What It Really Means When You Dream About Bears

If you are a hiker or camper and often have to consider how to keep your food and supplies (and self) safe from bears, then dreaming about bears could simply be a reflection of your anxieties and experiences of your everyday life, much like a student dreaming about failing a test. After all, bears are such a real safety concern for hikers in many parts of the United States that the National Parks Service dedicates an entire webpage to warning hikers to stay safe. If your mind is full of advice like "make noise when hiking," "travel in a group," "know which bears live in the region you're in," "never leave food in your tent," etc., it's no wonder bears may pop up in your dreams. 

But what if you aren't a person who has to consider bear encounters in their daily life, yet you still find yourself dreaming about these massive, majestic animals? Barbara Condron, author of twenty-four dream-related books, including "The Dreamer's Dictionary," tells Huffington Post that when dreaming of animals, we should consider which habits of our own those animals and their tendencies represent. Bears, for instance, since they exist in the wild, may represent habits or traits of an "untamed" part of ourselves. 

What kind of bear did you see in your dream?

Different bears display different characteristics and traits, so the type of bear you saw in your dream could be significant when trying to hash out a meaning. A Black Bear is often associated with introspection and intuition (via Spirit Animals). This could be a message that it's time to delve deeply into your own heart and inner being to find your path. It could also mean that if you have been having intuitive feelings about the path you should take, just like a Black Bear in the woods, you have the power and the right to follow your path, knowing your heart knows the way. 

If you saw a Grizzly Bear, which is a famously territorial and reactionary animal, it could indicate that you are overreacting to a perceived threat. It's healthy to be protective of yourself, your loved ones, and your own space, but it may be a good idea to assess the situation and determine if you are reacting appropriately. If you see a Brown Bear, which represents harmony, balance, and integrity in the physical world, it could be a sign that you need to get out into nature to ground yourself, or it could mean you have a calling toward conservation or protection of nature. To see bear cubs could mean you feel the need to protect, nurture, or establish a better connection with the children in your life, or with your own inner child.    

Was the bear hibernating?

Unlike people and unlike many other types of animals, bears hibernate during the winter months. According to Shamans Way, this hibernation, or "great sleep," represents the departure from the earthly realm into the spirit realm. During their long rest, they become "greater in spirit" and "lesser in body," as they literally lose a great deal of their body weight during the months of not eating. This weight loss can be seen as metaphorical, as the shedding of worldly "weight" to achieve a higher spiritual perspective. After the months curled up safely in the earth, the bear emerges refreshed into the joyful season of Spring, renewed. It is like a literal rebirth from the spirit world, through Mother Earth, and back into the physical world. 

To dream of a hibernating bear could mean you yourself are experiencing this type of transformation. Perhaps you have been "dormant" in one way or another for some time now, resting for a long period, and are ready to re-emerge into your new life with more wisdom and renewed energy and faith. Perhaps it is a sign that you need to allow rest so that you can take the time and space to connect with your higher self, with nature, and to let those connections heal and inspire you toward a rebirth.  

Is the bear uncontrolled or threatening in your dream?

To dream of a bear and to feel frightened by it, or to witness a bear behaving in a wild, unpredictable, uncontrollable manner could be more about yourself or your own behavior than about anything else (via Huffington Post). Have you recently had a "bear of a day?" Sometimes just that word association can go a long way in our subconscious into creating tangible imagery in our dreams. Have you recently behaved in a way that felt uncontrolled, raging, animalistic, or otherwise out of character? 

"A bear figuring prominently in your dream will indicate a compulsive way of thinking, speaking or acting that probably contributed to a 'bear of a day,'" dream expert Barbara Condron tells the publication. "Dream messages are like conversations ... They are feedback on the dreamer's previous day's experience," she explains. When asked how someone could prevent dreaming about bears if these dreams frighten them, she replied, "It's best to receive the message your subconscious mind offers." 

In other words, if the bear in your dream is upsetting or frightening you, it is probably a loud sign from your subconscious that something in your own behavior needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.  

Fighting bears in your dreams

If you see two bears fighting one another, Barbara Condron tells Huffington Post that this denotes an inner conflict. Two of your habits are battling one another, or perhaps you feel at a crossroads, and your intuition feels split over the decision about which to take. This could be a good time to assess whether there is a habit that is no longer serving you or that is keeping you from heading down your chosen path with full energy. It could be anything from an addiction to cigarettes to an unhealthy relationship you can't seem to let go of. If you are having trouble making a decision between two potential paths, this could be a good time to do some meditation, journaling, or other inner work to help you get in touch with your intuition. 

If you dream that you are fighting a bear, the meaning is altogether different. If you win a fight against a bear in your dream, or if you kill a threatening bear in your dream, it is a sign that you have or are in the process of overcoming whatever obstacles or fears stand in your way (via Angel Number). You have the strength and the conviction to push beyond any barriers and anything holding you back. Your power is at full strength. 

The powerfully positive meanings of a bear in a dream

Going all the way back to ancient cultures and teachings, bears have been powerful symbols. Many Native American tribes have revered bears for countless centuries (via World Birds). It has been a symbol of strength and wisdom in many tribes, and the bear as a spirit animal has been used in many sacred ceremonies. During China's Han Dynasty, the bear was seen as a divine and honorable creature, and it was believed that the use of a bear totem could help a person reach higher levels of spiritual perspective and enlightenment. Korean culture views bears as maternal symbols, and a Korean myth states that a bear turned into a woman and birthed the son who would go on to create the first Korean kingdom. 

Interestingly, this idea of a bear as a powerful maternal symbol spans many cultures. Here in the United States, we will often call someone a "mama bear" when they are highly protective of their children. Why is this? While all bears are highly protective of and attentive to their cubs, some breeds of bear are downright vicious in the defense of their young (via Bear.org). In fact, 70 percent of deadly Grizzly Bear attacks are mother bears protecting their cubs. No wonder we say "don't mess with a mama bear." 

If you're dreaming about bears, it might be a good idea to consider the culture you come from and any of these associations you might hold.