Turtles and Talismans

Turtles and Talismans

John and I saw a seal today. We’re still in the Los Angeles area, taking a couple days’ R&R before heading back to Phoenix. The back of the Tahoe is loaded with book festival paraphernalia (mostly books, but also chairs, table cloths, email sign-up sheets, postcards, etc.), and we added a rack to cart our brand new bikes with us. Seemed like a LOT of extra effort, until we got them out and road 8 or so miles along the Santa Monica/Venice Beach bike path. The weather was perfect and it was the most delightful ride! It was on the pier at Venice Beach where we encountered this little guy.

Venice Beach seal

I always thought of my sister, Corina, as the animal person in our family. Then I met John, and it seemed he and Cori had a lot in common – not the least of which was that he’s an animal person, too. The owner of the VRBO guest house where we’re staying has a very friendly Golden Retriever by the name of Jessie – and John has been cheating on our dogs with him. His owner has been away, so we’ve been taking Jessie for morning and evening walks, just like we would with our own dogs, Lucy and Sugar. I sent this photo to our friend, Barbara, who’s pet-sitting for us, so she can let them know John’s been seeing another dog.

John and Jessie

We’ve also seen squirrels, geckos, and these regal gulls who even agreed to pose for a photo.

Lois and Larry

Haven’t yet seen any turtles, my favorite of all the water and land animals. My fascination with them began some dozen years or so ago, when I stood and watched them for about an hour, outside the main gates of the Phoenix Zoo. They were sunning on a log, sometimes climbing over each other for better position and other times content just to sit and soak up the sun without moving for the longest stretches of time. I was reminded of the time I saw a turtle – decent-sized guy, maybe 10 inches wide by 14 inches long – wandering down the street in my neighborhood as I walked from the bus when I was a freshman in high school. I ran home to get a box to carry him in so I could take him back to my house (I’ve since learned that pet turtles frequently escape their captors), but he was gone by the time I got back to the spot where I’d seen him. I figured some other turtle-saving kid must have scooped him up in the interim.

Phoenix Zoo turtles

Having missed my chance back then, I’ve never actually had a living turtle as a pet. I do have many inanimate turtles, though. When I was planning the design of my still-fledgling atrium, I knew I wanted a way to incorporate my many turtles into the design. Found this awesome wrought iron shelf with wood slats – and it has become the new home for a little more than half of my turtle collection. My friend Kebba recommended I change the name from atrium to turtlarium. I like it! The other turtles are still in a box in storage, so I’ll have to g over there and rescue them soon! We also have a pewter turtle that guards our wedding bands, in addition to my small turtles and turtle earrings.

Back in December 2015, I got a henna tattoo at a street fair. It was a Celtic pattern on the inside of my left wrist, and every single time I looked at it for the roughly three weeks it lasted, it made me smile. So I have decided to go for the permanent version – but the design will be a turtle I cobbled together from a few different cultural images I liked. The center two are Celtic. A Facebook friend described it this way:

So your graphics seem to have different cultural origins. The one below is Gaelic. The one above, not sure – maybe Asia Pacific? And the overall image is Northwest tribal.

LO's Turtle TattooFirst, I planned to get the tattoo for my 50th birthday, but that’s come and gone. Then I was going to do it to celebrate reaching a specific weight goal – but that’s taking longer than I want, and my trainer encourages me not to tie rewards like that to my goals. Now, with Eric about to graduate from college, I could have it commemorate that – or I could just effing do it, right?! No reason attached to it other than that I want to do it.

I’ll be sure to write about it when I actually get the ink. In the meantime, you can check out my turtle collection on Pinterest, as well as just a few of the meanings ascribed to turtles and tortoises:

  • The turtle is a sacred figure in Native American symbolism, as it represents Mother Earth.
  • The turtle symbol signifies good health and a long life.
  • Turtle symbolism is characterized by its association with the Earth and the earth symbols of groundedness and patience.
  • The turtle is a symbol of the world.
  • The turtle symbolizes deliberately slowing down and pacing yourself.
  • The turtle is a symbol of determination and persistence.
  • The turtle represents emotional strength and understanding.
  • The turtle symbolizes ancient wisdom.
  • In Tibet, the tortoise is a symbol of creativity.
  • According to the principles of feng shui, the rear of the home is represented by the Black Tortoise, which signifies support for home, family life, and personal relationships. A tortoise at the back door of a house or in the backyard by a pond is said to attract good fortune and many blessings. Three tortoises stacked on top of each other represent a mother and her babies.
  • In Taoist art, the emblem of the tortoise represents the triad of Earth, humankind, and heaven.

Do you have a talisman that represents something special for you? Tell us about in the Comments section below!

Laura Orsini is an author who works with other authors to help them make and market exceptional books that change the world for the better. She is birthmother to Eric, who is finishing college in Boston this summer. Their adoption has been open for the better part of Eric’s life. She continues to toy with the idea that these posts will one day become a book. In the meantime, you can learn about her novel in progress, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.