Jung saw the ouroboros as an archetype and the basic mandala of alchemy He defined the relationship of
the ouroboros to alchemy as:
The alchemists, who in their own way know more about the nature of the individuation process
than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the ouroboros, the snake that
eats its own tail. In the age old image of the ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and
turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the most astute alchemists that the
prima materia of the art was man himself.
The ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the
shadow self. This feed back process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of
the ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself t life again, fertilizes himself and gives birth
to himself. This is much like the cycle of the Phoenix, the feminine archetype.
Ouroboros symbolizes The One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and therefore
constitutes the secret of the prima materia which unquestionably stems from man's
(Collective Works Vol. 14)