Home

11667317_682286555236816_3267987695867565194_n

In Orwell’s Animal Farm, an old boar summons the animals on a farm together and teaches the animals a revolutionary song called Beast of England. In URSA the Latin word for bear resonates and acknowledges the primacy of the she-bear. The oldest discovered statue, fashioned some fifteen to twenty thousand years ago, is of a bear. From antiquity to the Middle Ages, the bear’s centrality in cults and mythologies left traces in European languages, literatures, and legends from the Slavic East to Celtic Britain.[i] In pre-neolithic time, the now extinct cave bear not only was the most powerful animal but also the most present in the proximity of the cave paintings. Bear bones are the dominant finding in cave excavations. Headless bear sculptures have been found in large numbers in and around the caves, suggesting a popular bear cult. Headless – as some scholars suggest- because the sculpture itself just served as a base for a bear rug – including its original head, producing in this way the illusion of full size live bear during the ceremony. Bear cults have a prominent presence in ancient mythology, most often related to a she-bear, to female/lesbian sexuality, and the power and magic of chthonic goddesses. The visual correspondence between the rather round, dark, and fury appearance of the bear and the female mature genital seems obvious. The mythology around Artemis, and the cult celebrated at the Artemis temples may serve as exemplary evidence. The early Church was threatened by pagan legends of the bear’s power, among them a widespread belief that bears were sexually attracted to women and would violate them, producing half-bear, half-human beings. Eventually the demonic bears became entertainers in the marketplace, trained to perform humiliating tricks or muzzled and devoured by packs of dogs for the amusement of (hu) mans, while the lion was crowned as the symbol of nobility – and as I may add: masculinity.