The Ouroboros, Ourorboros, Oroborus, Uroboros or Uroborus (jʊərəʊˈbɒrəs) is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle. It has been used to represent many things over the ages, but it most generally symbolizes ideas of social cycle theory, unity, or infinity. The ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations (transmutation of base matter into gold).
Lucas Jennis’ engraving published on an alchemical emblem-book entitled De Lapide Philisophico (1625)
The name ouroboros (or, in Latinized form, uroborus) is Greek ουροβóρος, \”tail-devourer\”. The depiction of the serpent is believed to have been inspired by the Milky Way, as some ancient texts refer to a serpent of light residing in the heavens…
In some representations the serpent is shown as half light and half dark, echoing symbols such as the Yin Yang, which illustrates the dual nature of all things, but more importantly, that these opposites are not in conflict. In alchemy, the ouroboros symbolizes the circular nature of the alchemist\’s Great Work, which unites the opposites: the conscious and unconscious mind.
The Ouroboros often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end (See Phoenix (mythology)). It can also represent the idea of primordial unity. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego \”dawn state\”, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.
The Ouroboros could very well be used to symbolize the closed-system model of the universe of some physicists. The organic chemist August Kekule claimed that a ring in the shape of Ouroboros that he saw in a dream inspired him in his discovery of the structure of benzene. As noted by Carl Jung, this might be an instance of cryptomnesia…
The Ouroboros is one of the oldest mystical symbols in the world. The serpent or dragon appears in Aztec, Middle East, and Native American mythologies, among others. –Wikipedia