End of 2012 or the World?

    This December marks the end of another year. But this particular year is a little different. Lots of people say it’s the end of civilization as we know it. Some say it’s the end. Some say it’s a new beginning.

    The ancient Greeks prophecy of the Suntelia Aion, “The End of the Age”, as part of a cycle of catastrophe, symbolized by the Ouroboros, of which the Milky Way was an inspiration. The myth refers to a serpent of light residing in the heavens. Viewed at the galactic central point near Sagittarius, the serpent eats its own tail. The sign of the Suntelia Aion is the sun rising out of the mouth of the Ouroboros on the solstice of December, 2012.

    Carlos Barrios explains the Mayan connection: “At sunrise on December 21, 2012 for the first time in 26,000 years the sun rises to conjunct the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the elliptic. This cosmic cross is considered to be an embodiment of the Sacred Tree, the Tree of Life, a tree remembered in all the world’s spiritual traditions. Some observers of this alignment with the heart of the galaxy in 2012 will open a channel for cosmic energy to flow through the earth, cleansing it and all that dwells upon it, raising all to a higher level of vibration.”

    Some believe that a change in consciousness, a heightened awareness and sense of oneness with our planet is coming (though not without much destruction, say others). There is talk, for instance, of the rise in the Earth’s frequency or rate of vibration, solar flares or in sunspot activity, although mostly unsubstantiated, among other planetary phenomena like global warming and increased storm frequency/severity.

    As an ecologist, I am fascinated by the reference to the Ouroboros as a symbol of this accelerated time of change and calamitous “End of an Age”.

    The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail to form a circle. It has been used to represent many things over the ages, but it most generally symbolizes ideas of cyclicality, unity, or infinity. The ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations. More recently, it has been interpreted by psychologists, such as Carl Jung, as having an archetypical significance to the human psyche.

    The name ouroboros (or, in Latinized form, uroborus) is Greek for “tail-devourer”. The depiction of the serpent is believed to have been inspired by the Milky Way, as some ancient texts refer to a serpent of light residing in the heavens. Plato described a self-eating, circular being as the first living thing in the universe — an immortal, perfectly constructed animal. Not unlike the sacred circle or balance.

    In some representations the serpent is shown as half light and half dark, echoing symbols such as the Yin Yang, which illustrates the dual nature of all things, but more importantly, that these opposites are not in conflict. In alchemy, the ouroboros symbolises the circular nature of the alchemist’s opus, which unites the opposites: the conscious and unconscious mind. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, and Hermeticism.

    The Ouroboros often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end. It can also represent the idea of primordial unity. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes about the pre-ego “dawn state”, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.

    The ouroboros has several meanings interwoven into it. Foremost is the symbolism of the serpent biting, devouring, eating its own tail, which symbolises the cyclic Nature of the Universe: creation out of destruction, Life out of Death. The ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal. In Gnosticism, this serpent symbolizes eternity and the soul of the world.

    End of the world? Perhaps. But certainly the beginning of another…

    On behalf of the entire Europa SF crew, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous Happy New Year. See you next year!



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