Ancient Guidance from Turtle

On this, World Turtle Day, let us take some time to appreciate the ancient guidance of this magnificent creature.

Wondrously self-contained, ponderously slow, and proverbially steady, Turtle has carried wisdom on its back for people throughout history.

Some psychological theories see in the turtle a connection with the self; the unity of the personality as a whole. In Eastern religions, the turtle is thought to be the balance of opposing principles, such as heaven and earth. Find out what Turtle can teach us today.

The turtle represents security, solid grounding, and support. It is seen as slow, steady, strong, wise with age, protective, and unshakeable.

Slow-moving, steady, and armored as it is–seemingly impervious to attack–the turtle appears a very model of settled, universal order. The Chinese traditionally see the tortoise as a supporter of the world, its four feet being the four corners of the earth. Turtle-shells were used in divination and the animal itself was thought to have oracular powers. Called the Black Warrior, the tortoise is a symbol of strength, endurance, and longevity. In Mongolian myths, the central mountain of the universe is carried on the back of a golden turtle.

Like most animals that produce large numbers of offspring, the turtle is associated with fertility and sacred to the goddess Aphrodite. To many Africans, the tortoise is generally a symbol of wisdom, skill, and power, often depicted as a trickster figure.

Because it is literally so self-contained, the turtle has often been seen as a symbol of focus and meditation. In Hindu tradition, the world rests on the back of an elephant, a male solar symbol, which in turn stands upon a tortoise, in this case a feminine lunar symbol. The two together represent the creative principle.

The Iroquois of North America believe that they are descended from a turtle that rid itself of its shell, and that the earth sits on the back of the Great Turtle. Other Native American tribes see the turtle as a symbol of endurance and persistence. Many tribes have turtle clans.

If you need more grounding, focus, endurance, or deep power, calling in Turtle for help is a time-honored way of wisdom.

Adapted from Animal Life in Nature, Myth, and Dreams, by Elizabeth Caspari (Chiron Publications, 2003). Copyright (c) 2003 by Elizabeth Caspari. Reprinted by permission of Chiron Publications.
Adapted from Animal Life in Nature, Myth, and Dreams, by Elizabeth Caspari (Chiron Publications, 2003).

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Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp3 years ago

What a lovely creature!

leanne mcivor
leanne Torio3 years ago

Turtles need to be protected at all costs - turtles dieing and being hooked due to the by-catch of fishing is unacceptable - please sign petition - turtles getting hooked!

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T.3 years ago

Good article, thank you...

Mary L.
Mary L.4 years ago

Thank you.

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago

Thank you.

May Howie
may Howie4 years ago

beautiful and amazing creatures

Nycole Lobe
Nycole Lobe4 years ago

Turtles are amazing!

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga4 years ago


Gordana Roljic
Gordana Roljic4 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.