Before the Nords were as they are today, during the rule of the Dragon Priests, the people of Atmora worshiped nine animal gods – six shown as male, and three as female. Today, it is widely accepted that they represent the animal forms of other, more well-known gods – the Dragon as Alduin, for example, or the Hawk as Kyne. The Bear is thought to be Stuhn, brother to Tsun and precursor to Stendarr, God of Righteous Might and Merciful Forbearance who is worshiped across Tamriel.
If the Bear is Stuhn, then it is also the symbol of Ransom – Stuhn is the one who taught men the benefits of capturing and holding prisoners during war, and as a warrior god Stuhn fought against the gods of the Aldmer. (Ironically, if Stuhn became Stendarr, he is now worshiped in the same pantheon he fought against!)
But, I don’t really want to address Stuhn here; I’d like to focus on the Bear of the Ancient Nords. So, what does this Bear have for those of us who aren’t from Atmora, who aren’t ruled by the Dragon Priests and, above them, the Dragons? What can this Bear offer us?
If this Bear is a symbol of Righteous Might, perhaps it is a reminder to protect what is ours, to stand up for what we believe even when hope seems lost.
If this Bear is an example of Merciful Forbearance, perhaps it is a reminder to be patient, to remain unprovoked, and stalwart.
And, if this Bear is associated with Ransom, perhaps it is a reminder of redemption, if one believes in such things. Perhaps it is a reminder that it can be helpful to hold things back when necessary, that quid pro quo isn’t as selfish a concept as some would label it.
For me, the Bear of the Ancient Nords is a reminder that I have the strength to stand on my own, regardless of the situation. What is it for you?