An Homage to the Turtle.

It’s the world Turtle day.

Turtles are amphibians and live a long life. there are 356 species of turtles and spread all over the world except the poles. Tortoise are turtles but they live on land. It would be right to say that all tortoise are turtles but all turtles are not tortoise. Most turtles are found in water bodies and are amphibians, the tortoise however dies if put into water. The average life span of tortoise is 100yrs. The oldest surviving turtle, Mzee an aldabra tortoise is 130yrs.

Turtles have an hard shell that is strong when in danger the turtle withdraws within it. The leatherback sea turtles are considered shell less because the shell is leather like and soft unlike the hard ones normally found.

Turtles both herbivorous and carnivorous.

Humans however have begun to threaten the existence of these placid creatures. Either by directly harvesting them or encroaching into their habitat through deforestation.  Many turtles have been lost to vehicles that run over them. USA is a major exporter of turtle harvest to China.

Metaphysically the turtles symbolize water, moon, time, immortality. The longevity of the turtle makes it very important in the folklores and mythology. Many cultures believe that the Turtle carries the world on its back.

It is seen as the link between the earth and heavens. The jains believe that turtles are immortals and form various levels spiritually. The soul is believed to rest in these turtles before attaining nirvana. The placid nature of the turtle, and its slow movements has made it the representation of stability and wisdom.

However turtles can be territorial and aggressive. They have tremendous strength and very individualistic.

Though most cultures revere turtles they are considered as evil magic and herald ill-omen in some cultures. Each culture has its own imagery of the turtle:

  • Hawaiians see the turtle as a little who watches over children as they play. Her home is the source for freshwater.
  • Mayans see the turtle as connect with Orion and their altars are shaped as turtles.
  • Native Americans believe that the turtle carries the earth on its back.
  • Chinese consider the turtle divine and a Hermit. Yet turtle meat is considered a delicacy.
  • Sufi’s see the hatching of the turtle eggs and the young ones returning to the sea, as the return to God.
  • Feng shui considers turtles as good fortune.

The Hindu philosophy and mythology also reveres the turtle, the Kurma avatar is considered the 3rd incarnation of Vishnu there are three temples dedicated to the Kurma-raja.

Shilpashastra states that the temple architecture is the symbolic representation of the samudra manthan the famous myth. While Akupara is the tortoise on whose back are the elephants that carry the world.

The river Yamuna is depicted seated on a tortoise under an Asoka tree.

Then of course there is the famous post Vedic story of the samudhra manthan.

In shamanism if a turtle or tortoise appears in your space, then it is about never ending arrivals. It about having to release things that hinders your progress. More importantly it is about walking our path with perseverance, determination and serenity. The appearance of a turtle also asks you to protect yourself and your loved with ones emotionally and spiritually. There is a need to protect oneself from hurtful memories and negative influences.

Since the turtle is the symbol of water, it guides us to surrender and go with the flow.

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