Dream of Turtle Populations at Night

Hi all, there has not been a lot of activity on this group recently and I don’t know how many folks are around, however I have a dream I’d love to get any feedback on.  This is from two nights ago—the product of a very jet lagged brain.  Here is the dream: 

I am looking at a map of the world, traditional world map, flat.  Suddenly night falls over the map and the map becomes like a deep dark green-black.  I am situated off the map in a neutral, observer space.  As night moves over the map (and the whole world becomes night at the same time, which I register in the dream as odd) the coastlines of the whole world become bright orange.

This bright orange represents turtle populations. For example, the Mediterranean is ringed with a thin band of orange on both the European and African coasts, California has a think band of orange reaching into the Pacific, etc. The seas around China, Japan, and India are almost fully orange, whereas for most of the rest of the world it is only a band just off the coastlines that has the turtles.

The whole map seems to pulse with turtle energy and the turtles are in motion—I can’t actually see individual turtles however am aware that the orange is pulsing and moving dynamically.  All the turtles, I realize, plunge over a sea wall or kind of huge waterfall in the ocean, apparently to their deaths and there are these sea walls on the edge of every coast at the end of the orange bands. Actually, off of California I can see turtles plunging off the sea wall if I look at that part of the map—this is the only point in the dream I see any actual turtles.  The dream is kind of breathtaking and again really dynamic.  The world, at night, pluses with turtles; this is the main experience of the dream. 

I have never had a dream of turtles as far as I can recall, although of course turtles are an ancient symbol associated with various creation myths for example.  There is no hint of any mythology in the dream however, just pulsing turtle populations.  The sea wall off of California is similar, perhaps identical, to an image from an earlier dream which found me swimming away from an encroaching, swirling, ocean.   

Very curious if anyone has a reaction or impression from the dream. 

Thank you to all, 


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  • http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2015/11/01...

    Hi Matthew! I just came across this article about glowing sea turtles having been discovered. Not sure if you already came across this, but I was amazed at the co-incidence with your dream. The turtles are very threatened. Look like you have to go to the website and type in glowing sea turtles

  • Amongst many other points of great intrigue in this dream for me...I am curious about an image that suggests both mass destruction...and mass reproduction: both falling over the edge and pulsing with turtles!

    Also, trying to track in my memory a version of the Turtle Island creation story where someone asks, what is below the turtle supporting the weight of the earth...and the response is "it is turtles all the way down" or "turtles all the way through." If this corresponds to anyone else's mythic resevoir, please illuminate.

    Thank you Mathew for sharing this big dream.


  • Matthew, would you be okay if I were to share your dream with Meredith Sabini and Richard Russo of The Dream Institute in Berkeley? As I mentioned in an earlier post, they have been collecting collective dreams for over 10 years, and I know they would appreciate receiving your dream.

    • Dorene, thank you so much for reading the dream and taking time to give feedback.  It was partly because the dream did seem to have a clear collective aspect or possibility to it that I decided to share it here.

      By all means, please share the dream with Ms. Sabini and Mr. Russo if indeed you think it would be of interest to them.  If the dream could be of use in some other context I would be honored.  Also, if there is a collective aspect to the dream then it is not mine alone in the first place, and I agree that there is some imagery in the dream that could resonate with others, as it seems to have done already here on this site.

      I will think carefully about your suggestion regarding re-visiting the dream in active imagination or ritual.  As for being a sort of portent, I should note that everytime I call the dream to mind, including writing this now, I get sort of queasy and my stomach ties up, suggesting I suppose that there is something very much unfinished at work around the dream and what it is trying to say.


  • I must tell you, Matthew, my heart began racing as I read your dream, and my throat constricted with fear. As Gunni-Britt suggested, below, I imagine this to be a collective warning dream, perhaps having to do with the destruction of the environment and possibly portending some event now or in the future. The bright orange reminded me of odd fluorescent colors often associated with toxic spills, or chemical rings that form at the edge of polluted water holding ponds, etc.

    Meredith Sabini and Richard Russo of The Dream Institute of Northern California have been working with collective dreaming (called Deep Dreaming) for over ten years. They offered training in their remarkable process this past weekend. Among other things, the process of Deep Dreaming includes "holding" collective dreams such as this one in a sort of council, sacredly witnessing and engaging with the dream figures. It is a remarkable process that I see as "medicine" for the world soul. In any event, I recommend that you do some kind of ritual for this dream. For whatever reason, you were gifted with these profound images--perhaps go back into the dream in Active Imagination and ask for guidance about what you are being called to do. It is possible that you are simply being asked to bear witness.

    Thank you for sharing this dream. I am honored to, now, hold it in my own prayers. God bless you.

    • Very important reply. It's collective emphasis and concern for the world soul moved me into looking at the dream from another vista/vantage point. Along with the above suggestions, which are excellent, I was  able to grasp how important it might be for you to really take a deep look , or if you have already  done so , "to look again" at your own internal state, along with the outward manifestions of tortoisehood/turtledom in your personal world! How where, why and in what ways do you/your life  resemble the tortoises, or not?

      I had a very  odd dream a while back about which I was having some difficulty really connecting to its images and any meaning they might have had. I could see that yes it was collective, without question, yet something did not sit quite right with only that. THere was one recurring set of images that carried tremendous energy and yet I could not connect them to anything....It was several mths before I could begin to piece together what I thought of as a patchwork  of personal and collective meaning. I got the collective in the beginning, but what I needed more of was the personal and as that continues to unfold even now, I can reflect upon this dream with more and more clarity. I can really enter it . I can "own" it as something dark, insidious and very unconscious, and grasp it  as something hopeful that once ressurected offers rebirth I am not saying that is the case with you at all. I just feel today that your dream too, warrants this type of exploration,whereby you take ownership of what/where it fits in your, internal and literal outer life.

      What are the/your undiscovered "imagesofsoul" to be explored/integrated here?

      #imagesofsoul -Hadley Fitzgerald/Judith Harte

    • Good reminder, Judith, that whatever collective elements may be in Matthew's dream, it is HIS dream and must also have something personal to say to him!

  • Thank you Genevieve, Judith, and Gunni,

    Here is a little more--Genevieve the sea wall is something that doesn't exist in nature; it is like a waterfall in the ocean as if the shallow part of the ocean by the coast (immediate coastal shelf) falls into the ocean just like a large waterfall up in the mountains.  Of course the coastal shelf really does fall off, only underwater where we can't see it from the surface.  Here, the fall off is visible.  The turtles when they fall off the waterfall are just turtles, however they are mostly showing their underside to me the observer.  They look sort of vulnerable in this respect I guess.  

    Judith, one feeling from the dream that I should mention is a kind of queasy ambivalence about the prospects of the turtles as a population.  On the one hand, there seem to be a ton of them in the oceans and they seem to be self-replicating. Also, the orange is very striking and impressive.  On the other hand, as you imply, the fact that they are constantly falling to their deaths despite in nature having a long life span, was something I picked up on inside the dream and felt concern about. Thinking more about it, the orange is really the most specific and notable image from the dream and orange is often a color associate with warning and hazard--this is on reflection, not an association that was necessarily present in the dream. Thank you for the book recommendation.  I don't know a lot about turtle behavior, breeding, etc.--it is quite possible that the movement of the turtles is related to breeding--also the global movement in generally east to west.  Although in the dream I sort of thought that there were sea cliffs all over the world, in actuality I only could see the cliff off the coast of California and again the major populations were in the far east (I actually live in Japan, incidentally).  So it may be that the whole population begun in the east and thinned out as they moved west eventually to their death off of California.  Incidentally, both of my parents' families are from California, so there may be an autobiographical aspect here.  Or again, recently California, with its water crisis for example, is a symbol of ecological hazard and there is certainly an ecological aspect to the dream.

    Thank you all for your thoughts which have helped me very much to move forward in my reflection.



    • As I was reading the dream I got the image of Dr Jung's dream of the oceans turning to blood before the war, and the feeling in my gut of the ecological crises the oceans and planet is facing. As much as 50% of worldwide turtle populations are faced with near term extinction. China consumes a vast quantity of both farm raised, and wild caught turtles as a delicacy. 

      In Mythology, the turtle carries the world.

  • Sounds like a mysterious and important dream!...wonder if you have taken time going back to the dream for active imagination? Worth spending time letting it live within you.

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