Last month, we wrote about Zuni fetishes and their representation of spiritual powers. North, South, East, West, above, and below are each associated with a special animal and color and assist the Zuni people during different periods of their lives. The Bear, associated with the Western direction as well as the color blue, provides strength, healing, and wisdom, especially during times of transition and depression.
Winter hibernation is a period of introspection for the bear, a time of deep thought and mental preparation. Human beings occasionally undergo transitional periods in life that require the same level of deep inner thought and contemplation. The bear fetish symbolizes the immense power of all beings to adapt to change over time, like a bear in hibernation. These qualities help to resolve self-conflicts as well as conflicts among members of the tribe. They allow us to accept the comfort of solitude during periods of depression only to later emerge into the sunlight as a bear at the opening of his cave.
The hibernating bear also symbolizes the ability of every living creature to self-heal during personal times of rest and reflection. The bear digs up rich, medicinal roots from deep within the soil of the earth, passing the “medicine” on to the human race through lines of spiritual communication. He inspires medicinal healers in Pueblo tribes, who often align themselves with a Bear Clan or Bear Society, where they confer on medicinal practices and beliefs.
In addition to its transformative healing powers, the bear’s strength and courage also make him a protector of the Earth and guardian of the West. It is common practice for members of the Zuni tribe to leave a pinch of cornmeal under the nose of a bear symbol when going away. They believe that the bear will guard and protect the home in the owner’s absence.
The Zuni consider the white bear to be the most powerful healer of all, while any bear fetish equipped with a spirit bundle or offering lends even greater inner strength and self-knowledge. Kachina House has a wide array of Zuni carved bear fetishes available to inspire adjustment, healing, and protection through the most difficult periods of life.