It was the winter of 2001. The warmth of the Maui sunlight bathed every cell of my body as my bare feet walked gently across the golden morning sand. My heart cracked wide open, overwhelmed divine beauty, tasting a moment of heaven. My breath deepened as I dipped into the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean. I swam out quite a way, my first Hawaiian ocean experience, still new to understanding the sheer strength of the Ocean Spirit. Then it happened! From nowhere – out of the deep blue depths. My first turtle friend. She swam upwards, slowly, slowly towards me. Time stood still and the whole world fell away. It was if my whole body dissolved into the gentle waves as Turtle brushed past my skin. My heart melted, as for that moment in time there was no boundary, we became one heartbeat, one breath one rhythm of the divine. Together, forever, Turtle & I.
And then she was gone, returning on her journey, into the mysterious blue waters again. It ignited something within my soul, something that has never left my side. Beyond the feeling of awe and honour that she had chosen to brush through my skin in that exact moment; beyond the thrill of being visited by one of Earth’s oldest and wisest of beings; beyond my dreams – it inspired a reconnection with the sacred gift of the Spirit of the Turtle. A connection that my heart longed for. Little did I know that she would stay by my side, in spirit, for many years to come, as a friend on my spiritual journey.
A few years later in the spring of 2006, I was meditating in my English home, letting go, shedding layers. Turtle appeared again. In spirit, a sort of cosmic turtle – she helped me to clear and cleanse, to lighten my load and help me gather one mighty inhale of strength for what would turn out to be the most challenging 12 years of my life.
Over the years Turtle would appear again in many forms, reminding me of my inner light during those times I’d forgotten; reminding me that I have the strength and stamina to endure even the darkest of nights; reminding me to tune into the deep, untainted, unwavering wisdom of the universe; to surrender and ride the wild currents until those currents grew bored and tired and released their controlling grip. And when one day, I felt ‘broken’ beyond repair, it was Turtle who took me too more gentle shores and reminded me that whilst there may be a time in our lives for 100ft waves and thrashing currents, there is also a time to ride the gentle, loving tides and to bask on the warm rocks until we become whole again.
Turtle Spirit Medicine – how can turtle inspire and support us on the journey of life?
HOME IS WITHIN US
“Home is always here, no matter where we roam”
Turtle carries her trusty and protective home upon her back, reminding us that home is within. She helps us to remember that home is where the heart is; home is wherever we lay our hat; that home is ultimately within us. Turtle teaches us to feel at peace wherever we roam.
Finding ‘home’ within is a particularly powerful message for those of us who have never felt like we belonged or never felt at home where we are.
This message that ‘home is within’ is also powerful turtle spirit medicine to help us find courage, to be adventurous and explore beyond our comfort zones. This energy of knowing home is within, can help us to travel to far away places, knowing that we have all everything we need right there within. Turtle invites us to let go and be present with each the moment during our adventures in life so that stepping out of our comfort zone becomes associated with personal growth and development, rather than fear.
Turtle helps us understand that no matter how far we travel (whether literally or metaphorically) that we have the answers inside of us; that whatever we are searching for has been right there within us, all along.
COMMITMENT & DETERMINATION
“Presence will lead us to what the heart yearns for in life”
We’ve all heard the story of the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise (a land turtle) and the hare decided in their infinite wisdom to have a race. With bounding confidence, the hare zoomed off leaving the tortoise to navigate at his own naturally slow pace. Seeing how slow the tortoise was, the hare became overly confident feeling certain, beyond a doubt that he would win the race. This created a sense of arrogance and lack of commitment to the race, leading the hare began to dawdle and lark about. All the while the tortoise kept putting one foot in front of the other, steady, strong and sure. Of course, it didn’t bother tortoise that hare was seemed sure to win the race, because his motivation was simply to do his best; to enjoy the journey and be present in the moment. Sure enough, as the hare dawdled about, the commitment and perseverance of the tortoise ensured that, despite all the odds, he came through and finished the race first, before hare could notice.
The moral of the story is… sure and steady commitment to each step, with patience, no matter how slow it may appear, in the long term is what leads to success in life.
Success is not about being the fastest, it’s about having commitment to whatever is going on at the time. Success is about presence. It’s about letting go of attachment to the outcome and simply being present with what is happening, trusting that if you give yourself to the situation, then your spiritual stamina will yield the perfect results.
WATER ELEMENT & DEEP EMOTIONS
“Diving deep and bringing emotions to the surface to release”
Turtle represents both the land and water elements.
Its affinity with waters is symbolic of balanced emotions. With it’s calm, unhurried descent into the deep blue, Turtle offers us a reminder of the importance of honouring our true emotions and that there is nothing to fear from being honest with ourselves about what we are feeling. Honesty heals.
Turtle’s energy allows us to delve deep within, to safely unravel trapped emotions. She can help us to bring these emotions to the surface to breath and gently release.
“Taking one step at a time and appreciating what is right in front of you”
Turtle is unhurried. Without worry, she takes each moment as it comes, honouring the natural rhythm of life. This is all about embracing the journey rather than focussing on the destination. Each moment has something for us to appreciate. All good things come to those who have patience.
Turtle reminds us that if we are constantly rushing in life that we will miss the unfolding beauty of the moment. She invites us to find a natural rhythm, one which allows us to take time to appreciate what is there for us, in the here and now.
TRUSTING IN YOUR PATH
“Attuning to the deep inner wisdom that never lets us down”
Turtle is all about deep inner wisdom that knows and trusts the path. If you know anything about the journey of a sea turtle, you will know that from birth it often endures on an incredibly long, perilous journey.
Sea turtles are some of the most migratory creatures upon this Earth (the leatherback sea turtle travels up to an astonishing 10,000 miles per year). They remind us that if we listen to our intuition we will always find our way no matter how far and wide we travel and regardless of whatever obstacles show up.
Trusting our inner compass is key.
USING YOUR ENERGY WISELY
“Riding on the currents”
Many sea turtles ride the currents in the ocean to preserve their energy. They are known to use their energy wisely attuning to nature to help them. Sea turtles are streamlined and perfectly adapted for efficency in the water. This can also remind us that there is a time and place to expend and save energy – something we can benefit from doing wisely.
We’re invited to patiently ride out the storm when it gets rough, knowing that all storms pass eventually.
RETREAT TO YOUR SHELL
“Go inwards and meditate”
When turtles are threatened they retreat into their protective shell for safety. We too are reminded to go inwards and find a safe haven of inner peace no matter what is happening the world outside. If we are being attacked or harshly challenged then there is always safety within our shell as we observe and see what we are meant to learn from the situation.
“Standing the test of time”
OK let’s talk about longevity! Turtles are perhaps one of the most ancient beings to live upon this Earth. They’ve outlived the dinosaurs, with evidence of turtles having been here at least 220 million years ago. They are also known some of the longest living creatures on the planet.
A typical pet turtle can live between 10-80 years or so while larger species can easily live over 100 years. According to the “Guinness Book of World Records”, sea turtles have the longest lifespan of up to 152 years.
Harriet the Turtle
At the time of Harriet the Turtle’s death in 2006, she was the oldest known animal in the world. The giant Galapagos land, which weighed 150 kilograms, had been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living chelonian, or tortoise. She died at the age of 175, at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, Australia, where she was the star attraction.
Scientists though are still unsure how old some turtles get, especially endemic species such as the Galapagos tortoise that have lived for years in isolation. It is difficult to measure the age since it takes centuries, some guess that some turtles could be around 400 to 500 years old. Source: Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia
Plant powered for long life in the Galapagos!
I can’t overlook the fact that the longest-lived of all known turtles is the Galapagos Giant Tortoise, from the Galapagos islands. They eat a strictly plant-based diet of greens, cacti, fruits, milkweed and pretty much any vegetation they can acquire. They live calm and peaceful lives, perhaps qualities that also add to longevity.
They’ve survived 200 million years – how ironic that it is humankind who has driven the turtle almost to the brink of extinction!
“Tune into your ancient wisdom”
Turtles are one of the longest existing creatures on the planet. Throughout the ages, they’ve witnessed unimaginable changes and shifts upon this precious Earth. Watching and observing with the utmost patience and humility they’ve weathered the most challenging of eras. Turtles retain incredible wisdom throughout the sands of time and invite us to attune to age-old, steadfast inner knowledge on the journey.
We are all connected, so if Turtle is showing up in your life, it is perhaps a reminder to tune into and trust our innate ancient wisdom as we navigate the path of life.
“The importance of connecting with our roots”
Given the ancient nature of Turtle here on Earth, it might come as no surprise that in some indigenous traditions Turtle is the embodiment of Mother Earth. Turtle has embraced Earth wisdom throughout the ages. She invites us to become grounded and to become at one with Mother Nature, taking care to look after her with utmost care and respect.
Some Native American tribes also refer to Turtle as a sacred symbol of Mother Earth, referring to their continent (North America) as Turtle Island.
When turtle appears we are reminded of our deep and sacred connection with our Earth Mother, perhaps the most important lesson of our time.
Article by Anastasia, with love