I was looking for information on bear cults when I stumbled upon this little gem:

In Native American folklore there are many tales about bears. It is highly respected as the 'keeper of dreams', and 'the keeper of medicine', and is one of the most powerful totems. (Bears hibernate, giving them associations with the world of dreams.)

"Mythology And Folklore Of The Bear | Trees For Life". Treesforlife.org.uk. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.

Why are bears thought of as "keepers of dreams"? How does their hibernation connect them with the world of dreams?

1 Answer 1


Bear hibernation was likely perceived as a form of deep sleep, and recent studies have confirmed this:

Historically there was a question of whether or not bears truly hibernate since they experience only a modest decline in body temperature (3–5 °C) compared with the much larger decreases (often 32 °C or more) seen in other hibernators. Many researchers thought that their deep sleep was not comparable with true, deep hibernation, but recent research has refuted this theory in captive black bears.

From Bear Medicine: the Spirit of Bear

The Bear is the keeper of the dream time, and stores the teachings of dreams until the dreamer wakes up to them. Many tribes have called this space of inner-knowing the Dream Lodge, where the death of the illusion of physical reality overlays the expansiveness of eternity. It is in the Dream Lodge that our ancestors sit in Council and advise us regarding alternative pathways that lead to our goals.

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