Rachel Davies explores the concept of the snake that eats itself, musings on time and the line between hope and terror.
"It had no need of eyes, for there was nothing outside it to be seen; nor of ears, for there was nothing outside to be heard. There was no surrounding air to be breathed, nor was it in need of any organ by which to supply itself with food or to get rid of it when digested. Nothing went out from or came into it anywhere, for there was nothing. Of design it was made thus, its own waste providing its own food, acting and being acted upon entirely with and by itself, because its designer considered that a being which was sufficient unto itself would be far more excellent than one which depended upon anything."
Plato- Timaeus, (33 -The Construction of the World)
A snake eats its own tail, becoming whole, becoming one, starting again. Though where is the beginning and where is the end?
Nietzche wrote of Eternal Return, of the constant loop of life where “All truth is crooked, time itself is a circle.'" If space and time are thought to be infinite, then does our own existence also recur an infinite number of times?
The Ouroboros (translating in Greek as “tail-devourer”) an ancient symbol first found on the shrine of Tutankhamen’s Ancient Egyptian tomb still resonates with us today. A symbol of rebirth and regeneration it spans centuries and cultures. Thought to be a representation of the sun and its movement through the day, the enduring image of a circle, one of nature’s most profound and prolific symbols, appears constantly in our surroundings, all worthy of worship. The sun as it warms our faces and feeds our plants. The moon in full bloom as it shifts the ocean tides and lights up the night sky. The black pupil inside the iris as we gaze, like narcissus, at our own reflection, the ripples in water from a droplet of rain.
The circle, like the serpent swallowing itself has no start and no end. It is not linear but bound to repeat for eternity. A rather frightening prospect or a reassuring, humbling notion that life will always find a way?
There will forever be lightness and darkness in our lives and things will end and things will die. But alongside this, the ying to yang, things will be born and built, the leaves that rot will make fertile the soil for new trees to grow.
In an age of anxiety and uncertainty, in what often feels like a crumbling world, the infinite snake endures, be it as a hopeful totem or a terrifying emblem. Either way, our lamentations of the past and our modern obsessions with the present and future are all as one.
The Earth will keep spinning, the cycle continues. Ad infinitum.