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Animal spirit - tiger to turtle

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Do you know what your animal spirit is? What animal do you relate to the most? This series of articles may help you find your animal spirit for self awareness and spiritual growth. In Native American cultures, it is still common practice to have atotem, or spirit animal to guide you through life.

Animal spirit medicine is the guidance and knowledge one receives from their spirit animal, which is also referred to as a totem, animal spirit guide, or power animal. Each animal has their own power and attributes that can relate to your own spirit. For instance, the bear symbolizes strength, power, self awareness, and survival.

Native American tribes are numerous throughout our lands. Animal symbolism may vary from tribe to tribe. Following are some basic attributes of the tiger and the turtle.

This series of articles also includes the spirit powers of birds, insects, and reptiles.

Tiger

Tigers reside at the top of the food chain -- they have no predators. The tiger can reach up to 11 feet in length, weigh up to 660 pounds and have canines up to 4 inches long. They are unpredictable, have tremendous strength, and can move surprisingly quick.

Tigers do not have much stamina for long runs, but they can reach up to 40 mph in short bursts. They can sneak up silently on prey and strike before their presence is even known. They can leap tremendous lengths to knock their prey off balance.

The tiger's sense of touch is so good that it can detect the slightest twig that might make a cracking sound when creeping towards the unsuspecting prey.

If ever facing great danger, the tiger is bold and courageous, with a strong determination to survive. Female tigers are very protective of their cubs. Tigers are territorial and usually solitary animals but have been seen sharing kills with other tigers, both male and female.

In some cultures tigers are a symbolism of royalty. Most people have both awe and admiration for tigers. Because of its prowess, ferocity, beauty and harmony in nature, they are fascinating animals. The tiger is full of life -- it embodies the spirit and drive to achieve and make progress.

Symbolism: Strength, valor, silent power, energy, sensuality, sense of touch, royalty, unpredictability, protector

Turtle

Many Native American creation stories tell of how Mother Earth was born on the back of Turtle. The turtle has no one place where it lives. It carries its home on its back and retires inside when necessary. This is symbolic of being able to manage regardless of where it goes.

The Iroquois have a creation story wherein Hawk and Turtle helped save Sky Woman from certain death by drowning. Sky Woman fell from the sky and there was no land, only water below the sky. Hawk saved Sky Woman by catching her on his soft feathered back. He called out to all the sea creatures for help. The helpers dove down to the bottom of the sea, bringing up mud to put on Turtle's back, where they gently placed Sky Woman. The creatures continued till they had built a whole world. To this day Turtle holds Mother Earth on its back.

The Lakhota people have a story of Creation which involves Turtle. Creator sent Turtle to the bottom of the waters to gather mud. Turtle was down there for so long that all the other animals feared he had drowned. Turtle finally comes back up with enough mud for Creator to spread it all out on the waters, thus creating Mother Earth. Because the land was so dry, Creator cried and his tears created the oceans and lakes on Mother Earth.

The pueblo people in the southwest revere the turtle as it represents precious water, which is a true gift in the dry lands.

The sea turtle will lay up to 200 eggs in the sand. She usually does this at night, digging the hole with her flippers, laying the eggs, covering them back up with the sand, then leaves and returns to the sea. The hatchlings emerge in about two months and by natural instinct head for the sea, where they find their way to floating seaweed beds. Here they have shelter and food till they venture out into the open seas three to five years later.

The tortoise (land turtle) is considered a sign of longevity, as some can live to be over 150 years old. Turtle or tortoise, either is always content and feel safe at home, for they carry their shelter on their backs.

Symbolism: motherhood, fertility, nurturer, longevity, strength, perseverance, protective, earthly (grounded),
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