I always had difficulty with story of the Ouroboros. The idea of something devouring itself seemed profoundly odd to me. Why would anything do that? During one of my conversations with my brother the answer came to me.
The snake wants to know itself.
One of the primary ways we experience the world is through taste. We taste objects because we want to understand what they are. We want to find out what nourishes us, what poisons us, what excites us. Taste, smell, and touch are the sappers of our sensory experience. They dig under the walls created by our frontal lobes to protect us from naked instinct. But we still need them, desperately. We need them because the rational part of our brains is still not very good at knowing what we truelly want.
There are certain people who have brain injuries that have caused the rational parts of their brain to gain absolute supremacy. “How wonderful” a rationalist might say, “they can make decisions unclouded by emotion and instinct!” Fascinatingly, exactly the opposite happens; they have a far more difficult time making decisions and often end up paralyzed, under fire, and out numbered by the constant onslaught of overwhelming choice. The world is
Far to big for our rational minds to grasp a billionth of the possible consequences of our actions. We need instinct, we need emotion, we need messiness, we need The Mystery. Without them we are frozen shells that shatter in the storm of time.
If so then what is taste if we look it as a tool for map making?
It is a tool for self-actualization. We use taste to find out what we want to become. Our bodies tell us that we need nutrient x, so our taste searches the world for it and bring it into us so we may become it. When we want to feel a certain way we allow our sense of taste to guide us. We want happiness so we eat chocolate, we want stimulation so we drink caffine, we want home so we eat the food our parents made for us as children.
How does this relate to the Ouroboros? By eating itself the snake is saying
“I love myself,
I need myself,
I become myself.”
This is an important realization for me because if you take it a bit further, it works beautifully as a metaphor for love. Say instead of one snake eating itself you have two snakes/beings devouring one another in an infinite circle. These beings are saying:
“I taste you and I want to know more of you.
I consume you to know you and I never want to stop.
I feel us inside each other and all I want to do is have me become you and you become me, forever.”
That, to me, is love.