Uroboros vs. Ego : World vs. Humanity

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“The nascent ego becomes aware of pleasure-pain qualities, and from them it experiences its own pleasure and pain… The unconscious life of nature, which is also the life of the Uroboros, combines the most meaningless destruction with the supreme meaningfulness of instinctive creation…” (Neumann, 1949, p. 39)

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Human reality is a dual expression between pleasure and pain in a world of meaningless destructions and meaningful creations. A dual experience between the reality of the world’s nature and the fantasies and creations of our imaginations. The real is the great duality of Being: that we are in the world and the world is in us. A dual reality that breeds its own dualities: the agony of the ecstasy of creation, the senselessness and inherent natural necessity of destruction.

The Uroboric reality is an unconscious one, egoless. We preserve a sense of it in our subconscious for it was our prenatal reality. The unconscious being of being in the womb. With birth so to is born the ego: the self-consciousness that separates us from the Uroboric world and empowers us with contemplation of it and of ourselves. From sensory consciousness to cerebral understanding, to reason.

With its ego activated, life for the human becomes a tremendous, often overwhelming experience. At times there seems to be too much life; at others everything seems to be lacking. Yet the unconscious connection with the Uroboric is never completely lost, in fact it seems to manifest itself in the fabric of all our ideologies as a yearning for autarchy.

 

The yearning for the Paradise, for a return to the Garden of Eden, is a yearning for a return to the autarchy of the Uroboros. The simple autarchy of being-in-the-world without any other responsibility or necessity other than that of being-in-the-world.

The yearning persists, but the ego has turned against it, transforming the yearning into a melancholy that we dare indulge in only spasmodically – lest it annihilate us. The infant ego contemplates the overwhelming with more fear than wonder. Reality for the child is a constant struggle to face fear and overcome it. It is from this struggle that the idea of the hero is born, and the protector, which is another form of heroism.

Inherent in both heroism and protection there is the concept of power. Power is a struggle which has to be either provided, as a gift from the powerful hero or a god, or acquired, usually by passing a test, a quest, a coming-of-age ceremony, an initiation.

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According to depth psychology, ruling over the psychic stage of the adolescent ego is the Uroboric figure of the Great Mother of Mother Nature: the Earth Mother; the world in which we must be; the great womb enclosing our after-birth existence.

It is the Earth Mother who brings death and sickness: plagues, famine, floods, forest fires, droughts and earthquakes. She terrifies us with her thunder and will strike us down with lightning.

In the beginning we did not love the world, we could not love it, we were terrified of it. Our fantasies, instead of liberating us from our fears only worsened them – for human reality is not just being-in-the-world but being there accompanied by all the phantoms, beasts and monsters of our fecund imagination. It is not enough that there is a famine this year, there is also a terrible demon and dragon that is causing the famine.

Yet it is this fear which also fed the human ingenuity that created a human need for technology, art, science and culture. Every inventor is a potential hero. Every architect, every doctor, every sculptor… Every culture until now has been the result of our heroic need to overcome our inherent fear of the world, and in this detail we see our inherent problem with the world.

We have to stop fearing and learn to love it; learn to unselfishly live with it; to treat it with the respect that it deserves.

We are in this world and we would like to think that we control it, but that is a lie. We are never really in control. The force and power of nature is tremendous. We can but react to what nature throws at us when it throws itself at us. We do our best to protect ourselves, but ultimately we are dependent on the benevolence of the powers that be.

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6 thoughts on “Uroboros vs. Ego : World vs. Humanity

    • I am glad you enjoyed it. As far as I know the rendering of the word from the original Greek into our Latin based alphabet can be done either as Uroboros or Ouroboros as likewise Uranus can be rendered Ouranos. But spelling has always been a terrible weakness of mine.

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