Notes on Thoth and Ma'at
by: Fl. Valeria Octavia & X. Helia Allegra
Thouth or Tahuti the God of Wisdom of the ancient Egypt. As far back as the 5000 years ago there existed in Chumn, the City of the Eight, or Hermopolis as it called in Greek a great center of worship dedicated to Thoth. He played a part in the creation myth of Pharaonic Egypt he was also the keeper and author of the records of the Gods (as can be seen in Greek Hermes) and a psychopomp a guide of the souls in the underworld. He was regarded as the author of all writing and the actual scribe who wrote the ancient scriptures. He supervised the drawing of the laws and saw it to it that these and other holy books would be preserved in appropriate libraries. He was known as the lord of the Moon who was in charge of the mysterious and dark world of the night (the God of Magical works ). More than this He was himself the Divine Word from which all the manifest words arose. The Logos concept enunciated by Philo and utilized by Christianity have been derived from the Egyptian God of Wisdom, Thoth.
In the myth of Osiris and Isis He was the master magician who taught Isis how to bring her slain royal spouse back to life and thus conceive the conquering saviour Horus.
It was to this inspiring God image that the Greeks joined their own God of Wisdom, Hermes .
Ma'at derives from Mu'at, which means "to direct, to steer, to give direction; to offer, or sacrifice" Maat reflects a way of organization and quality of awareness, manifesting in modern times as a form of self-initiation. The word is usually translated as "truth, justice, order, adjustment, honesty". Ancient Egyptians protrayed Maat as a goddess, yet there is little personality cult to her, for "ma'at" was a very abstract idea.
Egyptian culture commonly used two symbols for the concept of Maat. One is the feather, bearing a bird (an image of the soul) in flight. Because the feather rides in the airwaves, air was also governed by Maat. Some popular expressions were "Maat is breathed", and "Maat gives air to breathe", while a "lack of breath" was a common metaphor for fear, oppression, and forms of restriction. The other symbol for Maat resembles a flat horizontal rectangle with a slanted edge on the left side. This glyph can be interpreted as a ruler, for the goddess Maat was also known as the honest measure of the crops. In another sense, this slab-like symbol represents the foundation beneath the throne, for Maat is the solid earth that that gives validity to the gods. In terms of personal spiritual attainment, this implies two models of change; one way is a step process, another can be seen as a gradual ascent. As the feather raises awareness to unfathomble heights, the solid foundation keeps one grounded during spiritual transformation, manifests an absract vision into flesh, and forms a new reality/world.
Maat is the Egyptian Neter, Goddess of Truth, justice, righteousness, balance, and all forms of adjustment. She is a beautiful young woman who wears a feather, her symbol, in her headband. She is the daughter of Ra, God of the sun, and is the wife of Tahuti (Thoth), the ibis-headed god of wisdom and scribe of the gods, whom she assisted with the ordering of creation as well as in his duties in the underworld.
In the judgment hall of Osiris, the slain and restored King, the heart of the deceased is placed on one plate of the balance-scale of Anubis, the jackal-headed guardian of the dead, and the feather of Maat lies in the other. If the heart weighs no more than the feather and is not burdened with sin, the sould goes to Amenta, the Egyptian form of paradise. If the heart is heavier than the feather, the sinner is devoured by the crocodile god Sebekh, or in other illustrations, by Ammet, the chimera.
The word neter means principle, and illustrates how Egyptian initiates perceived their their pantheon, not as deities in the sense of immortal persons to be worshipped, but as qualities and ideals to be honored and practiced.
The annual flooding of the Nile required repeated measurement of fields and property lines, and honesty and justice in measurement were highly esteemed as a consequence. This highly-valued truth extended to lierature, everyday speech, as well as business transactions, as illustrated in the Negative Confession of the Papyrus of Nu:
"... I have not done iniquity.
... I have not made light the bushel.
... I have not acted deceitfully.
... I have not set my mouth in motion against any man.
... I have not uttered flasehood.
... I have not made myself deaf unto the words of right and truth.
... I have not multiplied my speech beyond what should be said."
(from Budge's Egyptian Religion)
42 sins are listed in the Negative Confession, many of which relate directly to the concept of truth. Maat is the most abstract of the neter (principles), making her the ideal patron for the true goal of magick, as defined broadly to encompass a life lived purposefully.
In practice, magick is a way of life that can include ethics, philosophy, scholarship in a variety of fields, meditation, devotion, divination, and most importantly, dedication and commitment. The popular misconception is that magic aims to suspend the laws of nature for selfish, personal gain, or to produce miracles in the physical plane. The true goal of magick is spiritual transformation by the process of initiation. Initiation is a series of realizations, occuring in stages, made possible through expansion of one's vision of reality beyond the physical, mental, and emotional planes, to include the spiritual, the divine, and their transcendence. This type of spiritual transformation surpasses the capacity of modern "organized" religions to unite with the soul of God, since it is an individual journey of direct experience, unrestricted by religious officials, and free of dogma, doctrines, and blind faith. Magickal intitiation provide's one with experience, not rumour, with knowledge not faith.
The truth of experience, the wisdom and knowledge attained on the path of initiation, make Maat and her beloved, Thoth, invaluable guides throughout the process of self-discovery.