Although I have been hiking quite a lot this year- and thus in a perfect position to see lots of wildlife, as I certainly have- I have had encounters with turtles that have stood out. When I see an animal in a random encounter and it feels as if it has weight, I look up the symbolism in order to see if there is a message or meaning from (the universe? my subconscious? tribe consciousness?) that I need to hear.
I was driving in my vet truck when I saw a turtle in the middle of the road. Having worked in wildlife clinics, I have seen my fair share of smashed turtle shells; so I turned around, put on my hazards (holding up another car), hopped out. I gently picked the turtle up and unceremoniously dumped it into the swamp like ditch on the side of the road- safety.
I took the hand of my handfasted partner and led him into the woods, telling him I wanted to "show him something". We were both in need of some healing with each other- it's been a tough winter. When we got to the spot I had thought of, by the pond, an amazing thing happened; we both simultaneously saw the nearly empty turtle shell. "Wow! When did you discover this? Amazing!" he said- he is also a vet, an exotics vet, and loves turtles. I was stunned; we saved the shell, he cleaned it and it sits in a revered spot in our house.
While running yesterday, I saw another turtle in the middle of the path. The second one that has crossed my path (while alive, I guess). It was motoring along well until it heard or saw me coming; then it stopped, and withdrew into its shell. This is a busy path with dogs and bikes and joggers, so I stopped too and gently lifted the turtle the rest of the way where it was heading into the lush grass.
Turtles. Why turtles? I read a lot this morning about symbolism, meaning and so forth. Turtle is present in so many cultures, for so many reason. What is mostly universal is longevity, protection and associations with the moon due to the markings on the shell, numbering in 13 (moon months) and 28 (moon days). The turtle, in this respect, is feminine. What resonates with me, after all this reading and from the encounters, is a message telling me to slow down a little, remember my own natural rhythms (even when threatened!) Remember the divine and the feminine. Find wisdom in slowing down a little, and hardening up a bit.