Aren’t they beautiful? The Grizzly, according to Sun Bear, is the keeper of the West Gate of the Medicine Wheel. They are also called Silver tipped bears. Awesome in size and strength, their habits include a winter nap that is hallmark to their species. They sleep through the winter months without rising for food or elimination, but can waken quickly if stirred. It is said that bears in more southern regions where food is available all year, do not hibernate at all.
The Grizzly is a fine fisherman, enjoying the salmon runs as much as any human. In fact there are many things about the bear that are similar to humans, when they stand on two legs, their skeleton is quite similar to a human’s. The legends among Native American tribes are strong in human-bear interaction. The West on most medicine wheels is the time in the human’s life of carrying the working responsibility of tribal life. The young ones as well as the elders depend on those still in their prime to carry out the hunting and gathering duties of tribal life.
It is at this time of life that the habit of self-examination is most useful, for only as we know our own minds, and have faced our own limits and strengths, are we good leaders of others. This is the principle medicine of “bear”, being able to look within ourselves to find the answer to our daily dilemas. Another medicine is strength and stamina. Bear can run very fast on a short haul but when pacing himself can cover miles in a day. The last, and perhaps most important skill attributed to the bear is the capacity to heal himself by knowing instinctively the herbs to eat to cure the problem.
Bears are generally considered careful parents, watching over their cubs for as long as 2½ years. One of the most dangerous things about bears is that they are just so daggone “cute” that it is altogether too easy to forget they are wild animals and have long claws that can injure us badly in even a mild encounter.