Ouroboros – Cosmic Serpent And The Self-Devourer – Universal, Powerful Symbol Of Great Antiquity

Left: Viking brooch in the form of the World Serpent Jomungandr, found on Öland, Sweden; Right: Ouroboros – important religious and mythological symbol, also frequently used in alchemical depictions, symbolizing the circular nature of the alchemist’s opus. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, and Hermeticism.

Widely known in many religions around the world from Europe, Asia even to Africa, this mystical, very old symbol means “the end is the beginning”. It has the ability to reproduce itself, mates, impregnates and destroys itself as well and all this happens in the cycle of time.

Left: Viking brooch in the form of the World Serpent Jomungandr, found on Öland, Sweden; Right: Ouroboros – important religious and mythological symbol, also frequently used in alchemical depictions, symbolizing the circular nature of the alchemist’s opus. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, and Hermeticism.

Artifacts in form of bracelets with this symbol are found in areas occupied by the Slavs beginning with the first European Neolithic cultures. The ancient Greeks considered Ouroboros, as a serpent or a worm engulfing its own tail and forming a circle with the beginning and the end.

The same was also interpretation of the symbol in other cultures because Ouroboros’ means always the same: an eternal cyclic force – both destructive and at the same time, crucial as a part of nature’s process of regeneration.

Ouroboros means ‘life conflict’ when life passes and death comes, still the end also means the beginning. Cosmic cycle – wheel, appears half as light and half as darkness; in this form it is Yang and Yin.

It is also a union of opposites, Heaven and Earth working together and always in harmony.

Ancient engravings of Ouroboros, dated to the Chou dynasty in China (1200 BC) symbolize the continuity of life with the dragon biting his tail and in a mythical monster called the Midgard serpent—also known as Jormungand, encircled the world, biting its tail.

Left: Ouroboros – in the form of a symbol often found on Celtic Crosses; Right: Ouroboros in the Hindu religion.

The circle is also symbol of perfection like the halo that is drawn over the heads of the Byzantine images of the saints. Believed to be inspired by the Milky Way and described in ancient writings as a luminous serpent (serpent of light) that dwells in high heavens.  Ouroboros is associated with Hermetism, alchemy, where it speaks of purity, wholeness, and infinity and Gnostic belief “passes through all things” as the symbol of the inseparable, the “unchanging law” which applies to all things and connects between them.

Hermes – the god of alchemy – defines the ouroboros as: “Serpens cuius caudam devorabit, “a snake that devours its own tail, symbolizes the alchemical Mercury and represents the cosmic unity – the basis of hermetic thought (One-All ‘in to pan) and also the circular nature of the work of the alchemist, which unites the opposites: the unconscious and the conscious.

Left: Ouroboros can be interpreted as the Western equivalent of the Taoist yin and yang symbol; Right: Like the infinity symbol, the Ouroboros symbol is featured in Freemasonry, along with other symbols of life, death and rebirth and more. (freemasonryesoterica.tumblr.com)

Ouroboros, which symbolizes the cyclical nature of the universe and a path to the sun, was already known to ancient Egyptians around 1600 BC but it is likely to be even much older than this.

From there, knowledge about Ouroboros moved to the Phoenicians and to the Greeks and took a distinguished place in myths of Vikings (Norse,) Hindu, tribes of Central America, West Africa, Voodoo beliefs,

The Ouroboros concept appears elsewhere.