A measure bag is used in some Pagan traditions, including but not limited to a few forms of Wicca, as a way of forming a magical link between an individual and the group to which they belong. The measure bag is often incorporated into a practitioner’s initiation ritual. If you practice as a solitary, you can still use one as part of a self-dedication ritual to the gods of your tradition.
The term “measure bag” comes from the phrase “taking one’s measure.” This phrase means to size someone up, or to see what sort of person they are. Again, this isn’t used in every single Pagan belief system, but if it works for you, go for it!
To take someone’s magical measure, a cord is measured from the bottom of the individual’s feet to the top of the head. The bag is usually decorated with magical symbols – often including the practitioner’s magical name – and stored with bags from other members of the group. In the case of a solitary, the bag may be kept with the rest of the practitioner’s magical tools, in a safe and secure place.
To make a measure bag, you’ll need the following:
- A drawstring pouch
- Embroidery floss or fabric paint
- A length of cord
- Some sort of taglock or magical link to yourself
Decorate the outside of the bag with either fabric paint or embroidery floss. You can put your magical name on it, or if there is a particular symbol you feel drawn to, you can use that instead.
Use the cord to measure the distance from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head. If someone else is nearby, they can do this for you. If you’re alone, place one end of the cord under your foot and then run it up to the top of your head. Snip off the cord once it’s the appropriate length. Place the cord in the measure bag.
Finally, you’ll add another magical link to yourself into the bag. In some traditions of hoodoo and folk magic, this is called a taglock. It’s something that magically binds you to the contents of the bag – a snippet of hair, a fingernail clipping, even a drop of blood. If you go the blood route, just a drop or two will do just fine – no need to nick an artery.
Consecrate the bag as you would any other ritual tool, and then put it someplace where it won’t be disturbed by others. If you’re part of a group, put all of the members’ bags together in a box, and store it for safekeeping. If anyone leaves the group, their measure bag should be returned to them so they can dispose of it however they like.