God of the Week: Thoth

God of the Week 04/19/10: Thoth

The ancient Egyptian god Thoth is (mythically) known as the inventor of writing and author of the Book of the Dead. He is often shown in the process of writing. He is traditionally depicted with a humanoid body and the head of an Ibis, though he is sometimes depicted with the head of a baboon.

His worship goes back to the Old Kingdom (2,686 to 2,134 BCE) where he appears to have originated as a moon god:

It is remarkable that the moon, which was so important, especially in Babylonia, never rivalled the sun among the Egyptians. At a rather early time it was identified with the white ibis-god [Thoth]
-Mythology of All Races, Vol 12, Egyptian and Indo-Chinese

Thoth’s relationship to the moon is alluded to in this ancient hymn to the moon:

Shine for us in the sky, every day.
We cease not to behold thy rays;
[Thoth] is thy protection;
He establisheth thy soul in the bark of night
In this thy name, ‘Divine Moon’

In the Roman era, Thoth was syncretized with Hermes when the ancient Greeks recognized their similar traits and believed  them to be different incarnations of the same god. This new character was known as Hermes Trismegistus, the mythical founder of Hermeticism. Hermeticism was seen as a mystical pantheistic philosophy that could be practiced in conjunction with other religions as the finding of Hermetic writings along side Gnostic Christian works in the ancient Nag Hammadi library shows.

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