Native American medicine bag

The wonders of the medicine bagmedicine bag


Hello everyone

Today I wanted to discuss the Native American medicine bag or Native American medicine pouch and its purpose. When thinking of a medicine bag, think of how you were as a child. Remember when we use to collect all the “treasures” that we would come across (often getting an eye roll from mom or whoever was taking care of us…..)? We would guard them with our life, put them in a secret hiding place or our pocket even. They would remind us of our experiences when we looked at them and we would cherish them as they had a personal meaning.

Well, the same can be said about the Native American medicine bag. It is where we store our meaningful possessions, our memories, our traditions. It is where we store inner strength, the inner strength we get from what is inside the bag. If we think back years ago, Native people often traveled long distance, were gone from home for long periods of time. They would need to carry inner strength (or Mashkawisen) in their bag to finish their journey.

Medicine pouches would carry herbs and/or medicine (sage, tobacco, cedar, sweetgrass to smudge and give back to Mother Earth) that the carrier would use to connect with the spiritual world, the Creator. The bag could also include personal possessions such as belongings of family members or special mementos.

Your personal medicine bag

You can put whatever you feel like putting in your bag. It is your personal bag. For example, I have two bags, a small pouch and a bigger one. Here they are

small medicine pouch

medicine bag

You can also find simple ones or adorned ones in a number of materials.

As you see there also beaded medicine bags like my small one. This one I carry with me all the time. The bigger one I keep at my home and I look through it when I need strength. What is in them? Well, as I said, you can put anything you want in them. Not going to reveal all my secrets here but… In mine, I have herbs for protection and cleansing. I also carry stones such as amethyst (for protection, spiritual wisdom, humility) and obsidian stones (a lava stone, to block negativity and protection). They look like this.


obsidian stones

Finally, in my small native american medicine pouch, I carry a very small bundle of buffalo hair for strength. I also have a few personal mementos. Your medicine bag grows with you, with your identity. Look at its content, see what it says about you, about your strengths, your weaknesses, your light and dark side and if and how you are finding balance. Carry what gives your strength, what makes you grow.

If you look in the Resources section, I have included links to buy stones as well as medicine bags similar as mine or click here on the image below for a great site for native jewelry, bags or arts. 

All my Relations


16 thoughts on “Native American medicine bag

  1. Cindy

    Great stuff. I carry around a rough amethyst too! It’s a great stress reliever to hold onto it when I’m in a stressful situation in a public space.

  2. Jason

    Cool post. I love the colors in your background picture….very soothing. Its interesting that you can have different medicine bags for different purposes. Does it matter what the medicine bag is made of? Could someone wrap a few things in a handkerchief and have that as their medicine bag? Love your site.

    1. Emily Post author

      Thanks Jay! Well medicine bags all have the same purpose. To store things and memories that are important to you and give your strength. That would always be the purpose of the bag. As to the bag itself, they are typically made of hide or leather but really anything can do. It’s the content that it important.

  3. Stefan

    Hi Emily

    a very inspiring post, indeed! I’m just reading the story of Black Elk from the Ogallalla-Sioux (Black Elk Speaks). The mental and spiritual side of life is very important to me too. So I’m very happy with idea of a medicine bag representing inner strength and all relations!

    Take care, Stefan

    1. Emily Post author

      Super Stefan! I will look up that book! The native culture believes in balance. Balance between our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sides. Check back later when I explain it in more details in a post about the medicine wheel.

  4. Cj

    I know quite a few people that would go crazy for this site! My mother is really into the whole spiritual aspect of life. You gave me some neat ideas for possible birthday gifts.

  5. Sherry dymon

    My husband is native American and he had cancer he has a medicine bag when he got out in jail n but did not come home with him dose he have to make the bag or can I make one for him I’m also native American not sure what tribe

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Sherry
      if I am understanding correctly, his bag is still at the jail? Or someone else has it? The best thing would be for him to get that bag back. And if that is not possible, I would put tobacco down asking for forgiving for losing it and I would recommend he makes another one. I lost one of mine too a while back and that’s what my Elders taught me to do. What he puts in it is very personal hence why he should make it or at least choose what he puts inside.

  6. Carmen T.

    Thank you for sharing a well written historical aspect of the medicine bag and the types of items that it can carry. We all need to carry out our journey and the medicine bag helps to ground us in the process.

    1. Emily Post author

      Hi Carmen
      thank you for visiting my site and for the kind words 🙂 I absolutely agree that a medicine bag can be grounding and guide us on our journey.

  7. Wade

    I have what appears to be a small medicine bag. I don’t recall where it came from. I have kept it for years. Wasn’t real serious about it but my mother gave me a silver ring with wolves on it and a book by Bobby Lake Thom. After some spiritual study the bag mysteriously came back to me. I feel I should empty any old things in it from my old life,smudge, give thanks, and start over.

  8. L

    Thank you for this fantastic information. What would you recommend teaching grade 7/8 students about medicine bags? I have a small group that I am planning to create medicine bags with (to help guide them during the school year and into high school). I am hoping to really instill the importance of one’s connectedness to the land/self, but would love your opinion.

    1. Emily Post author

      thanks for visiting! I think I would just caution against using teachings in the way they were intended to be used. I think that creating medicine bags to help in the “journey” that is high school is great. As long as the history and the story of the medicine bag are shared so that the students are aware of its meaning. It will then guide what they want to place inside to help and guide them.


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