Read Part Two Here:
The Bear Kind Part Three: The Other Totems
Now, let’s take a look at how this general Bear kind template applies to more specific totemic roles:
The Lord Totem
When seated as the Lord totem, the influence of the Bear kind will be felt in an individual’s sense of ideal manhood. This person would feel that the ideal man or father is someone who is independent and who has full ownership of his own power. He would be self-sufficient, resourceful, with his concerns turned inward with a predilection for minding his own business.
Depending on the character of the individual person, the Bear kind would also represent their understanding of either assertive or passive energy. This is the same dualistic energy known as yin and yang or shiva and shakti. Another way to understand this dualistic energy is as assertive and permissive energy.
If seated as the assertive energy, the Bear kind would represent a connection to energy that is solid, sturdy, and well-rooted. If seated as the permissive energy, the Bear kind would represent a connection to energy that is very hands-off, even absent altogether, in the face of adversity.
The Lady Totem
When seated as the Lady totem, the influence of the Bear kind will conversely be felt in an individual’s sense of ideal womanhood. This person would feel that the ideal woman or mother is someone who is independent and who has full ownership of her own power. She would be daunting when driven to anger and would likely be the seat of that person’s personal protective instincts. She would be self-sufficient, resourceful, with her concerns turned inward with a predilection for minding her own business.
As with the Lord totem above, depending on the character of the individual person, the Bear kind would also represent either their understanding of assertive or passive/permissive energy; whichever of the dualistic energies the person ascribed to the Lord totem, the other would fall to their Lady totem.
If seated as the assertive energy, the Bear kind would represent a deeply-rooted power that could be used as a strong protective energy. If seated as the permissive energy, the Bear kind would represent a connection to energy that is hands-off or absent in the face of adversity.
The Earth Totem
The Earth totem represents concerns of the body, comfort, and safety. As the Bear kind carries with it a natural Earth elemental connection, to have a Bear seated as the Earth totem would mean that a person has a very strong, solid, unshakable connection to all that the Earth totem entails: they would be firmly confident and comfortable in their body and in how they look; they would find a comfortable and cozy home all but essential; they might be enthusiastic about cooking and food; etc.
If the Bear totem also carries a Dark association, in an undisciplined mind this could add difficulties with rage or physical violence, or heighten the Bear’s instinct to physically retreat from hardship. In a disciplined mind, Dark energy will add energy to the person’s already solid sense of their own power.
To have the Bear kind in Earth would mean a human with an immovable sense of their physical self, someone with “both feet firmly planted on the ground.”
The Air totem
As the Bear kind carries an Earth association with it, it will always draw Earth elemental energy (which concerns the physical body) into any other totem position it holds. Therefore, seated as Air, the totem of the mind and the intellect, Bear would cause this person to be unable to separate their physical self from their intellectual self.
For example, this person would very much learn by doing, and would be what they used to call a kinesthetic or “hands on” learner, one who must have demonstrations instead of just explanations. But that is not to imply that this person is in any way less academically adept; as an opportunistic omnivore, the Bear kind is exceptionally intelligent, and as such a person holding a Bear in Air would be a natural scientist, preferring to conduct their own experiments, and a natural explorer, preferring to experience it for themselves.
If the Bear totem also carries a Dark association, in an undisciplined mind it could add short-temperedness venturing on violent eruption when something is difficult for the person to understand. In a disciplined mind, mastery of Dark energy will allow a person to consider absolutely all aspects of any question or situation.
To have the Bear kind in Air would mean a human with a healthy, well grounded intelligence.
The Fire Totem
In this instance, the Bear kind’s connection to the Earth elemental energy and the physical body will carry over into their passions and infatuations, which are the domain of the Fire totem. Seated as the Fire totem, Bear would cause this person to be unable to separate their physical self from their passionate self.
When we couple this elemental association with the Bear kind’s general down-to-earth nature, we get a person whose passions and obsessions in life are all but assuredly going to be routed in the physical: they will be passionate about exercise, sports, or dance; about food and drink; about sex; or even about family or community. They will be far less inclined to be passionate about the abstract, about philosophy, fiction, or mathematics, etc.
If the Bear kind totem also carries a Dark association, in an undisciplined mind it could leave a person at risk of their physical obsessions turning to hedonism, pleasure for its own sake without consequence. In a disciplined mind, it could allow for a person to conquer that very weakness, and enjoy things in a healthy way that are traditionally labeled as vices.
To have the Bear kind in Fire would mean a human who is passionate about things rooted in their physical existence.
The Water Totem
The Bear kind’s connection to Earth in this case will unite their physical self with the concerns of the Water totem, which is the emotional self.
So first and foremost, such a person would be all but incapable of having a physical relationship with another person without an emotional attraction, if not a bond. This could even override the influence of the Bear kind as solitary animals, who tend not to form permanent mate bonds.
However, while true that the Bear does not form permanent partnerships, there is an observable trend among many large carnivores in which they engage in what humans would call serial monogamy. A female Bear is likely to mate with a male Bear whose territory borders hers, and as their territories tend to stay the same year after year, that means she is likely to be mating with the same male or males every season. Promiscuity is the vice of many solitary totems, but totems who engage in seasonal serial monogamy can lay the groundwork a human can build upon if they wish for a monogamous relationship.
In this case, with the Bear as the water totem, a person might experience conflicting instincts. But most likely they will simply find they are not attracted to a person unless they have feelings for them, and what they do in regards to a relationship is up to them.
In other areas, the blending of the influences of Earth energy and Water energy might express itself in a person’s other physical needs. For example, they may be unhappy if away from home for too long, or away from their hometown. Or, on the flip side, they may be able to attach their feelings of “home” to their family and loved ones, rather than to a physical place. They may experience physical issues accompanying emotional ones, such as headaches or lethargy to accompany depression or grieving.
Lastly, a person bearing a Bear as the Water totem would be at greatest risk for suffering from Bear’s instinct to retreat to his den as a means to deal with threats. Such a person would need to be mindful of the fact that they may be predisposed to emotionally withdraw from stressful or trying circumstances rather than deal with them in a more productive way. This tendency may be exacerbated if the Bear totem is one of the nocturnal ones, adding a Dark energy connection.
The Light Totem
The Light totem can best be expressed as a person’s ideal self, and it influences a person by example, showing them what they hope to be or wish they were.
If a person has one of the Bear kind seated as the Light totem, this means they would see a Bear-like person as ideal. They would value everything (or most everything) we have discussed about the Bear kind so far: strength, security in one’s sense of self, independence, and the ability to care for one’s self. They would value the loner, someone strong enough to never need others, and capable enough to tackle any problem.
The Bear kind’s connection to the Earth elemental might cause them to value a “down to earth” practical attitude over someone with their “head in the clouds.” They would value the doer over the dreamer, the person with their hands dirty over the person with their nose in a book.
Their value of strength may carry over into Bear’s propensity for violence, in the person idealizing the lone warrior or rogue soldier, especially if the Bear is female and a fierce protector of her young.
Overall, they may idealize someone who knows how to use a hammer and can hold their own in a fight.
The Dark Totem
The Dark totem can best be expressed as the opposite of a person’s ideal self, what they are ashamed or afraid of in themselves. They influence a person by example, showing them what they wish they were not.
If a person has one of the Bear kind seated as the Dark totem, this means they would see a Bear-like person as the worst kind of person to be. They would find fault in everything (or most everything) we have discussed about Bear so far: they would see Bear as brutish, bullish, and violent; they would call him a loner with no friends, a “weirdo” who cannot fit in. They would see a Bear person as someone who is self-centered, who doesn’t bother to look out for others or respect their feelings or their personal space. And all of this would for them describe the very worst kind of person.
Of course, totems are not foreign entities. They are all equally valid parts of us. Therefore, this person would possess these Bear-like instincts and qualities. But they would simply be striving to grow past them, or to otherwise suppress them. Or perhaps indulging in them when the moment allows.
It is important to remember that the goal of a Modern Totemist according to our tradition is to make our peace with all nine of our totems. The Dark totem is not to be hated or even ignored, but respected as a valued part of the whole soul.