Bear Totems Explained

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Black Bear Totem

Black Bear
altrendo nature / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: discernment, reclusive, patience, spiritual awakening

Reclusive and withdrawn in nature, black bears tend to keep themselves in isolation. Black bears are also excellent climbers. All bears climb tress, but because the black bear is smaller he can climb to higher branches without the burden of extra weight. Black bear teaches the importance of unburdening yourself in order to attain higher knowledge.

Ted Andrews, author of Animal Speak, says "Anyone with a bear totem should keep the cub in themselves alive and occasionally climb trees—if only to get a clear perspective." Black bears are very playful and as a totem they teach us to stay connected to the child within.

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Grizzly Bear Totem

Grizzly Bears on Yellowstone Road

Corbis / Getty Images 

Meanings and Messages: heightened awareness, sweetness of life, reclusive nature

I know I’m being visited by bear whenever my hermit tendencies kick in and decide to pull back on socializing with others. Also, whenever I’m easily agitated or realize that I’m being a grump, it is a sign that my bear claws definitely need to be retracted. Bear needs to get adequate sleep… or slow down and enjoy life more. Bears love honey and will teach you to appreciate the sweetness life offers if you allow them.

The grizzly is possibly the bear best known for its fierceness. When it stands on its back haunches, its sheer presence and the shadow it casts can be quite alarming. Grizzly teaches the importance of taking a stand and commanding power. Bears in general have a heightened sense of awareness, but becauseof its large size the grizzly as a totem represents an especially keen sense of knowing. Grizzly has a reclusive nature, pulling back from activities that drain its energy. Grizzly gives himself a season to recoup. When grizzly appears you may need to ask yourself if you are involved in activities that are draining your life force. It may be time to pull back and slow down for a few months. The grizzly bear is the spirit keeper of the western direction or water quadrant of the Native American medicine wheel.

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Panda Bear Totem

Panda Bear Totem
Tom Breakfield / Getty Images

Messages and Meanings: solitude, fertility issues, adaptability

Pandas are cute and cuddly in appearance yet they are very strong. Keep this in mind when making judgments based on first appearances. The contrasting coloring of black and white on a Panda's fur is representative of differences in cultures. Black and white also are depicted in yin yang symbols indicating the importance of balance between masculine and feminine energies. When panda surfaces, it is good to work on balancing anything that is off kilter in your life.

The panda as a totem also represents diplomacy because of the history of China gifting Giant Pandas as diplomatic gifts to other countries. The panda's appearance is quite exotic, so anyone with a panda animal totem is likely interested in the exploration of unfamiliar lands and cultures different from their own.

As agile tree climbers, the panda as a totem has a unique ability to tap into higher knowledge. Panda medicine is a wonderful teacher for soul development.

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Polar Bear Totem

Polar Bear
Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Getty Images

Meanings and Messages: fearlessness, aggressive, provider, powerful

Polar bears are known for their fearlessness and aggressiveness. Polar bears are good hunters and strong swimmers. Humans are their only predator. Because Polar bears are so high up on the food chain it is understandable why they are so fearless. When polar appears you will want to evaluate your fears by looking at the things that make you reactive or act out. Or, you may need to strengthen areas of personal weakness.

The polar bear is a good provider for their family, so anyone with polar bear as their totem bears the honorable responsibility to provide for others. It is right for the strongest to care for the weakest. Polar bear totem asks that any aggressive behaviors you display are for defensive purposes and not meant to bully.