A New Message from the Turtle Totem Animal
For years, I’ve turned up my nose at the thought of a turtle totem animal.
My totem is a deer, usually as a stag but sometimes as a fawn. There are other animals–fish, fowl, and insects, too–that I’ve chose to work with for specific reasons, and then there are the ones that choose me, usually for some temporary work or just to draw my attention to something. For the past month, it’s been turtles.
They’re mostly wild turtles on trails and roadsides, but occasionally they show up in some other form, such as a statue or jewelry.
A decade ago, a High Priestess friend of mine surprised me when she told me that the turtle was her personal totem animal. She explained to me then that to her, it represented home: the hard outer shell with the soft, squishy inside. She made me laugh at that, but normally since then when I’ve seen the turtle, it’s been in relationship to my own home that I’ve made for my daughters and me. Now that I’m an empty nester, that meaning seems to have changed–and I’ve been seeing a lot of turtles lately!
A traditional meaning for the turtle totem animal is that it reflects peace in your life or a peaceful path or even being at peace. Throughout my life, I’ve said that I would never be content because to me the idea of being content was the same as being stagnant. And yet, to my surprise, I’m at a point in my life where there is a large degree of contentment. Since clearing out some of the shadows related to my father and past love relationships, there is definitely a sense of peace.
Another traditional view of the turtle totem animal is that turtle magick tells you to take it slow and steady or even to slow down and look around. Yuck! That’s exactly why I’ve turned up my nose at the turtle as totem. Usually when people tell me to slow down or take it easy, they’re really telling me to STOP!
While out for an afternoon walk, I noticed nearly a dozen turtles–all different sizes, slightly different patterns on their backs. A few moved slowly, slowwly, slowwwwwwwwly, gradually through the grass to join the turtles sunning themselves near the water. As I approached, my footfalls startled them and they, every last one, moved remarkably quickly and dove into the water. For animals that can be so slow and steady on the land, they can move very fast when need dictates.
So much for the slow and steady turtle. Take it off the land, change its environment, drop it into water, and see it swim faster than your eyes can travel until it bobs to the surface far and safely away!
Maybe these pokey little turtles that seem so content to get themselves run over when crossing the highway really do have a message for me after all.
I will pace myself in certain environments, slowing down so I won’t waste my energy, but not stopping so I don’t waste my time. And yet, when circumstances change and the environment changes, I’m ready to move in an instant, so fast that you’ll never catch me.