What Does An Ouroboros Tattoo Mean?
The ouroboros tattoo is a curious symbol that has multiple meanings across multiple cultures.
A ubiquitous creature, it seems to have existed since the beginning of time.
Many iconic civilizations have images and legends that refer to a snake eating its tail.
Today, the legacy continues with our modern tattoo art.
The great self-eating serpent lends itself well to tattoos.
It’s a relatively simple tattoo with complex symbolism.
As such, it is open to artistic interpretation.
An ouroboros tattoo, featuring the ancient symbol of a serpent or dragon eating its own tail, carries rich and varied symbolism:
- Eternal Cycle of Life and Death: The ouroboros often represents the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. This interpretation is rooted in many ancient cultures where the ouroboros was a symbol of the eternal cycle of nature’s endless creation and destruction.
- Self-Reflection and Wholeness: The ouroboros tattoo can symbolize the idea of introspection and the pursuit of self-knowledge, as the creature consumes itself, reflecting the journey of self-discovery and the quest for unity within oneself.
- Infinite Universe: In some beliefs, the ouroboros encapsulates the concept of the universe constantly recreating itself, symbolizing the infinite nature of existence.
- Alchemy and Transformation: Alchemists used the ouroboros as a symbol of the cyclical nature of their work, representing the unending process of transformation and the unity of opposites (e.g., life and death, creation and destruction).
- Protection and Healing: In some cultures, the ouroboros serves as a protective symbol, believed to ward off evil spirits and bring healing and rejuvenation.
- Balance and Harmony: The circular nature of the ouroboros can also denote balance and the harmonious cycle of life, where all things are interconnected and one cannot exist without the other.
- Personal Significance: Like any tattoo, an ouroboros can hold personal meaning unique to the individual, often reflecting personal growth, life experiences, or a connection to the symbolic meanings mentioned above.
Ouroboros Tattoo Designs
When it comes to ouroboros tattoos, there are so many directions to consider.
You may want to design something personal, draw inspiration from your cultural background, or grab an idea from pop culture.
To help you narrow down your options, we’ve compiled some of the most common ouroboros tattoo designs.
Black and Red Ouroboros Tattoos
There is a duality within oneness.
There are many “all is one” symbols throughout tattoo art, including the yin-yang tattoo and the tree of life tattoo.
Opposing concepts make an eternal harmonious loop.
It is this yin/yang concept that inspires black and red ouroboros tattoos.
Many tattoo designs feature “half and half” colored ouroboros.
They are often black and red or sometimes in two opposing colors.
It is a reminder that everything has its harmonious opposite.
Skeletal Ouroboros Tattoos
An ouroboros can be a way to accept impermanency as a part of life.
In these tattoos, the snake is in a skeletal form.
The final end doesn’t play favorites, it comes for us all.
Some people prefer to live with ephemerality, rather than deny it because it’s uncomfortable.
An ouroboros is an easy reminder of it without looking too grim.
Dragon Ouroboros Tattoo
Typically, ouroboros tattoos have the shape of a serpent or snake that appears to be eating its tail.
As the most powerful mythical serpents, dragon imagery is a perfect addition to the standard ouroboros tattoo design.
Dragons tattoos have long been associated with power, wisdom, and eternity.
When combined with the cyclical symbolism of the ouroboros tattoo the result is a unique piece that symbolizes inner strength gained as a result of difficult experiences.
Through these experiences, we often gain insight into what’s really important in life, and these realizations have the potential to feel like a rebirth.
Ouroboros Heart Tattoo
The Egyptian texts featured long, twisted snakes that could coil themselves into any position.
We continue that legacy with heart-shaped snakes in our ouroboros tattoos.
A heart-shaped ouroboros tattoo may represent eternal love or a passion for living life to the fullest.
Norse Ouroboros Tattoos
The world serpent, also known as Jörmungandr, is an agent of chaos in Norse mythology.
The Norse Ouroboros legend focuses less on the “creation” side and more on the frailty.
If you’re thinking the end is nigh, why not live a little?
Get a Jörmungandr tattoo and spread your grim prophecy.
Infinity Ouroboros Tattoo
The great serpent can also take the shape of an infinity tattoo symbol.
An infinity ouroboros tattoo reinforces the idea of eternal life, natural cycles, and time not having a beginning or end.
It is perfect for mystics or people who have just lost someone they love.
Masonic Ouroboros Tattoos
If you want to double down on your esoteric symbols, look no further than the all-seeing eye tattoo.
Depicted in many religions but known as a Masonic symbol, the eye represents an all-seeing God.
In this context, an ouroboros tattoo may communicate your new-age religious beliefs.
Or perhaps you want to remember that you will answer to your god in the afterlife.
Ouroboros Tattoos & Rune Tattoos
The Norse ouroboros legend is one of the most epic incarnations of the great snake.
If you want to show off your love of all things Norse- you may want to add some runes to a world serpent design.
The runes are an ancient Norse alphabet.
They are also markings used on divining tools.
They represent the mysterious, the mystical, and the unknown.
An ouroboros with runes tattoos may represent mysteries and the desire for spiritual knowledge.
Aztec Ouroboros Tattoo
The Aztec snake, also called Quetzalcoatl, was a deity worshiped by the Aztecs as the god of wind and learning.
Aztec tattoos use a distinctive color palette, but they can also be depicted in black and grey styles.
An Aztec Ouroboros tattoo is an ultimate symbol for improving yourself, learning new things while being aware of the perpetual cycles of life.
Ouroboros Tattoo Ideas
The ouroboros is a fascinating, mystical symbol, and something you’ll never get tired of as a tattoo.
It can be simple and elegant, or ornate and opulent.
It can represent your view on the afterlife, your desire for spiritual oneness, or the end of days.
Still not sure what kind of ouroboros tattoo you’d like?
Wrap your eyes around our ouroboros tattoo gallery for some slithery inspiration!
- Fullmetal Alchemist Ouroboros Tattoos
A Fullmetal Alchemist ouroboros tattoo differs from more traditional ouroboros designs primarily in appearance.
In the Fullmetal Alchemist anime, the design features a deep red serpent consuming its tail with a star design held within the circle its body creates.
The ouroboros has been associated with the practice of magic and alchemy for centuries, and it’s possible that this is why the design is so prevalent in the series.
The Fullmetal Alchemist ouroboros tattoo represents an acceptance of the eternal cycle of death and rebirth… and an appreciation for a fantastic anime series!
- Bracelet Ouroboros Tattoos
Given the shape of the ouroboros symbol, it lends itself well to designs that allow its circularity to become the main feature.
Bracelet ouroboros tattoos do that by encircling the wearer’s wrist with the serpent, thus giving the design a more three-dimensional feel.
Bracelet ouroboros tattoos can be created using any number of styles and designs, making them perfect for anyone who is looking for a non-traditional design.
The wrist is an intimate place for a tattoo, and this is no different for bracelet ouroboros tattoos.
Often, people get them to commemorate or celebrate deeply personal beliefs or events.
- Mayan Ouroboros Tattoos
Mayan ouroboros tattoos are interesting because the ouroboros symbol did not originate in Central or South America where the Mayan society flourished.
Instead, the design was adopted by Mayan-style tattoo artists due to the fact that it pairs well with Mayan-style art which has a well-documented affinity with serpents and cycles.
These pieces can vary in meaning from person to person, but generally, they carry on the ouroboros’ traditional symbolism of life, death, and rebirth.
- Simple Ouroboros Tattoos
A simple ouroboros tattoo is defined by its clean lines and commitment to the design’s tradition.
The meaning of simple ouroboros tattoos doesn’t stray far from tradition either, as most are seen as symbolizing a cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
This isn’t always taken literally, though.
Many people get simple ouroboros tattoos to symbolize their passage from one period of their life into another.
Sometimes, things happen in life that change us and make us feel like we were born anew, and simple ouroboros tattoos are a wonderful way to commemorate that experience.
Ouroboros Tattoo Placement
Where you place your ouroboros tattoo can potentially impact everything from symbolism to style, so it’s important to think carefully about where you think the tattoo will work best.
Below, we’ll cover some of the most common locations for ouroboros tattoos along with their benefits.
- Ouroboros Tattoos on Wrist
Ouroboros tattoos on the wrist can be a particularly meaningful variation of the design.
Due to the visibility of the location, ouroboros wrist tattoos often serve as a constant reminder that the wearer’s bad experiences have only made them stronger.
Due to the vulnerability of the location, ouroboros tattoos in this location are intimate and private, typically carrying deeply personal meanings.
- Ouroboros Tattoos Around the Neck
An ouroboros tattoo on or around the neck can be a beautiful expression of spirituality or enlightenment.
The location is an intimate one, and that makes it ideal for tattoos with symbolism as deeply ingrained as the ouroboros.
Ouroboros tattoos in this location are often thought to safeguard or protect the wearer from evil, negativity, or bad luck.
- Ouroboros Tattoos on Elbow
Ouroboros elbow tattoos are a pretty unique variety that typically features the ouroboros’ serpent circling the point of the wearer’s elbow.
Like the ouroboros bracelet tattoo, this variety allows the symbol to take full advantage of its circular shape by making it three-dimensional on the body.
- Ouroboros Shoulder Tattoos
Shoulder ouroboros tattoos are some of the most striking ouroboros pieces.
The size and relative flatness of the shoulder allows tattoo artists to experiment with scale and style when creating the design.
This leads to some incredibly ornate and beautiful finished pieces.
In addition to the location’s features, it also benefits from being a more private location than many of the others on this list.
Our shoulders are covered the majority of the day, and this means your ouroboros tattoo will only really be showing when you want it to be.
- Ouroboros Finger Tattoos
Ouroboros tattoos on or around a finger are less common than some of the other placement locations mentioned here – but that shouldn’t stop you from considering it!
An ouroboros tattoo around the finger offers its guidance and meaning in the form of subtle reminders throughout the day.
Due to their small size, ouroboros finger tattoos aren’t usually very visible (sometimes they can be mistaken for rings).
That makes an ouroboros finger tattoo ideal for anyone looking for a placement location that can be both visible and hidden at the same time.
- Ouroboros Forearm Tattoos
Forearm tattoos are an extremely popular type of tattoo these days – especially for people hoping to get ouroboros tattoos.
Having an ouroboros tattoo on the forearm means that it will frequently be visible throughout the day.
This is a good thing when it comes to ouroboros tattoos because they are typically seen as spiritual reminders about the cyclicity of life and death, and reminders work best when you see them and think about them frequently.
Ouroboros forearm tattoos benefit from being easily concealable underneath a long-sleeve shirt or top.
If you often find yourself in situations where tattoos aren’t considered appropriate, this might be the perfect location for you.
The ouroboros symbol is a potent and enduring image that has been found in cultures around the world.
Despite its wide-reaching popularity, it is still shrouded in mystery.
Ouroboros tattoos are a deeply meaningful design for anyone looking for a piece that reminds them to accept their past, present, and future as part of a greater cycle of life and anyone who wants to commemorate a personal rebirth.