Turtles and tortoises have many meanings in a variety of cultures. Patience, feminine energy, ancient wisdom, treasure, peace, meditation, vision, oracles, water, spirit, and healing are just a very few manifestations of the energies and guidance between the two.
As one who loves tortoises and the moon, I was naturally drawn to the Native American explanation of turtle (or tortoise) who carries the 13 moons on his back. Native American cultures throughout North America recognized the seasonal cycles of nature, the night sky, agriculture, and hunting through 28-day cycles yielding a 13-month (13 moons) year; plus one day for a renewal ceremony = 365 days.
Turtle is a walking calender of sorts, depicting these 13 moons, each having its own name, identifying seasonal changes. Thirteen scutes (the large, sectioned scales) are found on the back of every turtle and tortoise, and the enduring, ancient existence of turtles and tortoises are perfectly symbolic of these ancient cycles of nature and sky.
The Zentangle inspired drawing above emerged from me like one of our own tortoises coming out of hibernation: slow and with purpose. Some characteristics of practicing Zentangle drawings include: intuitive, timeless, ceremonial/meditative, empowering. Not unlike turtle & tortoise energy! When I’m practicing a Zentangle-inspired drawing, I intuitively slow down–one must be patient–and I find peace and contentment in whatever results. The end result being an unexpected treasure–something tortoise medicine often encourages by slowing down and noticing the treasures around us.
I chose repeating circles to represent the cycle of seasons and the moon. There are 13 scutes on my tortoise’s back, and emanating from him are the 13 moons in their cycles above him.