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Bear as Messenger: Teaching from the Native Americans

Posted Sep 07 2008 7:56pm


Well, despite my best intentions and hopes, I am home today. I said in my last post that I would be using Bear as my totem or inspiration this week.

As I've said before, I've learned a lot about the animal kingdom, the messengers, from my Native friends.

Two bear photographs showed up for me this week, and taking the teachings from the Native people, I paid attention. Bear is strength and determination, but Bear is also knowing when to rest. So, today I take that message and heed its advice.

Specifically, this is what Bear has to teach us:

The Bear

There are several types of bear including the Grizzly, Brown, Black, Kodiak and Polar. Bear has played a prominent role in many Native cultures. They are considered to be a highly desired ally and spirit helper because of its fearless power. It is believed that the power of Great spirit lives through this animal. Because of this a constellation was named for it, Ursus Major, The Great Bear. Some tribes prayed for medicine dreams that would show bear to be their guide.


In some traditions bear is the spirit keeper of the West. The place of maturity and good harvest. The gifts that bear offers are strength, introspection and knowledge.

Unlike other animals who are active during a specific time of day, the bear is active both day and night. This symbolizes its connection with solar energy, that of strength and power, and lunar energy, that of intuition. It enhances and teaches how to develop both within themselves.

Bear can sometimes be too quick to anger and too sure of it own power. While they have little to fear they can forget caution, which is an important trait to have. If bear is your totem be careful that you don't throw your caution to the wind. Being unaware of your limits in certain settings can be disastrous.

Many years ago while hiking in the woods I was surprised to meet a black bear face to face. As it stood before me the power that the bear held intimidated me. Fears surfaced and I was sure I was going to die. I rose my arms high over my head appearing larger than I was. Because I created an illusion of size and strength my life was spared. The bear watched, dropped down onto all four legs and slowly moved away. Bear taught me the importance of appearance by gathering my inner strength and presenting it outwardly.

During the winter bears spend several months sleeping in dens without eating, a condition that resembles hibernation. The more fat their bodies have stored up the deeper the sleep. Bears live on this fat throughout the winter. It teaches us how to go within and find the resources necessary for our personal survival.

The bear holds the teachings of introspection. When it shows up in your life pay attention to how you think, act and interact. Use discernment in all that you do and discriminate with care. Bear teaches you how to make choices from a position of power.

I'm listening and paying attention. Today, I rest. Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity.

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