Turtle

Protection

Many tribal creation stories say that earth was born on the back of Turtle. Since it carries its home on its back, it has also been recognized as having the ability to "manage" in difficult circumstances. Some folk tales say that if a turtle is flipped over, it cannot right itself and will eventually die. This however is not necessarily true, the strong neck muscles that Turtle possesses can flip Turtle upright. Turtle has good hearing and can sense movement in the water through the membranes in the skin. Turtle even has a sense of smell and pretty good eyesight, reminding us not to judge any of our relations by outward appearances.

The Racing Terrapin - Cherokee Story

Long ago the rabbit and the terrapin had a race. They had a long way to go and each hoped to win. They crossed valleys and high hills, and at the top of the each hill a new terrapin started. That's the way they did throughout the entire race. (There was only one rabbit, but there were many terrapins - a different one who started at the top of each hilltop.) Therefore the rabbit was left behind. So the terrapin won the race. That's all.

The Terrapin and the Deer Race

The Terrapin and the Deer wanted to have a race. The terrapin said, "I am going to wear a white corn-shuck on my head." So he gathered his friends and told them that they were to station themselves at the top of each hill over which the race was to be run. So at each hilltop sat a terrapin exactly like the others. When they (the terrapin and the deer) started the race, they went downhill and uphill, and at the top sat the terrapin. When they went down in the valley again, then up the hill, there sat the terrapin who had arrived there already. Then when he went down and up the third time, there sat the terrapin already. The terrapin won the race, they say. He used his friends with corn-shucks just like he had and placed them at intervals. That's all.


Return to Powerful Symbols