The Ouroboros is a Greek word meaning ‘tail devourer,’ and is one of the oldest mystical symbols in the world. It appears as a serpent or a dragon eating its own tail, perceived as enveloping itself, where the past (the tail) appears to disappear but really moves into an inner domain or reality, vanishing from view but still existing.
The ouroboros has several meanings interwoven into it. Foremost is the symbolism of the serpent biting, devouring, or eating its own tail. This symbolizes the cyclic nature of the Universe: creation out of destruction, life out of death, the infinity of time. As the Hellenistic version, it appears as two colors: the top half is colored in black and the lower half is colored in white and thought to represent the duality of existence and the unification of opposites.
The earliest record of the ouroboros symbol comes from the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld, the ancient Egyptian text discovered in the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhaman where it had important religious and mythological symbolism. Yet the symbol appears in one form or another in almost every culture and mythology and always with profound meaning, most commonly associated with encircling the world. Yet no group has adopted and studied the ancient ouroboros symbol as deeply as the Atharim.
Of all Atharim writings, perhaps most puzzling regarding ouroboros symbolism are the prophetic words penned in the 17th century:
“All things began in order so shall they end, so shall they begin again.”Sir Thomas Browne, 1658
To the Atharim, the ouroboros represents their unending dedication as humanity’s servants and protectors. The image of an ouroboros stylized to the individual’s choice marks a fully initiated Atharim, always tattooed on the left inner forearm. By far the image is not exclusive to this group. It serves as more of a right-of-passage than anything else.