Thoth: Understanding the Egyptian God of Wisdom

Written By Jason Kim

Writing stories of mythical proportions.

In the ancient Egyptian world, Thoth was a special god known for his wisdom and knowledge. He was often shown with the head of an ibis or baboon. Thoth was key in the Egyptian belief system, teaching people about writing and the sciences. Also, he made sure that the gods got along and watched over the stars.

His main temple was in Hermopolis. People from all over came to Hermopolis to ask for Thoth’s help. He was more than just a god of wisdom. Thoth wrote down the important things for the gods, kept the world in order, and helped guide the dead to the next life.

Key Takeaways

  • Thoth was the Egyptian god of wisdom, writing, knowledge, and the sciences.
  • He was often depicted with the head of an ibis or a baboon, reflecting his diverse domains.
  • Thoth’s primary temple was located in the city of Hermopolis, where he was worshipped as a central figure in the Egyptian pantheon.
  • As the scribe of the gods, Thoth played a vital role in maintaining the balance of the universe and guiding the souls of the dead.
  • Thoth’s influence extended beyond ancient Egypt, as he was later associated with the Greek god Hermes and the Roman god Mercury.

Introduction to Thoth

Thoth was a key figure in ancient Egyptian religion. He was known as the god of wisdom, writing, knowledge, hieroglyphs, scribes, magic, and the moon. His name means “He who is like the ibis.” This fits because he was often shown with the head of an ibis or baboon.

Thoth: The Egyptian God of Wisdom

Thoth was essential in ancient Egypt because he was the god of wisdom. He brought writing and hieroglyphs to the people. As the scribe of the gods, he also kept records of important events. Thoth was acclaimed for his vast knowledge in areas like science, medicine, and astronomy. This made him one of the most respected gods in Egypt.

Connections to Hermes and Mercury

Thoth’s influence went beyond Egypt, linking him to the Greek Hermes and the Roman Mercury. They all stood for similar things like knowledge and the arts. This link gave rise to the Hermetic tradition, which regards Thoth/Hermes as the god of wisdom, magic, and enlightenment.

Thoth’s Name and Depictions

Egyptian god Thoth, also known as Djehuty, got his name from the word “ḏḥw”. This word was the first known name for the ibis bird. Adding “-ty” to “ḏḥw” means Thoth was like the ibis. Thoth’s close link with this bird was a big part of his image and what he symbolized.

Origin and Meaning of Thoth’s Name

Thoth’s name in Egyptian, Djehuty, likely came from the word “ḏḥw”. This was the name for the ibis bird. The “-ty” part of Thoth’s name shows he held the qualities of an ibis. In ancient Egyptian life, the ibis was highly respected.

Symbols and Forms of Thoth

In art, Thoth often had the head of an ibis or a baboon. This shows his strong link to these creatures. Sometimes, he wore symbols of the moon on his head. This showed his connection to the moon and its phases. Thoth was also shown with items like papyrus scrolls and writing tools, representing his roles in writing, knowledge, and judging.

Thoth’s Attributes and Roles

Thoth is the ancient Egyptian god of writing, hieroglyphs, and knowledge. He invented these forms of communication and record-keeping. Thoth was also known as the scribe of the gods. He carefully recorded world events. His knowledge wasn’t limited to writing. He’s believed to have authored many works on science, religion, philosophy, and magic.

God of Writing and Hieroglyphs

Thoth is the one who started writing and hieroglyphs. This was a big deal for Egyptian society’s growth. Scribes saw him as their main god. They turned to him for help and ideas in their work. Thoth’s writing was said to be a gift from the gods. It let him write about everything happening, even those in the world of gods.

Scribe of the Gods and Inventor of Sciences

Besides writing and hieroglyphs, Thoth made many sciences: astronomy, astrology, math, geometry, and more. As the scribe of the gods, he was the first to know the world’s secrets. He taught these things to people. This helped civilizations grow and create advanced systems of government.

Judge and Arbiter of Truth

Thoth was more than just about knowledge. He was a master of physical and moral law. He used Ma’at, the truth and justice goddess, well. In the next life, he judged the dead. He checked if their hearts were lighter than Ma’at’s feather. This decision determined their future. Thoth played a key role in making sure the universe was in balance.

Thoth in Egyptian Mythology

The thoth egyptian god was key in ancient Egyptian beliefs. He is known for making the 365-day calendar. This helped make sense of time and tell when crops should be planted. It is said that Thoth won extra days by tricking the Moon. These days allowed Nut to give birth to gods such as Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys.

Creation of the 365-Day Calendar

Changing from a 360-day calendar to 365 days was a big step. It meant better planning for farming and ceremonies. Thoth’s knowledge of the stars and magic with the Moon showed his power. He helped improve life in Egypt by adding 5 more days to the year.

Role in the Osiris Myth

Thoth played a vital part in the story of Osiris’s death and rebirth. When Isis needed to save Osiris, Thoth gave her special words that could bring him back to life. Thanks to Thoth’s help, Isis and Osiris had a child, Horus. Later, Horus fought against those who had wronged his father. Thoth was there to support and guide them in their quest.

thoth egyptian god

Thoth and the Moon

The ancient Egyptian god Thoth was linked closely with the moon. His role as the god of the moon made him a key part. The moon’s phases and its importance in early science helped shape Thoth’s connections and meaning.

Lunar Associations and Symbolism

In many depictions, Thoth had a crescent moon or a lunar disk above his head. These items showed his duty in controlling time and the sky. He managed important events in Egyptian life. The moon’s control over the tides and farming also fell under Thoth’s rule as the thoth egyptian god of the moon.

Thoth was also a key part in keeping records as a scribe. The moon’s phases helped set up the ancient Egyptian calendar. By doing this, Thoth made sure everything worked smoothly. This made him an essential god in Egypt.

Thoth and the Afterlife

The ancient Egyptian god Thoth was key to the afterlife. He guided souls through the Duat, or Egyptian underworld. There, he took the form of Aani, an ape-headed god of balance.

Weighing of the Heart Ceremony

Thoth had a big job in the afterlife. He oversaw a special ceremony called the “weighing of the heart”. This was critical for the deceased.

In this ceremony, a heart was weighed against Ma’at’s feather. Ma’at was the goddess of truth and justice. Thoth, as Aani, made sure everything was balanced.

The soul’s future hinged on this balance. If the heart and feather matched, the soul could go on. But if not, Ammit, the “Devourer of the Dead”, would devour the heart. This meant eternal doom for the soul.

Thoth served as both judge and keeper of truth. His dedication to justice and understanding of the afterlife was vital. He ensured fairness in every decision made.

thoth the atlantean

Thoth Egyptian God

The ancient Egyptian god Thoth was greatly revered. He was also known as Djehuty. People throughout the Nile Valley worshipped him. His main temple was in Hermopolis Magna, known as the “City of Thoth.” In this city stood a grand temple dedicated to him. It was the center of his worship.

Major Cult Centers and Worship

Thoth’s worship spread beyond Hermopolis. Cities like Memphis, Thebes, and Abydos also celebrated him. Each city built temples and had rituals for Thoth. He was the god of wisdom, writing, and knowledge.

Later, during the Late Period of ancient Egypt, Thoth’s worship grew. Millions of mummified ibis birds, his sacred animal, were buried in large cemeteries. This showed how much the Egyptians honored Thoth. It highlighted the god’s importance to them.

Thoth and Hermes Trismegistus

The ancient Egyptian god Thoth had a deep link with the Greek god Hermes. They formed the figure named Hermes Trismegistus, or the “Thrice Great Hermes.” Greeks admired the Egyptians’ advanced knowledge in several fields. They saw Thoth as the source of this wisdom.

Greek and Roman Connections

The city of Hermopolis, named for Thoth, connected the Egyptian god and the Greek one more closely. In Roman times, Thoth/Hermes was regarded as Mercury. Mercury was highly esteemed across the Roman Empire. They considered Thoth/Hermes a god of wisdom, knowledge, and enlightenment, sparking immense interest and admiration.

Hermetic Tradition and Thoth’s Legacy

The Hermetic movement began in ancient Egypt and celebrates Thoth/Hermes. They view him as the god who unveils the universe’s secrets to people. The Corpus Hermeticum texts depict Thoth/Hermes as a wisdom and magic master. He guides those seeking knowledge to understand the divine and natural world better. Thoth’s impact in this esoteric tradition highlights his significant and lasting influence.

Symbolism and Iconography

The Egyptian god Thoth was often shown in art. He had the head of an ibis or a baboon. The ibis symbolized his wisdom and intelligence. The baboon stood for his creativity and energy.

Thoth also had other symbols, like the crescent moon. It and the lunar disk showed his connection to the night sky and stars.

The Ibis and Baboon Symbolism

The ibis and baboon had important meanings in ancient Egypt. The ibis, linked to the moon, flew in a crescent pattern. This reflected the lunar phases, making Thoth an ideal moon god and timekeeper.

The baboon was chosen for its curiosity and liveliness. This matched Thoth’s qualities of wisdom, knowledge, and cunning. Baboons chattered at the sun’s rise. This showed Thoth’s link to the moon and the sky’s movements.

Other Symbolic Representations

Alongside the ibis and baboon, Thoth had other symbols too. The writing palette, scales, and djed pillar were vital. They showed Thoth’s roles as a god of writing, judge of the dead, and protector.

The ancient Egyptians used these meaningful symbols and iconography to illustrate Thoth. He was the highly regarded god of wisdom, writing, and the skies.

Festivals and Celebrations

The ancient Egyptians celebrated Thoth, the thoth egyptian god, with many festivals. The Thoth Festival was the biggest. It happened in the month named after Thoth, like our August, and lasted for 10 days. People feasted, drank, and honored him during this time.

The Thoth Festival

In the “City of Thoth,” or Hermopolis Magna, a grand temple stood for the god. This famous celebration was key to the worship of Thoth, the god of wisdom, writing, and knowledge. It showed how much the ancient Egyptians valued Thoth with its festivities and rituals.


Thoth was a complex and multifaceted deity in ancient Egyptian religion and mythology. He was known as the god of wisdom, writing, knowledge, hieroglyphs, scribes, magic, and the moon. Thoth kept the universe in order and balance. His role with the ibis, baboon, moon, and judging the dead made him very important.

Even after ancient Egypt’s end, Thoth’s influence remained. The Greeks and Romans adopted him. He became key in the Hermetic tradition. The enduring fascination with Thoth and his profound influence in ancient Egyptian culture and thought still awes scholars and fans.

Thoth, as the god of wisdom, writing, and knowledge, has deeply affected our history. His divine qualities and myths have inspired many. His story shows the richness and diversity of ancient Egyptian beliefs, leaving a lasting influence on the world.


Who was Thoth in ancient Egyptian mythology?

Thoth was a key figure in ancient Egyptian beliefs, often shown as a man with an ibis head or as a baboon. He stood for wisdom, writing, knowledge, magic, and much more. Basically, he looked over many important parts of life for the ancient Egyptians.

What were Thoth’s main attributes and roles?

Thoth is known for giving people writing and language. He was seen as a writer for the gods and kept track of important stories. He also made sure everyone followed the right laws, including the goddess Ma’at, who was in charge of fairness.

How was Thoth associated with the moon?

The moon was Thoth’s specialty. He was the one in charge of the Moon and liked to keep track of its different shapes. Thanks to his role with the Moon, Thoth helped organize many of the big events in Egyptian life.

What was Thoth’s role in the Egyptian afterlife?

In the afterlife, Thoth took on the form of Aani, an ape-headed god. He was all about making sure things were fair. Thoth looked over a test where your heart was weighed against a feather. Pass the test, and you got to the good afterlife.

Where was Thoth primarily worshipped in ancient Egypt?

The main place for Thoth’s worship was in Hermopolis Magna, which they also called the “City of Thoth.” This city had a big temple just for him. However, people also honored Thoth in other important spots like Memphis and Thebes.

How was Thoth associated with the Greek god Hermes?

Thoth and the Greek god Hermes were like two peas in a pod. They eventually became known as “Thrice Great Hermes,” a sign of their shared fame. Greeks thought very highly of the Egyptians’ knowledge, which they linked to Thoth, explaining the connection.

What were the primary symbols and iconography associated with Thoth?

Images of Thoth often showed him as an ibis or a baboon. The ibis showed his smart side, while the baboon was all about his energy and creative spark. Thoth was also linked with the moon, and he had a crescent moon and disk on his head, connecting him to the night sky.

How did the ancient Egyptians celebrate Thoth?

The Egyptians threw several festivals for Thoth, but the Thoth Festival was the biggest. It happened in the month named after Thoth, which is like our August. For 10 days, people would eat, drink, and celebrate in Hermopolis Magna.

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