Little did I know, when I first encountered Dancing Bear at an outdoor sculpture show in 2011, that this sculpture would come to mean what it does to me. I knew I loved it, but the idea of purchasing such art was a totally foreign concept to me, so a sculpture like that could only ever be a long-distance appreciation.
This first encounter occurred when my friend and I were out browsing local art shows, looking for a potential class gift for our massage school. I had my 2-month-old daughter strapped to my chest as we wandered the property and appreciated the collection. I saw Dancing Bear and LOVED him, as intangible as he was. Something about him spoke to me. I had my friend take a photo of me with him, for memory's sake, and when we left, he soon faded away.
That photo has since disappeared, but it is no longer needed, for I've acquired Dancing Bear as the guardian, custodian and totem for my home and business. Years after my first meeting with him, he found me and magicked his way into my life forever.
Ahh, to be pursued and caught by a love of your life.
When I re-encountered Dancing Bear, I was five years into my massage practice and feeling like I was finally grounding into the work and my path in the healing arts. Business was thriving and I was starting on my shamanic path. I didn't realize the magic had only just begun. I had met Lucie while co-authoring a reflexology book with my friend and colleague. When I walked in to meet her for the first time, I knew she would be a transformational presence in my world. Our work together on the book was an excuse for our souls to mingle in the ethers. When we come together, we reflect our essences back and forth to each other, refining and alchemizing the juiciness of what we came to this planet to share. Leaving each encounter reconfigured and realigned for the next leg of the journey. Words cannot describe the other-worldly coalescing that transpires when we share space...
But that's not the point of this post.
When I pulled up to Lucie's house one winter day (in winter 2017/18), who did I find welcoming me into my spot on the driveway, but Dancing Bear himself - the beauty I had met, ever-so-briefly, all those years ago. I hadn't seen him for almost seven years, and there he was, as if not a day had gone by! I turned to Lucie in shock, wondering "why, how, huh?" did he get there??? Turns out, Dancing Bear was created by Lucie's husband, the inspired and talented Jeff Hackney. He is one of Jeff's "top handful of favorites" and for all those years he hadn't sold, a complete mystery as to why. Hearing all of this and still stunned that I was seeing this sculpture again, at the home of this magical person who had entered my life, I was simply astonished. I could not fully comprehend what it all meant. And I still carried a story within me that told me, "I don't (or can't) buy such 'extravagant art'". So the reappearance of Dancing Bear that day remained an experience of mystery for a little while longer.
It wasn't until a future visit, being greeted yet again by Dancing Bear, and having since experienced the role of Bear in my life through my shamanic work, that the mystery revealed itself -- I turned to Lucie and told her, "he hasn't sold because he's mine." I didn't know it for sure until the words were out of my mouth, and then I knew it without a doubt. I had no idea how I would pay for him, or what I would do with him, but I had no doubt that he was meant to be mine and that's why he had come back to me in this way. Lucie and I vowed, then and there, that it would be so. I would put a down payment on him and would pay him off over time, as life could afford.
And that's what I did. The down payment was unexpectedly gifted by another essential sister on my journey, adding more grace and juiciness to the magic of it all.
I have since come to learn that Dancing Bear danced into my life straight out of the studio in 2011. And he waited all these years until I was ready to receive him.
My shamanic path continued to expand in breadth and depth and by the time I finished my training, in the fall of 2018, I had paid off Dancing Bear and created a new business name, brand and website (you're looking at it). In that process, I found that Dancing Bear himself was meant to be the totem and icon for the joy and love I want to share with the world - it is all about the bear. I had Dancing Bear the sculpture inspiring me with his physical presence, Bear the spirit guide accompanying me in the spiritual world and I had watched Planet Earth II and seen the actual dancing bears, who brought joy and laughter into my life. All of these combined to serve as the muse and inspiration for Dancing Bear Medicine.
They each speak to the medicine I have to share and remind me of who I am. Dancing Bear is solid and refined. He has clear lines and a distinct quality, yet still conveys a sense of movement and freedom. He is earthy and beautiful; humble, while making a statement. Bears themselves are big, lumbering creatures who don't necessarily convey grace, agility and fluidity as we would epitomize these qualities, but that is exactly what they have. They can move quickly and fiercely when they need to, and only when they need to will they. They have discernment - knowing when it is time to put in the effort needed to thrive and survive and when it is time to rest and recuperate. They honor that there is a season for growth and activity, and a season for retreat and hibernation. And they can joyously wriggle and jiggle with the best of them!
Dancing Bear Medicine is my pledge to offer the best of myself - refined, dedicated, gracious and fluid, with joy and passion for life. There is ferocity where needed and agility when life throws me a curve ball. Dancing bear, and the dancing bears, remind me that we can embody seemingly conflicting qualities and we have access to a wide range of resources within ourselves and our community. To live with discernment requires that I truly understand what serves me and my path, so I can then serve others with the best of me. By acknowledging that I have a vast array of gifts to share (and I'm still discovering them) I acknowledge that each and every person I encounter also has a vast array of gifts to share. If I can contribute to the creation of a world where we all are aware of our gifts, and we are all empowered and supported to share those gifts, I would consider myself a success. For now I can do that by starting with myself and my community; by living these qualities and seeking them in others.
This is what Dancing Bear has brought home to me, and I am grateful.