What is a medicine gift?
The traditional European definition of “medicine” is something that maintains or restores health. The term is derived from the Latin “ars medicina,” which means the art of healing. Medicine is extremely valuable. In shamanic traditions a person’s medicine is their talents, skills, and abilities. A person’s medicine is the way she maintains and restores the health of her relations with herself, life, and others.
A medicine gift is something given to maintain balance for that which you have received. This could be a formal exchange, such as the medicine gifting to balance hours given to prepare, protect, serve, and clean up after a ceremony. It could be spontaneous such as a time when someone’s example touched you in ways that improved your life. From a shamanic perspective, medicine gifting insures that each individual walks away without deficit. In fact, each walks away in abundance!
In our modern world we freely exchange energy with each other frequently. Often these exchanges take the form of money for goods or services. In other situations they are based on mutual agreement, e.g., "I’ll cook, you do the dishes". After each exchange we walk away feeling we received good medicine, got taken advantage of, or something in between. When we walk away feeling as though everyone involved gained, we leave gaining energy. This energetic is the key to good medicine gifting.
At all times we have intentions underlying our actions. This intention could be conscious or unconscious. When we live a conscious life, we pay close attention to how we live. Our intentions are part of our ongoing communication with Spirit. When we give with abundance for what is received, we seed our future abundance. This is why tithing works so powerfully for many people. Alternatively, when we give with sacrifice, when we worry if something is good enough, or worse yet, take advantage of another, we attract scarcity. Our intentions of abundance or scarcity are particularly powerful inside ceremonial vessels.
We ask everyone in our ceremonies to give proper medicine gifts to those involved. How you do this gifting matters a lot more than what you give! Here are some keys to honor the give-away:
- Know what the other has given. What gift can you give that feels like it balances this energy?
- How does it feel when you give it to another? Trust your instincts. When you give a certain amount of money for something and feel good about it, you gain energy. The same is true with medicine gifts. If you give away tokens that mean nothing to you, you are seeding your future with that energetic.
- If you can, find out what feeds the other. We are all different. Some people love chocolate. Other people will not touch it. It is very fun to give something that you know will be deeply appreciated! If you don’t know those who you are giving to, ask yourself, would I appreciate receiving this gift? If not, give something else!
- Give without attachment. While the consciousness of your give-away matters, after you are done, let it go. How you give seeds your future. How another receives is inside their circle (and impacts their future).
- The financial value of something often has little to do with whether something is abundant or not. A heartfelt song, a personally created poem, cleaning someone’s floor, a stone from a sacred place, can mean a lot to you. Given with pure intention these gifts can have much higher value than hundreds of dollars.
- Money given with clean intention is also a great medicine gift.
How is more important than what! Do not give anything that does not matter to you. Ever!