Tattoos with deep meaning always remain in trend, and today we’d like to share one such design with you. Of course, it’s the well-known Ouroboros tattoos! 

While looking for inspiration, we’ll go through our collection of unique Ouroboros designs in different styles. Since some of them may share similarities, we also prepared some tips on adding uniqueness to your Ouroboros tattoo.

Although Ouroboros symbolizes eternity, finding a tattoo artist to bring any design to life takes just a few clicks with InkMatch. Take a look and connect with any of these 4 professionals who will be happy to create your dream design:

Where Did the Ouroboros Tattoo Come From?

Ouroboros is an ancient symbol found in many cultures and mythologies, always maintaining a recognizable form. This creature is portrayed as a serpent or even a dragon swallowing its tail, forming a circular shape that symbolizes cyclical, eternal, and endless existence. 

The word “Ouroboros” has Greek origins, formed from two words — “oura,” meaning “tail,” and “boros,” meaning “eating.”

The oldest mention of Ouroboros comes to us from Ancient Egypt. After traversing a long path, this serpent symbol appeared in various cultures and in the works of alchemists seeking to create the philosopher’s stone [1].

Where Did the Ouroboros Tattoo Come From?

Ouroboros has a long history, it is more of a symbol than a character, which is why we find it in many different cultures:

🌞 Ancient Egypt — in Egyptian mythology, Ouroboros symbolized the sun god Ra’s journey across the sky and his renewal and rebirth each day. It represented time, which Egyptians imagined as a loop.

Ancient Greece — although the word Ouroboros comes from Greek, it does not appear as a separate character in mythology. Sometimes it is associated as a symbol with the serpent that appears in the Orphic Mysteries, personifying the cosmic cycle of creation and destruction [2]. 

Norse Mythology — the Norse legend of Jörmungandr, the World Serpent, portrays a giant serpent that encircles the world, grasping its tail. Jormungandr symbolizes the cyclical nature of existence and the balance between order and chaos in Norse cosmology.

🧪 Alchemy — alchemists of the medieval and Renaissance periods adopted the Ouroboros as a symbol of the philosopher’s stone. It represented alchemy’s process of transformation, the union of opposites, and the quest for spiritual enlightenment and immortality.

🌍 In other cultures — Since Ouroboros is primarily a symbol we can find it in almost every culture. In ancient Indian iconography, scientists have found the image of a serpent wrapped around the world, and the South American deity Quetzalcoatl was sometimes depicted in the form of Ouroboros [3]. 

It is not surprising that such a popular symbol is actively used in modern culture. The Ouroboros can be found on the pages of books, on movie and TV screens, and of course, tattooed on the skin. 

For example, in the popular anime and manga series “Fullmetal Alchemist,” characters known as homunculi, created with the help of alchemy, have Ouroboros dragon tattoos.

Where Did the Ouroboros Tattoo Come From?

Deep Meaning of the Ouroboros Symbol

The meaning of the Ouroboros tattoo is simple but very deep because alchemists used this symbol in their philosophical texts for a reason. Let’s look at it in detail.

🐍 Cyclicality — the serpent eating its tail represents life transitioning into death and back again. 

🐍 Eternity — the endless loop signifies the eternal and infinite nature of existence.

🐍 Wholeness and unity — symbolizes the unity of opposites, such as creation and destruction, beginning and end, and the material and spiritual realms.

🐍 Transformation — in alchemical traditions, Ouroboros represents the transformation of mortal to immortal, ordinary to precious.

Where Did the Ouroboros Tattoo Come From?

Best Ouroboros Tattoo Designs

Ouroboros tattoos are often small, but you can always incorporate this design into a larger composition or simply surround it with additional elements. 

Moreover, this design allows you to choose a unique placement such as Ouroboros tattoos around the arm or leg. To inspire you with ideas, we’ve compiled a collection of 65 cool designs to suit every taste.

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Use InkMatch’s gallery of designs to the fullest. Check out Ouroboros tattoos from our artists, as well as hundreds of other designs.

Classic Ouroboros Tattoo

The classic Ouroboros tattoo depicts a snake devouring its tail, forming a circular shape. While this design may seem simple, the intriguing aspect arises when you consider the placement. You can opt for the Ouroboros snake tattoo to wrap around your wrist or even your neck. 

Furthermore, by incorporating a snake with an expression of rage or calmness, you can emphasize your personality.

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Read our article with stunning snake tattoo designs to find more ideas for inspiration.

This section features our tattoo artist, Alexis Marijke.

Infinity Sign

The infinity sign and Ouroboros are like two puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. Some people even believe that alchemical images of Ouroboros inspired the infinity symbol. 

Infinity ♾️ symbolizes limitless possibilities and continuous existence, complementing Ouroboros’ theme of endless renewal and rebirth.

Minimalist Ouroboros Tattoo

The minimalist Ouroboros tattoo features clean lines and simple shapes, leaving only the main elements of the symbol. This design emphasizes the simplicity of the idea of Ouroboros while maintaining its deep meaning of eternal cycles and interconnectedness.

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Minimalism is one of the most popular styles in tattooing, so don’t miss our article on the best minimalist tattoos.

Dragon Ouroboros Tattoo

Add a dragon to anything and it becomes more awesome! The Ouroboros dragon design is very popular in tattooing and draws inspiration from ancient Nordic mythology and alchemy. 

Dragons symbolize strength, wisdom, and protection in many cultures, reinforcing the meaning of the Ouroboros as a symbol of eternal life and balance.

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Find stunning Japanese dragon tattoo designs in our other article.

Double Ouroboros

The double Ouroboros design depicts two snakes intertwining and swallowing each other’s tails. This symbol originates from alchemy and signifies the dualistic nature of existence, encompassing opposing forces such as life and death, creation and destruction, and light and darkness. 

The double Ouroboros represents the interconnection and harmony of these opposing elements. This design is also sometimes referred to as a Celtic Ouroboros tattoo due to its resemblance to Celtic knots.

Nordic Ouroboros Symbol 

Drawing inspiration from Norse mythology, we meet Jörmungandr, a monstrous serpent that wraps the entire world with its body. Norse Ouroboros tattoos are often combined with traditional symbols such as runes or the Yggdrasil tree. This links Ouroboros to the concept of cosmic balance and natural cycles.

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Want to learn more about Norse-themed tattoos? Read our article about Viking symbol tattoos.

This section features our tattoo artist, Michal Grebosz.

Anime “Fullmetal Alchemist” Ouroboros Tattoo

Inspired by the popular “Fullmetal Alchemist” anime and manga series, the Ouroboros tattoo is used by homunculi and represents immortality and connection to the mystical Philosopher’s Stone. 

This tattoo will be a great tribute to your favorite anime and its idea of the interconnectedness of life and death.

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Read our article on another popular anime tattoo. We have collected 50 best curse mark Sasuke tattoo ideas for you.

Other Unique Ideas

You can go beyond snake and dragon designs and let your imagination run wild! The Ouroboros tattoo doesn’t have to depict Ouroboros, because the main thing about this design is to convey the idea of cyclicality

Here are just a few ideas with everyone’s favorite characters and unique designs.

4 Ways to Add Uniqueness to Your Ouroboros Tattoo

There are countless ways to make an Ouroboros tattoo stand out. Consider incorporating different elements or experimenting with color palettes and placement to make the tattoo truly personal and unique. 

Here we present a few ideas that may help you in your search.

💡 Quick tip:
To create the best unique Ouroboros tattoo design, work only with an experienced tattoo artist.

Flowers 

Flowers are an excellent way to add a feminine touch to the Ouroboros tattoo. They naturally reflect the idea of life and growth, which adds another layer to the meaning of Ouroboros. Flowers entangling the serpent show that life is always stronger than death.

On top of that, each flower has its own special meaning. Keep this in mind when choosing a flower for your Ouroboros tattoo.

Roses, for instance, represent love and passion, while lotus flowers signify enlightenment and spiritual growth. Cherry blossoms symbolize beauty and the transient nature of life.

This section features our tattoo artist, Sabrina Stabs.

Bright Colors

Choosing bright and saturated colors can make your snake or dragon Ouroboros tattoo more eye-catching. Consider using bold tones of green, blue, red, or yellow or all together to make your tattoo unique. 

Bright colors not only draw attention to your tattoo but also evoke a sense of energy, vitality, and positivity.

Lettering

If you want an ink with a meaningful phrase, why not combine it with an Ouroboros tattoo? Choose fonts that align with your style and enhance the overall aesthetic of the tattoo. 

For instance, the inscription “memento mori” can be a powerful addition to your Ouroboros tattoo, symbolizing that every cycle has a beginning and an end.

Additional Symbols

You can choose a more geometric Ouroboros tattoo or add other elements, creating an entire narrative in your design. Any symbol that resonates with your beliefs and values will do. 

Stars can symbolize guidance and aspirations, the moon can stand for mystery and intuition, keys represent unlocking potential or overcoming obstacles, and spirals signify spiritual growth and evolution.

Summary

To summarize, Ouroboros tattoos hold a very deep meaning and ancient origin. No wonder that the symbol of a serpent swallowing its tail has slithered its way into modern culture and, of course, tattooing. 

Explore our collection of Ouroboros designs and don’t be afraid to get creative, we prepared a few tips to personalize this tattoo motif! The Ouroboros might be old, but its symbolism and popularity are anything but outdated, so they will never go out of style.

We hope our article was helpful to you, and that you have found an endless source of inspiration!

FAQ

🐉 What Does the Ouroboros Tattoo Mean?

The meaning of the Ouroboros tattoo is both simple and profound. Devouring its tail, the serpent symbolizes the eternal cycle of creation and destruction. Many connect its symbolism with the sign of infinity.

☯ Is Ouroboros Tattoo Good or Bad?

Neither! In many cultures, the Ouroboros symbolizes both positive and negative concepts: renewal, regeneration, perpetual struggle, or cyclical suffering.

🌎 Is Ouroboros a Greek or Norse Symbol?

The symbol of Ouroboros is found in both Greek and Norse mythology, but its roots go back to Ancient Egypt.

🐍 What Is the Tattoo of the Snake That Eats Itself?

The tattoo of the snake that eats itself is called the Ouroboros. It is found in many cultures, but everywhere it has a similar meaning — rebirth and the cycle of birth and death. It represents themes of renewal, regeneration, and the balance of all things in the universe.

♾️ Is Ouroboros the Infinity Symbol?

Although Ouroboros is often depicted in the form of a symbol of infinity, they are different symbols. But their meaning has something in common, the idea of an endless cycle.

References

  1. Wikipedia contributors. (2024e, March 3). Ouroboros. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros#
  2. Wikipedia contributors. (2024a, February 9). Orphism (religion). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphism_(religion)# 
  3. Bekhrad, J. (2022b, February 24). The ancient symbol that spanned millennia. BBC Culture. https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20171204-the-ancient-symbol-that-spanned-millennia