Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ambivalance of the Aquatic Arthropod

As the blog progressed I began to find that you could run out of symbols. True symbols are ineffable, incapable of being described. What could be more ineffable that a crab? Indeed we have not spoken of the humble crustacean before. It's the zodiac sign of Cancer and so I'm surprised that the aquatic arthropod has not made an appearance! In some cultures they are regarded as crafty because of the sideways scuttle. But I particularly like a myth from the Andaman islands. The first man who ever drowned, capsized the boat in which his mate had set out to look for him. She joined him and they both changed into a crab. It's kind of creation myth that adequately explains the jointed limbs and segmented body of this strange sea creature. More often than not the crab is a symbol of incarnation, an avatar of transcendental forces. And although they usually originate in the underworld, crabs often come from the sky. Yet despite the coincidence of the Zodiac sign with the summer solstice, crabs are lunar symbols and are usually depicted on the Moon Tarot card. They move backwards and forwards and so like the best of symbols, are ambivalent and can be either good or evil. I saw this fellow, sadly demised, on the beach at Fregene near Rome - and couldn't resist taking a photograph. The beach too is ineffable with its many shifting grains of sand and the crab has found its last resting place there.