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The Ouroboros

Symbolism and Meaning


  Abacus Online


The image Chris Carter chose to represent his darkest television drama, a snake eating its own tail, is called the Ouroboros.  Carter tells us, in his own words, why he picked such a symbol. 


"The image that appears on the main title of the show, which is a snake eating its tail, a circular snake.  The snake is a classic and ancient image. I think it's come from several different cultures, it's called the Ouroboros and it has many different meanings. One is eternal return, everything being circular, everything recurring and also of a snake eating its tail, of it devouring itself, which is a more negative context. I thought for Millennium it had equal parts of each and left some then to the imagination of what it might mean. But it's a very powerful image and I think it's really perfectly representative of the show."

Showing itself primarily in ancient Gnostic texts, the Ouroboros is any image of a snake, worm, serpent, or dragon biting its own tail.  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 ancient Egypt, 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.  Even The X-Files' Dana Scully chose the Ouroboros to be tattooed on her back because she felt it represented the progression of her life.  It seems that the Ouroboros is a powerful archetypal symbol, a part of our Spiritus Mundi, the collective unconscious which thrives within each and every human being regardless of race or culture.

Here, the Abyss presents to you a collection of some of the most striking artistic representations of the Ouroboros, many taken from the Millennium television series itself.


  Millennium Title Image


  Millennium Print Ad


  Millennium (Black & White)


  Millennium (Wallpaper)


  Greek Alchemy Symbol


  Greek Alchemy Text


  Aztec Symbol


  Jacob Boehmes (1682)


  Graeco-Byzantine Alchemy Text


  Celtic Jewelry


  Native American Symbol


  Japanese Symbol


  Lamb Carving


  Lambspring Woodcut (1625)


  Lambspring Woodcut


  George Withers Emblem


  Linked Ten-Thirteen Snakes


  Mathematical Interpretation


  Art Imitates Life


  Real Life Ouroboros


  Dana Scully's Tattoo


  Dana Scully's Tattoo (Enhanced)