Wednesday 15 January 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday

I'm currently devouring The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. It's an absorbing historical mystery whodunnit.

Yes, it's big and yes, it's wordy, but I'm loving it for that very reason.

Given the number of astrological elements that give structure to this story, I'm surprised that I'm over half way through before striking a word that confused me completely.

On pg 531 we find "But the doubled fish of Pisces, that mirrored womb of self and self-awareness, is an ourobouros of mind - both the will of fate, and the fated will."

Firstly, I should point out that this sentence is NOT indicative of the rest of the story. This was the first section that waxed lyrical about the astrological signs. So please don't be put off by this example - it doesn't reflect the writing style or the story from the other 530 pages!

Ourobouros (or ouroboros) is an ancient symbol of a snake or dragon eating it's own tail. It signifies birth, death, renewal and the cyclical nature of self & nature.

As you can imagine, most cultures, religions and philosophies have adopted this symbol at some point to symbolise eternal life, unity of all things, the balance of opposites, the beginning & end of time, infinity & wholeness.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermuda Onion.


  1. I've actually seen that symbol before but never knew it had a name. I doubt I'll remember the word to use it but I think I'll recognize it if I see it. Great word today!

  2. Like Kathy, I've seen this symbol, but did not know its name or much about it. Thank you for this lovely presentation. Ourobouros. I will try to remember this word (and its spelling).

  3. Anonymous16/1/14

    A new word for me, I have seen the symbol.

  4. Oh I'm jealous of you reading this. I'd love to get to it, but have such trouble with doorstoppers. I did look at it in a shop the other day, but got put off by the foreword, but then the first paragraph was ok. This is such a great word. That concept was used in The Neverending Story, but I don't remember the word ourobouros


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