Bears in dreams can appear in many forms - sweet and cuddly, mean and vicious, wild and unfettered, or they may even appear as puns on their names, as in something that one must "bear." Below are some ideas on the different symbolic meaning different bear varieties may have. See if any work for you.
Jung believed that animals typically symbolized some aspect of the dreamer. To him, the animal was a way of more or less disassociating one's self from certain aspects of the personality. This disassociation did not need to be negative - sometimes the Self keeps the best of Itself secret to keep it safe.
For Jung, domesticated and wild animals represented different aspects of the personality. Wild animals were, for Jung, symbolic of the untamed emotional parts of the psyche. So, the key element in interpreting what emotional part of you is being expressed in a bear dream is to focus on what the bear means to you and how your bear dreams make you feel. Do bears represent power? Danger? Fear? Protection? A fierce maternal nature? Only you can answer these questions.
Grizzly bears are most often associated with wilderness areas such those found in the northwestern parts of North America. They are maybe the most 'quintessential' bears - the bear stereotype that comes to mind when one thinks of "lions and tigers and bears." In waking life, grizzlies are ferocious and unfettered. The females of the species fierce mothers when it comes to protecting their cubs.
If you are dreaming of grizzly bears, think of these attributes or your own personal associations when deciphering your dream. Do you feel that something needs protecting or is there something you are protecting? Do you feel you are in any sort of danger from some powerful force?
Hibernation is an important aspect of bear dreams. Hibernation may symbolize feelings of depression or may indicate a need for rest or may convey a time of healing. Are you feeling a need to withdraw from the world? If so, do you feel the need for isolation because you need some space or because you are so depressed you cannot bear the company of others? Have you been physically, mentally, or emotionally ill and are you in need of some recovery time? Examine your situation and see if you need a break or if you need so help to get back in the game.
Polar bears live at the poles of the earth and are currently in danger of extinction. These attributes may lend to the symbolism of feeling isolated, or taking an extreme position, or they may indicate that one is feeling like something precious is in danger of disappearing. Polar bears may also symbolize the snow and all that snow symbolizes. For more information on snow dreams see this article: Snow
Color and Bears
Never forget that colors are often powerful dream symbols. If a panda bear shows up in your dream, look at the symbolism of the black and white colors that are the panda's hallmark. Black and white in dreams can indicate seeing things from an extremist viewpoint that leaves no room for shades of grey. Alternatively, the dream may indicate that things really are black and white, that the situation is very simple but you are making it complex with too much ambivalence.
Bears in dreams may actually have nothing to do with animals at all. They may actually symbolize something that one is having to "bear" or something one fears "bearing." For instance, the name of the "grizzly bear" contains a wonderful pun and in a situation or something one view as "grisly," something terrifying or grotesquely unpleasant that one feels one must "bear." Panda bears, too, may have a pun component with the name "panda" being synonymous with the prefix "pan." A panda may be standing in for something universal or something of wide reaching scope.
Bear puns may also play with the sound of the word - as in feeling "bare" or exposed. This bareness may be freeing or it may feel like a space of vulnerability. The key to deciding which meaning works for you lies in the emotions that accompany your dream bear.
Until next time, sleep well and dream out loud!
*~Aisling Ireland~* is an ordained Interfaith Minister, available for weddings and commitment ceremonies and a Spiritual Counselor providing dream interpretation and Tarot readings. To make an appointment check out her website at: Sang-Realta Spiritual Counseling