There are eight bear species in the world, native to every continent except Antarctica, Australia and Africa. This means that bear symbolism differs around the world and different cultures have strong connections to different species. A bear is naturally powerful, playful, protective and wise.
They are majestic creatures that symbolize various things in superstition and spirituality. As a spirit animal, bears represent a time to be brave and stand your ground. They are protectors that help you face adversity and heal afterwards. But they can also appear as warning signs, especially in dreams. In this article, we will explore the diverse symbolism of bears, including their meaning in dreams, as totem animals, in folklore, and more.
What does a bear symbolize?
The bear symbolism appears in relation to dreams, spirituality, mythology, superstitions and as a representation of different cultures and places. Also, encountering a bear can have different meanings depending on the species of bear. Read on to learn about these symbols and more.
dreams about bears
Seeing a bear in your dreams symbolizes positive or negative messages depending on what is happening in your dreams. Because bears are generally fearless, they can represent the strength and blessings to subconsciously overcome any fears you may have. A bear in your dream can indicate that you need to listen to your intuition and be aware of your surroundings.
However, if the bear does the following in your dream, the message could be a warning about something:
- Bear attacks you: stands for pent-up anger that attacks you internally. The bear indicates your aggression that needs to be vented.
- Bear Chasing You: symbolizes that you are trying to run away from problems in your life and you need to stand your ground.
- A bear standing on hind legs: indicates it is time to defend yourself and stand up against something that is happening in your life.
- Bear walking: and unconcerned about you is a warning that competition or rivalry may enter your life in work or love.
- Hibernating Bear: Indicates that you need to rest, go away and make time to be alone.
If you see a mother bear in your dream, it means that she probably has cubs around. Bears are fierce protectors against their cubs and the dream can be an indicator of how to protect your children. It may also mean that you need more patience when dealing with your children.
Visits from or encounters with different species of bears
It is true that in the wild, a bear that is too close can be a sign of potential danger and you need to be careful. However, the sight of a bear is also symbolic of courage, strength, self-confidence and leadership in your life.
A safe encounter with a bear can be very powerful. Additionally, different species of bears symbolize different things based on the bear species' unique needs and survival adaptations. Here are different meanings depending on what kind of bear you encounter.
Brown bear symbolism
Brown bears indicate that you need to assert yourself even when problems appear out of nowhere. They are also a reminder to find balance, care for the environment and create harmony in everything you do.
Black bear symbolism
black bearsremind us to be resourceful much like they resourcefully live off the land. These bears can also smell honey stores from miles away, suggesting you may benefit from healing with aromatherapy.
Symbolism of the Grizzly bear
A grizzly bear represents that you are confident in facing your deepest fears. They are also a symbol of abundance as they are known for their great fishing skills. These fiercepredatorscan be a good omen for fishermen.
Symbolism of the Panda Bear
ThatPanda berrystands for patience and the balance of yin-yang energies. They remind you to rely on reflection and inner wisdom to solve your problems instead of choosing to fight.
Polar bear symbolism
Polar bears are associated with ice, water, and the ability to hide from view in their surroundings. Their symbolism represents the inner ability to survive and thrive in harsh conditions. You also need to be more flexible in adapting to your environment or situation.
Female bear symbolism
Female bears represent fearless protection, whether protecting others or feeling protected. If you see a bear with cubs and you are a parent, it means your children may need protection or your help with something.
Superstitions and folklore about bears
The Sami, a Norse culture, believed that bears could move between the spiritual and material worlds. They had the superstition that after killing a bear, they had to perform complex rituals to appease its spirit. This allowed them to hunt bears, eat them, and wear their pelts without any ill effects from the spirits.
In the Celtic tradition, the bear is a symbol in various folklore. For example, the goddess of wildlife, Artio, has been known to take the form of a bear. Hunters will call on their spirit to guide them to success and safety.
Celtic warriors also saw the bear as a friend, helping them survive battles and act at the right moment. A bear spirit guide generally symbolized power and strength, including the power of God.
Anglo-Saxon stories also viewed bears as the kings of the animal kingdom. They believed that kings descended from bears. Folklore experts believe that King Arthur's name was inspired by the god Mercurius Artaius, who was most likely a bear god. Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon hero, could also be named after a bear. Its name means "bee wolf" or a bear that attacks bees for their honey.
Bears are also important in Asian cultures, particularly the giant panda, which is considered China's national treasure. The Chinese also believe that bears are an important part of feng shui.
They believe that placing a bear figurine in the house, especially at the front entrance, will help protect the house and the people who live in it. Placing a bear in the children's room will help parents give birth to healthy and strong cubs.
Spiritual meaning of bears
Spiritually, bears have been associated with gods, the devil, and symbols of protectors. For example, the indigenous Ainu people of the coast of Japan, who call bears “kamuy”, which translates to “god”. While the Ainu regard various animals as gods, they believe that bears are the king of all gods. Their beliefs include gods taking on the appearance of bears when visiting the world.
In the Bible, bears have both positive and negative symbolism. In 1 Samuel 17:34 bears are seen as symbols of the devil or evil. They threaten the flock that represents the parishioners.
In contrast, Jesus and God symbolize the shepherds protecting the flock. In the Bible, however, bears are sometimes portrayed as fierce protectors. For example, Hushai says at 2 Samuel 17:8, “You know your father and his men, that they are strong men and fierce, like a she-bear robbed of her cubs in the field.”
In 2 Kings 2:23-24, a group of youth mocks God's Word by mocking one of His prophets. God sends 2 female bears to maul them and teach them a lesson, making the bears an extension of God's will.
spirit animals, power animals and totems
A bear standing as your spirit animal indicates that it is time for you to be bold. They provide strength and security so you can remain grounded and steadfast no matter the adversity you face.
After the hardships are over, the bear will stay to heal you physically, mentally and spiritually. Bears are fearless protectors and as power animals, they can help your courage to take root. Another symbolism of a bear as a spirit animal is that you may need some alone time in your "cave" to examine yourself and listen to your heart.
Bears as power animals offer protection and traction. Their bowlegs help them balance and grab branches, allowing you to “get a grip” with their energy and confidently find balance in any situation.
Bears also support physical and emotional insight to help you be more in tune with your instincts. They will allow you to discover and strengthen skills that you may have underestimated in yourself.
People with the bear as their totem animal appreciate the sweetness of life and embrace the humorous and playful qualities similar to a bear. You have a natural ability and confidence in taking on leadership or protective roles, helping others when they need you.
Bears also have an empowering aspect that lends itself well to careers in medicine. Note, however, that people with bear totems have hot tempers. Try not to attack unnecessarily or without reason.
Native American bear symbolism
Native Americans saw bears as symbols of powerful medicine and special powers in healing, strength, and wisdom. Bears have a strong connection with the shaman or medicine man of some tribes.
Several tribes, such as the Zuni, wear or wear bear charms for good luck and to keep the power of the bear spirit within them. Tribes like the Algonquian, Huron, Hopi, Chippewa, and Creek have bear clans. There are also tribes that perform a bear dance to strengthen warriors and provide protection from a hunt.
To the Cherokee, black bears are important spiritual guides and animals that help them survive. For example, they would use bear claws in sacred ceremonies or as warrior charms. They also used the bears
- hides and skins for the manufacture of clothing and bedding
- fat for oil
- Bones for jewelry and tools
- meat to eat
The constellations Ursa Minor and Ursa Major are also known as Ursa Minor and Ursa Major. In Greek mythology, these constellations became an inspiration for the story of Callisto.
Callisto was a nymph, daughter of King Lycaon and companion of the hunter goddess Artemis. However, Callisto was thrown out of the group of nymphs by Artemis when Zeus tricked her and got her pregnant. Callisto bore a son Arcas.
Hera, the wife of Zeus, became angry at her husband's infidelity, blamed Callisto and turned her into a bear. Years after the transformation, Arcas encountered a bear in the forest who didn't know it was his mother and wanted to kill her. Deciding to right his wrongs, Zeus intervened and transformed Arcas and Callisto into the constellations Little Bear and Great Bear.
A bear tattoo can resemble power or nurturing. It can be armor you wear against the aggression around you. Typically, the bear tattoo brings out the strength of the animal on a man. For women, however, the bear can symbolize maternal protection and unconditional love, just as a bear goes the distance for its cubs.
Bear tattoos or teddy bear tattoos can also be very cute. This indicates a lovable and calm person. But it's also like the calm before the storm, because bears can turn into attackers when threatened. Panda bear tattoos are also used to symbolize good luck, harmony and balance.
The bear represents many places
There are countries, states and cities that have chosen the bear as their geographical symbol. These include Russia, the state of California and the city of Bern in Switzerland. The meaning of the bear as a representative of each place is different.
In California, the grizzly bearthe state animalin 1953 and is clearly depicted on the state flag. Grizzly bears used to roam free in California—they were powerful and held their own when defending against settlers.
Not giving up their territory without a fight, a group of settlers attempting to break away from Mexico in 1846 used the grizzly as a symbol on their flag. This rebel flag eventually became the basis for the California state flag.
Do bears bring luck?
If you are not careful when encountering a bear in the wild, you can definitely be unlucky in this experience. Bears can be impulsive and protective of their cubs, making them dangerous attackers.
However, among certain Native American tribes, bears are a symbol of great good fortune. For example, the Zunis created bear totems to offer protection and good luck. They also believed that killing a mother bear meant bad luck for the hunter.
Bears are also considered to have supernatural powers, fierce protective abilities, and represent abundance. For example, a tribe that successfully finds and hunts a bear could feed the entire village and provide clothing and materials.
In more general terms, dreaming about a bear can mean good luck. In particular, if you dream of seeing a happy dancing bear, it means that good luck will come into your life. Bears can also represent teachers, giving you a message on how to handle a situation successfully.
Bears are powerful animals that represent a protective yet nurturing energy due to their ability to defend their territory and their cubs. Bears have different meanings in dreams, folklore, superstitions and cultures.
The symbolism of bears in dreams can be positive and can be a sign of good luck or a warning that you need to assert yourself or retreat into solitude. There is also duality in the spiritual depiction of the bear in the Bible, where it is associated with both evil and protectors.
Since everything depends on how a bear enters your life physically or spiritually, knowing the different symbolisms of bears will help you understand what messages they bring.
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What is the spiritual meaning of a bear in a dream? ›
“Subconsciously, there's a bear in your dream to represent some situation … in your life that is very difficult to bear, or someone [who] is unbearable,” Loewenberg explains.What does an bear mean on a totem pole? ›
The Native Bear Symbol represents strength, family, vitality courage and health. The bear is thoughtful and independent, with little need for fellowship. The bear is also self-contained and strong-willed in nature.What does the bear symbolize in Native American culture? ›
Bears are symbols of wisdom: often featured as guardians, teachers, leaders, and healers in Native origin stories, myths, and legends. Known for their ability to keep fighting, even when they are wounded, bears are closely tied to healing and medicine. Many believed that bears were able to heal their own wounds.What God represents bears? ›
The bear god Artaois is linked to the warrior-king, Arthur. With his legendary strength and fighting prowess, Arthur's name and emblem both represent this animal. The Gaelic for bear is mathan.What does the bear symbolize in Navajo culture? ›
Bears are believed to be spiritual guides and represent strength and self-knowledge. The Navajo also believe that bears have supernatural powers, including great healing powers. The bear is a symbol of deliberate action, introspection, soul searching, and insight. In addition, the bear is the guardian of the West.What element does a bear represent? ›
The Element of Earth serves Brown Bear well because it gives them the stability they crave and the common sense to know how to get things done efficiently.What does the bear symbolize in Cherokee culture? ›
To the Cherokees, the bear represented the division between people and animals, and bears were descended from people. Long ago, according to a Cherokee legend, all the Cherokees in a certain town decided to live in the forest with the animals, so that they would always have enough to eat.What does a bear symbolize in Celtic? ›
For the Celts, “bear” was synonymous with “warrior.” The name of the greatest Celtic king, Arthur, shares the same root as the name for bear—“artos”—meaning “bearlike.” This warrior-bear attribute was not restricted to the male; in the kingdom of the Gauls, there was a ferocious warrior-queen called Artio.Are bears sacred animals? ›
Bears were the most worshipped animals of Ancient Slavs. During pagan times, it was associated with the god Volos, the patron of domestic animals. Eastern Slavic folklore describes the bear as a totem personifying a male: father, husband, or a fiancé.What does a bear mean in Hebrew? ›
דוב (dov) bear (noun)
What do bears symbolize in Greek mythology? ›
In the myths of Ancient Greece, bears were considered an attribute of certain deities. One of these was Artemis, the goddess protector of animals and hunting, who is represented as a bear together with her priestesses, sometimes known as “little she-bears”.What is the name of the spirit bear? ›
The Kermode bear, sometimes called the spirit bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), is a subspecies of the American black bear and lives in the Central and North Coast regions of British Columbia, Canada.What is bear in Blackfoot? ›
|kiááyo / pa'ksikoyi||bear|
|Sinopa / máóhkataatoyi||fox|
|áwatoyi||white tail deer|
I think you are asking about the bear mentioned in Old Testament prophecy in Daniel 7:5. The bear Daniel saw in a vision rising out of the sea represented the ancient Medes and Persians joining forces to defeat Babylon.What did Native Americans believe about bears? ›
Bears are symbols of strength and wisdom to many Native Americans, and are often associated with healing and medicine (since bears continue fighting after being seriously injured, Native Americans often believed they were capable of healing their wounds.)What is the Cherokee spirit animal? ›
The Red-tailed Hawk is said to be a protector spirit of the Cherokees and is therefore considered sacred. Tail feathers were and are used ceremonially.What does the bear represent in Ojibwe? ›
The bear represents COURAGE because of its strength and natural ability to overcome challenges. A mother bear will stand against a much larger, stronger male bear or other animals to protect her cubs.What does a bear mean in Norse? ›
The Norse, much like the Sámi, considered bears sacred animals with powerful spirits. Thus, a polar bear was an impressive and potent Yuletide gift to Viking kings and chieftains in pre-Christian Scandinavia and Finland.What is bear in Nordic? ›
It is the Icelandic and Swedish (Björn) and Danish, Norwegian and Faroese (Bjørn) word for a bear.
We often see bears intimately associated with Norse mythical heroes. One such is the story of a man named Bjorn (which simply means bear). He was the son of a king in a district of Norway, and was cursed to become a bear during the daytime. Bjorn's lover is Bera (which means she-bear, bear-sow).
What is bear energy? ›
Bear Energy Services is a Nationwide Water Transfer Company dedicated to providing your business with qualified and certified labor. Bear Energy Services began operations in 2014; since inception, we've made safety a priority.What does it mean when you dream about a brown bear? ›
An angry brown bear in your dreams can signify the threat of jealous people in your life. These are the people who think ill of you and don't want you to prosper in your life. This dream is like a message that says that you need to recognize such people, be cautious, and stay away from them.What are the symbols on a totem pole? ›
A totem pole typically features symbolic and stylized human, animal, and supernatural forms. Totem poles are primarily visual representations of kinship, depicting family crests and clan membership.What does a bear logo represent? ›
Bears are symbolic for courage, leadership and great physical strength. They are used to convey a feeling of positivity and prosperity, because in the native traditions, bears were regarded as a good omen.
There are seven principal kinds of totem poles: memorial, or heraldic, poles, erected when a house changes hands to commemorate the past owner and to identify the present one; grave markers (tombstones); house posts, which support the roof; portal poles, which have a hole through which a person enters the house; ...What is the meaning of spiritual animals? ›
In certain spiritual traditions or cultures, spirit animal refers to a spirit which helps guide or protect a person on a journey and whose characteristics that person shares or embodies. It is also metaphor, often humorous, for someone or something a person relates to or admires.What are the personality traits of a bear? ›
Bears are not mean or malicious; they are very gentle and tolerant animals. Mother bears are affectionate, protective, devoted, strict, sensitive and attentive with their young. Not unlike people, bears can be empathetic, fearful, joyful, playful, social and even altruistic.