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Turtle Symbolism and Lore
Ancient Symbolism of The Turtle
The Turtle is an ancient symbol that represents creation, endurance, strength, stability, longevity, fertility, and innocence. The Turtle also provides protection, good fortune , and brings happiness and good omens.
One of the four Chinese sacred animals (among the dragon, the phoenix, and the unicorn), the ever adapting turtle is a creature of both land and sea and can thrive in any environment.
In Asian myth the turtle represents order and was thought to have created the entire universe from it's body parts. The heavens were formed from the shell, the earth was created from it's body and it's undershell was the underworld.
In American Indian culture, the turtle represents the caring wisdom of the ancient ones and is respected for it's protective strength.
The Turtle is considered to be the oldest, most sacred symbol of the Anishinabe and Haudenosaunee people. They believed that North America was created on the back of a turtle.
"Legend says that Father Sky's wife fell through a hole in the sky, and to keep her from drowning, little Muskrat managed to bring up a handful of soil from the bottom of the ocean; she placed it on Turtle's wide back and the land immediately began to grow, forming North America."
To this day most Indigenous peoples refer to North America as Turtle Island.
Sources: Sacred Symbols and Their Meanings, Whats-Your-Sign.com
Cultural World Myths and the Turtle - The Cultural History of The Turtle
A great deal of mythology exists in regards to the Turtle.
1. In the Far East, the Turtle's round shell was a symbol of heaven carried above it's square earth underside. The turtle was considered a magical animal that united both heaven and earth.
2. In the west, early Christians thought that turtles were evil omens sent by their enemies during war.
3. In Greece, turtles were once believed to be born from hell.
4. in the Hindu religion the turtle is considered to be the second incarnation of the powerful god Vishnu.
"Legends say that after a great flood, which occurs every four billion years and dissolves the earth, Vishnu transforms himself into a great Turtle. On his back, the Turtle carries a vessel in which the gods and demons mix the elements necessary to re-create the world. After one thousand years, when the earth has been reborn, the Turtle remains in place, and on his back stands a large elephant, which supports the planet."
Turtles are also symbols of immortality and are considered temporary dwelling places for souls while waiting for the next reincarnation until they reach Nirvana.
5. A Japanese fairy tale tells of a man who protects a turtle from some boys who were bothering it. As a reward, the turtle takes the man to meet the King of the Ocean and is given the King's beautiful water sprite daughter. to marry.
6. In Nigeria, the turtle was a symbol of the female sex organs and sexuality.
7. To Native Americans, the Turtle was associated with the lunar cycle, menstruation, and the power of the female energies.
The markings and sections on some turtles, total thirteen. In the lunar calendar, there are either thirteen full moons or thirteen new moons, alternating each year. Many believe this is where the association with the female energy myth originated. The Turtle, has thus come to symbolize the Primal Mother and Mother Earth.
8. To the modern Chinese, Turtles are viewed in many different ways. They are worshiped in temples and Flour Turtles are used as offerings at temple festivals or big family events.
9.Buddhist beliefs restrain the killing of animals, this evolved into the Buddhist ceremony of releasing the Turtles.
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Talk to the Animals!
Wise Quotes from the Turtles
"Try to be like the turtle - at ease in your own shell." - Bill Copeland
"Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out." - James Bryant Conant
"Slow and steady wins the race." ~ Aesop
“And the turtles, of course...all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.” - Dr. Seuss