To the Ancients, the Bear symbolized Resurrection. The creature goes to sleep for a long time, its heartbeat decreases to almost nothing. The bear is associated with many Huntress goddesses: Artemis and Diana and Greece and Rome, the Muerte and Hecoteptl, mud women deities handed down through the Latin cultures. These Goddesses bestowed upon women the power of tracking, knowing, “digging out” the psychic aspects of all things. To the Japanese the bear is a symbol of loyalty, wisdom, and strength. And Northern Japan where the Ainu Tribe lives, the bear is one who can talk to God directly and bring messages back for humans. The crescent moon bear is considered a sacred being, one who was given the white mark on his throat by the Buddhist goddess Kuan Yin, whose emblem is the Crescent Moon. Kuan Yin is the goddess of deep compassion and the bear is her emissary.
In the psyche, the bear can be understood as the ability to regulate one's life, especially ones feeling life. Bearish power is the ability to move in Cycles, be fully alert, or quiet down into a hibernative sleep that renews one's energy for the next cycle. The bear image teaches that it is possible to maintain a kind of pressure gauge for one's emotional life, and most especially one that can be fierce and generous at the same time. One can be reticent and valuable. One can protect one's territory, make one's boundaries clear, shake the sky if needed, yet be available, accessible, engendering all at the same time.
~Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes Ph.D.
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