The tortoise is small and timid, it harms no one; it withdraws into its shell when it is frightened. Like the moon it hides itself in darkness and because of this it is sacred to the Mother Goddess who in various of her aspects appears as Demeter or Aphrodite or Medusa or Eurydice.

Knowing this, Hermes killed the tortoise and scooped out its shell to make the lyre.

‘Because you killed the tortoise and made an emptiness in which to sound your music,’ said the Goddess to Hermes, ‘those whose god you are may have the emptiness from which comes art or the love that fills the emptiness, but not both.’

The Time Sickness
Notes from East Germany