Tag Archive: bears


Ungnyeo (Bear Woman)

“Bear with Me” by Raventalker

“Ungnyeo’s themes are change, peace, devotion, inspiration and patience. Her symbols are bears, wormwood and garlic. Korean myth recounts the tale of two friends, a bear and a tiger, who wished to be human. To receive this transformation, the two had to stay in a cave eating wormwood and garlic for one hundred days. Unfortunately, the tiger lacked patience, found this too difficult, and left. The bear, however, stayed determined. After one hundred days, she transformed into a beautiful human woman and then bore a son who founded Korea, naming it ‘the land of the morning calm’. This quiet peacefulness and devotion is what Ungnyeo inspires, especially for personal transformation.

In Korean tradition, today is Gaecheonjeol (National Foundation Day), the time when Ungnyeo’s son founded the country.  To commemorate this and strengthen your connection with Ungnyeo, include garlic in your diet today (or, if you’re a really devoted garlic fan, add it to one meal a day for one hundred days)!

Should you need improved tranquillity, try visualizing yourself in a deep cave (this is Bear Woman’s womb). Stay here as long as you wish in your meditations until the quiet solitude saturates your inner self.

Finally, for any personal transformation you need to undertake, carry any image of a bear with you. This will inspire Ungnyeo’s tenacity for success.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Ungnyeo in the Cave” by Charles Alexander Moffat

Ungnyeo was a bear that became a woman. She was featured prominently in the creation myth of the Korean nation.

In the tale, a tiger and a bear (Ungnyeo) lived together in a cave and prayed to the divine king Hwanung to be made human. Hwanung heard their prayers and gave them 20 cloves of garlic, a bundle of mugwort and ordered them to stay out of the sunlight and eat only this food for 100 days. Due to hunger, the tiger left the cave after roughly 20 days, but the bear remained inside. After 21 days, she was transformed into a woman.

Ungnyeo was grateful and made offerings to Hwanung. Her lack of a husband drove her to depression, and she began to pray beneath a sacred betula tree to be blessed with a child. Hwanung heard her prayers and was deeply moved. He took Ungnyeo as his wife and soon after, she gave birth to a son, Dangun, who would go on to found the nation of Korea.” [1]

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia, “Ungnyeo“.

 

Suggested Links:

English.visitkorea.or.kr, “The Legend of Dangun“.

Mythologydictionary.com,Korean Lore, Gods, Demigods, Heroes, Symbols, and Other Famous Mythological Characters“.

Rendezvous-inmyblog.blogspot.com, “The day the heavens opened – Korea’s founding myth“.

Wikipedia, “Hwanung“.

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Bear Woman

“Bear Woman” by Susan Seddon Boulet

“Bear Woman’s themes are health, psychic abilities, fertility, unity, love, kinship, instinct, nature, rebirth and energy. Her symbol is the bear. Among the Native Americans, Bear Woman’s power is intimately intertwined with the earth, protecting its creatures and helping humans in hunting. Because of the way bears interact with cubs, Bear Woman refocuses our attention on the importance of family unity, warmth and love (especially in extended families like that of the tribe).

The Bear Dance was once held in February as bears emerged from their caves to commemorate the Utes‘s common ancestry with bears. Continuing the tradition ensures the tribe’s health as well as ensuring ongoing communication with Spirit on important matters through Bear Woman. To adapt this custom, dress up in a furry coat or fuzzy clothing and imitate a bear. This acts as a form of sympathetic magic that draws Bear Woman’s energy to you and helps you commune with it for positive personal transformation.

Also, stop at a nature of science shop that carries stone carvings and get one today.  Carry it to connect with Bear Woman’s strength, endurance, and other positive attributes that you need in your life.

Dreaming of bears today reveals a bear totem or spirit guide in your life offering guidance, or a special message of help from Bear Woman.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

 

“Bear Woman and the Dream Child” by Susan Seddon Boulet

Stephanie Anderson Ladd tells us that “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 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.” [1]

 

 

I thought I’d share this video of the Bear Dance Ceremony from the Cree Nation of Eastmain, February 2010.

 

 

I also really liked this video.  The song is called “The Bear Dance” and pays tribute to the proud Ute people.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Ladd, Stephanie Anderson. Owl & Crow, “The Bear Goddess“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Rosenn, Eva. Shamanic Healing with Eva Rosenn, “Bear Medicine“.

Support Native American Art, “Native American Animal Symbols – The Bear“.

Venefica, Avia. whats-your-sign.com, “Native American Bear Meaning“.

Goddess Hsi-Ho

“Goddess of the Sun” by Acchi Sanchez

“Hsi-Ho’s themes are spring, harvest, luck, divination, hope and weather.  Her symbols are water buffalos and bears.  Hsi-Ho is the Chinese Mother of the Sun, who stretches out Her son’s golden arms to warm and revitalize both the earth and its people. In Chinese mythology, Hsi-Ho bathes Her child each morning in the eastern-shore lake so he can shine brightly through the day, strengthening hope and discernment. Her sacred animals are the water buffalo and the bear, both of which represent spring.

Li Ch’un literally means ‘spring is here’. What better time to remember Hsi Ho and Her gift of sunlight? Take out a yellow candle, bathe it with a fragrant oil, then light it for a day filled with Hsi Ho’s clarity. Or carry a yellow-colored stone (zircon is ideal) for astuteness.

In China, people light a candle today and thank the star under which they were born. This candle can represent Hsi Ho, mother to the morning star. According to tradition, if you try this and the flame burns brightly, it indicates good luck in the coming months.

Should the flame spark, it portends important news or a visitor. A flame that smoulders or dies out is a negative omen.

Also make note of what the first person you meet today wears. A hat indicates rain, shoes reveal downpours throughout the spring and summer, warm clothing portends a cold year ahead and light clothing foretells warm weather.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Goddess of Fire” by Ronnie Biccard

Hsi-Ho (also known as Xi He) is a Chinese sun goddess. Her title is the Lady of the Ten Suns. She is the mother of these ten suns…one for each day of a ten day cycle. This sun Goddess lived far beyond the horizon of the eastern seas.  As a major figure in the oldest stratum of Chinese mythology, Hsi-Ho controls the time each sun has a turn in lighting the world.

It is said that early each morning, Hsi-Ho goes to the edge of the world in the East where it is said that the Fu-sang tree, a divine plant which represents the  East, the sun, blooms.  Here Her children, the suns, hang from the branches of this huge tree.  Every morning She takes them down and bathes them in the eastern lake, afterwards placing the one whose turn it is into a chariot drawn by dragons  so he can shine brightly throughout the day.  The others then wait their turn on the branches of the tree.

The legend of Hsi-Ho offers evidence of a matriarchal society in early China. It was a time that the mother was the central figure of the family just as the sun is the central figure for life here on earth.  Then, with the advent of patriarchy, the Goddess and women’s matriarchies were overthrown and submerged throughout  the centuries. [1]

“The Fu-Sang Tree” by Leslie Berger

In Chinese mythology, the sun is sometimes symbolized as a three-legged bird, called a Sun-bird. There were ten of these Sun-birds, all of whom are the offspring of Di-Jun, God of the Eastern Heaven. The ten Sun-birds resided in a mulberry tree in the eastern sea; each day one of the Sun-Birds would travel around the world on a carriage, driven by Xihe, the Mother of the Suns.

One day however, the ten suns grew tired of the same old routine and came out together. As one would imagine, this made life on earth unbearable.

Crops failed, people suffered heat stroke, there were fires, etc. Xi He’s husband Di-Jun (Tian Di) was ordered by the Emperor to keep the naughty suns under control, with disastrous consequences for them, but not for us.  Here is their story.

“Long, long ago in ancient China, near the East Sea, there was a magic mulberry called Fu Sang(扶桑) where ten three-legged crows inhabited. The crows, named Sanzu Wu (三足乌), or Jin Wu(金乌) in Chinese mythology, were the supreme god – Tian Di’s(天帝) sons who took turns to show up every day in the sky. When the one roamed in the sky with myriad golden rays, the other nine rested in the tree. And the one on duty was known as the sun, giving warmth and hope to the earth.

One day the ten crows got tired of the routine and broke the rule – they appeared in the sky together, causing a steep rise of temperature. The ground is burnt and plants caught fire. People had nothing to eat and finding water became more and more difficult. Things got even worse when some monsters began to chase and eat people. The whole world was filled with panic and despair.

Seeing this, Tian Di sent Ho Yi (后羿), a brave sharpshooter to kill those monsters as well as punish his indocile children. Tian Di gave Ho Yi a big bow and some magic arrows. With those divine weapons Ho Yi descended to the earth.

Ho-Yi shoots down the ten suns

Immediately he threw himself into the battle. After the death of all the monsters, Ho came to the ten suns who, facing his weapons, showed no sign of fear at all. They continued to abuse their power. Ho bursted into a fury and drew an arrow. With the sound of the bowstring, one sun was shot and fell downward. People on the earth felt less hot and began to cheer. Encouraged by that, Ho went on to shoot. One by one nine of the suns were shot dead, and with the drop in temperature people’s shouts of joy became louder and louder till they were heard by Tian Di. Though his children were disturbing, Tian Di had never meant to have them killed.

So he got angry with Ho Yi and forbad him returning to the heavens. Nevertheless, Tian Di was eventually a sober leader for he ordered the scared sun – the only survival to undertake the mission of delivering light and warmth to the earth. Thus the trouble blew over and the great Ho Yi together with his beautiful wife, Chang E had lived in the mortal world from then on.” [2]

Goddess Artio

"Artio, Goddess of the Chase" by Howard David Johnson

“Artio’s themes are spring, abundance and providence.  Her symbols are bears and fruit.  Artio is a Swiss bear Goddess who awakens in the spring to announce the season and share fruit from Her storehouse. This is the fruit of daily providence and abundance, even as the earth itself will soon show signs of abundant life and fruitfulness. In Celtic tradition, She is also the Goddess of wildlife, and She was likely called on during hunting rituals.

As Artio emerges from Her sleep, the Swiss burn an effigy of winter to literally destroy the cold with fire and light. An easy way to do this yourself is to burn a fruity cookie (carefully) in the oven, then disperse the ashes to the earth.

If you’ve spent a lot of time at home lately, definitely emerge from that ‘cave’, experience life fully and begin preparing the soil of your spirit for spring’s growth-oriented energy.

Put together a fresh fruit salad today and invoke Artio’s providence, saying something like this:

‘Artio, see my needs and bless
bring to me fruitfulness!’

Share the fruit with family and friends to permeate their life with Artio’s abundance. If you want to preserve your resources as well as inspire abundance, use canned fruit instead (which equates with Artio’s stores during hibernation).”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Artio is the Continental Celtic Goddess of fertility and wild animals, especially bears, and in fact that is exactly what Her name means, ‘Bear’.  She is known from a number of inscriptions found in Switzerland, Luxembourg anf Germany and is a Goddess of the harvest and of fertility who, typically, is depicted in bear form. The female bear usually conceives in the autumn and spends Her hibernation time pregnant. Bears are associated with shamanism, as the hibernation period in winter symbolizes the journey into darkness and their emergence in spring with cubs the return to the light bearing the wisdom gained on the journey.” [1]

The Goddess Artio as depicted in the Muri statuette group, presumably in bear and in human form.

Artio is seen above in a statue found now in the Historisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland.  The bronze statue shows a large bear facing a woman, perhaps the Goddess in Her human form, with a small tree behind the bear.  The woman, or Goddess, is carrying a bowl of fruit on Her lap, perhaps feeding the bear.  The sculpture has a large rectangular bronze base, which bears an inscription:

“Deae Artioni / Licinia Sabinilla”
To the Goddess Artio (or Artionis), from Licinia Sabinilla

“Other inscriptions to this Goddess have been found at Daun and Stockstadt in Germany; also in Weilerback in Luxembourg.

"The Bear Goddess" by Sabattier

The Celts ancestors came from what is today Germany, Austria and Switzerland bringing their Gods and Goddess with them. The Helvetii , a celtic tribe who migrated from the area of modern Bavaria to Switzerland worshipped Artio as the ‘She- Bear’. This tribe eventually became a part of the Roman Empire and the Gaul and Roman Gods and Goddess took on each other’s attributes. Some believe that Artio then was absorbed into the Goddess of Diana as the tribes were taken over by the Romans. Both the Roman Goddess Diana and the Greek Goddess Artemis are attributed to bears in myths and may have gained this from the followers of Artio.

"Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt" by violscraper

Throughout all of Celtic Gaul and Britian there have been similar deities that appear in bear form as the Goddess of wildlife. Making this an important part of their spiritual life.

The Celtic tribes sometimes shortened Her name to Art; in Irish, Art meant ‘God’; but its earlier meaning was ‘Bear Goddess.’ Stone figures of bears have been found in many digs of ancient Celtic past; some were found during the restoration of Ireland’s Armagh Cathedral in 1840. Based on the niches found in caves across Europe which hold bones and skulls of bears have been found to be arranged with care; many archaeologist have claimed that the bear is the oldest European deity.

About 6,000 years ago the ancestors of the Celts invented the ‘Old Europe Script’ it is known to be the earliest proto-language. The first ever written sentence reads: ‘The Bear Goddess and the Bird Goddess are the Bear Goddess indeed.’ Dr. Toby Griffin who has been working on the translation of this script believes that this means the Bear Goddess and Bird Goddess have merged into a single deity. This deity later became Celtic Goddess Artio, Roman Goddess Diana and the Greek Goddess Artemis.

Saint Ursula

Some believe She was absorbed into Christianity as The British Saint Ursula (‘Little Female Bear’) a Latinized form of the Saxon ‘Ursel’ meaning (‘She Bear’). Her feast day is October 21 which would follow along with the harvest attribute of Artio.” [2]

Goddess Mielikki

“Mielikki’s themes are change and providence. Her symbols are bears, grain and woodland plants.  The Finnish Goddess of game, hunting and the forest, Mielikki protects our resources during the remaining cold season by keeping the pantry filled. As the Goddess of abundant grain, she also encourages the return of fertility to the earth.

Go into your kitchen and get a small handful of any grain-based cereal. Take this outside and release a pinch of it to the earth, saying something like:
‘Mielikki, see this grain and bless
return to earth in fruitfulness
Hear the prayer that fills my heart
to my home, providence impart.’

Take the remaining pinch back in the house and store it in an airtight container, symbolically preserving your resources.

Tyvendedagen means ‘twentieth day after Christmas’. In Norway, today marks off the official end of the Yule season. It’s celebrated with races, sleigh rides, and the storage of ornaments and by burning the Christmas tree to drive away winter. So, when you dismantle your Yule tree, keep a jar full of its needles handy. Burn these throughout the year to banish frosty feelings or to warm up a chilly relationship. The pine smoke, being from a woodland tree, also draws Mielikki’s attention to any pressing needs you may have.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

In one legend, Mielikki plays the central role in creating the first bear.  Click here to read the story.

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