The turtle is considered to be a powerful spiritual symbol in a number of traditions and cultures worldwide. Going from the Native Americans all the way to the Japanese, there are countless creation legends that portrait the turtle as a pivotal character. There are some Native American tales where the turtle is the deity of the world’s shores. According to the tradition, this animal brought mud from the bottom of the vast global ocean and used it to form the continents. This association with Mother Earth and the Ocean is probably the reason why turtle tattoo represents the feminine cycle and the motions of the Moon.
Of course, one of the most famous associations of the turtle comes from the timeless childhood favorites known as Aesop’s fables. In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, the Tortoise is viewed as a wise animal and the power of ‘Brains over Braun’ comes into full focus. This is not just an isolated concept; in fact, many African and ancient Greek traditions are filled with stories praising the wisdom of the patient tortoise.
Averagely, tortoises are believed to live to the spritely old age of 150, as such, they are revered as symbols of health and longevity. The Zuni tribes of New Mexico make medicine bags that are emblazed with the emblem of a turtle. These special bags are thought to boost health and help the wearer defy death. The Navajo have a similar practice; the only acceptable vessel for the administration of medicine is a turtle’s shell.
In Jamaica as well in other parts of the Caribbean, sea turtles are considered as potent aphrodisiacs. Even though the practice is illegal due to the extremely low number of turtles left in the wild, many men hunt and eat these precious animals in the hopes of boosting their performance and sexual prowess.
No matter whether you hold the turtle as a spiritual entity of creation or a beautiful extension of Mother Nature, their charm and influence on the conscience and soul of humanity are undeniable.
The Meaning of Turtle Tattoos
The turtle has been an agent for inspiring positive change throughout human history. Although the turtles are not the world’s most doting parents in the animal kingdom, their keen survival instincts have made them delicate creatures and powerful totems in indigenous tribes across the globe. The turtle also embodies:
- Feminine Energy
Turtle Tattoo Variations
Turtle tattoos come in all varieties starting from the comical features of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the intricate tribal patterns of Samoan artwork. Each tattoo artist (and ultimately wearer) adds his or her own stamp to each tattoo design. Black, blue, green, pink, and even grey colored turtles are often set in a piece to beautifully complement other design elements. Popular turtle tattoos include:
Tribal Turtle Tattoos
Polynesian, Samoan, Hawaiian, and Maori design elements are considered as some of the most prominent in tribal turtle tattoos, largely due to the fact that these creatures are intricately intertwined with the cultural identity of these islanders. In the same manner, as people and ideas spread across the globe, mainstream tattoo artists picked up on the ancient traditions of these noble people and tribal turtle tattoos carry with them the cultural features of the islanders and their deep spiritual connection to the Sea, Mother Nature, and the Turtle.
Celtic Turtle Tattoos
The turtle represents an emblem of Mother Nature, so it isn’t uncommon for persons to combine their cultural roots with this spirit of Earth and Water. Traditional Celtic knots represent infinite loops that stand for the unending cycle of life and longevity. When combined with the image of the tortoise, these Celtic turtle tattoos are a perfect way to blend two seemingly unrelated cultures and express your desire for a healthy, long life.
Peace Turtle Tattoos
This popular slogan of the 1960s nowadays is one of the cornerstones of many social activists and environmentalist groups. As a divine creator, the turtle has always symbolized the beauty and intricate complexity of Mother Nature. This turtle tattoo design is a great way to pay respect to both the ideals of ‘One love and peace for all’ and humanity’s awareness of its impact on the world’s ecology.
Cartoon Turtle Tattoos
Raphael and Michelangelo are two of the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle that can be part of a tattoo design. Cartoon turtles became popular in the 1980s with the rise of these pizza-loving, tail-kicking ninja turtles and these days, countless spawns and spin-offs have been generated. The majority of cartoon turtle tattoos are in honor of the turtles that started it all, but there are still many more cartoon turtle tattoos that embrace the essence of childhood innocence and frivolity.