Tales From a Shaman: Vision of the Giant Bears

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THE VISION OF THE GIANT BEARS

A vision is a gift that many medicine men seek to receive and will pursue many methods to earn one. This may include prayer and fasting, sweat lodges, and pipe ceremonies—walking a consistent path of righteousness. I attended a pipe ceremony, offering in hand, to seek the assistance of my ancestors and the Creator. My offering included a pouch of pipe tobacco, and a series of four colorful broadcloths. I was going through life changes and needed guidance in choosing a path.

The ceremony was spiritually active; the spirits spoke, the rattles and drums vibrated, and the ‘orbs’ flew about. I enjoy listening to the different chants, songs, Cree prayers, and the distinct aromas of the burning medicines. In conclusion of the ceremony, the Medicine Men gather to interpret and discuss the messages for the attendees. We all wait in anticipation, hoping to receive an answer; some leave disappointed.

My name was called out and the Medicine Men proceeded to deliver my message. The Grandfather Bear told them he would visit me in a dream within four days, where he would speak with me himself. I was ecstatic. It felt powerful. I could not wait. What would Grandfather Bear say? Would I receive a song or gift? I knew I had to be alert and ensure peaceful surroundings for the next four days.

I was invited on a fishing trip with some community members; deep on a trapline, in a cabin near a lake. The timeline would not interfere with my upcoming visitation and I would be home in two days. I failed to realize that the Grandfather Bear said within four days, and not four days exactly—my mistake. The cabin was only accessible by ATV and involved a day’s travel. The cabin site itself was picturesque; a beautiful lakeside location, heavily forested, filled with the sounds of nature, and was definitely ‘off grid’ remote.

The first day involved mostly travel and then casting the fishing net upon arrival. The evening was filled with comradery and ‘guy talk.’ The following morning, we brought in the net and celebrated as we caught loads of fish. We immediately started scaling, gutting, and smoking the filets. It was a long day. In the evening, we all dined on roasted whitefish in the campfire; we doused our portions in salt, butter, lemon slices, potatoes, and wrapped it in foil. Fresh catch is outstanding. I remember the last thing I heard before falling asleep that night was, “I hope bears don’t come and raid our catch.” The timing of that statement couldn’t have been worse, as the first thing I started to dream about were Bears.

The dream was very lucid; it felt like I was truly standing in front of the cabin. I remember noticing bears of every color and size appear from all directions, standing in front of the heavily forested tree line. As they exited the forest, they set forth towards the cabin. The only thing I could think of was that the bears wanted to steal our fish. I started to panic and ran inside the cabin to awaken and alert my friends, but they were nowhere in sight. I was abandoned. A bear entered the cabin as I stood inside, I immediately ran past it, heading towards the forest trail. Every single bear pursued me and gave chase. I sprinted in terror. I ended up panicking and running off trail, stumbling through the trees, watching as the bears swarmed me in every direction. I could not outrun them, they eventually closed in, forming a circle around me. There were hundreds of them standing in rows deep within the forest. There were white bears, brown bears, and black bears; some were gigantic. The biggest bear among them pushed me down onto my back, pinning me down. I was soon face to face staring at its large fangs. All I could do was scream and fight to escape its powerful grip. All the while, it was speaking to me. I did not realize it was delivering the message I had asked for. I was not expecting the vision. I thought it was too soon. The four days have not passed yet. My dream was so lucid that I believed that this was an actual bear attack.

I awoke from that vision, wide awake, lying on my cabin bunk, breathing heavily. It was so real. I recalled the dream to one of my cousins, and he chastised me, stating that this was the vision I asked for. He said the timeline was within four days, not specifically four. I felt so disappointed in myself. I could not remember the words the Grandfather Bear spoke to me. I ruined my vision, lost the message, spoiled the experience; due to my failure to listen to details. A very important lesson I keep to this day.

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