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The Spiritual Meaning of Turtles: Symbolism, Totem, and Spirit Animal

The Spiritual Meaning of Turtles: Symbolism, Totem, and Spirit Animal

They’re slow, gentle, but undeniably captivating. I always love how turtles remain interesting even if they take the slow lane. Beyond their hard shells, they represent several values.

Turtles symbolize tranquility, longevity, protection, and healing. They are powerful spirit animals, providing wisdom and knowledge cultivated since ancient times. Also, having them as a totem entails that you seek positive transformation in life. 

Find out more about the symbolism of turtles in the following few lines.     

Turtle Symbolism: What Do Turtles Symbolize?

Turtles are sea animals that can be wholly aquatic or semi-aquatic, depending on the species. Unlike tortoises with round shells and stubby feet, turtles have thin, water-dynamic shells and fins to thrive in the water. On land, they move slowly, but in the water, they are much faster. 

Here are the things turtles represent: 

Turtle as a Symbol of Tranquility

While turtles are not completely submissive and can be aggressive when necessary, their general demeanor suggests that they prefer peace over chaos. You can see many turtles in the sea that goes in the direction of the current, relaxing and swimming gently along with it. With that, the turtle has become a fitting symbol of tranquility. 

Turtle as a Symbol of Longevity

Not all animals can live as long as humans can. However, turtles have this ability, with sea turtles living up to 80 years old and the semi-aquatic ones at 40 years old. Also, turtles have been around for many million years, proving their ability to survive many threats. Their long life and ancient existence allow them to carry the symbol of longevity and survival. 

Turtle as a Symbol of Protection

Turtles powerfully symbolize protection. The shell that covers the turtle has multiple purposes. One of which, quite frankly, the most obvious, is protection. Unlike other animals, turtles have developed an inherent protective case that defines their intelligence in the evolutionary scheme. 

The turtle’s shell symbolises protection in a way that contrasts nicely to the inner strength of a seal.

Turtle as a Symbol of Healing

Many tribes believe that turtles are equipped with healing abilities. As they retreat inside their shell, they allow their body to automatically rest and have their system repair damaged tissues without needing to be someplace else. 

The Turtle as a Totem Animal

When you have the turtle as your totem animal, you add another layer of protection to your life. You put up a natural defense not just against people who wish to inflict pain but even from other negativities such as diseases and misfortunes. For this reason, the turtle serves as your lucky charm, especially when traversing a difficult journey. 

The Turtle as a Spirit Animal

Having the turtle as your spirit animal reminds you that you possess wisdom cultivated from the past. If you recognize the turtle’s role in your life, you can unlock this wisdom with proper guidance. This is why those close to the turtle can make sound decisions that produce positive results. 

Likewise, if the turtle appears as a spirit animal, you may want to avoid complacently and increase your protection against bad energies. Nevertheless, with the turtle with you in every step, you opt to share your knowledge and wisdom with others. 

Religious Significance of Turtles

Religious references about the turtle have been shown in many narratives and scriptures. With these beliefs, it is clear that the turtle holds a spiritual value for people to uphold. The following explains the significance of turtles in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism.

Turtles in Christianity

Christians compare turtles to Jesus Christ. Just as the turtle carries its shell’s heavyweight around its back, Jesus also brings the burden of the cross. Turtles also symbolize patience, peace, and retreat. These traits are considered the key to living a full life. 

Turtles in Hinduism

In Hinduism, the turtle is considered a sacred animal. Many believe that turtles embody the sustenance of life on earth. This is depicted in the representation of Kurma, an avatar of Vishnu, the Hindu God, wherein a turtle carries the world on its back.  

Turtles in Buddhism

If you go to a Buddhist temple, it’s not uncommon to find turtle monuments in the form of a tablet or stele. The turtle represents the life of a Buddhist monk as they are seen as serene, patient, and peaceful beings. It is also believed that turtles protect the people around them. For this reason, Buddhists are keen not to harm the turtles but instead conserve them in the area. 

Turtles in Judaism

The Jewish faith forbids the consumption of turtles. They are considered non-kosher and should not be eaten as they are unclean like any other amphibians and reptiles. 

Cultural Significance of Turtles

Ancient cultures have identified animals that hold spiritual values; these have been known through emblems, arts, and artifacts uncovered by archeologists. Here are the cultural symbolism turtles bear in different civilizations.

Turtle Symbolism in Chinese Culture

Turtles are widely perceived as a positive symbol in Chinese culture. They bring prosperity, protection, and good health. This is why you’ll see turtle statues in temples, home offices, and community centers. 

Turtle Symbolism in Japanese Culture

Japanese people consider turtles as a symbol of longevity and happiness. As most Japanese elders live a long life, they see the turtle as their guardian and spirit animal, bringing the wisdom of near immortality. 

Turtle Symbolism in Native Americans

The Native Americans revere the turtles and call on their spirit when they need protection. They believe that their tough shell exterior allows them to become invincible in moments wherein danger of possible misfortune is around. 

Turtle Symbolism in Polynesians

Polynesian tribes consider the turtle a symbol of family, fertility, longevity, and tranquility. The patterns on the turtle shells represent familial connections and unity. With Polynesian countries near the pacific ocean, their encounters with the turtle always bring reminders of their roots. 

Turtle Symbolism in Ancient Greek Culture

Arts and sculptures involving the turtle are common in Greek civilization symbolizing marital joy, fertility, and longevity. They are also considered representations of patience, peace, and an easy-going attitude.

Turtle Dream Meaning

Dreaming about a turtle means you must be conscious with time about cultivating your goals and desires. It could be a reminder that the preparation should not be hastened and simply enjoy and learn from the process. 

The following are interpretations of specific dream scenarios about turtles. 

Carrying a Turtle

To carry or hold a turtle in your dream means you ought to take part in protecting the earth and conserving the environment. It could be a spiritual message urging you to increase your concern and awareness of what’s happening with nature. 

Getting Bitten by a Turtle

When a turtle bites you in a dream, it could be a firm reminder to revisit a lost interest, desire, or skill. You may have started to abandon a dream or plan that used to be valuable in your life. 

Feeding a Turtle

If you’re dreaming of feeding a turtle, you may be up for learning a new skill that will influence the direction of your career. Try to discover what new skill it is and how it could help you become more successful. Turtles commons eat other aquatic creatures like jellyfish, so it’s not uncommon to dream about this kind of feeding.

Seeing a Dead Turtle

A dead turtle in your dreams reminds you that things are moving in your life despite taking a slower pace. You may encounter this dream when you’re frustrated that nothing’s happening in your life. But you have to believe that things are changing beyond your sight. 


Turtles are good-natured, and it reflects on the things they represent. So take in the message of the turtle when you have frequent encounters and allow this spirit animal to take you toward peace and healing.