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"Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines most of whose body is shielded by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs." Quote from
DJ Conway, author of Animal Magick, has this to say about the lessons that Turtle can bring to us.
It is the Turtle's shell that provides the visual picture of shielding. As the shell literally houses the turtle, it could be likened to the roof/walls of our own houses where we are protected from harsher realities within this perimeter shielding.
"Slow down; enjoy life more; allow your ideas time to develop properly.
Visualize the shell as a spiritual shield to protect yourself from the
negative thoughts of others
. Learn to relax and enjoy life. Develop
new ideas. Psychically protect yourself." Quote from Animal Magic,
D.J. Conway, Llewellyn Publications, 2000, St Paul, MN, pg 215
The Turtle also has longevity as a keyword. A recent article points out that Turtles are being studied for this very trait.
The turtle helps us to bring both direction and purpose into our lives. In recalling the story about the race between the Tortoise and the Hare, perseverance in action was a major theme. The race was supposed to be a sure win for the Hare due to it's superior speed, but the story's ending gives deserved credit to the slow, but sure method of travel as the winning way. Without a sense of direction / purpose we are like the Hare; wandering aimlessly about (no direction), wasting time (no purpose), and, in general, thinking that we are the superior ones due to our innate speedy skills.
"Researchers have recently discovered a turtle's organs do not gradually break down or become less efficient over time, unlike most other animals. It was found that the liver, lungs, and kidneys of a centenarian turtle are virtually indistinguishable from those of its immature counterpart. This has inspired genetic researchers to begin examining the turtle genome for longevity genes. Quote from
It is worth noting that in Roman times, soldiers practiced a form of shielding that is particular to the Turtle. Called Testudo (from Testudinata), when the soldiers gathered together and then used their Tortoiselike shields as a form of covering. Inside these shielded areas, the soldiers were then protected from flying arrows and a few other weapons aimed at them. Also, the lead commander of the soldiers would yell "Testudo" whenever the lines would need to shift in order to give rest periods at certain predetermined intervals. This particular practice of pacing themselves was a part of how the Roman Armies were able to be so successful against their enemies and an excellent example of how to persevere under dire circumstances.
"Then the shield-bearers wheeled round and enclosed the light- armed troops within their ranks, dropped down to one knee, and held their shields out as a defensive barrier. The men behind them held their shields over the heads of the first rank, while the third rank did the same for the second rank. The resulting shape, which is a remarkable sight, looks very like a roof, and is the surest protection against arrows, which just glance off it." Quote from
A formation tactic used by Mark Antony during his invasion of Parthia in 36 BC