Top 73 Ouroboros Tattoo Ideas [2020 Inspiration Guide]
Most people will look quizzically at you when you mention the word ouroboros, but almost everyone will recognize the symbol when they see it. So what is an ouroboros? It is the ancient symbol of a snake or dragon eating its own tail.
The ouroboros symbolizes wholeness or infinity.
It is a representation of constant recreation of oneself and the cycle of life which, like the phoenix, renews even as it ends.
This mysterious symbol first appeared in ancient Egypt in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld, and has persisted through to the modern day through almost every society including Norse mythology, in which the ouroboros represents Jörmungandr, the child of Loki and Angrboda. In this legend, Jörmungandr became so massive that he could circle the entire world and bite his own tail with his teeth.
Ultimately all societies view the ouroboros as the epitome of infinity and renewal. It is a universal concept that has mystical meaning in all cultures now. It is one of the most beautiful ways to express the concept of self-renewal, and is a symbol of knowledge and acceptance. It’s an expression that says “with every end comes a beautiful new beginning.”
This is an interesting example of an ouroboros tattoo that incorporates simple script as well. Here, an interwoven, double snake design is used instead of the more simple ouroboros often pictured. The saturation of the black in the background is solid and increases contrast, allowing for better definition of the snakes’ bodies. The stipple work for the skin of the animals is loose enough to feel organic without looking sloppy or unintentional. The script is also interesting: it is a take on the famous Aleister Crowley quote “Do what thou wilt” and further illuminates the mystical meaning this tattoo holds for the wearer.
This simple design shows off the artist’s attention to detail and makes for a visually pleasing tattoo. The shape of the circle is almost perfect and the line work is consistent and exact, while the use of varied densities in the stipple shading helps to create contrast with the negative space highlights. The artist is also able to give the face of the snake a surprising amount of character despite the minimalist design. The addition of flowers and small designs on the body of the snake add a personal touch and help make this a one of a kind tattoo.
While the ouroboros is most often visualized as a snake, dragons have long been associated with this mystic symbol, and here, the artist uses gray wash and illustrative design to create a unique, fantasy-style dragon. The scales are consistent and well applied; however, it is the face of the dragon that really sets this tattoo apart. The level of detail and the use of hatching as well as black and gray shading, to achieve a life-like quality in the face, help to complete the design. The scraggy wisps of the tail add to the mythical quality of the design: this could be a creature straight out of Dungeons & Dragons.
This is an excellent tattoo that puts a twist on traditional ouroboros designs. This artist and client went for a realistic depiction of a rattlesnake, complete with consistent scale work and life-like details: it almost doesn’t appear to be an ouroboros design, until you notice the snake starting to eat its own tail. The shading on the body of the snake is expert, shifting as the snake wraps around the wearer’s body and the use of a drop shadow beneath the snake increases contrast against the wearer’s pale skin tone and helps give the tattoo a depth that makes the snake pop.
This is an incredible, black and gray full sleeve that incorporates a number of mystical symbols and images to create a stunning tattoo. At the top of the piece, on the shoulder, there is a figure 8 ouroboros surrounding an “all-seeing eye” as well as a mandala. On the inside of the bicep as well as on the back of the forearm there are also mandalas utilizing sacred geometry as well as a skull at the bottom of the design. The attention to detail and intricate patterns are remarkable: notice the fine line geometric patterns on the outside wrist as well as the super-dense stipple shading below the skull. This amazing tattoo is a testament to the artist’s skill and serves as a memorial to the wearer’s respect and fascination with the occult.
Here is another ouroboros design that utilizes sacred geometry to great effect. Contained within the snake is a tetrahedron formed with the use of negative space and stipple shading. This shape is an integral element in sacred geometry and, like the ouroboros, is associated with the unity of the physical and the spiritual. While the deep meaning behind this design is obvious, the technical details are what make it an amazing tattoo. The consistency in the negative space—as well as the planning necessary to ensure the intersection points remain accurate—put the artist’s skill on full display. The varied densities of stippling, from almost complete coverage all the way to negative space, are expertly applied and really help this design to stand out from less intricate tattoos.
Ouroboros Tattoo FAQ’s
What does the symbol of a snake eating its tail mean?
The ouroboros is an interesting design that symbolizes infinity, regeneration and the interconnected nature of the universe. First appearing in ancient Egyptian iconography, the image of a snake eating its own tail made its way into the Western traditions via Greece, and eventually became a key image and concept in Alchemy.
The ouroboros represented the transmigration of the soul and symbolized the human experience extending beyond the physical world into the next plane. More recently this design has entered into popular culture and has been used everywhere from the TV series Dr. Who and the x-Files to the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering. This ancient and powerful symbol holds mystical meaning and is a great subject for tattoos.