Legends and Secrets of the Cosmic Ouroboros

Legends and Secrets of the Cosmic Ouroboros

There are few creatures that evoke the range of emotions like the earthbound snake. Across ancient cultures and civilizations, snakes have been viewed as mystical, dangerous, repulsive, and ultimately one of the most fascinating beings in the animal world. However, there might be a deeply rooted reason for human’s fascination with this creature, one that is embedded in the oldest mythology known to humans: Ouroboros, or the one who devours itself.

Translated from the Greek, the word “ouroboros” means “tail devourer,” referring to the circular or figure-eight shape of a snake enveloping itself. One of the oldest mythological symbols known to humans, the ouroboros has been viewed as a symbol of the regenerative cycle of life, enlightenment, renewal, and infinity. 

What is the significance of this mysterious and universal symbol, and how did it come to represent so much for so many civilizations?

mktgfx00152 ancient civ summit 2020 email02 noopensexpertangle secondary 650x250

EGYPT to GREECE to the GARDEN OF EDEN: The Ouroboros Origins

The ouroboros’ origin dates back to ancient Egypt as a symbol of the sun and the sun disk’s travels. Encrypted in the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld, the engraved stone book found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb, the ouroboros is part of the story of Ra’s mythical journey in the underworld, and is one of the first instances of the symbol being depicted swallowing its tail. As described in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Ouroboros is connected to the creator god Atum, often described as being in the form of a water serpent. 

From Egypt, the Ouroboros found its path to ancient Phoenicians and ancient Greece, where it is believed the symbol received its name as it is known today. Greek alchemists associated the ouroboros symbol with gold and the path of endless return, or the “One in All.”

In fact, Plato writes of the Ouroboros as being the first living creature in the universe, and that the self-swallowing being represents a completely self-contained system with no need for anything outside of itself.

From Plato’s interpretation, the Gnostics expanded on the theory that the Ouroboros represents the soul of the world.

For some it is the embodiment of evil; for others the reflection of knowledge, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Ouroboros, which we know as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, represents the external or human-bound world, or one that resides outside of “God.”

It can also be said that the snake, or ouroboros, can be attributed to what we now call “awareness,” in that after listening to the snake and eating from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness, or innate humanity.  

In the Hindu religion, Ouroboros is equated with Kundalini or the essential energy that resides, coiled in the base of the spine. According to the Upanishads, “the divine power, Kundalini, shines like the stem of a young lotus; like a snake, coiled round upon herself she holds her tail in her mouth and lies resting half asleep as the base of the body.” The Hindus are also among the religions that associates the Ouroboros with the divine feminine energy.

This connection to the feminine would also be mirrored in the Far Eastern interpretation of the Ouroboros with the concept of yin yang, the cosmological balance between light and dark, matter and energy, or the concept of duality. For the ancient Chinese and Japanese, duality represents opposites which form a divine unity, with each aspect being equal in such a creative and reproductive power, that a universe could emerge from the sacred union. 

For other cultures, the Ouroboros symbolizes a strong male energy, such as in the Norse culture with Jormungand, the Midgard serpent and son of Loki and Angrboda, who resides in the ocean which encompasses the seen world. The ancient Aztecs portrayed their god, Quetzalcoatl as a serpent biting his own tail, as seen in the ruins such as the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent.

Still other ancient cultures, such as the Mayan, believe that the Ouroboros is the embodiment of a cosmic and prophetic cycle, or a magnetic pole shift which has always impacted how humans communicate and perceive our world. 

This cosmic belief runs parallel to the alchemical associations of the Ouroboros, as described in the ancient Greek text, Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra (unrelated to the Egyptian queen). In the alchemical world, the Ouroboros is a purifying symbol, preparing the path for release, liberation, and the unification of the conscious and unconscious realms. 

vector ornamental snake ethnic ouroboros

Not to be limited to terra firma, the ouroboros is also connected to the celestial realms, with mythological connections to the Milky Way, with the serpent shape representing the heavenly stars, as well as in scientific realms. Chemist August Kekule saw connections to the snake symbol in his discovery of the compound benzene. Exhausted by his efforts at studying the elusive atomic structure, he fell asleep and reportedly dreamt of the atoms working in unison to form into the shape of the Ouroboros, which inspired Kekule to persevere until he finally proved his benzene theory. 

We can even see the existence of the Ouroboros in the art world.  M.C. Escher’s famous Drawing Hands,” often viewed as containing the essence of the circular serpent’s symbolism.

The Ouroboros is a symbol that defies time and civilizations; it would be difficult to find one that has touched so many ages and come to represent so many aspects of this and other worlds. Today, we can turn to this ancient icon as a way to find balance in our often fractured and disconnected world. From the night sky to the atomic structures that make up our universe, the Ouroboros continues to provide answers, as well as leads us into deeper meanings.  

Creating Man in Our Image


New Study of Cave Paintings Say Ancient Man Understood Astronomy

New Study of Cave Paintings Say Ancient Man Understood Astronomy

A reinterpretation of one of the world’s most famous primitive cave paintings seems to show our ancient ancestors had a much stronger grasp on astronomy than we’ve given them credit. According to a recent study, cave paintings in France depict animals that represent the constellations, showing the artists who drew them were aware of the precession of the equinoxes — a discovery not thought to have been made before Hipparchus of Ancient Greece.

Of the paintings in question, researchers Martin Sweatman, Ph.D., and Alistar Coombs studied an image titled, “The Shaft,” which portrays a collapsing bird-headed man, a bison eviscerated by a spear, a horse, and a rhinoceros in the Lascaux caves of southern France’s Dordogne region.

In the past, this scene was interpreted as a shamanic ceremony or the scene of a hunt, however the exact meaning has been widely disputed as depictions of men were incredibly uncommon in this era. But according to Sweatman and Coombs’ latest study, the paintings show not only a more primordial understanding of astronomy, but also religion, science, and mathematics.

By comparing radiocarbon dating of paint samples to the position of constellations in the sky when the art was created, the researchers were able to match specific animals with correlating constellations of the solstice and equinox. They used this same method at similar archeological sites, including the ruins of Göbekli Tepe and Catalhöyük, as well as the famous cave art of Chauvet and Altamira.

The two also said they believe the Lascaux paintings commemorate a comet striking Earth, correlating with what they believe to be the cataclysmic impact event that marked the beginning of the Younger Dryas period – evidence of which was recently found in the form of a 19-mile wide crater beneath a Greenland ice sheet.

In addition to these sites, the researchers incorporated the Lion-man figurine from the Hohlenstein-Stadel cave in Germany, which dates back 38 thousand BCE and is considered to be the world’s oldest sculpture – they believe it too, may be evidence of zodiacal awareness. Their study was published in the Athens Journal of History.

Like any bold claim made of early humans which challenges long-held archeological timelines, this latest theory has unsurprisingly sparked controversy with some of Sweatman and Coombs’ colleagues who have labeled their method flawed.

According to their model, prehistoric men from the Stone Age discovered the precession of the equinoxes some 36 thousand years before Hipparchus – a bold claim to say the least!

But findings such as this seem to continually piece together disparate pieces of a puzzle that modern archeology has glossed over or ignored entirely. And as Graham Hancock likes to say upon the discovery of new paradigms like this may be, “things just keep getting older.”

 

For more on the anomalous archeological finds cluing us into our forgotten past, check out this episode of Disclosure with Graham Hancock:

Read Article

More In Ancient Origins

Our unique blend of yoga, meditation, personal transformation, and alternative healing content is designed for those seeking to not just enhance their physical, spiritual, and intellectual capabilities, but to fuse them in the knowledge that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.


Use the same account and membership for TV, desktop, and all mobile devices. Plus you can download videos to your device to watch offline later.

Desktop, laptop, tablet, phone devices with Gaia content on screens

Discover what Gaia has to offer.

The video streaming platform exploring Ancient Origins, and Ancient Civilizations Decoded

Testing message will be here

Discover what Gaia has to offer.

Testing message will be here