Bear Meaning and Symbolism

Published on May 11, 2011 by Amy

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brown_bear
Bear

It’s a symbol for warrior and power.

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Symbolic Bear Meaning – A Quick Keyword List:

  • Bravery
  • Peace
  • Resurrection
  • Powerful
  • Benevolence
  • Sovereignty
  • Motherhood
  • Duality

And after we consider these beary obtuse keywords, we might think bear symbolism may hold many contradictions.

We can justify that juxtaposition when observing the bear in nature. Although omnivore, the bear prefers a banal diet filled with sweet snacks like berries. Further, the bear seems heartily content to languish in sunny spots where it can stretch and snooze in leisure. We observe an amicable, mellow, easy-going energy with the bear when all conditions are favorable.

As a Totem Animal, the bear will carry messages of:

Patience and Connection
Hibernating with our ideas or projects until a better time presents itself. Further, bear will speak to you about connecting to both earth-based energy and celestial (sun/moon) forces. Tapping into the bear will also allow you to tap into the wax, wane and flow of life.

Confidence and Authority
By its physical presence, the bear reminds us we can be larger than life if we raise ourselves up to our inherent status. Moreover, no one questions the bear. This kind of authoritative presence will be a lesson the bear can impart.

Nurturing and Protection
We intuit these attributes by the commitment bear mothers make to their offspring. Whether your offspring is in children or ideals, the bear will lend you the determination required for rearing up strong results.

The bear is a consummate mother, caring for her young with observable devotion. Indeed, the bear is a symbol of motherhood and child protection, as I discuss on my page about Native American bear meaning here.

However, there is a unfathomable power surging just beneath the surface of the bear is potentially explosive. Bear has imminent domain, and when it deems that space altered, it is fully prepared to defend. Woe be to the one who provokes the wrath of the bear. In this powerfully impressive display of defense and aggression we pick up bear meanings of sovereignty, courage and themes of the warrior.

To wit, in Scandinavian legend the bear was an aspect of the god Odin, and Berserkers were known to wear bearskins to enhance their ferocity in battle. Such vicious looking warriors were insured a victory.

We see more bear-dressing in the cult following of Artemis. She is a Greek huntress, and her maiden devotees would don bear dressings as a symbol of hunting prowess and power.

The First Peoples of North America were known to do this too as I cite on my page about symbolic bear meanings to the Native American mind.

Bear meanings continue to be symbolic of bravery as Germanic and Celtic deities Artio and Thor are often depicted with the bear. Indeed, the bear is a tremendous symbol of the warrior and bravery to the ancient Celts.

Although Celtic lore indicates the bear is grounded in a heroic aspect, we also see it connected to the Celtic goddess Berne where we pick up lunar symbolism.

Bear meanings associated with the moon continue in Pueblo lore in which the bear is connected to underground temples. Here the bear is said to oversee the movements of the night, and lives in time with the Native Indian cycles of the moon.

In fact, many ancient peoples understood the connection of the moon and the bear because of the bear’s hibernation patterns. But more importantly, our nature-savvy ancestors recognized the dual nature of the bear.

To explain, the nature-based mindset followed the “sleeping” (hibernating) and “waking” nature of the bear and assigned specific meaning to each of these phases of the bear’s life. To demonstrate:

In hibernation, the bear is associated with:

  • Yin
  • Moon
  • Winter
  • Inaction
  • Feminine
  • Darkness
  • Introspection
  • Subconscious

The awakened bear meaning deals with:

  • Yang
  • Solar
  • Action
  • Masculine
  • Spring/Summer
  • Lightness
  • Extroversion
  • Consciousness

In this respect we clearly see the bear wearing two faces of symbolism.

From this illustration we also recognize a theme of resurrection. After a long period of deep, introspective (even death-like) comatose span of inaction – the bear emerges, victorious and driven to sustain its life (with prime focus on feeding itself and its offspring after hibernating).

This correspondence with solar and lunar duplicity continues in alchemical tradition where the bear is considered a symbol of transformation. The bear is a powerful symbol of prime matter in alchemy too. Ancient alchemists observed the scent of a bear far outlasts its presence in caves. This caters to an energetic resonance that remains in practices. In other words, if in ritual a powerful balancing effect was required the bear would be a advantageous alchemical animal within the Work.

The bear is showcased in countless cultures because it is undeniably dynamic in energy and stature. These are just a few of the myriad of symbolic observations and bear meanings we can mine from this amazingly diverse animal.

Source: whats-your-sign

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