symbolic bear meaning, bear totem, bear symbol

Symbolic Bear Meaning

Last Updated on February 26, 2023 by Avia

Exploring totem bear meaning: 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 When we contemplate symbolic bear meaning, we might think the bear may hold many contradictions, and we’d be right to think such.

symbolic bear meaning
Symbolic bear meaning

Bear Meaning and Contradictions

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 an omnivore (meat and veggie eater), the bear prefers a simple diet filled with sweet snacks like berries. Further, the bear seems heartily content to enjoy a sunny spot where it can stretch and snooze in leisure. We observe an amicable, mellow, easy-going energy with the bear when all conditions are favorable.

I think there is big meaning in this. We can take the bear’s cue and opt to live more simply. Simple food, simple pleasures. And when we live a simple life, I think the bear asks us to enjoy the heck out of it. Sometimes the highest states of bliss can be caught in a deeply simple moment. A good cup of coffee. Great soap. A sunrise. Bear reminds us that joy isn’t about the best phone and the newest apps. Bear asks us to step out of the chaos of complexity and savor simplicity.

Symbolic Bear Meaning – A Quick Keyword List:

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

Bear as an Animal Totem

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:

“Balance is key.
All of Nature, including bears, teaches the lesson of balance time and time again.
The bear can show us it’s okay to render ourselves vulnerable, while also being wicked-fierce.
For the bear, balance equals survival and success in living.
It should be the same for humans.”

Potential Messages the Bear Offers Us

♦ 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.

Bear and Motherhood

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.

Bear Totem
Bear Totem Meanings

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”
~Albert Einstein

Bear Meaning in Culture and Myth


For example, in Norse 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.

Native American

Some Native American tribes were known to don bear skins during rituals also. You can read more about this on my article About Native American Bear Meanings.

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 the night, and lives in rhythm with the Native Indian cycles of the moon.


The bear was a very big deal for the indigenous people of Russia. An annual festival was held honoring the bear and emploring the bear to bestow blessings of abundance upon the clan. In this culture, the bear is also closely associated with family, roots, connection. In fact, the bear was considered an ancestor, and the people descendants of the bear.


The Celtic goddess, Artio, is associated with fertility and protection. Also, Artio is a bear goddess who represents transformation of the season. She was said to conjure winter when she needed rest (hibernation). Upon awaking, Artio was said to summon the summer. This bear goddess is also aligned with lunar symbolism, which is imbued with meanings like: Femininity, Intuition, Renewal and Emotion.

symbolic bear meaning, bear totem, bear symbol

Bear and Moon Associations

In fact, many ancient peoples understood the connection of the moon and the bear because of its hibernation patterns. But more importantly, our nature-savvy ancestors recognized the dual nature of the bear associated with the full and new moons.

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 in bear’s life. In essence, the bear takes on two symbolic components…one set of meanings apply to the hibernating bear, the other to the awakened bear.

Symbolic Bear Meaning: Hibernating vs Active

Hibernating Bear Meaning:

Awakening Bear Meaning:

Bear Meaning
Symbolic Bear Meaning

Bear Meaning and Concepts of Duality

In this respect, we clearly see the bear wears two faces in terms of symbolic meaning. This is good for us to know because it makes the point of total potential within us. The bear reminds us we are not one-dimensional. The bear asks us to navigate our duality, embrace the light and the dark. We can gather up all our conflicting bits and pieces, mash them together making us diverse and who

From this illustration of active vs. hibernating, 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 (an a ravenous focus on food 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, a powerful balancing effect is required to making a lasting effect. So that makes the bear an advantageous alchemical animal within the alchemical practices because bear meaning involves balancing energy as well as endurance.

Final Thoughts About Symbolic Bear Meaning

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.

If you liked this article, don’t miss my page on Bear Tattoo Meaning here. Also, don’t miss other related articles and more information about animal symbolism here on Just click on the links listed on this page. Remember, life is symbolic…happy interpreting! 

As always, thanks for reading. I hope this article shed some light on bear meaning, and has inspired you.

May all your bear encounters be bold and balanced.

Mighty brightly,

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Native American bear meaning

Native American Bear Meaning

When we walk the Path with the Bear, this animal will inevitably tell us about its long history with the First People of North America. As a Native American symbol, the bear is as free in spirit as the great wind; and as grand in its wisdom as the earth it roams. Find out more about Native American Bear Totem Meanings here.

bear tattoo ideas

Bear Tattoo Meanings and Ideas

Myth, legend and cultural lore give us endless fodder upon which to feed our creative selves for meaningful bear tattoo ideas. To wit, this page offers just a few aspects of bear symbolism with an idea for your next ‘roaring’ tattoo. Find out more about Bear Tattoo Meanings here. (WYS) is a trusted Etsy affiliate & Amazon Associate. We also promote certain products we've tested and approved. As such, the website features sponsored products for Amazon or Etsy or other afiliates. Should you make a purchase from a link on this website, WYS may receive a small commission. This website also hosts advertisements. Please see our policy page for further information. Thank you for your purchases, as it contributes to keeping this website online and running.