Never Eat a Cuttlefish

My maternal grandparents loved their pet budgie, named Billy, who was allowed to fly around the front parlour whenever I visited their humble home. It was there, far from the seaside or ocean that I first came across a cuttlefish. For the uninitiated, it is a marine mollusc in the same class as squid, and octopuses. The Greco-Roman world valued it as a source of the unique brown pigment or ink it releases when alarmed. (The word for it in both Greek and Latin is sepia, which, in English is a colour, reddish-brown.) 

Cuttlefish have a unique internal shell which is a buoyancy aid. It is this which we see washed up on shores to be collected by shell hunters or harvested to be sold to pet shops for budgies to use to sharpen their beaks.

Never in a million years would I have expected to read about a cuttlefish in a book about the famous Christian preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. But I did! Not only that, but coincidentally, the week before, whilst on holiday, I discovered a pile of cuttlefish bones in the sand on an Atlantic beach.  

There is an old Pythagorean maxim, ‘Sepiam ne edito,’ ‘never eat a cuttlefish’. Mr Spurgeon talked about the ‘ink’ of the cuttlefish being a black colour (although it is indeed a dark colour); but the point he was making was that ‘this liquid dyes the water enabling it to conceal itself; therefore, have nothing to do with those who darken all around them that they themselves may be unseen. Honest men love light, and only the evil find darkness to be congenial.’ His advice is, ‘when an author is too obscure to be understood, leave him till he knows how to write; when a preacher is mystical, high-flown sophistical, (meaning clever and plausible, but unsound and tending to mislead), shun him, for it is most likely he labours to conceal some latent heresy; when a man’s policy is deep and artful, flee from him, for he means no good. No deceiver or double-tongued man must be admitted within the circle of your confidence. Remember the advice, never eat a cuttlefish.’ 

‘And this is the condemnation that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’- John 3:19