The Great Star Bear
In most standard circles when one speaks of Shamanism, thoughts turn to Native Americans and their Faith, but Shamanism is not limited to anyone place or people. The Druids of ancient Gaul were shamans of a sort. Animal spirits featured almost as heavily as humanistic deities. These animals often included animals now thought to be mythical such as dragons and others like them. Most animals were viewed in the same way as humans were, children of the Goddess and God, and in their rightful place in the scheme of things.
To the Celts there was wisdom to be found in all things and in the animals that surrounded them. They also shared a similar world view to the Native Americans in that the Sky and Earth were linked by living things. The constellations (and their animal like shapes) seemed as reflections to these people and thus their earthly counterparts held power. From a perspective ( that I discuss in more detail on my dragon magick pages) these Forces act as catalysts for parts of our inner selves.. awakening dormant parts of our psyche (whether subconscious or conscious). The act of Invoking or working with these Primal animals develops these dormant parts of our psyche, strengthening them and bringing them to the forefront of our personalities.
While I am not Native American, I can say that my heritage comes from the Gallic Druids and their particular brand of shamanism. I draw upon my ancestry and ancestral spirits often, that I may stay in touch with my roots. This connection has given me a deeper understanding of how shamanism works than I ever would have had without it, thus I am grateful for my experiences with them.
In the old language Bear is 'Art', and there were several old celtic festivals that revolved around Bear as a central image. The ancient druid festival of Alban Arthuan (time of the white bear ) was celebrated around the winter solstice with the celestial power of Bear symbolizing the union of power and wisdom (thus we use Bear as a northern animal). To these people (and today) Bear represents the Power of the Heavens and the Wisdom of the Earth. Bear is a Healer, a Protector, and an Initiator into the mysteries of life. There is a story that says all life came from the Great Bear Mother. The first beings were born without shape and the the Bear Mother licked them into the desired shape (thus the phrase 'licked into shape' that we use today)
As with Archetypes
of this kind, Bear can be male or female. This gender distinction is largely
resultant from the Practitioners own beliefs influencing the manifestation.
When Male, Bear is called "Ardehe" which is pronounced (AR-thay-day), and
when female, Bear is "Andarta" pronounced as (AN-thard-ah). When calling
upon Bear you can use either name, as you would use the name of any deity
when invoking them.
Invocation to Bear as Northern Animal
"With the Blessings of the Great Bear of the Starry Heavens and the Deep
and Fruitful Earth, We call Upon the Power of the North."
Welcoming Chant to Bear
"Into my sacred Circle, I welcome the Spirit of Bear, Inner World Initiator and Healer. Open the doors of my Heart, my Mind, and my Spirit, that I may become One with My selves. And through that Union, gain the strength of self-awareness and self mastery. Meld my strength and intuition, that I may walk this world in Wisdom and Power."
Awakening Chant to Bear
"Come O Spirit of The Great Bear,
Awaken in your hidden Lair.
Dancer in the Starry Sky,
Awaken my inner eye.
Great Medicine Singer,
And healing Bringer,
Grant me the Power in your Roar,
Root it deep within my core.
Grant me Might in Claw,
And Healing touch in Paw.
O Spirit of The Great Bear:
AWAKEN the Bear in Me!
AWAKEN the Bear in Me!
AWAKEN THE BEAR IN ME!
"I am Bear
Bear is Me
Bear has Awakened
The Bear in Me!" (repeat to build power, etc)
"Bear of the Woodlands
Bear of the Sky
Bear of my Forefathers
Bear that does not die!
Andarta, Andarta, Andarta!
Arthede, Arthede, Arthede! (repeat for power, etc.)