Alyssa Milano Ouroboros Tattoo

Ouroboros tattooThe seventh tattoo of Alyssa Milano (“Charmed”) is an ouroboros tattoo. It’s on her right wrist. In an interview Alyssa commented that she got it after her divorce and that for her it’s a symbol of rebirth. Translated from Greek, ouroboros means ‘tail-devouring’. It is a very ancient symbol depicting a serpent swallowing its tail and forming a circle. In alchemical tradition, as well as in Gnosticism and Hermetism ouroboros was associated with cyclicality. However, the origin of the myth about the giant serpent that encircles the whole world and devours its own tail, lays in the much more remote past. It was an important part of the mythical worldview of the ancient Indo-Europeans.

The idea is best preserved in Norse Germanic mythology. Inhabitants of ancient Scandinavia believed that Midgard, the world of men, is encircled by the serpent Jormungand, one of the three children of the evil god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. The monster was growing too fast and Odin threw it into the ocean surrounding the earth. However, Jormungand grew so huge that he finally spanned the whole world. He lies deep in the waters and bites his own tail.

According to Norse mythology, at the end of this world Jormungand will spew his poison over the earth and sky. Thor will kill the serpent, but will die himself poisoned by his venom. Beside Jormungand, in Viking apocalyptic beliefs also Loki, Fenrir, Hel and the army of the dead play an important role. In the Norse myths Ragnarök, when the gods will die, is not only the end of the existing world, but also a beginning of a new reality. Thus, the world serpent, also in Scandinavian pagan beliefs, is connected with the idea of rebirth.

25 comments… add one
  • leódgebyrga

    As far as Loki’s heritage goes, it’s all technically true. Many myths were passed on more so by oral tradition than writing, hence the outcome of many different outcomes depending on your sources.

    Bob, I really dont see why you’d want your daughter to get a tattoo solely for the fact she was born in the year of the snake according to an entirely different culture than what this pertains to.

    • Viking Rune

      Yes, sometimes in myths we have several versions of the same story.

  • Jake

    Loki also causes the death of Baldr, son of Thor, By shifting into the form of a deity that i can’t currently remember, and tell a blind god to shoot him with an arrow. So in my opinion, Loki was evil.

    • Gandalfs frippet

      Thanks Jake, I couldnt remember Baldr. :D

    • Cyrthulem

      Baldr (Balder) is not a son of Thor but instead the son of the god Odin and the goddess Frigg.

      He had a dream of his own death and his mother had the same dreams. Since dreams were usually prophetic, this depressed him, so his mother Frigg made every object on earth vow never to hurt Baldr. All objects made this vow except mistletoe. Frigg had thought it too unimportant and nonthreatening to bother asking it to make the vow (alternatively, it seemed too young to swear).
      “Odin’s last words to Baldr” (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.

      When Loki, the mischief-maker, heard of this, he made a magical spear from this plant (in some later versions, an arrow). He hurried to the place where the gods were indulging in their new pastime of hurling objects at Baldr, which would bounce off without harming him. Loki gave the spear to Baldr’s brother, the blind god Höðr, who then inadvertently killed his brother with it (other versions suggest that Loki guided the arrow himself). For this act, Odin and the giantess Rindr gave birth to Váli who grew to adulthood within a day and slew Höðr

      • Maddi

        I have grown up listening to stories of norse gods. Your story is very similar to the one I know. In my story the mistletoe is too unimportant, its an arrow, and yes Loki helps guide it. I do not, although, know/remember anything about Hodr. I may have just overlooked that part of the story or was not told it.

        • Heinrich

          It was a mistletoe. That is why in Western tradition we kiss under it during Yuletide, as a reminder and tribute to Balder.

  • Roxanna

    Loki was not “evil”
    He was more like trickster. :/

    • Viking Rune

      I think he was evil.

  • Wendy

    Strange..I got my tattoo of a ouroboros encircling a yin yang symbol at the age of 41 just after my divorce! To me, it is a symbol of my rebirth in body and spirit. This tattoo is something I treasure.

    • Viking Rune

      Hello Wendy. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Khubilai

    Yeah, Loki really wasn’t evil but more of a trickster. Loki was also a shape shifter. There is a story where he becomes a horse and become impregnated and gives birth to Odin’s horse Slepneir (spelling is probably off). He is deceptive in trying to pursue his interests, but not “evil.”

    • Viking Rune

      Loki made Höðr kill Baldr. I think that was pretty evil.

  • silman

    I know Loki also had some god in him as well as frost giant.

    • Viking Rune

      Yes, Loki is mentioned as both god and jötunn.

  • Maggie

    Perhaps “malicious” would be more appropriate than “trickster” or “evil”.
    Remember, Loki was not one of the Norse gods, he was a Jontun Ice troll who happened to be attractive.

    • Viking Rune

      Loki is a god or jötunn or both. His nature is pretty ambivalent. He is a father to most of his children, but he is a mother to Sleipnir.

  • Bonnie

    Jormungand was a son of Loki the god of trickery and mischief and Angrboda, a Giantess

    • Viking Rune

      You are right, Bonnie.

  • Cass

    I thought that Loki wasn’t an “evil god”, but a trickster deity of some sort…?

    • Daniel

      Loki: the god of evil, fire, and mischief, son of Firbauti and Laufeia or Nal son of Bor and Besla, some say son of Ymir, some say brother of Aegir, and Kari brother of Odin, some say brother of Byleist and Helblindi, some say husband of Angerbode, Glut and Sigyn.

      Taken from the Dictionary of Mythology, J.A. Coleman

  • bob

    I like her ouroboros, I am trying to get my daughter to use that for a tattoo, as she was born in the snake year, 1989. Very good Viking website by the way, as i am searching on Vikings depicted in casino slot games. I usually win big on those of Norwegian and Viking depictions.

    • Viking Rune

      As it seems, Vikings bring you luck, Bob!

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