Meaning of the Ouroboros
In this article, we will answer the question you are probably asking yourself: what is the meaning of the Ouroboros?
Chances are that you have heard the name before but don't know what it means. Or maybe you've seen a representation of an Ouroboros and you're curious about its signification.
Well, in that case, you've come to the right place! If you're ready to learn more about this giant dragon that bites its own tail, let's get started!
Quick Etymology of the Ouroboros
This symbol is quite widespread, even today. It is not uncommon to find visuals representing this animal biting its tail. It's also an inspiration for jewelry and decorative arts.
It is important to know that the word "Ouroboros" is an ancient Greek word that literally means: "who bites its tail". Indeed, in Greek, "oura" means tail.
The various Meanings of the Ouroboros
The symbol of Ouroboros carries a very strong message. One must have a very open mind to look deeply and seriously at it. Indeed, the connotation of this symbol is quite spiritual.
Metaphor of the Eternal Cycle of Life
Without entering into a religious approach to the question, the Ouroboros dragon refers to the notion of unity. That is to say, it symbolizes the notion of the eternal cycle of life by its circular shape. This cycle is as follow: birth, life, death and renaissance.
The strongest idea behind it is an idea of rebirth. Death would ultimately be an illusion. The human would follow this cycle of birth, death and perpetual rebirth. A bit like the seasons that keep coming back again and again.
A Symbol of Infinity
The notion of infinity and therefore eternity is also very strong. When the dragon bites its own tail, it forms a continuous loop. It is therefore not always easy to distinguish its beginning from the end. Again, this is very spiritual because it refers to the notion of the human soul.
A soul capable of freeing itself from the limitations of time and which would never be really affected by the death of the individual.
An Esoteric Figure
The Ouroboros is one of the oldest esoteric symbols. It therefore carries a message within it that allows those who manage to decipher it, to open new doors.
The Ouroboros in Different Cultures
Ouroboros in Egypt
The Ouroboros is a very ancient symbol. Representations of this curious animal biting its tail have been found on the golden chapels of Tutankhamun.
The symbolism is above all spiritual. It refers to the notion of time passing but also to eternity. An animal biting its tail is what is called a paradox.
Knowing that the symbol was very present on coffins, it was also considered that the Ouroboros represented the notion of rebirth and rejuvenation. The role of protector was also evoked.
But since the animal is eating itself, it was also associated with self-destruction and annihilation.
Ouroboros in China & Greece
It is possible that there was a transmission of this symbolism from China to Greece.
In the Chinese culture, we find ancient dragons (the famous pig dragon) having this particular form. It should not be forgotten that at the time, it was the rise of the Silk Road. Commercial exchanges allowed the various myths and legends to be exported throughout the world.
This is one of the possibilities concerning the Ouroboros, whose representations would later migrate to Greece. That is where the symbol would have inherited its name as I wrote earlier.
Ouroboros in Norse Mythology
Described in turn as a snake or as a dragon, this symbol is found in other civilizations and particularly in northern mythology.
I am thinking here of the Jörmungandr snake, one of Loki's four children. It is said that he eventually reaches such an impressive size that he encircles the world and can grab his tail in his mouth. All this is done to keep the oceans in place.
In this case, its symbolic meaning is therefore associated with hope and renewal.
Ouroboros in Ancient Hinduism
Ouroboros continued to mark the different traditions. This is particularly the case of Brahmanism.
In this tradition, it is represented as a multi-headed snake called Shesha. It is one of the deities that represents the continuity of the universes. Here again, the spiritual symbolism is very strong.
Symbol of the Ouroboros in France
Interestingly enough, French history was also marked by the appearance of the Ouroboros. The symbol can be found on the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This famous declaration marked a historic turning point for France.
The Ouroboros Nowadays
Now that we've taken a good look at the ancient traditions from which Ouroboros is said to originate, it's interesting to see what legacy this dragon (or snake) that bites its tail has left us.
It is still today a strong symbol that has been taken up in many cultural works.
Sometimes it is a simple object in the set, placed there as a kind of clue for the most initiated. Other times, it is a symbol that is deliberately put forward to reinforce certain specific values.
And you, what does this curious symbol mean to you? Let us know in the comment section below! 😉