Medicine Bag Questions and Answers

Paula,

Can additional small items be added to the medicine bags, or are most of them sealed?

and secondly, these are 100% made in USA by Native Americans correct?

Thank you! Wolf Man

Apache Wolf Claw Medicine Bag

Hello Wolf Man,

Yes, medicine bags are designed so that you can add your personal items to them. So 99.9% of the bags we sell are for carrying items, the size of the items will depends on the size of the bag.
There are only a few “sage bags”, those that are filled with sage and closed that would be difficult to open, empty and add things. Read the “Paula Says” comment on
to see which bags on that page you can empty of the sage and refill with your personal items.
All other bags are ready to be filled with your sacred objects.

Lakota Sage Bag

All of the bags in the top section of our Main Medicine Bag page
are made in the USA by Native American artists registered with a recognized (by the US government) tribe – the individual pages for each bag will will tell which tribe the artist belongs to.

Native American Made Medicine Bag

The ones in the Reproduction section toward the bottom of the page are made in the USA but by people who are not registered with a recognized (by the US govt.) tribe. Some of the artists there are Native Americans but just don’t have a government number so legally we have to call them Reproductions.

Large Reproduction Medicine Bag – made by an unregistered artist of Cherokee descent

Happy Cyber Monday from Native American Jewerly Tips

Good morning and Happy Cyber Shopping today and every day at Horsekeeping, the webstore of Native American Jewelry Tips.

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Native American Artifacts – Medicine Bag of Deceased

How is a medicine bag properly laid to rest after the owner has passed?

 

Apache Horse Spirit Medicine Bag by Cynthia Whitehawk

Apache Horse Spirit Medicine Bag by Cynthia Whitehawk

 

Hello,

If the deceased was not Native American, it is a highly personal matter. The medicine bag and/or its contents could be buried with the deceased or passed along to a family member or friend if that is the owner’s intended desire or designation.

If the deceased was a Native American, it would be best to contact an elder, a medicine man, a shaman or healer from the tribe to learn the proper customs for the treatment of the medicine bag and its contents.

 

Although it is not customary for a Native American to be buried with his riches, it is customary to bury his medicine bag or totem with him unless he wills them away. A totem is an animal spirit that a person chooses (or the totem chooses the person) as an ally through life, so it is in death. A totem item, such as a carved stone fetish of the animal, might be included in the medicine bag.

Zuni Raven Carved Fetish Totem

Zuni Raven Carved Fetish Totem

In addition, some tribes bury food (a small sack of corn or beans), water, possibly tobacco and hunting tools, such as a bow, arrow and knife with the deceased for his journey.


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Native American Materials – Abalone and Mother of Pearl

Native American Materials:

Abalone and Mother of Pearl

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Some Mother of Pearl can be from Abalone but not all Abalone is Mother of Pearl.

An abalone is a mollusk whose shell is irridescent on the inside. The shells are used whole as smudge bowls.

Abalone Shell for Native American Smudge Bowl

Abalone Shell for Native American Smudge Bowl

Portions of the shells are used as buttons and decorations on medicine bags.

Abalone shell disc used on Apache Medicine Bag

Abalone shell disc used on Apache Medicine Bag

The ABALONE represents solace, the greatness of the oceans, a life of beauty, gentleness, caring, comfort, peacefulness, and delight. Abalone shell discs are an age old object that has been traded tribally for centuries. It is a symbol of power and protection and symbolizes ancient travels.

Mother of Pearl (MOP), also called nacre, is the inner layer of some shells. It is made by when the mollusk (the organism inhabiting the shell) makes crystals – this is an oversimplification, but think of it like an oyster making pearls – very similar.

MOP is a blend of minerals that are secreted by oysters, abalone, and other mollusks and deposited inside their shells, coating and protecting their bodies from parasites and foreign objects.

Mother-of-Pearl is said to stimulate intuition, sensitivity, imagination, and adaptability and help with clarity in decision making. Mother of Pearl stirs and awakens the primordial memory of your origin in the infinite ocean of divine love and stirs this memory in every cell of your physical body thereby producing an overall calming effect as it gently stirs the life energy of your cells. Like waves lapping the shore, this stirring is steady, relaxing, and rhythmical.

Mother of Pearl Turtle Fetish by Zuni Cheryl Beyuka

Mother of Pearl Turtle Fetish by Zuni Cheryl Beyuka

Mother of Pearl has a beautiful glow and can range from a pearly white, clear or with some striation, to iridescent multicolored blues, greens, golds, pinks, whites, and purples.

Vintage Native American Pawn Mother of Pearl Ring

Vintage Native American Pawn Mother of Pearl Ring

So…some Mother of Pearl can come from Abalone but it can also be from a variety of other fresh-water and salt-water mollusks including the pearl oyster.

Mother of Pearl Zuni Inlay Sunface by Abel Soseeah

Mother of Pearl Zuni Inlay Sunface by Abel Soseeah

See Wikipedia for more information on Abalone and Mother of Pearl

Native American Smudging – The Sacred Bowl Blessing

The Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing – Smudging

Native American Smudge Feather Fans

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The “Sacred Smoke Bowl Blessing” is a powerful Native American cleansing technique. It is a ritual to remove negativity. Smoke attaches itself to the negative energy and removes it to another space.

Cleansing is the word traditionally used, but you can think of it as a shift in energy from any bits of negativity to a more positive, peaceful state.

Smudging can be used to cleanse an object, a place, or your spirit, mind or body. Native Americans often use smudging in association with other ceremonies.

Contemporary uses includes purifying a new vehicle, your work area or a room or dwelling before moving in; purifying a sacred object such as stone, book or fetish; or for self-cleansing before meditation, prayer or sleep.

Certain plants are used for smudging. Smudging is done in a particular way. The herbs are burned in a small bowl or a shell, such as an abalone shell. The shell represents Water, a gift from the ocean. The smoke is distributed with a feather, a gift from our winged friends.

Herbs
Sage
For driving out negativity and for healing, White Sage is    preferred.

Sweetgrass
Sweetgrass is used for blessing after sage has been used.
It is an important part of Sioux and Cherokee ceremonies.     Sweetgrass is braided like hair.

Smudge Kit

A smudge kit contains herbs, a “bowl” or shell, and a feather to direct the smoke. The entire kit can be carried in a medicine bag.

Each part of the smudge kit and the smudging process signifies one of the four elements, that, when used, evokes the fifth element, life energy.

Native American Smudge Kit

Native American Smudge Kit

– The shell represents WATER
– The unlit herbs and ashes represents the EARTH
– The lit herb represents the FIRE
– The smoke represents the AIR

Smudging

Before you begin, be sure the area is well ventilated because the smoke, carrying the negative energy, must have an escape route.

Take normal precautions to prevent an unwanted fire, such as placing your smudge pot or shell on a non-combustible surface.

Gather your smudge kit and a means to light the herbs. Long wooden matches are the best because a candle can add dripping wax to the process and a lighter, is well, kind of out of character.

Light the herb and when a flame appears, put the herb out so it will smolder and smoke. Before you smudge another person, an object or a place, you should smudge yourself. You can do this by bringing the smoke to you and rolling it in swirls over your head, shoulders and around your body. Send the smoke away with the feather.

Native American Smudge Feather Fan

Native American Smudge Feather Fan

When smudging a place, such as a room or car, pay homage to the cardinal directions which include the east, west, north, south, up and down.

When you are finished smudging, extinguish sweetgrass by damping the braid against the shell. For sage, you can crush it against the bowl or shell or in a bowl of sand.

For more information

Sacred Smoke The Ancient Art of Smudging for Modern Times

Sacred Smoke The Ancient Art of Smudging for Modern Times

Native American – Oglala Lakota Sioux of South Dakota

Native American Tribes –

Oglala Lakota Sioux of South Dakota

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Lakota Sioux

The Lakota are part of seven related Sioux tribes and speak Lakota, one of three major dialects of the Sioux language.

There are seven Lakota branches, one of which is the Oglala who occupy North and South Dakota.Authentic Native American Indian  horse carving fetish

The Lakota obtained horses in the early 1700s and used them to hunt buffalo and move their villages when weather or grazing required it.

The Lakota were compelled to sign a treaty in 1877 ceding the Black Hills to the United States but there was continued unrest which ended up with the killing of Sitting Bull in 1890 followed by the Massacre of Wounded Knee the same year at Pine Ridge.

Hand made Native American Indian Buffalo fetish carvingThe Lakota people are members of the Buffalo Nation or Tatanka Oyate so the buffalo is an important part of the Lakota creation story.

Tatanka, the Lakota word for buffalo, means “bull buffalo” or a male bison but has a greater spiritual and ceremonial significance to the Lakota. Because the buffalo provided food, clothing and shelter for the Lakota, the buffalo is treated with great respect.

The Four Directions – The Four Colors – The Four Races

The Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel represents American Indian Spirituality – the journey each individual must take to find his or her path. The Medicine Wheel is based on the four cardinal directions and the four sacred colors. A circle represents life; at the center of the circle is the eternal fire.

There are various pairings of the colors with other groups of four and it varies greatly among tribes.

The four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

The cycle of a day: Dawn, Day, Dusk, Night

Native American Indian Buckskin Medicine BagThe cycle of life: Birth, Life, Death, Afterlife

The four directions: East, South, West, North

The four races: White, Yellow, Red, Black

The four colors: White, Yellow, Red, Black

The four elements: Air, Water, Fire, Earth


Native American Artifact – What is a Medicine Bag?

Native American Artifact:

What is a Medicine Bag?

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You might think that a medicine bag should only be carried by a Native American Shaman, Medicine Man or Healer. That is one type of medicine bag – quite large as it would contain many herbs and articles, sometimes as many as fifty items.

Native American Indian Buckskin Medicine Bag

Apache Wolf Spirit Medicine Bag

Cree Native American Medicine Bag

Cree Native American Beaded and Fringed Medicine Bag

Today, non Native Americans also use Medicine Bags. They are symbols connected to personal protection and power. Some wear a small medicine bag around the neck, under the clothing, or on a belt or saddle or carry it in a purse, pocket, knapsack or briefcase. Some people sleep with their medicine bags under their pillows.

What the bag contains is sacred and good medicine for that person. It can be traditional items or anything else – a locket, photo, key, bullet, or coin, for example.

Traditionally a medicine bag contains something from the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms and from the life of man. Here are some ideas:

Plant Kingdom

  • Sage
  • Sweetgrass
  • The Three Sisters: Corn,
    Bean, and Squash Seeds
  • Flowers

Animal Kingdom

  • Lock of hair, mane or tail
  • Bone
  • Feather
  • Claw
  • Tooth

Mineral Kingdom

  • Stone fetish
  • Piece of stone such as turquoise or lapis
  • Gem
  • Crystal

Man’s World

  • Key
  • Photo
  • Coin
  • Microchip
  • Bullet