The bear is beautiful animal often related to the north and the winter time; and has been present in many tales and lore throughout history and throughout many cultures. In most tales, we often see it refer to transformation and the unveiling of the true self, such as Brother Grimms’ tale of Snow-White and Red Rose, and the Norwegian tale of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Animal bridegroom narratives can be traced back to 4,000 years, and they often portrayed the relationships between people and the way we needed to adjust to one another’s different worlds through honesty, patience, acceptance and compassion.

To the ancients, the bear symbolized resurrection, and the connection of women to the cycles of the land. In winter, she would go into hibernation and its heartbeat would decreases to almost nothing. Often times the male would impregnate the female right before hibernation, and yet perhaps miraculously, the egg and sperm would not unite immediately. They float and dance separately until the approaching of spring. And then, at the end of her winter’s sleep, they would unite so that her cubs are born in the warmth of spring and she could feed them as she awakens – to provide them with the nurturing, caring and attention that they need to grow healthily.

This is a profound metaphor for our lives and for the importance of knowing how to tune our bodies to the cycles of land, both lands of our inner and outer realm. In relationships too, there are times for quietness, and there are times for intentional initiation. What could be seen as a dry empty phase, would only be followed by spring and the newness of the blossoming – from seeds planted before yet knowing that all needs time to grow with a patience and kindness of rhythm, and with trust in life, and with trust in oneself and the other. It’s a natural unfolding but what is meant for us will never pass us by.

I find the depth of the metaphor to apply beautifully to the way things come together in our life. Dreams shape within and we continue to nurture and nourish them in the landscapes of our heart. And even when time passes and nothing has shaped physically yet, to come into our loving hands, this doesn’t mean it will not happen – for it is on its way towards us. Keep your actions aligned to your intentions, and keep pouring in your efforts with trust and patience.

We also need to protect our dreams because they are vulnerable in their gentle beginnings of shaping. Make sure you do not share them with all people, because the way they will react or respond may affect you deeper than you realize. Do others doubt you and your dreams, or do they encourage you? Do they support and believe in you? Protect and nurture your heart’s wishes like the way you’d protect and nurture a little child.

The bear reminds us that we need to keep our bodies strong, eat healthily, drink plenty of water, and get a good night’s rest. Sleep is really important for our overall health, and our body recharges and rejuvenates. And – sleep is also a creative aphrodisiac, so we may find many beautiful ideas come more easily to us after a good night’s sleep.

Keeping grounded is really important for our dreams to come true also, and the bear reminds us of this with her symbolism of her path walking between both the spiritual realm and the physical realm. The bear connects to the spiritual body, and the hidden realms, and yet she is very grounded with a strong body, because we cannot possibly walk well in those beyond the veil realms if we are not grounded. Even if in winter nature walks may be a bit more difficult to do, it is important to move your body as much as possible – go to a gym, do some exercises at home, and still go outside for walks; it can be quite beautiful and serene and refreshing to get the cooler air wash us and cleanse us, and perhaps take some nice photos in the snow! Make it a curious adventure! There is so much beauty to be found everywhere always.

In the psyche, the bear often symbolizes our own ability to navigate through our emotional wildlands, and to regulate our own feeling life. The bear power is in the ability to move in cycles, be fully alert and aware, and when needed to quiet down into a hibernative sleep – the higher purpose of which is to renew our energy for the next cycle and phase of life. It also offers us insight on the ability to be both/and: both patient and initiative, both generous and fierce, both tender and resilient, both kind and protective. We make our boundaries known clearly, we protect our territories, and we shake the skies when we need to; yet we remain fair, compassionate and accessible at all times.

Our intimate relationships go through their own phases also. It is often said that within one marriage exist few different marriages; as after every significant phase, we need to re-learn and re-discover one another. Even in our every day we need to listen and pay attention, and learn the way we need to be kissed, held, and cared for, not in the way we always were, but in the way we need to right now. No matter how long we’ve lived together under the same roof, our inner worlds change and we can’t assume we’ll always know everything about the other person. There will always be parts of them that will remain wild and unknown, just like we too will have something new to discover within ourselves, something that will remain a secret to others. We can approach our relationships like art, discovering new angles and shades, and paying attention to each other, rather than take each other for granted. Life making is like love making is like art making.

Follow the wisdom of the bear, trust your inner wildlands, paths and phases. There are clocks beyond the hands of our human clocks. Unstrikeable, unclockable by us. There, in the cosmic fabrics, time has its own timing. No matter how many straight and direct concrete roads we build, the real paths of life are often full of twists and turns, and we’ll never know it all. The humility of this deserves to be treasured.

There is time for quietness, there is time playfulness, there is time for passivity and there is time for passions. There is purpose always to it all. Life breathes through us, moves like waves, ebbs and flows, expands and contracts like the breathing in our chest. God himself breathes through each of our emotions, and experiences himself in a way he could not have otherwise. It is purposeful. And like the moon, we too wax and wane in all our emotions and physical bodies as women; and like the moon too, the waning will always still be held by its waxing, by something yet to blossom in its beauty in spring, even when we can’t yet see it. There is fullness, there is wholeness, there is beauty. Then, now, always.

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Cover art: Bear with lute-family instrument by anonymous painter 723-743 A.D., Country: Jordan, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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