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Animal Symbolism: Turtle Meanings

Symbolic Turtle Meanings

Symbolic Meaning of the Turtle

When it comes to animal symbolism, turtle is a great example of persistence, determination, endurance and more. By very design, the turtle is a survivor. It has the ability to protect itself against harsh preditors. This is a great lesson for us. The turtle is a great guide to call upon when we need to shield ourselves from oncoming attack. For example, I'm going through a very rough patch right now. So tough, that sometimes I'm not sure what to do with myself...not sure where to turn. Meditation isn't always successful, neither is prayers, or devotionals. In these times, the turtle has been my savior and guide. I call upon this sweet spirited creature. I visualize the turtle lending me its protection. I see myself encapsuled by turtle shell, deflecting all the assaults that pummel me. In this way, the turtle has given me great moments of protection, safety and solace.

Those with the turtle as their animal totem can relate to the "sure and steady" message this creature brings to our lives.

It is also a powerful totem for protection as withdrawing into its shell is an amazing self-defense mechanism.


The turtle has few predators, which gives it an innocent energy. This also increases its lifespan, and so holds the symbolic meaning for longevity in many cultures.

Did you know the turtle is one of the oldest living animal ancestors walking on the earth today? The oldest fossils of turtles are dated at over 200 million years old. This is highly symbolic. It indicates the turtle is a symbol of longevity, endurance, persistence, and the continuation of life (sometimes against incredible odds).

-Ever hear of the old adage "slow and steady wins the race."? Not only is the turtle's walking pace sure and steady, but so is its insistence at being a part of biological life on this earth. Something to consider when connecting with the turtle as a guide and mentor in living a dynamic, long life.

Animal Symbolism of the Turtle

  • Order
  • Creation
  • Patience
  • Strength
  • Stability
  • Longevity
  • Innocence
  • Endurance
  • Protection
Avia and Turtle Totem

Avia with a turtle friend she found in the marshes. They can be such teachers of tolerance! I'm sure this little guy wasn't thrilled I plucked him from his safe spot! All the more...the turtle is a great symbol for being fearless in the face of the unknown.


Because of its seemingly wide-eyed, long-lived, carefree attitude the turtle is often thought to be the wisest of souls among the animal kingdom. We would all do well to take this as a lesson and move at our own pace as the turtle does.

Furthermore, the turtle takes its wisdom one day at a time - not reacting, simply accepting and moving on in its natural methods. Again, this is a powerful analogy for humankind, and we would benefit from adopting the same behavior pattern.

Tutles share an association with water, which lends meanings of motion, intuition and emotion to the myriad of more symbolic meanings of the turtle.

Other Symbolic Meanings Associated with the Turtle

animal symbolism - turtle meanings

Of all things the turtle stands for perhaps the most upstanding is its feature to take all of life one step at a time. Steady, stable and pragmatic. We should never turn our noses at these attributes. After all, every great undertaking is done one small action after another - the turtle reminds us of this.

In China and Japan the turtle is a symbol for longevity. Furthermore, in Asian myth the turtle represents cosmic order.

Cosmic Orders of the Turtle

  • Its shell is symbolic of the heavens
  • Its body symbolic of the earth
  • Its undershell represents the underworld.

Furthermore, the turtle is considered to have brought about the creation of the universe from its body. Each of the turtle's anatomy represents a section of the foundation of the earth. The base shell offers the horizon, to make allowance for the sun and moon to rise and set. The top shell is the topography of the land. The body itself stands in for the waters that flow as the life-blood through the veins of the earth.

What's more, the turtle is a symbol of motherhood and creation and many cultures. You can read more about the turtle as a motherhood symbol here.

Divination or foretelling has been known to be conducted by reading a turtle's shell and underbelly. These parts of the turtle are said to depict a map of the stars and sacred writings. Furthermore, most turtle shells are divided into thirteen sections which is associated with the thirteen phases of the moon in a year.

Animal Symbolism Video: A Neat Clip Of The Sea Turtle

I hope you have enjoyed this page on symbolic turtle meanings. Be sure to check out the links at the end of this page for more articles on animal symbolism.

As always, thanks for reading!

May all your turtle encounters be bright.

Avia


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Avia Venefica

About the Author: Avia Venefica has an undergraduate degree with a focus in anthropology and art. She has also been an understudy in several tribal and spiritual organizations around the nation. Avia is the author of several publications concerning esoteric wisdom, and makes herself available for public speaking/presentations on symbolic topics.