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A Complete Guide to Bear Meaning & Symbolism

A Complete Guide to Bear Meaning & SymbolismUpdated on May 7, 2021 | Published on November 30, 2020
Reviewed by Nathalie Carden, Spiritual Healer

Bear Meaning

“Bears are not companions of men, but children of god …”

— Charles Muir

Bear meaning has a good deal of importance in many cultures. In different countries, the bear animal symbolism has varied significance. The spirit bear was invoked in ancient times by warriors before they would go for a battle. In many cultures, bears are considered to have healing properties.

Bear meaning


Each spirit animal holds a message for us. The bear spirit animal has several meanings and is considered a powerful totem.

The bear spirit animal has the following meanings: 

  • The spirit of the bear urges you to heal from within. It’s time to stand and clear your past wounds and grudges.
  • The bear represents standing up against adverse situations in life. The bear teaches you to take charge of your life. 
  • This spirit animal provides you with the strength and power to thrive in life.
  • Bear medicine points out the importance of spending time alone. Pay attention to your health. Don’t deplete your physical strength. Take adequate rest.

Bear Characteristics


• Bears belong to the family Ursidae of the mammalian class.

• Currently, Russia, USA and Canada hold the largest bear populations in the world.

• The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) loves devouring fish and human foods if they can manage those. Mostly, the bears eat roots, grasses, insects, berries etc. Bears love catching salmon from the rivers. They would feed as much as they can through summer and fall because they would have to hibernate all through winter.

• Bears are highly intelligent mammals. Each of them is said to have unique personalities.

• They often share friendship and kinship. 

• Bears have social hierarchies.

• The mama bears are protective in nature, affectionate, caring and watchful towards their young ones.

• Bears can communicate through sounds, smell and body languages.

• Though bears are huge animals, they are peaceful and empathetic.

• Bears have great vision and hearing abilities.

• You won’t believe this but bears are fast runners. A bear can run at a speed of 60 km per hour or even faster!

• Their color and weight can differ depending on the species and also the habitat.

• According to a report by National Geographic, bears have eight distinct species. “Asiatic black bears (also called moon bears), brown bears (which include grizzly bears), giant pandas, North American black bears, polar bears, sloth bears, spectacled bears (also called Andean bears), and sun bears.”

A Complete Guide to Bear Meaning & Symbolism
A Complete Guide to Bear Meaning & Symbolism

Spirit bear


The white Kermode bear is a subspecies of the American black bear. It is also called the spirit bear. The spirit bear is prevalent in the Central and North Coast of British Columbia, in Princess Royal Island and Gribbell Island. To the Kitasoo and Xai’xais tribes, the spirit bear is an important animal. They believe spirit bears remind us to stay grateful for all that we have.

The spirit bear is a guide that urges you to be courageous. It is one of the oldest worshipped spirit animals. The bear spirit animal represents the fighting spirit of mankind. In ancient times the bear spirit was worshipped to help the warriors in the war.

Also, the bear spirit animal can symbolize deep healing at the physical, mental or spiritual level. The bear lives alone. So, the bear spirit animal calls you to stay comfortable in your own company. It urges you to stay happy in your own space. The spirit bear is a symbol of power, strength, harmony and balance.

Bear Totem


If the bear is your totem animal you have natural leadership ability. Bear people are helpful and come to rescue others at times of need. The bear totem is healing and restorative, so you might want to become a doctor. You are a giver and protector, therefore be careful to take care of your health.

Otherwise, you might feel drained. Bear people have awfully bad tempers. When the bear is your spirit animal totem, try to think before reacting. Modify the way you speak. Don’t be rash like an aggressive bear.

Bear Power Animal


You can call the Bear Power Animal in times of your need for protection. It acts as a guide to empower you when you feel lost. The Bear Power Animal will assist you in finding balance in difficult situations. It tells you to keep standing tall.

Bear spirit animal


The bear spirit animal urges you to stay courageous in the face of hardships. Stay grounded. Face your challenge with force and strength. If the bear is your spirit animal it is your strong protector. It exists in your awareness and enables healing of your body, mind and spirit. The bear spirit animal insists you to listen to your inner voice. What is it that your heart wants? Spend time alone, reflect on it and find your path. Then stay true to it and live your life honorably and with joy.  

White spirit bear 


The White fur of Spirit Bear symbolizes peace, purity, strength, endurance and determination. It signifies fearlessness in your pursuits and confidence to achieve anything you desire. The white coat denotes strength and power.

Black bear spirit animal 


The Black Bear spirit animal encourages you to set clear boundaries. Do not compromise under stressful conditions. You can get what you want. Hold your dreams. Spend some time alone to reflect on your life and get new ideas. Be gentle and take time for emotional healing. You will get all your answers within.

Bear symbolism


The bear was considered with huge respect by many tribes in Europe and America. Bear symbolism urges you to let go of your limiting ideas and explore new opportunities. You must hold courage and stay calm to delve deep inside your heart.

The spirit guide indicates you to find your true path and follow it without hesitation or worries. Just like bears, go for a deep and long sleep. You do need to go on a deep journey of meditation and self-reflection.  

Black bear symbolism

The Black Bear symbolizes solitude and self-reflection. If a black bear cub visits you it represents connecting with children and to protect them from fears or any harm.

Brown bear symbolism

It is said that Brown Bear brings balance and integrity. Brown bears urge us to build harmonious relationships with others.

Grizzly bear symbolism

The Grizzly Bear symbolizes over sensitivity. It is alright to be emotional but overreacting is not good. So, the Grizzly Bear signifies that you might be touchy and overreacting in life.

Kermode bear symbolism

The Kermode or Spirit Bear symbolizes wholeness of nature. We are part of the same environment. The Spirit Bear denotes protection of nature. It advises us to protect our planet because we are all part of it and we need each other.

Polar bear symbolism

The Polar Bear signifies strength and courage. It wants you to stand in front of adversities and face those boldly. This spirit animal acts as a reminder that you can succeed even in the most challenging environment.  

Panda Bear symbolism

The Panda Bear symbolizes gratitude. It encourages you to focus on all the good things in your life. Fill your heart with gratitude and good things will start happening in your life. When you are grateful, opportunities will fall on your lap and amazing people will be drawn towards you.

What does a bear symbolize in different cultures?

Native Americans

The bear was considered to have magical powers and healing energy by the Native American tribes. Bear claws were used in necklaces and amulets for protection and good luck. The tribes respected the bear spirit and worshipped it in rituals. The Native American Bear was a symbol of strength, wisdom and courage.

Nordic Mythology

They believed bears to be the warriors of the god Odin. The bear animal was symbolic of a spirit guide that when invoked can make a person extremely courageous.

Russian Folklore

There is a Russian fairytale in which a man tries to kill a mother bear and her cubs. He is punished when his head turns into a great bear head and shunned by other humans. Then he learns the lesson and from a proud hunter, he becomes a humble person.

Scottish Fairy Tales

In the Scottish tales, there is a story of a young woman who married a prince who was turned into a bear. Finally, she saves him from the magical spell and brings him back to human form after many trials and challenges.

Asian Folktales

In the fables of Jataka, the bear animal symbol has been depicted as a greedy animal that cannot resist its appetites and urges. In some Asian folktales, there are strange instances of women being kidnapped by bears out of lust!

Bear As a Celtic Symbol

The Celtics invoked the bear goddess, Artio for protection. To the Celtics, the bear was a symbol of power, courage and strength. The warriors called the bear spirit before going to wars to bless them with courage and success.

Christianity

The bear has been represented in a negative light in Christian symbolism. It has been described as a cruel animal causing death and destruction. The bear is sometimes presented as an example of wickedness.

Eastern

The Bear Animal Totem had a spiritual as well as medicinal value in Chinese culture. So, they hunted the bears to collect its gallbladder and other parts for preparing medicines.

In Korean Mythology, the bear symbolism is that of a mother. They believed that a bear was once transformed into a woman and her son formed the first Korean empire.

The Ainu tribe of Japan has a bear deity that they consider as a supreme divine ruler. The bear was thought to offer its skin and fur to people. So that when a bear was eaten the bear spirit would be freed from its physical form and go back to the spirit realm.

African

The Africans considered bears as a ferocious animal. The bear spirit animal has negative symbolism. It is believed to be an evil animal spirit that causes harm. The natives thought that the bear originated from the union between a hyena and the devil.

Native American Folklore

They considered the bear spirit animal as a protector of humans and guardian of the forests. In Native American fables, the bears would speak with humans and assisted or warned them in times of need.

Does seeing a Bear indicate that love is coming in your way?


The Bear spirit animal will appear in your life when you identify and appreciate the sweetness available in life. If your heart is filled with gratitude and you are open to love, the bear animal totem can be a signal that love is coming in your life.

The Bear spirit animal comes at that point when you require healing and self-evaluation. Keep your heart open and keep reflecting on your life. Give some time to yourself and pay attention to your inner voice. This is your time to take care of yourself and to heal. As you practice this self-care routine, love will unexpectedly stumble on your way.


Bear dream meaning


You don’t dream about bears every day but when you do, it can be that the bear spirit animal guide is giving you a message. Here are some bear dream interpretations for you.

Usually, dreams about bears are quite lucky ones. It predicts future success and good luck. If you watch a peaceful bear in your dreams it suggests your inner calm and self-reliance.

But if you see bears fighting in your dream it indicates that you have rage about something in life. Or maybe it points out your quick temper.

If you see a resting bear in your dream it points out that you need to do self-reflection or maybe you are already going through that phase.

Killing a bear in a dream indicates your mental strength. You can overcome challenges with ease.

If you dream about a bear cub with the mama bear, it could mean you are protective towards your children or kids in general. 

If you watch a circus bear in your dream it indicates the arrival of a fun-loving and honest person in your life.

A dancing bear indicates that you need to be more confident in real life. A path will be shown to you. Just follow it with courage and determination.

When you see baby bears in a dream it simply means you need more clarity in life. You have childlike innocence and you need to be more practical in life.

If you see a mother bear protecting her cub it signifies you have strong protection in your life.

If you set bear traps in a dream, it indicates you are excited about an upcoming project. However, if you are the bear in your dream and get caught in a bear trap, it could signify failure in your project. It would be wise for you to think clearly before starting a new project or venture.

In your dream, if you see yourself hugging a bear it reflects your friendly nature. You have the natural ability to stay joyous and positive-minded even in tough situations.

When you dream about a bear inside your house it indicates you have an influential female in your life. It could be your mother, wife, sister or friend. 

If you see a bear chasing you in your dream it acts as a dream symbol that you are trying to run away from your struggles and pains.

When a bear attacks you in your dream it shows that you have pent up anger about something or someone that you release on others.

If you dream about fighting with bears it indicates that you might have to face injustice and struggle in the near future.

In your dream, if you see a dead bear it might indicate that you have to create your life alone. In a way, it’s great because you get to build your life in your terms. But, it is sorrowful as well. Because you will not have a lot of friends and supporters in life with whom you can share your joy. 

If you see a bear standing up, it is an indicator that you must defend your beliefs. 

When a bear is talking to you in a dream it is a sign that you will receive some good advice from someone. Stay aware and pay attention to the suggestions you receive from others.

For more types of bear dreams & to know their meanings, click here.

Bear tattoo meaning


The bear tattoo can hold different meanings to the wearer. If you want to don a bear tattoo it would reflect your belief about it. Usually, bear tattoos have the following meanings:

  • Courage
  • Protection
  • Strength
  • Confidence
  • Power
  • Motherhood
  • Spirituality
  • Deep connection with nature
  • Bravery
  • Comeback after failure
  • ’Never say die’ attitude

If you are looking for ideas we are giving you some information about the bear tattoos.

1. The Black Bear and Grizzly Bear Tattoos

Grizzlies and black bears are linked to portray your fighting spirit. If you are physically or mentally a strong person who never gives up, any of these bear tattoos are perfect for you! The Black Bear and Grizzly Bear tattoos reflect your power and courage.

2. Bear Claw and Bear Paw Tattoos

These tattoo designs could speak about your unique taste. The claw and paw tattoos of bears represent good luck, power and stability.

3. Tribal Bear Tattoos

These designs reflect spirituality and a deep connection with nature.

4. Teddy Bear Tattoos

These designs are symbolic to love, innocence, gentleness and affection.

5. Polar Bear Tattoos

The Polar Bear tattoos have cultural and spiritual symbolism. It reflects protection, care and love.

6. Koala Bear Tattoos

A Koala bear although a wild animal is friendly in nature and its tattoos signify care, protection and wisdom.

7. California Bear Tattoos

The California Bear symbol was used in the California Republic flag. This tattoo design depicts independence and honor.

8. Cartoon Bear Tattoos

The cartoon bear tattoos are based on childhood nostalgia. You can wear a Yogi Bear, Gummy Bear or the cute Winnie the Pooh as a sweet memory of your childhood days.

Video on Bear Spirit Animal

Watch this video on Bear Symbolism & Meaning 

Closing Thoughts

The bear animal has been worshipped throughout time in many cultures. Bear symbolism is that of courage, perseverance and deep self-reflection. The bear spirit animal is considered as a powerful symbol by many and is often worn as tattoos. Whether the bear is your spirit animal or not, this piece can give you some insights and a good deal of enjoyment!