Essentially, medicine is the word being used for magic. It is a magic bag. Whether you call it a medicine bag, charm bag, medicine pouch, mojo bag, amulet pouch or gri-gri, be sure to fill it with all the items that speak to you on the area of your life you want to heal. For instance, put a piece of amethyst in your medicine bag if you need help sleeping. Depending on the purpose, your suede medicine pouch might contain crystals, birth stones, feathers, dried flowers, amber, frankincense, myrrh, herbs, bark, garlic cloves, shells, incense, small mirror, amulets, animal teeth, seeds, acorns, dead bugs, snakeskin or even photos. The shaman or medicine man or woman collects the items and then conducts a ritual to empower them, such as placing them out under a full moon, new moon or mid-day sun.
People have worn or carried a medicine bag for thousands of years. Indigenous shamans carried a bag in the same way a western medical doctor would have carried a black bag for making house calls. The shaman had the basics needs for different rituals and the shaman might assemble a custom medicine bag for the patient that included his or her personal things. Shamans, medicine men, medicine, women, herbalists, and other holy people or healers might prescribe a medicine pouch according to the need, such as a pouch filled with fertile soil, an appropriate crystal, seeds, and a feather for a farmer. The crystal might be clear blue to represent water. Many cultures' armies carried courage bags full of carnelian stone and other elements that represent protection, strength, endurance and victory.
Sometimes a medicine bag is used to carry just one item. This is customary in Morocco. In Brazil, the medicine bag is known as a patua and is often filled with hand-shaped roots surrounded by rue leaves, garlic and cloves.
The medicine bags in Africa are often very durable as they can be made of animal skins, leather or even metal.