Black ouroboros tattoo around the elbow

Ouroboros Tattoo: The Symbol Of Eternity And Continuity

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Ouroboros is a symbol that represents a circle-shaped snake that bites its tail. Also known as Uroboros, it is one of the oldest symbols that represents eternity and infinity. The word ouroboros comes from the Greek language ουροβóρος which means ‘a serpent that eats its tail.’ If you are thinking of getting an ouroboros tattoo – you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to look at the origins and meanings of this symbol. And as always – we have gathered a collection of ideas at the end of the post, so stay a while to discover more.

Ouroboros snake tattoo idea
Ouroboros snake tattoo idea.

The meaning of Ouroboros refers to the cycles of nature and the eternity itself. Both these meanings relate to the concept that everything exists in a period. These cycles repeat once in a while and appear as a constant rebirth. We can see this continuity in the four seasons of the year. It also symbolizes the time when the future moment ‘eats’ the present moment forever. In other words, it is a symbol of death and rebirth. A natural cycle of life and death that repeats every moment.

Ouroboros palm tattoo
Ouroboros tattoo on the palm

Throughout the history, the meaning of ouroboros changed and its purpose was different in each culture. But in almost every region it symbolized the eternal and repetitive cycles of nature, life, and the whole universe. Creation and destruction, life after death, etc.

Black snake - ouroboros tattoo on the elbow
Black snake tattoo on the elbow
With thin rhombus and dotted circle
With thin rhombus and dotted circle
Traditional style ouroboros tattoo
Traditional style
Floral ouroboros tattoo
Floral piece
Flower and ouroboros tattoo
Flower and ouroboros tattoo
Cute ouroboros tattoo
Cute ouroboros tattoo
Wheat stalk ouroboros tattoo on the right rib cage
Wheat stalk ouroboros tattoo on the right rib cage
Ouroboros wrist tattoo
Ouroboros tattoo on the wrist

History of Ouroboros

As we have mentioned before, this is a symbol of a reptile (usually a snake), that eats its tail and therefore, forms a circular shape. The oldest found sign of Ouroboros was in Egypt and dates back to 1600 BC. It was found in the form of hieroglyph written on the walls of the mortuary chamber of the Unis pyramid.  Scientists think that later other cultures such as Phoenicians adapted it and finally transmitted it to the ancient Greeks.

Ouroboros tattoo over the arm
Ouroboros tattoo over the arm.

However, the symbol of a snake eating itself appears in many other cultures from different parts of the world. For example, in Scandinavian mythology, there is the same snake with a different name – Jörmungandr. Meanwhile, in Hinduism, this symbol surrounds the turtle that holds the four elephants which carry the whole Earth. Ouroboros symbol also appears in the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica. But instead of a snake, there’s a Quetzalcoatl, a feathered spirit of Mayan, Aztec, Olmec, and Toltec civilizations.

Black and grey ouroboros tattoo on the forearm
Black and grey ouroboros tattoo on the forearm

Etymologically, the name of Ouroboros came from the Greek language and consists of two words: ‘oyrá’ (tail) and ‘borá’ (food). The myth of Sisyphus closely relates to the symbol of Ouroboros. One of the Greek Gods punished Sisyphus for his trickery and sent him to hell. As a punishment, he received a painful task of pushing a massive rock to the top of a mountain. At the point when he reached the top, the stone would always roll back where it was, forcing Sisyphus to start his meaningless work again. The ancient alchemists used Ouroboros as a symbol that represents their searches for immortality.

Black and grey ouroboros tattoo
Black and grey ouroboros tattoo

Ouroboros tattoo meaning

Apart from being a beautiful design, it also has many symbolical meanings around it. If you’re not sure which one to choose, let’s take a quick look over the initial concepts of Ouroboros.

Ouroboros and sacred geometry ornament
Ouroboros and sacred geometry ornament

The most significant meaning of Ouroboros is eternity and cycles of life, nature, and the universe. As the snake eats itself, it sustains its life and renews. The ancient people used the snake as the primary character, not by accident. They knew that renewal is a crucial part of every reptile species. So, by creating an Ouroboros, they created a symbol of renewal and rebirth.

Wonderful piece on the right shoulder
Beautiful piece on the right shoulder

Moreover, there are some species of lizards that can eat their tail to stay alive. When its life is in danger, a snake can get rid of the tail to escape. The primary reason why they can do it is that later their tail regrows.

Beautiful ouroboros tattoo
Beautiful ouroboros tattoo

An Ouroboros is infinite; it doesn’t have the beginning or end. It represents the neverending, immortal cycles that continually regenerate and repeat. In other words, you can put the concept of the life, nature, and universe into the Ouroboros symbol. Our lives constantly reborn, and even after we die, we still exist in some form. So, the Ouroboros also embodies the concept of life after death.

Neverending snake
Neverending snake

Ouroboros also has great importance in alchemy where it appears in two colors: red and green. For the alchemists, the green color is a symbol of the beginning of things, while the red represents the end or the death of something. Generally, Ouroboros symbolized the searches of eternity and immortality by the ancient alchemists.

Black rhombus and ouroboros tattoo
Black rhombus and snake tattoo

Ouroboros tattoo ideas

If you are looking for a symbol that would represent the eternity – this is an excellent option. The most popular tattoo of Ouroboros is a circular, black and grey snake or a dragon. Often, you can’t even see the mouth because the designs are very minimal. But you can recognize it by the eye and the mouth line. As we have gone through hundreds of pictures, we noticed that people prefer small, monochrome Ouroboros tattoos. But we encourage you to be creative, and if you want to add more color – do it! After all, it’s your tattoo, and it has to be the way you want.

Floral wreath and ouroboros
With floral wreath

But if you’re still not sure what kind of style you would like to get, take a look at our collection of Ouroboros tattoos – we are confident that you will find the inspiration. Here are some of the best designs that will help you to decide what do you want.

Ouroboros among the flowers tattoo
Among the flowers
Dagger and ouroboros sternum tattoo
Dagger and ouroboros tattoo on the sternum
Black and red ouroboros tattoo
Black and red ouroboros tattoo
Beautiful piece on the left side
Beautiful piece on the left side
Ornamental ouroboros back tattoo
Ornamental ouroboros tattoo on the back
Ouroboros dragon
Ouroboros dragon
Black ouroboros tattoo around the elbow
Black ouroboros tattoo around the elbow
Ouroboros and colorful sacred geometry ornament tattoo
Colorful sacred geometry ornament and Ouroboros tattoo
Dragon ouroboros and solar system planets tattoo
Dragon and solar system planets tattoo
Ouroboros and vegvisir tattoo
Vegvisir and Ouroboros tattoo
Golden snake ouroboros tattoo
Golden snake ouroboros tattoo
Ouroboros bracelet tattoo
Bracelet
Snake skeleton ouroboros tattoo
Snake skeleton Ouroboros tattoo
Flower branch and ouroboros tattoo
Flower branch and Ouroboros tattoo
Snake eating itself
Snake eating itself
Ouroboros and skull tattoo on the forearm
With the skull on the forearm
Blackwork ouroboros tattoo
Blackwork ouroboros tattoo
Snake ouroboros and allseeing eye tattoo
Snake and all-seeing eye tattoo
Nordic style ouroboros tattoo on the leg
Nordic style tattoo on the leg
Destruction is a form of creation
‘Destruction is a form of creation’ quote on the chest
With the flowers
With the flowers
White and red ouroboros snake tattoo
White and red snake tattoo
Ouroboros mandala tattoo
Mandala and Ouroboros tattoo
Ouroboros Tattoo: The Symbol Of Eternity And Continuity
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