By Ina Woolcott
Some anthropologists say that the Bear was one of the first animals to be revered by humans. Celtic tradition holds that the Primal Mother is the Bear goddess Artio, a fierce protector. Bear is also associated with the Goddess Artemis. Bear has been a figure in the forefront of many Native cultures. Beliefs state that the power of the Great Spirit lives through the bear, therefore making them highly sought after guides due to their fearless medicine. This belief led to a constellation to be named after it, Ursus Major, The Great Bear. Some traditions see Bear as the spirit keeper of the West, where harvests are abundant and maturity resides. Those who walk or live in areas where bears reside know -or may quickly learn- that the most dangerous animal in the woods is a bear mother protecting her cubs.
If you have bear as power animal, you will most probably be quieter during the winter months, which is similar to the bear hibernating during the winter. But in the spring you must awaken to seek whatever opportunities arise. Be fearless in standing up for what you believe in. You are also encouraged to use your abilities as a natural healer. Bear is linked to trees, considered to be natural antennas, joining the heavens and the Earth. Bear also has ties to the seven colour rays of the Universal Light, as well as Lunar associations, linking the conscious and subconscious mind.
Hibernating during the cold winter months, means bears know instinctively when the time is right and where to go. They also know when to wake back up. From this we can see it is good to know and realise that we sometimes need to be alone, to ponder and reflect, to examine our thoughts and emotions, where we are headed on our life journey. We need to trust and follow our instincts. Bear is active day and night, not like other animals, symbolising his connection with solar energy, strength and power, lunar energy and intuition. This enhances and teaches us how to develop these qualities within ourselves.
Bear medicine teaches us introspection, aiding us to digest our experiences and to discover that we have within ourselves the answers to all our questions. We all have bags of wisdom, if only we slow down and listen to what our intuition, our inner knowing voice is telling us. It is useful to be with yourself at times, so you can be yourself and are able to uncover your own answers to whatever challenge you are facing. On the other hand, just like Bear you need to know when to come out of ‘hibernation’ and to interact with others.
The female bear gives birth to the cubs while asleep. Due to this Bear is regarded as a symbol of the deepest inner wisdom, of the dreamtime and transformation. When giving ourselves over to sleep we become receptive to the Great Mother who nurtures us. As we delve deep into our identities and lose our egos, going back to our primal and elemental natures, we find we are part of Infinity and of All That Is/The Universe/One.
Winter symbolises darkness, death, and the inner world. Winter is a time of year which many humans fear. Much as they fear death. Yet an intrinsic part of the beauty of Bear, is its connection to the pattern of the stars during this season. The Druids associated the Pole Star of the constellation of the Great Bear, to King Arthur (whose name means Bear). During the Winter Solstice, the darkest night, the Pole Star guides us. Thus, when our world appears negative, dark and confused, when our physical senses and reason and logic seem to fail us, when it feels there is no path to follow, we go with-in to discover our deepest resources, and the light of inner knowing and intuition aids us in finding our way home.
Sometimes bears are over confident and to quick to act on their fiery anger. Although possessing perhaps just a trace of fear they can forget caution, an important characteristic to own. If bear is you guide try not to forget caution. If you are unaware, or even disregard your limits, this can have consequences you may not want! If Bear crosses your path, pay attention to how you think, act and interact. Use discernment in everything you do and say, discriminate with care. You are shown how to make decisions from a place of power.