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The Legacy of Thoth in the West (part 1)

"In the Egyptian pantheon, Thoth enjoyed a special illustriousness.  He was shown as an ibis-headed man or as a baboon (cf.  The Egyptian Book of the Dead).  Equipped with a
palette, reed, and papyrus, he was always ready to transcribe the words of Re.  He was
the very epitome of a scribe, he was  described as the inventor of hieroglyphics.  Thoth
was the protector of scribes, the teacher of medicine, astronomy and the arts.   He
knew the secrets of magic; he was the initiator...
 
In a period as far distant as the Old Kingdom (2705 - 2180 BC), Thoth was already
described as the messenger of the gods (a characteristic he preserved when passing into the Greek world in the guise of Hermes).  In his capacity as judge, he stood between Seth and Horus.  He was the protector of the eye of Horus. 
 
In the Middle Kingdom (1987 - 1640 BC), he personified wisdom.  He was particularly
honored in Hermopolis, and the priests of this city attributed to him the 'Book of the Two Ways', a text which described the voyage to the afterlife.  The inscriptions found in the sarcophogi of this period also mention a 'Divine Book of Thoth'.  At the beginning of this period, Thoth appeared as the writer of sacred writings, the all-knowing teacher, the one who knew the secret magical rites.  It is also reported that the sacred books were found at the foot of his statue.  In 'The Book of the Dead', Thoth plays the role of judge when weighing the heart of the deceased. 
 
{Even during the New Kingdom (1540 - 1075BC), Thoth preserved certain perogatives
during Akhenaten's reign.  After his disappearance} Thoth regained his qualities of all-knowing sage and the teacher of the secrets.  During this period, writings of an occult character became important...The occult knowledge of the Egyptians was considered secret.  It was transmitted by "houses of life", sometimes called "mystery schools", acting as both universities and monasteries.
 
The opinion of the specialists are divided regarding the importance of occultism and magic in the time of the pharoahs.  Eric Hornung, an Egyptologist at the University of
Basel,..declares that it is "undeniable that at the beginning of the New King-
dom, at the latest, a spiritual climate propitious to the emergence of Hermetic wisdom
dominated."  Emphasizing the important role of Jan Assman, who concentrated on this
subject while studying the Rameside period, he added that at present "there prevail conditions much more favorable to the discovery of Hermeticism's possible Egyptian roots."
 
In the Late Kingdom (664 - 332 BC), Thoth was considered to be the teacher of magic.  A  stele calls him "twice great", and he is presented sometimes as "thrice (very) great",
or even "five times great" (confer the 'Story of Setne").  In the Ptolemaic period, the
Greeks and Romans were fascinated by Hermopolis and the cult of Thoth.  There devel-
oped at this time an original synthesis between the Egyptian civilisation and the Hellen-
istic culture."
 
"Rosicrucian History and Mysteries", Christian Rebisse   

6 Comments to The Legacy of Thoth in the West (part 1):

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