When the lines between worlds are blurred, Mama Bear is there with her compassion and empathy to heal our world. This is her origin story.
WARNING: This story contains scenes of domestic violence and thoughts of suicide. If these are triggering for you, please skip the story.
“You fuckin’ Bitch!” He screamed from the kitchen as I noticed the hard seat I was sitting on. My mind raced through all the things I could have done. I was never sure what would turn him into a raging monster. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I thought to myself. I was always so careful to do everything right. What did I do wrong now? My heart pounded in my chest as I slowly turned toward the sound of his boots stomping across the wood floor.
My mind floated back to the day when those same boots softly walking on the wooden planks outside the little jewelry store where I worked. His spurs clinking with every step. He tipped his hat with a “Howdy, Ma’am.” His blue eyes flashed at me as I stifled a giggle.
The sound of something whizzing by my ear brought me back from the daydream as the knife thudded into the hard wood of the cabin wall beside me. “You didn’t clean my huntin’ knife!” he screamed, his face inches from mine.
I cowered and thought, how did I get here? The rebel in me screamed. "You never asked me to clean the knife." I paid for my insolence with a black eye and fingerprint bruises on my shoulders, arms, and chest. The only thing that saved me from a worse fate were my 8-month-old twin boys, who began crying at the loud noises coming from the kitchen. He slammed the front door as he left me in a heap on the floor. I put my head down on the cool wooden floor to ease the pain in my cheek. He was going out again. I didn’t care. Beaten and broken, I curled up in bed with my babies. Their sweet smell soothed my aching heart just a little. My friend’s wolves howled their mournful cry as if they knew my pain. I wrote in my journal whose entries had become sparse of late. My strength faded into the sunset of the high desert, which matched the purple swelling around my eye. This wasn’t the first time the thought of taking my own life crossed my mind.
The next day my body was sore all over and my head pounded from sleeping in short bursts, afraid he would come home and the whole thing would start all over again. I looked around the tiny cabin and noticed that he hadn’t come home, which was a beautiful reprieve. I decided now was the time to end this pain. It was time to end this life of suffering, and I couldn’t leave my boys to suffer it either. These precious babies growing up under his dictatorship sent chills down my spine. We would go together.
As I was making my plan for a permanent escape, the phone rang. The friend with the wolves was home for the day and invited me to coffee and a chat. I made excuses and stalled, but eventually agreed to join her. That one phone call saved my life.
I pulled myself together as best I could, getting dressed for the first time in a week and brushing my teeth, which felt like a monumental undertaking. One boy in a baby carrier got strapped to my back and the other to my front. The straps dug into my shoulders where the bruises were turning beautiful shades of purple. I winced but ignored the pain like I always did.
The path wound through the sagebrush in this remote area with only a few houses dotting the foothills. Our small cluster of cabins and Cathy’s house was only 1,000 feet from mine, a quick walk down the path lined with sagebrush. I came to her cabin in short order, and the wolves whimpered in their pen as I approached the door. She met me with a smile as big as sunshine. I met her as a haggard young woman with two babies and tears running down a swollen face. To her credit, she didn’t say a word and invited me in. Through a lot of tears and cigarettes, I told her what happened, like I had many times before. “You have to leave him,” she said in her soft voice as she poured more coffee and the boys played at our feet. “I know,” I said as I hung my head in shame. “But how? I don’t have a car, a job, or any money. And he’ll come after me.” Cathy handed me another cigarette and said, “Maybe the answer will come tomorrow.” We laughed, talked, and cried all day. She fed me lunch and dinner. The boys napped and played on her buffalo skin rug.
As the sun set and darkness took over a vast, cloudless sky, a Full Moon light burst through the window. “I should probably go home,” I said, and secretly hoped the cabin would be empty upon my return. I gathered my sleeping boys and their things. I strapped on the physical and emotional wounds like a pack mule. Cathy stood in the doorway with a smile on her face and waved as I walked out into the night. The wolves sang their somber song as I left the sanctuary of Cathy’s cabin.
I walked down the dark path, illuminated by moonlight. My thoughts on how I was going to get out of this situation in the safest way possible. For the first time in a long time, hope stirred.
Suddenly, a loud crash came from a stand of junipers near the house. An enormous bear stampeded onto the path and stopped. I froze. The Moon’s light danced off the bear’s fur and reflected in her eyes. A million thoughts ran through my mind in seconds. The Universe was about to grant my wish to die spectacularly. The boys stirred in their carriers. The bear snorted and sniffed the air in my direction. I didn’t move a muscle. The adrenaline in my veins screamed at me to run. The bear met my gaze. Her strength filled every battered crack and crevice of my being. Then, a motherly voice said, “I am in you. You are Moonbear.” With a snort in my direction, the bear crossed the path and disappeared into the sagebrush.
I don’t know how long I stood there. It could have been a minute or thirty. Something stirred inside me as I made my way to the cabin. I put the boys to bed and wrote in my journal by moonlight, alone and filled with questions. The bear scene played over and over in my mind. I fell asleep and dreamed of a Mama Bear holding me like a scared child. I slept soundly for the first time in months.
When I awoke the next morning, the bear’s energy still buzzed through me, even the purple bruises faded. The boys and I headed into the sunshine of the day with smiles. I walked up the path and looked for some tracks or fur, evidence of what happened. Nothing, not one track. Did I imagine a bear? Then, under a sagebrush by the path, I noticed a rock shaped like a bear. As I hiked around the cabin that morning, I found three more bear stones. Gifts and reminders from the Universe. My journey began.
The next day, Cathy took us into town, and we ran into a mutual friend. Cathy insisted I tell her about my encounter, so I did. Her eyes widened. “You need to go talk to my Grandmother.”
It isn’t often an Elder has a white woman for tea. It was an honor. We entered the village and made our way past the singing river to a low blue door near the east end. Irises bloomed and Grandmother greeted us. She was small in stature and big in presence. After cooing over the boys, I timidly recanted my bear story. Grandmother’s piercing eyes narrowed and pierced my soul. Wrinkles appeared on her face where none had been before. She smiled a toothless grin and patted my chest and laughed. “I see Bear in you. I feel her power surrounding you and weela (I assumed that meant children). It is time for you to experience this power, Moonbear.”
Wait. What did she call me? My mind grappled with her words. I purposely kept that information to myself because I thought it so odd. Grandmother explained, “That is how all relations see you.” Tears rolled down my cheeks as she spoke to me in an ancient language that few spoke or understood. Some words came from a time of the emergence and traveled with the people, trees, rivers, and mountains. I understood and didn’t at the same time. Grandmother taught me more about Bear and how to pay attention, bring messages, hope, and healing to the people. It is customary to bring a gift, but Grandmother hugged me and nodded her understanding. Grandmother’s teachings have been the most sacred of my life, and she often appears in my dreams with further lessons.
A few months after my bear encounter, my sons and I left the abusive relationship. I shattered my soul to save my little family and my body. After many years of therapy and healing, the pieces of my soul retrieved and repaired, I embody Mama Bear. Her ancient wisdom picked me up and dusted me off when I had no hope in the dark night of my soul. Without even knowing this story, people have called me Mama Bear for years.
But it’s time for my story to be told. It’s time for healing. Mama Bear is here to lead us with empathy, compassion, and kindness. Words have always been my healing way and so they flow.
If you are suffering, you are not alone. Call on Mama Bear for her strength and wisdom.
If you are experiencing a dark night of the soul, PLEASE don’t quit before the miracle.
If you are considering leaving this world, PLEASE seek help. Someone in the future needs to hear your story.
Tell your story.
Suicide prevention hotlines:
US – 1-800-273-8255
CANADA – 1-833-456-4566
Mama Bear Says Pocket Wisdom is an illustrated pocket oracle to encourage and support your spiritual journey. Mama Bear's nurturing wisdom comes down through the ages, as her gentle guidance holds you when life gets chaotic and obstacles appear.
Use this book for your spiritual practice or as a pocket oracle. Intuitively color the repeating illustrations for a special meditation. Mama Bear has a big lap and wide arms to hold us all. Ask for her support, and she'll be there with her loving embrace of inspiration and to hear about your pain and sorrow and transform them into happiness and joy.
Available in Limited Edition Hardcover or Paperback. Order your copy.