turtle in a tiffin

now that…

is most likely a very politically incorrect statement, just the idea of putting a turtle in a tiffin means you have seasoned it quite nicely for lunch.

Now, I would not typically put a turtle in a tiffin, except in a sentence, but for odd reasons the word ‘tiffin’ cropped up this morning and then…well…my brain is sliding into turtlemania and who could resists turtles and tiffins on a Friday morning when you are tired.

I am not even going to comment on the last part of that sentence, it just came out that way.

Last night on the Speakeasy, Nyla gave me a writing assignment to do something about turtles. I complained but put it immediately in my calendar with one research time and three writing times labeled, in bright orange, simply as “fu—-g turtle”


Little did she know the role that turtles have played in my life. I have very few tattoos, I am mindful to draw them out and wait a year and still see if I am entranced by them before inscribing them on my body. This has saved me from som notrious tattoo mishaps including song lyrics, names and two foot long daggars of mercy racing down the insides of my arms (I was having a bad time).

One of the few tattoos that made it, and quite sizeably, it the one whose center portion is the Acoma design of the turtle. This little turtle has a special geometric symbol on it and represents eternity. The saying goes “Man stands on the Earth, the Earth rests on the shoulders of a Giant, the Giant stands on the back of a turtle but never ask what the turtle stands on.”

Turtles are symbols, mythologically of order, creation, patience, strength, stability, longevity, innocence, endurance and protection.

They have few known natural predators.

Turtles and tortoises are just about the same, except the turtle spends more time in water and has webbed feet.

A group of turtles are known as bales.

Dreams of turtles are said to be warnings that you are about to do something that will “knock you off track.”

At one point, turtles had teeth and could not pull their heads into their shells.

Their shells are made of over 80 bone plates.

And their shells have nerve endings.

If you touch a turtle’s shell it can feel you.

This is I did not know, but when you think about it, it makes sense, metaphorically and physically.

Mostly we think or use the term “turtling” for someone who has retreated behind a defense. It is easy to forget that defenses have nerve endings. We gather defenses to ourselves to protect ourselves from real or imagined harm. From threat of harm. But the fear remains in the nerves. Touch a shell and you stroke the fear. While good strong defenses may make us seem more secure they actually don’t. They take our jangled nerves and put them out against the world where they can be touched first, only now we have added a layer between our emotions and ourselves that is hard for us to get through and easy to make believe that because of that seperation the emotion doesn’t exist any more at all.

I tweeted a line about “the voice of a turtle,” a turtle has no vocal chord but can hiss, hoot, grunt, and of all things…cluck.

Turtles have ears, but they cannot hear. They feel vibration from noise only through the nerve endings of their shell – and isn’t that just so obviously metaphorical that I am not even going to touch it


Turtle this and turtle that.

Turtles think towards things

on their turtle trips.

Never take a turtle,

I’ll tell you now, my friend,

to be your tiffin tidbit.

The turtle could be tasty,

but turtles tales are not.

Turtle thoughts are wise

tho’ may take some time to speak.

Tangle not with turtles,

tempting as may be,

just let the tiny turtle

toddle towards its thoughts.

🙂 <—I disavow all knowledge of writing that or spending so much time giggling and writing that this morning 🙂

c.2010 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.


About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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