I got a lot of feedback from a cheeky bear post I made on my blog, and realized I had not given proper space to symbolic bear meaning here on WYS.com.
When we contemplate symbolic bear meanigns, we might think the bear may hold many contradictions, and we'd be right to think such.
On the one hand, we get a picture of tranquility with the bear, and on the other, it's a symbol for warrior and power.
There are more juxtapositions when observing the bear in nature. Although omnivore (meat and veggie eater), 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 many messages for us. These messages can be profoundly meaningful, and guide us through some tough times in our lives. Take a look at these symbolic attributes of the bear, and see if they offer you illumination in your life circumstances. If so, the bear may be (or has been) coming forth as a totem guide for you at this time in your life. To be sure, the bear has much to teach us, here are just a few lesson we can take from the bear:
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.
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 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.
I hope you have enjoyed this page on symbolic bear meaning.
If you liked this article, don't miss my page on Bear Tattoo Meanings here.
Also, don't miss other related articles and more information about animal symbolism here on Whats-Your-Sign.com. Just click on the links listed at the end of this page. Remember, life is symbolic...happy interpreting! :)
Special thanks to Marshamallow (Flickr) for the bear image shown at the top of this page (Alaskan Brown Bear).