What does the Ouroboros symbol represent for the vikings?
In ancient cultures and symbols, it is not uncommon to find animals. They are even very common. The snake is a very present animal, because it can be found in several ancient or modern cultures. Let's talk about the symbolic snake called “Ouroboros”. This is the most famous and significant of all snakes. Indeed, it is a thousand-year-old symbol that you have probably already encountered, but let's talk specifically about its presence and its importance in Viking culture.
What is Ouroboros?
Exhibited in a large number of cultures, the symbolism of the snake is widespread and far surpasses that of all other animals. According to the researchers, this is due to the fact that this reptile molts. It then represents the rebirth of body and soul. But speaking of the symbolic snake, there is one that is at the top in terms of significance and fame. This is of course the Ouroboros. The famous snake that bites its own tail has been present in many human cultures for thousands of years and it is still the case today.
The Ouroboros is a symbol represented by a serpent biting its tail. It can sometimes be represented by a dragon. Basically, the animal forms a circle, its head approaches its tail and it eats it. This image of a snake biting its tail symbolizes time, eternity, and the afterlife. By its important meaning, the Ouroboros adorns many objects such as jewelry, decorations, tattoos, and this from Antiquity to the present day.
The Ouroboros symbol and its etymology date back to very ancient times. Etymologically, the word Ouroboros comes from the Greek “ουροβóρος”. The word Ouroboros is divided into two roots, including "Oura" meaning "tail" and "boros" literally meaning "to eat". So precisely, if you are wondering "What does Ouroboros mean in French?", the answer must be: "the one who eats his tail". The word Ouroboros thus expresses the expression "it is the serpent which bites its tail".
What is the meaning of the Ouroboros serpent?
Every ancient civilization in history has an Ouroboros. This widespread symbol deserves its reputation, as it has been seen in ancient Egypt, Japan, India, Greek alchemy, Native American tribes, and even pre-Columbian temples. Beyond these numerous legends, the Ouroboros emblem presents other symbolisms. But the one we are going to retain is based on the meaning of its shape. On the one hand, the bite of its tail by the snake symbolizes a cycle of evolution which is closed in on itself. And on the other hand, its circular shape, like Yin and Yang, symbolizes the duality of everything in the universe: life and death, creation and destruction, man and woman, good and evil, as well as all things that oppose each other but complement each other.
The Ouroboros evokes the ideology affirming that existence is a cycle of permanent and continuous rebirth, it is the symbol of eternity. This emblem is linked with the cyclical nature of time: the future continually devours the present to create an endless chain of moments that die, allowing other moments to be reborn. The Ouroboros is a symbol that represents the infinite cycle of nature in the universe. It symbolizes the eternal cycle of life and death as well as the eternal cycle of creation and destruction. In short, the Ouroboros represents the concept of eternity and that of the continuous and endless change of the universe.
What does the Ouroboros represent for the Vikings?
If the Ouroboros symbolizes eternity, balance and duality in its general meaning, it is otherwise in the Nordic culture. This symbol is translated otherwise. Viking mythology also has its Ouroboros and it takes part in their legends and stories. For the Vikings and especially in Norse mythology, the Ouroboros is a serpent-god better known as “Jörmungand”. This is a monster created by the evil god Loki. In Scandinavian culture, the Serpent Jörmungand is one of the three sons Loki had with the deity Angrboda.
According to Viking legends, this son of Loki was gigantic. It was large enough to surround Midgard. Jörmungand therefore surrounded the mortal world by gripping its tail tightly with his teeth. The Ouroboros therefore defended the human world, as well as the Tree of Life called “Yggdrasil”. Jörmungand was mentioned in the Thor legends and in the Ragnar Lokdrok legends. According to Norse myths, the end of the world they called "Ragnarok" will come when the Ouroboros lets go of its tail to destroy the world. It seems that the thunder god Thor fought against the Norse Ouroboros, but he couldn't kill him.
The Vikings saw Jörmungand as the link between the world of the living and the invisible worlds, especially the world of the gods and the world of the dead. For the Nordics, the Ouroboros represented the balance between the nine kingdoms. He ensured the harmony of this universe. Hence their belief that the world will end when this snake lets go of its tail.
The Ouroboros is present in other cultures, which ones?
The Ouroboros appears in many other ancient cultures! There are many, but we will mention the most famous of which: Japanese culture, Hindu culture, African culture and Chinese culture. In African mythology, the Ouroboros represents the demigod Aido Hwedo who created the world. In Chinese culture, this snake is associated with yin and yang and symbolizes the duality between opposing forces. Also in Chinese mythology, it highlights the Ouroboros as being a dragon-snake.
Until now, the Ouroboros is still present in crops. It is a symbol that is often worn as a talisman. It has many meanings depending on the culture, but philosophically it symbolizes the eternal beginning of all things and the balance of opposing forces that complement each other. Spiritually, this symbol represents the cycle of life and death.
In short, you will have understood it, the Ouroboros means many things. Among the Vikings, it meant balance and harmony in the universe. It is a very important emblem for the Nordics and it is not the only one, because there are still many others. To you to discover them !