Meaning and Uses of the Tortoise (or Turtle) Symbol in Feng Shui

feng shui turtle

Rosanne Olson / Getty Images

The tortoise (or turtle) is one of the most revered and sacred symbols in feng shui. The tortoise represents wisdom, endurance, and long life.

The Meaning of the Tortoise (or Turtle) in Feng Shui

In feng shui, the black tortoise of the north is one of the four celestial animals, along with the white tiger to the east, the red phoenix in the south, and green dragon to the west. The four celestial animals, also known as the four emblems, are one of the foundational principles of feng shui. They represent mythical and real animals that offer wisdom on how you could situate your home to be in harmony with the environment around it. The black tortoise is ideally in the back, offering support and stability.

The tortoise is also important in feng shui for another reason. Legend says that an auspicious constellation of divinatory symbols were discovered on the shell of a tortoise that emerged from the Luo River. Feng shui, as well as the I-Ching, the bagua, and the Nine Star Ki (and the list goes on) are all ancient practices that are founded on these symbols said to be revealed on the back of a tortoise shell.

Another aspect of the tortoise is its long life, endurance, and wisdom. Tortoises and turtles are revered for their long lives. Their shells also represent protection.

In addition, in Buddhism, there is a story of a turtle that reminds us of how precious life is. A human birth is said to be as rare as a blind turtle in a vast ocean that swims up and pokes its head out of the center of a single yoke floating on the surface of the water.

tortise feng shui
 Illustration: © The Spruce, 2018

Ways to Use the Tortoise for Feng Shui

Activate the Career Bagua Area

The feng shui bagua map has an area called Kan which is related to your career. Classical practitioners locate this in the north sector of the home. A turtle image here can offer support in all aspect of your career for wisdom, protection, and success.

In Your Garden

You can have real or figurines of tortoises and turtles in your outdoor space to invite longevity for the inhabitants. As a bonus, this will also add an element of protection from energies outside the home. This can be done with a tortoise pond or in your garden. Real tortoises are better, but only if you take care of the living creatures and they thrive in the conditions available.

front view of a painted turtle sitting on a stone, water of a pond in the background, waterplants out of focus

IEigler / Getty Images

Artwork With Tortoise Imagery

You can place tortoise images around your home to invite the qualities of wisdom, protection, and longevity for the inhabitants. This can be with a painting, photography, figurines, or even abstracted turtle shell geometric patterns. Feel free to get creative!

Protect and Support the Back of Your Home

If you’re looking for some protection in your home, especially in the rear of the house, try a tortoise in this area of your floor plan or lot. The tortoise is related to the back position when we look at the four celestial animals.

Jade Tortoise

In feng shui, jade is considered an auspicious and highly valuable green stone. A tortoise carved in jade is not only a beautiful addition to your home, but it also has the special power of vitality, health, and protection imparted from the jade. A green jade tortoise in your home or worn on the body will strengthen your qi (life force energy).

carved jade turtle on a white background

Adrienne Bresnahan / Getty Images

Tortoise on Bed of Coins

You can often find a tortoise figurine sitting on a bed of coins. This combines the symbol of the wise tortoise with the prosperity and good fortune of Chinese coins. A tortoise on a bed of coins is a great addition to your feng shui wealth corner.

Wearing Tortoise Imagery

Feng shui imagery can also be used to improve your personal energy if you wear the symbols on your body. Jewelry with tortoises, especially jade, is especially powerful.

Indoor Turtle Garden

If you’re keen for pets, try an indoor turtle garden. Be sure to take good care of your turtle and keep them healthy and loved. Otherwise, a miniature indoor garden with tortoise and turtle figurines also works well!

Stability in Any Bagua Area

If you have an area of the feng shui bagua that you want to work with, a tortoise image can enhance it to invite stability, protection, and support.