Thoth: The History of the Ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom by Lesley Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Egyptian God Thoth he is the Lord of the Scribes, a perfect embodiment of Maat and the Egyptian equivalent of the Greek god Hermes. Yet there is a whole lot more to this deity then just that. First off Egypt was around way before Greece and second Thoth is more complex. Maat was a concept and Goddess that stood for divine order and justice. Thoth always stood for that. Sometimes known as Djehuti he was depicted sometimes as a Baboon, or a long beaked, Ibis. In his hands was a pallet fro writing and a reed pen that was dipped in ink. Thoth was the God of wisdom and learning. He was also the messenger of Ra, telling him what happened on Earth and relaying Ra's message to other Gods.
Thoth was considered a moon god. His job was primarily to guard the moon and make sure it stayed on track. He has a mansion of the moon which may have served as his abode. Being a moon god, Thoth gave as a gift to humanity the gift of time. The moon is divided into four quarter. Remember that the moon was the ancient way of telling time. With a switch to the sloar calendar, thoth is credited with adding five more days. There is a reason for this though, Ra was jealous of Geb (Earth God) and Nuit (Sky goddess) and so he commanded Shu to come between them. Allowing five days gave them some time to be together this lead to the birth if Isis, Osiris, Seth, Horus the Elder, and Nephys.
Seth and Osiris two of the brothers had a conflict in which Osiris was killed by Seth. Horus the younger when he got older went to battle against Seth and it was a vicious battle where in Horus lost his eye and Seth had his testicle ripped off. Thoth was the one who intervene and brought peace between them. He also healed both of them. This established Thoth as not only the lord of the scribes but also as a peace maker and upholder of the law.
Thoth was oft portrayed with the visage of a baboon or an Ibis. The Ibis was a long beaked bird that was known for eating snakes and being clean. It was also usually hanging out at the borders of the wideness and civilization . The Ibis lived in marshes and stood above the water. It is said that the priests of Thoth would only drink water that was touched by an Ibis because the Egyptians valued cleanliness and purity and the Ibis only drank that which was clean. The baboon was the second animal. Now why this was so is more of a mystery. Baboon were not native to Egypt and they were expensive to import. They supposedly had a lunar quality as their behavior was effected by the lunar phases. Animals holy to the deities were not always so fortunate. Those that were sacred were bred and kept in the temple. They were killed mummified and then used for sacrifices. Many ibises died this way. Baboons were a bit more a rarity. In the depiction of the Ibis Thoth was known as a protector of boundaries and a protector. It was said that at night he fought against the serpent Apophis to protect Ra's solar barque.
Heka was the word for Egyptian magic. The Egyptian magic utilized spoken spells that employed the use of puns, rhyme schemes and poetry. Heka was used to combat chaos and keep the flow of Maat and order going. Egyptians tended to like things to stay the same as change meant chaos. Heka was usually depicted as the God of Magic but there were others. Thoth being among them for his mastery of language and writing. So was Isis . Magic was not deemed negative in fact it was seen as a tool for positiveness. Leaders would use magic to curse enemies of state. Magic was used to cure the sick.It was also used to guid the dead in the after life.
Thoth was the God who invented all the languages and often was the interpreter. He also wrote all the rituals dedicated to the different Gods and he wrote the magic spells that guided the dead in the afterlife. The Pyramid texts were written for kings so they could attain god hood upon death. The coffin texts made such a luxury available to the wealthy. The spell got you to the proper place in the after life.
Thoth also served in the role of psychopomp. A psycho pomp guides the dead to the proper place of the after life. He would would instruct the dead spirit in what to say and could always be relied upon to help. Sometimes he was the judge who decreed if the heart was sinful and hence had to be eaten by the crocodile ammut.
Lesley Jackson has done an awesome job explaining to the reader the multifaceted character of the God Thoth. She includes invocation to the God at the end and proffers a a very exact comparison of the Greek equivalent Hermes. The book is informative and easy to comprehend. Information is brought down brilliantly to the layman . To Avalonia Publications and Lesley Jackson all I can say is keep up the good work.
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