Because I collect all the things, I have a modest fossil collection. I’ve been fascinated by fossils since I was a kid.
One of the places I shop for fossils is kind of a weird store. They carry a whole bunch of new age randomness like crystal balls and different rocks/gemstones, Native American trinkets and fairy trinkets, some Christian/angel things, a whole bunch of carved jade animals (there’s a frog with a coin in his mouth that I REALLY want), every kind of bead ever, incense. It’s just a strange place. You can get a psychic reading if you go on Saturday, FYI.
I was there recently, and I noticed an item that I either hadn’t seen or it was new to the store. At first glance, it looked like some kind of flat skull wrapped in plastic. I picked it up to look at it because that’s what I do when I see unusual looking dead things in stores.
There was a card identifying it as a crucifix fish. I did not take a picture at the store, but this is basically what it looked like.
I was torn between feelings of: “Holy crap, this is creepy. I should put it down and back away slowly.” to “Holy crap, this is creepy. I should totally buy it.” In the end, the heebie-jeebies won out. I can’t say this is a permanent no, but I didn’t purchase it.
So, let’s look at this thing. The crucifix fish as it is packaged is the skull of top sail catfish. When it’s alive, the fish looks something like this.
The full skeleton of the fish looks like this.
Hello, nightmare fuel.
There’s a poem by Conrad S. Lantz about the fish that kinda serves as the “legend”, I guess. It’s what’s printed on the cards that come with the fish skulls. Wanna hear it? Here it go.
“Of all the fishes in the sea
our Lord chose the lowly sailcat
to remind us of his misery.
His body on the cross is outlined.
The hilt of the sword
that was plunged into his side
is clearly defined.
Look at the back of the fish’s bone.
The Roman shield is shown.
When you shake the cross
you will hear the dice being tossed
for our Lord’s blood stained dress.
Those who can hear them
will be blessed.”
And thus, a fish skull becomes a religious symbol.
The “dice” in the poem are actually the fish’s otholiths (endolymphatic infillings), which are parts of the inner ears that help the fish with direction and balance.
I can totally see the crucifix. It’s not like that piece of toast with Mary’s face, and you have to tilt your head and squint your left eye to see it. Does that make it less creepy? I think not.
People actually hang these things on their walls.
No thanks. And this coming from a girl with a bear skull hanging on her wall. This fish thing…it’s just too much.
Or is it just enough?