"Suddenly, one of the serpents turned until biting its tail, and this suggested Kekulé the structure of the benzene ring"
Inner alchemy archives - Ourobouros
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Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 23:41:48 -0300
Whle reading a some chapters of a book on psychology by Perkins I came across this assertion:
"... the known experience of the chemist Friederich August von Kekulé. Lots of times it's been observed that the scientific and technological discover discovery often includes a metaforical thinking. In 1865, Kekulé had been trying, with little success, to discover the chemical structure of the benzene. The molecule consists in a ring of atoms, but then they didn't know the structures of the ring. Absort in the problem, Kekulé had a dream in which the molecules appeared like files of atoms. They gathered and swerved in such a way that they made Kekulé think of serpents. Suddenly, one of the serpents turned until biting its tail, and this suggested Kekulé the structure of the benzene ring."
Well, I'm presenting these fact looking for opinions. I would like to hear opinions on the presence of the Ourobouros in such a circumstance.
What do you think?
From: Alberto I. LaCava
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 09:16:48 -0500
I would say this is a classical example in Carl Jung's theory of the
archetypes in the collective unconscious. Although Kekuke may have dreamed
of the Ourobouros because he had probably seen the figure in the alchemical
texts in his college course of history of Chemistry. This image, at its
time, fired in the mind of the chemist the structure of benzene.
There has been, in recent years, a group of scientists in America that have
contested the theory of the dream. At the time of Kekule, several
scientists were working in dilucidating the structure of Benzene, among
them, competing schools in France, England and Germany. There is a school
of thought that claims that the dream was invented by Kekule so as not to
give credit to a French researcher, who had also proposed a cyclic
structure for benzene. The argument came in the "Chemical and Engineering
News" some few years ago ( I dont' have the exact quotes, since I do not
keep the collection due to lack of space in my appartment).
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 97 17:57:14 UT
From: Mike Dickman
AMBIX has the following references to Kekule (with or without the accent
aigue and/or grave on the final 'e') and/or benzene that might bear looking
into if they haven't already been:
XVIII No. 1 (pp.26-48)
XX Nos. 2 & 3 (pp.106-131; 209-233)
XXI No. 1 (pp.29-52)
XXVII No. 2 (pp.136-141)
XXX No. 3 (pp.133-136)
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 01:38:51 -0300
>AMBIX has the following references to Kekule....
I appreciate it. Thanks. But I don't know who/what AMBIX is.
Ambix is an academic journal on alchemy published for over 50 years. You can see details of its contents on the alchemy web site. -- Adam McLean.
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 22:43:05 -0800
From: Richard Roberts
I believe that the original source of Kekule's dream was "Man and his Symbols,"
a compendium of Jungian writers. The unconscious mind, when it can be
accessed is I believe the greatest creative source for man.In "Tales for
Jung Folk:Original Fairytales for Persons of All Ages Dramatizing Jung's Archetypes of the
Collective Unconscious," I tell the story of when I was teaching a college
course on Frost's poetry, I had a dream in which I was reading a book of his
poetry, but i did not recognize the poem. Then i thought i would memorize it
and write it down when i woke up. The fascinating thing about this poem,
which i did not recognize until years later, was that it was a metaphor for
the way in which it was created by the unconscious, with the sea representing
the unconscious and the land consciousness. If I'm able in the near future to
share this poem with alchemy e-mail I'll do so(my back is bothering me).
Ultimately all the "tales" in the book came from active fantasy or dreams in
which the archetypes were writing themselves.
The idea for my last book came from a sacred marriage of the conscious and un-
conscious minds in which i was given an idea which was unique in literature,
never before used in a novel, and in the years it took to write it, I mostly
just took dictation from the anima, which had become an equal partner with
the conscious mind in the sacred marriage. The book is "The Wind& the Wizard."
So in conclusion, whether for the scientist or the creative artist, the uncon-
scious is a potential treasure trove, and not merely the repository of repress-
ions as in Freudian psychology.Jung's great contribution was to recognize that
every life is a process of alchemical transformation.
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 97 18:04:08 UT
From: Mike Dickman
By the way - is Ourobouros holding its tail in its mouth, biting it, or eating
it? And has anyone else ever hit on the idea of its actually vomiting it, in
much the same way as (I believe) the Green Lion image may also be read? Any
feedback here would be more than welcome
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 19:31:20 -0800
From: Belle Hall
Throwing up? It is possible. But... Kekule was mentioned in a book on
Creativity for one of my classes for gifted education. It synchronistically
appeared at the same time last year with my own dream initiation
period. Not knowing what a benzene ring was or what one would need
a symbol that resembled a big dead rolypoly bug, I had to drop many
hints to get the scoop on that chemistry chapter and that repeatedly
circling snake thing.
It stopped me in my tracks when a student shared that benzene is made of
6 carbon atoms in a ring connected to 6 hydrogen atoms and that they are
best known for aroma.The benzene ring on paper looks like the seal of
Soloman. The ring is found to be planar, with 120 degree angles between pairs of
bonds formed by a given carbon atom. Somehow they feed off each other
and create in the process. Someone can correct me here (and they always
do) but the micro ring is like the macro ouroboros. And maybe the
ouroboros is then micro to the life/death cycle? Maybe it is more like
earth eating worms.
Anyway it seems that the benzene is the snake. As it drops one item, it
picks up another. As it picks up another, it drops an atom. I always saw
it as defecating (sorry) or something and the same stuff just keeps going
around? You could be right or we could both be right. Maybe the ouroboros
throws up and it is reabsorbed to be thrown up again? Like evaporating
moisture comes back as rain to fill the ocean. My personal feeling on
the matter is that even though it goes back around again, perhaps each
time it is a bit changed... sometimes for the good... sometimes for the bad.
From: Alberto I. LaCava
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 20:59:52 -0500
The Ourobouros Paradox is that the Dragon eats itself and out of its own
substance grows again. There are several similar paradoxes in Alchemy.
This may remind you of the law of conservation of matter/energy in the
Alberto I. laCava
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 09:31:55 -0800
From: Victoria GaVoian
>Throwing up? It is possible
In regards to this statement:
You could be right or we could both be right. Maybe the ouroboros
throws up and it is reabsorbed to be thrown up again? Like evaporating
moisture comes back as rain to fill the ocean.; My personal
feeling on the matter is that even though it goes back around again, perhaps each
time it is a bit changed...
Rather than throwing up and adding to itself, might it not be continually
growing, the neverending story?
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 09:53:48 -0800
From: Victoria GaVoian
I'm am quite new and old at alchemy. What I have naturally experienced
throughout my life, I have suddenly found through this forum, actually
have names for. I noticed you spoke of conscious and unconscious,
however no mention of awareness. Does the term awareness fit into
any of your ideas or thoughts in any way?
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 01:36:19 -0300
From: Mike Dickman
>By the way - is Ourobouros holding its tail in its mouth, biting it, or eating
>it? And has anyone else ever hit on the idea of its actually vomiting it, in
>much the same way as (I believe) the Green Lion image may also be read?
I liked very much the idea of the Ourobouros vomiting its tail. Maybe we must consider the possibility of vomiting the time at the same time that biting it...
Some reflection must be made.
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 14:40:57 -0800
From: Scott Lawrence Whitman
Refer to the Tarot card "Temperance" (Art). Perhaps best illustrated in the
Thoth Deck. Note the inscription: "Visita interiora terrae rectificando
invenies occultem lapidem". "Throwing-up" would defeat the purpose. Is he
not eating his tail?
Scott L. Whitman
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 97 10:15:33 UT
From: Mike Dickman
... Or moving in both directions simultaneously...
When I spoke of its vomiting itself, the image arose from a dream I had in
which I was the Ourobouros... There was only that and nothing else: Ourobouros
and space; Ourobouros in space; Ourobouros as space; Ourobouros despite space;
space as Ourobouros...
This comes back to an image I've been touting for years to anyone who will
listen: the idea of the dragondance... The dance of apparent creation as space
dancing space into space, AS space and THROUGH space, and on and back into
Hui-neng, the extraordinary 6th. Patriarch of Ch'an/Zen, says in his 'Platform
Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch'
From the very first, not a single thing exists
Within that 'not a single thing' lies inexhaustible treasure:
The great seas are in it; rivers and mountains also;
All that can be known; and sentient beings and Buddhas also.
The basis of Buddhist meditation is exactly this examination of where anything
could stem from, apparently remain for a while and then dissolve back into.
Being a great admirer of serpents in all their shapes and forms (almost all of
which are fascinatingly beautiful), and of their extraordinarily bad-tempered
(with us, the 'two-legged', at any rate... one wonders why?) 'wisdom', and
having had the leisure once to observe at great length (and with not a little
surprise, I might add) the mores and sexuality of both the wall lizard and the
large red slug, (and also since I dont have a Zippo lighter and, regardless of
its innate allures and fascinations at other times and in other contexts, I am
not particularly interested in benzene at just this moment) I would proffer
the following observations:
(i) Ourobouros as Caudogenitor:-
Awareness, as it 'moves through time', that is to say, out of an apparent,
i.e., visible, 'past', through an unfolding but only partially visible
'present', and on - backwards as it were - into an entirely invisible but
presumed and often prefabricated 'future', has many of the characteristics of
some 'head' spitting its own equally imagined 'tail'. If the past instant, no
matter how brief, is irretrievably 'gone', the future instant 'not yet here',
and the present instant ungraspable and only the unfolding from the one to the
other, i. e., the micro-shift in the content of awareness (or unawareness, for
that matter), it is, in fact - because of the time lag between experience and
conscious awareness of what has happened, the present and the future which are
creating the past, and not vice-versa.
As we know, at a micro and submicro level, this is very often exactly what is
(ii) Ourobouros as Caudophage:-
The figure of time and/or energy as experienced on a somewhat more macro scale
- (one's 'fools gold'?) - limited nourshment, at the best of times, no matter
how delicious, and very definitely running out! Perhaps it is exactly this
'fools gold' that asks to be purified into 'ours' and then sown - broad-cast -
upon the foliated earth?
(iii) Ourobouros as Caudoretentor:-
The whole, the coming back of everything on itself as an endless and
unpinpointable becoming - And, yes... Older, perhaps, and possibly a little
wiser, but who can be sure? Hence the adage 'Work and Pray'.
It is true that, in alchemia, very often the Ourobouros is figured as TWO
serpents (or birds, or canines, or felines, etc.), and then represents the
fixed and the volatile, the above and below, the twofold abyss, 'solve et
coagula', and the whole process of V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (which my 'dog' Latin
understands as - a la fois - the internal examination and subtle evaluation of
any possible lacks or default in the 'stone' one has managed to concoct, and
the need to try it against the 'interiorae terram' thereby to check it for any
possible frangibility or evaporation, and also to verify its actual
While 'on the line', so to speak, I'd also like to thank everyone for their
generous and interesting partcipation thus far. Let's see how far we can keep
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 12:59:09 -0500 (EST)
From: Ken Roche
Mike: you asked: "is Ourobouros holding its tail in its mouth, biting it, or
eating it? And has anyone else ever hit on the idea of its actually vomiting
it, in much the same way as (I believe) the Green Lion image may also
be read? Any feedback here would be more than welcome"
Years ago I remember reading a description of why the ourobouros was
such a good symbol of regenerative attitudes which gave as its reason
the habits of some snakes to slough their old skins with the aid of their
mouths. But I have no idea whether snakes actually use their mouths to
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 21:29:40 -0800
From: Richard Roberts
This is perhaps the most profound symbol because it represents very many
associated symbols and concepts, but I have never heard it associated with
"throwing up." Vastly simplfied this serpent embodies regeneration because
the serpent sloughs its skin; hence it calls to mind the Moon, the Great
Mother as the embodiment of Nature, and by swallowing itself involution and
evolution, particularly of the year's natural cycle. I could write a book
here, but the ouroboros is but a day away from having devoured all of
itself. The year's cycle is about to regenerate at the Vernal Equinox with 1
degree Aries. Fortunately i am born at 30 degrees Pisces where the zodiac
ends(360 degrees). Hopefully I will not have to incarnate again.
Blessing to all,
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 06:19:34 -0500
From: Beat Krummenacher
There is a further interesting connection between the benzene ring and
alchemy. The most alchemical sulphurs contain aromatic compounds, i.e.
chemical compounds with benzene rings. The most interesting ones show
anellated benzene rings, therefore several directly interrelated aromatic
pi systems. Such systems absorb visible light of different wavelength
according to the number of the electrons standing in resonance. Thus
aromatic compounds often are colored.
Many sulphurs in the vegetable, animal and mineral kingdom have a more or
less red color, which often can be led back to aromatic compounds. The
benzene ring as chemical skeleton, the Ouroboros and the practical
preparation of alchemical sulphurs own therefore an interesting inner
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 14:39:13 +0100
From: Michal Pober
I have recently been reading Marion Woodman's most recent book, 'Dancing in
the Flames', written with Elinor Dickson, pub. Shambhala, 1996. ISBN
1-57062-199-3. One chapter contains an excellent synthesis of western
(primarily Jungian) and eastern energetic concepts connecting the chakras
and kundalini energy.
I have culled the following two quotes, as being relevant to the ouroboros
p. 71 :
Kundalini power, the symbol of raising the energy coiled at the base of the
spine upward through the chakras, is called by Sri Chinmoy "the power of
the Supreme Goddess." Repressed or coiled in a circle, she can be poisonous
to both the body and the psyche, but once risen and standing upright, she
is beneficent. The power of the serpent, rightly understood, is one of the
ways the Goddess overcomes duality.
p. 73 (a quotation from Tsultrim Allione, "Women of Wisdom" (London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984, p.29):
Where, then, does the snake-wave appear within the human being? It dwells,
first and foremost, within our very center, the spine, which viewed from
the side, looks like a snake, and moves like a snake. Further, it presides
over the entire underworld of the body, governing many of our involuntary
movements; the swallowing of food, the pulsating flow of blood, the
peristaltic movement of the intestines, the pulsating rhythm of orgasm, and
the tiny undulations that ripple through muscle tissue. The snake
symbolizes everything within our bodies and minds that moves under the
surface, hidden from the light of consciousness.
I hope that this information will be of interest.
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 22:07:03 +0200
>From: Michal Pober
>I have recently been reading Marion Woodman's most recent book, 'Dancing in
>the Flames', written with Elinor Dickson, pub. Shambhala, 1996. ISBN
>1-57062-199-3. One chapter contains an excellent synthesis of western
>(primarily Jungian) and eastern energetic concepts connecting the chakras
>and kundalini energy.
>I have culled the following two quotes, as being relevant to the ouroboros
>The snake symbolizes everything within our bodies and minds that moves
>under the surface, hidden from the light of consciousness.
In Astrology, the snake and kundalini are related to Pluto and Scorpio. It's
interesting to notice that the symbol of Scorpio is threefold (according to
some): the snake, the scorpio and the eagle. Three symbols related to
transformation (the eagle being the final phase of transformation= spiritual
freedom.) An issue with very much depth, indeed.
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 14:39:10 +0100
From: Michal Pober
I feel diffident about making this post.
By synchronicity, at this time when the ouroboros discussion has been so
compelling, a paper was placed in my hand by someone I had never met
before, and who was about to depart, which may or may not have anything to
do with the topic, or may be another strange metaphor of lesser or greater
relevance to our group..
Again, the source is obscure.. I was told it came from Rumi, who I know only
as a poet, and mystic.
The document is entitled : THE PROCESS. at the bottom it is identified with
these figures (2-1878-1923)
I'm reproducing the text in full, though I felt tempted to edit/shorten,
but feel nervous of obliterating some clue of which I am not cogniscent.
A wise king was riding along, at the moment when a snake was going into the
mouth of a man asleep, The rider saw and was hurrying to scare away the
snake, but he arrived too late. The snake had been swallowed.
Since the king had an abundant supply of intelligence, he struck the
sleeper several powerful blows with a mace. The strokes of the hard mace
drove the sleeper, in flight from the rider, to beneath a tree.
There many rotten apples had dropped and the King said : "Eat of these, oh
you in the grip of pain!" He gave the man so many apples to eat that they
were falling out of his mouth. The man was crying : "Oh King, pray, why
have you set on me? What have I done to you? If you had from the beginning
a quarrel with my soul, stike me with your sword and shed my blood at once.
Ill-omened was the hour I came into your sight. Happiness to him who never
saw your face! Without guilt, without sin, without having done anything
great or small, heretics would not allow such oppression! Blood gushes from
my mouth together with my words. Oh God, I beseech thee, give him
Every instant he was uttering a new curse, while the king kept beating him
and saying ; "Run in this plain." Blows of the mace fell on the man, and
the King followed as swiftly as the wind. He He went on running, again and
again falling on his face. He was full-fed, sleepy and fatigued; his feet
and face became covered with a hundred thousand wounds. Till nightfall the
rider drove him to and fro, until vomiting overtook him.
All the things he had eaten, bad or good, came up from him; the snake shot
forth from him along with what he had eaten. When he saw the snake outside
of him, he fell on his knees before that benificent king. As soon as he saw
the horror of that black, ugly, big snake, grief departed from him.
"Truly," said he, "you are the Gabriel of mercy, or you are God. Oh blest
the hour you saw me. I was dead. You have given me new life. Oh you, whom
the pure spirit would have praised, how many foolish and idle words have I
spoken to you!nIf I had known a little of this matter, how could I have
spoken foolish words? I should have spoken praise, if you had given me a
single hint as to the case, but you, keeping silent, showed persistence and
continued to beat me on the head. My head became dizzy, the wits flew out
of my head, especially as this head has little brains."
The king answered : "If I had uttered a hint of it, your gall would have
instantly turned to water. Had I told you the qualities of the snake,
terror would have fetched up the breath from your soul. You would have
become good for nothing, as a mouse before a cat, you would have been as
distraught as a lamb before a wolf. No power to plan or move would have
remained in you. Therefore I tended to you without speaking. I was mute, I
handled the iron. If I had told you about the snake you would not have been
able to eat, nor would you have been capable of vomiting or cared to do so.
I heard your abuse and went on with my work. I kept repeating under my
breath : 'Lord, make it easy.' I had not permission to speak of the cause
and I had not the power to abandon you."
"If I should tell aright the description of the enemy which is in your
souls, the gall-bladders even of courageous men would burst, such a one
would neither go his way, nor care for any work. Neither would there remain
to his heart endurance in meditation, nor to his body strength for fasting
and prayer. So that by my hand, the seemingly impossible is actualised, and
wings are restored to the bird whose plumes were torn away."
From: Noel Kettering
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 07:59:30 -0500
Does anyone know the derivation of the word 'ourobouros' ?
What language ?
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 13:23:25 +0000
From: Hil Cato
Hey, I like this tangential idea of the ourobouros vomiting itself up:
nausea often refers to self-conflict/questioning one's place in the
universe. So the snake vomits up all that is self, to encircle the
world, to define the world as that-which-is-not-self,
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 21:57:43 +0200
>From: Noel Kettering
>Does anyone know the derivation of the word 'ourobouros' ?
>What language ?
The work is Greek: ouro >(oura=tail) + boros >( bora=food, boros=the one who
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 1997 23:57:19 -0600 (CST)
From: Mackie Blanton
Rather than see that the ourobouros's vomiting up self
signifies the world as that-which-is-not-self, I prefer to see this
as meaning that one must die to self, thereby undergoing an internal
conflation of self and the other as the only supreme individual experience.
From: Mats Winther
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 09:08:20 +0100
> From: Hil Cato
> Hey, I like this tangential idea of the ourobouros vomiting itself up:
> nausea often refers to self-conflict/questioning one's place in the
> universe. So the snake vomits up all that is self, to encircle the
> world, to define the world as that-which-is-not-self,
> that-which-exceeds-individual experience...
Maybe one could go even further: when the godhead rested in Nigredo, in his
own belly before the creation, the conscious spirit was not mature since
there existed no prior time where consciousness could have developed. So the
alchemical process reversed and the godhead vomited his tail which meant
that the universe was created and spirit departed from matter. The tail
became the golden bird who departed from Chaos and since then this bird has
encircled the universe with his all-seeing eye. So the "kalpa" in which we
live could mean the expansion of the godhead's consciousness so that there
will be a fully developed winged dragon at the time when the godhead
swallows himself again. But this time there will be no reversal but the
process will continue through Rubedo, Citrinitas and Albedo. So maybe Mike
Dickman's dream shouldn't be interpreted on the personal level. Maybe it
pictured the state of the godhead at the dawn of existence.
An alchemical creation myth and divine drama!
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 15:58:08 -0600 (CST)
From: George Leake
>From: Scott Lawrence Whitman
>Refer to the Tarot card "Temperance" (Art). Perhaps best illustrated in the
>Thoth Deck. Note the inscription: "Visita interiora terrae rectificando
>invenies occultem lapidem". "Throwing-up" would defeat the purpose. Is he
>not eating his tail?
To answer the latter point and address all this eating vs. Throwing up,
the important point here is more that this symbolizes cycles...energy
converting into matter and back again...
As to the first point, this is true in Crowley's Tarot deck, but
Temperance was not always depicted this way, nor had an explicitly hermetic
meaning. Note the wings on Temperance. These come from some printer's
mistake, originally this image was an enthroned woman, ala Justice. Also,
Temperance was one of several cardinal virtues depicted along with other
medieval psychomachia in early Tarot.
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 97 18:02:58 UT
From: Mike Dickman
George's queasy stomach aside, this has brought up (if you will excuse the
expression) some amazing results, so I'd just like to add one or two things
here myself, and to clarify some of the original ideas and terms.
We need several models here, the first of which could be the following:
Take your ourobouros (of which a possible derivation might be from the Greek
words meaning 'heaven toucher' and 'plunger') down to the absolutely
microscopic - the state of being just before the mathematical point arises -
and then... very slowly allow that point to arise... At this point, what do
you have?... Either an embryonic ourobouros in much the same sense as a
microscopic seed that is going to somehow expand and then - for some strange
reason - stick its tail in its mouth... and my question here is: does this
tail grow out of the head or do they expand together, and is there any way in
which the head is somehow a fixed point and the tail a sweeping encompassing,
or is the whole thing cycling and moving? Also: what on earth (or out of it)
could be the reason for its sticking its tail in its mouth in the first
Or a full-fledged but minuscule ourobouros, tail already in mouth, the growth
of which as it expands to encompass the universe must necessarily - unless the
whole thing is in stasis relative to itself, which same is hardly serpentine,
would you not agree? - entail some movement of the tail 'out' of the mouth,
which is to say, generally in an anti-clockwise direction...
An associated point here is the following, drawn from Buddhist 'pramana' or
Any point-instant, no matter how minuscule, as long as its is susceptible to
time-space, that is to say, to having other point-instants 'surround' it
either temporally or physically, will always be further divisible into three -
a 'left', 'right' and 'centre', or 'beginning', 'middle' and 'end', so to
speak - ad infinitum, so that, like Achilles' tortoise, its initial roots
always and ever evade detection.
It is also equally demonstrable that something can never arise from nothing,
and yet that whatever it is that does arise can never be demonstrated to have
any essence at all except that of beginningless and endless unrootableness,
called in Sanskrit Buddhist jargon 'shunyata', a word which has often,
unfortunately, been translated as 'void' although its real sense is something
far more akin to 'infinite openness'.
(Interesting textbooks on these matters, by the way, and infinitely accessible
to the occidental reader, are Tarthang Tulku's amazing 'Time, Space and
Knowledge' series published by Dharma Publications, Berkeley, CA. (There is
also an enthusiastic if somewhat gauche and erratic web-site at
http://www.webcom.com/tsk/) Both are well worth looking into.)
Model No. 2 is this: If, for example, the head of the ourobouros is a fixed
point, or, at any rate, fixed with regard to the rest of it which may then be
visualised as growing, sweeping magestically down and round, and finally up
and back and coming to rest in, or penetrating, its source, what is it
actually doing? If it is penetrating, does it continue to grow within? If it
is coming to rest, why does it come to rest - what is there is this universe
that has ever come to rest? - What is there outside this universe that has
ever come to rest?
I don't know that I so much meant 'throwing up' its tail (which would imply
its trying to get rid of it which is not at all the point!) as generating it
from its mouth...
But, enough!... Let's see how much further we can keep our old hoop snake
Respectfully (if somewhat playfully!)
From: "Mats Winther"
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 23:52:27 +0100
The "vomiting Ourobouros" could be very significant. It may be analogous to
"Mercurius escaping from the vessel". Here are my speculations: When the
Snake bites the Tail, (Lion devours King, Sol marriages Luna...) this means
a conjunction of spirit and matter, conscious and unconscious. A wholeness
is achieved, however this wholeness has qualities of death. The Nigredo
ensues. When the wingless dragon devours the winged dragon the spirit is
cooked in the stomach of the black dragon (which is the alchemical vessel).
But the Spirit Mercurius has a tendency to evaporate if the vessel is not
hermetically sealed. This is what happens to me all the time. I dream like
this: "Two red/blue fishes (Mercurius Duplex) in my aquarium always jump
out. I have to pick them up from the floor. I have to put them back and
seal the aquarium". The spirit leaving the vessel is analogous to "Raven
vomiting Blue Bird" or "Ourobouros vomiting tail". However, the difference
may be that this is in a later stage. When the vessel is not sealed the
Ourobouros has (probably) not yet bitten his tail. It´s close to, but the
wholeness has not yet been achieved. It´s not uncommon that Mercurius
dissapears in this case. The vomiting Ourobouros would be when Mercurius
bursts out from the sealed vessel, after the circle has been closed. The
process is reversed. Why would this happen? In the other case (my case and
perhaps the more usual) the spirit can´t be confined because it is so
volatile, actually it is so spiritual. It´s a fully developed tertiary
spirit who wants to ride the wind and doesn´t understand the concept of the
little world. But the "Vomiting Ourobouros" case may appear when a person
understands the little world (quarternary) concept but suffers from an
undifferentiated tertiary spirit. The snake vomits because the food is not
ripe. This was seldom the case during the middle ages since they had such
strong belief. Today we instead have the ability to develop a strong
consciousness. To strenghten the consciousness would be the remedy then.
When the heavenly bird rides the wind high up in the atmosphere he will see
and understand a lot. The downward face of the wings will turn heavenly
The remedy for the other case would be to weaken the conscious spirit by
contracting the libido so that it fits into the little world of the vessel.
I think that the vomiting Ourobouros is a sign of great danger, the other
is only a sign of great sorrow.
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 97 22:49:34 UT
From: Mike Dickman
Thank you for the correct interpretation of the word... I was basing mine on
the Greek 'ourano(meches)' and 'bouto', which is the kind of thing one *might*
be able to do were one's Greek better, but is doubtless misplaced in my case
(whose Greek would make Shakespeare's look like total fluency!)
Thank you for bringing my old 'ophis' out an eagle in the end, too... A dark
and difficult path... but culminating, in the end, and thank the gods that be,
in majesty and light.
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 12:52:10 +0000
From: Hil Cato
Self and other are of the same stuff, but distinct. Perhaps the image
of vomiting leads back to digestion; once one has digested spirit and
the intangible threads of logic which keep spirit moving through us
creatures who live and die, then one can regurgitate onself, create new
form out of the digesting material...
Last night Ii stared at the very-almost-full moon, watched it split so
each eye carried a moon, set them spinning, pushed them together again,
saw a cone of light extend itself from around the moon, as if a tunnel
of light was being extended... the light spun white and blue and yellow
around the moon - as it extended, it became more and more yellow.
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 20:40:57 -0800
From: Richard Roberts
>>Does anyone know the derivation of the word 'ourobouros' ?
>The work is Greek:
> ouro >(oura=tail) + boros >( bora=food, boros=the one who eats).
Perhaps now we can dispense with discussions of the ourovomitus.
From: Noel Kettering
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 1997 03:18:30 -0500
The subject of the Ourobouros has been on my mind a lot lately. I was
able to see a possible interpretation as soon as I started to meditate
on it, but I've been having a difficult time trying to put that
interpretation into words.
First, the interpretations that I found in various references were:
Eternity; Time and continuity of life; Self-fecundation; Unity of all
things, which never disappear, but perpetually change form in an
eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation; and Cosmic Unity.
I wasn't able to find a Greek version of the word, but was able (thanks
to Dimitris) to find the roots of the word which are "ouro" which means
tail, and "boros" which can mean devouring - as in, a savage animal
devouring the flesh of its victim.
The Book of Lambspring - figure VI - shows a beautiful engraving of
a winged serpent devouring its own tail, and accompanying the engraving
is a verse (which starts - A savage Dragon lives in the forest,). Below
the engraving is a caption which reads: "The Mercury is precipitated or
sublimed, dissolved in its own proper water, and then once more
I wasn't able to work out the gematria of the Greek word, but by Latin
gematria the word "Ourobouros" has a number of 141 which is the same
number as "Solve Et Coagula" (dissolve and coagulate), a summary of the
entire alchemical process. Perhaps the Latinized version of the word is
spelled this way intentionally, to draw our attention to "Solve Et
If the serpent represents DESIRE, then the symbol might represent
desire devouring desire - an Alchemical puzzle.
For some time I have been thinking that, contrary to the appearance of
separation, there is only ONE Desire - the desire for Unity. This
desire is - the Will of God (Latin NUTUS) the force we call gravitation
- the universal desire to be united, the force that holds the universe
This desire takes many forms as every creature attempts to express that
One Will - or rather - as the ONE THING (God) expresses his Will
through every creature.
Every action of every life is an expression of that desire to be
united, every choice that we make is colored by our conscious or (more
likely) subconscious desire to be part of some group, or be liked by
some person, to be linked to - united with - that person or group.
The clothing that we wear and the way we decorate our bodies, the
things we read, the colors that we prefer, our vocations, our hobbies,
our preferred mode of travel, our favorite places, the foods and drinks
we consume, everything in our lives - every decision that we make, or
have ever made - is based on DESIRE.
We might extrapolate that the same might be true in the animal kingdom,
and even the plant kingdom, and in some way that same desire might be
expressed in the mineral kingdom - though in all these worlds the
desire is expressed subconsciously. In the human kingdom we reach a
stage where we can be aware (to some extent) of the desire and
consciously express it.
As we evolve towards the fifth kingdom we become evermore aware of the
true meaning and power of this "Savage Dragon", the Alchemical COPPER,
as the Book of Lambspring states - "His venom becomes the great
Medicine." When the desire for 'Unity With God' consumes all the
'other' lesser desires, we have reached a point where our expression of
desire is always beneficial to the world. Our desire is always to unite
and make whole. Our desire is always to allow God to express through
our every action and thought.
The basis of desire is "What do I want ?" And, of course, that implies
"Who am I ?" It is always God - the ONE THING - that acts through these
separate personalities, that expresses through every separate thing in
It is the GRACE OF GOD that consumes the lesser expressions of desire
until only GOLD and the purest SILVER remain. The serpent has always
been the ONE THING refining its vehicles, tempering the expressions of
those vehicles. God is an "all-consuming FIRE that feeds upon itself".
In the words of Hermes, "You will separate the Earth from the Fire, the
subtle from the dense, suavely, with great skill" - because it will be
(as it always has been) God that is performing the GREAT WORK.
Hear, O Israel,
Jehovah thy God, that which was, is, and ever shall be,
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997 03:55:06 +0200
>From: Mike Dickman
>Thank you for the correct interpretation of the word... I was basing mine on
>the Greek 'ourano(meches)' and 'bouto', which is the kind of thing one *might*
>be able to do were one's Greek better, but is doubtless misplaced in my case
>(whose Greek would make Shakespeare's look like total fluency!)
>Thank you for bringing my old 'ophis' out an eagle in the end, too... A dark
>and difficult path... but culminating, in the end, and thank the gods that be,
>in majesty and light.
You are very welcome!
I like your ourano-bouto! That's what eagles do.
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997 04:18:05 +0200
>From: Richard Roberts
>Perhaps now we can dispense with discussions of the ourovomitus.
Leaving aside the literal meaning, I think that both interpretations are
interesting. That is, the ophis/snake biting its tail, symbolizing (in my
opinion and words) the primordial undifferentiated substance,
The snake vomiting its tail symbolizing the birth of duality,
differentiation: GENESIS (emergence of things out of 0).
The symbol/visual represantation leaves both options and interpretations
open. There is no indication of MOTION (inward or outward,
clockwise/anti-clockwise.) That's what's nice about it.
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 1997 04:26:07 +0200
>I wasn't able to work out the gematria of the Greek word, but by Latin
>gematria the word "Ourobouros" has a number of 141 which is the same
>number as "Solve Et Coagula" (dissolve and coagulate), a summary of the
>entire alchemical process. Perhaps the Latinized version of the word is
>spelled this way intentionally, to draw our attention to "Solve Et
Question: Is it Ourobouros or Ouroboros? In Greek, it's the latter.
What is the gematria number and its meaning of Ouroboros and not
Ourobouros(I don't know how to derive it.)
Your point about the latinized spelling is interesting.
Date: Tue, 25 Mar 97 13:34:14 UT
From: Mike Dickman
You are very welcome!
I like your ourano-bouto! That's what eagles do.
Yeah! That's what put me onto the idea... Thanks for your answer to Richard,
by the way... I think sitting reading this stuff with a sore back may not be
helping... but you could - Richard - try visualising him within your body à la
the grand circulation of Taoist yoga and see if that doesn't help unblock you.
He would at least have served some purpose for you then. Sorry to get on your
nerves. I know how bad back feels.
The gematria, by the way, is 70 400 100 70 2 70 400 100 70/800 200 for the
Latin spelling (depending upon whether you're using the omicron or the omega
in the '-os' - I personally prefer the omega solution) and 70 400 100 70 2 70
100 70/800 200 for the Greek.
The first gives either 1412 or 2142 for the first, and 1012 or 1742 for the
I can do no better than to refer you to John Michel's 'City of Revelation'
(Abacus 1973) and W. Stirling's 'The Canon' (Garnstone 1974) for some
extremely interesting musings on Greek gematria in fairly accessible, and
certainly interesting (!) form...
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 97 08:22 PST
From: Diane Munoz
According to my training, the Ouroboros represents the recycled
ignorance of social consciousness, feeding off of itself. The snake, which
represents the kundalini, sits at the base of the spine and is activated
according to the use of conscious mind and what frequency that mind is
using, which denotes the level of consciousness which has been accessed.
Since the energy of the kundalini has heretofore been used only for funding
survival, procreation and power, it is represented by a snake eating its
own tail. When it begins to awaken is when the entity begins to access
consciousness that is at a higher frequency level. When this is a
consistent experience, the kundalini begins to move up the spine, past the
first three levels of consciousness, into the head and it transforms the
body (the symbol for that is a dragon) and enlightenment has begun.
From: Mats Winther
Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 09:13:07 +0100
> From: Michal Pober
> I feel diffident about making this post.
> By synchronicity, ....
Thank you, for this alchemical masterpiece. I think it to some extent
confirms my analysis. It points at the extreme danger, also it speaks of
the need for strenghtening the adepts consciousness ("..as this head has
little brains"). He is not even conscious of having a snake in his belly.
Then the bird is restored after throwing up (".. wings are restored to the
bird whose plumes were torn away"). When the bird flies again the conscious
spirit is being strenghtened.