The Ancient Alchemist
According to some scholars, Thoth was the ''One who Made Calculations Concerning the Heavens, the Stars and the Earth', the 'Reckoner of Times and of Seasons', the one who 'Measured out the Heavens and Planned the Earth'. He was 'He who Balances', the 'God of the Equilibrium' and 'Master of the Balance'. 'The Lord of the Divine Body', 'Scribe of the Company of the Gods', the 'Voice of Ra'..."
Scribe to Egyptian gods, Lord of the Divine Books, he became known as the god of the foundation of the law, mystical wisdom, magic, learning, hieroglyphic writing, arithmetic, and astrology. The legends say, Thoth, both a healer and magician, restored the Eye of Horus when he fought his uncle Seth to avenge the death of his father Osiris. Thoth was the patron god of the occultists of ancient Egypt, and was versed 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.
Rites before the tomb
From Thebes, Egypt
19th Dynasty, around 1300 BC
Priests of Anubis, The guide of the dead and the god of tombs and embalming, perform the "Opening of the Mouth" ritual
His counsel was always in demand, he being the wisest of all the gods. He was god of the moon. In many depictions you'll see him with a crescent moon over his head or wearing the Atef crown, or sometimes, the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. It is said that the magical powers of Thoth were so great, that the Egyptians had tales of a 'Book of Thoth', which would allow a person who read the sacred book to become the most powerful magician in the world. The Book which "the god of wisdom wrote with his own hand" was, though, a deadly book that brought nothing but pain and tragedy to those that read it, despite finding out about the "secrets of the gods themselves" and "all that is hidden in the stars".
Thoth on a a relief in Abu Simbel with the cresent moon over his head.
Thoth wearing the Atef crown, or sometimes, the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Most recognise him in his human form with the head of an ibis, a form of A'ah-Djehuty. Thoth was as well one of the earliest Egyptian deities dating thousands of years. It is written that he had a great library of scrolls, who according to some, that his consort Seshat, who is the goddess of writing is the actual composer of the spells listed in the Book of the Dead and that he was somewhat of an assistant. In some stories that I have read, it is assumed that in this form in the underworld his consort is Ma'at, who is the embodiment of justice and order, whose feather is on the scales of death. He took on many roles. He is especially known for his arbitrating between the forces of good and evil. He is credited for creating hieroglyphics.
Hatshepsut and Seshat, from the Red Chapel
He has has two other forms as well. One is baboon, a form of A'an, the god of equilibrium, a night animal that was seen by the Egyptians who would greet the sun with chattering noises each morning just as Thoth, the moon god, would greet Ra, the sun god, as he rose.
The other an ibis. The meaning of the ibis, although this exact meaning has not been discovered, is thought to be associated with healing. In the Ogdoadcosmogony myth, 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 laying a golden egg.
In many reliefs you'll see him carrying an assortment of symbols. As a grand dieity he would be carrying an ankh, a symbol of life in one hand, the other a sceptre of power. In the 'Book of the Dead', he was shown holding a writing palette and reed pen to record the deeds of the dead. As voice of the sun-god Ra, he carried the utchat, or Eye of Ra, the symbol of Ra's omnipresent power.
Abydos, Thoth and Seti I
Originally, Thoth was a god of creation, but was later thought to be the one who civilized men, teaching them civic and religious practices, writing, medicine, music and magic. He took on many of the roles of Seshat, until she became his clone. He has been depicted in many ways depending on the era and on the aspect the artist wished to convey.The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced. He was the master of both physical and moral law, making proper use of Ma'at. He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them. Compare this to how his feminine counterpart, Ma'at was the force which maintained the Universe. He is said to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist. His power was almost unlimited in Duat (the underworld).
The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic. The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, the science of numbers, mathematics, geometry, land surveying, medicine, botany, theology, civilized government, the alphabet reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine. 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. For this reason Thoth's center of worship is still known to us today as Hermopolis, where he was the creator god, in Ibis form, who laid the World Egg. The sound of his song was thought to have created four frog gods and snake goddesses who continued Thoth's song, helping the sun journey across the sky. Greek goddess Athena, who like Thoth was the patron divinity of wisdom.
Nut, the goddess of the sky and a symbol of rebirth. She spreads her protective wings across Ankh-Wennefer's chest. In her hands, she holds two ankhs.
When Re was ruling on earth, he had overheard the prophecy of Thoth stating that Nut goddess of the sky would one day have a son that would replace him on the throne. "There will be another ruler of Egypt after you, he will be the son of Nut."
Re became angry and cursed Nut. "Nut will remain childless, as she will give birth to no child on any day in the year, neither on any night. I have spoken and so it will be."
Nut, who had heard the prophecy, was heart-broken and she went to Thoth to seek advice as he was the wisest of the gods. Nut begged Thoth to help her. Thoth agreed to help her if she would marry him. Nut, who secretly loved Thoth, agreed.
Thoth knew that he could not change the curse of Pharaoh, but he thought of a way to give Nut her children and avoid the curse. He went to visit Khonsu the moon-god and gave him beer and honey and played a game of draughts(some say senet) long into the night. The bets ran higher and higher until Khonsu bet a portion of his own light.
Thoth was clever and won many rounds of draughts, so many that he won enough of Khonsu's light to make five extra days. Thoth fitted these days in between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year. Poor Khonsu lost so much light that he could not shine fully every night of the month and was forced to wane to a sliver of light and slowly wax back to his full glory. And Nut and Thoth had five children on the five new days that were never before in Pharaoh's year. Osiris was born on the first day and a great voice from heaven proclaimed "The Lord of All comes forth into the light!" Harmachis was born on the second day. Set was born on the third day and Isis was born on the fourth day. On the last day Nephthys was born. Thoth instructed Osiris and Isis in all his skills and powers to prepare them for the day when Osiris would become Pharaoh and Isis would be his consort.
This mythology credits him with the creation of the 365 day calendar. Originally, according to the myth, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to bear children. Thoth gambled with Khonsu, the moon, for 1/72nd of its light (360/72 = 5), or 5 days, and won. During these 5 days, Nut gave birth to Kheru-ur (Horus the Elder, Face of Heaven), Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nepthys
"...Researchers of the ancient Egyptian calendar agree that the solar calendar of 360 + 5 days was not the first prehistoric calendar of that land. This 'civil' or secular calendar was introduced only after the start of dynastic rule in Egypt, i.e., after 3100 BC; according to Richard A. Parker (The Calendars of the Ancient Egyptians) it took place circa 2800 BC 'probably for administrative and fiscal purposes'. This civil calendar supplanted, or perhaps supplemented at first, the 'sacred' calendar of old. In the words of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 'the ancient Egyptians originally employed a calendar based on the Moon'. According to R. A. Parker (Ancient Egyptian Astronomy) that earlier calendar was, 'like that of all ancient peoples', a calendar of twelve lunar months plus a thirteenth intercalary month that kept the seasons in place."
- Zecharia Sitchin, When Time Began
Isis Unknown Aritist
In the Osiris myth, She appeals to Thoth for an incantation that could resurrect her husband, Osiris from the dead. Thoth through himself was brought into existence by whispering his own name through his own incantations. To help with Isis' plight, Thoth gives her no guarantee's. Thoth knows that Osiris' akh is lost. He needs to be re born in order for his akh to acknowledge him. Together, Isis and Thoth conjure up the Ritual of Life. Disturbingly enough, before the incantation was finished Set finds them. He violently steals the body and dismembers the body and scatters the pieces through out Egypt. Frantic, Isis does not give up. She appeals to her sister Nephthys, Mistress of the House and wife of Set, for help in guiding her to find the strewn pieces of Osiris. Loyal to her sister Isis, they set out for the long journey. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months and months into years, they bring each piece they find to Thoth. Once all the pieces were found, Thoth brings the body parts to Anubis, the jackal headed god of the dead, where he sews Osiris' body members back in place. He washes Osiris' entrails, then embalms the body, wraps him up in linen and finally casts the spell of the Ritual of Life. As Osiris' mouth opens, his akh re enters and Osiris lives once more and becomes ruler of the undeworld.
Tefnut was thought to have been the upset goddess who fled into Nubia, taking all of her water and moisture with her. Egypt soon dried, and the land was in chaos while in Nubia, Tefnut turned herself into a lioness and went on a killing spree in her anger at her father, from whom she had fled. Eventually Ra decided that he missed her, and wanted her back. Ra sent Thoth and Shu to get her, and they found her in Begum. Thoth began at once to try and persuade her to return to Egypt. In the end Tefnut (with Shu and Thoth leading her) made a triumphant entry back into Egypt, accompanied by a host of Nubian musicians, dancers and baboons. She went from city to city, bringing back moisture and water (the inundation), amid great rejoicing, until finally she was reunited with her father, and restored to her rightful position as his Eye.