A giant tortoise recently appeared in my dream, the same night two foxes were hanging out with my cat. The tortoise part of the dream was just a snapshot—it sat in my back yard. My waking life association with giant tortoises is that when I was a kid I got to ride one at the Lincoln Zoo. And I know that they can live to a very great age, and I recently talked to a woman who has custody of one that she fully expects to outlive her.
One metaphorical association with turtles and tortoises is that they carry their homes with them, and so are, in essence, always at home. Their appearance in a dream reminds me that this is one of my lessons, to be at home within myself, within the present moment, and to shed the illusion that divine resides somewhere other than within.
Of course, there’s also the fable of the tortoise and the hare, which teaches that “slow and steady wins the race.” This is a comforting premise for me, for I tend to be slow and steady in my progress toward my goals (with the occasional exception for NaNoWriMo).
I also have a personal association with turtles as an example of a beloved pet, which is often a symbol for unconditional love. We had a box turtle named Charlie when I was a kid, which lived in a baby washtub and one day got lost. We’d searched everywhere, and finally my intuition led me to push down the pedal on the pump organ. Charlie had climbed the pedal, his weight enough to press it down so that he could slide off the other side into the cavity behind it, at which point the pedal rose to its usual position. So for me, turtles are also connected to my family role as “the finder,” which is one of the ways my intuition expresses itself.