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The Ouroboros

The worm, snake, serpent or dragon biting or swallowing its own tail is a powerful symbol of infinity, and also of universal nature, of completion, perfection and totality, the endless round of embodied existence, the union of the chthonic with the celestial.  Parallels abound - the figure-8 symbol of infinity (quite possibly derived from the uroboros), the Chinese yin-yang symbol, the Buddhist wheel of Life, etc.
Ouroboros The Serpent biting its own tail appears in New Kingdom Egypt (1600 years b.c.e.). It was taken up by the Phonecians and then to the Greeks, who called it the Ouroboros (or  uroboros), which means tail-devouror.  They considered it the Great World Serpent encircling the earth, associated with the world-ocean.  Ouroboros became an important Gnostic symbol, later taken up by Western Alchemy.  The diagram at the left shows the famous Ouroboros from the early Alchemical text The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra (2nd century c.e. Alexandria). The enclosed words read hen to pan  - 'The One, the All', or  "the all is one."  The black and white halves represent the polarity of existence

graphic from What IS the ouroboros? - by Chris McCoy

The serpent biting its tail is also found in Norse, Hindu, and Mesoamerican imagery as well.  For more information (and imagery) please follow the links below

Web links Links - Uroboros Web links

web pagedrawingslinksWhat IS the ouroboros? - by Chris McCoy - some basic info and a few links

web page Ouroboros - what it is - pretty good intro

Web Site Of The Androgyne: The Serpent Ouroboros - more on the Ouroboros

Web Sitedrawingsphotos Ouroboros - heaps of ancient and modern art on Ouroboros

on-line documentdrawings Spira Solaris and the Universal Ouroboros - by John N. Harris - a detailed and informative document on the Ouroboros , explores historical antecedents and the relationship between the Equiangular Period Spiral, the Ouroboros, Alchemy, and the Sun.

Web SiteVRML The Uroboros Site - by Al Razutis - graphics intensive, requires a relatively fast PC, fast internet connection, and Cosmo Player

web pagelinks The Word of God; The Production of Christ. - Presents the Word of God as sex-magickal autofellatio - includes discussion on the Uroboros and related subjects



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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 20 July 1998, last modified 7 May 2004