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Encyclopedia > Ouroboros
1478 drawing by Theodoros Pelecanos, in alchemical tract titled Synosius.
1478 drawing by Theodoros Pelecanos, in alchemical tract titled Synosius.

The Ouroboros, also spelled Ourorboros, Oroborus, Uroboros or Uroborus (IPA: [ˌjʊərəʊˈbɒrəs]), is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle. It has been used to represent many things over the ages, but it most generally symbolizes ideas of cyclicality, unity, or infinity. The ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations. More recently, it has been interpreted by psychologists, such as Carl Jung, as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. The Ouroboros. ... The Ouroboros. ... The Alchemist. ... Synesius (c. ... IPA may refer to: The International Phonetic Alphabet or India Pale Ale ... For other uses, see Serpent (disambiguation). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Dragon. ... A scorpion tail The tail is the section at the rear end of an animals body; in general, the term refers to a distinct, flexible appendage to the torso. ... Circle illustration This article is about the shape and mathematical concept of circle. ... Social cycle theories are one of the earliest social theories in sociology. ... For other uses, see Alchemy (disambiguation). ... “Jung” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Archetype (disambiguation). ... The neutrality of this article is disputed. ...


The name ouroboros (or, in Latinized form, uroborus) is Greek ουροβóρος, "tail-devourer". The depiction of the serpent is believed to have been inspired by the Milky Way, as some ancient texts refer to a serpent of light residing in the heavens. [citation needed] For other uses, see Milky Way (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Overview

Engraving by Lucas Jennis, in alchemical tract titled De Lapide Philisophico.
Engraving by Lucas Jennis, in alchemical tract titled De Lapide Philisophico.

Plato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe — an immortal, perfectly constructed animal. Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (815x832, 290 KB) Lucas Jennis engraving published on an alchemical emblem-book entitled De Lapide Philisophico (1625) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Ouroboros ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (815x832, 290 KB) Lucas Jennis engraving published on an alchemical emblem-book entitled De Lapide Philisophico (1625) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Ouroboros ... The Alchemist. ... PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois (U of I) and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on. ...

"The living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet."[1]

This, however, probably refers to the outermost planetary sphere rather than to any form of serpent.


In some representations the serpent is shown as half light and half dark, echoing symbols such as the Yin Yang, which illustrates the dual nature of all things, but more importantly, that these opposites are not in conflict. In alchemy, the ouroboros symbolises the circular nature of the alchemist's opus, which unites the opposites: the conscious and unconscious mind. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, and Hermeticism. For other uses, see Serpent (disambiguation). ... Taoists Taijitu The concept of Yin Yang originates in ancient Chinese philosophy, most likely from the observations of day turning into night and night into day. ... The philosophers stone, a longtime Holy Grail of Western alchemy, is a mythical substance that supposedly could turn inexpensive metals into gold and/or create an elixir that would make humans immortal. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Hermeticism should not be confused with the concept of a hermit. ...


The Ouroboros often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end (See Phoenix (mythology)). It can also represent the idea of primordial unity. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego "dawn state", depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.[2] A self-reference is possible when there are two logical levels, a level and a meta-level. ... Eternal return or sometimes eternal recurrence is a concept originating from ancient Egypt and developed in the teachings of Pythagoras. ... The phoenix from the Aberdeen Bestiary. ... Erich Neumann (1905- November 5, 1960) was a psychologist, writer, and one of Carl Jungs most gifted students. ...


The Ouroboros could very well be used to symbolize the closed-system model of the universe of some physicists. The organic chemist August Kekulé claimed that a ring in the shape of Ouroboros that he saw in a dream inspired him in his discovery of the structure of benzene. As noted by Carl Jung, this might be an instance of cryptomnesia. For other uses, see Universe (disambiguation). ... Not to be confused with physician, a person who practices medicine. ... Organic chemistry is a specific discipline within chemistry which involves the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation (by synthesis or by other means) of chemical compounds consisting primarily of carbon and hydrogen, which may contain any number of other elements, including nitrogen, oxygen, halogens as well... Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz (September 7, 1829 – July 13, 1896) was a German organic chemist. ... Circle illustration This article is about the shape and mathematical concept of circle. ... For benzine, see petroleum ether. ... Cryptomnesia, or concealed recollection, is the name for a theoretical phenomenon involving suppressed or forgotten memories. ...


Historical representations

The Ouroboros is one of the oldest mystical symbols in the world. The serpent or dragon appears in Aztec, Middle East, and Native American mythologies, among others. The Aztecs is a term used for certain Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican peoples of Mexico. ... Native Americans redirects here. ...


Antiquity

The serpent or dragon eating its own tail can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, circa 1600 BCE. From ancient Egypt it passed to Phoenicia and then to the Greek philosophers, who gave it the name Ouroboros ("tail-devourer"). Khafres Pyramid and the Great Sphinx of Giza, built about 2550 BC during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom,[1] are enduring symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeastern Africa concentrated along the middle to lower reaches of the Nile River... (Redirected from 1600 BCE) Centuries: 18th century BC - 17th century BC - 16th century BC Decades: 1650s BC 1640s BC 1630s BC 1620s BC 1610s BC - 1600s BC - 1590s BC 1580s BC 1570s BC 1560s BC 1550s BC Events and trends Egypt: End of Fourteenth Dynasty The creation of one of... Phoenicia (or Phenicia ,[1] from Biblical Phenice [1]) was an ancient civilization centered in the north of ancient Canaan, with its heartland along the coast of modern day Lebanon and Syria. ... Greek philosophy focused on the role of reason and inquiry. ...


Norse mythology

In Norse mythology it appears as the serpent Jörmungandr, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, who grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. In the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, such as Ragnarssona þáttr, the Geatish king Herraud gives a small lindorm as a gift to his daughter Þóra Town-Hart after which it grows into a large serpent which encircles the girl's bower and bites itself in the tail. The serpent is slain by Ragnar Lodbrok who marries Þóra. Ragnar later has a son with another woman named Kráka and this son is born with the image of a white snake in one eye. This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. Norse, Viking or Scandinavian mythology comprises the indigenous pre-Christian religion, beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian peoples, including those who settled on Iceland, where most of the written sources for Norse mythology were assembled. ... Thor goes fishing for the Midgard Serpent in this picture from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript. ... It has been suggested that Loki and the dwarfs be merged into this article or section. ... Angrboda (Old Norse Angrboða Harm-foreboding) appears in Norse Mythology as a giantess. ... Types of teeth Molars are used for grinding up foods Carnassials are used for slicing food. ... Aella murdering Ragnar Lodbrok Ragnar Lodbrok (Ragnar Hairy-Breeks, Old Norse: Ragnarr Loðbrók) was a Norse king, who ruled the early kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark for some time in the 8th or 9th century. ... Ragnarssona þáttr, Þáttr af Ragnars sonum or the Tale of Ragnars sons is a short story on Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons. ... Geatish kings existed since the provinces of Götaland/Gautland/Geatland are considered to have been more or less independent with their own petty kings. ... Bósa saga ok Herrauds (Old Norse Bósa saga ok Herrauðs) Saga of Bósi and Herraud is an Old Norse saga written around 1300 preserved in three 15th century manuscripts relating the fantastic adventures of the two companions Herraud (Old Norse Herrauð) and Bósi. ... The lindorm is a very peculiar cryptid which appears to be a sort of lizard like creature approximately the size of a mans leg. ... Þóra Town-Hart was the daughter of Herrauðr, the earl of Götaland in Norse mythology. ... King Heimer and Aslaug Aslaug, Aslög, Kraka or Kráka, was a queen of Scandinavian mythology who appears in Snorris Edda, the Völsunga saga and the saga of Ragnar Lodbrok. ... Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye was one of the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok and Kraka, but what set him apart from the others was that he was born with the image of the ouroborous, a snake or dragon biting its own tail, encircling the pupil of his left eye. ...


Gnosticism

In Gnosticism, this serpent symbolized eternity and the soul of the world. This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...


Christianity

Christianity adopted the ouroboros as a symbol of the limited confines of the material world (that there is an "outside" being implied by the demarcation of an inside), and the self-consuming transitory nature of a mere "worldly existence" of this world, following in the footsteps of the preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:9-14. G. K. Chesterton, in The Everlasting Man, uses it as a symbol of the circular and self-defeating nature of pantheistic mysticism and of most modern philosophy. Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations · Other religions Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Luther Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Archbishop of Canterbury · Catholic Pope Coptic Pope · Ecumenical Patriarch Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is... Ecclesiastes, Qohelet in Hebrew, is a book of the Hebrew Bible. ... Gilbert Keith Chesterton (May 29, 1874–June 14, 1936) was an influential English writer of the early 20th century. ...


Additionally, the ouroboros has been incorporated into the crests of the Hungarian and Romanian Unitarian churches. Historic Unitarianism believed in the oneness of God as opposed to traditional Christian belief in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). ...


Hinduism

It is also present in some Hindu folk-myths, as the dragon circling the tortoise that supports the four elephants which support the world on their backs.[dubious ] This article discusses the adherents of Hinduism. ...


Ashanti

Snakes are sacred animals in many West African religions. The demi-god Aidophedo uses the image of a serpent biting its own tail. The oroburus is also seen in fon or dahomean iconography as well as in yoruba imagery as Oshunmare For other uses, see Ashanti (disambiguation). ... The Yoruba (Yorùbá in Yoruba orthography) are a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in West Africa. ...


Aztec religion

The god Quetzalcoatl is sometimes portrayed as an ouroboros on Aztec and Toltec ruins. It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... The Aztecs is a term used for certain Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican peoples of Mexico. ... The Atlantes – columns in the form of Toltec warriors in Tula. ...


Alchemy

In alchemy, the ouroboros is a purifying sigil. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung saw the ourobouros as an archetype and the basic mandala of alchemy. Jung also defined the relationship of the ouroboros to alchemy:[3] For other uses, see Alchemy (disambiguation). ... The term sigil may refer to: A seal (device) or signet ring. ... A psychologist is a scientist or clinician who studies psychology, the systematic investigation of the human mind, including behavior and cognition. ... For other uses, see Archetype (disambiguation). ... For the film, see Mandala (film). ...

The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the uroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. ouroboros, has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness. In the age-old image of the uroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself. The uroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This 'feed-back' process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the uroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilises himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolises the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which [...] unquestionably stems from man's unconscious.

The famous ouroboros drawing from the early alchemical text The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra dating to 2nd century Alexandria encloses the words hen to pan, "one, the all", i.e. "All is One". Its black-and-white halves represent the Gnostic duality of existence. The 2nd century is the period from 101 - 200 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ... This article is about the city in Egypt. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Look up duality in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


As a symbol of the eternal unity of all things, the cycle of birth and death from which the alchemist sought release and liberation, it was familiar to the alchemist/physician Sir Thomas Browne. In his A letter to a friend, a medical treatise full of case-histories and witty speculations upon the human condition, he wrote of it: Sir Thomas Browne (October 19, 1605 – October 19, 1682) was an English author of varied works that disclose his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric. ... A Letter to a Friend (written 1656; published posthumously in 1690) , by the 17th century philosopher and physician Sir Thomas Browne is a medical treatise full of case-histories and witty speculations upon the human condition. ...

[...] that the first day should make the last, that the Tail of the Snake should return into its Mouth precisely at that time, and they should wind up upon the day of their Nativity, is indeed a remarkable Coincidence,

It is also alluded to at the conclusion of Browne's The Garden of Cyrus (1658) as a symbol of the circular nature and Unity of the two Discourses: The Garden of Cyrus or The Quincuniall, or Lozenge, or Network Plantations of the Ancients, naturally, artificially, mystically considered is a work written by Sir Thomas Browne. ...

All things began in order so shall they end, so shall they begin again according to the Ordainer of Order and the mystical mathematicks of the City of Heaven.

Mathematics

The ouroboros may have been the origin of ∞ (a lemniscate, the symbol used for infinity in mathematics.) A lemniscate In mathematics, a lemniscate is a type of curve described by a Cartesian equation of the form: Graphing this equation produces a curve similar to . ... For other uses, see Infinity (disambiguation). ...


Appearance in popular culture

  • In the television series Red Dwarf, Dave Lister is placed inside a box with the word 'Ouroboros' on it; in this case, 'Ouroboros' reflects a cyclical aspect of Lister's existence, as by a time paradox he is his own father.
Scully's Tattoo in the X-Files episode "Never Again"
Scully's Tattoo in the X-Files episode "Never Again"
  • In the television series The X-Files, Dana Scully gets an ouroboros tattoo in the episode "Never Again". This was something of an in-joke, as Chris Carter's Millennium featured the ouroboros in its title card.
  • In the anime television series Full Metal Alchemist, the Ouroboros symbol was used to identify the Homunculus monster. The symbols meaning in the show was "No beginning and no end", basically eternity.
  • On the cover of the Vulture Culture album by The Alan Parsons Project, there is a clear depiction of an Ouroboros, albeit with the head of a vulture, eating itself by the tail. This represents the artist's depiction of a culture that is devouring itself with greed.
  • In Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Kurt states What is time ? it is a snake which eats its own tail, like this. It then contains a drawn picture of the ouroboros.
  • In The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, a symbol which incorporates the Ourobouros and the Chinese Yin-Yang symbol appears as the Auryn both on the cover of the book, and worn by Atreyu and Bastian as a pendant throughout their travels. The Auryn depicts two snakes, one silver, the other gold, intertwined and biting each other's tails.

For the type of star, see Red dwarf. ... For the origami historian, see David Lister (Origami Historian). ... For other meanings of Paradox, see Paradox (disambiguation). ... Image File history File linksMetadata Scullyouroboros. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Scullyouroboros. ... The X-Files is a Peabody- and Emmy Award-winning science fiction television series created by Chris Carter, which first aired on September 10, 1993, and ended on May 19, 2002. ... Special Agent Dr. Dana Katherine Scully (born February 23, 1964) is a fictional character on the FOX television series The X-Files (1993-2002), played by Gillian Anderson. ... Millennium is a grim, suspenseful American television series, produced by Chris Carter (creator of The X-Files), and set during the years leading up to the dawn of the new millennium. ... Fullmetal Alchemist DVD cover by FUNimation Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi in the original Japanese) is a 51-episode anime TV series which ran in Japan from October 4, 2003 to October 2, 2004. ... Vulture Culture is an album by The Alan Parsons Project. ... This article is about the collective named The Alan Parsons Project. ... For the breakfast cereal, see Wheaties. ... Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ... The Neverending Story (German: ) is a fantasy novel by Michael Ende, first published in Germany in 1979. ... Michael Andreas Helmuth Ende (November 12, 1929 - August 29, 1995) was a German writer of fantasy novels and childrens books. ...

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Ouroboros

For the Cypriot football team, see APEP Kyperounda FC. An Egyptian deity wards off the snake-like Apep [1] In Egyptian mythology, Apep (also spelled Apepi, and Aapep, or Apophis in Greek) was an evil demon, the deification of darkness and chaos (isfet in Egyptian), and thus opponent of light... In mathematics, the Borromean rings consist of three topological circles which are linked despite the fact that no two of them are linked, i. ... The Caduceus Two caduceuses without wings as decoration of door portal in Ztracená street in Olomouc (Czech Republic). ... Eternal return or sometimes eternal recurrence is a concept originating from ancient Egypt and developed in the teachings of Pythagoras. ... For the genus of dung beetle, see Sisyphus (beetle). ... Thor goes fishing for the Midgard Serpent in this picture from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript. ... This article is about the biblical creature. ... A Möbius strip made with a piece of paper and tape. ... A self-reference occurs when an object refers to itself. ... For other uses, see Serpent (disambiguation). ... The Rainbow Serpent/Snake is a major mythological being for Aboriginal people across Australia, although the creation stories associated with it are best known from northern Australia. ... In Indian and Hindu mythology, Sesha is a naga (serpent). ... In Hinduism, Vritra (Sanskrit वृत्र Vṛtra, the enveloper) was a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and enemy of Indra. ... Zahak, Zahhak, Zahak-e Tāzi or (Arab Zahak) also knwon as Bivar-Asp, which means [he who has] 10,000 horses in the Pahlavi (middle Persian) language, and Avestan Āži-Dahāk) is a mythical figure of ancient Persia (Iran). ... Below is a listing of cycles. ... Kekulé von Stradonitz Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz (September 7, 1829 – July 13, 1896) was a German organic chemist. ... Image File history File links Commons-logo. ...

References

  1. ^ Plato, Timaeus, 33 [1]
  2. ^ Neumann, Erich. (1995). The Origins and History of Conscisousness. Bollington series XLII: Princeton University Press. Originally published in German in 1949.
  3. ^ Carl Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 14 para. 513

Timaeus (Honour) (or Timæus) is a name that appears in several ancient (Greek) sources: Timaeus (dialogue), a Socratic dialogue by Plato Timaeus of Locri, the 5th-century Pythagorean philosopher, appearing in Platos s Timaeus. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Ouroboros - Crystalinks (1789 words)
Christians adopted the Ouroboros as a symbol of the limited confines of this world (that there is an "outside" being implied by the demarcation of an inside), and the self-consuming transitory nature of a mere this-worldly existence following in the footsteps of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes.
In the age-old image of the ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself.
The ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e.
Ouroboros (2455 words)
The Ouroboros is very integral to the fictional organization known as the Millennium Group from the television program Millennium in which they have adopted the symbol to represent them, serving as a sign in their belief of the beginning and the end and can commonly be seen in things of their dealings.
Ouroboros is the name of the 39th episode of the British science fiction comedy television series Red Dwarf (first aired January 31, 1997) in which David Lister discovers he is his own father.
Ouroboros is the name of the 34th episode the American science fiction series Andromeda (first aired February 2, 2002), as well as the 20th episode of the Canadian/South African science ficton series Charlie Jade.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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