Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Medicine Bag

     Unlike the modern professional medical bag, the Native medicine bag was a thing of beauty.  It was small, often small enough to wear around the neck.  It was personal, made by the wearer or given as a gift by a spiritual person close to the wearer.  It was filled with the magic of faith that all things could be cured with faith and knowledge of the natural world.  

     The first pictures you may come across when Googling images of the contents of medicine bags may be New Age crystals and little satin baggies of herbs (and crystals).  I am not judging.

     A closer look at a more historical (and possibly stolen) medicine bag (as for years 'archaeologists' just robbed grave sites, which is wrong if your descendents are still living) shows a bag with small bags of healing herbs, salves, and tools.  This bag shown here is Tibetan.  It contained 50 items, small bags of herbs and tools.  Note the deer horn.  It was useful for drinking the prepared medicines.  

     This sounds like the perfect bug out bag for the experienced nature walker.   For someone who is at home in their environment hunting and gathering food a medicine bag, a good knife, a hunting weapon and the knowledge of all the ancestors is all that he needs.  I want more.  But, broken down to only what you can carry, special attention to the medicine bag is essential. 
     I do not recommend carrying a lot of rocks.  It's the weight issue not the faith issue.  If you need a crystal, take the finest you have and the fewest.  After that, consider the herbs.  Many teas made from herbs can be at the very least, soothing but many are curative.  You can carry bottles or bags of aspirin, or acetaminophen or ibuprofen, sure but don't overlook the herbs.  The are lightweight and useful.
     Those handy little organza fabric bags used above, for rocks and also, often for wedding favors, make not only a bag for holding the herbs but a good bag to dunk the herbs in hot water to make tea.  Sure, you can use little plastic bags, but you can't make them into a tea bag and it will look like you are carrying dope!   Use plastic bags for aspirin and pine sap.  Pine sap is sticky, aspirin wants to be moisture protected.  But, use fabric bags for herbs.  Also, you can use those sewing skills to make your own little bags.  

     The best material for a medicine bg worn around the neck is elk skin.  It will age to a nice dark tan as your sweat stains the outside.  (just the outside)  The contents will be dry and clean inside.  Also there are bags made to wear around the neck.  Passport pouches for the traveler are potential personal medicine bags.  

     If you are separated from your bug out bag, your med kit or other supplies, you will still be ahead of the pack with a good knife, a hunting weapon and a medicine bag.  



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