Monthly Archives: February 2018

  • Origin: Greece
  • Also known as: Khelone
  • Animal: Turtle, Tortoise
  • Flower: Turtlehead flowers (Chelone species)
  • Symbol: Silence

Chelone is said testudo (tortoise) in Latin. “Khelônê” means “tortoise” in Greek. The tortoise was a symbol of silence in ancient times.

Chelone, an Oread nymph (mountain nymph) of Arcadia in Greek mythology. She objected to the nuptials of Hera and Zeus. Some accounts say that she was jealous of Zeus’ marriage to another nymph, other stories contend that she was late and then decided not to go, claiming she never received her invitation.

The stories vary as to how it happened, however, Zeus was angered by her absence, and as a result she was transformed into a tortoise, condemning her to eternal silence. Because of this, Chelone is the spirit of silence. She may be invoked by those who need silence as well as by those who have been silenced. Chelone is the matron of political prisoners, those persecuted for voicing objections as well as those afraid to speak their minds.

Chelone is also the matron of the homeless and those able to carry all their possessions on their backs.

Variations of the story are as follows:

Certain parts of the myth tell that Chelone was taking too long to be ready for the feast, which caused Zeus to become enraged. In retribution, he crashed her house over her, and thus condemned her to drag her house forever as a tortoise.

  • Zeus turned her into a sea turtle and banished her to the ocean, with all her belongings strapped to her shell.
  • Hermes, who hosted the event and extended the invitations, felt this to be a personal affront and changed her into a tortoise so now she can never leave home for any event.
  • Because she would not leave her home, Zeus caused her house to collapse on top of her. Now she carries it wherever she goes.
  • Hermes descended from Olympus, threw Chelone’s house, which stood on the bank of a river, together with the nymph, into the water, and changed her into a turtle, who had henceforth to carry her house on her back.

In some stories and fables, the Gods are referred to as their Roman equivalents: Jupiter (Zeus), Juno (Hera), and Mercury (Hermes).

Collected from various sources.

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