Exploring Uroboros Meaning (or Ouroboros): Cycles and Oneness on a Symbolic Level
I’ve always marveled at the symbolic meaning of the Uroboros (also spelled Ouroboros). I’ve even adopted it as a personal symbol. I use Uroboros meaning in meditations and incorporate this powerful symbol into daily thought patterns where a shift is necessary. Some accounts depict the Uroboros as a serpent eating its own tail. Still, other resources depict it as a dragon. The common theme is the connecting of mouth & tail…. which lends a kind of self-consumption concept. But more specifically, a snake (or dragon) eating its own tail gives off a type of “all is one” or “everything is connected” kind of vibe.
The term Uroboros can be traced back to ancient Greece and the Egyptian language. It is a word that loosely represents the concepts of cycles, time, and rebirth. The word also has connections with birth or themes of the womb. What’s important to note about Uroboros meaning is that it has big mojo in the realm of rebirth. Consider the snake. It is an epic symbol of renewal and healing. Why? Because the ancients observed snakes and the shedding of their skin. In the ancient or Native mind (pre-industrial cultures), this was symbolic of sloughing off the old (disease or waste) and evolving into a fresh new state of wholeness and healing.
Keywords for the Symbolic Meaning of the Uroboros
The symbolic meaning of the Uroboros is replete with symbolism like…
Alchemy and The Meaning of the Uroboros
Ancient alchemists have many illustrations of the a serpent wrapped around the cosmic egg. In this light the Uroboros meaning is about signifying the life span of the universe & even the origin of creation. Alchemists have fascinating beliefs about the meaning of the egg and the serpent as the source of all life. This is shown in intricate illustrations of a serpent wrapped around the cosmic egg. This serpent is often called an Uroboros…it is the serpent that eats its own tail.
This is symbolic of always coming back full circle. The Uroboros hugging the egg of the universe is symbolic of the ever recycling nature of life. There is no end or beginning, always a return to the source. That’s pretty heavy, I know, but there isn’t much in Alchemy that’s sweet and simple. In short, the serpent wrapped around the cosmic egg is symbolic of: Beginnings, Renewal, Infinite Potential. Furthermore, the center opening shown in typical Uroboros illustrations may also symbolize the egg which speaks of symbolic concepts such as…
- Latent power
- Limitless potential
Furthermore, the meaning of the Uroboros is often equated in terms of the ‘zero factor’. This is a profoundly powerful idea that we can get into the present moment and reach a liminal state. This state is neither here nor there. It is a space in time that is both everything and nothing. The Zero factor is represented by the Uroboros because it represents the power of being present within the Universe, but also implies the we as humans are a universe unto ourselves.
The serpent itself is symbolic of regeneration and the cycle of time as we observe in the shedding of a snake’s skin. The eating of it’s own tail declares the statement “The end is the beginning” (and vice versa). It reminds us of the eternal nature of energy which cannot be destroyed, only transformed.
I rather like the implication that only by devouring ourselves can we find our true nature. To further this point, I think of the constrictive nature of the snakes feeding pattern; its inner muscles press upon prey (in this case, itself). This makes me think of the birthing process of diamonds. It takes a lot of pressure to make a diamond from coal. Likewise, it takes a lot of constriction for our best selves to be squeezed out of our false identities.
The Infinity Symbol Meaning and the Uroboros
The Uroboros makes its appearance in several ancient cultural myths, like Egyptian, Greek, Hermetic and more.
As mentioned, the Uroboros is commonly seen as a serpent eating its own tail. It can be seen doing this in a twisty manner like the infinity symbol, or sometimes in a circle with no crossover. Here are a few infinity symbol meanings related to this self-consuming serpent.
- Gnostic: The infinity Uroboros represents unity of life. While consuming its own tail, the serpent signifies the process of creation, destruction and recreation. It is also a Gnostic symbol of duality, unity and harmonizing the two.
- Roman: Both the infinity symbol and the Uroboros are seen in Roman culture and are linked to the aspect of time. These symbols represent past, present future, the passage of time and the eternal nature of life on an energetic level.
- Greece: The lemniscate and the Uroboros are symbolic of death and rebirth as illustrated in the Orphic creation myth – another reference to the cosmic egg symbolism
- Egyptian: In this culture the Uroboros is symbolic of the sun – it’s rising and setting signifying the cycle of the day – the evolution of time and life.
The overwhelming message the Uroboros provides is “all is one” – the concept of connection and the totality of all. Other thoughts that come to mind with the serpentine infinity symbol include:
- Beginnings, endings, and all that’s in between.
- Life, death and who we sandwiched between these milestones, as well as how we evolve beyond life and death.
- Reintegration, disintegration and the phases each of these processes undergoes
No doubt, the meaning of the Uroboros is powerful. We can easily see how all of its symbolic implications can reap a dramatic effect on our thoughts. I invite you to settle in with your own personal concepts of the Uroboros meaning, and see what kind of transformations come up for you! As always, I hope you enjoyed this article on the Uroboros, and thank you for reading!
Other Articles of Interest on This Site
Symbolic Meaning of the Snake
Snake symbolic meaning, overwhelmingly and in various cultures, deals with primordial life force and usually turns our attention to gender supremacy (both male and female). Learn more about symbolic snake meanings here.
Lemniscate Infinity Symbol Meanings
This infinity symbol illustrates a trajectory that fluctuates, much the way our own lives do. Get more about the lemniscate and infinity symbol meaning here.