The Native American Bear Woman is protector of Mother Earth and the tribes and clans that walk upon her. Bear Woman is in her cycle of power during spring and summer. She has moved out of her cave with her cubs underfoot, and is foraging for food and water. She is a shapeshifter who moves through the forest with agility and strength, helping us awaken to our potential and reminding us to not let our creative energies lie dormant. Look for what feeds your soul and chow down! Bears care for their cubs for a couple of years until they are old enough to go out on their own, and in this way, they are akin to human mothers whose task is to prepare their children to find their own way and learn their own strength. Bear Woman tends to the unity of the family of man and animals, ensuring their safety and protection.
The Greek moon goddess of the hunt, Artemis (Diana), was also a bear goddess who presided over all of Nature. She was a protector of animals, and had attendants called arktoi, or "bear girls." These maidens behaved like tomboys, wearing bearskins and masks, lived in the wild, untamed and unwashed, protected from men, until they reached puberty and had developed the strength and ability to chose whether to remain virgins in the temple of Artemis or to marry. For Artemis and her acolytes were virgins--whole unto themselves and not defined by the masculine. It was Artemis who transformed one of her nymphs, Callisto, into a bear, who then became the constellation, Ursa Major.
Artemis had strong principles about preserving Mother Earth, in keeping with the Native American Bear Woman. As fierce protectors of women and children and all wildlife, they believed that all sentient beings were deserving of respect and would not allow them to be killed wantonly. Artemis is responsible for the protection of great areas of pristine countryside in Greece even today because of the people's veneration of her and all she stood for. In this way, Artemis and Bear Woman are protectors of the environment and patronesses of conservation.
The Bear Goddess is symbolic of the circle of life, death and rebirth. She reminds us to go within when it is time. The Mama Bear guides and protects us on the journey into the Underworld of the Unconscious, where we ponder our lessons and gather our creative energy until it is time to emerge into our cycle of power once again.
Learn more about the goddesses that represent these cycles: Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, Demeter, the Mother, who like Artemis, ruled over the land, and Hecate, the One Who Knows, by ordering my new SoulWork book, In the Lap of the Goddess: Connecting With the Divine Feminine, available as a download or in printed form to be mailed to your door.
Comment here about your favorite goddess between May 25 - 31 for a chance to win one of four e-book format copies of: The Triple Goddess (3 chapters in one); Kali, the Destroyer; Yemaya, the Creator; and the entire 58-page book, In the Lap of the Goddess. Winners will be randomly selected on June 1.
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