Friday, October 21, 2016

The turtle who holds up the Earth

Giant Snapper
CC Jean Stimmell:10/20/16
I slammed on the brakes, startled by a dark, lurching apparition, as big as a medium sized dog, crossing the road in front of me. It was a massive snapping turtle, her shell at least 2-1/2 feet across. I tried to guide her to safety by pushing her across the road with a stout pine limb but she was too strong, too heavy, and too stubborn to move. Eventually other cars stopped and we stood guard until she safely crossed the road.

She evoked strong feelings in me too deep to unpack quickly. Upon reflection, I think the nearest word to describe what I felt is awe: Awe to be in the presence of such an ancient ancestor, such a primal spirit.

Tonight, as I examined my photograph, I marveled at what was on the turtle's back: seeds, pine needles and a patch of earth deep enough to grow something. The turtle's back resembles a tiny island!

 That image triggered a memory of an ancient myth, versions of which are found in India, China and North America, the last of which is known as "Turtle Island" to some tribes as a reference to the belief that the continent was resting on the back of an gigantic turtle.

After my close encounter, I can viscerally relate to the reverence that indigenous people have for this primal archetype: I can’t explain it, other than to say,  I feel like I have been blessed with a visit from a god.
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