Part 1 – Ordinary Starfish

 Some wander for its own sake
Some are lost, some driven.

Ordinary Starfish

Starfish have five tentacles. Everyone knows this. I am not sure about the reason why I even mention this. And this is the way it always has been. From the very beginning, long time back in the past, they always had five tentacles. They did not start with only one and then two, and later three four and five. No, they had five, forever, always.

starfish in stone

Five Tentacles,  Riedaster reicheli  extinct starfish, living about 150 million years ago

It is normal. No starfish would ever look at another starfish and start counting to see if they had five tentacles or not. Why would one do such a silly thing? Five it was, five it is and five it will always be. Why would one even mention this?

Why five, you ask? Now, this is a better question. Much better in fact. The least to say about five is, it is beautiful. All good things come in fives. The petals on the flowers, the beautiful ones, of course, the magic star one can draw in one go… have you noticed this?

In Chinese medicine, there are five elements, fire, earth, air, water and wood. And the five primary colours. You say, there are only three? How could you forget black and white? This cannot be just a mere coincidence. Ah, and one more, five is a primary number.

Primary, top, select. To cut a long story short, five is fantastic, and it is right and proper that starfish have five tentacles. How even, harmonious, well balanced and beautiful they look.
The other good thing with five tentacles is, you always know where front and back is. When you move, you only need to look how many tentacles pint in the direction of your motion. If it is one tentacle, you move forward.

If it is two, then you go backwards. It’s all straightforward and convenient, and every starfish knows this from the moment they are born. No starfish really thinks about this fact.


I am aware of this story going on already for quite some time, and it may appear, it has not started, yet. Forgive me. This prologue I deemed essential, so that you may fully appreciate what follows.

 Cedric Mauritius

This is the story of Cedric Mauritius, a starfish, of course. Cedric was at his adolescent age when all beings are known for wanting to explore things for themselves, and they display unusual behaviour. Male starfish, in particular, tend to take more than average risks and try to prove to themselves and the world that they are better than others. They want to demonstrate this fact openly and for all to see.

Most of the other starfish kept themselves busy with eating, digesting, digging and chatting. In addition, Cedric wondered why all the ground surface would move back and forth, and why at the same time the ceiling of the world would not be smooth, as it is usually, but had fast moving grooves with white foamy lines at the farther end.


At night, he would not snuggle deeply into the sand like all the other starfish, but let his eye stick out and gaze at the ceiling of the world, mesmerised by the miraculous performance up there. Sometimes, it would be only black, dark black. And sometimes this black would be covered with sparkling glitter.

Cedric looking up to the ceiling of the world

Cedric looking up at the ceiling of the world

Some of those sparkles were so high that they would emit a bright beam that would write magic symbols on the sand. They were of circular shape, but irregular and always slightly different. What did those symbols mean? What was it the sparkles at the ceiling of the world wanted to tell?

He had tried to discuss his observations with other starfish of his age, they ridiculed him. Cedric felt embarrassed. He also noticed that most of his friends started having this absent look in their eye as soon as he used the phrase: ‘Looking up at the ceiling of the world.’ Some would interrupt his story with excessive laughter: “What do you mean, looking up at the ceiling of what?”

This made him realise, they did not look up. Why would they not? Don’t they know that their eye is mobile enough to look upwards? Perhaps, Cedric concluded, they are so busy with activities in their two dimensions, so they don’t consider the existence of a third, let alone their ability to access it.

Only once more he asked an old starfish who appeared to him very sagacious. He listened to Cedric. Therefore, he hoped the old starfish could explain it all to him. However, at the end of his story, the old one only mumbled with a mild growling undertone in his voice: “Starfish sleep well under ground.”


Cedric was very disappointed and wondered if the old starfish had even listened to his story. From then on, he kept his observations and discoveries to himself.


Cedric loved dreaming, mainly daydreaming because then he could create and change the content and continuation of the dream whichever way he wanted. Maybe not quite, because his mind would sometimes intrude in his dream and tell him, more than he liked that this particular dream would be silly, irrational, impossible and altogether a waste of time.

Initially, this would be the end of dreaming. However, when his mind was busy with other matters, he could dream and often he would return the real world quite refreshed and optimistic. ‘Playing with reality’, Cedric called it. Ordinary starfish life he often found tedious, dreaming was uplifting.


One day, he had started dreaming only a few moments ago, it was about flying high, at least halfway up to the ceiling of the world, when his mind rudely barged in, exclaiming about the ridiculousness of all this.

Keeping his calm, waiting for his mind’s accusations to sedate, Cedric quietly replied: “Have you noticed that dreaming has promoted our wellbeing?” Without any further comment, his mind withdrew. From then onwards, Cedric could feel his mind observing his dreams, sometimes and quietly he agreed to the benefits of such activities.


Daydreaming has other profound effects on one’s future. Cedric did not know about this. Later in life, he would remember the times of now and smile. He was still dreaming then.

The Excursion

One day, Cedric had left the colony to go exploring the broader realms and a bit beyond, perhaps. Eventually, he arrived at a rock. Then, he did not know it was a rock. He thought it was an unusual formation of sand. Because sand was all, he knew. He had never seen anything like it before in his life.

He did not even know the word: uphill. He gathered all his attention to tackling this new challenge.   He was especially careful to have all his suction cups securely attached to the surface before he released those on one of the tentacles he intended to move forward.

He began climbing up, going forward, obviously. His eye was firmly fixed on the field of view close in front of him. When walking under normal circumstances, one does not focus on the actions of tentacles at all. Therefore, it was no surprise that he had given moving forward this much attention as never before.   To his astonishment he noticed, he could see every detail even they were very, very close to him.

There was a startling turmoil arising in his mind. ‘His close-up view was not obstructed by a tentacle!’ When moving forward, it was supposed to be blocked by a tentacle. And absolutely clearly, it was not. Calamity, disbelief, confusion and shock chased each other all over his mind.

Was he going backwards? Certainly not! Was the concentration of exploring new territory fooling his mind? Possibly. He had stopped moving and focused all his attention on solving this dilemma.


The problem was, with one eye it was not easy to look backwards. Therefore, Cedric gathered his senses inwards and out into his tentacles. This action was quite natural to him. Since he had only one eye, thus could look only one way at one time but like in rare cases like this one, all his tentacles needed guidance.  Therefore, he relied mostly on his internal tactile feedback loop to steer their motions when a conscious movement was required.

Now he mainly turned his awareness in his backwards pointing tentacles. There was a distinct indication of two tentacles at the rear. How could this be possible? Two in the front and two at the rear? This was against all common sense and knowledge. On the opposite side of one tentacle, there were always two and vice versa. This was pure and straightforward logic.


He closed his eye and slightly bewildered he turned all of his attention more deeply than ever before into all of his tentacles. In his mind, he counted slowly, beginning with the two in front: Two, three (the one on the right), four and five at the rear. Then his mind went into panic and withdrew its service.

Cedric was shaking in spasm. Indubitably, there was a tentacle on his left side, in addition to the five, he had already counted. Falling unconscious came to rescue, preventing severe damages to his troubled mind, struggling to comprehend.

He was still clinging to the rock when he gained consciousness again. “What had happened?” he wondered disorientated. Slowly he remembered the extra tentacle on his left side. Still, in substantial disbelief, he guided his awareness into this tentacle to test its function.

Cedric Mauritius

Such starfish live around Mauritius. Usually, they have five tentacles. This is Cedric.

He could move it at will. He could feel all the little suction cups and sensed the roughness of the rock surface. There was no doubt, he had to accept and come to terms with: this tentacle was part of him.

Counting clockwise and anticlockwise, starting from all the different tentacles, the result was always the same, every time. After arriving at five, there was always one more tentacle left. Not all the time, actually. Once he counted up to seven, which almost made him faint again, however, he realised, in his distress, he had counted one tentacle twice.

At this point one could ask since he appeared to avoid saying it, did the number six exist in his vocabulary? Of course, it did. When he counted the many suction cups on his tentacles, they were somewhere between 58 and 63. They may have been equal numbers on all his tentacles, and he just miscounted them. Which can easily happen. However, there never had been any concern about this inconsistency. Whether there were 58 or 63 little suction cups at each individual tentacle did not really matter.

Six Tentacles

Hence and eventually, he admitted to himself: “I, Cedric Mauritius, have six tentacles.” Even though, he still felt slight disconcert. Now his mind asked about the meaning of all this, and the consequences, not of having six tentacles, because he had them for all his life, but knowing it.

Why has no one ever told him about this grotesque irony of nature? What if ever anyone would have noticed? Have they ever noticed? Why has no one ever noticed? What would have happened? Sure this is all about the past, which cannot be changed, however, what about the future, what if anyone would ever discover it then? What would their reaction be?

Many Starfish_Mauritius SMALL

Amongst so many starfish, no one would expect anyone to be different… No one would count the number of someone else’s tentacles, the least oneself. Cedric is one of them… Can you find him?

He remembered rare situations of his early childhood when his parents did not allow to go out playing when there were only a few children around. Had they noticed his abnormality? Had they tried this way to prevent other children from seeing it, which was more likely in a smaller group than in a larger? Why did they never tell him?

He was still hanging on the rock. He sight: “At least one thing has not changed. I have not fallen off this steep surface.” Yet, his mind kept on asking relentlessly. Why did this happen to me? What bad karma must I have collected in my past life, so that I would deserve ending up so malformed?


Can I still consider myself being a starfish or am I a hideous monster? If someone would see me, would they be scared or laugh at me? What unimaginable response would his abnormality cause?

Yet, the good thing was, going through the terrible shock of his discovery all happened here and now, far away from the colony while no one was around.


Cedric was still holding tightly to the rock. There was no need to rush while hundreds of thoughts, eventualities and scenarios cascaded through the neuronic pathways of his little brain, so fast, the fluid in his synapses almost boiled. Even though, his mind continued producing an ever-increasing vividness.


The incessant bombardment numbed his senses, and amongst all the chaos he found peaceful silence. It lasted long enough to remind him of some urgent practicalities. The dark time would start soon, and he was clutching to a rock face. Definitely, a very unusual situation to spend the dark time in.

He was in no condition to climb further up. And even if he would have been, there was no way telling for how much longer this rock would continue until it would level in a sandy patch where he could dig himself into.

Sure, there were innumerous times when he had stuck his eye above the sand, watching the dark ceiling of the world. But this was different. This was the first time in his entire life when he was not mostly submerged in sand during the dark time. And on top of this, he was clinging to a steep rock face.

tentacle with suckers small

How Suckers work

Luckily, suction cups can hold their suction without any muscular effort, and, they also reconstitute any loss in suction, involuntarily. Still, more caution would make Cedric feel more comfortable.

Looking around he noticed a small protrusion from the rock face, about three tentacle length away to his upper right. This would provide him with some extra precaution. Slowly, he made his way over there.

He rested his central body on the top of it and letting his two hind tentacles extend downwards, either side. While he moved over there and after he had settled into his new position, he caught himself thinking several times, how advantageous it was to have a surplus tentacle.

Cedric Mauritius resting draw

Cedric resting on an outcrop his eye pulled in, sleeping

Realising he had not eaten since he had approached the rock he moved his tentacles around to sense some edible substances, a bit of moss, algae and small ground animals. He noticed that the food tasted more pungent than what he had been familiar with when living on the flat, lower grounds.

While occupied with this the ceiling of the world had turned dark, and his mind slowed down, finally, inevitably, being hungry and exhausted and tired had its effect. Before he fell asleep, one clear conclusion solidified in his mind. “He would never return to the colony. Never.” This being settled, be dropped into a dreamless sleep.

The next Day

Cedric woke up unusually early, the ceiling of the world was still glittering a bit. As he was watching an orange glow was added, and the glitter vanished. Perhaps it was the unusual position he had been sleeping in all night that shortened his sleep.

Or maybe, an unknown mild excitement about what this day would bring? First, he remembered, he had been out on an exploration track. And, there had been something significant. Then, like fanfares, it echoed through all the corners of his mind: “I have an extra tentacle.”

This time it was far not as confronting as yesterday when he thought about his extra tentacle… yes, five tentacles plus another one. And much more relaxed than yesterday he announced to himself: “I, Cedric Mauritius have six tentacles.”

Emotional shocks make you ravenously hungry. Last night for dinner, he had harvested all food stuff around his current reach. He had to move to another feeding ground. As soon as he started moving, he noticed again how practical it was to have an extra tentacle, in particular, when climbing, an activity starfish are not familiar with.

Having oneself safely attached with five tentacles, having an extra tentacle free to move without reducing one’s security was very handy and incredibly comforting.

While he was climbing he was eating bits and pieces he came across along his track enjoying the different taste of algae and the tiny crustacean and slugs. This is obvious evidence, contrary to current worldview, starfish can multitask for millions of years. A fact he realised when he faced the challenge of climbing up an overhang in his way.

Being situated in a positive frame of mind he gave it a go, and, against all common starfish knowledge, he managed quite well when hanging upside down. Most challenging was not the actual climbing but the confusing view his eye perceived, which was contrary to what he felt.

The ceiling of the world was always opposite to the side where his few hundred little suction cups were. Now all were on the same side, ceiling and suckers.

After this achievement, he rested for a while. Thinking to himself, he counted how many common beliefs he had proven wrong during the last twenty-four hours. This just shows you. And the more he was in this frame of mind and with growing confidence, the more Cedric was prepared to challenge accepted beliefs, to question his very nature (having six tentacles).

End of Part 1


Wolfgang Köhler 

Byron Bay, 20 September 2014
heart chacra green blue purple orange low

Move on to Part 2 – On the upper Shelf
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3 thoughts on “Part 1 – Ordinary Starfish

  1. How wonderful to read these this morning. I’m disturbed by the starfish’s dilemma. I hope he can find his own beauty eventually.

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