The ancient Egyptian god Thoth, with the head of an Ibis bird (or sometimes a baboon) and the body of a man, was said to be the god of magic, writing, science and a judge of the dead.
Among the things attributed to Thoth was a powerful book of spells, which some claimed was given to humanity by Thoth himself to teach powerful magic to his followers.
But, legend has it that the book became lost and people began searching for the book and its lost wisdom in search of power or a connection to the ancient spirituality of Egypt.
Further adding to the myth of the book were references in various works of fiction, claiming that the book held untold power.
Even though these references were in works of fiction, it added to the mystique of the book. The Book of Thoth became a popular topic of discussion for those interested in the occult and alternate forms of belief.
People began claiming that they had discovered passages or scrolls which contained the text of the book, and soon copies of the Book of Thoth began appearing in bookstores.
As versions appeared, people began debating as to which version was the true Book of Thoth.
Even well known ‘mystics’ such as Alistair Crowley claimed to draw power from the writings found in the Book of Thoth; fascination with the spirituality and magic of Egypt spread.
For over a hundred years, the west had a love affair with Egyptian art, mysticism, myth. Many people claimed that they had found knowledge and spiritual understanding from the writings in the book and the imagery.
There was one problem with all of these claims of power and enlightenment. They were all completely false.
While many believe that, when the Rosetta stone was brought back to Europe, after Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, the written language of the ancient Egyptians had been completely deciphered.
But that was not true. In fact, as archaeologists unearthed more of the civilization, and learned the facts of the ancient people of Egypt, understanding of the language evolved as well.
Many things, which people thought they had understood for over a century proved to be wrong; often texts and translations had to be re-written. As this understanding improved, many of the myths and stories which people had clung to as spiritual guidance, also changed. And, as a result, a great deal of the mysticism thinned and faded like morning fog as the sun rises.
While it is true that the ancient Egyptians did have a rich and deeply developed mythology, many myths created in the past few centuries based on misunderstanding and charlatans were proved to be false.
One such myth was the Book of Thoth. It was not that the book did not exist; it did. The actual Book of Thoth was found. Not in a deep dark cave or hidden in a magic cavern. It turns out that the Book of Thoth had been right in plain sight. But searchers had the wrong bits of information, and had used their own imaginations to cobble together ‘complete texts’ based on partial information when they created myths.
When the book was recognized for what it was, and fully translated, it proved to be more a collection of blessings and poems than powerful magic which would imbue one with deep understanding of the universe.
Today, the Book of Thoth is readily available, even in handy pdf formats (bet the gods never saw that coming) at your favourite retailers. But one needs to check their facts to make sure they are purchasing an actual copy of the Book of Thoth, and not an entertaining creation whose only true power is that of deception.
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight