Sepia in Nature
It is the function of creative man to perceive and to connect the seemingly unconnected1
This special study is our effort to connect the seemingly unconnected aspects of Sepia. It is a study, which encompasses its study in nature, its in-depth analytical study of proving notes in homoeopathic literature, their correlation to each other and then utilizing that understanding for the benefit of curing patients. So in a way, that is the lineage in which you should read this study to benefit most from this presentation.
Through this special study it is our endeavor to illustrate a true and fascinating method of studying proving, so that an otherwise dull and dry reading gets converted into an adventure, into knowing what is the essential of Sepia as a remedy, and then you can emulate the same when you study other remedies. It is very rare that students are exposed to this kind of a study, especially in this manner. It is usual to find students of homoeopathy mugging up the keynotes of Sepia from probably the third or fourth generation homoeopaths and in that process form a picture of the remedy. The pitfall is that out of hundred Sepia patients that destiny throws at you, you are able to recognize only one, i.e. the picture that you have formed. The other presentations will simply fly out of the butterfly net of your senses. But if you study the provings in this meaningful way, then the portrait of the remedy comes forth. You understand its essentials. In a way, you understand the remedy Sepia, but you do not have any picture of it.
It is our humble suggestion that you read this study from the beginning to its conclusion. Do not start reading from anywhere in the middle for it will not lead you anywhere. The purpose of sharing with you is to make you think, but thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few people engage in it. 2
But think you must, for the loss that you will incur having those fixed remedy pictures in your mind is immense! For that you need to change, for ‘things do not change; we change’3
Sepia in nature …
When is a fish not a fish? Em! Okay, er! Em! It’s not a funny joke, actually it’s just a fact… cuttlefish are not fish!
One of the most mystifying creatures of the deep, the cuttlefish has abilities and even senses that are alien to us humans. This versatile animal can change its appearance at will, mimicking floating vegetation or rocks on the seafloor. Yet when danger looms, the animal can jet away at great speeds, shooting out a smoke screen of ink or using its ink to create decoys of itself. How does the cuttlefish accomplish all this? Below, take a look at select parts of this octopus relative and learn more about how this master of deception and disguise functions. — Rima Chaddha
Cuttlefish are much more closely related to garden slugs and snails than they are to fish. They belong to the same group of animals as the octopuses, squid and nautilus and like a snail they are all molluscs. Cuttlefish are unique within this group, in that they have a gas filled bone within their bodies, which allows them to be buoyant. You may have seen cuttlebones before, sticking out from the bars on a budgie’s cage? The bone is within the body part of the animal called the mantle and attached to the mantle is a head with eight arms and two feeding tentacles. The cuttlefish is an ambush predator and a master of disguise. Its skin is covered with special cells called chromatophores, iridophores and leucophores that reflect light in many different colours enabling the cuttlefish to blend into its background almost perfectly. Some say it’s like a chameleon but it is far superior in its ability to change colour and even the texture of its skin! A cuttlefish will steadily, using its camouflage, sneak up on its prey. Their preferred diet is crabs or fish, and when it is close enough it opens apart its eight arms and out shoot two deceptively long feeding tentacles. On the end of each is a pad covered with suckers that grasp hold of the prey and quickly pull it close to the cuttlefish’s mouth that looks like a parrot’s beak. The scientific name for a cuttlefish is Sepia. In years gone by sepia ink, which is derived from cuttlefish, was used by artists for their paintings. For the cuttlefish this ink is a decoy, a means of escape from predators. If a large fish were to attack a cuttlefish it would eject a cloud of dark brown, almost black ink towards its attacker! The predator would get a mouthful of ink that tastes nasty and coats its nostrils. Meanwhile the cuttlefish is hidden from view and propels itself away backwards by using its own jet propulsion system, its siphon. The eggs of cuttlefish are laid in clumps together and are often coated in ink from the mother; this serves as camouflage for the eggs. They hatch at a much further developed stage than an octopus does and immediately start feeding on suitably small shrimp.
Anatomy of a Cuttlefish
Arms and Tentacles:
Both the arm (top) and the tentacle (bottom) are lined with suckers.
Unlike the octopus’s arms, which that animal often uses to move and carry objects, the cuttlefish’s eight arms are specialized for grasping prey after the cuttlefish captures it with its two elongated tentacles. When potential food sources such as fish or shrimp swim near, the cuttlefish can alter the color of its skin while waving its arms in a mesmerizing display. This lures potential prey to within reach of the cuttlefish’s tentacles, which can then shoot rapidly from a pocket at the base of the arms to grab the prey. The arms are also important for a defensive display in which the cuttlefish sucks water into its mantle cavity and spreads its arms in order to appear larger to its potential opponent.
The dark area seen here is part of the cuttlefish’s strong, sharp beak, the rest of which lies behind the buccal (cheek) mass.
The cuttlefish’s beak looks much like a parrot’s beak, but it is hard to see because it lies buried at the base of the animal’s eight arms. The cuttlefish can use its beak to help subdue prey and to defend itself against predators and rivals by biting. Like cuttlebones, beaks differ among species, and their remains enable scientists to identify which cuttlefish species have lived and died in certain areas.
Unlike in mammals, the cuttlefish’s optic lobes are located outside of its cartilage brain casing. Above is a transverse cross-section of the cuttlefish brain.
The cuttlefish has one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of any invertebrate, perhaps even larger than that of the octopus. The cuttlefish brain can handle input from a variety of senses, including sight, smell, and even “sound” (in the form of pressure waves). According to some scientists studying cephalopod learning, the cuttlefish can use visual clues to solve mazes, making it as intelligent as the octopus or land animals like the pigeon.
The rigid cuttlebone allows the cuttlefish to keep a constant internal volume, unlike a fish’s swim bladder, which expands and contracts with depth.
A defining characteristic of the cuttlefish, is an internal structure called the cuttlebone, which is composed of calcium carbonate and is porous, to provide the cuttlefish with buoyancy making it functionally similar to swim bladders in fish. Cuttlebones have both gas-filled forward chambers and water-filled rear chambers. Changing the gas-to-liquid ratio in the chambered cuttlebone can regulate buoyancy. Each species has a distinct shape, size, and pattern of ridges or texture on the bone. Although it can take hours for the cuttlefish to change its density through its cuttlebone alone, the animal can control its positioning in the water with the aid of its specialized fins and mantle. Cuttlebones are traditionally used by jewelers and silversmiths as moulds for casting small objects. They are probably better known today as the tough material given to parakeets and other cage birds as a source of nutritional and dietary calcium supplement. The cuttlebone is unique to cuttlefish, one of the features contrasting them with their squid relatives.
A cuttlefish looks on through its large eye. Note the smoothly curving W shape of its pupil.
Although color-blind, the cuttlefish has two of the most highly developed eyes in the animal kingdom. The organogenesis of cephalopod eyes differs fundamentally from that of vertebrates like humans. Superficial similarities between cephalopod and vertebrate eyes are examples of convergent evolution. It can see well in low light and can also detect polarized light, enhancing its perception of contrast. They have two spots of concentrated sensor cells on their retina (known as fovea), one to look more forward, and one to look more backwards. The lenses, instead of being reshaped as they are in humans, are instead pulled around by reshaping the entire eye in order to change focus. Also, the cuttlefish’s eyes are very large in proportion to its body and may increase image magnification upon the retina, while the distinct “W”-shaped pupil helps control the intensity of light entering the eye.
The cuttlefish’s undulating fins can move more freely than fish fins because they lack both bony and cartilaginous supports.
While the cuttlefish uses its mantle cavity for jet propulsion, it relies on its specialized fins for basic mobility and maintaining consistent speeds. Resembling a short, flouncy skirt, the muscular fin can maneuver the cuttlefish in nearly any direction: backward, forward, even in circles, with such movement being more energetically efficient than jetting. The movement and positioning of the fins also come into play when smaller males in certain species mimic the opposite sex in order to swim past larger males and gain access to females.
Gills, Hearts, and Blood:
The cuttlefish’s pair of orange gills (one appears above) filter oxygen from seawater and deliver it to the bloodstream.
The cuttlefish has three hearts, with two pumping blood to its large gills and one circulating the oxygenated blood to the rest of its body. The blood itself is blue-green in color because it possesses hemocyanin, a copper-containing protein typical in cephalopods—cuttlefish, octopuses, and squids—that transports oxygen throughout their bodies. (Mammals’ red blood uses the iron-rich protein hemoglobin to do the same thing.)
The dark ink sac can be seen clearly in this image of part of the mantle cavity.
Like its close relatives, the squid and octopus, the cuttlefish is equipped with an ink sac that can help it make a last-ditch escape from predators that hunt by sight. The cuttlefish can eject its ink in two ways. One way creates a smoke screen behind which the animal can escape perceived danger. In the other, the released ink takes the form of “pseudomorphs,” or bubbles of ink surrounded by mucus that are roughly the size of the cuttlefish and can act as decoys. The ink, which contains dopamine and L-DOPA, a precursor to dopamine, may also temporarily paralyze the sense of smell in predators that hunt by scent.