A Bear Crossed My Path Today


A golden bear in my collection of bear symbols.

“There comes a time in your life when the life you have been living is over and you have no clue who you are becoming.”~ Marion Woodman

“Bears are magical woodland creatures, linked to ancient healings, spiritual power, intuitive sight, and harmony in nature. Throughout history and mythical folklore, bears play a vital role in the larger link between humans and the collective world in which we live. The appearance of a bear in your life can help you learn deep spiritual lessons, or open up to a new primal part of yourself. So, what does it mean if you have a bear encounter? And what is their deeper spiritual or symbolic meaning?” ~Rose Putnam, https://crystalclearintuition.com/bear-meaning/

This morning I was in my favorite rocking chair on the porch of our cabin in the Smoky Mountains. My breakfast smoothie was on the table beside me and Joy Harjo’s new memoir, Poet Warrior, was in my lap. The air was cool and fresh. A gentle breeze played with my hair and tickled my face as I read. At page 165 I caught a dark flicker of movement out of the corner of my left eye. I lifted my head and there, maybe 25 yards away, a huge black bear was casually strolling along the driveway directly in front of me.

“If you see a bear or have synchronistic sightings of bears (as visions, dreams, or in imagery), there may be a deeper spiritual message that is being communicated to you. Bears have been linked to ancestral teachers or shamanic healers, so a bear showing up in your life may not be a coincidence. After all, bears teach us that everything around is all connected.” ~Rose Putnam

Page 165 is in the midst of a section of the book about Harjo’s many synchronistic experiences with snakes in her dreams and waking life. She sees these animal visitations as messages about what we can learn “from the underneath of human consciousness”. So do I.

I began collecting images of bears around 32 years ago when I was studying Jungian psychology and writing my first book The Bridge to Wholeness. Chapter 13 is called “Following the Golden Bear”. It’s about trusting the guidance of my spiritual and instinctual inclinations instead of staying stuck in convention.

Bear encounters are common in this area of the Smokies and our cabin is filled with images of them. Just last year I dreamed of a black bear walking on our cabin porch where his mate joined him. But the closest I’ve come to an encounter with a live black bear on our property was a Nest camera photograph taken at 1:00 in the morning of a bear walking up our porch steps to raid the bird feeders. Fortunately, Izzy was with me and her fierce, booming bark scared it away.

“In spiritual language, the house or the yard is associated with your physical space, survival energy, and your root/1st chakra…Similarly to the energy of a house, the energy of a bear is linked to this primal, 1st/root chakra energy center. There is a very mothering, nurturing, and protective energy that a bear has…So, if you see a bear near your house or in your yard, the spiritual messages relate to the energy in your survival center and primal energetic force…It is a positive sign of protection, and that the area which you have created is a sacred space. Bears are sensitive to the space around the home and do not venture where they sense danger or imbalanced primal energy…A bear near the home could be an answer to deeper spiritual questions that you are seeking. If you are feeling stuck, stagnant, or wish to live in alignment with a deeper spiritual purpose, a bear near your home may be guiding you towards your next steps.” ~Rose Putnam

I want to live in alignment with my spiritual purpose and I’ve asked for help from a Jungian analyst. Earlier this week we had an emotionally intense session about traumatic childhood wounds that still influence my outer and inner life. Allowing my fear, betrayal, and loss to rise to the surface was painful. But the insight and emotional relief I experienced afterwards, combined with today’s synchronistic visit from a bear, make it well worth it. I believe this mysterious bear’s message was that bringing my survival center into balance is the right direction for me.

“Hibernation is an important part of the bear’s sensitivity and adaptability to cycles of the seasons, the physical body, and the earth. Many people who connect with the energy of the bear cycle between seasons of reclusiveness and introspection, and seasons of native growth, exploration, and action. A bear may show up in your life to teach about honoring these cycles and to learn to flow with them instead of resisting them. This may be a season for you to rest, meditate, and learn about yourself. Do not feel bad if you have to set a project aside to let this period of introspection incubate seeds that have been planted.” ~Rose Putnam

I’ve understood that honoring this cycle is necessary. I’ve experienced times like this before and they’ve always been restorative.  But intellect, theories, and producing have not healed my inner child’s fear and false guilt. Worst of all, my connection to Spirit has weakened.

My photo of a black bear raiding a bird feeder in Highlands, NC.

At our first session, my analyst told me that our work would be about connecting my mind with my emotions. Today I feel my primal energy strengthening and my spirit soaring. Following bear and Jungian psychology have been the right choices for me.

Paper and E-book versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. The Wilbur Award-winning Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.


Join 5,846 other subscribers


6 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie, I’m so late in responding to your lovely post. Such synchronicity and affirmation of your current path.

    Over two weeks ago my dear friend in Johannesburg sent me a birthday greeting plus a card image, which was of a bear. I thought this was rather strange … I asked her about it, she responded.

    Then a few days later there was a post by Mr. Purrington (Carl Jung DepthPsychology) about much, and further on about bear’s paw and other … Nicholas von Flue.
    I’ve got this article ready to send you, but it is with other correspondence between myself and my friend Susan Ingle in Johannesburg. Just so’s there no confusion I call her Gan, short for Ganesh, and I am called Jaap by her. Terms of endearment. A history to each of these names. No-one else uses them.

    There was further correspondence more recently … I will send that about the bear ..

    And, I’ve just had a peek at The Book of Symbols: Taschen page 272 ‘…believed to be shapeless lumps of flesh until their mothers “licked them into shape,” so creating order out of chaos.” ..much else besides.

    How wonderful to have your analyst walk alongside you Jeanie. It makes me think and feel that I would love such …

    With Love, Susan

    1. Dear Susan,

      And I’m so late in answering your comment. I’ve neglected social media while my son and his family are here for a visit.

      So you’re receiving messages from Bear too. And the synchronicities between us keep coming.

      Thank you for the article you sent by email. My familiarity with the symbolism of Bear comes largely from mythology, the native cultures of North America, and symbol books like Tashen’s. I didn’t know bear claws had so much spiritual significance in the early years of Christianity.

      In the 90’s we went on a camping and tracking expedition in New Mexico. We camped in Chaco Canyon and learned how to track animals and make fire in Bandelier National Monument. Both are sacred spaces to the native peoples. At the end of that amazing experience we returned to Albuquerque to enjoy the American Indian Arts Festival which showcased the work of native artists. I bought a hand-woven rug with bears on it that lives here in our mountain home.

      Then I saw a beautiful silver cuff bracelet set with gemstones, including cerrillos turquoise and red wulfenite. Among the stones was a bear claw. I was torn between my powerful attraction to it and my sadness at the death of the bear it once belonged to. In the end, I purchased it, hoping the bear died a natural death, and praying that my purchase would not encourage the killing of more bears. In my mind I thanked the bear, promised to respect its sacrifice, and asked for its blessing.

      I wore it a few times after that, but eventually my guilt won out and it has sat in a drawer for over 20 years. I still feel guilty about wearing it, and about the bearskin rug a young couple gifted us with after we let them stay at our cabin for their honeymoon. They had bought it on a trip to Canada and after seeing our home and my love for bears they wanted us to have it. We accepted the gift, and it is on a wall in our family room here at the cabin. I did a ritual blessing for it with sage and prayers, but I still feel guilty about it too. It reminds me of the needless slaughter of so many animals at the hands of humans. We are the only predators these magnificent animals have. The guilt I feel is not just for me and the bears. It’s also for my species.

      Is this legitimate guilt, or false guilt? I don’t know. I do know that the law of survival demands that life eats life. Even vegetarians eat the life of plants. But what about killing animals for sport and profit? Or out of a need to feel proud and powerful?

      I didn’t know I’d be sharing this when I started this comment. I guess I just needed to get it out.

      Thank you for your affirming comments here, sweet friend. Be well.

      Love and blessings, Jeanie

  2. Thanks for your lovely reply Jeanie. I think of the lovely stones I’ve picked up in the past when hiking and I’ve felt conflicted about that afterwards. Removing them from where they’ve always been to somewhere new, my own home/s. Would I pick up a pansy shell on the beach? They’re as rare as hen’s teeth but I reckon I would, because it has no life anymore. I would give thanks and promise to care for it. I pick up a few stones and shells on the beach – a few. Thank you for sharing your conflicts about the bracelet with the bear’s claw and rug – Love, Susan

  3. I’m a stone and shell collector too. I tend to forget where most of them come from but I have one small round gray stone with a white ring around the middle of it that I picked up while walking from the train to Jung’s tower in Bollingen, Switzerland that I’ll never forget. As you know, Jung saw the circle as a symbol of the Self! It’s very meaningful to me. Jeanie

  4. So interesting about bears, hibernating and relating it to getting “down time “ as I call it.

    1. I think so too! I’m drawn to certain symbols and images that appear in my dreams and waking life. I enjoy finding out what they, especially animals, have symbolized to humanity throughout history in various cultures. There are so many levels of meaning in recurring symbols and when we look deeper into ourselves and what’s meaningful to us we are lead closer to our intuition, imagination, and our true selves and what’s really important to us. Thinking this way has taken me on an exciting inner adventure! Thanks for writing, Donna. Love, Jeanie

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts