Most all species of bear are omnivorous. The exceptions are the polar bear, who is almost totally carnivorous, and the giant panda, who exists almost entirely on bamboo.
Bears are typically solitary, except for courting and raising their young. Most bears are active in the day, though some are active at night or at twilight. They have an excellent sense of smell, and are good runners, swimmers and climbers.
Most northern bears stay in caves or burrows for most of the winter (hibernation). During this time their metabolism and heart rate slow down. Their heart rate can drop to just 9 beats per minute. During hibernation they do not eat, drink, or defecate. Unlike most quadrupeds, bears keep most of their weight on their back paws. This enables them to stand on two legs and sit up straight relatively easily. Their tale is short and is really a vestige that serves no current purpose. Their sense of smell is highly developed, even more so than the dog’s sense of smell. It is their primary means of finding food, communicating territory and finding mates.
Myths and Stories
Many prehistoric peoples, especially the fishing and hunting tribes worshiped bears. Here are some examples:
In the Celtic tradition the Primal Mother is the Bear goddess Artio, a fierce protector. The Druids associated the Pole Star of the constellation of the Great Bear, to King Arthur (whose name means Bear). During the Winter Solstice, the darkest night, the Pole Star guides us.
Bear has been a figure in the forefront of many Native American cultures. Beliefs state that the power of the Great Spirit lives through the bear, therefore making them highly sought after guides due to their fearless medicine.
There is a constellation to be named after Bear, Ursus Major, The Great Bear.
Bears have many correspondences. I like to think that they have many qualities that can assist us, depending on what we need. Here are some of the most common:
• Strength and confidence • Standing against adversity; leadership • Healing or using healing abilities to help self or others • The importance of solitude, quiet time, rest • Taking time for introspection and intuition • Strong grounding forces
One of the interesting things about Bear is that it can be associated with male and female qualities, and since it can be active in the day or night, it is associated with the Sun (God) and the Moon (Goddess). The female aspects of Bear have to do with caves and intuition. The male aspects emphasize strength and courage. We can associate the emergence of Spring and new beginnings with coming out the Winter hibernation period. After a time of rest, it is time to reawaken.
Key Words: Confidence, leadership, strength, introspection
Written by Thia