Turtle Meaning and Symbolism
Oct 20
Discover Turtle Symbolism

Turtle Meaning and Symbolism

Overview of the Turtle Spirit Animal


Throughout history the turtle has been a symbol of Mother Earth.  This totem has a deep connection with earth and its energies – this deep connection can be felt and used as guidance by the turtle totem.  Turtle symbolism also represents an old soul.  If this is your spirit animal as you strengthen your connection you’ll begin to experience a connection to ancient knowledge.  When the turtle spirit presents itself to you it is trying to tell you to strengthen your connection with Mother Earth.


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Encounters with the Turtle

What is the meaning of turtle symbolism? Find out what symbol the turtle spirit animal is trying to teach you, and gain some insight into your life.

Do you feel impatient?

Are you trying to rush plans or dreams along?  This spirit understands that it takes time to accomplish its goals.  When sea turtles reproduce they must swim to the sandy shores where they were hatched, once there they dig massive burrows where they lay their eggs, afterwards they cover the eggs with sand and debris.  Once the eggs are laid and covered the turtles leave – trusting their hard work will result in the next generation.  If you’ve done your part trust in the process.

Has your world been turned upside down?

Are you struggling to find “normal”?  If a turtle happens to be flipped over onto its rounded shell it can be difficult or even impossible for it to turn over.  If you’re in a position where you feel like you’re flipped over slow down and take care to try and right yourself.  It may take time and strenuous energy – spend time in meditation to find where you went wrong – seek connection with the earth to help you become grounded again.

Are you dealing with emotional wounds?

While a turtles rounded shell is tough and as strong as armor on the inside turtles are delicate.  Turtle spirit people appear to have an impenetrable shell when in reality they can be emotional and sensitive.  The turtle totem is telling you to take care of your delicate self inside of the shell.

Have you reached a point in life where you feel exhausted?

In the wild sea turtles travel great distances for food, mating and egg laying.  If you’ve reached the point of complete exhaustion the turtle totem is telling you to slow down.  Yes, life is a great journey and you have a lot of responsibilities – the turtle understands this and instead of giving up in its wisdom it paces itself.  It also utilizes strong currents to help conserve energy.  Try pacing yourself and seek currents or natural rhythms in life to help carry you to your destinations.

Turtle Symbolism: The Turtle Spirit

Could the Turtle be my spirit animal? What are the traits of the totem? This might be your spirit animal if you are:


Because of its connection with Mother Earth the turtle spirit is nurturing.  If this is your spirit animal your care for others goes beyond compassion and is manifest in nurturing others.  You not only see the needs of others but you address those needs in a practical way.  Your connection with earthen energy and healing makes you a kind and gentle soul.


In the wild turtles live exceptionally long lives – whether traveling on land or by sea turtles are intentional and move with care and purpose.  Because of this the turtle spirit is very patient.  It understands everything takes time and that time is an important part of the process.  Unlike other totems that try to rush or speed a process along the turtle learns to appreciate and celebrate the time.

Learn More: About Turtle Meaning
What is the meaning of Turtle Symbolism?


Because of its connection with Mother Earth and the energy that moves through all living things the turtle lives in loving harmony with others.  It recognizes the journey and seasons others are in through its ancient knowledge responds in love.  This spirit animal is known for its enduring love.


Everything about the turtle lends it to be a creature that is fiercely determined.  From it’s migration patterns that can span hundreds of miles, breeding which can take years, feeding and steady pace it understands everything takes time.  Because of their long life span they can embrace their journey and move forward with unshakable determination.

What are the Traits of the Turtle Totem?

Lessons from the Turtle Spirit Animal

Turtles are:

  • Patient
  • Spiritual
  • Peaceful
  • Kind
  • Enduring
  • Mindful
Is the Turtle Spirit Your Animal

If the turtle is your spirit animal you need to strengthen your connection with Mother Earth.  Take time and be intentional during times of meditation to begin strengthening your connection with the earth and the energy around you.  If you’ve felt overwhelmed mindful meditation will help you find grounding and peace.  Allow yourself to open up to the ancient wisdom in the world around you.

What is the true turtle meaning? Longevity and harmony. Turtle spirit people are aware of the world and time around them and choose to live in harmony with it all.

Strengths & Weaknesses of the Turtle



At Home

Tortoises have an advantage over other animals in the sense that they can be at home anywhere – that’s because they carry their homes on their backs.  Carrying their homes with them gives them the ability to feel at peace in a variety of environments.  This gives you the ability to help calm others around you that might feel stressed or anxious over a change of scenery.

Protective Shell

Sea turtles, land dwelling turtles and tortoises all are equipped with protective shells.  Their shells act as protection against predators and environmental dangers like crashing waves.  Just like their spirit animal turtle totem people have an extra layer of protection.  When the waves get rough or someone tries to sink their teeth into you can usually escape with minimal damage.


When baby turtles hatch they are faced with opposition almost immediately.  Seagulls, birds of prey and reptiles are often waiting for the tiny creatures to make their debut – as their meal.  Baby turtles must hurry from the safety of their nests to the ocean after they reach the ocean the danger doesn’t stop.  Turtles face a variety of danger from predators like sharks and birds of prey as well as environmental dangers like pollution and boat propellers.  Through it all turtles never give up – instead these creatures are resilient and enduring.  Always focusing on what is next no matter what the circumstances may be.



In the wild turtles are known to have very limited or no social interactions even within their own species.  They spend their days foraging for food and above all existing.  If the turtle is your spirit animal it’s very important that you reach out to others and make a point to find and develop friendships.  If the turtle is your spirit animal it may be easy to let your antisocial tendencies take over – this weakness can negativity affect your emotional and physical well-being.

Slow to Change

Because tortoises are slow moving this can present a variety of problems.  Whether it’s changing direction, arriving to a conclusion, finishing a project or just changes in life.  Turtle spirit people can have a difficult time and find it hard to change from one thing to the next quickly.  Usually change is slow and takes time – this can leave others frustrated and angry.


One weakness turtle totem people need to be aware of is their tendency to hide.  Just like turtles draw into their shells when they’re scared as people we do that as well.  Whether it’s not speaking up at work, not voicing our feelings in a relationship, or not asserting ourselves when necessary.  It can be easy to avoid failure or rejection by hiding however it can rob the world of the gifts and insights you have been uniquely given!

Are you familiar with the Turtle Totem
What is turtle symbolism

The Turtle in Dreams: What it Means

If you dream of a turtle or tortoise it can be your spirit animal telling you to connect with Mother Earth.  Meditate and strengthen your connection with the energy around you.  Take time to seek messages from the earth.

If you dream of a sea turtle swimming it is a message of patience.  Because sea turtles travel great distances it can appear as if they are going nowhere – this is a message that you are going in the right direction.  Be patient with your situation.

When you dream about a land turtle like a tortoise it is a message to ground yourself.  Seek earthen healing and spend time surrounding yourself with nature.  By grounding yourself you will find balance.

When you dream of a turtle in distress it is a sign you are out of balance.  Typically it means a person or situation has knocked you off course.  Take time to focus and revisit your goals.  Strengthen your connection with the earth to find your center again and help you get back on your feet.

This creature is a symbol for longevity and connection with the earth, so think about what implications the answers to these questions suggest, and how they might make sense in your life.
animal symbolism in dreams

Cultural and Spiritual Symbolism of the Turtle

animal meaning in your life

Africa – the turtle is revered as the most clever animal in common myths and fairy tales.

China – tortoise shells have been discovered holding the earliest records of Chinese writing.  Folklore says Chinese script was taken from the back of the turtle.  The shells were used for divination during the ancient Shang Dynasty – the tortoise is scared and symbolizes power, tenacity and longevity.

Native American – it is said that American is merely an island on the back of a great turtle also called, “Turtle Island”.

Japan – traditional Japanese belief says the tortoise is a haven for immortals. Also called the world mountain it symbolizes good luck, support and longevity. It is the symbol of Kumpira, the god of seafaring people.

Historical Facts

Turtles have been on the earth for more than 200 million years. They evolved before mammals, birds, crocodiles, snakes and even lizards.

Turtles need our help – to learn more about protecting turtles and tortoise species visit the Turtle Conservancy.

Animal Quotes

Try to be like the turtle – at ease in your own shell.
Bill Copeland
Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.
James Bryant Conant

Embrace Your Spirit Animal

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We love you! The Totem Team is dedicated to expanding knowledge of, and connection to, the natural and spiritual world of animals. Whether you call it an animal spirit, totem, or guide, we aim to be THE definitive resource online for all animal dreams, meanings, and symbolism. Thank you for being a part of our wonderful community and sharing in our work!

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