October 26, 2020
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The Place of Thoth in the Egyptian Mythology

thotthhhThoth (from Greek Θώθ thṓth, from Egyptian ḏḥwty)  was considered one of the more important deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat.[1] Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at, who was also his wife) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat.[9]   According to Theodor Hopfner, Thoth’s Egyptian name written as ḏḥwty originated from ḏḥw, claimed to be the oldest known name for the Ibis although normally written as hbj. [4] The addition of -ty denotes that he possessed the attributes of the Ibis. [5] Hence his name means “He who is like the Ibis”. In addition, Thoth was also known by specific aspects of himself, for instance the moon god Iah-Djehuty, representing the Moon for the entire month. [6] The Greeks related Thoth to their god Hermes due to his similar attributes and functions. [7] One of Thoth’s titles, “Three times great, great” was translated to the Greek τρισμεγιστος (Trismegistos) making Hermes Trismegistus. [8] In art, Thoth was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, and his wife was Ma’at. [9]  Thoth has been depicted in many ways depending on the era and on the aspect the artist wished to convey. Usually, he is depicted in his human form with the head of an ibis. [10] In this form, he can be represented as the reckoner of times and seasons by a headdress of the lunar disk sitting on top of a crescent moon resting on his head. When depicted as a form of Shu or Ankher, he was depicted to be wearing the respective god’s headdress. Sometimes he was also seen in art to be wearing the Atef crown or the United Crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. [11] When not depicted in this common form, he sometimes takes the form of the ibis directly. [12]   He also appears as a dog faced baboon or a man with the head of a baboon when he is A’an, the god of equilibrium. [13] In the form of A’ah-Djehuty he took a more human-looking form. [14] These forms are all symbolic and are metaphors for Thoth’s attributes. The Egyptians did not believe these gods actually looked like humans with animal heads .[15] For example, Ma’at is often depicted with an ostrich feather, “the feather of truth,” on her head, [16] or with a feather for a head. [17]  In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, [18] the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, [19] and the judgment of the dead. [20]  Thoth’s roles in Egyptian mythology were many. He served as a mediating power, especially between good and evil, making sure neither had a decisive victory over the other. [21] He also served as scribe of the gods, [22] credited with the invention of writing and alphabets (i.e. hieroglyphs) themselves. [23]

Thoth’s Attributes and Magical Tools

Thoth had numerous roles in Egyptian mythology. He served as a mediating power, especially between good and evil, making sure neither had a decisive victory over the other. [24] He also served as scribe of the gods,[25] credited with the invention of writing and alphabets (i.e. hieroglyphs) themselves. [26] In the underworld, Duat, he appeared as an ape, A’an, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased’s heart against the feather, representing the principle of Ma’at, was exactly even. [27]  The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced. [28] He was the master of both physical and moral (i.e. Divine) law, making proper use of Ma’at. [29] He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, [30] and everything in them. [31] Compare this to how his feminine counterpart, Ma’at was the force which maintained the Universe. [32] He is said to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist. [33] His power was unlimited in the Underworld and rivaled that of Ra and Osiris.   The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic. [34-] The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, the science of numbers, mathematics, geometry, land surveying, medicine, botany, theology, civilized government, the alphabet, reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine. [35]  In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes,[10] Thoth served as a mediating power, especially between good and evil, making sure neither had a decisive victory over the other.[11-] In the underworldDuat, he appeared as an ape, A’an, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased’s heart against the feather, representing the principle of Ma’at, was exactly even.[12-]

Thoth is also credited with the invention of writing and alphabets (i.e. hieroglyphs) themselves.The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science,[13]religion, philosophy, and magic.[14-] The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomyastrologythe science of numbersmathematicsgeometryland surveyingmedicinebotanytheology, civilized government, the alphabet, reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine. The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced.[15-] He was the master of both physical and moral (i.e. Divine) law, making proper use of Ma’at. He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them. Compare this to how his feminine counterpart, Ma’at was the force which maintained the Universe.[16-] He is said to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist.[17-] Thoth was inserted in many tales as the wise counsel and persuader, and his association with learning, and measurement, led him to be connected with Seshat, the earlier deification of wisdom, who was said to be his daughter, or variably his wife. Thoth’s qualities also led to him being identified by the Greeks with their closest matching god Hermes, with whom Thoth was eventually combined, as Hermes Trismegistus, also leading to the Greeks naming Thoth’s cult centre as Hermopolis, meaning city of Hermes.His power was unlimited in the Underworld and in the process the judgment of the dead[18-] where he rivaled that of Ra and Osiris.[19-]  It is also considered that Thoth was the scribe of the gods rather than a messenger. Anubis (or Hermanubis) was viewed as the messenger of the gods, as he travelled in and out of the Underworld and presented himself to the gods and to humans. It is more widely accepted that Thoth was a record keeper, not a divine messenger. In the Papyrus of Ani copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead the scribe proclaims “I am thy writing palette, O Thoth, and I have brought unto thee thine ink-jar. I am not of those who work iniquity in their secret places; let not evil happen unto me.”[20-] Chapter XXXb of the Book of the Dead is by the oldest tradition said to be the work of Thoth himself.[21-]

The Cult of Thoth

Thoth’s chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks’ interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes).  In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities. He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens. [36]  Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat. [37]

Tree of Life Attributions

The Egyptian Deities correspondences for Chokmah according to Crowley’s classification are Amoun, Thoth and Nuit (as Zodiac).  [1]   The explanation Crowley give for this attribution is that he is talking about “Thoth as logos.” [2]  Israel Regardie explains the attribution of Thoth to Chokmah in the follwing manner: “Tahuti or Thoth is attributed to this Sephirah of wisdom, for he was the god of writting. Learning, and magick.  Thoth is represented as an ibis-headed god, and occasionally has an ape or baboon in attendance.”  [3]

Thoth is also an attribution on the The Second Path of the Tree of Life: Beth as the egyptian version of Hermès/Mercury.

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[9-]Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 400.
[10-]Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 405.
[11-]Budge Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 405 and p. 414
[12-]Budge Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 403.
[13-]Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 414
[14-] Manly P. Hall, The Hermetic Marriage p. 224
[15-]Budge The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 401
[16-]Budge Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 pp. 407–8
[17-]Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 408
[18-]Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, p. 403
[19-]Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 401
[20-]E.A Wallis Budge (1895), The Book of the Dead, reprinted 1999, Gramercy books, p.562
[21-]E.A Wallis Budge (1895), The Book of the Dead, reprinted 1999, Gramercy books, p.282

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[1]  Aleister Crowley, 777, p. 6.
[2]  Aleister Crowley, 777, p. 81.
[3]  Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 42.
[4] Hopfner, Theodor, b. 1886. Der tierkult der alten Agypter nach den griechisch-romischen berichten und den wichtigeren denkmalern. Wien, In kommission bei A. Holder, 1913. Call#= 060 VPD v.57
[5] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 402.
[6] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 pp. 412–3.
[7] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, p. 402.
[8] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 415.
[9] Thutmose III: A New Biography By Eric H Cline, David O’Connor University of Michigan Press (January 5, 2006) p. 127
[10] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 401
[11] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 402
[12] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 401
[13] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 p. 403
[14] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1 plate between pp. 408–9
[15] Allen, James P. (2000). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, p. 44.
[16] Allen, James P. (2000). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, p. 115.
[17] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 416
[18] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 405.
[19] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1 p. 414.
[20] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptian Vol I, p. 403.
[21] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 405
[22] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 408
[23] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 414.
[24] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 405
[25] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 408
[26] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 414
[27] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 403
[28] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 401
[29] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 407
[30] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 401
[31] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 407.
[32] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, pp. 407–8
[33] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 408
[34] Manly P. Hall The Hermetic Marriage p. 224
[35] Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. 1, p. 414
[36] Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Thoth was said to be born from the skull of set also said to be born from the heart of Ra.p. 401
[37]  Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1, p. 400.

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