For Native people, the Bear Warrior was the epitome of bravery and courage. The mark of the bear’s claw on the shield or the horse of a warrior was one to be feared, and yet respected.
Bear Medicine is also associated with the ability to heal. Bear Medicine is known in virtually all cultures within the bear’s range.
The bear is known in many cultures as a great healer, since it seeks out plants for its own healing. North American brown bears and Kodiak bears are known to dig up Ligusticum porteri(also known as “Bear Root”) and chew on it and then rub it on their fur. The plant is known to have antibiotic properties, be good for stomachaches, and repels insects. Alaskan brown bears are known to chew on sedge to rid themselves of tapeworm and parasites before hibernating. The common names of many other plants reflect their usage by bears, such as bearberry, bear’s paw, bear tongue, and bear clover.
As an animal that disappears in winter to reappear only in spring, the bear is also the symbol of renewal, rebirth, and the regaining of health. The ancient Greeks associated Artemis, goddess of plants and regeneration, with the bear; indeed, before marriage young Greek girls were secluded and called arktoi, or “she-bears” (interestingly, a menstruating Ojibwa woman was called Mako-wii, “bear woman”).
Bear is also a species known for its strong maternal ties. The she-bear was worshipped by the Celts as the bear goddess Artio. And of course, Zeus changed Callisto into Ursa Major, the “Great She-Bear” of the sky.
Bear medicine is powerful medicine, bringing healing, renewal, and rebirth. This is the gift that Grandmother Bear brings those who live in bear country.
One of the greatest Mysteries of the Bear is the most remarkable fact that all the ancient people of the North Pole refer to the same seven north pole stars as the ‘Stars of the Bear’ which is held to be an impossibility, since the “experts” tell us that these ancient people had no contact with each other.
In honor of the Bear Warriors of the Past and Present and Bear Medicine everywhere…