Ouroboros: The Snake Who Eats His Own Tail

I’ve been thinking alot about the state of the earth lately. We are not living here, we are holding the planet hostage. And the ransom is too little, too late… In Greek mythology, Ouroboros symbolizes completion, wholeness, even the infinite.

For me it has come to symbolize the cannibalism of capitalism, the ways in which all species and forms of being have become implicated and contaminated by a logic and ways of living they never chose.

The implications of the current climate crisis are staggering. And the absolute lack of accountability and remediation are ushering in an era of open eco-cide. Since we humans are also nature— we are also being affected.

Disaster refugees, increases in auto-immune disorders, chronic illness, chronic and environmental illnesses— all of these are consequences of the paths our rulers have chosen. Factory farming, big pharma, factory medicine, fracking, mining and logging practices, deep sea oil exploration, cell phone/microwave radiation, exploitation of children and women in specific industries, and sexually— all of these are parts of the web which ties a system of exploitation and exclusion together.

Apathy can feel like the answer when the choice of what shampoo or pair of jeans to buy preoccupies us more than our exclusion from making decisions about what really matters. These are indeed dangerous times.

Climate justice implies placing the most vulnerable first when we make policy and implement it. It means thinking of the global good— not the particular profit. But we are a long way away from recognizing that people in the colonized world or that people of colour and poor people in the Americas and Europe merit a human and humane quality of life.

Young people have started organizing for a response to the climate crisis. And their participation means the difference between a future and being eaten by the snake…


Afternoon crept slowly
through the window.
From this high perch
you see dreams floating
like clouds against the clear spring of sky.

Around you, Europe in all its nostalgia.
Magrebi workers in all their anonymity
walking eyes averted
like so many unwilling brides.

In this world
we must choose our place.
If our eyes are blinded
we must smell feel taste
the way we make our lives.

Grey transparency of rain
unbidden and unloved
on lands where cities hunch.

Ouroboros of progress,
how close the distance
from devouring mouth to tail.

Kaushalya Bannerji, Copyright, 1993

Koyanisqaatsi, 1982
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Koyanisqaatsi, 1982
Sebastiao Salgado, Serra Pelada Gold Mine, Brazil, 1985,
Sebastiao Salgado, Mumbai, 1996
Domestic Workers Organizing in Peru, 2002
New Orleans, July 10, 2019
Dead Whales Beached in Tasmania, 2018
Flooding, Kerala, 2018




Ouroboros, Copyright 2019, Kaushalya Bannerji

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