The medicine bags we wear are very important to us. Not only are they
medicine bags but they are also bags of memories. When we get our first
medicine bag, we place the plants we use in our ceremonies tobacco,
sage, cedar and Sweetgrass or Copal in the bag. This is to cleanse and
protect not only the bag but ourselves.
After that, we always have the bag with us. The only time we take it
off is at night or when we are doing something like swimming or bathing
where the bag might be damaged.
Some groups wear their bag on the outside of their clothes but most
Native Americans, as I do, wear there bag on the inside of their clothes
to protect it. That way someone with bad intentions cannot grab hold
of the medicine bag.
After we bless our bag then we start adding things that are important
to us. For instance, we would take a small piece of hair from people
we care about and place in the bag. You might have an animal you care
about and place a few hairs from the animal in your bag. That way part
of them is always with you.
If we go to someplace that is very important to us we might get a leaf,
piece of sand, small stone, piece of paper anything that is part of
that place and place it into the bag.
For instance, I have pieces of hair from all my children, hair from
my animals, a small piece of paper from the corner of the program of
my graduation from college. A petal from the flowers at my uncles funeral,
a piece of leaf from plants at my wedding, a small amount of Mother
Earth that I picked up when I went to ceremonies that were special to
me, things like that.
You have to make sure that what you place in the bag is small so that
you do not fill the bag up. Remember you will be adding to it the rest
of your life.
When you have things in the bag, it gives you strength. For instance
if you are feeling like you need help all you do is reach down and place
your hand on the bag and it will connect you to the ones you love and
important events in your life and you will draw strength from it.
When you have people say, thank of a happy time in your life, we can
touch our bag and remember happy times and people that we love no matter
where we are or what we are doing at the time. Remembering people we
love and good times in our lives helps us get stronger and do the things
that we need to do.
Now it is very important that you do not let other people touch your
bag. The strength in the bag is just for you and no one else. That is
why we do not go around showing our bag to people because then they
will want to touch it, which is not a good thing.
We believe that people and events in our life are always a part of
us. Carrying a small remembrance of them in our medicine bag helps keep
us connected to the important things in our life.