The Ouroboros dragon is a fairly common symbol, even today. It is not uncommon to find visuals depicting this animal biting its tail. It is also a source of inspiration for women's jewelry, fashion accessories and decorative arts.
It is important to know that "Ouroboros" is an ancient Greek word meaning literally: "that bites its tail". Indeed, in Greek, "oura" means tail. This symbol carries a very strong message and you must have an open mind to look deeply into it. Indeed, its connotation is quite spiritual.
Without entering into a religious approach to the question, the Ouroboros dragon on a piece of costume jewelry refers to the notion of unity. That is, it symbolizes the notion of the eternal cycle of life by its circular shape. This cycle is the following: birth, life, death and rebirth. Read on to learn more about its origins and the different meanings attributed to it.
The Meaning of the Dragon Ouroboros in Historical Mythologies
On a silver pendant, the ouroboros is usually represented in the form of a snake swallowing its tail, and circular in most cases. It has meanings in Egypt, Greece, China, India, the Middle East, etc.
1. Ouroboros in Egypt
The Ouroboros is a very ancient symbol found on personalized jewelry. Representations of this curious animal biting its tail were found on the golden chapels of Tutankhamen. The symbolism is primarily spiritual, referring to the notion of time passing, but also to eternity. An animal biting its own tail is what we call a paradox.
As the symbol was very present on coffins, the dragon Ouroboros was also considered in Egypt to represent the notion of rebirth and rejuvenation. On a plated pendant, the role of protector was also evoked. But as the animal is eaten, it was also associated with self-destruction and annihilation.
2. The Circular Dragon in Greece
For Plato, this circular being that eats itself would be the first living being in the universe a mythologically constructed immortal animal. The dragon Ouroboros did not need eyes, there was nothing else to see outside of him. He had no ears either, because there was nothing to hear, and there was no surrounding air to breathe. Finally, he would not have needed organs to process his food or to get rid of what he had already digested. In fact, there was nothing coming out of him or coming into him: for there was nothing beside him.
That said, the Ouroboros on a steel collar was created in this way: its own waste providing its own nourishment, and everything it has done or suffered, happens within itself and by itself. For the Creator thought that a being that would be self-sufficient would be much better than one that would lack for nothing. Since he did not need to take anything or defend himself against anyone, the Creator did not think it necessary to give him hands.
Finally, the dragon Ouroboros had no need of feet or any device for movement, so only the movement adapted to its spherical form was assigned to it. For the latter is of all the seven most suitable for the mind and the intellect. And from then on, it was moved in the same way and in the same place, within its own limits turning in a circle.
3. Symbol of the Ying-Yang in China
The universe, in the beginning, was divided into two parts: Heaven above and Earth below. These, two as one, gave the idea of opposites, but forming a unity. Each opposite was assumed to be powerful, as was their ultimate unity. Thus, the Chinese believed that light and dark, as ideal opposites, when united, produced creative energy.
Chinese alchemy reached Alexandria probably with the Yin-Yang symbol, as the dual nature responsible for creation. It was then transformed into a symbol called Ouroboros and very common on gold pendants. It is a dragon and as such a symbol of the soul. Its head and front part are red the color of blood as the soul, while its tail and back half are dark representing the body.
The Ouroboros Dragon is also represented in white and black on the soul and body earrings, both as the "one that is all".
4. Ouroboros in Norse Mythology
Described alternately as a snake or a dragon, the symbol of the Ouroboros is found in other civilizations and particularly in Norse mythology. It would be about the snake Jörmungandr, one of the four children of Loki. The latter would have finally reached such an impressive size that it encircles the world and can take its tail in its mouth.
All this is done to keep the oceans in place. In this case, an Ouroboros dragon on Celtic is symbolically associated with hope and renewal.
5. The Ouroboros Dragon in ancient Hinduism
In Brahmanism, for example, the Ouroboros is represented as a multi-headed serpent called Shesha. This deity who represents the continuity of the universes is present on rings, bracelets and other ornaments for men and women. Here again, the spiritual symbolism is very strong.
6. Symbolism of eternity in the Middle East
The Albigensians came from Armenia, where Zoroastrianism and the cult of Mithras were common. Thus, it is possible that the dragon symbol Ouroboros common in jewelry entered their iconography via the Zoroastrian symbol Faravahar.
Some references that do not mention the ouroboros dragon refer to its circular shape as a symbol of the immortality of the soul or the cyclical nature of Karma. Thus, the circle retains its significance on rings and chokers even when the details of the image are obscured.
7. Symbol of the Ouroboros in France
Impressively, the history of France has also been marked by the appearance of the Ouroboros serpent. You can see this symbol on the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. It should be remembered that this was a historical turning point for France.
Meaning of the Dragon Ouroboros in Religious Beliefs
The connotation of the Ouroboros Dragon found on the gold chains is quite spiritual among both Ashantis, Christians and other beliefs.
1. Ashanti and Aztec
Common on necklaces and chokers necklaces, snakes are sacred animals in many West African beliefs. It is notable that the demigod Aidophedo uses the image of a snake biting its tail. The Oroburus is also seen in Fon or Dahomean iconography, in Yoruba imagery such as Oshunmare, as well as on many pieces of male jewelry and ornaments.
Among the Aztecs, the god Quetzalcoatl is sometimes represented as the Ouroboros on Aztec and Toltec ruins.
2. Among Christians
Christians have adopted the dragon Ouroboros as a symbol of the limits of the material world. There would be an "outer" being involved in the demarcation of an inner. Often in the form of a necklace to be worn around the neck, it also symbolizes the self-consuming transient nature of a mere "worldly existence." Following in the footsteps of the preacher in Ecclesiastes 3: 9-14.
Finally, the dragon Ouroboros famous in silver jewelry has been incorporated into the crests of the Hungarian and Romanian Unitarian churches.
Symbolism of the Ouroboros Dragon in the Secret Societies
Common in jewelry, the Ouroboros is one of the most ancient and timeless esoteric symbols. It carries a message that allows those who manage to decipher it to open new doors.
A. Tarot and Watermarks
The Ouroboros dragon symbol appears in watermarks printed in Albigensian in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is also printed in many game cards and tarot cards during these periods.
A first commonly used symbol the ace of cups surrounded by a reptile Ouroboros appears frequently among Albigensian watermarks. It is conceivable that this is the source of some urban legends associating this symbol with secret societies.
B. The Ouroboros Dragon in Gnosticism
In Gnosticism, this snake often used as a piercing is linked to the solar God Abraxas. It symbolized eternity and the soul of the world. When the dragon Ouroboros bites its own tail, it forms a continuous loop famous in jewelry. So it is not always easy to distinguish its beginning from the end. Again, this is very spiritual on jewelry and accessories, as it refers to the notion of the human soul.
C. Ouroboros and Alchemy
In alchemy, the ouroboros often inscribed on T-shirts is a purifying seal that represents the spirit of Mercury, the substance that permeates all matter. It symbolizes the continuous renewal, the life-death cycle and the harmony of opposites. It is what keeps the cosmic waters in check and is synonymous with the cyclical nature of alchemical work.
The alchemists knew much more about the nature of the individuation process. They therefore expressed this paradox through the symbol of the Ouroboros, the serpent that eats its own tail. This is why it is appreciated in piercing, chokers, amulets, watches, chains, etc. For materials, you will find sterling silver, gold-plated, solid silver, rhodium-plated silver, silver-plated metal, etc.
The Ouroboros Dragon would thus have a meaning of infinity or fullness. In its age-old image is the thought of being devoured and transformed in a circulatory process. For it was clear to the most astute alchemists that the prima materia of art was man himself.
Finally, the Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, the shadow. This process of "feedback" is at the same time a symbol of immortality. For it is said that it kills itself and gives itself life, fertilizes itself and gives itself birth: it symbolizes the one and the whole at the same time. These ornaments have nothing to do with precious pearls such as moonstone, Ruby or sapphire, its colors being golden and silver. But some people see it as a real lucky charm.
The Ouroboros Dragon in Modern Civilization
Now you have an idea of the ancient traditions and cultures from which the Ouroboros dragon is said to originate. Nevertheless, it is also interesting to see what legacy this dragon or snake, which bites its tail, has left to the modern world.
In fact, the Ouroboros is still today a strong symbol used in many cultural works. Sometimes it is a simple object in the setting, placed there as a kind of clue for the connoisseurs. Other times, it is a symbol deliberately put forward to reinforce certain specific values. Imagine a fancy silver woman's necklace elegantly worn over a neckline !