images (1)ouroboros

The Ouroborus, the snake that bites its own tail –

It’s also called ‘Uroboros’ and ‘Oroborus’ and ‘Oroboros’ –

I recorded a dream I had last week Tuesday. I won’t duplicate it but the landscape of where I was, was interesting. It was in the bush. The building therein was a shell, unpainted walls, builders about. Then I was inside the building and there were people, a gay couple, women and others with children. There was more of the dream that followed –

The fourth and last part of the dream is recorded verbatim: ‘I went for walk in dark, around perimeter of place dragging a canvas on which I’d painted a uroboric snake’ –

For me this was a very striking dream – and one for which I have huge respect and gratitude. I was in the dark, walking around the perimeter of the place dragging a canvas on which I’d painted a uroboric snake.

I knew I had to honour the dream. It’s taken me over a week to ‘complete’ it which I did today and photographed it. In reality, actually in the dream, the canvas was white on which was a black ink or paint sketch of the ouroborus. So it was black and white. A duality maybe…

My initial sketch and paint on the day of my dream –

first oroborus_resized

Also, in these last several days, I fashioned a uoroborus from clay – it is now hard and I am thinking what I will ‘do’ with it … I may spray paint it – gold perhaps, or black with some gold flecks – who knows –

clay uroboros_resized

I found this a day or so ago, which I’d done last year with my left hand as my right hand at that stage was damaged and bandaged. I used silver and gold ink on my selected piece of black card. I wondered whether to incorporate the silver and gold into my current painting –

done on 13 Aug 2013 with left hand
Starburst – 3rd Aug 2013

I’ve so enjoyed reading about this ancient symbol. And also googling images of it. Most are very beautiful. I could have put up dozens and dozens – it was hard to select. Do check out some of the paintings of it. I went to ‘google images’ and typed up ‘oroborus’. It appears in many cultures from very early times … many of them are breathtakingly beautiful.

images (1)ouroboros3


uroborosPlato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe – an immortal, perfectly constructed animal.

In any event, the serpent is a symbol of so much. As is the ouroboros. Quite what my unconscious is bringing to my attention, I have no real idea; but is an affirmation I think of the endless cycle and paradox of life … things begin as they end. I may bring this idea into the book: ‘Aging & Becoming’ which Susan Schwartz in Phoenix and I are currently writing and editing.

This is my painting, completed today leaning against a wall –

own painting_resized

Do you ever have dreams in which the serpent appears? What do you make of them?

42 Comments on Ouroborus – the snake that bites its own tail

  1. I’m not a big fan of snakes at all, but this post fascinates me, Susan. I’ve never heard of a snake that eats its tail. The symbolism is very worthy of thought and exploration, as you have done so well in this post. Your painting and clay sculpture are unique, beautiful and inspiring. The random thought of bracelets came to my mind as I read this. I can picture a jeweler making this snake into a brilliant bangle of sorts, complete with necklace and earrings to match. The detail would be exquisite and beauty untold.

    • M.J. I’m just checking on my Ouroboros post from last year as I want to show my brother who is visiting and UNBELIEVABLY found your comment only now! I’m always on the lookout for a beautifully fashioned serpent bracelet; maybe a ring … I don’t wear earrings but can imagine pretty looped earrings; likewise a necklace.
      🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank you for coming by!

  2. Love your paintings, and the clay snake.
    In your dream you walked in the dark around the perimeter of the place, dragging a canvas on which you painted the uroborus snake. I understand the symbol as the primordial self from which all expressions are born. In your post is a painting (gold and silver in it) you did last year, with your left hand. It’s called ‘Starburst.’ This seems somehow significant, something creative being rounded up after a year has passed.

    • Ashen, thank you. You’ve put this very well … and have given me more to think about. Interestingly, this evening here in Plettenberg Bay I showed my son’s girlfriend the painting on this post – she is an artist – and we were talking a bit more about it. Again, there was elaboration. I had not thought about last year’s Starburst, left hand, and this is significant indeed. Thank you again for this association; a year later indeed. I am grateful 🙂

  3. Susan – what a fascinating post and dream. I have always been repulsed by snakes but have not studied about their meaning in ancient cultures. Your renderings and images of others’ depictions certainly entice me to google what you have suggested. ” things begin as they end” is such a compelling truth deserving of contemplation. And I see so many tangle patterns in these designs. Thank you!

    • Sammy, thank you so much! One can always beware of the ‘snake in the grass’ .. but tbere are countless ways of approaching the serpent. It is so fascinating. Give yourself time to research – I think you will be ‘enticed’ and find it very interesting 🙂 Much to think about.

      I’m glad you liked ‘things begin as they end’ …it is profound.

  4. I love the image of you, in your dream, dragging a canvas. Subconscious thoughts. Me–I’d never drag a canvas. I’m not a painter. You to your core are a painter.

    • Ha Ha! Pretty unconscious I agree .. I would also never drag a canvas, but I did – in my dream. And do, in real life, when I write on the blank canvas of a page .. I’m getting more clues to my dream as I write this. My writing can drag in real life and be a drag … maybe there’s a drag/on there somewhere .. who knows? You, to your core are a writer – and a painter. You paint your canvas with words.

  5. Very interesting post and comments…fascinating how symbols do indeed travel through all the ages of man…I’ve always found the Ouroborus intriguing and your painting at the end was excellent, would happily let it grace my walls. 🙂

    • Thanks Philippa for commenting and providing the link which I have just read. It made my blood corpuscles expand a little bit which happens when amazing synchronicities happen …

    • Stephanie, thank you. And also for so graciously nominating me for this lovely blogger award. I am going to hop over shortly to see your own perceptions of the Garden of Eden.

  6. Beautiful, Susan. Am always wildly impressed with artistic ability such as painting. I know a great many people with fear of snakes, but I see them as interesting creatures, slithering in the grass or desert, some possessing such a powerful defense mechanism. And, come to think of it, I have had snakes in my dreams. I think it is perhaps the universe’s way to connect us with other creatures. Tell us they are not as dangerous as we fear?
    Lovely post, and thank you for sharing your art with us.

    • Thank you Silvia! Yes, we do fear them don’t we. Maybe from the biblical stories of the serpent offering Eve the apple, and her’s and Adam’s banishment from the Garden of Eden? But, had the snake NOT offered Eve the apple, would any transformation have taken place? Who knows – There are so many ways of viewing the serpent …

  7. Wonderful, Susan, that you are able to delve comprehensively into your snake dream, to be able to replicate the image of the uroboros in art, various media thereof. I don’t dream of snakes, thankfully, and never saw a snake until I lived in Florida some 15 years ago. Then I didn’t see another until this year when in my backyard I tripped over a snake shedding its skin, and days later another snake, and weeks before those, a snake in a corner of my friend’s parlor with her cat avidly monitoring it. Hmmm….

    To me, your experience symbolizes lifetime cycles of karma/dharma. A good sign, and, possibly with working on your new book — the snake symbolizing aging and becoming — and relating that to your first book — Lilith, Eve & the Serpent in the Garden of Eden.

    Beautiful thought and artwork.

    Just a lovely post. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Samantha. Yes, I am pleased that I did what I did. I remember about the appearance of snake in your back yard and then in your friend’s parlour.
      Thank you for saying about the snake ‘ – symbolizing aging and becoming —’; yes, as we age, we have shed many skins indeed and emerge as something different ..

      • Right after you wrote this piece and I commented, I watched an episode of BBC’s “Endeavour” series featuring the infinity symbol as a potential clue. A character noted that the infinity symbol also symbolizes the ouroborus.

        • Nice bit of synchronicity there Samantha:) Truly, if you started googling some of the images or the writings on ouroboros you would never stop, as it is all so interesting and such food for thought. The infinity symbol also comes up many times.

  8. Susan, Very interesting what our dreams can tell us. I have had one for three nights in a row which I need to dissect.

    My former husband was a herpetologist, so fear of snakes isn’t an issue for me (even when I once discovered a rattler he’d hidden in a cabinet, so he could photograph it!). But symbolism is important and you’ve motivated me to work on discovering my recent exposure through my reoccurring dream.

    • Thank you Beth for commenting! Yes, dissect it and look at its anatomy with all its clothes removed – and get to the x-ray of it, even if it takes time. As Patricia said above (The English Professor), once she’s come to an ‘answer’ about her recurring dream, it stopped. They recur for a reason – so that the dreamer gets the message, Good luck. Even doing a rough sketch of the dominant image, if there is one, can release a clue perhaps –
      Have a lovely weekend!

  9. yes I have dreamed the serpent though nothing springs to mind to relate in this moment… for me I read transformation wisdom a breakthru a change coming depending on the context. also issues around death sexuality fear – that infinite cycle of life.
    how often we can chase our tails when all the time the ‘answer’ or way forward is (hidden ) directly in front of us.
    thank you for sharing your dream reflections and art with us. so beautiful how sharing opens doorways in anothers mind/heart.
    I salute you Susan.

    • Thank you Sandra. Yes, context is always important as is any theme from preceding and ongoing dreams. Simplistically, a snake sheds its skin – we also shed skin as we move through the cycles of life. Sometimes we refuse to move out of a skin that has become too tight and does not fit any more .. hidden from us, because we do not want to see what is in front of us?

  10. I hate snakes but read this blog post because I knew I would not be disappointed with you as the author. Your artistry with words and other media is amazing. It must feel good to express yourself so freely and with such great results.

    The snake has special meaning in Freudian and Jungian psychology I believe, but I would have to look it up. Provocative post, Susan.

    • Thank you Marian for your kind compliments! And for commenting! I would probably expire on the spot if I saw a snake in real life 🙂 Please note that 4 of the images were from google images – free to use.

      The Buddha, when he was under the Bo Tree about to reach his final stage of enlightenment, was being attacked by Mara and all her Furies to slay him. A cobra emerged from the shadows to offer the Buddha its hood for protection from Mara’s lightning slings. That which can kill can also cure … the snake venom is used in treatment of pain.. also, Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, is represented to this day as a healer carrying a staff, around which is wound the serpent. Moses cured the Israelites of the plagues (including a plague of serpents), by asking them to look upon the bronze serpent (Exodus)… much much more!

      A Freudian interpretation may make the interpretation of penis envy or something like that ..

      The myth of Lilith in the Garden of Eden as serpent who offered Eve the apple is also seen as the RISE from unconsciousness to consciousness, away from the undifferentiated blissful state of Paradise.

  11. As others commented, I had no idea you were so creative. Very intriguing art. I’ll explore the history of the Uroborus. When I explore my inner self, my dreams are of going into caves and cocoons. Oh yes, I’m learning to be comfortable with the real me, as my dreams of being out in the public nude no longer bother me… I’m comfortable now. Fortunately, I don’t dream of snakes.

    • Thank you Gwynn for coming by. Caves – a powerful symbol – as are cocoons. Who do we become when we emerge from the cocoon. Nakedness too – without masks, as naked as the day we were born.
      Snakes shed their skin, as do cocoons in a way …

  12. Dear Susan;
    One circle to another and each adding to this wonderful symbol of wholeness. What an auspicious offering the unconscious presented.
    Thank you for sharing this…

  13. Susan! Didn’t know you were such a brilliant artist…love it! The first time I actually had a vision of Ouroborus was in Manhattan, at one of the most difficult turning points of my life…i sat in meditation and put the whole issue I was dealing with to the Divine…i had been consumed with worry…and fear…and suddenly I saw this spinning serpent before my eyes, eating its own tail. A great sword came down from the heavens and slashed the snake in two…and i got the answer to my question — i was supposed to use Wisdom to cut through my Worry cycle…Love!

    • Mira, thank you! The 3 in the middle are google images – and the first at the top of my post – aren’t they beautiful! The first three ‘in’ the post and the last are mine. What an extraordinary image for you, thank you so much for sharing this. I can see it in my mind’s eye. Glad that your worry cycle got slashed and wisdom took its place … how powerful!

      • Can’t say Wisdom took the place of worry right away…as you might know, in some cases that is a long process…and has led me to where I am today..to the Wisdom Path called Jnana in Sanskrit…much love Susan!

        • Wisdom takes forever! Though re-assuring that it is attainable, however long it takes. A journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step ..
          Much Love Mira …

  14. Fascinating symbol. Thank you for the information and your dream. The pictures are beautiful. I don’t remember dreaming about a snake;most of my dreams involve people or symbols of them. I had a recurring dream for a while, but once I interpreted it correctly, it disappeared. Our subconscious is always trying to give us messages, and sometimes we get them, and other times we just miss the mark.

    • Thank you Patricia … yes, the unlimited unconscious yields its treasures very often in symbolic language in dreams, whether in animals, people, landscapes, seascapes, deserts if we are open to its messages. Once the meaning is gleaned which can take a long time, recurring dreams seems to disappear. Many times we miss the mark.

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