These days, the infinity symbol seems to be everywhere. You’ve probably seen many of the ‘traditional’ sideways 8 with maybe a word, or a quote, or a cute design intertwined, but you probably haven’t seen this one: The ouroboros symbol.
It seems like everyone has some version of an infinity sign tattooed. However, you might not have seen this infinity sign: The ouroboros symbol. It's full of so much meaning, history, and has been seen in different cultures around the world. Before going in for your next tattoo check out the hidden meaning behind this unique infinity symbol.
This Greek word means “tail swallower,” and the symbol represents the union of the chthonic principle of the serpent, and the circular principle of the celestial world. It’s a symbol of eternity that has been around for millenia. The dragon or snake eats its own body, an action that gives way to many interpretations, including opposition notions, like heaven and earth, good and evil, day and night, yin and yang.
All Is One
Some alchemists illustrated the symbol as a serpent wrapped around an egg: the center opening symbolizes the egg, which represents inception, beginnings, openings, latent power, and limitless potential. In alchemy, the serpent was the spirit of mercury, a substance that permeates all matter.
It has also been depicted in the lemniscate shape, the figure 8. The opening that the snake is clenching onto also signifies the number zero and all it implies. The meaning of the serpent eating itself declares that “the end is the beginning.” Yeah, this is some deep stuff.
“Only By Devouring Ourselves Can We Find Our True Nature.”
The ouroboros has been found throughout the ages in many cultural myths.
It first appeared in ancient Egypt, on a golden shrine on Tutankhamun's tomb. It is a symbol of the sun – it’s rising and setting signifies the cycle of the day.
Gnostic: Oneness of all life, the constant process of re-recreation, and the unity behind all duality.
Rome: Eternity and time, associated with Janus, the god of the new year.
Greece: Death and rebirth as illustrated in the Orphic creation myth – another reference to the cosmic egg symbolism.
West Africa: Known as the rainbow serpent or “Aido Hwedo,” it’s an emblem for sustaining life, protection, and creation.
Aztecs: The serpent god, Quetzacoatl, was depicted in a similar way.
Hinduism: A dragon is depicted circling the tortoises that support the four elephants that carry the world.
In some mythologies, it represents the Milky Way, referring to a serpent of light residing in the heavens. It is located at a galactic point near Sagittarius. Even Merlin carried the ouroboros in his wand. After learning about the ouroboros, it’s history, and everything that it has signified throughout the centuries, you might want to consider it when getting your next tattoo.
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