ANCIENT MYSTERIES - THOTH
Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom
THOTH, a lover of books and writing, was the fabled Scribe of the Gods and a patron and protector of the Egyptian scribes.
So closely was he associated with them that their palette was described as the "Arm of the Baboon" and their pen the "Beak of the Ibis", for in art he was depicted as a man with the head of an Ibis or a Baboon holding up a crescent moon ( as the baboon was seen as a nocturnal and intelligent creature).
His main center of worship was KHRUM ( or Hermopolis Magna in the Greek tradition which saw Thoth as their own Hermes the Mercurial)
So, who is this god who keeps the universe spinning and whose roles include those of lunar god, wisdom god, judge, and magician, healer, peacekeeper and guide to the deceased?
THOTH played many vital and prominent roles in the Egyptian mythology such as: maintaining the Universe in balance, as an arbitrator of the three epic wars between the gods of good and evil, always making sure neither of them had a decisive victory over the other, between order and chaos; as a healer of gods he assisted ISIS by giving her the magic words able to resurrect OSIRIS and then get pregnant with HORUS, and, as well, in the OGDOAD cosmology, Thoth gave birth to RA, ATUM, NEFERTUM and KHEPRI, by laying an egg while in the form of an Ibis, or later as a goose by laying a Golden Egg.
Western mystical tradition holds that the Moon is a Goddess and her light is associated with lunacy, insanity and werewolves; but to the Egyptians the Moon was a benevolent time-keeper and Thoth was its guardian and it was he who aligned their lunar and solar calendars.
The Egyptians regarded him as self-begotten, self-produced, being the master of both the physical and moral (divine) law.
His power was unlimited in the underworld and rivaled with that of Ra and Osiris.
He is credited as the author of works of science, religion, philosophy and magic.
The Greeks declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, numerology, mathematics, medicine, civilized governing,the alphabet, reading and oratory among many others.
In the beginning, the "All Knowing" Thoth gave humanity speech and later invented writing as a gift. He was particularly associated with hieroglyphs, the sacred words of the Gods.
A millennium later, Thoth gave Jean-Francois Champollion the inspiration he needed to decipher their meaning.
Champollion had translated the name Ramesses in a cartouche. A second cartouche contained similar hieroglyphics and also one of an ibis. He knew from classical texts that the ibis represented Thoth and so translated the name Thuth-mose.
In doing so, he realised that hieroglyphics contained both phonetic symbols and logograms ( symbols representing whole words) and went on to open up the wisdom of the Ancient Egypt.
Before writing there was speech and the spoken word was considered extremely powerful.
Creation occurred when Thoth spoke the divine words and they crystalised into matter. Words, both written and spoken, are very powerful as they hold an energy which can manifest under certain conditions.
Magic works because the magician knows how to manipulate the power inherent in words.
Thoth, with his innate wisdom and total control over words, has therefore the ultimate command of magic.
In the after-life it was Thoth who presided over the judgement of the deceased, where their soul was weighed against the feather of Maat (the Goddess of Truth).
Thoth was considered a just, approachable and kindly god.
He crossed all boundaries in society and was worshiped by both men and women, rich and poor alike.
The prayers of a people give us a good understanding of their feelings towards their deities and the hymns to Thoth reflect his worshipers' love and gratitude.
Thoth was one of the few deities addressed as "Hearing", meaning that he was seen as responding to his petitioners' prayers , offerings and invocations among other devotional practices.
The Egyptians saw the richness of their world as a trail of clues left by the Creator, the Universal Being, that was meant to be followed.
With Thoth there is no path of suffering leading to spiritual enlightenment, although He is keen on hard work and serious thinking.
Thoth is no trickster but he guards his secrets, revealing them slowly only to those who prove themselves worthy
The light of his Moon is the wisdom that illuminates the darkness of ignorance, its gentle light bringing out what the harsher Sun obscures.
To give an idea of the veneration in which Thoth was held by the ancient inhabitants of Egypt, here are some accounts of the judgement scenes found in their tombs and on numerous papyri .
"The deceased is conducted by Horus alone, or sometimes accompanied by his wife, to the region of Amenti.
Cerberus is present as the guardian of the gates, near which the scales of Justice are erected; and Anubis, the "director of the weight", having placed a vase representing good actions, or the heart, of the deceased in one scale, and the figure or the emblem of Truth ( Goddess Maat) in the other, proceeds to ascertain his claims for admission.
If on being "weighed" he is found "wanting", he is rejected; and Osiris, the Judge of the Dead, inclining his sceptre in token condemnation, pronounces judgment upon him.
Placed in a boat, it is removed, under the charge of two monkeys, from the precincts of Amenti,(...), and the commencement of a new term of life is indicated by those monkeys. the emblem of THOTH, as Time.
But if, when the sum of his deeds have been recorded, his virtues so far predominate as to entitle him to admission to the mansions of the blessed, Horus, taking in his hand the tablet of THOTH, introduces him to the presence of Osiris who, in his palace, attended by Isis and Nepthys, sits on his throne in the midst of the waters, holding his crook and flagellum."
An interesting feature of the above mentioned description of the judgement scene of one of the royal scribes, is the presence of Thoth who is represented under the form of a Cynocephalus, having the horns and the globe of the Moon upon his head and a tablet in his hand.
In this instance, the deceased advances alone in an attitude of prayer and submission.
On one side of the scales stands Thoth, holding a tablet in his hand; on the other the Goddess of Justice; and Horus, instead of Anubis, performs the office of director of the balance, on top of which sits a Cynocephalus, the emblem of Thoth.
This little detail of the Cynocephalus on top of Anubis is significant of the beneficial influence of Thoth in the judging process, and the way he was perceived by his worshipers: moral but not upright, compassionate not stern, strict but ultimately forgiving.
(for more info. see "THOTH, The History of the Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom" by Lesley Jackson, published by AVALONIA, paperback, 2012;
"The Ancient Egyptians- Their Life and Customs" by J. Gardner Wilkinson, published by SENATE, London, 1994.)