Bear symbolism represents strength, protection, and family. The bear is a patient and playful creature with significance depending on the culture and the type of bear in question. 


What Does a Bear Symbolize? 


Since bears are strong and powerful animals, bears symbolize strength. This strength is to forage for food, hunt, and fish, dig their dens, and climb trees. Bears remind you to use your strength and power, which you might not realize you have.

Protection and Courage

Bears are extremely protective of their young. Therefore, bears symbolize protection. A bear reminds you to protect the ones you love.

In addition, bears remind you to protect your convictions, ideals, and vision for the future. This includes protecting your personal space.


Since bears will exercise patience as they spend hours searching for food, bears symbolize patience. Bears remind us to be patient and to have tenacity in order to achieve a goal or to have tenacity.

Playfulness and Curiosity

Bears are highly intelligent, and this means that bears possess an innate curiosity. It’s in a bear’s nature to be curious and playful; bears symbolize playfulness and curiosity.

Types of Bear Symbolism

Black Bear

Black bears symbolize being resourceful or living off the land. They travel through the mountains. This kind of bear is also symbolic of playfulness, adventurous spirit, curiosity, child-like amusement, and new experiences.  

Brown Bear

A brown bear is thought to symbolize and mean standing your ground and appearing out of nowhere. Brown bears also symbolize the Alps as they roam the mountain range.

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly bears are considered to symbolize facing your deepest fears, bravery, protection, strength, an open heart, guardianship, and more. This kind of bear is a pro with its fishing abilities, making the bear a powerful totem for creating abundance and bountiful provisions. 

Kodiak Bear

Kodiak bears represent ferocity as it has the presence of a warrior. It also symbolizes danger since bears can be fierce. 

Koala Bear

While a koala is not technically a bear, it is still part of bear symbolism. It symbolizes nurture, a gentle spirit, and a bond between a mother and her child. 

Polar Bear

A polar bear symbolizes being a survivalist. These bears have a particular affinity for water, ice being hidden in plain sight. In Finnish culture, bears symbolize winter, Yule, and Christmas.

Panda Bear

A panda bear symbolizes the virtue of patience. In addition, it is a balancer of yin and yang energies. 

Sun Bear

A sun bear is symbolic of caution, foresight, and wisdom. It also symbolizes medicine and observation.

Teddy Bear

A teddy bear is a symbol of love and affection. Many children will sleep or carry a teddy bear with them. 

Bear Cub

A bear cub symbolizes being strongly protected and fiercely loved. This is because a mama Bear protects and defends its cub, giving the cub confidence and courage. 

Mama Bear

A mama bear is thought to be symbolic of knowing your strength well and being fiercely protective. A mama bear will do anything to protect her cubs. She will continue to give rebirth to the legend of the Great Spirit Bear whenever a cub is born to her. 

Sleeping Bear

A sleeping bear is representative of a sleeping giant. When one disturbs the sleeping giants, the bear’s protective instincts take over and unleash its ferocity. Rather than waking up the sleeping giant, it’s important to let the bear sleep. 

Bear Symbolism and Spiritual Meanings in Different Cultures

Native American

In Native American culture, bears were highly revered. The bear represents medicine, as well as wisdom, strength, and healing.

The bear is one of the most dedicated fighters, and they continue to fight despite having an injury. Additionally, bears also mean nobility and wisdom. 

Anglo-Saxon Folklore

Bears can be seen in several ancient Celtic and Anglo-Saxon stories. In Celtic culture, Artio is the bear goddess. She represents wildlife, transformation, and abundance.

Nordic Mythology 

In Nordic mythology, bears, or berserkers, were thought to be warriors who would go into battle dressed in bear skins. They thought of bears as their protectors.

Finnish Meaning

In Finland, bears are revered. Ancient Finns held the belief that bears would reincarnate through pregnant women. 

Russian Folklore

In Russian folklore, one tale tells the story of a man’s punishment after trying to kill a mother bear and her cubs. As a punishment, the man transforms into a bear, and then the humans shun him.


In the Hindu faith, if you see a bear in your dream, it means that you will have happiness and peace throughout your life, as well as obtain gainful employment. If you have a vision of a bear eating, this is thought to symbolize that money and prosperity are right around the corner.

Slavic Culture and Folklore

Ancient Slavs were known to worship bears as bears were associated with the god Volos. Volos was thought to be the patron of domesticated animals. While Slavs revered bears, they would also kill and eat them.


In African lore, bears are something to be fearful of. One tale from East Africa includes the legend of the Nandi Bear.

The bear is menacing toward people and threatens livestock. This creature is larger than a typical bear.

Greek and Roman Mythology

Bears are symbolic of the consequences of primal urges, as well as the protective dynamic between a mother and her child. This comes from the story of Callisto.

The story of Callisto tells the story of a woman who becomes pregnant after a seduction by Artemis or Zeus after he transforms himself. Hera, the goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth, sought revenge and turned Callisto into a bear.


In the Islamic faith, bears are dangerous and stupid. If you see a bear in your dreams, this often implies something bad. For example, if you see a bear sitting, it means that you have insulted someone.

Japanese Culture

To the Ainu people of Japan, an Indigenous group, bears were viewed as the king of all gods. The ancient Ainu people believed that when the god would visit Earth, they would take on the form or appearance of bears.

Chinese Culture

In ancient Chinese culture, bears are divine. Bears lived in the caves of a mountain called Bear Mountain, as it was believed that the gods and spirits would play with the bears that inhabited the caves.

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