Dream Gates

Dream Gates

The She Bear of Old England awakes

she_bear - James Ursell.jpg

A huge, woolly bear in fierce warrior guise is storming through many scenes of battle. Her footfalls make thunder in the earth. Soldiers of an ancient army crumple before her, as if a mountain has fallen on them.

I have been watching from a distance. Now a portal opens before me. It is a high stone gateway like an enormous keyhole, narrow in proportion to its great height. I step through the portal, and join a band of warriors in leather armor. They are the men of the Bear Goddess. They worship her as the lady of battles. Their tribal king is called The Arthur, meaning the consort of the She-Bear, known to the peoples of this time as Arto and Artio, as Artaois and Artemis, as Ursel and Ersel. These names stream through my mind. Some are new to me, yet none are unfamiliar.


The great warrior bear turns to me. Her energy shifts. She becomes the healer, still fierce, but doctoring. I feel her love as she cracks open my sternum, peels back the ribs, and extracts my heart and lungs. She rinses and cleanses my organs, and returns them to their place in my chest, packing them gently in a soft bed of fresh green moss. I see and endure this without pain or fear. 

Now the bear takes me by the land and leads me to a place of healing, a cottage on the woods. She shows me dried flowers,
herbs and spices, and lays dried lavender around my throat, like a necklace. Other dried stalks with nuts or seeds resembling tiny sealed pots remind me of the gumnuts of my native Australia..I was also shown mounds of ground spices, especially cardamom. As the bear mixes up a creamy-colored paste, I recognize that while she is the war goddess of my Old World ancestors, in the New World she is the master of medicine, the healer and apothecary among the animal spirits.


This is an account of a conscious or lucid dream that I wrote in my journal ten years ago, early in 2001.The adventure began quite spontaneously, in the drifty state between waking and sleep, when I was lying on  my back in the middle of the night.

I wasn’t surprised to find myself drawn – through a page in my own journal – into the realm of the Bear. I often feel myself close to Bear, and dream of Bear often. Where I live now, in the frozen Northeast of North America, it is tempting to slip into the winter dreaming of the bear, with snow and ice all around and the temperature far below freezing outside.

There is something more going on in my nocturnal adventure from a decade ago. It seemed to take me deep into the realm of the ancestors in two senses, and two landscapes – into that of my ancestors in the British Isles, and into that of the First Peoples of my adopted country. 


Not sure whether I was ready to share my report, I went searching for images of the She Bear. I was stunned to find, immediately, a painting that perfectly evokes the size and majesty of the She Bear I had encountered when I stepped through the stone keyhole. Eagerly, I searched for contact information for the artist, who lives in the West Country of England. His name was James Ursell. Wait a minute – wasn’t “Ursel” a name for the Bear, in my dream? I found the artist’s contact information, and soon we were in email conversation. Yes, his surname means “Bear”. Yes, he would be happy for me to use his image here. But wait. The title of the painting, on his website, is simply “She Bear”. He wants me to know the fuller version: “The She Bear of Old England Awakes.” Yes, she does.

The She Bear of Old England Awakes by James Ursell

  • Katie

    what a powerful dream and later connection,have been thinking of ancestral dreams all morning and how to tap further into them,enjoyed reading this.

  • Carol Davis

    I read this posting and I feel the energy of Bear. I feel her power, her protection, her care and her challenge. I feel grateful that she reached you, Robert, and rinsed what needed rinsing and brought you freshness. What a gift. Your reference to the two landscapes and all the discoveries and synchronicities, including finding the painting, remind me of something I wrote in my journal after an experience of deep connection across time and space: Who we are is many. Who we are connected with….countless, in every time, culture, everywhere. In this story you shared, Bear is immense, spanning the river of life. Thanks for sharing this report!

  • Annana

    Dear Robert,
    I wonder if I’ve seen this bear reflected in so many moms of children I work with. Perhaps she stood as guide when one of my moms quit her job in cancer research to come be a volunteer worker as aid to her daughter in her classroom. Or maybe behind me when I was told my son would probably never be a functional reader or writer. So I gave up my private practice to home school. Now he’s a 17 year old early graduate taking college courses, armed with a franklin dictionary and lap top.
    There is something empowering about reading this story. Like us mothers and healers aren’t alone and are supported with guides to help us get our children through not so friendly environments, spirit in tacked and vibrant. I have learned a lot from you Robert. Like how my ancestors used story, dreams, songs and dance as essential healing tools. or The energy from a dream can help ones stomach heal as deeply as a regime of probiotics and enzymes. Not that I stopped the latter completely, but I can eat foods I use to not be able to, and stay away from over indulging.

  • Robert Moss

    Katie – The ancestors come looking for us, and dreams are places where we let ourselves be found.

  • Robert Moss

    Carol – Yes, Bear is a blessing. I know that Bear is medicine in my own body and my own life and that through me she has been able to reach to others, giving endlessly to those who are willing to receive. Yes (encore) we are connected with stories of many times, and sometimes they join in a single time.

  • Robert Moss

    Patty – Yes, there are many times when a human mother needs the She-Bear standing with them. Men need Mother Bear no less, but especially – in our time – to bring healing of body and soul.

  • Azima

    “…in the New World she is the master of medicine, the healer and apothecary among the animal spirits.” Yes indeed! When I first went into the Underworld in my first class with Sandra Ingerman, there she was waiting for me – Mother Healing Bear, I call her. She is there for my healing and for my work as a healing helper for others. So good to see her here!

  • Robert Moss

    Azima – In winter, I often lead group shamanic journeys in which we go down through the roots of our special tree, into the dreaming cave of Mother Bear. As you know, tremendous healing, blessing and direction are available here.

  • Chase

    I believe the overall dream symbolism paints the bear as a healing situation in your life, but I find in my experience bears symbolize a part of us that wants to retreat, be alone, or that isn’t interested in sharing with others.
    The warriors in leather clothing attacking the bear I think paint a situation that was totally uncaring and insensitive to this part of you that wanted independence. The cottage in the forest reflecting your mental state as this loner part of you ventured into unknown emotional territory and solitude. The strange mixture the bear makes then reflects the healing, or insights you were gaining from this experience.

  • Annana

    I agree Robert and have had the opportunity to work with several men. Mostly within family circles and it is often a gentling experience for me.

  • Robert Moss

    Chase – First of all, you completely misread what is going on in the first part of the dream. My dream self joins an ancient army that is fighting WITH the Bear, not against it, under the banner of the ancient Bear Goddess. Second, in offering feedback on any dream we must learn to say “If it were my dream”, offering our personal associations without presuming to tell the dreamer what his or her dreams mean. This is fundamental to the kind of dream-sharing that allows us to be heard and to support each other.

  • Chase

    I apologize if I seemed insensitive. My research into dream symbolism is very straight forward and attempts to find general meanings across large numbers of dreams. Although I respect each person’s take on their own dreams, the tendency to see repeating patterns in my work keeps me very focused on answers. When you begin to peer into people’s minds on such a regular basis you begin to think in terms of patterns and working solutions to the problems you may see.
    At risk of offending you I’ll correct my original comment. The warriors helping the bear who heals you would seem to reflect your own total disregard or insensitive view of some obstacle.
    What interesting to me is that your blog and responses on here seem to reflect the bear symbolism of your dreams. A wonderful person who is very protective of his work, and likes his independence.

  • Robert Moss

    Chase – whether your new comment is anywhere near what is going on in the dream you are still expressing yourself in what, to me, is absolutely the wrong way. The first thing I do, in my books and my workshops, is to move people along from the notion that they have any right to try to tell other people what their dreams or their lives mean. You seem to be completely out of touch with the whole American dreamwork movement, which has made the most important contribution to the exploration of dreams in the past half-century by insisting that dreams belong to the dreamers and that – right or wrong – we must comment by owning our projections and associations, by folllowing the protocol of suggesting “if it were my dream”….

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jo

    Hi Robert – It’s a bit late to be adding posts to this blog but I’ve just read your article (prompted by another impromptu encounter with Bear) and was shocked into recognition when I read the part about cleaning internal organs. Can I share with you, a dream I had in May?:
    I was at a University taking a small group of students. I was talking to them about a research paper; they had to write a review of it or something afterwards. One of them asked me what the researcher’s name was. I laughed and said, “I don’t know if I can pronounce it!” ……. I was then talking to the chief research technician; an older man. He was showing me round his lab. He was telling me about a post in a research lab in York that he thought would suit me. He said, “You wouldn’t mind going to York would you? It’s not a problem is it?” The job was cleaning organs that had been removed from dead people. In his lab there was a dissected cow with a calf in her womb and I was looking down on it. He said it was only six weeks gestation but it was fully formed. It was absolutely beautiful. Black and white, and curled up in a foetal position.

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