Bear Medicine Initiation Program

The Turning

A bear loped before me
on a narrow, wooded road;
with a sound like a sudden
shifting of ashes, he turned
and plunged into his own blackness.

I keep a fire and tell a story:
I was born one winter
in a cave at the root of a tree.
The wind thawing in a northern
forest opened a leafy road.
As I walked there, I heard
the tall sun burning its dead;
I turned and saw behind me
a charred companion,
my shed life.

—John Haines

Native Americans refer to medicine as the essence of the person, place or thing. In our terms it is the essence of being a spiritual, physical, mental and emotional being. Bear Medicine has been used for thousands of years to provide insight into the human condition. It has been used in one form or another in nearly all original tribes. Bear Medicine involves the Awakening of the Power of the Unconscious.

The Quest

In ancient times and in most indigenous cultures, the creation and development of medicine were done through various forms of initiations, now more commonly called Quests and Rites of Passage. These quests included vision quests that were structured rituals and ceremonies that brought the girl/woman or boy/man face-to–face with their greatest fears that needed transformed so that the evolving adult could claim his or her place in life or be granted ancient knowledge. Some quests involved going to the mountain or out into the desert to await for a vision. Other quests involved going deep into the mother earth via a cave or a kiva and sitting in darkness until a vision would come. Still others would mirror the animals by creating dens and crawling into the dens to receive the medicine that they sought.

Bear Medicine

Bear medicine is about transformation. Bear is the guardian of the underworld while being a true giver of life. The bear, as the walker between two worlds, remains fully embedded in society as it gives rich and diverse meaning to life through language. For example, we bear responsibility, bear the love of, bear watching, take bearing, bear on, bear tidings, bear shape, bear arms, bear in mind, and bear misfortune. Within our ancestral heritage, bear medicine has been used in ceremony to seek protection from bears, to seek protection by the bear spirit, the evocation of warlike themes, to invoke healing, to welcome seasonal or fertility rites, to invoke sacred initiation ceremonies, and to support the formalities of a judicial nature.

The most venerated ceremony is that of the slain bear. As an spiritual practice following the successful kill of a bear, the spirit of the bear is honored for providing power, clothing, food, and healing gifts to the hunter. As a first kill of a young man, it is a rite of passage. As a spiritual initiation into the healing arts, it is a ceremony of gratitude to the great bear spirit for stripping off the old skins of the initiate, effectively killing the beliefs that prevented the person from accessing the powers of the unconscious for healing self and others.

Bear medicine is about going into the inner sanctum of oneself to find the wisdom of who you are. It involves going into hibernation, often called a little death, where one becomes still in the silence of oneself to more fully birth who you are. It involves surrendering to the primal instincts that know the thoughts that have yet to be known. Bear medicine can teach you to go deep within so that you can make choices and decisions from a position of internal authority. Bear medicine awakens the inner wisdom of the soul, and by bringing it out into the open and applying it, the depth and breadth of life can be known.

Bear Medicine Program

(Click for larger image)
The Bear Medicine program is an initiation—a birthing process to more fully be who you are. The focus is to discover the innate healing presence within yourself that have not been allowed to be seen or heard. We will nurture those parts so as to begin to create a more centered and balanced life. Our intent is to create the sacred space that will enable you to fully birth who you are, shedding the parts that no longer serve the fullness of your presence. Each person will be given the opportunity to be initiated into the bear medicine.

We will experience

Bear Medicine will build a community amongst nature. We will experience the healing of reconnecting to the earth by living in harmony with nature. We will experience a purification sweat lodge to enable each man or woman to shed old skins of being in the world. We will experience a hibernation, where we will go into our self made den of darkness to enable the birth of our deeper self. We will experience being fully present with ourselves and with others so that we can make meaningful contact instead of talk at each other. We will experience talking circles to explore what it means to be a mature adult. We will experience the formation of a community and what it means to be a member of one. We will explore what it means to become a member of a community. We will explore what is means to be a man and a woman.

We Will Meet

The initiation is designed as an eight day intensive, experience amongst a natural setting. We will invoke the initiation the first day. For the next six consecutive days, we will explore bear medicine through stories, journeys, a sweat lodge, and a hibernation lodge. The final day we will complete the initiation and begin the process to return to the worlds from which we came.

Who Should Come

This is an advanced workshop designed for those people looking for the next step in their personal and shamanic development. The workshop is designed for people with extensive shamanic journey work through workshops or drum circles. It is preferred that one or more advanced workshops with One White Horse Standing be done prior to taking this workshop and/or the Medicine Wheel Initiation.

Some items you will need

For Personal Care: We will be living amongst nature. Hence, you will need to bring a sleeping bag, ground cloth and/or heat blanket, and a ground pad. You will need to bring rain gear as we will meet rain or shine or snow or sleet. You will need to bring clothing appropriate to being outside. Hiking boots would be appropriate. Flash lights, a knife with a three-inch or larger blade, washable eating utensils, including plate/bowl, cup, knife, fork and spoon. You will need to bring soap and shaving gear as desired. Be mindful that the walking path to camp is rough terrain.

For Sustenance: Each person needs to bring 3 to 5 gallons of water for each week-end. Also, we will provide some food, however each person needs to bring non-perishable food for snacks that can be eaten without cooking, such as dried fruits, nuts, protein or granola bars, etc. This food will be commingled into a community pantry.

For Comfort: Please bring any rocks or crystals that want to come along. A medicine blanket is needed to take into your den, as well as any comforts for sitting in circle, such as camping chairs, back supports, blankets, pillows, etc.

For remembrance: A journal notebook is encouraged.

For the Altar: Bring any healing tools that you use on a regular basis that you want to carry the bear medicine. Family pictures or other things can be supportive.

See the calendar page for current schedule.



Bear Metamorphosis

He comes from the north
he comes to fight
he comes from the north
see him there
I throw dust on me
it changes me
I am a bear
when I go to meet him

Send word, bear father
send word, bear mother
I am having a hard time
send word bear father
send word bear mother
I am having a bad time

My paw is holy
herbs are everywhere
my paw
herbs are everywhere
My paw is holy
everything is holy
my paw
everything is holy



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