Besides meditation, I did more mundane kinds of research on the habits of bears and the folklore surrounding them. I also looked up the meaning of “bear” (which means “brown”, but has a fascinating history — I’ll post on it at some point soon) and words related to it. I realized that the name Orson means “little bear”. The name Acadia goes back to the Greek region of Arcadia, which means “land of the bear”. Ali herself had gone to Ursinus College, “Bear College”. The name of Arthur, the king revered by most of the revival druids (especially in Britain), is probably related to the Welsh word for bear…
Cave of the Bear
And the next time I meditated, a saw the bear in its real form. It was there among the rocks, on the other side of the stream, a brown bear, on all fours and looking in the water, dragging its paw in the stream, fishing. Then there was a flash of silver and a splash, and the bear had a fish in its mouth. It lay down like a dog, holding the fish on the ground between its paws, and began to eat. After a moment, as I continued to watch, the bear looked up at me. I was a little afraid, but not too much. Although the bear was clearly strong and powerful, there was something in its gaze that welcomed me as a respected equal.
I crossed the stream and the bear approached.
There is a word — it comes from Latin facere, “to make”; more specifically the nominal form, facticius, “handmade thing, craft”. It descended into Portuguese as feitiço, and came to refer specifically to handmade charms and talismans crafted by the inhabitants of the Guinea coast of Africa, frequently visited (and ravaged) by Portuguese sailors in the 1500’s. It was borrowed into French, and then English.
(The use of “fetish” in the psychological / sexual sense comes from the idea that a fetish is something “irrationally revered”.)
Maine is known for its fascination with the Moose, and Bar Harbor has moose everywhere — on signs, on posters, flashing in neon (I kid you not), on t-shirts and postcards and…
But what I kept seeing were the bears. There were no bears on signs (neon or otherwise), but they were everywhere else. Particularly in the shops. Particularly in this one shop…
Early in the spring of 2010, when I was having considerable trouble with both my health and my finances, I tried meditating to get a message about what the root of my problems were. I often have difficulty meditating on these topics, perhaps because I am so “close” to them — I feel like I may have some serious blocks or false ideas or strong attachments that prevent me from getting a clear signal. When I talk to Apollo or my anima about these things, I often get silence, or cryptic answers that make no sense.
My spirit guides tend to be very, very polite. They’ll rarely smack me over the head with a message; they’ll usually wait until I ask explicitly for help or direction with something. And sometimes they’re evasive or silent even then — especially if they know I won’t like what they have to say. But if they have something important to communicate, and I’m not tuned in, they’ll coyly slip me hints and synchronicities until I finally wake up and get the message.
The Bear, it turns out, is one of those. She has been dropping me hints and signs for twenty years, and I’ve never picked up on it — until last month.
While vacationing in Acadia, Maine, I recently found myself strongly drawn to carvings and pictures of bears in the shops and on signs and so forth. And once, while hiking, I thought I heard a bear (they have a distinctive shuffle). I meditated on this, and began to remember the many times in my life when I had dreamed of bears, or encountered them while hiking. And when I did a visualization meditation in which I invited the bear to meet with me, it helped tremendously to resolve some issues with protection and financial security.
The Bear is known the world over as a symbol of protection, self-sufficiency, rebirth, the sun, and the abundance of the earth. During the winter, the mother bear retreats into hibernation, and at that time she gives birth to her cubs; little wonder that she is associated with the sun. She makes her dwelling in the Earth, and therefore has a special knowledge and intimacy with it. Tales the world over speak of bears turning into humans and vice versa: the whole Korean nation, for example, is supposed to have descended from a she-bear who made herself human by eating 21 cloves of garlic and retreating into a cave for a month. The bear is associated with protection not just because of her size and power, but because of her well-known fierceness when guarding her children — a necessary fierceness, because a father bear will sometimes kill his own cubs if their mother does not protect them.
I created this meditation based on my own recent experiences. In it, I guide you through a visualization of a landscape of forested mountains, rushing streams, and brilliant starry nights: the natural home of the bear.