GIFTS: Introspection. Hibernation. Strength. Balance of gentleness and ferocity. Standing at your full height. Standing your ground. Speaking up for what you want. Defending what’s yours. Coming out of your cave (not hiding out, even when you feel shy or hesitant).
CHALLENGES: Coming out of hibernation (too soon or not at all), staying in your cave too long. Applying results of introspection in the outer world. Quick temper and aggression. Lack of caution. Difficulty balancing your dualities.
Bear is one of the most recognized of traditional spirit animals. Bear is a common theme and source of power through much of mythology and literature. You probably already have lots of associations with Bear—mental images, assumptions about behavior, presumptions about gifts.
Spirit Animal Bear’s gifts include introspection, strength and hibernation. Do not confuse hibernation with retreat from fear. Hibernation is about recharging, re-energizing and rebuilding your strength. Bear does not retreat in fear. Bear withdraws from the world strategically to regain strength.
Spirit Animal Bear teaches using introspection and your inner wisdom to release fear. Fear is a façade. The Truth is within you. Move beyond fear’s many manifestations to find YOUR truth.
Bear teaches that releasing fear gives you strength, while you also need strength to release fear. This kind of strength is not necessarily physical strength. It is strength of will, of character, of conviction, of faith—of belief in yourself.
Bear also offers the gift of gentleness. In spite of Bear’s powerful presence, Bear expresses ferocity only when needed—when she or her cubs are being threatened, when he or his food is at risk.
Bear can bring the gift of “mama bear” energy. But this energy isn’t limited to mothers or women. It is a simplification of Bear’s gift for balancing gentleness and ferocity—and for defending what is precious to you. For the most part, Bear is gentle. If physical bear is not being threatened, it has no need to be fierce or aggressive. With the exception of polar bears and pandas, physical bears are opportunistic omnivores and will eat pretty much whatever they find. Other than fish, they tend to have a more plant-based diet—flying in the face of people’s perception of bears as strict carnivores.
And yet bears will attack people for their food or to protect their own food or offspring. Yes, a mama bear protecting her cubs is fearsome and formidable. The lesson for you is to foster your gentle nature but be willing to defend what is yours. Some people liken this ferocity-in-waiting to a dormant inner Bear. In actuality, your inner Bear can be awake all the time. The best way to harness your inner Bear is by allowing its gentleness to guide you and switch to Bear’s ferocity only when truly needed.
I spent time with four grizzly bears and a black bear in a wildlife sanctuary, and they all demonstrated profound gentleness and a desire to connect with other beings. The lesson for you is that gentleness does not diminish your personal power and power does not require ferocity.