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I need your help: Tailing the Ouroboros

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posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 01:49 PM
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Greetings. For reasons I'd rather not get into, I'm attempting to follow the spread of the symbol of the Ouroboros across the globe. The typical symbol is of a serpent biting it's own tail. So far I've found many references in books, across the net, and so fourth, but am only one man. I would be very grateful for anyone who has a reference to a place and time, even if it is approximate.

While I welcome specualtion and discussion, I prefer hard fact, as in "Ouroboros, appearing on Greek vase, found in 600 BC, in Thermopolae" or "Aztec symbol of Quezlquoatl, in form of Ouroboros, 1000 AD, found in Brazil" Something to that effect. If you can list the source of your information, or a link to the page you found it at. So far I've found it to be a fascinating subject, and the hard facts alone provide enough material to weave a story without speculation.

Again, I appreciate any assistance in this subject you can provide.




posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 02:02 PM
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Interesting project! I haven't a THING to contribute, but I do hope you'll share with us?

I'm familiar with it mainly from a high fantasy book E.R.Eddison's "The Worm Ouroborous" (and in the same edition shown here!): www.wizards.com.../main/classicworm

Because I was well-read, I had no trouble with the archaisims; in fact, that was one of the charms of the old high fantasy books. There were only brief mentions of the concept in here and in keeping with their practices, I don't think you can tease much out of it from a scholarship point.

But oh, the beauty of the language!



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 02:51 PM
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Well, I've got a rough timeline so far, and the earliest traces I've managed to find to date are from ziggurats in the plains of Sumeria. In point of fact, one Ouroboros was found on a particularly large ziggurat that is presently being investigated by archeologists as the possible base for the Tower of Babylon. From there, it appears to have spread first to the surrounding lands and Egypt, and then across the Mediterranian to Greece (in which it gained the name Ouroboros), where it proceded to work its way through Europe and into learning institutions, universities, and alchemists.

Since the same symbol was used in American indigenous cultures long before Columbus discovered the "new world" this symbol could likely be some evidence to peoples migration along the southern coasts of Asia, up the eastern coast, and across an ice bridge to North America, then back down south along the west coast to warmer climates.

That in and of itself is interesting, but what is truly interesting to me is the origin of the symbol. What about that symbol made such a strong impression into people's minds, that they would carry this symbol and attach heap such religious and spiritual significance to it, where even to this day we see its descendant in the Staff of Hermes, adopted by the American Medical Association. (Hermes Trigamestus also, coincidentally, seems to be the same individual who carried the symbol to Greece). Furthermore, it seems the further away from Sumeria the symbols appeared, the more religious in nature they were, and the greater sway over the populace they had (reference the Toltecs god, Quetzquoatl, and the later impact on Aztec culture). However, in nearer places, it became a symbol used by learning institutions.

To date, my research suggests, strongly, the Tower of Babylon existed, and that it was probably one of the first examples of a University. This would be seen by the less scientific-minded as "trying to build a stairway to heaven", and probably angered the priest class enough to have the tower torn down, and the students and teachers banished (or converted).

Whether they feared persecution, or their tongues actually changed language, those who fled would likely carry one symbol with them to be able to reunite with others who fled during the fall of the Tower. So far, it seems that that symbol is the Ouroboros.

If there is enough interest generated, I can provide the timeline I've managed to put together so far, based on hard fact, and many years investigation into art museums, dusty books, and of course, the internet.



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 03:42 PM
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Originally posted by thelibra
Well, I've got a rough timeline so far, and the earliest traces I've managed to find to date are from ziggurats in the plains of Sumeria.

Fascinating! And the followup is interesting, too. I believe that once it left Greece (if my vauge memory serves, here) didn't it become part of the alchemical tradition?


Since the same symbol was used in American indigenous cultures long before Columbus discovered the "new world"

I know there are petroglyphs and pictographs of snakes (shamanic helpers) but I'm not aware of any that match the ouroborous. I do know they did draw circles, but those that I've seen (I like petroglyphs and pictographs and geoglyphs) were sun related, according to ethnographic sources.

Could you point me to those?


this symbol could likely be some evidence to peoples migration along the southern coasts of Asia, up the eastern coast, and across an ice bridge to North America, then back down south along the west coast to warmer climates.

Mmm, your theory is gong to run into some real problems with dating at this point. The Sumerian civilizations are around 3,000 BC (about the same age as the Egyptian ones), which is about the same time as the rise of the proto-Olmec civilizations in Central America.

North America is, by that time, fairly well covered with Native American groups living in bands and occasionally villages. Here in Texas, they're still migratory groups doing seasonal hunting and fishing -- but there's good evidence that the Native American people were here as early as 20,000 years ago (pre-Clovis, includes sites like Monte Verde) and possibly (new material, announced this week) as early as 50,000 years ago. I personally like the 50,000 years figure because of some of the linguistic isolates... but that's just me.

But the rest of your material looks exellent. I'd enjoy continuing this discussion.

[edit on 24-11-2004 by Byrd]



posted on Nov, 24 2004 @ 04:01 PM
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Well obviously you know that it is a Gnostic Symbol right? Eating its own tail = "Infinity". The Serpent in General is a Gnostic Symbol. It Symbolizes Knowledge & Wisdom - for the more Ignorant & Superstitious among us this means that it is an "Evil Satanic" symbol.

[edit on 24-11-2004 by Seraphim_Serpente]



posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 08:39 AM
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Originally posted by Byrd
Fascinating! And the followup is interesting, too. I believe that once it left Greece (if my vauge memory serves, here) didn't it become part of the alchemical tradition?


As a matter of fact, it did, largely by Hermes Trismegistus. In fact, the Hermetic text "The Book of Lambspring" by Nicolas Barnaud, 1625 (originally "Triga chemica: de lapide philosophico tractatus tres" in 1599) on emblem 6 this can be plainly seen.



There are various other sources as well, but this was probably one of the best known alchemical texts in the Hermetic Tradition which can be easily referenced.

OH! While I think about it, I need to make a correction... I said that research seems to point to Hermes carrying over the symbol of the Ouroboros in an earlier post. In point of fact, after looking back over my notes, I realized that I meant Herodotus, the Greek Historian, appears to be the vital connection. The reason will be clearer later in this post.


Originally posted by Byrd
I know there are petroglyphs and pictographs of snakes (shamanic helpers) but I'm not aware of any that match the ouroborous. I do know they did draw circles, but those that I've seen (I like petroglyphs and pictographs and geoglyphs) were sun related, according to ethnographic sources.

Could you point me to those?


Ah, here is one such source, commonly seen in several Aztec and Toltec ruins.



It is important to know as well, the full story of Quetzalcoatl. I've provided a hyperlink as opposed to cutting and pasting, because it seems more polite (and also introduces an online encyclopedia I help support).


Originally posted by Byrd
Mmm, your theory is gong to run into some real problems with dating at this point. The Sumerian civilizations are around 3,000 BC (about the same age as the Egyptian ones), which is about the same time as the rise of the proto-Olmec civilizations in Central America.


Actually, yes and no... the more advanced versions of Ziggurats (and cultures) DID start around 3,000 BC. However, the original Tower of Babylon (referenced in Genesis 11), as can best be estimated, would have existed somewhere between 3,500-5,000 BC, because of the specific reference to "Baked Brick" and "Bitumen" both of which were very expensive, new technology at the time. It was rebuilt by various peoples, several times, over the next few thousand years, up until the last, by Egypt, around 500 BC, when Egypt began to find other things to invest in.

Now, Herodotus (also from Greece) actually visited the ruins of the rebuilt tower (completed around 490BC by Nebuchadnezzar), writing about it in 440 BC:


"It has a solid central tower, one furlong square, with a second erected on top of it and then a third, and so on up to eight. All eight towers can be climbed by a spiral way running around the outside, and about halfway up there are seats for those who make the journey to rest on."




I'm trying to see if there has been any connection to his symbol, because in roughly the same timeframe, Plato references the Ouroboros concept in Plato's Timus (written in 360BC):

"And he gave to the world the figure which was suitable and also natural. Now to the animal which was to comprehend all animals, that figure was suitable which comprehends within itself all other figures. Wherefore he made the world in the form of a globe, round as from a lathe, having its extremes in every direction equidistant from the centre, the most perfect and the most like itself of all figures; for he considered that the like is infinitely fairer than the unlike. This he finished off, making the surface smooth all around for many reasons; in the first place, because the living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle.



Keep in mind this is a concept of a round Earth which is 1700 years older than Columbus' journey across the Atlantic to prove it. Also, note the reference to seven parts. Then count the number of segments in the Meso-American Ouroboros near the top of this post.

Hermes Trismegistus, to which the symbol is most widely attributed, and considered to be the father of Alchemy, wrote most of his works around 300 BC.

The serpent-biting its own tail symbol existed in Egypt since since at least 1600 BC according to most sources, though I've found them to neglect more recently found art which depicts the symbol on artifacts as old as 3500 BC.

Soo... this is what my evidence points to thus far:


  • The original Tower of Babylon existed, at best estimates, somewhere between 5000-3500 BC, judging from the technological achievments, capabilities, and economic knowledge of the time, as well as references to events and other places.
  • 3500 BC - Oldest Ouroboros style image that I'm currently aware of.
  • Starting around 2000-1500 BC, the Tower of Babylon began to be rebuilt by various peoples till around 500 BC.
  • Herodotus, the Greek historian, visits the last incarnation of the Tower of Babylon and writes his 440 BC description of it.
  • Ouroboros appears in Plato's Timus (360 BC). It describes an Ouroboros of seven parts.
  • Hermes Trismegistus writes his works in 300 BC.
  • Toltec era in South America 800-1200 AD. A glyph of Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent), is shown as a snake biting its own tail, divided into seven parts.


It was this revelation, the link between the Ouroboros in South America and the one described by Plato, that made me realize there must be something more to this symbol than just "infinity" and "eternal life".


Originally posted by Byrd
North America is, by that time, fairly well covered with Native American groups...(snip)...as early as 20,000 years...(snip)...(or)...50,000 years ago.


Ah, I should have been more clear in my meaning. I did not mean to imply that the people I referred to were the first inhabitants of the Americas. I meant that the evidence points to migration of the Ouroboros Symbol, from the Tower of Babylon to South America, before the way to the new world was commonly known. Of course, there would have already been people in the Americas before the Tower even existed, the archeological evidence is irrefutable. The symbol, however, did not appear to be in use until roughly the same time as the original Tower of Babylon, and does not appear in Meso-American lands until much later.

Oh, and what I hope is an unneccesary note to Christians and non-Christians alike, my study of the Tower of Babylon is historical, not religious in nature. The evidence that it existed is irrefutable, but a Tower is not proof of a religion being correct, it is only proof of a Tower.

HOWEVER... I do feel it important to note that throughout Polynesian islands from the East Asian coast to the West American costs, as well as native American Indian tribes, there are stories that very closely mirror that of the Tower of Babylon, some even referencing an actual Tower. This also seems to support the evidence of the migration of the Ouroboros, along with the story.


And now to Seraphim's comment...

Originally posted by Seraphim_Serpente
Well obviously you know that it is a Gnostic Symbol right? Eating its own tail = "Infinity". The Serpent in General is a Gnostic Symbol. It Symbolizes Knowledge & Wisdom - for the more Ignorant & Superstitious among us this means that it is an "Evil Satanic" symbol.


I am afraid the chronological evidence points to the symbol predating Graeco-Roman Gnosis. However, since the pre-Gnostic evidence to date comes almost entirely from Egypt, and Egyptian emanationist thought appears to be a heavy contributor to Gnosticism, it would be a very easy assumption to make. And indeed, the Gnostics appear to have been the first to attach any real religious significance to the symbol. However, it's use as a symbol of science and study predates it.

From all the contextual history, as well as the evolution of the symbol, to say that the Ouroboros is a symbol of "Infinity" is like saying Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' is a story about "these two kids." It appears to be so much more than that, but unfortunately the full picture is not yet clear. Hence my beseeching others for any references they have found.


[edit on 11/26/2004 by thelibra]



posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 08:51 AM
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I can give you hundreds of links, but I am sure you have already found them.
there is this one, that seems to give a very elaborate breakdown of the history and it's spread around the world

abacus.best.vwh.net...

and this one
What IS the ouroboros?

www.dragon.org...

Google Scholar gave these results--click the link
scholar.google.com...

This result from Google Scholar was a nice read

"Comparing Yin-Yang, the Chinese symbol of creation, with Ouroboros of Greek alchemy."

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...


I'll keep searching



[edit on 26-11-2004 by NetStorm]



posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 08:59 AM
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Whoa! While searching ....I found this pic--the Ouroboros reference, is the man at the bottom of the pic sitting in the circle. What got my attention was the drawing upper left hand corner....


De Hooghe
Hieroglyphica oder Denkbilder der alten Volker
Amsterdam, 1744
A collection of various illustrations of how the "ancient pagans" supposedly imagined Chaos




posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 02:01 PM
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I grabbed this image while browsing on the "Romantic" & "Renaissance" Period - had a "Boehmes" Reference to it!!!
[edit on 26-11-2004 by Seraphim_Serpente]

[edit on 26-11-2004 by Seraphim_Serpente]



posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 03:44 PM
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Originally posted by thelibra
As a matter of fact, it did, largely by Hermes Trismegistus.

(note for others - we are keeping in mind here that Hermes Trismegistus is actually a Dark Ages/medieval alchemy text that is SUPPOSEDLY authored by an ancient Greek. It's clearly a forgery of an alchemist -- but an excellent reference for what they thought and how they proceeded. Just don't make the mistake of thinking it's over 2,000 years old, okay?)


Ah, here is one such source, commonly seen in several Aztec and Toltec ruins.


Mmmkaly... yes, those are about 2,000-3,000 years old... but by that time the Native Americans had been over here for up to 15,000-45,000 years. Stylistically and functionally it's very different than the European ones.



It is important to know as well, the full story of Quetzalcoatl.

Interesting, and fairly well researched though I am just a *tad* skeptical about some of the mythos. But overall, an excellent article (recommend it to the rest of you browsers!)



Originally posted by Byrd
Actually, yes and no... the more advanced versions of Ziggurats (and cultures) DID start around 3,000 BC. However, the original Tower of Babylon (referenced in Genesis 11), as can best be estimated, would have existed somewhere between 3,500-5,000 BC, because of the specific reference to "Baked Brick" and "Bitumen" both of which were very expensive, new technology at the time.

Source? I'm mostly curious here because my Biblical Archaeology text doesn't mention this... however, the text is pre-1950!


Now, Herodotus (also from Greece) actually visited the ruins of the rebuilt tower (completed around 490BC by Nebuchadnezzar), writing about it in 440 BC:

Ah, dear old Herodotus! What a wonderful gossip! However, do take it with a bit of a grain of salt... remember he also wrote about people in Africa who had no heads and rather... misdescribed the Festival of Bast. Given some of his reports that have later been corrected by modern research, I picture him as the eternal tourist, who was just "set up" by the locals because he'd pay them money to show him wonders.

In either case, I like his description. Did he REALLY describe it as "the tower of Babel" though (inquiring minds are taking a break from writing papers and have no clue right now)?

I think that Plato's concept sounds like an egg. And yes, by the time of Socrates and Plato, the Greeks had known that the Earth was a sphere for many many years (century or more.)


Hermes Trismegistus, to which the symbol is most widely attributed, and considered to be the father of Alchemy, wrote most of his works around 300 BC.

My sources say it's actually an older fiction that was SUPPOSED to be written then. However -- I haven't done an exhaustive resarch of it. What have you found (provenance) that counters my original information?




Soo... this is what my evidence points to thus far:


  • The original Tower of Babylon existed, at best estimates, somewhere between 5000-3500 BC, judging from the technological achievments, capabilities, and economic knowledge of the time, as well as references to events and other places.
  • 3500 BC - Oldest Ouroboros style image that I'm currently aware of.
  • Starting around 2000-1500 BC, the Tower of Babylon began to be rebuilt by various peoples till around 500 BC.
  • Herodotus, the Greek historian, visits the last incarnation of the Tower of Babylon and writes his 440 BC description of it.
  • Ouroboros appears in Plato's Timus (360 BC). It describes an Ouroboros of seven parts.
  • Hermes Trismegistus writes his works in 300 BC.
  • Toltec era in South America 800-1200 AD. A glyph of Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent), is shown as a snake biting its own tail, divided into seven parts.

I don't think that there's a link there. The date of the symol appearing in the Toltec/Aztec civilization is far too late to have been influenced by the other, and there's no evidence of people crossing the Atlantic or Pacific who might have had the symbol... who then ran down to Central America to share it. "Kennewick Man" (arguably a Caucasian) is dated to 12,000-13,000 years and there are no ourouboros symbols in the rock art or the pottery down the California coast or in the Pueblos.




HOWEVER... I do feel it important to note that throughout Polynesian islands from the East Asian coast to the West American costs, as well as native American Indian tribes, there are stories that very closely mirror that of the Tower of Babylon, some even referencing an actual Tower.

Sources? I'm not as familiar with Pacific Rim mythology... and I haven't really seen anything in Native American mythology that I thought mirrored it. I love folklore, though, and would appreciate being pointed to tales.

I think that its greatest strength lies in a reinterpretaion for the future.



posted on Nov, 26 2004 @ 04:17 PM
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I'm not even sure if this brings anything to the conversation, but the most recent usage of the Ouroboros in media (that I could think of), was in the 1996 TV show Millennium. In fact, it's the main picture in the title. us.imdb.com...



posted on Nov, 29 2004 @ 10:14 PM
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At last, a moment when I can answer, while at home with my notes... only it's frustrating that some of my research is now stuck at work... ah, well... at least I've got the vast bulk of it now available.


Originally posted by Byrd
(note for others - we are keeping in mind here that Hermes Trismegistus is actually a Dark Ages/medieval alchemy text that is SUPPOSEDLY authored by an ancient Greek. It's clearly a forgery of an alchemist -- but an excellent reference for what they thought and how they proceeded. Just don't make the mistake of thinking it's over 2,000 years old, okay?)


Now, not to split hairs over an unrelated topic, but there is also evidence to suggest that Hermes Trismegistus was an actual person, or at least, an anthropomorphic personification of a religion. I refer to the writings of France A. Yates, whose research suggest he could have otherwise been known as an Egyptian king named Mercurius linked to Hermopolis Magna (previously AketAton).

Such claims are based off of scholars throughout history such as the leading Fathers of the Church (Lactancius and Augustine), Suidas, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Cyril of Alexandria, Zosimus, Jamblichus, Fulgentius, Julian the Emperor, Ficino, Cicero, and Lactancius.

While I cannot personally claim to know the truth, I cannot so easily dismiss the evidence and hard work of so many others before me. And I would not be so quick to state such a dismissal as fact.


Originally posted by Byrd
Mmmkaly... yes, those are about 2,000-3,000 years old... but by that time the Native Americans had been over here for up to 15,000-45,000 years. Stylistically and functionally it's very different than the European ones.


It's probably more like 700-1,200 years old, considering the timeline of Toltec (800-1200 AD) and Aztec civilization (1200+ AD), though it is possible the design is older than either. Regardless, as stated in my previous post, my contention is not that the original human inhabitants of the region came from the Tower of Babylon, but rather the possibility that those fleeing the fall of the tower brought the symbol to the inhabitants. People do migrate, whether or not there was someone else there first, and they bring bits and pieces of their heritage with them.

HOWEVER... there is an important consideration that I will post after this, which suggests the seven-segmented Ouroboros symbol might be as old as 3,113 BC.

As for stylistic and functional differences, of course! Every existing culture, given a new concept, will add its own spin and story behind it. Take anime, for instance. It has a distinct difference from American animation, yet its origins lay within American animation. More appropriately, a very good example of this is the Tower of Babylon itself. Most Rennaisance painters depicted something along the lines of this:



When it more accurately would have looked something like this:



As you can see, the two are plainly different, a byproduct of a place a few
thousand miles, and a few thousand years from the actual place itself. Why
should the Ouroboros be any different?


Originally posted by Byrd
RE: the full story of Quetzalcoatl....

Interesting, and fairly well researched though I am just a *tad* skeptical about some of the mythos. But overall, an excellent article (recommend it to the rest of you browsers!)


I am curious which pards you are skeptical on, so that, if possible, I may clarify, correct, or retract.


Originally posted by Byrd
RE: (Ziggurats, Baked Brick, and Bitumen)
Source? I'm mostly curious here because my Biblical Archaeology text doesn't mention this... however, the text is pre-1950!


Ah, let's see... just to name a couple sources...

"The Excavations at Babylon" and other works by Robert Koldewey, a German architect and archaeologist from the late 19th century - in regards to the rough timeframe of the rough location, shape, and contruction of the Tower and Ziggurats.

"Bitumen - A History" by Zayn Bilkadi of the publication "Aramco World" (a late 20th century periodical) - placing the discovery of Bitumen and baked brick technology at sometime between 4000-3000 BC.


Originally posted by Byrd
Ah, dear old Herodotus! What a wonderful gossip! However, do take it with a bit of a grain of salt... remember he also wrote about people in Africa who had no heads and rather... misdescribed the Festival of Bast. Given some of his reports that have later been corrected by modern research, I picture him as the eternal tourist, who was just "set up" by the locals because he'd pay them money to show him wonders.


Trust me when I say all this is taken with a pound of salt, but an open mind as well. I fear you may be failing to take into account the mindset of people of the time. True, much of what Herodotus saw may have been nothing more than the proverbial "World's Largest Ball of Twine," but the fact remains he is historically credited with seeing and describing it.

Keep in mind as well that some of the most extreme cases of physical deformity can be found in Africa and the Middle East. Perhaps what he saw were people whose elephantitus (sp) was so severe as to dwarf their heads, or some other rational explanation might exist. I might also remind you that there are similar legends of "headless" people among native american tribes as well. Again, an example of a legend that somehow managed to traverse continents, across an ocean. I cannot discount Herodotus just because he was shown something that modern day conventional wisdom tells us he couldn't possibly have seen it.


Originally posted by Byrd
In either case, I like his description. Did he REALLY describe it as "the tower of Babel" though (inquiring minds are taking a break from writing papers and have no clue right now)?


History, and numerous references say "Yes." However, the particular Ziggurat he saw was Etemenanki, likely a reconstruction, in much the same way the present day Statue of Liberty is a reconstruction of an earlier model.


Originally posted by Byrd
I think that Plato's concept sounds like an egg. And yes, by the time of Socrates and Plato, the Greeks had known that the Earth was a sphere for many many years (century or more.)


Regardless of what it sounds like, the description is unmistakably a representation and description of the concept of the Ouroboros symbol, and is consistant with the ideas propogated in Europe surrounding that symbol, for the next few centuries.



Originally posted by Byrd(RE: The works of Hermes Trismegistus bring written around 300 AD)...

My sources say it's actually an older fiction that was SUPPOSED to be written then. However -- I haven't done an exhaustive resarch of it. What have you found (provenance) that counters my original information?


I have seen those sources as well, and it is equally hard to discredit them.
See the beginning of this post for a list of resources. Additionally, it is quite in keeping with the history of the land, predominant thought at the time, as well as keeping in line with the chronological order of the original Cult of Hermes. I've got a ton of cut-and paste research, with, unfortunately, the sources largely omitted, as the research was originally for something entirely unrelated to Ouroboros.



Originally posted by Byrd
(RE: the possible link to the Tower of Babylon and Ouroboros)
I don't think that there's a link there. The date of the symol appearing in the Toltec/Aztec civilization is far too late to have been influenced by the other,


I beg to differ. If the link were too soon afterward, or beforehand, I might agree. But there is no statute of limitations on a symbol making it from one place to another. Those who brought the symbol could have laid low in Eastern Asia for a long time (additional research on Ouroboros among the Chinese will be neccesary to support this hypothesis) before migrating, they could have slowly migrated, via boat, island to island, across the pacific, or they might simply have taken that long to become numerous enough to counteract whatever dominant influence was previously in the region. Keep in mind that the Toltecs were a remarkably advanced civilization whose origins are still a bit questionable. It is possible that a group of a few migrated, found solace in South America, and eventually grew into many, joining or subjugating the existing people already present.

Additionally, I present you with this smoking gun...

"The Toltecs of Mexico have a legend that the age of the 'first world' lasted 716 years, after which man and all the earth were destroyed by floods and lightening, except for those who escaped in a toptlipetlacali, or closed chest. After multiplying, they built a huge tower to take refuge when the world would again be destroyed."

I'm not sure which book this comes from, but it's either
"A Toltec Path : A User's Guide to the Teachings of Don Juan Matus, Carlos Castaneda, and Other Toltec Seers" by Ken Eagle Feather -or-
"The Promise of Power : Reflections on the Toltec Warriors' Dialogue from the Collected Works of Carlos Castaneda" by Tomas

Note the similarity to the story of Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babylon, and now take into account the addition of the symbol of Ouroboros found in their culture.


Originally posted by Byrd
and there's no evidence of people crossing the Atlantic or Pacific who might have had the symbol...


Again, on the contrary, there are numerous archeological finds that prove people have been migrating to "The New World" repeatedly throughout history, though in relatively few numbers each time.


Originally posted by Byrd
"Kennewick Man" (arguably a Caucasian) is dated to 12,000-13,000 years and there are no ourouboros symbols in the rock art or the pottery down the California coast or in the Pueblos.


In that statement you argue apples against oranges, then proceed to make a very broad and bold statement that is, coincidentally, incorrect. Again, I must state that I am not saying that the first inhabitants of South America were those who fled from the Tower of Babylon. I contend that they JOINED the existing peoples there, and took their symbol with them. Secondly, and this will take some time to find, there -are- examples of the Ouroboros occuring throughout a number of Native American art, and in some cases, it is altered by the existing culture into something only slightly less recognizable, until you take into account the evolution of the symbol. One, I have seen personally, with my own eyes, from my own tribe, the Sac & Fox. "The Underwater Panther"...ergh... more on this later, it's late, and I need to paste some more stuff from my notes before I go to bed...



posted on Nov, 29 2004 @ 10:17 PM
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Keep in mind, I'm posting this directly from my notes. It remains unedited, and in some cases, unverified, in very rough format...

===========
OUROBOROS - TIMELINE
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~4000 BC = On exhibit in the Louvre is a green libation vase, which was excavated from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Lagash. The inscription on it, from King Gudea of Lagash circa 2025 BC, is a dedication to Ningizzida. Also on the vase is an image of two entwined snakes on a rod. Some have dated the vase as far back as 4000 B.C. The rod is most likely to be Axis Mundi, the world tree, Yggdrasil, the tree of life. Ningizzida, a fertility god, was also known as 'Lord of the Tree of Life'. He was often depicted as a serpent with a human head, and later became a god of healing and magic.

There are two serpentine symbols associated with medicine today, the staff of Aesculapius (Symbol of the AMA) and the Cadeuceus. The Cadeuceus is a figure that consists of two entwined serpents encircling a wand or rod. It was carried by Hermes in Greek myths and Mercury in Roman mythology as the messenger of the gods. It was a symbol of authority and protected the herald who carried it.

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3113 BC - Aztec Seven-Segmented Ouroboros.
The fifth Aztec age was initiated by the dragon Quetzalcoatl in 3,113 B.C. and is due to complete its cycle on Dec. 21, 2012. Is it just a coincidence that this happens to be the next Chinese year of the Dragon?

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1700-1600 BC = Appearance of Ouroboros again in Egypt. Through the years the serpent moved on to the Phoenicians and the Greeks-who were what gave it the name "Ouroboros." The Greek translation means, "tail eater." Phoenicians have represented it in their temples as a dragon curled in a circle and devouring its tail, to denote the way in which the world feeds on itself and returns on itself ...

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1122 BC, the official records of the Zhou dynasty stated that three different versions of the IChing existed, (although only the one that we use today has survived).

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1200 BC = "The symbol Ouroboros, a snake or dragon biting its own tail, engraved on a bronze receptacle from the Chou dynasty, China about 1200 B.C. The Ouroboros symbolizes the continuity of life, and intimates that each ending in a perpetual renewal corresponds to a new beginning. A suitable symbol for the life cycle philosophy"

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~600 AD - Tower of Babylon -
Babylon itself was begun about 3500 years ago. Archaeologists examining the remains of the city of Babylon have found what appears to be the foundation of the tower: a square of earthen embankments some three-hundred feet on each side. The tower's most splendid incarnation was probably under King Nebuchadnezzar II who lived from 605-562 BC. The King rebuilt the tower to stand 295 feet high. According to an inscription made by the king the tower was constructed of "baked brick enameled in brilliant blue." The terraces of the tower may have also been planted with flowers and trees.

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4th century BC - 5th century AD. - "The Chrysopoeia ('Gold-Making') of Cleopatra during the Alexandrian Period. The enclosed words mean ' the all is one.'" The same source also explains that: "In the above drawing, from a book by an early Alchemist, Cleopatra, the black half symbolizes the Night, Earth, and the destructive force of nature, yin. the light half represents Day, Heaven, the generative, creative force, yang. Alchemically, the ouroboros is also used as a purifying glyph ...The 'tail-devourer' is the symbolization of concepts such as completion, perfection and totality, the endless round of existence, etc. It is usually represented as a worm or serpent with its tail in its mouth."

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388 BC-315 BC - Heraklides of Pontus (Greek). There is another mention of the Ouroboros laying at the edge of "the sea which surrounds the world," called Pontus.

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360 BC - Plato's Timaeus
"It had no need of eyes, for there was nothing outside it to be seen; nor of ears, for there was nothing outside to be heard. There was no surrounding air to be breathed, nor was it in need of any organ by which to supply itself with food or to get rid of it when digested. Nothing went out from or came into it anywhere, for there was nothing. Of design it was made thus, its own waste providing its own food, acting and being acted upon entirely with and by itself, because its designer considered that a being which was sufficient unto itself would be far more excellent than one which depended upon anything." from Timaeus, (33 -The Construction of the World)

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360 BC - Phaedrus (by Plato)
Socrates knowing, says in the Phaedrus, that souls are carried round in a circle, revolving under intelligibles as objects of desire, being at different times happily affected by different things, and returning from the same objects to the same.

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140 AD - The Nag Hammadi Library -
In December 1945, a most startling discovery was made. Two Egyptian fellahin [(fel"a-hen'), Arabic for a peasant or agricultural laborer] were digging for natural fertilizer in the Nile River valley at the foot of a most marvelous cliff called the Jabal al-Tarif near the town of Nag Hammadi when they happened to unearth a sealed storage jar. The jar lain buried there in the sand for centuries. This manuscript discovery consists of thirteen codices, or books, containing some 52 texts, the majority of which were previously unknown. Most of the texts reflect the teachings of a mystical, esoteric religious movement commonly known as Gnosticism (from the Greek word gnosis, "knowledge").

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~175 AD - Codex Marcianus
It sometimes bears the caption Hen to pan - 'The One, the All', as in the Codex Marcianus, for instance, of the 2nd century A.D.

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3rd Century AD - Greek Papyrus
The world snake (ouroboros) in the form of an amulet in a Greek magical papyrus of the 3rd century A.D. The amulet, which is the name and seal "of the might of the great god," protects its owner "against demons, against spirits, against all illness and suffering." The inscription consists of magical words and signs (inter alia Yaeo) and the formula: "Protect me, NN, body and soul from all injury."

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~ 700AD - the serpent Jormungandr, from the myth of Yggdrasil
"The days will grow colder until even Urda well freezes solid. Storm and sleet will pound the World-Tree. One of Yggdrasil's branches will break and fall, striking Jormungand, the world serpent, which immediately will let go of its tail...Thor will kill Jormungand with his hammer, Mjollnir, but then will take nine steps backwards and fall down, poisoned by the serpent's venom."

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1100 AD - AZTECs.

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16th and 17th Centuries - Alciato's Book of Emblems
The fourth ouroboros is from Alciato's Book of Emblems and the Memorial Web Library at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The latter source also provided the fifth example (Emblem 2.40) and the following amplification:
Emblem 2.40 from George Wither's A Collection of Emblemes, Ancient and Moderne (London, 1635), page 102. A demanding poem to read on a screen. The plate was engraved by Crispin de Passe and son, and was first used in Gabriel Rollenhagen's Nucleus emblematum selectissimorum, quae Itali vulgo impresas vocant ... (Arnhem and Utrecht, 1611-13). The Greek running around the picture (aionion kai proskairon) means something like "timeless, and timely." In a later emblem (3.23) Wither explains further the snake swallowing its tail (ouroboros):
Old Sages by the Figure of the Snake
Encircled thus) did oft expression make
Of Annual-Revolutions; and of things,
Which wheele about in everlasting-rings;
There ending, where they first of all begun ..
... These Roundells, help to shew the Mystery
of that immense and blest Eternitie,
From whence the CREATURE sprung, and into whom
It shall again, with full perfection come ...

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1625 - "The Book of Lambspring"

The Book of Lambspring is well known as one of the gems from the Musaeum Hermeticum published in 1625 by Lucas Jennis in Frankfurt, especially for its series of fifteen emblematic plates. It seems that this little book was first published, under the title De Lapide PhilosophicoTriga Chemicum (Prague 1599) compiled by the Frenchman Nicolas Barnaud prominent in the alchemical circles around Rudolf II. However, this tract and its emblemmatic drawings circulated in manuscript during the last two decades of the 16th century, as is attested by a number of copies dated to this period which still survive in libraries and special collections today. [Of these we might mention Ms 16752 in the National Museum in Nurnberg, and the manuscript copy in the University of Leiden.] Emblem 6 is a clear statement of the Ouroborus, the serpent dragon that siezes its own tail and unites these polarities in forming its circle in the Soul.

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1864 - Famous Dream - German chemist Friedrich August Kekule. Kekule's fame rests in large part on his discovery of the chemical structure of the benzene molecule in 1864.
"I was sitting writing on my textbook, but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes...My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke..."

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* links have been made to the description of the 22-letter Hebrew language (as described in the Hebrew book of creation Sefer Yetzirah), and the 22 major arcane Tarot cards each corresponding to the 22 amino acid and punctuation groups of DNA.

* Several modern books like the Tao of Chaos have demonstrated extraordinary similarities that link the IChing to modern knowledge of DNA structures. [18] Basically, DNA comprises of four code letters, A, T, C and G. These are combined into sets of three, known as codons. This means that there are 4 x 4 x 4 = 64 combinations available, and the I Ching also has 64 combinations.

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Okay... time for bed...



posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 08:34 AM
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Originally posted by Byrd
(RE: throughout Polynesian islands from the East Asian coast to the West American costs, as well as native American Indian tribes, there are stories that very closely mirror that of the Tower of Babylon, some even referencing an actual Tower.)

Sources? I'm not as familiar with Pacific Rim mythology... and I haven't really seen anything in Native American mythology that I thought mirrored it. I love folklore, though, and would appreciate being pointed to tales.


In addition to the story I mentioned above, 2 posts ago, here are two more that I didn't have the file to, last night...

Excerpt from THE CREATION (N. American - Maidu Tribe)
"...Everyone spoke the same language, but that changed a year later. The people were about to have another burning. The night before the games were to begin, Earth-Initiate came and made it such that everyone spoke a different language. However, each man and his wife spoke the same language. In the morning, Ku'ksuu called everyone together; Earth-Initiate had told him to do that. Ku'ksuu was able to speak all the languages. He instructed the people on what to call the animals in their own languages. Then he told them how to cook, hunt, and do other things. After that, Ku'ksuu called each of the tribes by name. He sent them on their separate ways. The warriors went north and singers migrated to the west. The flute-players traveled to the east and the dancers went south...."

Excerpt from ESKIMO LEGEND (N. American - Inuit Trive)
"...at the dawn of the world, there was no difference between men and animals; all creatures lived in harmony on the face of the Earth, and any creature could transform itself into any other creature in order to gain greater mutual understanding. Men turned into fish, fish turned into men, and they all spoke the same language.
'At the time,' the legend goes on, 'words were magical, and the spiritual world was lavish in its blessings. A chance remark could have strange consequences; you had only to express a wish for that wish to be fulfilled. Then the creatures began to abuse this power. Confusion reigned and wisdom was lost."

There are yet more, which are buried within my notes at home (hundreds of pages)...



posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 10:24 AM
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Interesting stuff!

Will write more later (I've got a term paper due), but I would point out that Castaneda has been very thoroughly discredited. He fabricated his original research, apparently, and has been lambasted in many places for his academic opportunism and bad scholarship.

Don't have direct links, but I am not sure I'd trust Castaneda's report without supporting evidence.

(grin) My bad on the dates! That's what comes of pulling dates out of memory instead of dongthe research! I'd intended to take Mayan studies next semester, but some changes in finances may make this impossible now.



posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 12:03 PM
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Sir Laurence Gardner relates the symbol to the holy grail or "Sang real" which literally means "royal blood" and was adopted by early gnostics, alleged keepers of the holy grail. Except he portrays the holy grail as the secret of Jesus' children and their lineage, not as a sacred chalice.

Many societies have worshipped and adorned themselves with the dragon symbol and even anointed themselves using crocodile fat, "messiah" was actually derived from the egyptian word "messah" which means dragon.

The infinite nature of the symbol is what intrigues me and I think it may mean something which modern civilization could not accept.

But great work, this may be the most interesting and well researched threads I have read!



posted on Nov, 30 2004 @ 12:04 PM
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Originally posted by Byrd
Will write more later (I've got a term paper due), but I would point out that Castaneda has been very thoroughly discredited. He fabricated his original research, apparently, and has been lambasted in many places for his academic opportunism and bad scholarship.

Don't have direct links, but I am not sure I'd trust Castaneda's report without supporting evidence.


Fair enough. Until I can cross reference the story from an additional source, or find evidence that this wasn't one of his fabrications, I won't consider it as verified.

This would be frustrating, if it weren't so much fun. I almost feel like a lawyer in court "Here's my witness" while the other lawyer discredits the witness... It's good to have someone intelligent to bounce this off of.



posted on May, 4 2009 @ 07:17 PM
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although i am aware this original tale was posted some time ago i was sincerely hoping that someone might be able to provide me with assistance prior to me creating a whole new journey

so far most intriguingly various sources have compiled a repository of information concerning the origins of the ouroborus symbology (and thanks go to you all)

my question however concerns what was the various names for the ouroborus symbol prior to the greek word ouroborus?

if the greeks did not invent the notion of ouroborus which i think most of us would agree they did not and therein only provided a name ie the serpent devouring its tail, what were the earlier renditions of this cyclical symbol named? ie the sumerian name for the ouroborus symbol?

so far i can only seem to locate information on later concepts such as yoruba oshunmare and mesopotamian quetzalcoatl; both of which refer to similar although quite different symbols and deities altogether then the ouroborus notion

what did the various chinese dynasties call this cyclical ouroborus symbol? other then going down the potential iching suggested path? even the egyptians much have had their own word for it rather then merely adopting the greeks?

any thoughts would be most appreciated

vamos

joshua



posted on May, 4 2009 @ 07:51 PM
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This might interest you - I hope the link arrives at page 86. Pictures d and e might be the sort of thing you're looking for.

books.google.co.uk... l=en&ei=MIr_Sa2oIIqRjAfY09yIBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3#PPA87,M1



posted on Aug, 8 2009 @ 08:26 AM
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I think most of the mystery of the Ouroboros can be unlocked by examining the mythology of ancient Sumeria, where the symbol was first found. Enki, one of the chief gods of Sumerian mythology had several symbols, including the snake or serpent and the double helix serpent (caduceus), which later became the symbol of the Greek god Hermes.

Enki was the original persona from which Lucifer, Prometheus, Ea, Thoth, Loki, and Hermes arose. The serpent was a global symbol for wisdom and knowledge, but took a violent turn for the worse. Religions started to condemn the serpent as the rival of the gods or of God himself. Hercules slayed the Hydra, Zeus defeated Typhon and sent him to Tartarus (Greek underworld), Thor fought Jormundgand (but did not manage to kill it), and the serpent is synonymous with evil in Christianity.

The similarity between the aforementioned personas lead me to think they are all based off the same character, the oldest one being Enki of the Sumerian mythology. Enki was involved in creating mankind and was the god of wisdom and magic. Enki helped out his creation often and was seen as a champion of mankind. Enki was credited with creating the Brotherhood of the Snake, the first secret society.

Enki defied his brother Enlil, the chief god, many times. Saving humans from the deluge was one such "offense." Prometheus tricked Zeus, the chief god, into giving mankind fire (which is symbolic for knowledge), and was then tied to a rock and punished with an eagle eating his liver for eternity. Loki, who was the father of Jormungand (the world serpent), angered the gods and was tied to a rock with a serpent dripping poison onto his face. A serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and was then cursed by God to crawl on it's belly. Lucifer or Satan, synonomous with the serpent (though no direct connection made in the Bible), rebelled against God and was cast into a pit of fire for eternity. (Lucifer and Satan are commonly identified as two different beings. I prefer Lucifer since the name means light-bearer, which is more analogous with the other symbology).

The symbols and stories are virtually the same. There is a reference to a serpent and fire or light. The two symbols tend to be found in unison (e.g. dragon) or close relation to one another in ancient mythologies. There is the god or entity which defies the gods and is damned. Given the ancient meaning of the serpent, Enki's identification with the serpent, and Enki's character (that of being a benefactor towards mankind and an agitator to his half-brother Enlil) I think there is broad answer to what the Ouroboros means. I think it stood for knowledge which was given from Enki himself to mankind. Perhaps this knowledge was of the soul, magic, and/or the true nature of the universe, and perhaps more. If that is so it would make very much sense as to why the symbol of the serpent became demonized by religions.

Of course, this all makes even more sense if you were to believe that our history on this planet has been one of extraterrestrial intervention and manipulation. Particularly one where the capricious, deluge inducing "gods" gained the adoration, obedience and fear of the masses. This perspective also makes it easier to reconcile the similarity in stories between ancient cultures across continents, as well as the coherent importance of some of these shared aspects and symbols of culture.

Lastly, I don't think alchemy started with Hermes Trismegistus, not the Greek one at least. The Emerald Tablets of Thoth have been claimed as the works from which alchemy supposedly originated. Thoth and Hermes have been acknowledged to be the same. Since they are versions of Enki, I will assume alchemy had it's real origins in Sumeria. Alchemy was practiced in Mesopotamia. If alchemy's origins indeed lie with Enki it would be expected to see a serpent as a common and important symbol in alchemy. Indeed there is the Ouroboros.

[edit on 8-8-2009 by philosopherstone]



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