What is a crane bag?
The answer: not hard.
The lovely Aoife was turned into a crane and lived about the seas of Manannan Mac Lir for many hard years. When she died, the great Sea Lord took her skin and made a magical bag that could hold his most beloved treasures. It’s said to be bottomless.
Many Druids and Celtic Reconstructionists, especially those who are called by Manannan and the symbolism of the crane, make crane bags to wear on their person. An individual may place his or her most sacred charms and amulets inside; objects of personal power and significance.
Although my Druidic studies have slowed lately, I’ve noted a growing connection to Manannan. The more I work with trance and magic, the more I study, he seems to nod approvingly at me. And of course, Brighid remains an incredibly significant part of my life. For the last few months, I’ve felt compelled by my relationships with these deities to create a devotional object to have at my labor. Had I the ability to attempt a home birth, rest assured I would have created an altar to motherhood, my labor, Brighid, the baby, and our spirit guides. (For some lovely examples, look here and here!) Although some people have made some beautiful travel-friendly birth altars, making a crane bag – something relevant to my path and my Gods that I could create with a favorite hobby – seemed like the right thing for me to do. Everything will be secure inside the bag. I can take one item out to hold, rub, and focus on, or I can hold the entire bag. It’s made of very soft pink velvet and feels very comforting. Much of my reading has suggested that women hoping for a natural birth should have some sort of focal point to assist in managing pain. A crane bag holding many special objects to focus on is just my style! Not only that – it’s very discreet.
A birth and motherhood crane bag is very easy to make. All you need are some special objects that bring you comfort and courage, and a bag to put them in! As always, I encourage you to make your own bag as you’ll put your own energy into it. Red or pink are particularly appropriate symbolically, but choose what fits your own needs.
Have you made a birth altar or crane bag? I would love to see it!
For More Information on crane bags:
“Make Your Own Crane Bag and Discover the Purpose of the Incarnation You are Currently Living” by Elen Sentier. A good introduction.
“The Crane Bag” by Dr. John Gilbert – How one Druidic tradition utilizes this tool.
“The Crane Bag” – a poem about its lore and origins from Tairis Tales. Definitely read this for an understanding of its significance within Celtic lore.