The other night, in preparation for the new moon, I was doing yoga when a loud creak sounded on the floorboards just outside my room. Fear flashed through my body, tensing my muscles. I was alone in the house. My first thought was that a giant, hungry bear was walking up the steps leading to my room.
I knew the source of the sound couldn’t possibly be a bear. There are no bears in my neighborhood, and besides, all my windows and doors were locked. It was probably one of my enormous cats.
But the fear lingered. In my mind, I sensed a vast energy that felt like the size, shape, weight, and color of a fully grown, angry black bear. He was walking up the steps leading up to my room, pawing the floor and waiting to leap onto me and rip me apart.
My first instinct was fear, but thanks to a few helpful youtube videos and books lately, I’ve been more aware of fear when it arises.* I’ve been practicing merging my fears with love and acceptance. So when the bear energy stalked into my room, and when I felt the full weight of him attack me, I embraced it.
The bear energy fought me for a second, almost smothering me as he squirmed. I held him in my arms and sent him love. He shrank, until he was the size of a baby bear, and then smaller, and then, he was just a puff of smoke in my empty hands.
In Jungian psychology, whatever is imagined in the mind is real. I wondered what my shaman teacher of the Lakota tradition would say about this encounter. I imagine he’d say that I encountered bear energy and now I’m working with it.
I was uncertain if I could work with bear energy. Bear? Me? Have you seen me? I’m pretty nice, sometimes to the point of letting people walk all over me. People say I have a soft-spoken demeanor. In short, I’m nothing like a bear.
Bears are scary, with gargantuan mouths and huge claws, like a fist full of knives. They’re strong, massive, and tough. They own their weight, space, and territory, no questions asked. They’ve been known to kill people who trespass into their land. Even though I’ve been doing work on reclaiming my energy, time, and power, I never thought I’d encounter personal bear energy.
When I looked up traditional bear totem energy online, I discovered that the bear is a powerful spirit animal dealing with tremendous strength and grounding. Bear energy supports healing and gives courage for people to stand up against adversity. They can be loners, needing a lot of rest and solitude.
I accepted this challenge in my psyche. I can work with this energy, even though it is somewhat foreign. Through my acceptance of my fears, I was able to transmute the energy and move forward. The encounter inspires me to be stronger and hold my ground when I need to.
If you want to heal your fears in a Jungian manner, try externalizing your internal fears. Sense the shape, color, and energy. Then accept it unconditionally. Sometimes our greatest fears become our greatest teachers.
Update: Since I posted this, I had a dream I was a bear, and someone was trespassing in my territory. He was on the ground and I was hunkering over him. One swat of my massive paw made his head fly off his body. While I’m uncertain if that’s even possible, it certainly does seem as though I’m working with bear energy now. 🙂
Update #2: The night after I had the dream, I asked for a sign that I was indeed working with bear energy. I believed my experience, but I’m also working with manifestation and thought it would be a good test. Not only did a bear appear in a tv show that night, but the next morning, I saw a random photo of a black bear on reddit. A couple of days later, I also saw a beautiful post of a woman embracing a bear here.
I’m going to take those messages to heart and thank the universe for providing the signs. And of course, I’ll look into bear energy more.
* Some of the empowering, transformative media I’ve enjoyed lately and recommend include Kyle Cease videos, Candace Van Dell videos, Pema Chodron’s book/audio book Getting Unstuck, Intuition and the Mystical Life, an audiobook by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and Caroline Myss, and The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah.