Ogham (Tree Lore)
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The tortoise appears in almost every culture across the planet.
The chinese hold the tortoise and the turtle as sacred animals the tortoise a sign of rebirth, as life slows down after the summer and prepares for the autumn, it then slows down further and prepares for the spring. With each season a fresh perspective, a new beginning a realisation that as time turns with each season life goes on. New life and life after life.
Today the tortoise is protected, once seen as sacred and a sign of eternal fertility its shell was most treasured, bought to the edge of extinction it is now protected from man. As the tortoise comes out of its shell in the spring, as it stretches and shakes the weariness of hibernation, life springs up around it. The Celtic lands have Freya to bring in the love of new life, the east wind and fertility and love of life in abundance. Outside the Celtic lands the Tortoise and Turtle travel from the North heading South and bring with them a life that brings fertility everywhere they tread. With a foot in each of the four directions representing the four seasons, the four times of the day, dawn, midday, sunset and night, each foot also represents father, mother, wife and child.
Just as the spirit world has no time, the tortoise teaches us that there is only now, the present and it is this moment that counts. The tortoise moves from the dark into the light, on its left is the East with sunrise each morning. Ahead and above is the South and midday with the glory that each day brings. On its right is the West and sunset bringing the calm serenity of nightfall. The North is the night and where tortoise travels from.
In the east we have Tibetan, Indian, Persian, Mongolian to name but a few of the ancient cultures that create mandalas, to come together as a culture and create an image of the imprint of the underside of a Tortoise or Turtle to spend hours, days, weeks and months working on one mandala and to then wipe it away in one gesture of sacred rite... as an act of acceptance that life is eternal and that a moment is now.
Here in the UK we attract the Leatherback Sea Turtle to our western coasts, where once both Tortoises and Turtles would have been in abundance. Our so called progress has reduced us to just one resident turtle. This reptile from the age of the dinosaurs, The Leatherback Sea Turtle has a life cycle of just 45 years and can grow from 2 centimetres to 2.5 metres. (1 inch to 7 feet) The largest leatherback ever reported in the world was found in Wales weighed 2,020 lbs and was 8'6" in length, this was reported in 1988.