Thoth Symbol and Origin of the Egyptian Deity

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The Thoth symbol represents the moon, as well as writing, wisdom, and balance. Thoth is an important god in Egyptian culture who not only is the moon god, but also the god of language. Besides that, he is also considered the deity of writing, science, learning, magic, and art. 

Thoth means someone who is like the ibis. The ibis is a bird representing wisdom and knowledge. However, the Greeks linked him with Hermes because they had similar functions and roles. Thoth is also the representative and adviser to the sun god Ra.

Origin of Thoth

Though Thoth appeared on the cosmetic palettes in the pre-dynastic age of Egypt, textual information about him came in during the Old Kingdom. Later, his role as an ancient Egyptian deity became popular among the commoners.

We can find references to him in the pyramid texts. The Egyptian god Thoth is referred to as one of the two companions who had crossed the sky with Ra, the sun god. This is why he’s given the status of a solar deity.

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A depiction of Thoth

Thoth as Moon God

Later, Thoth was well-known as the god of the moon. He also holds a firm position in religious rituals, agriculture, and astronomy. Apart from that, Thoth is connected to several myths. There are many stories about his birth, too. 

Thoth’s Birth History

Thoth is considered to be the offspring of Horus and Seth. It’s believed that Thoth was born from the forehead of Seth, as Horus’s semen had entered Seth. As an offspring of these deities, Thoth embodied both chaos and stability from his two parents. He emerged as the god of wisdom and balance. 

Nonetheless, another story tells us that Thoth was born from the lips of the Sun God Ra. According to this myth, he was born at the beginning of creation and was a god born without a mother. 

Another version of Thoth’s birth states that he was self-created. After his birth, he transformed into an ibis. The ibis had laid the cosmic egg from where life sprang. 

Thoth and Three Goddesses

In Egypt, Thoth is famously connected with three goddesses – Seshat, Ma’at, and Nehmetawy. However, he is mainly linked with Seshat, the keeper of books and the goddess of writing. 

Due to his association with the deity of truth, equilibrium, and balance, Ma’at, we can see that he is the husband of Goddess Ma’at. Nehmetawy is the goddess of protection with whom Thoth is associated. 

Thoth Symbolism 

There are several symbols with which the ancient Egyptian god Thoth is associated, linking him with the moon, the dead, wisdom, and writing.

  • Ibis: Ibis is one of the sacred animals associated with Thoth, as he has the head of an ibis. The moon’s crescent is related to the ibis’s curve of the beak. Since ibis is attributed to wisdom, the connection with Thoth becomes clearer. 
  • Scales: Thoth is also linked to the Egyptian symbol Scales. It represents his role in the judgment of deceased people. During this judgment, the deceased’s heart is weighed with the feather of truth. 
  • Crescent moon: This is one of the most explicit symbols with which Thoth is related. The symbol reinforces the image of Thoth as the god of the moon. 
  • Papyrus scroll: The papyrus scroll is the symbol for writing. Thoth is associated with the propagation of language and writing, which makes his association with papyrus clear. As the god of writing, he is often thought to have taught the Egyptians how to write on papyrus. 
  • Stylus: The stylus pen is the traditional stylus whose style is still used today. It’s used to write on papyrus and thus linked with Thoth as a symbol of writing. 
  • Baboon: At times, Thoth is portrayed as a baboon who holds a crescent moon. The baboon is considered an animal sacred to Thoth. 
  • Ankh and Scepter: The ankh represents life, and Thoth is portrayed as holding ankh. It symbolizes how Thoth is a balanced god between life and death. The scepter is always the symbol of power, and Thoth’s carrying one indicates his divine authority. 

Thoth and the Myth of Osiris

Thoth is related to Osiris, though he plays a minor role in the myth. The myth of Osiris is one of ancient Egypt’s most elaborate yet critical and celebrated myths. 

Many Egyptian writers claim that Thoth helped Isis to gather the fragmented body of Osiris. Thoth was the one who helped Queen Isis with the magical spell that resurrected the dead king. 

Thoth played an essential role during the battle between Osris’ son Seth and Horus. Thoth is said to have cured the eye of Horus that Seth damaged. Horus’s eye is associated with the moon, and Thoth healing it and bringing it back symbolizes his connection with it. 

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Thoth praising Osiris

Thoth’s Characteristics

Thoth is largely depicted as a man who has the head of an ibis. He is also seen wearing an atef crown or lunar disc.

When it comes to what he holds, we can see several things. Besides holding a scribe, he is seen holding a palette and stylus in various images. In some portrayals, he is represented as a baboon too.

Patron of Scribes

Thoth is Seshat’s companion – the goddess who saved scribes in her immortal library. Thoth is the protector of scribes and their patron, too. Many people believe that Thoth was the one who invented Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

Regulator of Universe

Thoth carries the scepter, which symbolizes his connection with the divine administration. He was assigned to maintain the balance in the universe. He was the regulator of the universe, maintaining equilibrium in the world. Besides that, he was also a counselor to Ra, the Sun God. 

The Importance of This Famous Egyptian God

Thoth is considered one of the most famous Egyptian gods, so many symbols are related to him. Archeologists suggest that he was an important deity, and he was widely worshipped in ancient Egypt in several shrines and temples in Egypt.

However, his association with writing, science, the afterlife, and divinity makes him more versatile than a god to the ordinary person today. If you found this article interesting, check out this post about the nazar evil eye meaning.


Vanessa's liberal arts background has prepared her well for Symbol Scholar. A self-proclaimed theology nerd, Vanessa has interests in world religions, Reformation theology, history, and more. When she's not working, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising, and watching professional basketball.

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