New year, new leaf. At least that’s what I keep trying to tell myself. I’m not big on making New Year’s resolutions. I’ve learned I don’t have a great track record with keeping them. But that doesn’t mean some things aren’t worth trying again. And again. And again. And as many times as it might take to stick. XD I can admit I’ve been terrible about maintaining my blog like I wanted to. Especially in the later part of the year. I’ve got plenty of excuses but again: new year, new leaf. And while I had thought about doing the Phoenix for my beginning of the year Monster Monday, it did not take me long to remember I did that in the previous post. Go figure, right? The quintessential start over creature and I did it somewhere in the middle of the year. haha
Ah well. That does, however, give me the opportunity to introduce and further explore a creature that is known more symbolically than anything else. The Ouroboros! You’ve probably seen some kind of depiction of it in a movie, TV show, or art along the way (the one that immediately comes to mind is the AURYN in the Neverending Story for me). In appearance, it’s literally a serpent – although sometimes it might appear as a dragon – that is shown eating its own tail. Now, this doesn’t make for great adventures or monster slaying tasks or even anything to seek for wisdom. It might be kind of hard to understand something that perpetually has its tail in its mouth. So as far as monsters go, it’s not anything spectacularly impressive.
On the other hand, it is a very ancient symbol that has popped up in various mythologies. And while the translation from Greek literally means: “tail-devourer,” the power of the symbol is much greater. The Ouroboros represents the concept of eternity and endless return. So again, an apt creature for the beginning of the new year. haha
While many of us may know of the Ouroboros from a more Greek perspective, it apparently hails from Egypt. At least insofar as the first recorded appearance is concerned. Even more of a fun fact, it was found in the company of none other than Tutankhamen, otherwise known as King Tut from the 13th century BC. From what I could track down, the symbol was connected to the annual flooding of the Nile: “flowing ‘back into itself like a circle … [enabling] renewal, repetition, and regeneration…'”
From Egypt, the symbol then appeared in Greece connected to alchemy. While gold was one of the things that alchemists wanted to transmute (anyone have an extra Philosopher’s Stone lying around?), there was a fascinating maxim near the Ouroboros on such recordings. It reads: ‘One is All, and by it All, and for it All, and if it does not contain All, then All is Nothing’.
You can also find it in Gnosticism where it is comparable to the Chinese idea of Yin and Yang. And if we have any Norse mythology fans here too (like myself), you might also recognize the idea of Jormungandr – the World Serpent aka the Midgard Serpent that is eventually slain by Thor during Ragnarok – as being a representation of the Ouroboros. It also shows up in Hinduism as well as in Mesoamerican mythology with Quetzalcoatl often appearing in the form of an ouroboros. There are tons of other smaller nuances and appearances along the way and I’ll link you the sites and sources I found most of my information from here:
I do encourage you to check them out for further information. It’s fascinating! But for now, I’ll leave things here for the moment. I personally haven’t done that much with the symbol of the Ouroboros in any of my own works, though I have been contemplating getting one tattooed on me at some point. haha I can say, though, that I use the idea of the Ouroboros in a lot of my larger scale works: cycles and rebirth and things coming full circle. It is definitely a concept I’m drawn to. Hopefully one of these days I’ll get to show you something along these same lines. 😉
Okay! That’s all for now but thanks for checking in and I hope everyone (myself included XD) has a fantastic year! See you next time!