In Native American teachings, Turtle is the oldest symbol for planet Earth. It is the personification of goddess energy, and the eternal Mother from which our live evolve. We are born of the womb of Earth, and to her soil our bodies will return. In honoring the Earth, we are asked by Turtle to be mindful of the cycle of give and take, to give back to the Mother as she has given to us.
Turtle has a shell which is similar to the protection that Earth has employed for centuries as her body has been defiled. Mother Earth’s protection has come in the form of Earth changes, new plant growth, the creation of new land masses by volcanoes, and climate alterations. Like Turtle, you also have shields that protect you from hurt, envy, jealousy, and the unconsciousness of others. Turtle teaches you, through its habit patterns, how to use protection. If you are bothered by the actions or words of others, it is time to go inside yourself and honor your feelings. If you are attacked, it is time to give a warning snap.
If you have chosen the Turtle symbol, you are being asked to honor the creative source within you, to be grounded to the Earth, and to observe your situation with motherly compassion. Use the water and earth energies, which represent Turtle’s two homes, to flow harmoniously with your situation and to place your feet firmly on the ground in a power stance. Turtle warns of dangers of “pushing the river,” as evidenced by the plodding pace it keeps. The corn that is harvested before its time is not yet full. However, if it is given the chance to develop at its own rate, in its own season, its sweetness will be shared by all.
Turtle buries its thoughts, like eggs, in the sand, and allows the sun to hatch the little ones. This teaches you to develop your ideas before bringing them out in the light. Look at the old fable of the tortoise and the hare, and decide for yourself whether or not you would like to align with Turtle. Bigger, stronger, and faster are not always the best ways to get to a goal. When you arrive, you may be asked where you have been and you may not be able to remember. In that case, arriving prematurely can make you feel very immature.
If you draw the Turtle card, it augurs a time of connecting with the power of Earth and the Mother-Goddess within. This is a reminder of the ally you have in Mother Earth. It does not matter what situation you have created: ask her for assistance and abundance will follow.
Pulling the Turtle card in the reverse means that Mother Earth is calling you to reconnect in some way. If you have become flippant and forgotten to place waste in its proper place instead of throwing it out the car window, she is calling. If you have felt alone in your time of need, she is calling. If you have been struggling financially or have little to eat, or if you have desired a child and see no pregnancy in the near future, she is your medicine – use it. You are not alone… ever. You are a child of Earth. All acts of pleasure, joy, and abundance are given by the Mother of the creative force. Use her energy to aid you, and you will be healed enough to share this energy with others.
The idea of a Turtle helplessly trying to right itself after it has been flipped upside down can also symbolize contrary Turtle. You are not a victim, and you are not helpless, no matter how much it may seem like this is the case in your present situation. To right the ill-dignified Turtle, you need only list the things you are grateful for, and from that grateful place in your heart, look for the abundance of alternatives that Mother Earth gives.
Excerpt from “Medicine Cards” by Jamie Sams & David Carson