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Medicine Tools

Medicine Bundles

These consist of a large piece of cloth ties with yarn or string containing artefacts which are sacred to the medicine person. Stones, beads, shells, wood, crystals, tobacco etc can be some of the artefacts used.

Medicine bundles may be personal or tribal. These are used for:

  • Dreaming
  • The vision quest
  • Protection
  • Meditation
  • Hunting

Tribal bundles were often called '' grandmothers'' as they carried nourishment and nurturing power for the continued well being of the people.

A guardian of the tribal medicine bundle would have his or her own tipi, which was a centre of spiritual protection for the tribe.

Grandmother bundles were never left alone or uncared for as they were considered to be living beings.

With personal bundles, it was forbidden to touch or enquire about another persons medicine tools. Some bundles were small and worn as a pouch around the neck.

If a person died before passing on his or her medicine bundles, it was burnt so their spirit would have no strings to catch it in this world and they would be free to move on.

Power Animals

Shamans believe their power is the power of animals, plants, the sun and universal energies.

In non-ordinary reality, animal-human unity was evident. The myth being humans and animals are related. This developed into animals having distinct personality characteristics. (Coyote - mischievous) Then according to creation myths, animals became differentiated from humans as they are today and they could no longer communicate.

In aboriginal ''dream time'', it is possible to gain the animal-human unity by an altered state of consciousness. There is a belief that a parallel in time exists accessible through dreamtime and visionary states.

The shaman connects with the power of the animal world through his or her guardian spirit or power animal. Power animals can appear in human form as well and this duality is common in north and south American Indian traditions. Among the Lakota Sioux, the guardian animal spirit often speaks when it appears to the vision seeker.

Power animals can:-

  • Appear as animals or humans.
  • Speak to humans
  • Navigate environments not usually their own ( fish flying)

When possessed by a shaman, the power animal acts as an alter ego, imparting the shaman with the power of transformation, from human to animal and back again. Siberian and Eskimo shaman frequently transformed themselves into wolves. The shamanic belief in the ability to transform oneself into an animal survived in Western Europe until the renaissance.

Dancing and drumming are common ways employed to reach a shamanic state of consciousness to achieve this transformation. Using movement, sounds and masks are used which imitate the power animal.

Some tribes believed that all adult males possessed a power animal. The most famous way to acquire a power animal was through a vision quest into the wilderness. It was also thought possible for a person to have a guardian spirit or power animal without knowing it. Shamans believe you need a power animal to survive life's hazards.

Calling in the beasts
  • Call on the guardians of the 4 directions by shaking a rattle 4 times in each corner. (20 seconds each)
  • Call on the universe, moon and stars (ceiling)- shake the rattle 4 times.
  • Call on mother earth (floor) - shake the rattle 4 times.
  • Call on the divine creator (centre)- shake the rattle 4 times.
  • Start dancing to the rattle or drum.
Dancing your animal
  • Slow rattle (60 per minute)
  • Dance in rhythm.
  • Become your animal (sounds, mannerisms, movement)
  • Faster rattle (100 per minute). Dance.
  • Faster rattle (180 per minute). Dance.

Power animals are harmless. It is only a source of power and has no aggressive intentions even if it appears ferocious. It has come because you need help.

Dancing is not the only way you can physically exercise your power animal and keep it willing to stay with you. You possess the guardian spirit it does not possess you. Guardian spirits are always beneficial.

Reading :
The way of the shaman by Michael Harner.
Wicca by Vivienne Crowley.


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