Bear Symbolism and Meaning in Mythology, Folklore, and Culture

Since the beginning of time, bears have captured human fascination. These powerful animals can be found on every continent except Africa, Australia, and Antarctica, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Though often feared, bears are also greatly admired for their strength, courage, playfulness, and other amazing traits. In mythology and folklore around the world, bears often appear as symbols of power and strength. If the bear has recently shown up in your life, it may be because this spirit is trying to communicate with you. Keep reading to learn more about bear symbolism and meaning!

What do bears symbolize?

The bear has been a powerful symbol in many cultures for centuries. It is seen as a symbol of strength, courage, wisdom, protection, and fertility. These qualities are associated with the bear in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Slavic culture, which is believed to be a divine being that offers spiritual power and blessings when treated with respect.

Bears are often seen as symbols of strength, courage and protection. They represent determination and perseverance, having the ability to push through even the toughest obstacles.

Bears also symbolize motherhood and family due to their fiercely protective nature of cubs. In addition, bear can be a sign of humility, honor, and nobility.

Those with a bear as their totem animal often exhibit the traits of patience, playfulness, and healing.

What does it mean when you see a bear?

It can mean different things depending on the context. In some cultures, a bear sighting is seen as a sign of strength or protection. Others may interpret it as a warning to stay away or to be cautious.

Generally, it is best to respect the animal and give it space if you come across one in the wild. Bears are large and powerful creatures and can be dangerous if provoked.

black bear meaning

While it is typically not recommended to approach a bear, you may observe them from a safe distance while admiring their beauty and grace.

Whatever your interpretation of seeing a bear, always remember to give the animal respect and stay alert if you encounter one in the wild.

What does the bear spirit animal mean?

Bears hold a strong spiritual significance. It has long been considered a symbol of intuition and inner wisdom that can help you recognize your true potential.

brown bear

When a bear appears in your life, it could be a sign that it’s time to pay attention to your inner voice. A bear encourages you to step into the unknown and bear witness to transformation.

It may also remind you of the importance of taking some time for rest and relaxation, allowing yourself to reconnect with nature and clear away any negative thoughts or emotions.

The bear is often a symbol of healing, indicating that it’s time to start taking care of yourself and the people around you. The bear spirit can also be a sign that it’s time to let go of any fears or limitations and embrace the power within you.

What do bears symbolize in literature?

The bear is often seen as a powerful literary symbol, representing courage and strength. It is believed to have the power to protect people from danger, lending its support and energy to those who need it.

bear reading a book

In some cultures, the image of a bear can also be associated with transformation and healing due to its ability to hibernate during winter and emerge reinvigorated in the spring. It is thus seen as a symbol of resilience and perseverance, inspiring people to stay strong even in difficult times.

In addition, the bear is also associated with wisdom and cunning, reflecting its ability to adapt to changing environments and make quick decisions when needed.

In literature, the bear often appears as a mentor and guide, offering insight and guidance to those it encounters. As such, the bear is a powerful symbol of personal growth and transformation.

By embodying courage and strength in literature, the bear is an inspiring figure that encourages us to be brave even in challenging circumstances.

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It shows us that with enough resilience we can overcome any obstacle on our journey. The bear is thus a reminder of our potential, inspiring us to reach ever-greater heights!

Overall, the symbolism behind the bear in literature reflects its strength and wisdom. It serves as an inspiring figure that encourages us to stay strong and believe in ourselves, no matter what life throws at us.

Bear Power Animal

The bear is a powerful and revered animal in many cultures. It symbolizes strength, courage, and leadership. In some native American tribes, the bear is seen as a spiritual guide who brings power and energy to those around them.

power animal bear

This bear power animal offers insight and wisdom that can be used to navigate challenging times. People often seek out this bear power animal for guidance in life and to help them make difficult decisions.

The bear is also associated with protection, providing a sense of safety and security to those who look to it for strength. In many ways, the bear is seen as a symbol of courage, resilience, and power that can be used to inspire people to face their fears and move forward.

It is a reminder of the importance of taking care of one’s self and honoring the power within. The bear is an animal that symbolizes inner strength, courage, and leadership — something we all should strive for in life.

The bear is also closely tied to nature and its elements. Its physical strength provides protection from predators, and its vision and hearing allow it to detect potential danger.

Its fur is thick and warm, providing insulation from the cold winter months. In essence, the bear provides a reminder to humans that there are natural forces in life that can be harnessed for protection, guidance, and power.

Bear Totem Animal

The Bear is a powerful and respected totem animal, often symbolizing strength, courage, and wisdom. Bear Medicine carries the power of deep inner knowledge and instinctual understanding.

totem pole bear meaning

Bear people are natural leaders, who are balanced between the spiritual world and the physical plane on Earth. They possess great courage in facing their fears and have an enormous capacity for love. Bear people are known to be fiercely protective of their family, friends, and home.

They have the strength and ability to stand up against any challenge that comes their way while also being flexible and open-minded enough to find creative solutions. Bear Medicine encourages us to go within and seek out our own inner power and wisdom in order to achieve success.

Bear people are born with a deep connection to the spiritual realm and may have a special affinity for nature. They often make great healers, teachers, and mentors due to their ability to connect on a deeper level with others.

Bear Dream Meanings

Dreaming about bears can have a variety of meanings, depending on the context and type of bear in the dream. Bear dreams typically represent power, strength, and protective instincts. Bears may also symbolize aggression, fear, or danger.

bear dream meaning native american

Dreaming of a black bear often points to strong emotions such as anger, while dreaming of a brown bear may refer to nurturing and caring behaviors.

A polar bear in a dream may point to feeling overwhelmed and stressed, or it may also refer to being too self-reliant. Bear dreams can also herald the arrival of a major life change.

Lastly, dreaming of bears can also express feelings related to sexuality, fertility, and transformation. Bear dreams typically contain powerful symbolism, and they should be interpreted according to the overall context of the dream.

Bear dreams can represent a variety of emotions or situations in our waking lives. It is important to carefully consider all aspects of the dream to gain a better insight into its meaning.

Bear dreams often manifest when we need to confront our fears, or when we are feeling overwhelmed by certain emotions. The message often relates to the individual’s need to take control of their life and harness their power in order to reach their goals.

Bear dreams can also serve as a warning, indicating that further caution and care are needed in certain situations.

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Bear Mythology and Folklore

Bears have a long history in mythology and folklore, both as heroes and villains. Ancient cultures often viewed bears with reverence, associating them with strength, courage, and wisdom.

bear symbolism

In some Native American traditions, the Bear is revered as a powerful totem animal that symbolizes stamina and protection. The Ainu of Japan believed that the spirit of the bear resided in all living creatures, and the bear was revered as a sacred animal.

In European folklore, the bear is often portrayed as an enemy of humans. Medieval tales tell of bears kidnapping children or rampaging through villages – although this could also have been due to fear of real animals that inhabited the forests. Bears were even used in Christian stories to represent the Devil.

The most common bear character in Western Folklore is undoubtedly Goldilocks, who found herself in a house full of bears and ended up eating their porridge and sleeping in their beds.

This classic fairytale has been retold countless times, with Goldilocks often taking on different roles (such as a brave explorer or a naughty child). The story has been interpreted in many different ways, often with a moral lesson attached to it.

No matter the interpretation, it is clear that bears have long been part of mythology and folklore around the world. They are often seen as symbols of strength, courage, and wisdom – whether they be heroes or villains.

Bear Meaning in the Bible

The Bear has a variety of meanings in the Bible. In Proverbs 28:15, it is described as “a roaring lion and a ranging bear;” this symbolizes danger and a force to be reckoned with. It can also represent an enemy or oppressor that brings destruction and pain.

painting of symbol of bear

In Hosea 13:8, the Bear is used to describe the nation of Assyria, which was a powerful enemy of God’s people. In other passages, the bear can be seen as a symbol of strength and bravery; this is seen in Daniel 7:5 where four great beasts are described – one being a bear.

It also appears in Revelation 13:2, where a bear is described as having “ten horns” which symbolize its power. Bear symbolism can also represent strength of faith and perseverance.

In Psalm 23:3-4, Bear symbolism is used to describe the protection and comfort of God’s goodness. Therefore, Bears meaning in the Bible can vary depending on its context; however, it generally refers to a powerful force or an enemy that needs to be reckoned with. It also has positive connotations related to faith and strength.

Bear in the Quran

In the Quran, a bear is mentioned in Surah Al-Anbiya. The story describes how a group of people was punished for mocking the Prophet Yunus (Jonah). A huge Bear came to them and destroyed them all but one, who repented and showed humility.

bear symbolism in quran

This Bear is referred to as an “Ikhtilam Bear” which refers to a Bear which is sent by Allah as punishment. This story serves as a warning for people to beware of the consequences of their deeds and respect God’s prophets. The Bear also symbolizes strength, power, and fearlessness in the face of adversity.

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The Quran mentions this Bear again in Surah Al-Kahf, where it is described as a mighty Bear that destroyed a group of people in revenge for their disobedience.

This Bear is seen as an example of Allah’s power and justice. The Bear in the Quran reminds us that no one can escape God’s punishment, even if they are powerful or strong. It also shows us how we should never underestimate or take the power of God lightly.

Therefore, the Bear in the Quran symbolizes strength and justice and is a reminder of Allah’s ultimate authority over us.

Bear Mythology and Symbolism in different cultures

Bear mythology and symbolism has been a popular subject in the cultures of many different countries.

Ainu of Japan

In Ainu mythology, the bear is a sacred animal that holds immense power. It has been revered as an important spiritual figure in Ainu culture for thousands of years.

japanese art bear

The bear is seen as a messenger from the spirit world, and its presence can bring healing to those in need. When a bear appears, it is believed to be an omen of good luck. It is also seen as a symbol of strength and courage, and its presence can help to protect against evil spirits and bad luck.

In Ainu mythology, bears are believed to be guardians of rivers, mountains, and forests. They act as mediators between the human world and the spirit world, bringing harmony and balance to both realms. The Ainu people honor the bear through ritual offerings, songs, and dances.

In addition to its spiritual significance, the bear has also served as a symbol of Ainu identity throughout history. It is seen as a representation of courage and strength in the face of adversity and as an emblem of unity among all members of the Ainu nation.

It is also a reminder of the importance of preserving Ainu culture and tradition. The bear is an important part of Ainu folklore, and its spiritual significance has been passed down through generations to keep alive Ainu traditions and beliefs.

The reverence towards bears in Ainu culture can be seen in many aspects of everyday life. In traditional Ainu clothing, bear fur is often used for warmth and protection, and its image is often seen as a decorative pattern or design.

The bear has also been depicted in wood carvings, jewelry, and other artifacts that can be found around the home.

Today, many Ainu people continue to honor the spirit of the bear through artistic expressions and rituals. The bear remains an important symbol of the Ainu nation, and its spiritual significance is still revered in modern times.

In conclusion, the bear has long been a symbol of strength, courage, and unity for the Ainu people.

Its presence serves as a reminder of their culture’s enduring legacy, and its spiritual significance plays an important role in Ainu life today.

The bear will continue to be a source of inspiration and guidance in the years to come, just as it has been for thousands of years.


Mesopotamia also has bear symbolism in its mythology, albeit to a lesser extent. Bears were seen as symbols of bravery and strength among the Mesopotamians, and bear-related stories featured prominently in their folklore.

mesopotamian style bear

The bear was considered by some to be an immortal animal, often referred to as the “king of animals” due to its immense power and strength. It was also seen as a symbol of protection and good luck, and bear-related stories were often told to ward off evil spirits.

In Mesopotamian culture, bear cubs were sometimes even kept as pets, and bear skins were worn for warmth. Although the bear was revered in Mesopotamian mythology, it was never given the same level of importance as it was in Ainu culture.

In conclusion, bear symbolism and mythology has been part of both Ainu and Mesopotamian cultures for thousands of years.

While the bear holds a much more significant place in Ainu tradition, its presence can still be found among the people of Mesopotamia.


In Sumerian mythology, bears have long been associated with protection and strength. Bears are seen as powerful guardians that can keep away evil forces, making them a symbol of protection from danger.

sumerian style bear

They are also thought to be able to bring good luck and prosperity to those who worship them. In some stories, bears were even given the power of speech and used as messengers between the gods and humans.

Bears were seen as powerful symbols of protection, strength, and good luck in Sumerian culture. They also represented a connection to the spiritual realm, being able to communicate with both gods and mortals alike.

The bear’s power was often invoked in ceremonies and rituals to help protect those taking part in them. Bears were also seen as a symbol of fertility and prosperity, being associated with abundant harvests and good luck for those who respected them.

In addition to these protective qualities, bears also meant something else in Sumerian culture: respect for nature and the environment.

Bears were seen as spiritual stewards of the land and were believed to have a special connection to the biodiversity of their habitats.

Showing respect for bears was a way to show respect for nature and the importance of protecting it.

For these reasons, Sumerian culture saw bears as both a powerful protector and as an embodiment of respect for nature.


Babylonian culture also revered bears for their spiritual power and potential to ward off evil. Bears were seen as powerful protectors, and their presence was believed to bring good luck and fertility.

bear archetype

Babylonians also held great respect for the bear’s strength, courage, and intelligence – traits that they associated with the strength of character in humans as well.

The Babylonians believed that bears had the power to commune with gods, and they were often invoked in prayers and rituals. They even held a special festival dedicated to them, where offerings were made to appease them and bring good luck.

Bears also played an important role in Babylonian mythology. In one story, a bear is sent by the gods to help a king protect his kingdom from evil forces. This story is a reminder of the power and importance of bears in Babylonian culture and their ability to protect against danger.

The bear has been an important part of the Babylonian culture for thousands of years, serving as both a protector and a symbol of respect for nature.


In Assyrian culture, the bear was seen as a symbol of protection and strength. It was thought to be able to ward off evil forces and protect those who paid respect to it. Bears were also believed to bring good luck and prosperity to those who respected them.

bear meanings

Like other Mesopotamian cultures, the Assyrians greatly respected the bear’s power and strength. They were seen as spiritual messengers between gods and humans, with their presence bringing luck and protection to those who paid homage to them.

In Assyrian mythology, bears are often presented as powerful protectors of the gods’ words and commands. Bears are also believed to have a special connection to the spiritual realm and to be able to communicate with gods and humans alike.

For these reasons, the bear was a highly respected symbol of protection and strength in Assyrian culture. It was often invoked in ceremonies and rituals to bring good luck and ward off evil forces.


The bear has also been an important symbol in Greek culture. It was seen as a powerful symbol of protection and strength, with its presence bringing luck and prosperity to those who respected it.

bear in greece

In Greek mythology, bears were often associated with the gods and were given special abilities. For example, Artemis was believed to be able to turn herself into a bear, while Zeus was said to have given bears the power of speech.

In Greek culture, bears were also seen as a symbol of fertility and abundance.

They were believed to bring good luck to those who respected them and their habitats. Additionally, they were seen as powerful protectors against evil forces and were often invoked in rituals for protection and good luck.


The bear is an animal imbued with immense symbolism in Roman culture. The creature has long been associated with strength and ferocity, qualities that were highly valued by the Romans, and this association was reflected in their mythology.

bear in roman mythology

For instance, the god Mars was often depicted as a ferocious bear-like warrior and protector of Rome, while the goddess Diana was said to have taken the form of a bear to protect her followers.

Bears also featured heavily in Roman literature and art, often as symbols of strength and courage. Indeed, many Romans would wear amulets featuring bears or other animal symbols that were believed to bring them strength and protection.

Furthermore, the Latin word for bear, ursus, has come to symbolize a strong and noble leader.

For the Romans, bears were considered to be powerful forces of nature that should be respected and revered. This view was echoed in their mythology, where the creatures were seen as protectors and warriors who could bring luck and strength to those who honored them.


In Celtic mythology, bears are seen as powerful protectors and guides. They are associated with strength and courage, representing a warrior spirit and wisdom.

celtic bear symbol

Bears were revered for their healing powers and respected for their ability to teach us how to survive difficult times. In some cases, they were even seen as gods themselves.

In Celtic culture, bears were believed to be spirit animals, with their presence bringing good luck and protection. They were seen as teachers and guides, who could offer us insight into our own inner strength and courage.


In Norse mythology, bears were seen to be powerful and strong beings. They were associated with protection, strength, and courage.

norse spirit animals bear

Bears also had a spiritual connection in the minds of people in Norse culture. Many Norse stories feature bears as wise protectors and defenders of justice.

The most well-known bear from Norse mythology is probably the shape-shifting god Odin’s son, Thor. He transformed himself into a bear to fight the giants and save Asgard, the Norse gods’ home in Valhalla.

Bears were also associated with fertility and power – often being referenced as the source of strength and protection for those who needed it most.

Bears were seen as wise and powerful guides in Norse mythology, leading many to believe they had spiritual significance.

People believed that bears could understand the magical language of runes and see the future. They were also said to be able to heal those who sought their help, as well as provide protection against evil spirits.

In addition to being powerful protectors, bears were also thought to be symbols of luck, strength, and courage. They served as reminders to never give up in the face of adversity, no matter how hard life may become.

Native American

In Native American culture, the bear has a deeply spiritual and symbolic meaning. It is seen as a symbol of strength and courage, representing the ability to face adversity with resilience.

native american bear drawing

The bear is also associated with introspection, wisdom, healing, and personal growth – qualities commonly attributed to traditional medicine people and shamans.

Bears were often seen as messengers from the spirit world, offering healing and protection.

The bear is also a powerful symbol of personal transformation, reminding us that we must go within ourselves to find our true power and inner strength.

In many Native American stories and legends, bears are seen as shape-shifters who can take on both animal and human forms. This suggests the belief that humans can spiritually transform themselves and tap into their true power.

The bear is an important symbol in Native American culture, representing strength, wisdom, healing, personal growth, and transformation.


In Navajo culture, the bear holds a special place in their belief system and mythology. Bears are seen as powerful creatures with spiritual strength and wisdom, representing healing and protection from danger or evil forces.

navajo animal symbolism bear

The bear is also closely associated with leadership, being strong yet gentle and helpful to those in need. In some Navajo stories, bears are even portrayed as benevolent gods or spiritual guides.

Navajos believe that bears can connect people with their ancestors, give insight into the future, and offer comfort when needed. Giving offerings to bears is seen as a way of showing respect and gratitude for all they provide.

In many places throughout Navajo land, bear symbols are used to ward off danger and bring luck and good fortune to the people. By understanding their spiritual symbolism, Navajos can better celebrate and honor nature’s power and beauty.

The Navajo respect for the bear is so strong that it has even been incorporated into tribal song and dance. For example, the Bear Dance is a traditional ceremony honoring bears as sacred guardians of the tribe.

During this event, participants dress up in bear costumes, dancing and singing traditional songs in honor of the powerful animal.

The Bear Dance is still celebrated to this day and continues to be an important part of Navajo culture and tradition.

The symbolism of the bear can be found everywhere in Navajo culture, from artwork to ceremonies.


Bear symbolism is a key part of the mythology and spiritual beliefs of many indigenous people in Polynesia. Bears are seen as symbols of strength, protection, and wisdom, and they are often associated with chiefs or other important figures.

polynesian bear drawing

Many tribes have a number of sacred stories that involve bears – sometimes representing good forces, but at other times acting as messengers of evil or warning signs.

In some stories, bears are even said to have the power to transform into humans and other animals. Generally, a bear in a dream or vision is seen as an omen of good luck, protection, or wisdom.

Bears were also used in traditional rituals and ceremonies, offering physical and spiritual protection for those taking part.

In addition to this spiritual symbolism, bears were also important to the Polynesian people in practical ways. Their fur and hides were used for clothing and other items, while their meat was a valuable food source.

Many Polynesian cultures still have a deep respect for bears and their symbolic power today. There are numerous stories and traditions surrounding bear symbolism that continue to be passed down through generations.


In Chinese culture, bears were once considered divine animals that could protect against natural disasters and bring good luck.

chinese panda bear drawing

The bear was associated with the North Star and was thought to be a symbol of strength, courage, leadership, and perseverance.

Bear myths in Chinese culture include the tale of a magical bear who could transform into a beautiful woman and another story about the divine dragon-bear that could bring water to parched lands. Another popular folktale tells of two bears who were sent by heaven to help humans fight against evil spirits.

Bears have also been incorporated into various Chinese festivals. During the Dragon Boat Festival, for example, villagers would hang bear effigies to appease evil spirits and protect themselves from harm.

In some areas of China, it was believed that a bear could ward off demons and disease if it was displayed in one’s home during a holiday or festival.

Today, the bear continues to be a popular symbol in Chinese culture. Bears are often used as logos and mascots for companies and organizations, and they continue to appear in artworks, stories, films, and other forms of popular media.

The bear’s symbolism of strength, courage, leadership and perseverance still makes it an inspiring figure in modern Chinese culture.


In Slavic culture, the bear is seen as a powerful and majestic animal. It is often linked with strength and courage. The bear has been used in many stories and folklore to symbolize wisdom, magical abilities, and protection against harm.

this is a bear

The most famous use of the bear in Slavic mythology is its role as an ancestor figure. In some stories, it is believed that the first humans were created by bears.

The bear is also associated with great strength and bravery and even has certain magical powers in some traditions.

The bear has been seen as a symbol of protection in Slavic culture. People often wear amulets or charms with images of the bear to ward off evil. In some stories, it is believed that the bear’s spirit protects people from danger and misfortune.

The bear also has a spiritual significance, representing life cycles and fertility in many Slavic religions. It is seen as a protector of nature and can be associated with healing rituals or ceremonies to bring luck and success. Bears are also sometimes seen as a guardian of the home, protecting it from harm.

In addition to its spiritual and protective symbolism, the bear is also associated with authority and leadership in Slavic culture.

Many leaders have had names or titles related to bears, such as Bearclaw or Bearfang. The bear has long been seen as an emblem of power and leadership.

Overall, the bear has been an important symbol in Slavic culture for centuries. It is seen as a powerful and majestic animal with spiritual and protective meanings. Its role in folklore, mythology, and religion has helped shape Slavic culture and has given it a richness and complexity that can be appreciated today.


In Hinduism, the bear is seen as a symbol of strength and protection. Bears are associated with Mother Goddesses in several forms, including Durga and Ambika.

hindu bear god

The offering of honey to bears has long been considered auspicious in Hindu culture, as it is believed that a divine spirit resides within them.

Bears are also believed to be a symbol of strength, courage, and wisdom. In some Hindu sects, they even have their own goddess – Bhadrakali or the Bear Goddess. Hindus believe that by offering honey to bears, they can gain protection from negative forces and evil spirits.

They often carry small bowls of honey with them when going out into the wilderness or visiting temples. The offering of honey to bears is also believed to bring good fortune and success.

As such, many Hindus revere the bear as a divine being and pay respect to them whenever they encounter one in the wild. Bears are also seen as an important part of India’s cultural heritage and have been featured prominently in many Hindu stories.


In Buddhism, bears are highly regarded for their strength and wisdom. The image of the bear has been used to represent compassion, bravery, and protection in many Buddhist cultures around the world.

meditating bear

In some parts of Asia, bears have traditionally been seen as embodying spiritual power and a guardian spirit who brings good luck.

Bears also symbolize perseverance and strength, as they are often seen in stories overcoming great obstacles on their way to enlightenment.

This can be used as a metaphor for the Buddhist journey through life- no matter how difficult the path may seem, one should never give up hope of achieving inner peace and enlightenment.

In addition to representing physical strength and spiritual power, bears also represent the cycle of life and death.

The hibernation of bears is seen as an annual reminder of the journey from life to death and back again. This reflects the Buddhist understanding that all things in life are impermanent and that we should appreciate every moment for what it has to offer.

Final Words – Animal Symbolism Bear

The bear is a powerful symbol in many cultures around the world. It has long been seen as a powerful, majestic animal with spiritual significance.

In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Slavic culture, the bear holds important meanings that can be appreciated today.

Bears are often associated with strength, courage, wisdom, protection, and fertility. They have played an important role in folklore, mythology, and religion for centuries and continue to be revered by many people today.

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Christina Johnson

About the Author

My name is Christina, and I am the founder of centerspirited. Being a physiotherapist for several years I have found that many people, including myself, don’t achieve well-being only from a physical point of view. I’ve always viewed a person’s body, soul, and emotions as a whole construct of beauty. Always being a yoga enthusiast, I finally became an instructor myself. On a secret mission to capture spirituality in all of her beautiful shapes, I found myself being guided on a way through ayurvedic nutrition and lifestyle. Through this platform, I will hopefully be able to help other beautiful souls out there find their inner peace and bond with their spiritual selves.