Get your juju on
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on March 21, 2017

This is my juju bag full of stones and small trinkets of significance.

I hit my limit.

During a terminal workplace meeting, I needed a grounding reminder of what mattered to me.

I extracted a small cloth sack from my purse and dumped the contents into my palm:  a pebble of rose quartz, a baby amethyst, a thin shaving of kyanite, a tiny statue of Shiva, a miniature bear from Berlin, a fortune cookie message “Love conquers all,” pressed dandelions from Martin Luther King’s birthplace and a broken piece of pottery my mother supercharged on Machu Picchu.

A coworker leaned in and, with a conspiratorial whisper, asked, “What is that?”

“It’s my juju bag,” I said, staring at the treasures in my palm.

“What are you? A witch doctor? Some kind of shaman?” she asked.

I relished the compliments, but I demurred.

A juju bag, also known as a medicine bag, comes out of an African spiritual tradition, and such a pouch is mirrored in numerous cultures.  It’s a little good luck bag full of small objects to guard against evil and negativity.

I first got the idea from Hollywood, FL artist Lisa Davin. (Visit her site:

Lisa Davin

Lisa realized her need for the juju bag when her mother passed away at age 89.  Right before her mother’s funeral, a guardian angel bead, one missing for years, mysteriously fell from the top shelf of her closet.

“It was my first sign: It was my mom,” she said.  So she would never lose that bead again, it became the first resident of her juju bag.

Over time, Lisa has added pictures of family, friends and pets; a Jewish star; several pieces of turquoise and mahogany obsidian; and a doll and a bear created by her daughter.

“The important thing to remember is that everyone’s bag is different and only has meaning to the owner,” she said.

“So, when life kicks you, don’t fall down, just take out your magic bag of memories, and think of all the love you carry with you every day.”

So, is a juju bag a sack of magical amulets or talismans?  When I say no, I can only speak for my own.

I prefer to buy into to the poetic import of the juju bag:  no ideas but in things.  It’s not the objects but the relationships they represent.

During terminal meetings, dark moments and frustrating minutes, I don’t pull my mind away from the present to meditate on love, intuition, truth, creative transformation, spontaneous adventure, faith, non-violence and my dear departed mother. I now carry tangible symbols I can hold in my hands, see and smell.  Their silent energy preaches volumes.

When I spin out, the concreteness of the juju bag pulls me back.