[pypy-dev] Possible logo idea - ouroboros

Damien Morton damien.morton at acm.org
Sun Jan 12 03:51:29 CET 2003

The snake biting its own tail image used in the opening title sequence
of Millennium is called an Ouroboros. In the series it is the symbol of
the Millennium Group. In mythology, the Ouroboros is any image of a
snake, worm, serpent, or dragon biting its own tail. It was first seen
as early as 1600 years BC in Egypt.  The Greeks called it the Ouroboros,
which means "Tail Eater."  Generally taking on a circular form, the
symbol is representative of many broad concepts.  Time, life continuity,
completion, the repetition of history, the self-sufficiency of nature
and the rebirth of the earth can all be seen within the circular
boundaries of the Ouroboros.  Societies from throughout history have
shaped the Ouroboros to fit their own beliefs and purposes.  The image
has been seen in Japan, India, utilized in Greek alchemic texts,
European woodcuts, Native American Indian tribes and even by the Aztecs.
It has, at times, been directly associated to such varying symbols as
the Roman god Janus, the Chinese Ying Yang, and the Biblical serpent of
the garden of Eden.

This symbol appears principally among the Gnostics and is depicted as a
dragon, snake or serpent biting its own tail. In the broadest sense, it
is symbolic of time and the continuity of life. 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. It has also been explained as the
union between the chthonian principle as represented by the serpent and
the celestial principal as signified by the bird (a synthesis which can
also be applied to the dragon). Ruland contends this proves that it is a
variant of the symbol for Mercury - the duplex god. In some versions of
the Ouroboros, the body is half light and half dark, alluding in this
way to the successive counterbalancing of opposing principls as
illustrated in the Chinese Yin-Yang  symbol for instance. Evola asserts
that it represents the dissoluotion of the body, or the universal
serpent which (to quote the Gnostic saying) 'passes through all things'.
Poison, the viper and the universal solvent are all symbols of the
undifferentiated-of the 'unchanging law' which moves through all things,
linking them by a common bond. Both the dragon and the bull are symbolic
antagonists of the solar hero. The Ouroboros biting its own tail is
symbolic of self-fecundation, or the primitive idea of a self-sufficient
Nature - a Nature, that is which, à la  Nietzsche, continually returns,
within a cyclic pattern, to its own beginning. There is a Venetian
manuscript on alchemy which depicts the Ouroboros with its body
half-black (symbolizing earth and night) and half-white (denoting heaven
and light). 

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