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Thoth by Vanessa Armstrong

Following on from my blog about the Eye of Horus, one of the deities that came up with Thoth. He resonated with me immediately and I went off researching almost forgetting that I was supposed to be looking for correspondences for the Eye of Horus. But I can now fully lend him my attention – he has mine – so this is what I found…

Thoth was one of the earlier Egyptian deities. Because he was one of the ancients, there are many stories of how he came to be and what purpose he served. Thoth was known by many names: - Tehuty, Tahuti, Tehuti to name a few and was connected to many of the depictions and texts that were discovered about ancient Egypt.

Thoth has been depicted as a man with the head of an Ibis (an African wading bird), or with the head of a baboon. Others see him as a baboon in entirety. In his hands he holds a was-scepter and an ankh – the ankh being ‘the key of life’.

Thoth had many roles and was a busy God. He maintained the Universe and was one of two deities – the other being his wife Ma’at – that stood either side of Ra’s solar barge. This barge carried Ra from the west to the east in the Underworld each day, so that he may rise and live again the next morning. Thoth was a prominent figure in the Hall of Justice as he was the judge who recorded the result of the Feather of Truth. It was Thoth that gave Isis the words so that the dismembered body of her husband Osiris could be reborn. He was also associated with the moon, the art of writing and of magic!

Thoth was originally a moon God. The moon had as much prominence in Egypt as the sun. The cycles of the moon played a part in many Egyptian rituals and events.

Thoth also led ‘the Ogdoad’ – who were eight primordial deities who were worshipped in Hermopolis – an ancient city which later developed into Roman Egypt. The eight deities consisted of 4 Gods and their consorts. Each pair represented the male and female aspects of the four powers or sources – water, eternity, darkness and air. The Gods were depicted as having the heads of frogs while the Goddesses had serpents for heads.

The Ogdoad was said to be around before the earth and creation itself and were responsible for the creation of the world as well as the upkeep of all that it contained. There is a fascinating story that tells of Ogdoad creating an egg that was laid by Isis – a bird sacred to Thoth – from which the world was born. Another tells that the universe was created from a lotus flower. As the petals opened, Ra, the Sun God came forth and forged the Cosmos.

As time progressed, the Ogdoad eventually died out as the official pantheon in ancient Egypt but they continue to reside in the Underworld, keeping the river Nile flowing and the sun forever rising.

He was also believed to be the author of the spells in the Book of the Dead. The Book of the Dead was something that was given to the deceased so that he may survive the afterlife. It wasn’t a book as such, but rather writings on the walls of tombs and on papyrus. These writings were often hymns and dedications to various Gods. There was also instructions and spells to help the deceased on his way to the Underworld go through the various tests that he or she had to endure – one of these being the weighing of the heart in the Hall of Judgement. There are also spells to recite to allow them to pass through the halls so that they may live peacefully among the spirits in the domain of Osiris.

Thoth can be asked to lend his assistance for magical workings related to wisdom, struggles connected with writing – i.e. writers block, procrastination and spell writing. Any moon magic and spells for clarity. Make an offering to him of a quill pen, ink or paper. Water, beer or bread also makes for a good offering to him too!

Image from The Gods & Goddesses Colouring book by Rachel Patterson

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