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Turtle

 

I have loved animals as far back as I can remember. I played with my "imaginary" animal friend as a child, not knowing at the time what a power animal was. I had vivid dreams and visions throughout my life. I also felt drawn to different animals at different times in my life and when I found out about power or spirit animals, I finally understood why. Reading up on those animals and then going on shamanic journeys and meditations afforded me the entry point into the world of animals on a spiritual level. The reason I prefer the term power animal to spirit animal is simply because it feels more grounded and manifested to me. You are, of course, welcome to use whatever term you like; power animal, spirit animal, animal guide...You choose. The important thing is to have a strong, loving connection and to trust and ask your animal to teach you and share its wisdom with you.

Ancient Creatures
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I have long wanted to write about Turtles but the call to do so came at a time when I had very tight deadlines to meet but everything inside me screamed to slow down and take a break, rest. I was also contemplating the Samoan style turtle tattoo that is the symbol on the cover of my book Tank, first of the Seals in Spain reverse harem trilogy and meditating over it. But more about this later. Let us first look at the animal in a zoological context to familiarise ourselves with its main biological characteristics.

 

Turtles have been around since the times of the dinosaurs and nowadays, there are over 350 living species of turtles on the planet. The largest of these is the Leatherback Sea Turtle and weighs in at 2,000 pounds. Sea turtles can stay underwater for 4 to 7 hours before they need to come up for air. A couple of Russian tortoises have even helped modern science by being the first vertebrates (living creatures with a spine) that flew to the moon and circled it.

Although there are not, nor have there ever been a great many species of turtles, this circumstance doesn’t equate to a lack of diversity. They come in many sizes, shapes and forms, some hardly ever get near or into water, while others live almost their entire lives in a pond or in the ocean. You can find them in seasonally cold climates, which is more unusual for reptiles, as they regulate their body temperature through outside heat sources, all the way to the tropics.

 

Unfortunately, turtles, both large and small, have been already hunted and killed for millennia. Although many are now protected under the endangered species act, carrying out this protection is often near impossible. In some parts of the world, turtles are considered a delicacy and in Chinese medicine, smaller turtles are also used for concoctions or a delicacy for special celebrations.

 

Turtles don’t only vary in size and habit but also in eating habits and other characteristics, like whether or not they can retract the neck into the shell or not. All their senses are well developed and assist in avoiding predators and capturing food.

 

Turtles are not social animals. Even when they congregate and inhabit the same pond or lake, there is usually very little to no interaction between individuals. When different species of turtles inhabit the same area, they usually have different eating habits from one another, times of activity and so on.

 

Reproductive age varies not only with size but also environment the turtles live in. These different factors also determine the animal’s rate of growth and stand in correlation to sexual maturity. The number of eggs laid varies greatly and the incubation time is dependent on temperature, warmer speeding the process and cooler slowing it down.

Patience

 

In most cases, temperature also has a direct correlation to the determination of the sex of the turtle. Around 28°C, the division of males and females is nearly equal. Below, you have more males and above more females. You can see how global warming has a substantial effect on some species, tipping the gender ratio completely out of balance.

 

The age a turtle can reach typically is higher in larger species as a rule. Smaller turtles inhabiting land can live up to 30 years and sea turtles have a life span of 60-70 years in the wild but can survive longer in captivity and a safe, nurturing environment. Reaching a hundred years has not been seldom and the oldest recorded individual has reached 274 years. As some older reports have claimed the animal changed sex during the course of its life, such claims seem not to be reliable and point to intermittent replacements. Be that as it may, a larger turtle can well outlive a human in a predator and pollution-free environment that is designed in all other aspects like the animal’s natural habitat.

 

As a power or spirit animal, Turtle stands for longevity. This is the case in most mythological traditions around the world. And science has since backed it up. Turtle’s internal organs do not age. They are the only animals where this happens so the fountains of eternal youth may well be in this animal’s genome.

 

As with all older living creatures, age is associated with wisdom and thus, Turtle has a lot of wisdom to offer through age and life experience. And this goes not only for this life but the ageless qualities of the soul that carries wisdom within over the course of centuries and millennia. Turtle also reminds us not to look at things from a snapshot perspective, a momentary glimpse, but rather, to look at a situation or circumstance in the context of evolution and embedded in history. Think centuries, rather than seconds and develop your own inner sage to guide you along your path on your life journey.

 

Turtle also teaches us about slowness. Carrying a shell is heavy and limits movement. And yet, Turtle moves on unerringly on its path. Most of you will be familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare, which is one aspect of slowing down and pacing yourself. But there is more. Turtles don’t shed their skin in one piece like snakes do but do so in small pieces continuously or deposit it as layers of additional armour that protects.

 

This speaks of gradual, slow and barely noticeable transformation at a sustainable pace. There is a time for grand gestures and leaps in growth but Turtle reminds us that slow and steady wins the race and lets you integrate the changes you are going through on a deeper level before moving on to the next stage. This has the advantage that you stay grounded and centred, rather than off-balance and playing catchup with yourself.

 

We all have this dream of someone waving a magic wand over us and suddenly, in a single moment, or a very short span of time, everything is different and miraculously aligned in perfection. Turtle tells you to adjust your expectations with a kind smile. This ancient creature has the power and wisdom of the crone with which comes patience and unconditional love. She teaches us compassion and patience for ourselves and others.

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Time Stands Still

 

Turtle can also stop the beating of its own heart, something we cannot do. Our hearts need to keep beating or we die. It is like a ticking clock, a tool to measure time, something we cannot escape. Yet Turtle can. And this is a reminder to think outside of the grand illusion of time as this is a conception of the human mind. Once we adjust our thinking to going beyond time and face eternity, things have a habit to adjust in our vision and perception. And in slowing down, we can reach a consciousness that ultimately brings clarity in a single moment.

 

In practical matters, this means, forget deadlines and slow down. A message that comes very timely for me at the time of writing this article. But slowing down doesn’t mean suppressing restlessness but rather embracing restfulness. It means to take your sights off the far horizon, concentrate on and be fully immersed in the here and now. You now have the time and focus to pay attention to detail, to be diligent and caring for even small matters and to develop an even temper.

 

In many ancient mythological texts, Turtle is honoured as being the earth or carrying it on her back. More ancient than crocodiles, snakes and many other reptiles, Turtle has hatched from her mother’s egg that was buried in the sand. Thus, and the fact that she moves very close to Earth due to her short limbs, gives her a strong connection to the earth element and possesses great grounding energies. In these mythological stories, Turtle is equated with the Earth itself and thus carries the energies of the Crone Goddess, the Earth Goddess who nourishes and nurtures.

 

But because Turtle often lives in water and the earth itself is full of water, from streams and ponds over lakes, rivers and the vast oceans of the world, she is also associated with the fluidity of emotions which enhances her Goddess qualities considerably.

 

Turtle is also linked with Elephant. In Hindu mythology, the God Vishnu is said to have changed form after the great flood which recurs every four billion years into a turtle to recreate the earth. The turtle carries the elephant on its back which in turn supports the world. As scientists have discovered that turtles use subsonic sounds to communicate, the same as elephants, more parallels come to mind. Both are heavy, yet strong creatures that live long lives. These commonalities are worth exploring not only in a biological context but also in meditation and deep contemplation if called to do so. Trust your inner wisdom to point you to the right answers the symbolism of both Turtle and/or Elephant contains.

 

Do you know the song by Paul Young that was popular in the 80s where the artist sang about his home being wherever he laid his head? With Turtle, we go one step further. Turtle cannot crawl out of her shell and thus has to take the bony structure overlayed with horn everywhere she goes. In this way, she reminds us that the Earth is our home, our Great Mother and that we have an inner sanctuary that no one can take away from us and separate us from. When we get hurt and shut off the outer world, we speak of withdrawing into our shell.

Home

 

However, that does not have to be related to severe trauma. We need times of solitude to be with ourselves, go within to recharge and reflect. In this, Turtle’s shell is a powerful place of rejuvenation and a sacred sanctuary for our soul’s and psyche’s progress and development. It gives us the strength and power to be grounded, rooted and stand strong, not to be overthrown easily by outside forces and circumstances.

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In the second book of my romance novel series The Milf Diaries, Ria, the female MC is a spiritual artist who needs a lot of alone time to recharge and allow her creative juices to flow. When she is in a conversation, she often leaps five steps ahead in her mind between statements which can make it challenging for others to follow her.

At the same time, the male MC, Jordan, a world-famous male stripper, has a grounding effect on her. However, he has to battle with his own demons and suffers from anxiety attacks when it comes to having sex with Ria.

Both main characters have to practice patience here, as well as slowly gaining trust in each other to feel comfortable and safe. They each have developed coping mechanisms in their childhood that allowed them to deal with trauma and protect themselves from unhealthy influences through dysfunctional family patterns. Together, they learn to find an inner security to ground and balance them, and the patience to build a relationship that is finally free of trauma and fear.

Turtle lets us know that there is no need to hurry and get stressed but rather, bear in mind that things flow that much more easily when we rest within ourselves. We need not find another location, either. Where we are in this moment and in this inner or outer place is perfect. When we accept the current moment and situation, we can create from a place of power and inner safety that gives us the confidence to bring about all we desire.

 

When I meditated on the symbolism of Turtle one day recently, I had a vision of a sea turtle. I was underwater and it floated in front of me. The smile I received was so full of kindness and unconditional love that it moved me to the core of my heart. It did not speak in words of sound and yet, I had the words in my head as clearly as if they were spoken.

 

“Why are you always rushing, afraid you won’t get there in time and not be able to meet your deadlines when you know fully well that rushing will take you further away from your goals? You have enough spiritual knowledge to know this. Don’t be afraid. You must trust yourself.”

 

Her front foot which is almost shaped like a fin touched my chest over my heart. I felt so much love and kindness stream into me, so much reassurance. I had an overwhelming feeling of being loved and of being absolutely safe. My feelings of slight anxiety disappeared, my body tension relaxed and my pulse slowed down. It was like coming down from an adrenaline shock, only much gentler, yet no less powerful. It was such a powerful reminder of getting myself back on track by being taken off it and reminded to breathe and slow down to be on course again. In my own time because some things just cannot be rushed.

 

Turtle teaches us to be mindful of the cycles of life, to be patient and kind, use water and earth resources conservatively and to be a custodian for the environment to create a harmonious flow. It connects us with the Earth and the emotions, grounding us and steering us safely through the global streams of mass emotions that flow around our planet. As the great crone, the wise nurturing and patient grandmother, Turtle shows us to be kind and strong, patient yet steadfast, standing in our power without steamrolling others or allowing others to walk all over us.

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