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Bear Symbolism & Meaning

Do you need some rest and relaxation, or has life lost a bit of its sweetness? Is it time to stand tall and face potential threats without fear? Bear, as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal, can help! Bear teaches you to trust your instincts and let go of all that blocks your path. Delve deeply in Bear symbolism and meaning to find out how this Animal Spirit Guide can support, strengthen, and empower you.

Because you’re seeking the teachings of Bear Medicine, it’s a sign your higher self is preparing you for a position of leadership – if only in your own life.

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Bear Table of Contents

Bear Symbolism & Meaning Overview

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When Bear comes wandering into your life, there are several things this Animal Spirit may be trying to tell you. For example, if you are a parent, images of a She-Bear are very powerful. Your children may need your protection from a group, person, or situation.

In less specific terms, Bear Spirit provides us with strength in times when we feel weak or helpless. Life can prove challenging, and Bear is definitely up to the task – no matter the source. If you have been swallowing your words and compromising your vision, Bear’s message is, “Stay true.”

Sometimes Bear asks us to accept an authoritative role, not only directing our own lives but guiding others. Think of the height and weight of the Bear – it demands respect; this is not the time to “play dead” but rather engage and inspire!

Bear Spirit has close ties with Shamanic tradition, particularly, in Northern America and Siberia. A polar Bear specifically receives veneration as a sage and educator. Vikings wore Bearskins to frighten on-coming hoards and invoke the strength of the Bear in battle.

When we look at Bear’s hibernation cycle, we are also reminded of the value of rest, quiet, and privacy, particularly in our busy society. It is important to move away from daily clamor so we can truly listen to our higher selves and the Divine.

In China, during the Han Dynasty, people worshipped Bears. This symbol was so potent that Bear became a Totem Animal for the country.

Panda Bears are well-known in this region, and people regard them as a symbol of prosperity, plenty, taking life slow and putting ourselves to more than one task successfully.

In Feng Shui the Bear is masculine. Bear figures placed near the front doorway act as guardians for everyone therein. For someone expecting a child, keeping a Bear statue is one way of ensuring a healthy baby (typically a boy).

Among the Ainu of Japan Bear was a god in an animal disguise.

Bear Spirit Animal

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When Bear as a Spirit Animal comes to stand beside you, there’s the assurance of renewed power and courage. Whatever adversity you face, Bear holds you firm and keeps you grounded until hardships pass.

Afterward, Bear won’t simply disappear but rather remains in your awareness, facilitating healing in body, mind, and spirit. See, Bears are among the ultimate protectors. While many in the animal kingdom willingly give up their lives to protect their young, Few are as fearless as Bear. Once that kind of bravery takes root in your soul, it will forever be there.

Bear may have also arrived at a time of self-examination; this could be a moment where you need “cave time” so you can really listen to your heart instead of 101 voices, all of whom, while well-meaning, seem to think they know what’s best for you.

Find your truth. Then, live it with the same humor and honor as does Bear.

Bear Totem Animal

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If you were born with a Bear Totem (or have chosen this mighty but humorous and playful creature as your Totem Animal), you have natural fortitude, assurance, and aptitude when taking on leadership roles.

Bear people growl at adversity and come to the rescue of those in their circle in times of need. You may also find a calling in medicine, be it holistic or mainstream. Bear Spirit is restorative and recuperative.

However, that means you must also care for the self, often by taking regular retreats to refuel.

The one caution of which to remain aware is that Bear people have hot tempers. Be careful not to attack without just cause. Discernment is your ally.

Bear Power Animal

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Seek out Bear Spirit as a helpmate when your instincts seem a little off. Bear then becomes a guide on your journey for honing your insight, including psychically and emotionally.

Bear can also help you discover, acknowledge, and empower personal abilities that we may otherwise underestimate. Release whatever holds you back and embrace Bear’s wisdom.

Bear as a Power Animal is especially helpful when you need to stay grounded and walk on terra firma. Bears are bowlegged; this helps them with balance and enables them to grasp tree limbs better/not slip on ice. In this, Bear energy can help you “get a grip”, find your balance and stride through any situation with strength and confidence.

Native American Bear Symbolic Meanings

Among Native Americans Bear represents extremely strong Medicine, including the special powers in the areas of wisdom, strength, and healing. So much is the case that several tribes, including the Zuni carry or wear Bear charms and fetishes for luck & to keep the power of Bear Spirit with them at all times.

Pueblo tradition tells us Bear guards the Western quarter of creation. Native lore often speaks of Bear as a disciplinary Animal Spirit that meets out judgment on bad-mannered humans.

The Zuni also keep Bear fetishes as this animal is a sacred protector. The Inuit revere Bears and believe that if someone is killed by a Bear, they will evolve and reincarnate as a shaman working with the spirit of this animal.

Various tribes have Bear clans, including the Chippewa, Creek, Algonquian, Huron, and Hopi. Some tribes have a Bear dance that empower warriors and ensure a protective hunt. Finally, Bear is strongly associated with the Medicine Man or Shaman of several tribes.

Bear is associated with the western direction. This animal is also considered to be one of the most dedicated fighters. Since they are known to continue fighting in spite of injuries, it was once believed they could heal themselves.

Bear is also often associated with nobility and wisdom. In Indigenous folklore, Bear is usually a figure easily deceived by tricksters, or a figure representing morality. In most cases, Bear is portrayed as a powerful animal who prefers to “live and let live” than to take an aggressive stance against an innocent person.

Thus, Bear symbolism implies that hardship only befalls one who has done wrong when Bear is involved. There is no innocent victim. If Bear uses their aggression against someone, it is presumed to have been provoked in some way.
Indigenous people often model the stories of nurturing Bears after observations of caring and protective instincts of mother Bears in the wild.

Stories abound of Bears raising humans, people living among Bears and so forth. It is believed that Bears captured people’s imagination because of their likeness and similarity to humans, particularly in the way they use their front paws as related to human’s use of hands.

Although Bears were hunted, there were also strict rules regarding under what circumstances Bear could be hunted and killed. This seems prevalent in other cultures as well, as it seems Bear often has a paradoxical position in relationship to humans, being revered and protected but also occasionally sacrificed or hunted.

There were also taboos against insulting Bears and mother Bears as well as cubs were off limits to hunters.

Bear as a Celtic Animal Symbol

Celtic tradition weaves many different animal symbols into a cohesive mythology, including the Bear. As one example, there’s Artio, the goddess of wildlife who took the form of a Bear. It’s thought that hunters invoked her spirit to guide them to safety and success. Generally, this animal spirit guide symbolized strength and power, including that of God.

One illustration of this came at Winter Solstice when people ritually called upon the Great Bear for safety through the dark winter months. Additionally, the Celtic God Cernunnos appears with Bears in various illustrations. Effectively Bear is the Primal Mother who guides and protects, which is why Bear claws often became amulets and talismans.

To the Celtic warrior, choosing the Bear as a personal Animal Totem allowed them to draw power for safeguarding the clan or tribe; energizing themselves for battle; strengthening one’s will and personal vigor to endure the “fight;” and pacing one’s self so that it becomes possible to act at the right moment. Celtic warriors also saw Bear as an Animal Ally when interacting with authority (in regional heraldry Bears represent kingship, for example).

Bear Dream Meaning

In dream interpretation, Bear dreams have a wide variety of meanings depending on the type, color, and action the creature takes, and the cultural context.

For example, in Arab communities, meeting a Bear represents a conflict with a powerful and energetic enemy; in Europe it means potential danger, and in China, it presages the birth of a son.

However, overall, Bear appearing in your dreams symbolizes a time when you need to reclaim your space and place in the world. Trust your instincts and listen to your heart before doing something compulsive and potentially detrimental. For more information on dreams about bears, read “Dreams About Bears,” here on WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com.

Bear in Astrology & Zodiac Signs

Bear is one of the 12 Native American Zodiac Signs. Click to read all about the Bear Totem in Native American Astrology.

Bear in Chinese Zodiac & Astrology

Bear is not one of the traditional Chinese Zodiac, but the Bear does appear as a constellation called Dou, what we refer to as the Big Bear or Ursa Major. The symbolism of this star groupings is generally that of strength, courage, and male energy. An exception occurs among Taoists who personify Dou as the chief star goddess who embodies dawn and light. Her powers include healing through visualization, safe childbirth, and nurturing.

Bear in Celtic Zodiac & Astrology

The Celtic zodiac sign of Bear ties to the Alder moon (March 18 – April 14). Being born during this period gives you a strong mystical curiosity and sensitivity along with the primitive courage known to Bear and a keen sense of adventure.

Key symbolism: Zeal for life, protective of family, bravery, and inquisitiveness.

Bear in Aztec Zodiac & Astrology

The Aztec zodiac tradition and Aztec calendar do not utilize the Bear. We do, however see the God Tezcatlipoca associated with Ursa Major. From there, he watches over warriors and may appear to them at crossroads with a challenge.

Bears in the Bible

Bears are mentioned several times in the Bible. Kings features a story of young people mocking a prophet. God then sends two Bears to maul them. Bears are sent to dole consequences and serve as an extension of God’s will several times in the Bible. In contrast, Bear is also used as a symbol of evil, a predator to the imagery of Jesus, portrayed as a Lamb.

The Bible also refers to Bear as a symbol of protectiveness and ferocity. This theme is repeated frequently in cultures worldwide. It is also said David had to protect his people from Bear attacks. Daniel describes Bear as compared to adversaries in battle. Thus, many references to Bear imply fierce adversaries.

Spiritual Meaning of Bears

The spiritual meaning of Bear relates to protective instincts. Bear helps you nurture yourself and others. When Bear appears in your life, you may be called to assert your strength in the service of helping those who are vulnerable.

Bear spiritual meaning also relates to your ability to enjoy fun and pleasure in your life. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a taste of honey to make the journey worthwhile. Bear helps you hibernate, going deep into your subconscious to summon your inner wisdom as well.

Bear can help you make peace with your instincts and work with your Shadow side. Bear is also believed to hold a balance between your spiritual desire for freedom and need to conform with social standards. Though taking refuge in the woods is often thought of as a Bear-like spiritual quest, you are reminded that Bear wisdom is also meant to be shared in modern landscapes. You can’t solve every problem by retreating into the wilderness.

Bears are often associated with their appetites and diets. Thus, one of the spiritual meanings of Bear is to keep an open mind to having an insatiable hunger for knowledge. Being hungry for new expeirneces and encounters also fits Bears symbolic meaning.

These creatures can be protective and fierce, but also adorable and playful. Bear reminds us to remain flexible, teachable and playful even when dealing with serious matters. Even the largest and fiercest Bears can still be curious and affectionate. Bear reminds us not to always be on the defensive.

Their hibernation cycle is spiritually significant as well. This reminds us of the importance of rest and introspection. Though Bears may seem to be associated with complacency, this is actually a reminder that we don’t always need to take initiative. Sometimes being in a resting phase is as important as using energy to try to get our way.

Their winter hibernation can also be an indication of the need to align yourself with the cycles of nature. When it’s cold and dark, you may need to retreat and take stock, preparing for the warmer season. Bear’s spiritual alignment with nature and weather is also seen in modern associations between Polar Bears and climate damage.

Bears are often depicted as anthropomorphic because people recognize that we share traits in common with this animal. Thus, one of the spiritual meanings of Bears has to do with connecting the human consciousness with the consciousness of wild animals, the forest, and wilderness in general. Protecting nature and listening to the wisdom of the natural world are activities aligned with Bear spiritual symbolism.

Bear Mythology and Folklore

Bear mythology and folklore spans the globe. In myth and folklore, Bear represents the wildness within humans. The interface between humans and wilderness are embodied in this animal. Bear is a symbol of protection, royalty, and ambassadorship between the civilized and wild.

Bear is often shown as a shapeshifter or a messenger from the animal kingdom. Bears represent fear of the “other” as well as milestone passages from childhood to adulthood. In some lore, Bears are surrogate spouses or children to humans.

Bears serve the dual purpose of protecting people and granting wisdom and power, while also acting as guardians and gatekeepers. Bears in myth are used to dole out consequences for breaking taboo. Thus, Bear is tasked with maintaining orderliness and separating wild instinct from civilized propriety.

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, Large Carnivore Ecologist and Conservationist, has conducted research into the role of Black Bears in southern United States during the trans-atlantic slave trade. Her work has unearthed stories of enslaved people who encountered Black Bears in the woods as they attempted to escape the plantation. She writes about the symbolism of Black Bears as an extension of the dangers enslaved people faced from slave holding plantation owners.

For some, the fear of Bear encounters discouraged attempts at escaping. But for others, like Charles Bell, an enslaved man who learned the local topography and survival after being sent out to hunt, knowledge of this predator lead to the ability to defeat Bears in the wild and bring hope to others that escape was possible.

Thus in African-American culture at this time, Bear presented an obstacle to liberation and symbolically bore resemblance to the slave master. Bear’s power posed a threat, but even they could be defeated.

Bear Meaning in Greek and Roman Mythology

Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Big and Little Bear, get their name from the story of Callisto. She was the daughter of King Lycaon and friend to Artemis. As a nymph, she took a vow of chastity. Zeus transformed himself into Artemis to seduce Callisto. She became pregnant and Artemis banished her. Hera also sought revenge and turned Callisto into a Bear.

Thus, Bear symbolizes consequences for primal urges but also the protective dynamic between mother and child.

This myth is found in Roman lore as well, with Callisto’s name being the same but Juno and Jupiter in place of Zeus and Hera.

Artemis features in another story related to Bear. As the Goddess of wild creatures and the hunt, she was said to have fallen in love with the great hunter, Orion, who is also associated with the Bear. While out hunting with her brother, Apollo, these twin deities challenged each other to a competition. But Apollo, knowing his sister’s love for Orion, tricked her into shooting her lover. She then made a place for him in the night sky as the constellation Orion.

Bear can teach you to be aware of false pride and bravado. Yet this animal also teaches the importance of showing your strength. Don’t be afraid to be true to yourself and assert your boundaries.

The connection between Bears and fertility or child rearing is widespread as well. Atalanta, a heroine of Greek myth, was said to have been abandoned by her father, who left her for dead. He had hoped for a son and did not want to raise a daughter.

It is said that Atalanta was found by a Bear who nursed her and raised her. It is further said that the Bear had milk to give because her own offspring were killed by hunters. Thus, this illustrates the complicated dynamics between humans and Bears who both endanger and protect each other.

It’s also said that Zeus was nursed by a Bear. There is also the story of Polyphonte, who was tricked by Aphrodite into falling in love with a Bear. As punishment, Artemis had the creatures attack Polyphonte. Her children were initially half Bear but were transformed by Hermes into an Eagle, Owl, and Vulture.

There is also a folktale about a Dog, Bear, and Lion. They lived peacefully in the woods with a hunter. Then one day, Dog mocked the Bear, who lashed out. This caused discord between the animals for the first time.

Again, the meaning of Bear symbolism in these tales speaks to both human interaction with wilderness and also nurturing and fertility.

In folklore worldwide, Bear sits in a position of judgment, often representing morality. They offer lessons in both what to do and what not to do in order to maintain the high ground. They grant rewards to the righteous and punish those who are immoral. This may also explain their connection to Kings as facilitators of justice in human societies.

Bears are also figures of temptation and lust, especially in Medieval folklore. Bears are thought to represent lust and out of control urges. This is echoed in modern “folklore” such as the contemporary fantasy work, Game of Thrones, in which a folksong contrived for the purpose of the fictional story illustrates the taboo affair between a Bear and a Maiden. While the song brings some whimsy to the story at a serious turning point, it is also an allegory within the work of fiction, alluding to the dangers of rival families vying for power.

Bear Gods and Goddesses

Tawaret– Ancient Egyptian Goddess whose figure is Bear like. She is a Goddess of animals and is also associated with Hippos and Crocodile. She is associated with both fertility and predatory animals, thus suggesting a protective nature as a creatrix.

Odin – This Norse God is said to have taken the image of a Bear when visiting the mundane world. As a paramount figure among Norse deities, Odin is powerful, wise and strong. Bear in this case corresponds with a God known for being dominant among the powerful.

Artemis– Greek Goddess of wilderness, protector of children and animals. She is associated with Bees, Bears and Wolves in particular. She is both a guardian of the woods and woodland animals and also a huntress.

Callisto– In Greek and Roman lore, she is turned into a Bear and banished from the rest of the Nymphs after a tryst with Zeus. Origin of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Artio– Often overlooked Celtic Bear Goddess. Some suggest King Arthur’s name derives from her name.

Ildiko– Hungarian Bear Goddess. She is also a Goddess of hunting, fertility, protection, and love.

Mielikki– Finnish Goddess who protects the forests. She is also associated with hunting and protection of animals. She is associated with Bears and is often portrayed with Bears.

Ungnyeo– According to Korean Creation myth, Ungnyeo is the Bear Woman, who can shapeshift between the forms of a Bear and a woman.

Diana– Roman counterpart to Artemis, Diana is a Lunar Goddess associated with the forests, motherhood, the hunt, and wild creatures including Bears.

Hekate– Considered a Crone aspect of Diana/Artemis, Hekate is associated with protection, crossroads, transformation and also with wilderness including Dog and Bear.

Bear Meaning in Nordic Mythology

The word “Berserk” derives from the frenzy Nordic warriors would enter, a trance inspired by wild Bears. This made them ferocious in battle. They would even wear the skin or coats of Bears for inspiration. The word is related to the term “Bair shirt” which refers to the suits of Bearskins worn by warriors as they worked themselves into a frenzy before engaging on the battlefield. Both their appearance and their ferocious war rituals intimidated their opponents and helped them defeat their adversaries through fear before physical combat even began.

It was also customary for a Berserker to be sent as a surrogate to fight in place of someone to settle their fights. In this way, Bear again has a corresponding meaning to justice and morality. Bears featured prominently in rituals as well. Among these are sagas of warriors killing Bears without weapons.

Ritualized killing and combat based justice can symbolize the need to choose your battles carefully. Are you fighting your own battle or are you trying to get someone stronger or more intimidating to fight your battles for you? Are you picking an adversary because of what they represent? For instance killing a Bear to make a statement about your own power and not because the animal was an actual threat to you?

In this regard, Bears represent projecting misplaced aggression.

In this way, Bear serves as a reminder that psychological perception is a bigger part of the “battle” than the actual battle in many cases. Projecting an image of strength and protection is just as important, if not more important, than actually being the biggest, strongest person in the room.

Thor also corresponds with Bear. In Norse mythology, Bears are protectors. King Knuut II of Denmark was mythologized as descending from a Bear. In fact, it was believed that all Kings derive from Bears. The Sami believed Bears could traverse the planes between physical and spiritual realms. Bear held great significance in this culture.

Beowulf, the Norse legend, was said to also feature Bear symbolism. Grendel, the adversary of the hero Beowulf, is depicted as wearing a Bear’s head. Bear was also an important symbol for the Norse God, Odin.

Bear Meaning and Symbolism in Finnish Culture

To the ancient Finns, Bears were also important. They believed Bears reincarnated through pregnant women, and thus it was taboo for pregnant women to get too close to the body of a dead bear. The Bear God Otso was nursed by a Goddess. This Bear was not supposed to use its claws or teeth against humans. But as myths go, Otso violated this rule, starting the battle for survival between man and Bear.

In early pagan Scandinavian and Finnish culture, it was considered the best possible tribute to give a King the gift of a Polar Bear as a present for Yule. Polar Bear remains a symbol of winter, Yule, and Christmas to this day worldwide.

Bears in Slavic Culture and Folklore

The Slavs revered and hunted bears. The God Volos was the protector of domesticated animals and also associated with Bears.
The Nivkh people, indigenous people of Eastern Russia and the Sakhalin Island, trapped Bear cubs to raise as children for several years before sacrificing them in a ceremony.

St. Seraphim, a hieromonk from the 1700s, is said to have lived in the woods as a hermit. He surrounded himself with wild creatures and lived among the animals including Bears. Legend has it, animals would visit him without incident. It was reported that he was eeven seen feeding Bears by hand, an act carried out with bliss and not fear.
Bear in this context may show you the importance of being gentle. Just because you have the strength to do something doesn’t mean you have to flex that muscle. Take a soft approach and find ways to collaborate rather than confronting others.

African Bears Symbolism & Meaning

Bear is often presented as a predator to be feared in African lore. Tales from East Africa include the legend of the Nandi Bear. This cryptozoological creature was reportedly seen at various times menacing people and threatening livestock. Some suspect it is not an actual Bear, in spite of its appearance and name. This red-haired creature is said to hunt to kill. It’s also believed to be larger than typical Bears.

The Nandi Bear has cleverly eluded hunt and capture. Some believe it is actually a large Hyena or relative of this animal. Others suspect it may have prehistoric origins.

In Egypt, there exists a harmless and peaceful white Bear. This animal is similar to a sheep in size. Africa is one of the few regions to which Bears are not native, so the presence of Bears or Bearlike creatures on this continent present an anomaly.

Far Eastern Bears Symbolism & Meaning

See Panda Bear Symbolism & Meanings.

The ancient Chinese Emperor Xuanyuan Huangdi was said to have invited Bears to his palace. This lead to his nickname, the Bear Emperor. They believed Bears were related to the Gods. They also sought entertainment from Bears, fighting them with other animals.

Consider how Bear may come into your life as a sign of royalty. Bear encourages you to walk with confidence and channel your strength and power. Don’t let others push you around, Bear helps you to know your worth.

The ancient Chinese also believed Spirits played with the Bears in their caves as the caves were open in the summer and closed in the winter. It was unlucky if the caves were open during winter.

Thus, the connection between Bear and childlike Spirits can also remind you to immerse in nature and let your Inner Child run free. By connecting with Bear, you’re connecting to both nature, wilderness, and to playful nature Spirits.

In Feng Shui, Bear imagery is used to invoke protection. It’s customary to put Bear decoations near the main entrance. Bears are said to hold masculine energy. Some also use Bear Bile as a medical cure though.

The Ainu, Indigenous people from the islands near Japan, call Bears “Kamuy” which means God. Though other animals are deified in this culture, Bear is king of the Gods. They believed Gods visited earth in the form of Bears. They also domesticated Bear cubs, pampering them for a few years before sacrificing them as part of ceremonial rites.

Bear is also linked to medicine in some eastern cultures. The gallbladder of a Bear is thought to have powerful healing properties. Thus, it is sought as a complementary therapy for numerous health conditions.

Bear represents a crossroads between security and wilderness. This animal is considered powerful, regal, protective and nurturing.

Types of Bear Symbolic Meaning

  • Black Bear Symbolism & Meaning– Black Bears are comparatively small. They are also adaptive and omnivorous. Black Bear symbolism includes: protection and defense against danger, mystical journeys into the underworld or various realms. Black Bear also symbolizes the need to adapt to your surroundings.
  • Polar Bear Symbolism & Meaning– Polar Bears are the largest Bears and live in the Arctic. They are only carnivorous and are also threatened by climate change. Their symbolism includes healing and survival. In modern times, Polar Bear has come to symbolize climate devastation.
  • Grizzly Bear Symbolism & Meaning– Grizzlies are large, and can be fiercely protective. For this reason, they are associated with tenacity. Additional symbolism includes assertiveness, being willing to go to any lengths to protect the vulnerable and ferocity.
  • Viking Bear Symbolism & Meaning– Research suggests Vikings kept bears as pets. They were also inspired by this animal whose energy they channeled in battle. Viking Bear symbolism includes strength, wisdom, healing, trance, battle.
  • Brown Bear Symbolism & Meaning– These are the largest Bears in North America and Eurasia. Their symbolism includes connection with the earth. Healing, wisdom, playfulness.
  • Panda Bear Symbolism & Meaning– The Giant Panda is unique to China. This creature’s symbolism includes balance of masculine and feminine energy, pleasure, gentleness, strength. Though they are massive, they eat almost only plants, thus symbolizing peacefulness and harmony with nature.
  • Kodiak Bear Symbolism & Meaning– Native to southwest Alaska, the Kodiak Bear is among the largest in the world. Their symbolism includes association with Divine Spirit, mastery, Warrior Spirit, strength, Ferocity
  • Spirit Bear – Kermode Bear– these are white Black Bears in North America. They are not Albino, but rather have a recessive gene that prevents melanin developing in fur. They are considered sacred to Indigenous people. They are the rarest of Bears and Indigenous people are fighting to keep them from going extinct. They represent something rare or unusual and seen as mystical.

What Does it Mean to See a Dead Bear?

Encountering a dead Bear can be terrifying, but it is no reason to fear. Bears symbolize protection, nurturing, family and maternal bonds. To see a dead Bear may indicate you need to be aware of a dormant issue that could challenge your security.

It can also mean a time of defensiveness has come to an end. You may be guided to let your guard down, a time of needing protection has come to rest.

When you see a dead Bear or dream of one, it is a message that you can relax. You may have to change the way you nurture yourself or others. Yet a period of strife or conflict has been resolved or is over. You don’t have to show courage anymore and can instead show vulnerability.

To some, seeing a dead Bear can also indicate that a strong or powerful person is not currently able to come to their aid. This can be a sign that a shift needs to take place. Rather than hiding behind a loved one who is stronger or appears more powerful, you may now be called to stand up for yourself or find your own power.

This sighting can also convey a David and Goliath type of message. Someone or something perceived as being too big or too strong to fail is toppled by unexpected power. Reflect on the forcefulness and power that can be found in unexpected places.

Bear Tattoo Meaning

Bear Tattoos are a popular way to pay homage to the spirit of these creatures. Bear Tattoos can be realistic or stylized. Cartoon Bears and Bear characters from film also make good tattoos. When considering whether to get a Bear tattoo, make sure you’re confident in your decision. This image will follow you for life, so consider the specific meanings of the color ink you choose and the type of Bear you have tattooed on your body.

Having a Bear tattoo can both remind you to be playful and protective, but also remind you of your strength and power. You may be able to keep your head high when Bear is always with you. Having Bear tattooed on your skin is reminiscent of Viking traditions of wearing Bear fur or skin, but in a more humane and mainstream way adapted to modern conventions.

Famous Bears

  • Yogi Bear
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • The Bearenstein Bears
  • BooBoo
  • Fozzy Bear
  • Paddington
  • Balco (The Jungle Book)
  • Hei Bai (The Last Airbender)
  • Kenai (Brother Bear)
  • Lil John (Disney’s Robin Hood)
  • Care Bears
  • Grateful Dead Bears
  • Smokey the Bear
  • The Charmin Bear

Bear Sayings

  • Bear Hug– a sign of affection, to give someone a Bear Hug means you are wrapping them in your arms in a protective and loving way. Though this is a sign of affection, an actual Bear will hug another Bear in a sign of aggression known as a bodylock.
  • Loaded for Bear– This phrase indicates you are ready for any scenario. It stems from a 19th century saying suggesting one be loaded with enough ammo to kill a Bear if needed.
  • Poke the Bear– this saying implies one is deliberately antagonizing a bigger or stronger opponent.
  • Bull and Bear– Referring to the Stock Market, a Bull Market is challenging as prices are rising. But when prices drop, it is called a Bear market, suggesting a good time to buy investments. Bear markets are “wild” and unpredictable, so they can be scary, but they are also considered good opportunities for open minded investors.
  • Do Bears poop in the woods?– This rhetorical question implies someone is asking a question with an obvious answer. It is also used in jest when a question’s answer is an obvious ‘yes.’
  • Busy as a Hibernating Bear– An ironic idiom suggesting one is pretending to be busy.
  • Cross as a Bear with a sore head– aggravated, irritable, grumpy and possibly aggressive.
  • Some days you get the Bear, other days the Bear gets you– saying suggesting that you can’t win every battle. Also like saying the hunter becomes hunted in some situations.

Bear Slang

  • LGBTQIA+ slang, Bear refers to a heavy-set gay or bisexual man with ample body hair. This term implies traditional masculine appearance or gender attributes.
  • Mama Bear– slang- a parent, particularly a woman or mother, who is extremely protective of children or vulnerable people. An affectionate person who can be loving but also protective.
  • She Bear– A heavy-set or aggressive woman, or a woman who is sexually aggressive toward men. In some slang definitions, this term is also used to refer to women who prey on or even rape men.
  • Bear– As a romantic term of endearment, this term describes a person, usually a man, who is cuddly, affectionate or who may be big in stature but gentle.
  • Bear of a task– Referring to a job or task as a “Bear” implies it is going to be difficult to complete. This term has connotations that mean it is an unpleasant job or something one doesn’t look forward to doing.
  • Bear– Used as a slang term to warn of a highway patrol officer hiding off the road.

Bear Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Artemis and Diana
  • Bravery
  • Earth Element
  • Humor
  • Personal Truths
  • Playfulness
  • Power
  • Resting the Spirit
  • Shamanic Healing
  • Warrior Spirit

24 thoughts on “Bear Symbolism & Meaning

  1. Sheila says:

    Interesting, as well as informative. THANKS

    • Coyotemakesstikinpants3000 says:

      TTHIIS IS SOOOOOO TRUE like fr fr shlinky especially the chinese sausage knee slapper balls part but honestly i think that bears make you h0rni so go Fk some bears

  2. Adam Jacob says:

    Twice now I have been in a car that has hit a black bear. Both times it popped out of thin air and bumped into us. And both times I was on my way to work for people I didn’t trust in my gut.. but was following a ego based need for financial security… rather than staying content with being poor and spiritually rich.

  3. samantha says:

    For a while now, and especially since my father passed away I have been taking pictures in my bedroom before I settle to go to sleep. One such picture shows a cloudy mass just at my door. It wasn`t until I zoomed into the picture that it revealed a perfect image of a bear! no exaggeration. A perfect white outline of a bears head, ears and shoulders as well as its face perfectly visible within this mass. For a week or two I`ve wondered what a bear `orb` was doing in my bedroom. Tonight, I have started to discover why a bear spirit might appear. It makes sense now – but ofcourse I still have questions. For as long as I can remember, my life has been fraught by attack from others. My spirit is weak, and I am very much alone in so many ways, I wish I knew how to seek strength from this bear spirit.

    • Shirl Herzog says:

      Samantha,
      To me it sounds like the bear is giving you the message that you are never alone. As both a huge fan of bears and a photographer I have learned much from both. Believe me if you listen the message will become clear. There is a reason why the bear appeared after your Father passed and there is a reason it appears in the door instead of coming into the room. Animals sense our energy and act accordingly. But, no one can really tell you what his means to you except for you. I have also learned from experience that listening to others tell you what they think usually ends up with them telling you that really applies to them. I have learned a lot from photography because after my husband died that is all I would do for a long time. Only reason I got out of bed some days. It opened me up to a lot of things but things that only have meaning to me. And you are never alone. Your body is but your soul never is. Love and peace!

      • Judith Bartlett says:

        Thank you for your lovely answer to Samantha, & blessings to you both. I love photography too, always have, & found focus & upliftment & comfort in it after my Mum died & later beloved dog who died unexpectedly ~ very grateful that I have so many photos of her! But wish I’d learned and made more videos.
        Also grateful for your reminder that our souls are never alone ~ even tho in this marvellous but challenging body-journey we can feel very alone, or lacking resonant 3D connections anyway.
        Love & peace to you too :))

  4. Barbara A Henes says:

    i wanted to print this information on the bear spirit, but I can’t. I want to include it in a gift card for my daughter who is going thru treatment for the first time. So disappointed.

    • spiritanimals says:

      Hello, Barbara;

      I hope you’ll understand why I disallow copying of my copyrighted artwork and content. However, given that it’s for your daughter and will help give her support during a rough time, please email me and I’ll send you a digital copy.

      My healing prayers are with you and your family and I feel confident all the Wild Ones here at WhatIsMySpiritAnimal.com are sending love as well.

      Stay wild,
      Bernadette

  5. Cindy says:

    What does it mean if I have only seen a bear in the wild twice in my life and in the past month I have seen two? One came out of my yard and the other was when we were on a family vacation 10 hours away from home. I had just started reading a book on spirit guides. Is there any significance?

  6. Quanay says:

    Hello, before my mother died….I have had a dream of black bear cubs running in a circle around me, as I was standing in the middle of the kitchen floor. Then they all ran out the, Kitchen following behind so, what would this mean ?

  7. Nina says:

    in my meditation … i was in woods. was very peacefull, beautiful and magical autumn.
    from behind a tree, bear came out.
    i raised gently my left arm and invited him to come closer.
    the bear did. i touched him. and then i sat up on him.
    and he allowed me to ride on his back.
    it felt very safe. very warm. i could relax deeply as he carried me on…

    he could also talk to me. from mind to mind. it was wonderful experience.

  8. Justin Watkins says:

    I saw a creek with sun shining on right side, there was four brown Bear, first large male standing with a Crown of sun bleached antlers on his head, next to him was a mother and two cubs! Before this vision I was with my Father on a logging box type zip line in thick forest I saw my fathers shadow only and he was next to me and he handed me a 22 caliber rifle and I felt his warm open hand as I grabbed shells and he was teasing me,I was hunting with wrong gun! Then a boy shadow was next to us! Then I saw creek with sun shining on the Bears! I woke up in tears and I can still feel and see this vision after 15 years! Bear is man without fire! I had dream 3 weeks after his death! I’ve been relieved knowing I will stand before him and my ansesters to return my name!

  9. Mack says:

    Ive painted three bears for three of my most traumatic exes. Every time I painted it and gifted it to them near the end of our relationship. On reflection I started to wonder if Bears are a bad omen for me. That when it appears it means I should run… But now I realize the bear was protecting me. I feel like I am the bear. I know that sounds crazy but I feel kind of powerful and amazed realizing this now.

  10. Tracey Stone says:

    I have been overwhelmed with panic attack’s and I’m stuck at home. Last night I had a dream of a brown female bear at a Native American festival at first I was scared and didn’t want to go near the bear but she followed me. I eventually kneeled down and strokes the bear and she almost smiled and me and was very loving.

  11. Hannah says:

    I had a dream for 3 months now that I was walking for and I came to River &a Stonebridge as I got onto the bridge I stopped cuz I heard splashing there’s a brown bear in the river but he ignored me as I keep walking forward fog amended from the ground and surrounded me it started to invade my senses a moment later everything clears up and I could see the trees again all the sudden there is a huge buck that comes the tree line and starts walking towards me the brown bear came out of nowhere and attached the buck.

  12. Hannah says:

    I had a dream for 3 months now that I was walking forest and I came to River &a Stonebridge as I got onto the bridge I stopped cuz I heard splashing there’s a brown bear in the river but he ignored me as I keep walking forward fog amended from the ground and surrounded me it started to invade my senses a moment later everything clears up and I could see the trees again all the sudden there is a huge buck that comes the tree line and starts walking towards me the brown bear came out of nowhere and attached the buck.

  13. Alice Carroll says:

    It’s interesting to know that bears are seen as symbols of healing in American Indian cultures. I’ve been thinking about buying American Indian collectible figurines soon because I’m quite fascinated about their culture and folklore. Maybe it would also be nice to also pick up some books that discuss their culture in order to update my library with new books.

  14. Grace says:

    I have a scar on my right ankle in the shape of a bear, does this mean something?

  15. Zara says:

    My sister keeps having dreams about bears, and she told me she already had 10 dreams and never told me. One dream a bear came over out of nowhere in the forest and said that the bear was her sprit animal. I forgot the rest of what she told me, but I really need to find out why she having all these dreams.

  16. Prasanna says:

    It’s interesting to know that bears are seen as symbols of healing in American Indian cultures. I’ve been thinking about buying American Indian collectible figurines soon because I’m quite fascinated about their culture and folklore. Maybe it would also be nice to also pick up some books that discuss their culture in order to update my library with new books.

    – AT -REPLY

    Grace says:
    I have a scar on my right ankle in the

  17. Alex says:

    Goood. Ilove bears they have a good ethical life

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