Thursday, February 4, 2016

Crafty Thursday: DIY Gris Gris bags

Author Ellen Byron joins us again for Crafty Thursday to show us how to make grid gris bags just for fun. Ellen wrote Plantation Shudders, a mystery set in Louisiana, and seeing how Mardi Gras is this Tuesday it's a fitting time to make them. Gris gris bags are a sort of good luck talisman according to voodoo legend, but I'll let Ellen tell you more. 

During my first visit to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I wandered into the Heritage section and happened upon Voodoo Priestess Ava Kaye Jones, who was making and selling gris gris bags. Since this particular priestess took credit cards, I bought myself one blessed for romance, my priority at the time.

from The Island of Salvation Botanica and Magical Pharmacy, New Orleans    

A gris gris bag is defined as "an amulet consisting of a bag containing one or more magical items. It is a 'prayer in a bag', or a spell that can be carried with or on the host's body." 

from The Island of Salvation Botanica and Magical Pharmacy, New Orleans    

Ever since purchasing that initial bag at JazzFest, I can’t return to Louisiana without buying myself a new one. In recent years, with college expenses looming for our high school sophomore, I’ve switched my focus from romance to prosperity. Here’s a bag I purchased on a recent NOLA visit.

But if you’re interested in possessing your own gris gris bag, you don’t have to book a ticket to the Big Easy. They’re actually quite simple to make. I’m going to demonstrate by making another one for prosperity. (You can’t have too many of those!)

Here are some of the materials you'll need:


1. Cut about an 8” square of fabric. (It doesn’t have to be exact.) Usually prosperity bags are made with green fabric, but since I already have one in green, I’m going for the gold this time.

2. Place a small collection of prosperity-associated talismans, semi-precious stones, herbs, and other items in the center of the fabric square. I used a gold dollar, sprinkles of nutmeg and basil, some jade and green-glass beads, black-eyed peas, and lentils. All of these are associated with good fortune in various cultures. 

3. As you’re making the bag, follow the advice offered by Jude Bradley & Chere Dastugue Coen, the authors of a great resource book, Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets: “Be clear on what prosperity means to you as you create your bag. Imagine, in your world, how your success will manifest and be recognized, and embrace the feelings that will come with it."

4. Tie up the bag – since my fabric is gold, I’m using green as the tie color – and trim any excess fabric.

5. Either pin the bag to a discreet location inside your clothing, or keep it somewhere close to you. I keep mine in my purse.

Magic’s in the Bag details other steps to take into consideration when making a gris gris bag, like chants, candle colors, and days of the week that align best with a particular focus. But I like to keep things simple. Occasionally I’ll hold my bag, close my eyes, and visualize a positive result. Sometimes I’ll even say a silent mantra, sort of like when you wish on a star. 

Do these bags work? Who knows? But if you believe that what we think has the power to affect change, then maybe they do. And sometimes, no matter how old we are, it’s just fun to believe in magic.

Here's Ellen's bio:

Ellen Byron is a native New Yorker who loves the rain, lives in bone-dry Los Angeles, and often writes about Louisiana, where she attended Tulane University. The Library Journal chose her first novel, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, as Debut Mystery of the Month. Book two in the series, Body on the Bayou, will be available in September. TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; published plays include the award-winning Graceland. Ellen is the recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant. Visit Ellen and sign up for Cajun Country Newsletter at


  1. I love it that you can dress these up and individualize them. Thanks for showing us what to put inside. You never know.....

    1. Glad you enjoyed this. Hope your bag brings you good luck!

  2. I really like this idea. I mean who cannot use more prosperity and/or money?

  3. Sweet. I'll have to make plenty of them.

  4. Excellent tutorial. I have wanted to make one of these forever and never found good instructions.