While not the most popular tattoos in the world, ouroboros tattoos can be extremely nice-looking on the skin and very meaningful. What you’ll learn on this page is that there are many ways to get these tattoos designed and they all have some excellent meanings that work for plenty of people. Keep reading to find out what an ouroboros tattoo is and whether or not it is a good tattoo idea for you.
Ouroboros (Ouro and boros Ancient Greek words meaning “tail” and “eating” respectively) is anciently depicted as a snake, serpent, or dragon encircled, devouring its own tail. Some cultures have just one way they have the ouroboros designed, but these days you will see that there are realistic looking snakes, abstract snakes, or even other animals used in the snake’s place. You can be as creative as you want with the ouroboros symbol, though you do want to make sure that it is obvious what the symbol actually is, which is done by having the head of the animal circling around to its tail.
The ouroboros symbol is prevalent in many ancient cultures worldwide, creating a theme of reflection and continuity, but also detriment. It’s one of those rare tattoos that covers meanings all across the spectrum, which is great for people who want to be able to look at a design for multiple reasons. Regardless of the design, an ouroboros tattoo reminds you that life goes on even during the worst of times, which is the meaning that most people end up using.
In some cases, the ouroboros tattoo is also a symbol of immortality. Of course, more people who get this tat do not think that they are immortal, but it is a great way to show that this is your world and nobody is going to be able to stop you from reaching your goals.
The ouroboros was first discovered in the tombs and writings of the Ancient Egyptians, although it has been included, both the direct symbol and the concept of the indivisible continuity of the life cycle, leading to death, and eventually new life. It’s one of those tattoos that can symbolize your acceptance of death while also representing your willingness to do everything you can while you are on this planet.
The ouroboros tattoo is most generally rendered as a snake or dragon. The creature is sometimes winged, adding a more fantastic or mythical aspect to the image. To be honest, it’s very hard to find an ouroboros tat that doesn’t look cool, but it’s also one of those images that take some time to create since most people want every detail to be perfect. Even if you don’t decide to include scales, which cost more and are harder to create, you still want the image to pop off of your skin.
Dragons are often scaled to create a bolder symbol and add more detail. This is even true in smaller ouroboros tattoos that wrap around the arm or just sit on the forearm. The little scale details can make these tattoos really stand out and draw some attention. Obviously some cool dragon wings can do even more to make these designs stand out, though it seems like most people avoid including them since they make the symbol look a bit different than the original ouroboros.
A snake can be designed with an extended, forked tongue or fangs, creating an ominous image while a dragon can be horned or spouting flames. This emphasizes the self-destructive nature of the sign as well as the Egyptian mythology that denotes structure encircled by a realm of cyclical chaos.
The symbol can be rendered in several ways, although it always included the tail of the serpent being eaten by the mouth. Most people will get the serpent designed in a circular pattern, though even just having it in its normal form with its mouth over its tail can work. You don’t even have to show the mouth open as long as it is clear the tail is in there somewhere.
The lengthy body of the snake or dragon, or any serpent image, can be twisted into a knot, Celtic or otherwise. Celtic knots are an homage to Irish heritage while any other type of knot or twisting adds complexity to the symbol, changing the cyclical into a more intricate path. These shape changes usually won’t change the meaning of the tattoo in any way, so it really comes down to where you are placing the tattoo and how you want it to appear. For example, a forearm ouroboros tattoo can be a snake in the classic circular shape or in more of a pretzel shape. You can take this a step further by having it shaped like a symbol, such as a cross, which will add in the meanings attached to that symbol.
The body of the serpent is easily depicted as an infinity symbol, twisting at the center to create a “figure eight” and emphasize the never-ending cycle of life. If you were already planning on getting some type of infinity tattoo, you might find that the ouroboros design gives you that cool and unique look you were going for.
Similarly, some people will also get their ouroboros tattoo to symbolize wholeness. This is the perfect meaning for those who recognize what they need in their lives to make them feel whole. It’s also a good meaning for anyone who currently feels like they have everything they need to live a happy life.
Renewal is yet another popular ouroboros tattoo meaning that people like to use with these symbols. Obviously this is the meaning people will use when they are trying to get over a tough time in their lives. They will always be able to look at their ouroboros tattoo and remember what they’ve been through and know what they have to do to avoid ever having to go back to that place.
To further the Egyptian theme, hieroglyphics can be added to the design as well, creating a fuller image and also drawing attention to the icons origins. This is all about personalizing the tattoo a bit more, choosing symbols that represent important things to you, such as personal traits or goals you want to accomplish.
Symbols of alchemy, Egyptian or otherwise, can also be added to point to the magical, creative powers of the sign. As with other symbols, you’ll choose these based on the meanings you want to attach to your ouroboros tattoo.
Because of the image’s presence, described in ancient Kundalini Yoga, an “om” symbol may be incorporated to highlight its infinite power. This can easily be placed inside of the ouroboros tattoo or just above or below the image.
As we pointed out earlier, people have a lot of choices for how they will end up designing their ouroboros tattoos. This is a great thing because it usually results in a unique design, but it also makes this process a bit more challenging.
Placement of an ouroboros tattoo is actually pretty simple considering that they are usually circular shapes. Obviously if you are using a knot shape or some other non-circular shape you could run into some placement difficulties.
What’s pretty cool about the ouroboros tattoo is that it can easily be designed to wrap around your arm or leg. This is actually what a lot of people do with their basic snake tattoos, and the only extra step you’ll have to take with the ouroboros is making sure that its mouth ends up over its tail.
Regardless of the design, you will definitely want to get a top tattoo artist to create and ink your ouroboros tattoo for you if you end up deciding to get one. This is especially true if you are getting a complex design with highly detail scales and/or wings.
We hope you now have a better understanding of how you can get ouroboros tattoos designed and some of the meanings that can be attached to them. It’s definitely a cool tattoo idea and in many cases it is one of the better tattoos to define who someone is and what they believe. If that’s you, you should definitely consider getting an ouroboros tattoo.