Saturday, July 17, 2010

Octopus



A new resident to the Aquarium!

In the news today is Paul the 'psychic' Octopus. The English-born Octopus who now lives at Oberhausen Sea Life Zoo in Germany, successfully predicted all seven of Germany's wins in the Football World Cup and also Spain's win, by correctly choosing between two sealed boxes. Statistically this is equivalent to predicting heads or tails eight times, odds of 1 in 128. The World Cup winning nation is now bidding for Paul to re-locate to a zoo in Spain. Humankind tends to get excited by the idea of a creature which exhibits psychic powers, forgetting that they too possess psychic abilities, which usually remain dormant and unused.

Octopuses are zoologically known as Cephalopods, (from the Greek kephale, head and pod, foot). They are classified as predatory molluscs like squids and cuttlefish. One of the most intelligent of all invertebrates, they are capable of using tools and solving problems, have three hearts, and can camouflage themselves instantly, changing their colour and texture to match their surroundings. As they are boneless they are even able to escape from aquariums, squeezing themselves into small spaces. Octopuses have short life-spans of only three or four years.

The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols states, 'the Octopus stands significantly for the monsters who regularly symbolize the spirits of the Underworld and even Hell itself. The Octopus also corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Cancer, (see Crab) and is opposed to the dolphin. This identification is not unrelated to the creatures 'infernal' aspect, the Summer solstice being the gate of the Underworld.

The Octopus is often viewed as a sinister and scary creature. However, like the snake and spider, also invertebrates which needlessly frighten, the Octopus is an exemplary symbol of the unconscious psyche, which, as the psychologist Carl Jung constantly reminded his reader, humanity ignores at its peril.

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