Thoth/Hermes is one of my favorite subjects. About 6 months ago I revisited this subject and was determined to figure out the bird head of Thoth.
Animals depictions and or the head of an animal on a human body often represented the behaviors of the particular animal in relation to human behaviors. For example the ostrich throughout history is known as the bad mother. This was because the ostrich would often leave her eggs unguarded, open on the ground, didn’t take care of her own etc. In her wildly way, a nervous bird, would sometimes crush her own eggs killing her young. I believe there is mention in the bible to this bird being the bad mother in reference to the Jews who killed their own children during a roman siege. Can’t name it off the top of my head.
There is an old Islamic phrase that goes back thousands of years, “stupid as an ostrich”, well, because the birds actions didn’t make sense and looked stupid to the observer. Don’t be stupid as an ostrich.
Ostrich are also referenced as a bird of mourning and grief as the bird makes this god awful whaling screeching noise in the desert at night.
Also known as the “king of birds”, being the largest bird on the planet, the feathers often represented “commander and chief”. Ostriches were known for their “unpredictability” and a good Army General would keep his enemies guessing. Worn by commanders/generals of various armies throughout history, typically on the top of their helmets, like a mow hawk, often colored red representing power which is where I believe the royalty representations came. Ostrich feathers often represented aristocracy and or blue bloods.
Ostriches are as fast or faster than a horse, were known for their speed, would chase down perceived enemies and attack, which is another example of what I believe symbolic for a blitzing unrelenting attack, chasing a enemy down for final defeat, which any good army understands the value of.
The reason why I know so much about the ostrich and carry it with me is because of my esoteric work on the ostrich and its relationship to George W. Bush, long story for another time.
So now that you understand how animal behaviors were incorporated into symbolic representations, used in iconography to symbolic speech let’s move to Thoth.
As a student\seeker of esoteric knowledge, Thoth bird head had me stumped. I set out understand why, I was on a mission.
Some say Thoth goes back 36000 years, but we really don’t know for sure. Bringer of knowledge, the king of scribes, the teacher, the great measurer of the earth, why the Ibis head? A few months ago I watched just about every Ibis video I could examining this birds behaviors. I can tell you they are hated in Australia with a passion. The bird is a scavenger bird in the cities, tearing open garbage bags and feasting on whatever edible they can find, leaving a huge mess behind. It has adapted for city life and is viewed as a pest bird. They have a rather loud call that annoys many in the city. This is not really typically known for this bird throughout history, but it does speak to the adaptability of this bird, it’s a survivor, it’s crafty and resourceful. The more I examined the more I was coming back to the behaviors of Hermes/Mercury, a tricky bird. This could possibly be one of the reasons for the Ibis representation on Thoth.
Was there more, yes, I already knew from the references I read that the way the Ibis pokes his head around looking for bugs to eat, the Ibis looks and or mimics a quill pen dipping into ink which would make sense since Thoth is the great scribe. Was there more? I knew there just had to be more representations in the behaviors or the look of the bird or something, it was driving me crazy, I kept looking and watching videos of this bird with an obsession for about 2 weeks last January. I almost gave up, then in a moment while watching an Ibis bird video, I seen it. With great excitement I ran to my wife and said “ I got it, I found it, I can’t believe it, I knew I would find what I was looking for” I have to tell you all, persistence in observation can pay off. What may seem like the mundane is often not.
So now that we know the Ibis is an adaptive tricky bird like Hermes. And we now know that the bird pokes his head looking for bugs representing a quill pen dipping into ink. What was this third fantastic clue that I discovered? Well I have to give you a little background as to why I finally seen it. Being a student of esoteric knowledge and having studied Hermetic principles and the duality of nature, about 10 years ago I was in the habit of seeing two sides to everything, black white, masculine feminine, right brain left brain, our bodies and most life on the planet are examples of bilateral symmetry or one half of the body is the opposite representation of the other half, or one half is the mirror image of the other. I also found it was a way to hide things in paintings and that you had inverse and overlay to find hidden clues that some of the masters, such as Leonardo Davinci had incorporated into his artwork. So I was big on mirroring what I was looking at, at that time. However in my epiphany of this third clue I wasn’t even thinking about it, I just seen it in the moment and it dawned on me. “Of Course”, I yelled.
Third clue revelation; As I was watch and re watched another boring video of the Ibis in its natural habitat, poking around and feeding with other Ibis’s in the wetlands, I seen it. What I saw, was two Ibis’s standing opposite of one another and they moved forward ever so slightly, where the head of one Ibis was blocking the head of the other Ibis, or you could say visually the Ibises heads merged opposite of each other. Being familiar with machinist tools, I seen it. A Caliper! To measure! Thoth being the “great measurer of the Earth”, how do we measure round objects? With a set of Calipers! So the Ibis head represents the one half of a set of calipers, and Hermes being so dual natured and the origin of the word, “hermaphrodite” coming from Hermes, male and female in one, or opposites in one, like a set of calipers!
This is why my friends call me the most observant one, but I believe it was my background knowledge and persistence more than anything.