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.
This ink was formerly an important dye, called sepia. Today artificial dyes have replaced natural sepia. However, there is a modern resurgence of Jewish people using the ink for the techelet dye on their Tallit strings.
In this scanning electron microscope image, “L1” and “L2” mark the lateral lines, while “A” indicates the cuttlefish’s arms.
Although the cuttlefish can’t hear, it can detect sound in the form of pressure waves using its lateral epidermal lines. Seen here via a scanning electron microscope, these lines consist of thousands of hair cells. The cells seem to be especially sensitive to sounds ranging between 75 and 100 Hz, with 100 Hz being similar in frequency to a typical automobile engine running at maximum speed. One physiological study showed that in total darkness, healthy cuttlefish could capture about 50 percent of available prey, whereas cuttlefish with compromised epidermal lines could capture only about 30 percent. The hair cells can also be used in defense, allowing cuttlefish to detect the movement of possible predators.
In this view of the inside of an adult cuttlefish’s mantle, the orange gills and dark ink sac are clearly visible.
The multifunctional mantle cavity is important for cuttlefish locomotion, giving the animal its characteristic jet propulsion ability. To jet away from a predator, the cuttlefish sucks water into the cavity and then uses its strong mantle muscles to expel the liquid with great force, driving the cuttlefish in the opposite direction. Water exits through a movable part called the funnel, which controls the angle of the spray. The mantle cavity also aids in respiration by bringing water to the animal’s gills, which in turn filters oxygen into its bloodstream.
Males and females face each other and embrace while mating.
During mating, the male uses a modified arm to transfer his genetic material into the female’s buccal area. This is the part of the female’s mouth that stores the male’s spermatophores (sperm packaged in special containers) until she is ready to use them to fertilize her eggs. Because the female often accepts more than one mate, the male sometimes sprays water through his mantle funnel into the female’s buccal area to wash out other males’ spermatophores. When she is ready to deposit her eggs in safe locations such as under rocks or in discarded shells, the female uses her arms to wipe the stored spermatophores onto each egg.
Stripes ripple across a cuttlefish’s skin.
An infant cuttlefish protects itself with camouflage. Cuttlefish are sometimes called the chameleon of the sea because of their remarkable ability to rapidly alter their skin colour at will. When it comes to changing one’s skin color, the cuttlefish outshines even the chameleon, in both degree and kind. Its skin possesses up to 200 chromatophores (pigment cells) per square millimeter, allowing the animal to pattern itself with a variety of colors. Their skin flashes a fast-changing pattern as communication to other cuttlefish and to camouflage them from predators. When vying for a mate, for example, some male cuttlefish will showcase “intense zebra displays”. This color-changing function is produced by groups of red, yellow, brown, and black pigmented chromatophores above a layer of reflective iridophores and leucophores, with up to 200 of these specialized pigment cells per square millimeter. The pigmented chromatophores have a sac of pigment and a large membrane that is folded when retracted. There are 6-20 small muscle cells on the sides, which can contract to squash the elastic sac into a disc against the skin. Yellow chromatophores (xanthophores) are closest to the surface of the skin, red and orange are below (erythrophores), and brown or black are just above the iridophore layer (melanophores). The iridophores reflect blue and green light. Iridophores are plates of chitin or protein, which can reflect the environment around a cuttlefish. They are responsible for the metallic blues, greens, golds, and silvers often seen on cuttlefish. All of these cells can be used in combinations. For example, orange is produced by red and yellow chromatophores, while purple can be created by a red chromatophore and an iridophore. The cuttlefish can also use an iridophore and a yellow chromatophore to produce a brighter green. As well as being able to influence the color of the light that reflects off their skin, cuttlefish can also affect the light’s polarization, which can be used to signal to other marine animals, many of which can also sense polarization. The cuttlefish can also use muscles in its dermis to change its skin texture from smooth to rough, enabling it to hide easily among rocks on the seafloor, for instance.
Blood: The blood of a cuttlefish is an unusual shade of green-blue because it uses the copper-containing protein hemocyanin to carry oxygen instead of the red iron-containing protein hemoglobin that is found in mammals. The blood is pumped by three separate hearts, two of which are used for pumping blood to the cuttlefish’s pair of gills (one heart for each gill), and the third for pumping blood around the rest of the body. A cuttlefish’s heart must pump a higher blood flow than most other animals because hemocyanin is substantially less capable of carrying oxygen than hemoglobin.
Toxicity: Recently it has been discovered that the Pfeffer’s Flamboyant Cuttlefish’s muscles contain a highly toxic compound that is yet to be identified. Research by Mark Norman with the Museum Victoria in Queensland, Australia has shown the toxin to be as lethal as that of a fellow cephalopod, the Blue-ringed octopus.
Cuttlefish as food: Cuttlefish are caught for food in the Mediterranean and East Asia. Although squid is more popular as a restaurant dish all over the world, in East Asia dried cuttlefish is a highly popular snack food.
As you have gone through the above notes pay attention to the section on eyesight, movement, and the survival characteristics of Sepia; of course not to over look the ink sac, as it is this ink that was used in the proving. We leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. If you understand it, well you will see the correlation coming through in the proving and this also illustrates the principle that in a part is hidden the essence of the whole.
Sepia – Essentials emerging through homoeopathic Proving
“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” … Abigail Adams
Sepia – a study from source books …
We have studied Sepia in nature now let us study from the source books the simple language of expression of this remedy. When we say the source books we mean The Chronic Diseases10, Materia Medica Pura8, Dr. Hering’s Guiding Symptoms9 and Dr. Allen’s Encyclopedia10.