The Native American culture is as rich as its people. Throughout the centuries, Native Americans thrived because of how they value their traditions including the objects they use for everyday life.
One of the most important accessories in Native American culture is the medicine bag, which was used mostly by a Shaman or medicine man. Medicine bags are considered sacred and special by Native Americans because they hold different objects such as amulets and herbal medications that are used by the Shaman for healing the sick or offering protection and strength for soldiers who will go to battle.
The Shaman and their Medicine Bag
A Shaman is regarded in Native American culture as a person with access and influence in the world of good and evil spirits. Shamans are believed to enter an altered state of consciousness to interact with the spirit world and offer healing and good energy into the human world.
Medicine bags are considered an important part of a Shaman’s life because they serve as a container for sacred objects used in practice. This includes objects from the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms as well as from human life. Medicine bags are usually made from the pelts of beavers, panthers, raccoons, otters or reptiles and are traditionally worn under the clothing.
Native Americans believe that the contents of a medicine bag are extremely private and should symbolize tribal identity and wellbeing. Paint may also be included in the medicine bag to be used by the Shaman to paint mystical markings on warriors that are believed to give them more power and make them invincible.
The Native American and their Personal Medicine Bag
Aside from being used by a Shaman, medicine bags are also given to boys who start their spiritual journey at the age of fifteen or as they enter into manhood. In a rite of passage, the boy enters a vision quest where his spirit guide will be revealed in the form of a power animal that has walked with him throughout his life.
After this revelation, the Shaman talks about the meaning of the boy’s spirit guide and provide him with a personal medicine bag that contains different symbolic items that are related to their spiritual journey and those that will protect him during his lifetime. This medicine bag is then closed and only very seldom opened.
It is usually worn around the neck and when the bearer dies, the bag is buried together with the symbol of his guardian spirit. This medicine bag is regarded as an important part of every Native American’s life because it is believed to keep them safe and offer them increased strength in battle.
The medicine bag is definitely a symbol of faith and tradition not only in Shamanism but also in the Native American culture in general. This is why this tradition has been kept alive for many centuries because it is believed to be one of the things that ancestors have passed down to the younger generations to keep them safe.