Why Did the Tortoise Cross the Road?

The Road

I had journeyed across the country from Los Angeles to upstate New York to present a workshop at the Omega Institute about connecting with the spirit world. After a five hour flight and two and a half hour drive,  I parked at the B&B to unload my luggage and rest for a few moments, then hopped in the car and drove the few miles to the nearby town of Rhinebeck. I wanted to gather some supplies for my three-day stay, and from my previous visits knew of an outstanding health food store in the village that had many of my favorite goods.

As I was driving along the somewhat twisty road on this unseasonably hot and humid day, appreciating the forested panorama on either side, I noticed another driver fast approaching my car from behind. I gripped the wheel tighter as he approached. The other car came within a car length as I snaked my way along at 40 miles per hour, with no place along the road to pull over or for the other car to pass. I slowed a bit, thinking the other driver might pass in spite of the double yellow lines. My attention was divided between the road ahead and the vehicle in the rear view mirror that seemed to be attached by an invisible cord to our car.

Suddenly I caught something on the pavement, some small, indistinct movement just ahead. It was a tortoise that was crossing the road! He had just crossed the dividing line moving from left to right, moseying along—naturally—at a tortoise pace, clearly directed to be on the other side of the road. All in the blink of an eye, I swerved and gratefully avoided running over this beautiful creature. But what about the car behind me? Immediately I glanced in the rear view mirror, and to my great relief saw that the driver had also managed to avoid hitting the tortoise.

Once I had gotten through the initial shock of the situation I realized that my little friend was still in danger, so I did a u-turn and tracked back to the scene of the crossing. When I arrived, there was a yellow Volkswagen Beatle parked off to the side of the road. A woman was escorting the tortoise by standing behind him, shepherding him for the brief remainder of his trek by walking behind. Occasionally she would clap her hands, prompting the tortoise to scoot along a bit faster for at least a couple of steps. I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked the woman for caring so much, and continued on my journey to Rhinebeck.

The Message

When an animal shows up in an unusual way or repeatedly in a short period of time, whether in its physical or symbolic form, they’re trying to give us a message. The animal that makes an appearance in either of these ways is not just one animal, but is a representative of the entire species of that animal. It’s the essence, or spirit, of every one of these animals on the entire planet concentrated in this one being that’s trying to reach you with a message. This is why we don’t speak of simply the tortoise, a bear, the coyote, or an eagle, but instead Tortoise, Bear, Coyote, and Eagle.

When you observe an animal in this way, in order to decipher the message, close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths, see that animal in your mind’s eye, and silently ask what message they have for you. Once you’ve asked, pay attention to whatever shows up next, whether through images, words, sensations, thoughts, or some combination of these. The communication may be very clear or may be somewhat cryptic or dream-like, but however it shows up, this is your answer.

So with the tortoise who crossed the road, given that I was driving, I obviously couldn’t shut my eyes. Instead, I just let it work me, asking the spirit of Tortoise what message he was trying to give me. The communication came through gradually over the next several hours, and consisted of some very simple messages that proved valuable not only for the class I was about to teach, but also every area of my life.

So here’s a summary of the message:

“SLOW DOWN! You’ve got all the time in the world. Be willing to stick your neck out, take some risks. You are protected and cared for, and you can always retreat if necessary. Know that help is always nearby when you need it—just put the word out. It will often show up in unexpected and surprising ways.”

This was helpful for me since I had started doing random “power animal readings,” tuning into someone’s animal spirit guide and relaying what the spirit guide was communicating. Tortoise encouraged me to go for it, to not hold back, trust the information I would get and pass it along to the individual I was reading. His shell was a reminder that protection was always available.

I went on to teach the class and throughout, Tortoise’s message continued to play itself out in many ways. My readings were sharp and detailed, thanks to the willingness on the part of the animal spirits to show themselves to me so clearly. Tortoise reminded us that we were safe at all times, in spite of the things of life whizzing by us, just like the cars whizzing by our friend on the road.


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers4 years ago

Many thanks to you and the woman in the yellow VW for caring enough to stop and protect our brother Tortoise. So many people are always too much in a hurry or they just don't care to even brake for an animal. Oftentimes, when I've been a passenger and have asked the driver to please, slow down for a low flying bird, sadly, I've often been told (usually with a chuckle) that I worry too much because birds can fly so they can get out of the way themselves. Haven't they ever noticed the dead birds on the road? I once had a bird collide into the side window of my car. It broke my heart! I kept wondering if there was a mate and/or babies that were waiting for it's return. I still think of that poor little bird that had the misfortune of crossing paths with me that day. While it was unintentional on my part, I still ask for forgiveness. Some people tell me that I'm overly sensitive when it comes to animals but wouldn't I (or anyone else) have been devastated if it were a person that was injured or killed? Why shouldn't we have the same respect and sensitivities for another species, another soul?

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper4 years ago


PrimaAWAY B.
PrimaAWAY B4 years ago

That was a wonderful story!!

Thank god that woman cared enough. That would have been me.. I have done that so many times witha family of ducks and a few odd situations. mainly a family of ducks. A Turtle - how special.

Thanks for sharing...

tin leng lim
tin leng lim4 years ago

Thank you for sharing. Great article.

Chitram Manisha
Chitram Manisha4 years ago


Carmen S.
Carmen S4 years ago

thanks for sharing this, I have often found animals that crossed my my path to be messengers if I would just quiet my mind long enough to hear the message

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo4 years ago

Thank you for sharing your knowledge about the Spirits of the Earth. I will remember to give them the respect they deserve. I have to share an experience, and I wish I had learned what you just taught us. After my brother died, a Bluejay flew up to a half circle window in our dining room and knocked or pecked on the window repeatedly. Then he flew around to the back of the house and knocked on the window. He did it repeatedly back and forth again and again. I became really excited because I felt deep down that it was my brother visiting me and letting me know that he was well and free from cancer and pain. Perhaps, this may sound a bit nutty, but I still believe it was John. His eyes were as blue as the Bluejay, and he was only thirty-one-years-old. It was tragic, and I will always grieve his death, but I am grateful for the years we shared.

Michael H.
Mike H4 years ago

Thank you!

Vicky P.
Vicky P4 years ago


wael a.
wael a4 years ago

thank you