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Ouroboros Meaning, Snake eating itself its own tail
Ouroboros also know as Uroboros is a figure depicting a snake
devouring its own tail found in Gnosticism
representing cyclical natural life and the fusion of opposites. It also
symbolizes the transcendence of duality. Term sometimes is written
Ouroboros is a symbol that shows an animal (usually a snake or a
dragon) that swallow his own tail, making with his body a circular shape.
The word, ouroboro, comes from the Greek ουροβóρος (also known as uroboro)
and it symbolizes the eternal cycle of things, also the eternal effort to
stop life problems and the eternal struggle. Since the cycle begins again
effort is useless.
It also refers to the cyclical
nature of things and the idea of a constant and eternal return.
Both interpretations, refer to the
ideology that existence is like a cycle whose continuity consists in a
constant rebirth. So there is not really dying.This
is why there is the connection with the cyclical nature of time, where
the present is devoured by the future, creating an infinite chain of
moments that die and are born again at each moment.
In some religions the ouroboro is used as a representation of the renaissance of things
that never die, only change eternally.
Its origin goes back to Ancient Egypt and Ancient
Greece. Originally its first use was in the emblematic serpent
that was found in the hieroglyphs that was in the sarcophagus chamber of
the pyramid of Unis. It is also used in the
Nordic mythology, as part of the concept of the story of the serpent
The essence of ouroboro is also seen in the Greek mythology. It is about the
representation of the natural forces, such as the sun, the moon, the
waves of the see, among others, and is related to the solar myth of
Sisyphus (Character doomed to the underworld) and Helium. In which
Sisyphus was forced to push a stone up a steep slope, but before it
reached the top of the hill, the stone rolled down again, and Sisyphus
had to start again and again from the beginning every day for all the
Besides its origins and the
mythological uses there are others meanings that different cultures,
religions, and persons has given to this symbol
Alchemy: In the practice of alchemy, this symbol expresses the unity
of all things, both material and spiritual, saying that these never
disappear but change form in an eternal cycle of destruction and new
creation, just as it represents the infinitude. The oldest text where it
appears is in an alchemical treatise of the second century, written by
Cleopatra the Alchemist. This writing shows the Greek inscription εν το παν,
hen to pan, "everything is one", and appears half white, half black, this in
addition to the fact that in some representations the animal is shown with a
clear half and a dark one, have make that the researchers have conclude that
this symbol in the alchemy teaches that inside everything the good there is
something bad and inside the bad there is something good. In addition to
this in alchemy, the uroboros symbolizes the work of the alchemist that
unites the opposites: both the conscious and the unconscious. Finally, it is
also a symbol that represent purification, the eternal cycles of life and
Gnosticism: In Gnosticism, it symbolizes how the soul live all the
eternity in the world. In a very known Gnostic text its describes the
ouroboros as a part of a dragon that surrounds the world. In the old world
of the India it has been used in the religion. According to a reference, the
power (in this culture) it is represented with a serpent, wrapped around
itself, while devour his own tail and rests in his body. One of the most
known jungian psychologist compared ouroboros to an archetype. Another
jungian psychologist wrote that is an example of the live of the mankind.
August Kekulé: He described the day when he makes one of his more
important chemistry works, he says that he was working with his textbook.
But due he couldn´t advance he went to sleep. In a dream he saw how the
atoms changed before his eyes in the form of a serpent, in a circular shape.
Which arouse him and encourage him to work the rest of the night in his
Classical Antiquity:In a story of Plato, there is a character that
describes the perfection of the all universe, thing that can be compared to
ouroboros. He describes the perfection of the created world and beings
participating in creation by embodying some aspect of the Good, each
contributing to the perfection of the universe and its unity.
Drury, Nevil. The Watkins Dictionary of Magic.
London. Watkins Publishing. 2005. p. 222
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