Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • John Eric KillingerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_722


Uroboros (often ouroboros, sometimes ourovoros) is a transliteration of the Greek oúρoβóρoς (oúρηβóρoς). It has appeared in Latin as ourovorax. Uroboros is a composite word meaning “devouring its tail.” It is also synonymous with δρáκωv (dragon) and occasionally őϕiς (ophis). Whereas the gnostic Ophites and even contemporary snake handling sects within Pentecostal Christianity (originating in Appalachia) continue to exist sporadically throughout the Southern United States, these are perhaps more derivative of Minoan snake goddess cultic worship than uroboric devotion.

A Powerful Primordial Symbol

Uroboros means “tail devourer.” Devouring the tail indicates the eating of one’s own flesh (without swallowing – yet). Tertullian (1989) and Chrysostom (1989) remark of the “autocannibalism” within the Eucharistic meal, the Lord’s Supper, wherein Jesus instituted the bread and cup of wine as his body and blood which his followers are to take, eat, and drink in anamnesis of him....

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