I feel (is it liberal guilt?) when I explore the terror sharks inspire rather than reiterating the urgent fact that we are the true monsters of Planet Earth killing 100 million sharks a year. There I said it. Now, in my ongoing quest to define all the nuances of terror that sharks inspire, here is a passage from the Illustrated Book of Traditional Symbols that adds a mystical dimension to the primal human fear of being eaten alive:
“The jaws of the monster depict either the gates of hell and entry into the underworld, or they share the symbolism of the clashing rocks, the wall with no door, the eye of the needle, etc., as the contraries, polarity and duality, which must be transcended in order to attain to the ultimate reality and spiritual enlightenment, they must be passed in the “timeless moment.”
Passing through the jaws of the monster is then a heroic trial, a “difficult passage” from one plane of existence to another, a journey that is impossible in the physical body.
In my perverse spirituality, the shark’s resonance as a terrible God-vehicle is as powerful an argument for conservation as the obvious necessity for apex predators in balanced oceans. But I know it’s a tad esoteric for the op-ed page.