The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle. The Ouroboros often represents the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end. It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting from the beginning with such force or qualities that it cannot be extinguished.
The ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism. It is also present in some Hindu folk-myths, as the snake Adisesha that circling the tortoise Maha kurma, that supports the eight elephants who in turn support the world on their backs. However, the snake does not bite its own tail, but instead is calling itself into being through what some literary theorists have called a performative speech act. It is telling the tale of its tail, perpetually bringing itself into the world, in a circular fashion.
Snakes are sacred animals in many West African religions. The demi-god Aidophedo uses the image of a serpent biting its own tail. The Ouroboros is also seen in ''fon'' or ''dahomean'' iconography as well as in Yoruba imagery as Oshunmare. The god Quetzalcoatl is sometimes portrayed as an Ouroboros on Aztec and Toltec ruins.
Carl Jung, famous modern psychologist, interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypical significance to the human psyche. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego ''dawn state'', depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both humankind and the individual child.
The ouroboros tattoo is symbolic of the cyclical nature of the universe: creation out of destruction, Life out of Death. The Ouroboros eats its own tail to sustain its life, in an eternal cycle of renewal. Ourboros tattoos also echo the concept of infinity, of cycles without end . . . a universe without boundaries or limits.
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