The Ouroboros is a very powerful symbol, which has ancient origins and still is fascinating many people around the world…
The Ouroboros (or Uroboros) is a symbol depicting a serpent or a dragon eating its own tail.
But where the Ouroboros comes from?
To answer to this question we have to go back to the Ancient Egypt, where it has its first known appearance: the motif is included in the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld, an ancient Egyptian funerary text in KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun.
This text is about the action of the god Ra and his union with Osiris, the goddess of the Underworld. We can find the symbol twice in the book, holding its tail with its mouth. One of the serpents is actually around a big figured believed being Ra-Osiris (Osiris born again as Ra).
Both Ouroboros are manifestations of the deity Mehen, who in other funerary texts is protecting Ra during the underworld journey.
The whole divine figure represents the beginning and the end of time.
We know about the Ouroboros thanks to the Greek magical tradition. Then it was adopted as a symbol in Gnosticism and Hermeticism and most notably in alchemy.
Even the word itself, Ouroboros, comes from Greek: οὐροβόρος, composed of οὐρά (oura), which means tail, plus βορός (boros), which meaning is eating.
This symbol is often interpreted as a symbol for eternal cyclic renewal, a cycle of life (or Circle Of Life), death and rebirth. The skin-sloughing process of snakes symbolizes also the transmigration of souls. Again, the snake eating its tail is a symbol of fertility for some religions, the tail itself has a phallic meaning and the mouth is a yonic or womb-like symbol.
The Ouroboros can be found also in the Norse mythology, where it appears as the serpent called Jörmungandr, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, which grew so large that it can encircle the whole world and grasps its tail in its teeth.
The symbol is also a common sight on 17th and 18th century gravestons, with differences between regions where sometimes it is rappresented with legs, even torso, and others are simply carved in a bracelet like circles.
They appear alongside the hourglass, skulls, Bible and Cherubs, other symbols of mortality during those ages.
Once again, a very ancient and powerful emblem, that deserved a song… That’s why I dedicated ‘Circle Of Life’ to this symbol…
You can also read the meaning of this song here and listen to it below.