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Thoth


Thoth (also Toth) , scribe of the Egyptian gods, was the chief deity of Khmun, or Hermopolis. He was conceived as either having the head of an ibis or of a bamboo. Thoth is usually depicted as an ibis-headed man with a pen-and-ink holder. He became known as the god of the foundation of the law, mystical wisdom, magic, learning, hieroglyphic writing, arithmetic, and astrology. Thus, he was called "The Lord of the Divine Books" and "Scribe of the Company of Gods."

The symbolic meaning of the ibis, although this exact meaning has not been discovered, is thought to be associated with healing. Sometimes Thoth is portrayed as a baboon-headed man holding a crescent moon.

According to legend, Thoth, both a healer and magician, restored the Eye of Horus that was torn to bits when the latter fought his uncle Seth (Set) to revenge the death of his father Osiris. The eye of Horus, also known as the udjat eye, became a funerary amulet and magical, all-seeing eye. Thoth was the patron god of the occultists of ancient Egypt, and was petitioned in many of the spells contained in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, such as the opening-of-the-mouth spell to reanimate a corpse, which was recited over a mummy by a high priest.

It was the Greeks who associated their god Hermes with Thoth that the two were almost indistinguishable. Thorth/Hermes became identified with Hermes Trismegistus, the alleged author of the Hermetic books on occult, philosophical, and religious subjects (see Hermetica).

Again, according to legend, Thoth/Hermes gave to his successors the Book of Thoth, or the "Key to Immortality," which contained the secret processes for the regeneration of humanity and the expansion of consciousness that would enable mankind to behold the gods. There are stories, or theories, concerning the Book of Thoth, some say at first in was kept in a temple in a sealed golden box, and used in the ancient Mysteries. When the practice of these Mysteries declined, it was carried to another unknown land, where it still exists after being safely preserved, and it still leads disciples to the presence of the Immortals. Others hold the Book of Thoth is actually the Tarot deck. A.G.H.


Sources:

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, New York: Facts On File, 1989, pp. 339-340
Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman's Sons, 1980, p. 51