Imbolc, also known as the Feast of Brigid, celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring on February 1. It is one of the four major ‘fire’ festivals (quarter days, referred to in Irish mythology from medieval Irish texts. The other three festivals on the old Irish calendar are Beltane…
Bring back the snakes (i.e. the ancient Celtic religions) to Ireland. Let today be a celebration of the snakes returning 🙂
From Niall O’Riordan:
“I believe St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland is an allegory. In many cultures the snake is a symbol of wisdom. Therefore, this could be interpreted as him driving out the ancient wisdom of the Celts. And you know where that got us…
Ireland is a holy land, it has a rich heritage, wisdom and magic waiting to be reclaimed. My beautiful country is slowly recovering from the abuse, oppression and superstition the Roman Catholic church has inflicted for hundreds of years.
So, today I will be celebrating all that is good about Ireland and dedicating my magical work towards Ireland rediscovering those snakes!
May she awaken!
Have a great Paddy’s Day!”
Wishing you all great happiness and light today!
Fairy Tree, Dingle, Co Kerry. Usually a lone Hawthorn, treated with great respect. People leave gifts in the hope of good fortune, receiving healing, or for prayers to be answered. Fairy trees were often seen as doorways to another realm, and offerings were a form of appeasement. With later Christianization, trees often became dedicated to the local saint and offerings continued.
Excellent article on one of my favorite filmmakers.
“There’s a moment in Hayao Miyazaki’s film My Neighbor Totoro that’s stuck with me since I first watched it a decade ago. Satsuki Kusakabe is searching for her missing sister, Mei. Looking for help, she sprints towards the huge camphor tree where the magical creature Totoro lives. She pauses for a moment at the entrance to a Shinto shrine that houses Totoro’s tree, as if considering praying there for Totoro’s help. But then she runs back to her house and finds her way to Totoro’s abode through the tunnel of bushes where Mei first encountered him. Totoro summons the Catbus, which whisks Satsuki away to where Mei is sitting, beside a lonely country road lined with small statues of Jizo, the patron bodhisattva of children.
It’s Satsuki’s hesitation in front of the shrine’s entrance that sticks with me, and what it says about the nature of spirits and religion in the film. We don’t really think of the movies of Hayao Miyazaki as religious or even spiritual, despite their abundant magic, but some of his most famous works are full of Shinto and Buddhist iconography—like those Jizo statues, or the sacred Shimenawa ropes shown tied around Totoro’s tree and marking off the river god’s bath in Spirited Away. Miyazaki is no evangelist: the gods and spirits in his movies don’t follow or abide by the rituals of religion. But the relationship between humans and gods remains paramount.”
Miyazaki’s gods and spirits aren’t explicitly based on any recognizable Japanese “kami” (a word that designates a range of supernatural beings, from the sun goddess Amaterasu to the minor spirits of sacred rocks and trees). In fact, whether Totoro is a Shinto spirit or not is a mystery. He lives in a sacred tree on the grounds of a Shinto shrine. The girls’ father even takes them there to thank Totoro for watching over Mei early in the film. But Satsuki calls Totoro an “obake,” a word usually translated as “ghost” or “monster.” Miyazaki himself has insisted that Totoro is a woodland creature who eats acorns. Is he a Shinto spirit? A monster? An animal? A figment of the girls’ imaginations? The film—delightfully—not only doesn’t answer the question, it doesn’t particularly care to even ask it.”
The Festivals and Their Meaning:
Schmidt Number: S-0994
On-line since: 23rd December, 1999
On The Three Magi
(Extract from a lecture)
Berlin, 30th December, 1904
You will remember that I have spoken of the meaning of the Christmas Festival in its connection with the evolution of races, or, better said, the epochs of civilisation, and indeed the significance of the Festival lies in this very connection both in respect of the past and of the future.
I want to speak to-day about a Festival to which in modern times less importance is attached than to the Christmas Festival itself, namely, the Festival of the Three Kings, of the Magi who came from the East to greet the newly born Jesus. This Festival of the Epiphany (celebrated on the 6th of January) will assume greater and greater significance when its symbolism is understood.
It will be obvious to you that very profound symbolism is contained in the Festival of the Three Magi from the East. Until the 15th century, this symbolism was kept very secret and no definite indications were available. But since that century some light has been thrown on the Festival of the Magi by exoteric presentations. One of the Three Kings — Caspar — is portrayed as a Moor, an inhabitant of Africa; one as a white man, a European — Melchior; and one — Balthasar — as an Asiatic; the colour of his skin is that of an inhabitant of India. They bring Myrrh, Gold and Frankincense as offerings to the Child Jesus in Bethlehem.
These three offerings are full of meaning and in keeping with the whole symbolism of the Festival celebrated on the 6th of January. Exoterically, the date itself throws some light; esoterically, the Festival is pregnant with meaning. The 6th of January is the same date as that on which, in ancient Egypt, the Festival of Osiris was celebrated, the Festival of the re-finding of Osiris. As you know, Osiris was overcome by his enemy Typhon: Isis seeks and eventually finds him. This re-finding of Osiris, the Son of God, is represented in the Festival of the 6th of January. The Festival of the Three Kings is the same Festival, but in its Christian form. This Festival was also celebrated among the Assyrians, the Armenians and the Phoenicians. Everywhere it is a Festival connected with a kind of universal baptism — a rebirth from out of the water. This in itself points to the connection with the re-finding of Osiris.
What does the disappearance of Osiris signify? It signifies the transition from the epoch before the middle of the Lemurian race to the epoch after the middle of that race. Before the middle of the Lemurian race, no human being was endowed with Manas. It was not until the middle of the race that Manas came down as a fertile seed into men. Manas (Spirit-Self) was now disseminated among men and in each single individual a grave was created for Manas — for the dismembered Osiris. The Divine Manas was disseminated and thereafter dwelt in men. In the Egyptian Mystery-language, the bodies of men were called the ‘graves of Osiris’ Manas was fettered until it was freed by the new revelation of Love.
What is the new revelation, the new manifestation of Love? The descent of Manas somewhere around the middle of the Lemurian epoch, was accompanied by the penetration into mankind of the principle of desire, or passion. Before that time there had been no desire-principle in the real sense. The animals of the preceding epochs were cold-blooded; even man himself at that time, had no warm blood. In the Old Moon period and, correspondingly, in the Third Earth-Round, men may be likened to fishes, in the sense that their own warmth and the warmth of their environment were equal in degree. Of this epoch the Bible says: ‘The Spirit of God brooded over the waters.’ The principle of Love was not within the beings, but outside, manifesting as earthly Kama (that is to say, earthly passion or desire). Kama is egotistic love. The first bringer of Love free of all egoism is Christ Who appeared in the body of Jesus of Nazareth.
Who are the Magi? They represent the Initiates of the three preceding races or epochs of culture, the Initiates of mankind up to the time of the coming of Christ, the Bringer of the Love that is free of egoism — the resurrected Osiris. The Initiates — and so too the Three Magi — were endowed with Manas. They bring gold, frankincense and myrrh as their offerings. And why are their skins of three colours: white, yellow and black? One is European — his skin is white; one is Indian — his skin is yellow; one is African — his skin is black. This indicates the connection with the so-called Root Races. The remaining survivors of the Lemurian race are black; those of the Atlantean race are yellow; and the representatives of the Fifth Root Race, the Post-Atlantean or Aryan race, are white.
Thus the Three Kings or Magi are representatives of the Lemurians, the Atlanteans and the Aryans. They bring the three offerings. The European (Melchior) brings gold, the symbol of wisdom, of intelligence which comes to expression paramountly in the Fifth Root Race. The offering of the Initiate representing the Fourth Root Race (Balthasar) is frankincense, connected with what was intrinsically characteristic of the Atlanteans. They were united more directly with the Godhead, a union which took effect as a suggestive influence, a kind of universal hypnosis. This union with the Godhead is betokened by the offering. Feeling must be sublimated in order that God may fertilise it. This is expressed symbolically by the frankincense, which is the universal symbol for an offering that has something to do with Intuition.
In the language of esotericism, myrrh is the symbol of dying, of death. What is the meaning of dying and of resurrection, as exemplified in the resurrected Osiris? I refer you here to words of Goethe: “So long as thou hast it not, this dying and becoming, thou’rt but a dull guest on the dark earth.” Jacob Boehme expresses the same thought in the words: “He who dies not ere he dies, perishes when he dies.” Myrrh is the symbol of the dying of the lower life and the resurrection of the higher life. It is offered by the Initiate representing the Third Root Race (Lemurian). A deep meaning lies in this. Jesus of Nazareth is a very highly developed individuality. In the thirtieth year of his life he gives up his own life to the descending Christ, the descending Logos. All this the Magi foresaw. The great sacrifice made by Jesus of Nazareth is that he gave up his ‘ I ’ to make way for the Second Logos. There is a definite reason for this sacrifice. Not until the Sixth Root Race will it become possible, and then only gradually, for the human body to receive into itself the Christ Principle from childhood onwards. Only then, in the Sixth Root Race, will mankind have reached such maturity that the body will not need years of preparation but will be able from the beginning, to receive the Christ Principle. In the fourth sub-race of the Fifth Root Race it was necessary for a body to be prepared for thirty years. (In the Northern regions we find something similar, in that the personality of Sig was so prepared that he could place his body at the disposal of a higher Being, and, in fact, did so). In the Sixth Root Race it will be possible for a man to place his body at the disposal of a sublime Being, as did Jesus of Nazareth when Christianity was founded. At the time of the founding of Christianity it was still necessary for an advanced individuality to sacrifice his own ‘ I ’ and send it into the astral realm, in order that the Logos might dwell in the body. This is an act upon which light is shed by the last words on the Cross. What other meaning could these words contain: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” These words give expression to the mystical fact then consummated. At the moment of Christ’s death, the Divine Being had departed from the body, and it is the body of Jesus of Nazareth that utters these words — a body so highly developed that it could voice the reality. And so these words give expression to an event of untold significance. All this is represented by the myrrh. Myrrh is the symbol of sacrifice, of death, the sacrifice of the earthly in order that the Higher may come to life. In the middle of the Lemurian epoch, Osiris came to his grave; Manas drew into human beings. Men were educated under the guidance of the Initiates until the principle of Love (Budhi) could shine forth in Christ Jesus. Budhi is the heavenly Love. The lower, sexual principle is ennobled through the Christ Love. Kama is purified in the fire of the Divine Love.
Melchior is the representative of the principle of wisdom, of intelligence — the task of the Fifth Root Race. This is symbolised by his offering — gold.
The principle of sacramental offering is represented by the frankincense. This offering symbolises the principle that was dominant in the Fourth Root Race, the Atlantean. The task of Christianity is fulfilled in the Sixth Root Race, when material existence will be fraught with sacramentalism and sacramental deeds. Sacraments have very largely lost their meaning to-day; the feeling of their significance has disappeared. But this feeling will be kindled to life again when the higher man is born. It is this that is symbolised by the frankincense.
In the Lemurian Race, Osiris meets his death, in the Sixth Root Race, Osiris is resurrected.
Thus the offerings made by the Three Kings indicate the connection of the Festival with the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Root Races. By what are the Three Holy Kings guided, and whither are they led? They are guided by a Star to a grotto, a cave in Bethlehem. This is something that can be understood only by one who has knowledge of the so-called lower, or astral mysteries. To be led by a Star means nothing else than to see the soul itself as a Star. But when is the soul seen as a Star? When a man can behold the soul as a radiant aura. But what kind of aura is so radiant that it can be a guide? There is the aura that glimmers with only a feeble light; such an aura cannot guide. There is a higher aura, that of the intelligence, which has, it is true, a flowing, up-surging light, but is not yet able to guide. But the bright aura, aglow with Budhi, is in very truth a Star, is a radiant guide. In Christ, the Star of Budhi lights up — the Star which accompanies the evolution of mankind. The Light that shines before the Magi is the soul of Christ Himself. The Second Logos Himself shines before the Magi and over the cave in Bethlehem.
The grotto or cave is the body wherein dwells the soul. The seer beholds the body from within. In astral vision, everything is reversed — for example, 365 instead of 563. The human body is seen as a cave, a hollow. In the body of Jesus shines the Christ Star, the soul of Christ. This must be conceived as a reality, taking place in the astral world. It is an enactment of the Lesser Mysteries. There, in very truth, the Christ Soul shines as an auric Star, and it is by this Star that the Initiates of the three Root Races are led to Jesus in Bethlehem.
The Festival of the Three Kings is celebrated every year on the 6th of January, and its significance will steadily increase. Men will understand more and more what a Magi is, and what the great Magi, the Masters, are. And then understanding of Christianity will lead to understanding of spiritual science.
Every year at Christmas, I think about the ancient traditions that usher in the winter season. These folk beliefs form the foundation of how we celebrate the holidays in modern times. Why do we bring an evergreen tree into our livingrooms? Who is St. Nicholas? Why is Christmas red and green?
If you take a step back, keep an open mind and do some research, it’s easy to see that many of these traditions are symbols for winter survival. An evergreen tree stays green despite being blanketed by snow. The Christmas lights we hang are a representation of the fire of life going strong through the winter darkness. The gathering together of family to feast and exchange gifts comes from our interdependent, tribal origins. And the celebration of the birth of Jesus comes from the Winter Solstice.
December 21st is the longest night and the shortest day of the year. It is brought about by the turning of the Earth and happens every year without fail, just as the Sun rises and sets everyday. At the Winter Solstice, the Sun is “reborn” for the coming year and the days literally become longer. The light increases. Not surprising that Jesus’s birthday is celebrated near the solstice, because it is synonymous with the birth of light.
There is no solid evidence that Jesus ever existed on earth, but the story of his life mirrors many ancient myths from cultures all over the world. It is the story of the sacrificed King, who’s death brings about the bounty of crops and the survival of the people.
From the “Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets” by Barbara Walker: “It seems Jesus was not one person but a composite of many… He was eaten in the form of bread as were Adonis, Osiris, Dionysus and others… Like Attis, Jesus was sacrificed at the Spring Equinox and rose again from the dead on the third day, when he became God and ascended to heaven. Like Orpheus and Heracles, he ‘harrowed hell’ and brought a secret of eternal life, promising to draw all men with him up to glory (John 12:32). Like Mithra and all the other solar gods, he celebrated a birthday nine months later at the Winter Solstice… ”
It’s more than interesting, it’s important. It’s vital to our sense of humanity – to be open to learning how our social structures developed. It’s more important than ever this Christmas to love our fellow man and respect his path. I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas holiday. The article below is a bit of fun too 🙂
Via NBC News:
A team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that is engraved with what they believe could be the world’s first known reference to Christ.
If the word “Christ” refers to the Biblical Jesus Christ, as is speculated, then the discovery may provide evidence that Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world.
Team leader Frank Goddio of the Oxford Center for Maritime Archaeology, said that “It could very well be a reference to Jesus Christ, in that he was once the primary exponent of white magic.”
The jury’s still out on whether the bowl is actually referring to the real Jesus Christ, but there’s no hiding the fact that even the prophet’s contemporaries compared his abilities to sorcery (Jesus was often accused of using demons to do his bidding).
Similar to the Jewish mystic Elijah (the undisputed patron of Lurianic Kabbalah and rider of fire chariots), the real Jesus was a wonder-worker who could freely go in and out of Super-Saiyan-mode. After his death, he was often linked with the Roman cult-hero Mithras and the magician Apollonius of Tyana, both pagan figures. Jesus’ “magical” side certainly wasn’t always unknown to modern thinkers. It was the 16th century philosopher Giordano Bruno who was one of the first to suggest that the real Jesus was just an extremely talented mage.
The engraving ‘could very well be a reference to Jesus Christ, in that he was once the primary exponent of white magic.’
Was Jesus Christ the magician? Times of Jesus Christ were imbued with magic and in the Hellenistic period of time, the lands around the Mediterranean have mixed different religions, traditions, philosophies and superstitions.
The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Jews were convinced that it is possible to possess the power of the gods, demons and spirits, and use it for your own purposes.
“The important thing was his power to do miracles,” writes Morton Smith in “Jesus, the Magician” and adds that “even the stories that seem to deny Jesus’ power to do miracles take for granted his reputation as a miracle worker…”
The ‘Book of Matthew’ refers to “wisemen,” or Magi, believed to have been prevalent in the ancient world. Egyptologist David Fabre, a member of the European Institute of Submarine Archaeology says the bowl is also very similar to one depicted in two early Egyptian earthenware statuettes depicting a soothsaying ritual.
“It has been known in Mesopotamia probably since the 3rd millennium B.C.,” Fabre said. “The soothsayer interprets the forms taken by the oil poured into a cup of water in an interpretation guided by manuals. The “magus” could have practiced fortune telling rituals using the bowl to legitimize his supernatural powers by invoking the name of Christ,” according to Goddio and Fabre.
“It is very probable that in Alexandria they were aware of the existence of Jesus” and of his associated legendary miracles, such as transforming water into wine, multiplying loaves of bread, conducting miraculous health cures, and the story of the resurrection itself,” according to Goddio.
The Bible reports that Jesus was accused of practicing magic, and the second century Roman philosopher Celus is quoted in the writings of the early Christian apologist Origen as saying that Jesus learned the arts of magic on Egypt, and then returned to his own country with these acquired skills.”
This scared the heck outta me when I was a little girl 🙂
The video below is one of my favorite illustrations of Earth elementals, the spirit world, and how our ancestors might have seen them. Ancient humans lived in a world of myth and folklore that was as real as the physical world. I believe these old ways of viewing the world are seeing a resurgence today.
I like how this film shows the mystery of a mountain, and the wildness of nature outside of the village. How his shadow over the land is what causes the dead to rise, and they fly up to him on the winds, then dance in the fires. And I love how he starts doing magick with fire and energy.
Halloween is such a special day. It’s a very old festival, and marks one of the many yearly connection points where we can rise above the physical world and connect with the ephemeral. We connect in a primal way to our planet and what it means to be human.
If you’ve never seen this footage of the demon on the mountain, check it out!
…and here’s the second part where the spirits go back to their graves and wait for the next Halloween…
The ancient symbol of a snake eating it’s tail touches every culture on our planet. Here’s a fun (but incomplete) journey into the history of this magical symbol by Ellie Crystal:
“The Ouroboros is believed to have been inspired by the Milky Way.
Ancient texts refer to a serpent of light residing in the heavens
which, according to Ancient Alien Theory, was a spaceship or stargate.
Mythology: The Milky Way galaxy keeps a time cycle that ends in catastrophic change when the serpent eats its tail (at the end of the tale of this reality.) Suntelia Aion is the sun rising out of the mouth of the ouroboros, which allegedly occurs December 21, 2012 – representing the evolution of consciousness in the alchemy of time.
The Ouroboros and the Tree of Life
Origins of the Ouroboros
Papyrus of Dama Heroub Egypt, 21st Dynasty
The serpent or dragon eating its own tail has survived from antiquity and can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, circa 1600 B.C.E. It is contained in the Egyptian Book of the Netherworld. The Ouroboros was popular after the Amarna period.
In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the self-begetting sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning, and the deceased wishes to turn into the shape of the snake Sato (“son of the earth”), the embodiment of Atum.
The famous Ouroboros drawing from the early alchemical text The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra dating to 2nd century Alexandria encloses the words hen to pan, “one is the all”. Its black and white halves represent the Gnostic duality of existence. As such, the Ouroboros could be interpreted as the Western equivalent of the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol. The Chrysopoeia Ouroboros of Cleopatra is one of the oldest images of the Ouroboros to be linked with the legendary opus of the Alchemists, the Philosopher’s Stone.
Plato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe – an immortal, mythologically constructed beast. 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.
All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet. In Gnosticism, this serpent symbolized eternity and the soul of the world.
Because the Albigenses came from Armenia, where Zoroastrianism and Mithra worship were common, it may be that the symbol entered their iconography via the Zoroastrian Faravahar symbol, which in some versions clearly features an ouroboros at the waist instead of a vague disc-shape.
In Mithran mystery cults the figure of Mithra being reborn (one of the things he is famous for) is sometimes seen wrapped with an ouroboros, indicating his eternal and cyclic nature, and even references which do not mention the ouroboros refer to this circular shape as symbolizing the immortality of the soul or the cyclic nature of Karma, suggesting that the circle retains its meaning even when the details of the image are obscured.
The Double Triangle of Solomon
Ouroboros symbolism has been used to describe Kundalini energy. According to the 2nd century 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” (1.82). Another interpretation is that Kundalini equates to the entwined serpents of the Caduceus, the entwined serpents representing commerce in the west or, esoterically, human DNA.
The Kirtimukha myth of Hindu tradition has been compared by some authors to Ouroboros.
Ouroboros… the dragon circling the tortoise which supports the four elephants that carry the world.
Chinese Ouroboros from Chou dynasty, 1200 BC.
The universe was early divided into Earth below and Heaven above. These, two as one, gave the idea of opposites but forming a unity. Each opposite was assumed to be powerful and so was their final unity. For creation of the universe they projected reproduction to conceive creation. Now reproduction results in the union of two opposites as male and female.
Correspondingly, the Chinese believed Light and Darkness, as the ideal opposites, when united, yielded creative energy. The two opposites were further conceived as matter and energy which became dual-natured but as one. The two opposites were yin-yang and their unity was called Chhi. Yin-Yang was treated separately in Chinese cosmology which consisted of five cosmic elements.
Since Chinese alchemy did reach Alexandria probably the symbol Yin-Yang, as dual-natured, responsible for creation, was transformed into a symbol called Ouroboros. It is a snake and as such as symbol of soul. Its head and anterior portion is red, being the color of blood as soul; its tail and posterior half is dark, representing body.
Ouroboros here is depicted white and black, as soul and body, the two as “one which is all.” It is cosmic soul, the source of all creation. Ouroboros is normally depicted with its anterior half as black but it should be the reverse as shown here. With the name Chemeia taken to Kim-Iya, the last word would take Ouroboros to Yin-Yang.
The serpent god Quetzalcoatl is sometimes portrayed biting his tail on Aztec and Toltec ruins. A looping Quetzalcoatl is carved into the base of the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, at Xochicalco, Mexico, 700-900 AD.
Seven-segmented Aztec Ouroboros
In Norse mythology, it appears as the serpent Jormungandr, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, who grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. In the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, such as Ragnarssona patter, the Geatish king Herraud gives a small lindworm as a gift to his daughter Pora Town-Hart after which it grows into a large serpent which encircles the girl’s bower and bites itself in the tail. The serpent is slain by Ragnar Lodbrok who marries Pora. Ragnar later has a son with another woman named Kraka and this son is born with the image of a white snake in one eye. This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.
Earthly Ouroboros from Alciato‘s Emblems
Oceanic Ouroboros from Alciato’s Emblems
The ouroboros is displayed on numerous Masonic seals,
frontispieces and other imagery, especially during the 17th century.
The Ouroboros is featured in the seal of the Theosophical Society
along with other traditional symbols.
Tarot and Watermarks
The Ouroboros symbol appears in both 14th- and 15th-century Albigensian-printing watermarks and is also worked into the pip cards of many early (14th-15th century) playing cards and tarot cards. Watermarks similar to those used by the Albigensians appear in early printed playing cards, suggesting that the Albigenses might have had contact with the early authors of tarot decks.
A commonly used early symbol – an ace of cups circled by an ouroboros – frequently appears among Albigensian watermarks. It is conceivable that this is the source of some of the urban legends associating this symbol with secret societies, because the Albigenses were closely associated with the humanist movement and the inquisition it sparked.
Alchemically, the ouroboros is also used as a purifying glyph. Ouroboros was and is the name for the Great World Serpent, encircling the Earth.
The word Ouroboros is really a term that describes a similar symbol which has been cross-pollinated from many different cultures. Its symbolic connotation from this owes to the returning cyclical nature of the seasons; the oscillations of the night sky; self-fecundation; disintegration and re-integration; truth and cognition complete; the Androgyny; the primeval waters; the potential before the spark of creation; the undifferentiated; the Totality; primordial unity; self-sufficiency, and the idea of the beginning and the end as being a continuous unending principle.
Ouroboros represents the conflict of life as well in that life comes out of life and death. ‘My end is my beginning.’ In a sense life feeds off itself, thus there are good and bad connotations which can be drawn. It is a single image with the entire actions of a life cycle – it begets, weds, impregnates, and slays itself, but in a cyclical sense, rather than linear.
Thus, it fashions our lives to a totality more towards what it may really be – a series of movements which repeat. “As Above, So Below” – we are born from nature, and we mirror it, because it is what man wholly is a part of. It is this symbolic rendition of the eternal principles that are presented in the Emerald Tablets of Thoth.
The Ouroboros connects the Above and Below
Connection between Man and God
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. It makes its way into our conscious mind time and time again in varying forms as the basic mandala of alchemy. Jung 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. In the age-old image of the ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself.’
The ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which […] unquestionably stems from man’s unconscious’. (Collected Works, Vol. 14 para.513)
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 19th century German chemist named Kekule dreamed of a snake with its tail in its mouth one day after dosing off. He had been researching the molecular structure of benzene, and was at a stop point in his work until after waking up he interpreted the dream to mean that the structure was a closed carbon ring. This was the breakthrough he needed.
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 the benzene ring.
… It seems that the Ouroboros is a powerful archetypal symbol, a part of our Spiritus Mundi, the collective unconscious which thrives within each soul.”
Reconstruction of Scythian horse trappings. Type of ornamental covering was found in royal burial mounds.
c. 5th century B.C.
Image source https://www.facebook.com/ostrovkrym.lab