Ouroborosemblematic serpent of ancient Egypt and Greece represented with its tail in its mouth, continually devouring itself and being reborn from itself. A gnostic and alchemical symbolOuroboros expresses the unity of all things, material and spiritual, which never disappear but perpetually change form in an eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation.
Ouroboros is an emblematic serpent of ancient Egypt and Greece represented with its tail in its mouth, continually devouring itself and being reborn from itself. Ouroboros is a gnostic and alchemical symbol that expresses the unity of all things, material and spiritual, which never disappear but perpetually change form in an eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation. While the word Ouroboros has its origins in the Greek languagerepresentations of the symbol itself have been documented as far back as the 13th and 14th centuries BCE in ancient Egypt.
The Ouroboros serpent is meant to be a positive symbol that represents unity and the natural eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation. It is unlike many other cultural representations of snakes, such as in Christian tradition, which have distinctly evil associations. In the 19th century a vision of Ouroboros gave the German chemist August Kekule von Stradonitz the idea of linked carbon atoms forming the benzene ring. Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree Top Questions. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Ancient Egyptcivilization in northeastern Africa that dates from the 4th millennium bce.
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The designation gnosticism is a term of modern scholarship. It was first used by the English poet and philosopher of religion Henry More —87who applied it to….Accessed 12 Oct. Comments on Ouroboros What made you want to look up Ouroboros? Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible.
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First Known Use of Ouroborosin the meaning defined at sense 1. Keep scrolling for more. Learn More about Ouroboros. Time Traveler for Ouroboros The first known use of Ouroboros was in See more words from the same year. Statistics for Ouroboros Look-up Popularity. Get Word of the Day daily email! Test Your Vocabulary. Love words?Are you working on a bathroom, kitchen or backyard pool design?
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In stock tile that will make you smile. Create your one-of-kind custom tile blend. Our Newest Tile Designs. Search for Tile. Project Spotlight. Load More Follow on Instagram.Originating in ancient Egyptian iconographythe ouroboros entered western tradition via Greek magical tradition and was adopted as a symbol in Gnosticism and Hermeticism and most notably in alchemy.
The skin-sloughing process of snakes symbolizes the transmigration of soulsthe snake biting its own tail is a fertility symbol. The tail of the snake is a phallic symbol, the mouth is a yonic or womb-like symbol. The first known appearance of the ouroboros motif is in the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworldan ancient Egyptian funerary text in KV62the tomb of Tutankhamunin the 14th century BC. The text concerns the actions of the god Ra and his union with Osiris in the underworld.
The ouroboros is depicted twice on the figure: holding their tails in their mouths, one encircling the head and upper chest, the other surrounding the feet of a large figure, which may represent the unified Ra-Osiris Osiris born again as Ra.
Both serpents are manifestations of the deity Mehenwho in other funerary texts protects Ra in his underworld journey. The whole divine figure represents the beginning and the end of time. The ouroboros appears elsewhere in Egyptian sources, where, like many Egyptian serpent deities, it represents the formless disorder that surrounds the orderly world and is involved in that world's periodic renewal.
Its black and white halves may perhaps represent a Gnostic duality of existence, analogous to the Taoist yin and yang symbol. An aim of alchemists and adepts, described as "individual self-perfection through physical transmutation and spiritual transcendence",  was familiar to the alchemist and physician Sir Thomas Browne.
It focused on the eternal unity of all things as well as the cycle of birth and death from which the alchemist sought release and liberation. In Gnosticisma serpent biting its tail symbolized eternity and the soul of the world.
A 15th-century alchemical manuscript, The Aurora Consurgensfeatures the ouroboros, where it is used amongst symbols of the sun, moon, and mercury. Engraving of an wyvern -type ouroboros by Lucas Jennisin the alchemical tract De Lapide Philosophico.
The figure serves as a symbol for mercury. An engraving of a woman holding an ouroboros in Michael Ranft 's treatise on vampires.
Seal of the Theosophical Societyfounded This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. It is a common belief among indigenous people of the tropical lowlands of South America that waters at the edge of the world-disc are encircled by a snake, often an anaconda, biting its own tail. The ouroboros has certain features in common with the Biblical Leviathan. According to the Zoharthe Leviathan is a singular creature with no mate, "its tail is placed in its mouth", while Rashi on Baba Batra 74b describes it as "twisting around and encompassing the entire world".
The identification appears to go back as far as the poems of Kalir in the 6th-7th century CE. The Ouroboros symbol is a common sight on 17th and 18th century gravestones. Varying from region to region some have legs and even torso like bodies while others are carved in a bracelet like circle. They appear alongside the hourglass, skulls, bible, and cherubs that are so common in depictions of mortality of this era.
And like those other symbols, they disappeared from gravestones in the 19th century Gothic revival. In the Aitareya Brahmanaa Vedic text of the early 1st millennium BCE, the nature of the Vedic rituals is compared to "a snake biting its own tail. Ouroboros symbolism has been used to describe the Kundalini. According to the medieval Yoga-kundalini Upanishad"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" 1.
Storl also refers to the ouroboros image in reference to the "cycle of samsara ".
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Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung saw the ouroboros as an archetype and the basic mandala of alchemy. Jung also defined the relationship of the ouroboros to alchemy:  . 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 Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail.Uroboros vial that Alex Wesker injected herself with. Engineered in the 21st century by Dr.
Albert Wesker as the ultimate eugenics tool, a less potent strain was later developed by Dr. Alex Wesker to serve as a bio-weapon. There is currently no known vaccine for either strain of Uroboros. The virus' name is derived from the Ouroboros in Greek mythology, a snake or snake-like creature which consumed itself. Work began on the Uroboros Project sometime infollowing an encounter Dr.
Albert Wesker had with Dr. Oswell E. Such people would theoretically be enhanced physically and mentally. The first set back to take place after Tricell - Wesker's partner - set up a lab in the old Ndipaya Kingdomwas that the human population ratio able to survive and mutate from Progenitor infection was simply too small.
Using t-Virus antibodies extracted from a mutant test subject, Jill ValentineWesker repeatedly used them on his Uroboros cultures to naturally select a new strain distinct and less potent than Progenitor.
The virus was more-or-less finalised by Maywhen samples were loaded onto missiles in preparation for the final stage in the "Uroboros Project" - dispersing the virus across the Earth's atmosphere to infect every corner of the planet. There were problems with the preparations, however and a fire occurred, resulting in the creation of a mutant arthropod species dubbed " Reaper ".
At least four humans were infected with Uroboros during the operation, including Wesker himself. Only he mutated appropriately, however, with the other three being genetically incompatible. In their case, their bodies were torn apart by uncontrollable mutation, and in one case consumed a number of other bodies. In its original form, Uroboros was too deadly for any host to support life. Only with the introduction of Jill Valentine's t-Virus antibodies could Uroboros' rapid amplification be controlled so that it left a select percentage of the human population alive.
Once Uroboros comes into contact with an organism's cells and infects them, it inserts its genes into the host's genome in an attempt to merge with the host. For those whose genetic sequence is compatible with Uroboros, the merge is successful, bestowing superhuman abilities upon the host. Those whose genomes are incompatible fall to the virus' uncontrolled amplification, and their cells are overtaken by Uroboros. The resulting infected tissues, organised into undifferentiated tentacles, absorbs the body of the host and any other organic matter it can reach.
These tentacles are held together by orange pustule-like organs, which serve as the control center of the organic growth. Destruction of the core negates the body's cohesion, and thus, life. The same happens when the virus is injected in any corpse.
When a human host successfully adapts to the virus, they retain their normal human form but become superhuman with increased strength, speed, durability, vitality and a strong regeneration ability. The only physical sign of mutation in an adapted host is the appearance of glowing slitted eyes, similar to those of a host successfully adapted to the Progenitor virus or the prototype t-Virus variant Albert Wesker adapted to.
However, due to its purpose of forced evolution, it was designed to accept a small percentage of the human population possessing excellent genes. If Uroboros had been spread across the globe, it would have killed those with unsuitable DNA and selected for genomes containing genes favorable to evolution. Uroboros was sensitive to intense heat as shown in all encounters with Uroboros, also after Wesker's bonding with Uroboros and falling into the lava he was unable to attack Chris and Sheva, only being able to launch one of his arms at the helicopter Josh piloted.If everything looks good, tap Publish in the upper right to make your site live.
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