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Turtle Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

turtle under water

Turtle symbolism is present in many tales, legends, cultures, and movies. As it is a personification of patience and wisdom, it is necessary to embrace it in our daily lives. Without this turtle energy, we would be incapable of achieving great things, so let’s see how and when to invoke the turtle spirit animal.

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Turtle symbolism and meaning

The turtle represents the old, wise man that takes his time and moves steadily through life. Worries seem to have no room for this animal as it paces slowly on its journey and enjoys every moment as it was the last one. 

This is an essential message to humans that move with haste through life and realize at old age that it’s too late to take pleasure in the delights of life. 

Even so, with it’s hard, unbreakable shell, the turtle is a vulnerable and innocent creature that often hides in its house for protection. 


It is an analogy to our physical bodies, which we inhabit, that function as a shelter for our souls.

Its symbolic meaning is closely related to the water element in which it resides, and it is about the profound expression of feelings and the inner world. 

But it is also associated with the Earth, as it travels in both realms, and its central understanding is of a capacity to remain grounded even in troubled times, pacing one’s self, determination, and ancient wisdom.

Generally, the tortoise is a symbol of the decisiveness and strength with which we pass the obstacles found in our path. (1)

Turtle Native American symbolism

The turtle symbol is found in many tribes through the Native Americans and has a generally positive meaning.

The Lenape and Iroquois tribes believe that the creator of the world placed the planet on the back of a turtle. 

They call North America the “Turtle Island.” In other tribal cultures, the sea turtle meaning is actually of the Earth.

In Plains tribes, the umbilical cord of a baby girl is made into a sea turtle symbol to be kept secure and healthy. For them, tortoise symbolism is about protection, long life, and fertility.

turtle under water

The Chippewa and Menominee tribes have turtle symbols as clan animals. They find turtle medicine in “Mother Earth.”

The Native American turtle is grounded and closely connected to Earth. As the tortoise is blooming in nature, so do the people feel their roots and flourish close to the creation.

Native American turtle symbolism gives these people the impulse to teach others of the things that Mother Earth has given us.

The Aztec turtle significance is of cowardice and boastfulness. This Native American turtle meaning said that they were hard on the outside but soft and vulnerable on the inside. (2)

Turtle Eastern Symbolism

What does a turtle symbolize in Asian culture? For the Chinese, the meaning of turtles is a divine one, of power, longevity, and tenacity. 

Pangu, the creator of the world as they view it, is said to have used a turtle’s leg to uphold the sky, in the last place of a mountain that was destroyed by Gong Gong, the water god. 

The turtle shell’s meaning made them conclude that the Earth was flat.

The turtle symbol meaning is of the North when we speak of the compass, and it is an analogy to longevity, strength, and endurance. It is illustrated as a mystical being with dragon ears, flaming tentacles, and a hairy tail. 


Also, the symbolic turtle meaning is of the Black Warrior, with similar characteristics, and of the winter, as it said that it hibernates during this period and comes back in spring with new shells.

In South Korea, the turtle symbolism’s meaning is its ruling over insect life. They link it’s longevity to the power of wisdom and future telling. 

Turtles’ significance for future seeing is also depicted in their shells that could be read as signs by the ancients. Buddhist religion used turtles to sign succeeding events and created temples and monuments in their name. (3)

Turtle Christianity symbolism

The turtle symbolism in Christianity is of a burdened being, making a comparison between the shell it is carrying heavy and the sins of the heretics. It is also seen as an evil, unclean spirit of combat.

The biblical meaning of turtle is also one of immortality because of it’s long life. This ability to defy death depicts them as heroic creatures. 

The patterns on it’s back made the turtle in the bible a symbol of the afterlife, as it was considered that the lines signify the way that souls travel in the spirit world to heaven and hell. 

These patterns also were linked to constellations.


What does a turtle symbolize in the bible when it comes to its sea life? Water is a sign of fertility and birth because it’s the place where all life begins on the planet. 

Turtles reside in the sea and lay many eggs, thus adopting the same characteristics as it’s home.

The turtle’s spiritual meaning in the bible is shown through different narratives as an emblem of patience, slow pace, and wisdom that comes along with it. This virtue presses us to calm down and measure our steps even in these days of speed.

Turtle Celtic symbolism

What do turtles symbolize for the Celts? It is a doorway to the fairy world, as well as a symbol that encourages you to go within yourself and find the ideas that you need to express. 

It brings you into a magical realm that connects you to the keen senses of the turtle that senses all vibrations through its shell and skin. 

Turtles represented fertility and used to help Celtic shamans keep themselves grounded when traveling between the earthly and spirit worlds.

turtle under water

Celtic turtle mythology speaks of the tale of the turtle and the hare in which the first is pictured as a figure of patience. Every step for this animal is another step forward to its ultimate goal. 

The teaching of this tale reflects the wisdom and slow but steady pace of the turtle in comparison to the speed of the rabbit that could have won the race if it wasn’t for its inflated ego and lack of mental capacities.

The meaning of a turtle in this region is of it carrying the weight of the world on it’s back and still be a sure footing wanderer on Earth.

Turtle African symbolism

The turtle’s symbolic meaning in Africa is of the wisest animal.

In Nigeria, the turtle’s meaning is of a creative trickster that manipulates its way out of any situation but is also capable of heroic acts.

In Ancient Egypt, the sea turtle spirit animal was used through amulets and various means to keep evil spirits away and protect people’s health and life. It was also linked to the Underworld because of its connection to water.

Turtle animal medicine was used by harvesting organs and including them in potions to heal squinting, protect from sunburn and infectious ocular diseases, as well as cosmetic eyeliner.


Land turtle shells were used to produce musical instruments, while the red sea turtle’s carapaces were turned into bracelets and amulets.

The symbolic meaning of turtle in this part of the world is considered to be of prudence and intelligence, and it is compared to the deeply respected elders. This analogy is reinforced by the wrinkly skin as well. 

Another characteristic that depicts its brilliance is the way the turtle carries it’s protective house and is shown in legends as coming out as a winner from any situation.

Turtle in dreams

The dream of turtles is a sign of long life, health, and prosperity. It comes as an impulse to be patient, constant in actions, and to have long term vision. 

Its shell represents a need for protection, and emotional withdrawal, a defensive attitude, without any factual basis.

Are turtles a sign of good luck if they appear in your dreams? It seems so. 

You will feel peace and joy and will have some delightful experiences shortly. Success will come undeniably, and find solutions to older problems as well.

turtle under water

The turtle’s dream meaning when it comes to its speeds is to move forward, even if you are at a slow pace because you will reach your goal in the end. 

On the other hand, it could be a sign designed to make you cautious, move slowly, and don’t miss any details. Dreams about baby turtles signify that you will soon hatch some new ideas and should let go of fears. 

This night vision could also mean that you need to improve your work relationships, or that your family needs more freedom of action, even if it means letting them make mistakes. (4)

Turtle encounters and omens

There is a belief in some parts of the world that the dry land turtle, which is a vegetarian and is harmless, would eat people’s baby chicken. 

As a result, they crush them under their feet and leave them to die in tremendous pain. For others, turtles symbolize a cure for cirrhosis and a potency booster, which of course, is false.

What does turtle mean when you run into it? These animals are a positive symbol of good luck, but be careful not to confuse them. 

There is a custom amongst people to throw land turtles into the water, thinking that they belong there and find them drowned afterward. 


What is the symbolism of a turtle on your doorstep? It is also a sign of good luck and longevity, and even that positive developments will occur.

If you encounter a Red-Eared Slider, it is an omen that heightens your awareness and makes you more intuitive. 

The spiritual significance of turtles is of the guidance they will bring you, answering all your questions, but only if you asked them in the first place. 

This spirit animal pushes you to ask for its help as it is there you aid you. (5)

Turtle mythology and folklore

Ancient Mesopotamia speaks of a turtle god mythology, respectively, of Enki, a Sumerian god of water, that creates a giant turtle to bite Ninurta, who desires to seize total power. 

The animal digs a hole in which they both fall, and Enki wins the battle.

Tortoise mythology in Greece speaks of Chelone, the turtle god. The tale illustrates a gathering made by Zeus, at which the turtle never arrived. 

When asked why the animal declares that it preferred its own home; thus, as a punishment, Zeus made it carry it’s house forever wherever it went.

turtle under water

The ancient Greek tragedian, Aeschylus, was supposedly killed by a turtle dropped on his head by an eagle.

Sea turtles symbolism is pictured in the Greek myth of the bandit Sciron, which used a giant sea turtle to get rid of the bodies after ejecting them into the waters. In the end, Sciron dies of the same fate he inflicted on others.

In Malaysia, tortoise symbolism is depicted in the turtle look-alike coconut leaf, which is used as a ghost repellent.

In India, the spiritual turtle meaning is of it carrying the world on it’s back. The myth says that Earth lies on four elephants that are all the turtle’s burden. (6)

Turtle spirit animal

What do turtles represent when we speak of the spirit world? People governed by the turtle symbols are excellent in space orientation. They never get lost, as the path always appears clear to them. 

The turtle personality traits make them retrieve in their shells and make them emotionally unavailable when in uncomfortable situations.

Turtle personality is full of compassion, mental and emotional knowledge, and understanding of others. This makes them good advisers and listeners. As the turtle never leaves it’s home, so do these persons. 

Anywhere life takes them; they will ultimately return home.

Turtle personality characteristics are of patient people that move at their own pace and take their time in doing things, but even if it takes a longer time, they achieve excellent results in the end. 

They are very persistent and constant in their actions, with great creative capacities and are good team workers. Turtles symbolism suggests that these personalities will live long but enjoy every moment of life on their way. 

They tend to be vulnerable and need to be understood and protected at times under their shells, where they replenish and find their peace of mind. (7)

Turtle totem animal

What are turtles, a symbol of Feng Shui? The turtle jewelry meaning is of prosperity and is expected through joyful people. The turtle pendant meaning is about the only celestial real being that can be easy to find and is a symbol of protection and health.

The sea turtle totem is for people that want to be more cooperative and flexible. They can communicate with the spirit world and have great intuition. 

The Sea turtle symbolizes success in all actions. An easy life, with no stress and a clear path, with no obstacles, is the sea turtles meaning.


The painted turtle animal totem never misses an opportunity, as this spirit animal always guides them in the right place at the right moment. They are hard workers and get any task on hand done.

What does a turtle represent if it’s a red-eared slider totem? This turtle charm meaning describes people that can speak to spirits through high intuition and can even read minds. 

Though it is similar to the sea turtle symbolic meaning, this totem is more powerful when it comes to hearing things that others don’t.

Tortoise, meaning symbolism as a totem, is of a very creative and mentally resourceful person. They are steady, benevolent, and sometimes have a prankster nature.

Turtle power animal

What do turtles mean, and what power do they bring us? Seeing a turtle symbolism is of the suffering child inside your heart that needs healing. 

As turtles bury their eggs underground and have to rise alone, so do some people have a hard time as a child. 

The spiritual meaning of turtle is finding the way to move forward and live through heavy times. The turtle power animal will aid you in letting loose of the bad memories and cleansing your soul in the waters.

turtle under water

The turtle energy is divine and pure, one that will help you keep grounded and, at the same time, become a spiritual awakened being living in a materialistic world. 

But as the turtle is a slow pacer, so will your spiritual enlightenment be gained over time. Connect with the child within again, shelter yourself as you once did, and enjoy the little fun things in life.

The shamanic turtle meaning is recognized in the way the turtles flip themselves over through their strong necks and prompt us to also use our heads. Power is in our possession; we need to claim it and use it for our benefit.

Turtle tattoo meaning

The turtle tattoo, meaning for people that have had hard times during their life or were even drug addicts, is of the struggle they were able to overcome. 

The turtle’s shell is an analogy to the things that these persons endured and the long lifespan that they achieved through perseverance, and also the idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The symbolism of turtles in tattoos is of love, patience, and courage. They represent protection, innocence, and vulnerability. The cartoon turtle design is for joyful and easygoing millennials, both male and female.

The Japanese turtle tattoo depicts a turtle with a seaweed tail and flowers. It is a symbol of luck, wisdom, longevity, and preservation. Even though it’s a very feminine image, it is prevalent through male clients.

The sea turtle tattoo is very colorful and most popular with women. It is a representation of joy, friendship, and playfulness, and it is for persistent people that never give up.

The Polynesian turtle tattoo is the choice for those that desire health, tranquility, peace, longevity, and happiness. Honu turtle tattoo is all about bringing good luck, faith, and wisdom to its owner.


The turtle significance is for those that want spiritual enlightenment and wisdom. Seeking this spirit animal’s guidance is the key to achieving success, tranquility, and happiness in this lifetime. Invoke the turtle’s power in your mind and soul, and everything will become apparent as daylight, giving you all the solutions you were searching for.


1 thought on “Turtle Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)”

  1. almost every day i see a turtle photo or ad somewhere and when my brother came tovisit he told me he had lots of turtles on his property that gave birth and they live close by him now and are all around his driveway . my daughter has taken up painting turtle shells she is part native american . I cannot go a day without seein g one in a garden or outside of a store etc am just wondering what message they are trying to convey tome this has been going on since august of this year. . even in magaZINES or walking in ahallway there is a photo of a turtle . thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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