Thursday, February 21, 2019


by John Grauerholz


A medicine bag is a small pouch that contains objects that are of magical significance to a particular individual.  Traditionally worn around the neck, a medicine bag is a sort of portable holy-of-holies. The medicine bundle carries items of spiritual importance to the owner and to the owner alone.

You have got to realize that the medicine bag is not some ornament beneath the repulsive tie-died shirt of some repugnant hippie.  No, indeed; a medicine bundle is a malefic and malefic tool that might be used against your adversaries.

A medicine bag is generally the size of a closed fist, tiny enough to secrete beneath your garments, inconspicuous enough to stash in a pocket.  The smaller the medicine bundle, the more powerful its energy.  Just as miniaturization makes computers more effective, so the compact dimensions of the medicine packet make the magical current all the more evocative.

The pouch allows spiritual energies to be channeled into the possessor.  Like something akin to a receiver, the medicine bundle directs magical power into the keeper.  A medicine pouch focuses supernatural forces into the believer’s psyche.

A medicine bag is unique to the possessor; pouches are always distinctive in exterior form and internal content.  The objects are of importance only to the bearer – there are no particular items that would be found in all medicine bundles everywhere.  The medicine pouch has power precisely because it is not for the unworthy.  The longer you conceal the artifact, the greater its potency.  The last thing you want to do is to show the contents to others.

The medicine pouch is a sort of portal to something of deeper significance.  The holder might not be able to explain those implications precisely, but the objects are portents to a greater mystery just beneath the mundane.  The medicine bag connects the proprietor to something hidden just below the surface of sensory experience.

None of the items in a medicine bundle have any great monetary significance.  The actual components would appear merely as mundane things to a stranger (the kind of stuff that an academic anthropologist would dismiss as mere detritus).   If something were to happen to the medicine bag, the owner should be able to quickly reassemble another.  The objects themselves are not scarce – what is sacred is the significance for the possessor.

Above all else, a medicine bag is a concrete object – as mystical power needs to be conducted through the medium of material things.  In most religious systems, spirituality is not about what you sense in your heart – as much as what you can hold in your hand.  Faith is a matter of what you own, not what you feel.   The medicine bundle is not something to get emotional about, but a sort of tool-box to help you get through existence.  Sorcery arises out of something you have and handle.

The medicine bag works its magic not as the result of some mysterious occult force, but because the sacred objects seize the imagination of the owner.  A medicine bag is designed to focus and fixate the will of the individual sorcerer.

Traditionally, the container for the medicine pouch should be made of leather from an animal that you hunted and killed yourself.  The animal skin should be against your skin.  The life force of the dead creature should quicken and amplify your own existence.   Medicine often requires that something die in order for you to remain alive.

The medicine bag contains a mixture of organic and inorganic material, a combination of carbon-based and man-made.  The medicine bundle should contain a relic from the animal realm; a piece from the geologic world; a cutting from the herbal environment; and a trinket from human culture.

An example of the mammalian realm might be a tooth or a claw.   The magician should make every effort to acquire something from his own personal “spirit animal.”   The medicine pouch draws upon the exact same atavistic part of your brain as does communication with a “witch’s familiar.”

A specimen from the rock strata could include a quartz crystal or a carved stone.  The geologic specimen connects your sorcery to a particular geographic space.   If, for instance, a possessor of a medicine bag were to relocate to another continent, he would need to obtain an entirely new mineral for his occult workings.

A sample from the plant kingdom might vary from an aromatic herb like white sage to a hallucinogenic cactus like a peyote button.  The vegetable matter is periodically swapped-out at the end of each season; the old discarded herb is burned to prevent your enemies from getting their hands on the ritual item.

And a suitable manufactured object could range from a single bullet to a machine-produced amulet.  That man-made trinket is all the more potent if it evocative of death and demise.  We exist in the terminal stage of Western civilization, and your sorcery needs to reflect that awareness.

The medicine pouch layers the natural and the artificial upon each other – a bit similar to a galvanic pile.  The juxtaposition of disparate keepsakes is supposed to produce a sort of spiritual electricity.  The medicine bag bears an uncanny resemblance to a device manufactured by Wilhelm Reich; the collection of objects in a medicine bag resembles a sort of a miniature orgone box.

You learn which items to place in a medicine bag on your own private, personal vision quest.  You see particular things on a vision quest – these appearances are not hallucinations, but precise scenes and scenery that could be photographed with a camera.  The tangible items in a medicine bag make your visualizations touchable and tactile.  If you see a raptor on a vision quest, you might want to acquire an eagle feather.  Since your vision quest will always takes place in a peculiar terrain, you ought to obtain a geologic specimen from that selfsame spot.

You should always carry the medicine bag on your person during the day and keep the pouch beneath your pillow at night.  It should be close enough to grab in an emergency, near enough to conceal from the sight of other people.  Just as a bug-out bag contains items you will need for physical survival, so the medicine pouch contains all your spiritual essentials should you need to “get out of Dodge.”  A medicine bag is carried by a sort of spiritual survivalist; a medicine pouch is prep-work for an eschatological emergency.

Like all magical implements, the medicine bag must be fed.   If you do not keep the medicine bundle continually nourished, it will turn on you.  The medicine pouch needs to be satiated on more than just the sweat and dried skin of the owner; the ritual tool must be given blood.   If you have every wondered why your mojo bag has stopped working, perhaps the reason is because the instrument is hungry.  If you want to do sorcery, you have got to be prepared to bleed.

The medicine bag protects you, just you.  The medicine pouch keeps you orientated on your own spiritual journey, on your own private quest – but your medicine bag is not for other people.  The stuff and substance are as personal as contraband in your sock drawer.  In some ways, the medicine pouch preserves your own individuality.  If an outsider were to gaze upon the contents, the objects might well lose something of their spiritual significance.   Medicine is not something that should ever be shared.  You keep the actual contents to yourself. Just as salvation is something you do for yourself – medicine is a private matter.  Secrets are powerful things, even more so when they are embedded in religion.

Every individual ought to assemble his own medicine bag.  Because the medicine is crucial to self-preservation, the collecting needs to be done on the sly.  When you create a medicine pouch, you take the spiritual into your own hands.  The medicine bundle allows a person to control his own health and holiness.