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East: Bear

This animal represents the challenges of the spirit that an individual is facing, has faced, or are yet to occur. There is usually a message about life lessons and your own true purpose when one studies the Totem Animal in the East. Through challenges of the spirit we continue to hold true to our inner self and ensure our adherence to our spiritual path. The animal in the East guides us to our higher self. The animal in the East can show us much about ourselves and our path. Any who take the spiritual journey need protection and a guide this Totem will be just that for you. If you search for the you within and for your spiritual essence, this animal helps you connect with your higher self.


To have Bear select you to carry her Totem in the East speaks to your determination to stay on your path. Bear energy has a long history with man. From the ever more frequent appearance of a bear among us in our neighborhoods today back through the eons of time to the earliest depictions of other life-forms by man, Bear has been honored. Bear walks on two legs. Bear, like man, eats of the bounty of the earth and sun (plants), the seas and waters, and the meat of animals. Bear, when hungry, will eat anything – so will man.

Bear has been associated with being the destructor, the raider, the destroyer. This is based more in misunderstanding the true nature of the beast than actual fact. If bears are conditioned to food around humans, they – opportunistic feeders that they are – will return to where they found food before. This is when they become a “problem” bear. We have encroached on the range of the bear and now he visits our homes and neighborhoods more and more frequently as the years go by.

In reality Bear has much more positive symbolism. To study Bear’s solitary nature is to find the true strength of Bear medicine. To many cultures the Bear was the guardian to the dream time or otherworld.

It was through the caves that spirituality and the higher self was sought. To go deep within the earth mother one had to risk meeting the bear in her den. The ferocious mother guards the dream time with the same ferocity she guards her cubs. It takes courage and strength to carry Bear’s Totem to the East.

Those with Bear Totem would do well to remember the deep sleep Bear enters in the cave or hibernation chamber. Although she doesn’t truly “hibernate” Bear slows her body systems down, slowly living on the large reserves of fat she stored up during her constant foraging. Bear slumbers contendedly when her fat reserves are amble and not only sustain her by giving nourishment, combined with her heavy pelt they help protect her from winter’s cold. Those who carry Bear Totem would do well to remember that one must rest and care for the body in order to carry Bear medicine. For, without caring for the inner and outer self, how can one use one’s strength to best help others?

Bear is recognized as a nurturing creative spirit. The phrase “licked into shape” often used in conversation refers to Bear’s creativity. It was once thought that the female bear gave birth to shapeless blobs during the winter months. Throughout the warming days following the Winter Solstice she would begin to mold the blobs into shape with her tongue. By the time the warmth of the sun and the growling in her belly causes Bear to leave her den she has molded her cub(s) with her tongue – thus licking them into shape.

Bear calls us to the higher levels of ourselves. With her primal spirit and power Bear speaks strongly of sovereignty. Bear relies heavily on her instincts in her travels. Bear may have a wide range that she calls her, but she knows her range and the residents thereof. Bear doesn’t second guess her inner voice. Bear doesn’t stop and debate the outcome. Bear listens to the voice of her instincts, knowing it speaks not only of her experience, but that of her kind back through the eons of time. Her Ancestral memory does not let her forget that at one time she walked the earth as one of the Supreme Beings.

Bear is cautious. When she brings her cubs to the river to teach them to fish she knows other bears will be fishing too. She approaches and watches for a moment to see where best to position herself and her cubs. Only after she has assured their safety and attention does she take her place to scoop the wise salmon from its spawning run. It is from its link with the Salmon that Bear receives her association with bountifulness and knowledge in the Celtic traditions.

Bear is associated with the North. The constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor point this out clearly to any who can see the Big Dipper and Little Dipper in the northern night sky. The Bear points the way to the Pole Star so that all may find the way back to their own den. This symbology also gives those that carry Bear as their Totem the knowledge that even though going within for a time may require letting go of self, there is always a path home. Bear points the way, all you need do is follow.Thought to be due to its perchance for selecting caves to enjoy their winter sleep in relative comfort, the Bear is associated with the seasons of Spring and Summer. They have long thought to hold the awakening of the Power of the Unconscious. Because of their ability to literally sleep the cold days away, Bear is considered the keeper of dreams, unconscious thought, and the connection to a higher power. By her very nature Bear encourages us to go within the Cave of the Self so that She may lead us back to the light – only after we have learned about the inner self.

Bear also teaches us about the joy and fun in life. Whether it’s the Polar Bear cubs enjoying a fun slide down the side of an ice ridge, or a pair of black bear cubs wrestling in the warm afternoon sun, Bear knows how to experience the joy of life.

Across cultures and through the eons of time man and Bear have walked together. Many traditions revere and venerate Bear and her primitive force and power.

However, there are some cultures that view Bear as a glutton, greedy beyond measure. Vengeful, cruel and mean rounded out some of the negative qualities of Bear that were focused on by Christian and Islamic traditions. Still Bear walks strong and tall in today’s literature. From “Great Alaskan Bear Tales” to news stories about them, Bear has shown how strong her medicine is. She knows when it is time to withdraw from the world and sleep. She is awakened when her reserves run out and the warmth of spring begins to tint the air. She guards the cave that is the entrance to the dream time. She is primal power and force. She is speed and efficiency and strength. She protects those whom she chooses for she demands much for you to walk with her.

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