A medicine bundle
is a wrapped package used by Native Americans
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...
for religious purposes. A package of this type can also be referred to as a medicine bag
A medicine bag is a traditional North American Indian container for various items of supernatural power. While anyone may have one, usually it would be the medicine man, or shaman, of a tribe who would carry one...
. Medicine bundles are usually employed as a ritual aid in Shamanistic religions. The size of a medicine bundle generally varies from 2 to 14 inches in length, but could be larger.
It is usually a collection of various items that might include seeds, pine conifer cones, grass, animal teeth or claws, horse hair, rocks, tobacco, beads, arrowhead
An arrowhead is a tip, usually sharpened, added to an arrow to make it more deadly or to fulfill some special purpose. Historically arrowheads were made of stone and of organic materials; as human civilization progressed other materials were used...
s, bones, even human remains or carved items or anything else of relatively small size that possesses spiritual value to the bundle's owner. A shaman's bundle generally contains more items than a warrior's bundle, and can include such objects as one rattle
A rattle is a percussion instrument. It consists of a hollow body filled with small uniform solid objects, like sand or nuts. Rhythmical shaking of this instrument produces repetitive, rather dry timbre noises. In some kinds of music, a rattle assumes the role of the metronome, as an alternative to...
s, skins from unborn animals, and the shaman's hair and nail clippings.
The contents of a medicine bundle are generally considered holy by the tribal community, and are meant to be kept secret by the owner. The contents of a medicine bundle are not meant to touch the ground. This is why they are to be securely wrapped. Prayers and rituals usually accompany the manufacture and opening of medicine bundles, and women rarely handle them. A medicine bundle can be passed down generationally as an inheritance.
A medicine bundle is considered a very precious possession which represents a person's spiritual life. It can possess powers for protection, good luck, good hunting, or healing. As the owner grows older, more items can be added to it. Medicine bundles are usually buried with the owner, or passed on to a friend upon the owner's death.
Medicine bundles can also be maintained for an entire tribe. A tribal medicine bundle is usually much larger and contains special objects which can only be handled by certain tribe members. It is only opened on special occasions.