Far from the fearsome grizzly, Daniel's Twilight Bear illustration invites you into a comforting woodland home at the end of a lamplit path. This chimes with the bear's ancient symbolism of care and motherhood which spans different cultures. Indeed the bear is one of the animals which lavishes the most care and protection on its young.
The bear is also associated with nighttime, as a reflection of its long hibernation. The creature's cyclical existence in waking and sleeping periods symbolises change in the sky from day to night.
As we have seen, the Great Bear star constellation is one of Zeus' lovers flung into the sky for her own protection - both from his jealous wife and her own unwitting huntsman son. Across the Atlantic, the stars have also been linked to bears in ancient myth, albeit a somewhat more macabre one.
A Native American tale tells of a group of brave hunters who chased a bear in such a frenzy that, when they paused to look, they had run right up into the sky. On seeing this, one pleaded with his companion to go back but he was not heeded. They carried on the chase across the sky, right from the hunting season until the sky grew colder.
It was then they caught the bear. They huntsmen killed and butchered the bear, laying it down on the trees as they skinned it. The autumn leaves of oaks and sumacs reddened with the bear's blood, and from that day onwards change to a brilliant red each year as the weather cools.
But what did they do with the bear's body up in the sky? They flung it to four corners of black night. Where its head and backbone fell stars now rise in clusters. A rather beautiful result from a brutal hunt!
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With the exception of artists, inventors, and teenagers - we humans are diurnal daytime creatures on the whole, and although it’s one thing to be out and about during the night in a street lit urban environment, it’s a very different scenario if you find yourself in, say… oh, I don’t know, a forest per se. Where, if you’re lucky, you may hear the unmistakable cry or hoot of an Owl: natures very own nocturne, a stark reminder of the unknown peril of night, and a creature that has featured heavily in myth and folklore throughout the ages.