If the bag is a gift, the original owner or maker should add something of their own to it.

The owner of the medicine bag should remember that, traditionally, it is considered to be sacred. The bag should not be opened by anyone else. The person can take items out of the bag to show and share their significance with people, if so desired.  Stones can be taken out and other stones put in, as wanted/needed, due to the individual requirements of the owner, as there are some stones that will change color over time, thereby reducing/losing their power or energy.

The other items need to always remain in the bag, because, essentially, each item in the bag is a talisman and is representative of sacred power, and is meant to bring that power and spirituality to the owner of the bag. Allowing others to access the bag and it's contents, 'steals' the power of the talismans  from the owner.

In the gallery pages, whenever possible, I will try and share with you what the significance of each bag I've created had/has. When someone orders a bag for another person, I usually try to find out as much as possible about that person's likes and dislikes, favorite colors, hobbies, animals, etc. I find that trying to spiritually connect with this person in a creative process, gives my work a more personal inspiration.


The Meaning of Medicine Shields

Historically, the Medicine Shield was once used as method of protection, not just against arrows and bullets, but against evil spirits brought upon them by their enemies. Depending on the part of the country the Native Americans hailed from, ascertained the material used for the shield.  For instance, the Woodland Native Americans use trees and rocks for shields, but the Plains Native Americans use heavy rawhide. Now-a-days animal skin or canvas is the most commonly used material with a loop circle being the traditional shape.

The painting and the objects tied to the shield, all have their special meanings and qualities which are, in turn, imparted to the owner of the shield.  A shield may be decorated with symbols that represent your power or spirit animal, a special experience, a dream or an important journey.  It should be considered a prized possession and hung in the place of honor in the home, office, or place of personal sanctuary.  In the gallery pages, whenever possible, I will try to relay the message and symbolic significance of the shields that I have created.

Back to Med Bag/Shield Galleries

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