What Is the Symbolic Meaning of a Turtle?

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The turtle is a symbol of endurance and persistence in many cultures. The turtle also symbolizes the Earth in many cultures, such as Native American legends.

The turtle is traditionally a symbol of perseverance and resilience. Fables, such as “The Tortoise and the Hare,” rely on these symbols to show the value of perseverance. According to the University of Houston, the turtle can symbolize creativity, endurance, strength, fertility and stability. Turtles are also associated with longevity because the animals live very long lives.

Native American traditions refer to the North American continent as Turtle Island in reference to traditional legends that say the Earth grew from the back of a turtle. The turtle is also associated with the Earth in Hindu and Chinese cultures. Some Native American tribes, such as the Hopi, used turtles to represent water. Other tribes considered the turtle a symbol of safety.

Because the turtle carries its home on its back, the animal can symbolize the ability to adapt to new situations and environments easily. Both sea and land turtles symbolize protection in reference to the turtle’s ability to hide within its shell when threatened. Turtles can also represent slowing down or setting a steady pace due to the slow nature of the animal. The sea turtle can be associated with an easygoing nature because these turtles travel with the tides, rather than to specific destinations.