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Thoth (in the Ramesseum, Luxor)

Thoth, pronounced "tot", is the Greek name given to the Egyptian god of the moon (lunar deity), wisdom, writing, magic, and measurement of time, among other things. As the cycles of the moon organized much of Egyptian society's civil and religious rituals and events, so Thoth was also seen as the primary regulator of such things. The original pronunciation of his name was approximately Tee-HOW-ti. He was a son of either Ra or Set, but is also said to be the secretary and counsellor of Ra. Thoth was a close companion of Astennu, a name which was occasionally used to refer to Thoth himself. He had a daughter named Seshat.

Thoth was known as a reasonable mediator. He supported Horus vs. Seth and mediated between Tefnut and Ra. In Duat, the underworld, he helped Osiris judge the souls of the dead. He also convinced Hathor (alternatively: Tefnut) to return to Egypt after she fled, pursuant to an argument with Ra (alternatively: Shu).

He is sometimes identified with the Greek god Hermes or Hermes Trismegistus.

Thoth was credited by the ancient Egyptians as the inventor of writing and the 365-day calendar. He was usually depicted with the head of an ibis (whose beak looks like a crescent moon) or of a baboon (a nocturnal animal that has many similarities to humanity).

During the late period of Egyptian history a cult of Thoth gained prominence, and millions of ibises were mummified and buried in his honour.

Thoth in modern times

Krewe of Thoath Float
Krewe of Thoath Float

There is a Tarot sometimes referred to as The book of Thoth, as it is believed to contain ancient knowledge originally brought to man by this deity. There is also a specific tarot deck by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris called the Thoth Deck. See Thoth Tarot.

Thoth is also a Carnival Krewe in New Orleans, Louisiana which parades on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. The Krewe features a float decorated with a large depiction of the ancient deity.

Other names

  • Djeheuty (Egypt)
  • Tahuti
  • Tehuti
  • Thot
  • Zehuti


  • Fowden, Garth. The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind. Princeton, Princeton University Press 1986 (Deals with Thoth (Hermes) from his most primitive known conception to his later evolution into Hermes Trismegistus.)

Last updated: 02-08-2005 04:51:30
Last updated: 02-27-2005 18:47:33