The ouroboros or oroboros is an ancient symbol of a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.
The ouroboros symbolizes eternity or cyclicality. It is the sense of something constantly re-creating itself. Like the phoenix, it symbolises cycles that begin again as soon as they end.
The first known appearance of the ouroboros motif is in KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, in the 14th century BC. The text is about the god Ra and his union with Osiris in the underworld. In an illustration, two serpents, with their tails in their mouths, coil around the head and feet of an enormous god (this the unified Ra-Osiris). The whole figure represents the beginning and the end of time.
Images for kids
Gnostic gem from Roman-era Egypt (1st century AD), with an ouroboros surrounding a scarab and voces magicae, characters representing magic words
Early alchemical ouroboros illustration with the words "εν το παν" ("one is the all"). From the work of Cleopatra the Alchemist (Greco-Roman Egypt).
Seal of the Theosophical Society - Door decoration at Kazinczy Street 55, Budapest (Hungary).
Kekulé's proposal for the structure of benzene (1872)
Engraving by Lucas Jennis, in alchemical tract titled De Lapide Philosophico.