Thoth: Egyptian God of Wisdom & Writing From Atlantis and Beyond
Who Is Thoth? The Basics
Thoth is an ancient Egyptian god of wisdom, writing, mathematics, magic, medicine, equilibrium, philosophy, and creation. Although he is said to be one of the most significant Egyptian gods, he is somewhat overshadowed by his fellow gods i.e. Osiris, Ra, and Set. The name Thoth is actually the Greek version of his Egyptian name Dhwty, which is believed to have been pronounced like Tehuti. Thoth was typically depicted in one of two forms—as an ibis or as a baboon. He also was depicted as a man with the head of either an ibis or a baboon, as these two animals were sacred to him.
This solemn and powerful god had his strongest cult following around 3,000 BCE, and his chief temple was set up in Khnum, a thriving Egyptian city that would later come to be called Hermopolis. Thoth was associated with the Greek god Hermes, and this is why the city Khnum that housed Thoth's main temple was later called Hermopolis by the Greeks. But Thoth's history goes back much further than the city of Khnum. Many believe that he has been a prominent figure on Earth since before the establishment of Egypt as a country...possibly dating back to the times of Atlantis.
Animal Symbolism: Is Thoth an Ibis or a Baboon?
Thoth is depicted throughout time in one of two forms of animals—an ibis or a baboon. A strange combination of sacred animals, don't you think? Well, in doing research on the ibis, we find that the ibis was a sacred bird to the ancient Egyptians. The ibis was a bird that was rather solemn, serene, unafraid of humans, and floated above the water and through the air with ease and dignity. The ibis could break the barrier between air and water, and therefore was thought to have the ability to break through the barrier between the dead and the living. This is just a theory as to how the ibis became a representation of the god Thoth, who was thought to have been a god of the underworld and aided in the judgment of the dead.
The ibis was sacred to the ancient Egyptians probably because of its association with the god Thoth, and we can see that there were thousands of mummified ibis given as offerings to Thoth over a period in time. It was also said that the Ibis would walk freely through the temple of Thoth and that the priests would feed them daily.
Often you will see an Ibis hieroglyph as the symbol for the name Thoth, but also you will see him as a man with the head of an ibis. This seems to be the most used illustration for Thoth in ancient times and today. You might have even seen the ibis-headed Thoth used as a symbol for publishers' companies and in governmental buildings. Why do you think that is?
Another animal used to represent Thoth was the baboon. A baboon in Egypt? you might be wondering. Yes! Baboons were thought to have been traded and/or imported from other parts of Africa in ancient times to appease royalty and the priests. This trade/import might have been accelerated during the high times of Thoth, since the baboon was sacred to him. Research shows that we are not sure why the baboon was associated with Thoth or why it became a representation of Thoth, but historians know that Thoth took this form when he was said to be A'an (the god of equilibrium).
So to answer the question, is Thoth the ibis or the baboon? He is both, and yet neither. He is not actually the animals themselves, they are merely symbolic of his attributes which we will discuss further below.
The God of What?
Every Egyptian god had at least one aspect of life that they ruled over, if not more. Thoth was no exception to this rule, as his domain involved more than one divine attribute. Usually the first two things thought of in conjunction with Thoth are wisdom and writing. Thoth is often illustrated as the god who has a book or scroll and some sort of writing utensil in hand. This is because he is mostly known as the god of writing, the scribe of the gods. In fact, this is a deity who is thought to hold jurisdiction over writers, authors, publishers, and editors in modern times. In addition to writing, he is also thought to have been the Wise One or god of wisdom and philosophy. He not only kept record of the goings-on with the gods and with the dead but he also kept record of his own thoughts and philosophies. He and his wife Seshat are credited with the invention of writing in the form of hieroglyphics. The ancient Egyptian priests of Thoth most sacred duty was to outline and finish hieroglyphics in temples and other sacred places.
Perhaps taking on his most ancient form, Thoth is the god who maintains the movement of the Universe and he is also thought to be a creator god. He is the principal god of the eight-god Ogdoad.
Other attributes and aspects of Thoth include: the god of medicine, science, mathematics, magic, and a mediator god. He kept balance between the two sides—good and evil, light and dark, negative and positive.
His Ancient Origins: Atlantis and Beyond
There are many myths as to where Thoth originates, who his godly parents might have been. One theory is that he was a son of the god Re, or that he sprang forth from the head of the god Seth; however, many modern day occultists and new agists believe that Thoth is much older than the gods Re and Seth. He was thought to have been a present force during the times of the lost city of Atlantis. Was he a god? A human? Or something else during the times of Atlantis? Theories abound and you will have to do your research and come to your own conclusion in this matter.
The Emerald Tablets of Thoth were thought to have been written in the sixth century by a divine writer known as Hermes Trismegistus. This Hermes Trismegistus is believed to have been Thoth in a reincarnated form (who had also come to earth in the form of Enoch, Noah, and/or Moses), and his Emerald Tablets make up the sacred texts to the Hermetic movement and were favored by alchemists during the Renaissance. If you were to read the Emerald Tablets of Thoth, you would notice that it talks in length of Thoth being a king or god of Atlantis. This is how the egyptian god Thoth has come to be thought of as a god who pre-dates the ancient Egyptian empire. It is thought that when Atlantis was destroyed because of its corruption, the people and gods of Atlantis dispersed and went elsewhere in the world...Thoth going to Egypt to help in its establishment (the building of the pyramids) and to continue with keeping the sacred records safe. (As an intriguing side note, these sacred and divine records are thought to be buried underneath the Sphinx to this day.)
But was Atlantis the beginning of Thoth or did he originate elsewhere and prior to the establishment of Atlantis? There are theories and beliefs circulating that state that Thoth was one of the creators of this world. He came from elsewhere in the Universe, and one particular writer states that she believes he came from a particular planet within the Orion constellation. This writer, Allorah Rayne, believes that Thoth was a Carian...a bird-like extraterrestrial who came to earth at some point to start things anew. A creator god of cosmic origins.
So is Thoth from Egypt or does he pre-date Egypt? We can only speculate...or believe.
Thoth's Importance Today
What is the point to discussing the god of writing and wisdom...this mysterious god of medicine and mathematics? The point is that many believe Thoth is still a presence in the world, even in modern times. Whether through representation in the world of writing or through modern day neo-pagans keeping the old ways alive, he is present. You can still see Thoth show up in places where the Ibis lives among humans without fear. Those of us fortunate enough to see a baboon in the wild might also catch a glimpse of Thoth in all his power and glory.
If you are a writer or a lover of the written word, Thoth will have a tendency to watch over you. He is known to contact those who have past life promises of writing and keeping the sacred records alive. Often he will come to you in the form of the Ibis or Baboon...or perhaps in a dream or meditative state. His presence might at first be a strange and quiet one, but he will continue to make himself known to those who are tied to him and to ancient Egypt and beyond.
Listen to an Excerpt from the Emerald Tablets of Thoth
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Nicole Canfield