The Crane Bag

The Crane Bag

There are no hard and fast rules pertaining to what a Druid places into their Crane bag, nor what their Crane bag should even look like. In Druidry, the Crane bag varies in size, colour, and material just as much as the contents vary within for each Druid; and rightfully so. For a Druid, the Crane bag is an expression of their very being, a reflection of their world view

The History of the Crane Bag

In Irish mythology, Aoife, daughter of Daelbeth, and Luchra, daughter of Abhartach, both fell in love with Illbreac, who was a son of the great Sea God, Manannán mac Lir. Illbreac only had eyes for the beautiful Aoife, however.

In a fit of jealous rage, Luchra turned Aoife into a crane, whereupon she flew to the lands of Manannán and lived there for two hundred years. When she died, Manannán was so sad, he used her feathery skin to make the crane-skin bag in which he kept all his magical treasures. Manannán carried many of his possessions in his crane bag: language, birds, hounds, and very magical pigs. Any pig that was slaughtered for eating would magically appear in his crane bag again the next day!

This same bag later appears in the possession of Cumhall, father of the legendary Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhall. Cumhall was killed by Goll mac Morna, and the crane skin bag was stolen and given into the care of Lia, chieftain of Luachar in the province of Connacht.

Thus, it became a priority undertaken by Fionn as an adult was to avenge his father’s death; he killed Lia and retrieved the treasured crane-skin bag, returning it to his uncle for safekeeping.

As with everything there differing opinions regarding the contents held within Manannán's Crane bag. The personal items included are his knife, shirt, the king of Scotland's shears, the king of Lochlainn's helmet, the bones of Assal's swine, and the girdle of the great whale's back.

The Druid's Crane bag

The folklore of the origin of the Crane bag, the contents are known as “treasures”. Manannán placed inside his Crane bag the things that were important to him. We find this very crane bag to be used in later times for battle, magical workings, etc. This gives an indication to the purpose of the Crane bag. For inside it, the Druid places that which is sacred, practical, spiritually appealing, magical, and powerful to them.

The Crane Bag

There are no hard and fast rules to what a Druid places into their Crane bag, nor what their Crane bag should look like. In Druidry, the Crane bag varies in size, colour, and material just as much as the contents vary within for each Druid; and rightfully so. For the Druid, the Crane bag is an expression of their very being, a reflection of their world view.

The choice of the Crane bag is a personal one, it could be something that you already have and can use solely for this purpose, you may want to make your own or even buy one, whatever you decide it should be used solely for the purpose of your Crane Bag as it will be a sacred tool. 

I found this one, it is not a huge bag, I use it purely as my Crane Bag, I chose this, firstly because of the colour, it is quite neutral and blends in when I am out and about, it is also doesn't jump out at anyone as to what it is.

Make it your Own

Whatever you decide to do, whether buying or making one the most important thing is to make it yours, let it reflect your world view.

Now you have your Crane Bag what do you use it for, again this varies from Druid to Druid, some keep keepsakes of their family origins in them for example, photo's, locks of hair, mementos, this shows a deep love of your family and your bond to them.  Others may prefer to keep and fill it with gifts from Mother Earth such as feathers, shells, stones, herbs.  

In My Crane Bag I keep my pocket Altar (See my other post), I keep a natural fire lighting kit, a compass and some additional herbs other than in my pocket altar kit.

I also have enough space in there for any gifts I may receive while out and about wandering through the woods.

Once you have your Crane bag sorted the most important thing is to dedicate it for use, as I previously said, you want to keep your Crane Bag for the sole use as a scared tool and as such a dedication is a sure way of doing this. I have below the dedication I used for mine which was shared from a fellow Druid

Dedicating your Crane bag for Use

Find a suitable spot outside that you may use uninterrupted preferably at “between times” such as dusk or dawn (to symbolize the in-between nature of the Crane bag popping in and out of this world, and that of the gods). It is greatly beneficial for a dedication to be performed in the centre of a circle of trees, or in a ring of stone. This however is not a requirement. Your garden or a public park would do just fine as it is the intention, not the location that matters in the dedication.

Items required:

  • An altar cloth to cover the ground where your items will be placed upon. 
  • Honeyed milk as an offering to the Spirits of Place.
  • Strong drink (mead, ale, etc.) as an offering to the Shining Ones
  • A vessel for the drink such as an earthen bowl, drinking horn, or chalice set apart for such things.
  • Symbols of the Three Worlds. A stone for Land, shell for Sea, and incense for Sky works well and are very portable.
  • Your completed Crane bag (does not need to have materials within).

Preparing for the Dedication of the Crane bag

Place the altar cloth (or altar stone) upon the ground at the centre of your chosen location. Upon this, place the symbols of the Three Worlds in their corresponding place (Southeast for the Land item, Southwest for the Sea item, and North for the item of Sky). At the centre of the triangle made by the items representing the Three Worlds, you will place the completed Crane bag. If you work with any particular deities, a statue or photo of the deity may be placed in the centre of the triangle as well.

The Dedication Begins (Cantering yourself)

As your altar area will have been placed in the centre of your chosen location, this will also be where you stand. For this centre is representative of the centre of the entire cosmos. Close your eyes. Take in three deliberate, deep, controlled breaths. With each breath, envision the cosmos enveloping you. After the breath state the following:

“I stand in the centre of the Universe.” Open your eyes.

State the following:

“May the Gods and ancestors bless this place.”

The Rite of Awen

The Rite of Awen is performed to draw in Awen (flowing and inspirational life force).

  1. Raise the arms above the head, taking in a deep breath. As you lower your arms, intone the first syllable of Awen, "A" (pronounced “AAAAAAAAAAA” as in “father”. Make sure that your breath ends just as your arms hit your side.
  2. Repeat this last step, except intone the syllable "W" (pronounced “WOOOOOOOOO” as in 'wool' , as you lower your arms.
  3. Again, repeat this step, but intone "EN" (pronounced “EEEEEEEEENNNNNNNN” as in 'ten').
  4. Finally, repeat the step, but intone all three sounds (A, W, EN) together (“AAAAWWWWEEEENNNN”) into one continuous sound and breath. Picture the rays as you create them with a mental image. The "A" is the left ray, the "W" is the middle ray, and the "EN" is the right ray.
  5. Try to take in just enough breath as needed to lower your arms and end just as your arms reach your sides.

The Invocation of the Three Kindreds

“Shining Ones, with love and gratitude, I ask you join and assist me in the creation of this Crane bag. I humbly ask you to open the gates of the Underworld allowing the Ancestors to join me and witness this sacred dedication. I ask that the Spirits of Place join me and partake in the creation of this Crane bag!”

The Dedication and Blessing

“In times of antiquity, those who have walked the Druid path have been gifted as keepers of Manannán's Crane bag, caretakers of its sacred treasures, and blessed to learn the sacred knowledge within. Today, having chosen to tread the path of the Druid, I shall wear my own Crane bag bearing within my own sacred treasures to aid me in this journey.” (at this time, take your Crane bag in hand, raising it in the air)

“Gods in the earth,"

"Gods in the sky."

"Gods in the great pouring sea.”

“Oh Shining Ones, I ask you to bless this Crane bag and infuse it with the timeless energies of the Crane bag of Manannán. Let it share in Nature that which Manannán's Crane bag possesses. Just as Cumhall, Fionn mac Cumhall, and the Druids of old wore the Crane bag of Manannán with great respect, so to shall I wear mine.”

In gratitude, pour a strong drink in the four directions surrounding the altar utilizing your chosen vessel.

The Closing

“Shining Ones, I thank you for your blessing upon me, and upon this Crane bag. Go in peace with my Ancestors whom I offer my love. I thank you for your presence. Spirits of Place, thank you for honouring me with your attendance (pour honeyed-milk in the four directions). I bid you well, go in peace.”

“Peace up to the heavens."

"Heavens down to earth."

"Earth under heavens."

"Strength in all.”

“This ritual is complete.”

I would like to thank my fellow Druid Jason for this dedication ceremony, he is a brother and a Hedge Druid I have spoken to on many occasions.