Bear Symbolism & Meaning
Do you need some rest and relaxation? Has life lost a bit of its sweetness? Is it time to stand tall and face potential threats without fear? Bear as an Animal Spirit Guide is there for you!
If 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.
Bear Table of Contents
- Bear Symbolism & Meaning
- Spirit Animal
- Totem Animal
- Power Animal
- Native American Symbolism
- Celtic Symbolism
- Bear Dreams
- Astrology & Zodiac
- Far Eastern Symbolism
- Back to all Mammals
- Back to all Spirit Animal Meanings
Bear Symbolism & Meaning
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 bear skins 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.
During the Han Dynasty Bears were worshiped in China. 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
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 in order 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
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 main stream. 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
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 better grasp tree limbs/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.
Various tribes have Bear clans including the Chippewa, Creek, Algonquian, Huron and Hopi. Some tribes have a Bear dance that was thought to empower warriors and ensure a protective hunt. Finally Bear is strongly associated with the Medicine Man or Shaman of several tribes.
Bear as a Celtic Animal Symbol
Celtic tradition weaved 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 will and personal vigor to endure the “fight”
- Pacing oneself; acting at just the right time
- Interacting with authority (in regional heraldry bears represent kingship)
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 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.
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.
Far Eastern Bear Symbolic Meanings
Bear Symbolic Meanings Key
- Resting the Spirit
- Shamanic Healing
- Earth Element
- Personal Truths
- Warrior Spirit