Hibernation and Polar Bear Totem
Polar bears are hunters and survivors. They thrive in a wintery environment of frozen grounds and water. Polar bears are fearsome protectors of their young and aggressively forage for food in the water, town garbage heaps or wherever they might find nourishment and protection. They fascinate us with their size, power, habits and ability to adapt and survive.
Polar bear wisdom draws from their expertise in swimming, ability to thrive in a stark landscape and their attitude towards others of their kind. Polar bears are able to navigate the Earth’s magnetic line, emotional waters, and finding a way back from the brink of danger. Polar bear wisdom is about solitude and the ability to find sustenance in the most austere places. They communicate through dreams and understand life, rebirth, and transformation. They are good providers and protectors of their families and their wisdom informs defenses and revenge energy.
In the January 2008 Llewellyn Witches Calendar, I wrote, “Polar bears have adapted to a world where the cold is eternal and daytime and nighttime have no meaning. In the Arctic, the summers are 24 hours of light and the winters are 24 hours of dark. Unlike other bears, the polar bear is able to go into hibernation when food is scarce and become active when abundance returns, using what is called “walking hibernation.” They lower their temperature and hibernate as needed, for a few days or longer. Only pregnant polar bears seek the protection of a dean, and they create a two-chambered tunnel in the snow banks where they birth their cubs. Polar bear sleeping habits include naps; they often sleep for short stretches during the day, since their prey is active at night. Napping helps conserve energy which is swiftly expended as they hunt. They sleep during winter storms and they sleep after play.”
My own personal discovery of the polar bear was through shamanic journeywork. In a class, a classmate retrieved a power animal for me which turned out to be my guardian spirit: the polar bear. I had been to the National Zoo the week before and spent a long time at the polar bear habitat. You could walk underground and see them as they swam beneath the water. At the time, I was swimming a lot and I thought, “Polar bear is like me, flabby but graceful underwater!”
Come play with me on the long winters night
Come hunt with me through darkness and light.
Be strong with me in loving protection
Be fierce with me in introspection.
Find the rhythm of life and death
Find the heart of it all, in all its breadth.
Swim in the waters’ depths to transform and restore
Be fluid and tranquil as you change even more!
Come play with me on the long summers day
Let anxiety and worry float far away
Be one with the Universe, in love and grace
You are happiness and power, all in one place.