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Tenth Anniversary Issue (and final issue)
A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine
November's Theme: "Secluded"
Volume 11 Issue 1 ISSN# 1708-3265

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~ The Value of Seclusion ~

with Dawn Baumann Brunke

To seclude is to keep away, to shut down, to go within. As we move toward the end of the year, we enter a period of natural seclusion — hibernation time. Cooling temps and shorter days signal animals to slow down, contemplate, dream deep, and renew. Seclusion allows us to take time for ourselves, focus inward and, hopefully, emerge with energy and wisdom. One great example of this cycle is Bear. And, in many ways, we are similar to Bear.

Indeed, from the beginning, humans sensed a kinship with Bear. Bears can stand upright, are curious and intelligent, protective of their young and, without their skins, look remarkably human. Many ancient cultures honoured and worshipped Bear. Within its great, hearty spirit we recognized a teacher and ally. Symbol of deepening and the creative unconscious, Bear is a powerful dreamtime advisor.

Most bears slow down and sleep through the winter. Bears are not true hibernators, but instinctively know when to retire and be alone with dormant energies. Pondering deep, in dark cover of cave or den, they immerse themselves in dreamtime. Many mother bears give birth while sleeping. Dreaming with their cubs, they share collective bear wisdom, personal life experience and instructive previews of life outside.

With determined focus and a good-natured spirit of inquiry, Bear roots out that which is hidden, prompting us to explore the unknown and seek adventure in our dreams. Sometimes serious, often humorous, Bear is a superb guide and protective travel companion. Bear often shows up in dreams to encourage self-reflection and nudge us toward our deeper truths.

While working on Animal Teachings, a book which combines human observations about animals along with animal observations about themselves, I had a chance to commune with the Spirit of Bear. Because I had been thinking about dreams, we began with this topic. A collective voice of Bear said,

We love to dream! We are equally at home within our dreams and within the sunshine. For us, they are two faces of reality and we enjoy the challenges and surprises of both.

We find great fun and purpose in exploring our dreams — they are part of our survival skills. We use dreams to venture ahead of ourselves and explore terrain we do not know or to move forward in time and survey approaching weather.

Some of our kind — polar bears — dream throughout the winter while walking in the dark. They are walking dreamers and have much to share. Each of us has our own specialty and work with different facets of the dreamworld.

We often roam within your dreamtime, and sometimes wander into your dreams. We encourage the spirit of adventure and invite you to join us!

If you're looking for an animal teacher this time of year, Bear is a very good choice. Why? Bear emphasizes independence and introspection, urging us to slow down and go within when we need help. Bear knows that within the calm silence of our deepest being, we can see and hear clearly. Alert and aware within the dreamworld, we will find our answers.

In spring, bears awaken, hungry for new opportunities, companionship and food. Linking dreams with awakening, bringing together the feminine yin of introspection with the masculine yang of action, Bear reminds us to maintain balance in the natural rhythms of life. From the dark, nurturing, fertile cave of dreams, we emerge into the sunlight, assimilating our experiences and sharing our discoveries with the world. Bear watches, cheering us on.

(Image of Bear from Animal Teachings, artwork by Ola Liola.)

Dawn Baumann Brunke is the author of Animal Voices; Animal Voices, Animal Guides; Shapeshifting with our Animal Companions; Animal Teachings; and The Animal Wisdom Tarot. Her books explore the deeper nature of our relationship with animals, nature, each other and ourselves. For more, see Dawn's website.

Be sure to read the reviews of her book "Awakening to Animal Voices" in our May 2005 Issue, her book "Animal Voices" January 2006 Issue, and her book "Animal Teachings" July 2012 Issue.

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