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Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa

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The Imagined Bear

R Bieder

Abstract


The bear held special significance for pre-agriculturalists in the northern hemisphere. There was a psychological dimension to the human-bear relationship. Many preagriculturalists saw the bear as a person, albeit a different-from-human person who possessed immense spiritual power. This spiritual power was often articulated through stories such as those presented here where bears are portrayed as powerful sacred spirits; as ancestors, healers, shape-shifters, lovers and mates. The stories, however, are not just about bears; the stories are also about cultures and how peoplo saw themselves in bears and saw bears in themselves.



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