The Great Bear appears in many of my stories and novels. For Indigenous peoples of North America, Bear has always held strong spiritual medicine.
Left alone, Bear goes about her life foraging quietly, caring for her young, perhaps enjoying the sun and rain and fog in much the same way as I do. But, anyone who has ever wandered a rugged path, or wove their way along the edge of a forest or blackberry patch and come upon one of these great beasts knows the instinctual terror that cramps the belly, catches the breath, and rams the heart up into a closed throat.
Bear is a thing of quiet, almost humorous lumbering beauty. If however, a traveler is foolish enough to threaten her or her young, she will rear up on her hind legs and tear that feckless individual limb for limb, leave them dead or broken and bloody. The beast will turn then, once satisfied that the threat is gone, and disappear back into the depths of the forest, content once again to nibble at berries, dig roots, and enjoy the tender grass of spring.
So, it’s no wonder I identify with Bear.
But, Bear holds a deeper meaning as well. She is tooth and claw, yes, but also Bear is quiet beauty and acceptance. In my latest short story, which is included in the fine anthology, Macabre Sanctuary, a woman comes to the woods seeking relief from a difficult reality and comes face-to-face with the holy will of nature.
Here’s an excerpt:
The cold creek is knee-high when a force like a sledgehammer slams my right shoulder, knocks me face-down in the water. I roll in a ball, rounded back to the bear. My knees scrape gravel. The water buoys me, nudges me toward a deeper center. A bear face appears under water, fills my vision. A black snout bumps my right eye, a rough tongue samples my cheek. The snout disappears.
A quick gulp of air. Heavy, clawed weight on my back. The bear straddles my body bounces up and down exactly like James played as a child with a red beach ball. On land, I’d be dead already, crushed under the animal’s bulk. The water is my salvation. Of course, I may well drown in its saving mercies.
Want more? And, ten other terrific, spooky, scary, dips into the dark side? Click here: Macabre Sanctuary.