Just What Is an Indian Medicine Bag?

Linda pubpixI was so excited when Forever His Texas Bride, the last in my Bachelors of Battle Creek, came out in December. I’d waited a whole year for readers to get it. This story is about Brett Liberty who happens to be a half-breed. He knows nothing at all about his past. Someone left him on the orphanage steps with only item in the basket with him—an Indian medicine bag with an onyx stone inside. Growing up with whites, he doesn’t know what the bag stands for even which tribe he belongs to. Finally when a woman comes with proof that she’s his sister, he learns he’s Iroquois.  But the medicine bag remains in the bottom of a chest with his things until he discovers a very sick old Comanche on his land and sees that he wears the same sort of leather pouch around his neck. When Brett gets his, the man explains what it is and the purpose.


a medicine bagMedicine bags were widely used in the American Indian culture. It was a special sacred container usually made of leather, but sometimes were fashioned from a small animal pelt. They held any object that the wearer thought would give him great “medicine” or power.


Typically, they contained something from each the plant, mineral and animal kingdom in addition to anything else the wearer thought would bring good fortune, protection and strength. Almost all held sweet grass or sage. No one was allowed to open another’s and when a warrior died, the bag was buried with him. To lose a medicine pouch signified a man had lost his “medicine” and he faced great dishonor and was ridiculed in the tribe. It also meant a bad omen for the future. After learning about his, Brett never took it off.


simple medicine bagThe onyx that Brett found in his was put there by his mother to protect him. But he knew a copper strand of Rayna Harper’s hair would bring strength so he put that inside as he went about collecting items that would give him power to fight the men who wanted to kill him. He made a medicine bag for Rayna and she put a piece of fringe from Brett’s moccasin inside along with a green stone from their secret waterfall.


Cowboy Coffee mugI have a small leather one that has a beautiful green stone, a small turtle figure and sage inside. What would you put inside one if you had it? What things would you think important to carry?


I’m giving away this cowboy and horse mug to one person who leaves a comment.


Here’s a short excerpt from the book:


Rayna’s hand came in contact with a soft leather pouch she’d never seen him wear before. “What’s this?”

“A medicine bag. I’ve always had it, but until today I didn’t know what it was or why it was in the basket when I was left at the orphanage. Bob told me it holds my power, things that have meaning only to me.” He paused a moment, and when he spoke, his voice sounded rusty. “Rayna, I have a request that may sound odd. Would you mind if I cut a small piece of your hair to put inside?”

His request surprised her at first, then warmth rose at the thought that she meant this much to him. She raised her head. “I’d be honored to have a lock of my hair in your medicine bag.”

She moved from the circle of his arm. He pulled his knife from its sheath and, holding a curl between his thumb and forefinger, cut it. Then he opened his leather pouch and laid it inside. A pleasant glow spread through her chest. Part of her would always be with him. Her eyes misted.

Brett placed his lips to her ear. His soft breath ruffled her hair. “Thank you, Rayna.”

Flutters quivered in her stomach. When she leaned into him, he dropped a kiss on her cheek before moving away. Though she wished for more, she’d learned to be grateful for what she got. She had these peaceful moments and shared secrets with Brett to cherish forever. Maybe she was starting to heal. Maybe this land could heal her ragged spirit, too, and help her live with the things she couldn’t go back and fix. If she had a mind to.

But some things just needed doing even if they scarred your soul.

* * * * * *

You can find all three of my Bachelor series online and in bookstores. I’m currently working on a brand new series called Men of Legend. Book #1—TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER releases in October.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

45 thoughts on “Just What Is an Indian Medicine Bag?”

    • Hi Melanie…….I think you would have very good medicine. Treasures can certainly give us strength and often power too. I’m so glad you dropped by. I’ve entered you in the drawing for the cup.

      Good Luck!

  1. I used to have and wear a medicine bag. I added to what was inside it originally and wore it for years. Had moved so much in the last decade I am afraid it is lost. If I got another I would start filling it immediately with quite a few things I have learned over the years and that would help me now on my medical recovery journey from the stroke that hit me 2 1/2 years ago now in August 2013. Healing items would go in first. Maybe stones, rocks/crystals charged with the Earth, Sun and Moon’s light and energy for starters. Green which is my favorite color is for Life and Healing. A few more things as well. But until I get another medicine bag I can’t say for sure. Has Wolf, Bear and Eagle Medicine too so will see. Thanks for this giveaway Linda. It made me remember and put it back in my mind. Thank You.

    • Good morning, Elaine……Thank you so much for your comment. It sounds like you’re very astute on “medicine.” I’m so sorry about your stroke but it sounds like you’re getting better. I hope you find your lost medicine pouch if only to ease your mind. I hate to lose things. Drives me crazy and I obsess until I find the item. But a lot of moves can sure play havoc. Best wishes to you.

      Good luck in the drawing!

  2. WOW. FOOD FOR THOUGHT! I’m not sure what I would put in my medicine bag, but this sure does make me think about getting one and putting some items in it and keeping it with me. No matter what, that idea of having the power of things that are important in your life with you makes a lot of difference. You’ve got me thinking now, Linda!

    • Good morning, Cheryl…….Glad I could give you some food for thought. You’re right about having the power of things that are important around or with you. My mother carried a sea stone in her purse for good luck up until she died. Now I have it. She found it down in Galveston washed up on the shore and a rock expert told her it had traveled all the way from the coast of Africa. Wishing you well on your medicine journey, my friend!

  3. I was given a small pouch for costume purposes, but I always felt it deserved more than that, but have never filled it. The correct items just never showed up.
    I enjoyed the post, and loved the excerpt.

    • Good Morning, Doris…….Thanks for coming. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and the excerpt. Medicine bags became really important items in my story.

      Wishing you a wonderful day!

  4. I have never really given much thought into this. I think if I carried one (and it’s tempting to start, maybe I would find a small cat figurine, an amethyst stone and maybe a lucky coin.

    • Good morning, Janine……..Thank you for coming. Maybe you will get a medicine bag and collect your power. Doesn’t hurt anything. I don’t wear my medicine bag but I keep it near. I add things to it once in a while.

      Good luck in the drawing!

  5. Wow! Great Question, Linda! I’d really have to think about this. I think for my pouch I’d have some sand–from the beach in San Diego where I grew up, a stone or acorn from the creek on my grandparents farm, the first cross my mother gave to me as a child…

    • Good morning, Kathryn…..I guess at least I’ve made everyone stop and think this morning. That’s a good thing. I think a vial of that sand would be great as well as those other things that mean so much to you. Those would give you strength for the difficult times. I wish you well on your medicine journey!

  6. How interesting! Hmm, I have no clue what I would put in it. I like the idea of putting some memento of a place I lived or visited. Also something to remind me of family!

    • Hi Susan P…….Thank you for stopping by. It’s great to have you. You might also put a lock of hair or a scrap of fabric from something you hold dear. Maybe even a photo.

      I’ve entered you in the drawing!

  7. Thanks for this great information, Linda, and the wonderful excerpt. You are so talented! We can learn so much about our Native friends and their history. If I had a medicine bag…it would probably have some sea glass, a tiny pinecone, and (I don’t know why I’m obsessed with them–) a tiny caribiner. Yes, those hook-clasps akin to mountain climbing. Sheesh. Love you…

    • Hi Tanya…….I’m so glad you enjoyed my blog. Sea glass is quite beautiful. And a small pinecone would certainly fit. I had to laugh at the caribiner. Ha! Maybe you want to make sure you can’t hook it to something to keep from falling. But it’s your medicine bag.

      I love you too, lady.

  8. I have no idea what I would put in it. Maybe some of the shells from back home and the piece of malachite that I have held on to. Meanwhile, I love your books and am anxiously awaiting the next series.

    • Hi Alisa……I’m so happy to see you. Thanks for coming. I love shells and stones and it sounds like you do too. They’re really pretty. Thank you for mentioning my books. I’m very happy that you like what I write. I just finished Book 2 of my new Men of Legend series. I’ll be finished with Book 3 by the time Book 1 comes out in October. I do think you’ll like these Legend men. They too share a deep bond like Cooper, Rand and Brett. And like all brothers, they fight sometimes. I can’t wait to introduce you to them.

      I’ve entered you in the drawing!

  9. Hi Linda! I loved the post! I think if I had a pouch I would carry a pic of my hubby and kiddos, a necklace that has all my kiddos names on it, lavender and eucalyptus and my peppermint Chapstick.

  10. I had one made for me. My daughter and her boyfriend were involved with a group that did the sweat lodges and learned quite a bit about some Indian cultures. I now keep mine on my computer desk where I spend a large part of my time. I know it has sage, tobacco, grains and seeds and a beautiful pink stone which at the moment I can’t come up with it’s name. I have added a seashell and feather so far.

    • Hi Catslady…….You’re a fount of knowledge. A lot of people don’t know what a sweat lodge is. Your daughter must be very adventurous. You have some great items in your medicine bag. Very good. Keep adding a few things now and then. You have a bag of treasures. Powerful medicine.

  11. I don’t have medicine bad per se but I do have some stones I’ve collected over time in a dish in my bedroom that I love the look and feel of in my hand. They’re not the typical gems and colors that are often talked about but simply ones that called out to me. I also have a stone necklace I got on the Crow Reservation near the Little Big Horn that means a whole bunch to me. The stones are small, rounded, and neutral earth colors and it means a lot somehow.

    Just an aside, while medicine bags are Indian related, I think amulets, talismans, crosses, charms, pendants, necklaces and the like have appealed to many different people in many different cultures for a variety of reasons and meanings. People in prehistoric times likely wore key items around their necks to my way of thinking.

    • Hi Eliza…..Thank you for coming. You’re absolutely right. I think people have been drawn to carry certain things that mean a lot to them for a long while. I’ll bet that stone necklace you got on the Crow reservation is beautiful and something to cherish. I’m sure your stones and gems were meant for you to have. I think we’re led to gather the things that speak to us. Sounds like those certainly did.

      I’ve entered you in the drawing!

  12. I love this lovely post since it resonates with me. The most wonderful cherished items that I would carry in this beautiful bag would be my mother’s brooch, and a baby bracelet.

    • Hi Ellie…….Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s great to have you. Your treasures will look great in there and you’ll have powerful medicine.

      Good Luck in the drawing!

  13. I really enjoyed the post and excerpt, Linda. How interesting! If I had a medicine bag, I would include some mementos from my husband and children.

  14. Great post Linda, I rmember Brett’s medicine bag from the book. I am not sure what I would put in one if I had it, whatever good luck charm I could come across. I think sage would be a good thing.

    • Thank you so much, Quilt Lady. I’m glad you enjoyed my blog and the excerpt from the book. Sage is a great thing to put inside a medicine bag because it purifies. I wish you well if you ever decide to get one.

      Wishing you much luck in the drawing!

  15. Linda, I was so sorry to see this series end. The silver lining is that I just know you’ve already got another started…right?

    There are so many things I’d put in a medicine bag, but I’m not sure they’d stay inside: a summer sunrise, the scents of magnolia and jasmine, a fresh-off-the-sea breeze, the nip of cold in a mountain winter. And happy barking. Lots of happy barking.

    Big hugs to you, my friend. 🙂

    • Hi Kathleen…….I enjoyed your comment. Yeah, you’re into visual and abstract treasures. Those certainly fill a certain need in all of us. They do me too. Certain smells can send me back to a specific time and place and awaken deep yearning. Love the happy barking! Too cute. But it’s the sound of love, isn’t it?

      I, too, was sad to see this series end. They were all stories that had to be told and in the telling I filled up a little hole inside me. Yes ma’am. I do have a new series started. In fact, I’ve finished the first two books of it. I’ll be finished with the 3rd by the time Book 1 comes out in October. I’m really moving fast. But I love this Men of Legend series and these Legend men. In fact, I’m quite smitten with all three brothers. *sigh*

      Love you, lady!

  16. Hi, I’m new here butam a big fan of Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer and others like them. If I had a medicine bag I would put in ti a cross because my strength is in Jesus and the Trinity God.I would also put in a little piece of paper with the scripture “My [God’s] strength is in your weakness. ie when I am weak God is strong. Also a lock of my husband’s beard because he is also helps me be strong [41 years]. Maybe also a little piece of Greenstone jade because I am from New Zealand originally and also a piece of granite, because I am an adopted Canadian and granite is the strongest and oldest stone on earth. I could go on but that’s enough for now 🙂

    • Hi Diana…….Welcome to P&P! We’re very happy to have you. Thanks for sharing the items that mean so much to you. You come from a long way off. It sounds like you have very powerful medicine.

      Good luck in the Drawing!

  17. Hi Linda, what a great blog! I took a little zipped bag that I always keep in my purse and poured it out. So here is what is always with me. First a little bag with a turtle labeled “Lucky Little Turtle” charm; a cross made from marble and a metal one that is engraved “God Loves You”; a silver circle of life from the American Cancer Society; a silver 4 leaf clover, a Texas Ranger badge duplicate; trinkets made from a penny from Solvang, California and two from Santa Fe, NM, and finally a special trinket shaped as Texas with “Merry Christmas, from Harmony” written on it. Oh yes, and an uncirculated quarter. I presume that comes from growing up with Mama always telling me never to be without a quarter to call home! Very, very informative blog, my fellow filly friend. Love, P PS: And yes I keep aspirin, band-aids and the like in a plastic bag in my purse. LOL

    • Hi Miss Phyliss……Thanks for stopping by. It’s great seeing you. Wow, you carry a lot of things in that little zipped bag! Lots of things that you treasure. You should have great protection and powerful medicine. I think I’ll stay close to you, friend.

      Big hugs!

  18. Several of us have medicine bags. Our daughter was a Fancy Shawl Dancer and hers was the first we did. We made one for our son shortly afterwards to go with the choker he made. I started ones for my husband and myself but never did finish them when our daughter stopped dancing. We still do go to Pow wows when we can. My husband has his ribbon shirt and leggings plus a choker. I have a couple of dresses, but they aren’t really regalia. I started a Cherokee dress, but never finished it. Hope to get back to it some day.
    What you keep in your medicine bag is personal and some say it should be kept secret to protect its power. In mine, I would likely include a baby tooth from each of our 3 children.

    • Hi Pat………Thank you for coming. Your daughter sounds amazing. I’d love to meet her. You certainly know a lot about Native Americans. I’ll bet your Cherokee dress is just beautiful. You’ll have to finish it one of these days. But with your volunteer work you have little free time. Maybe you can find some Pow Wows to attend in the summer.

      I’ve entered you in the drawing. Good luck!

  19. What a fascinating post! I’ve often wondered what was in a medicine bag. I have often collected unique stones and unusual pieces of nature that seemed to speak to me. I never put them in a pouch or bag. If I did I wouldn’t be able to pick it up, never mind wear it.
    Thanks for the wonderful information you have given us. Peace.

  20. I have one hanging from my Car rear window mirror. In it is a couple of worry stones one of My Brothers has given me. Next to it I have a picture in a key chain of my mom who passed away in 2013.

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