Thoth as Moon God; from: “Egyptian myth and legend” (Donald Mackenzie)
[Thoth of Hermopolis], that god of quaint and arresting aspect is most usually depicted with a man’s body and the head of an ibis, surmounted by a lunar disk and crescent. As the divine lawyer and recorder, he checked the balance in the Judgment Hall of the Dead when the human heart was weighed before Osiris; as a rate, he measured out at birth the span of human life on a rod with serrated edge; he was also a patron of architects) a god of religious literature who was invoked by scribes, and a god of medicine. Originally he was a lunar deity, and was therefore of great antiquity, for, as Mr. Payne has emphasized in his History of the New World, a connection is traced between the lunar phenomena and the food supply in an earlier stage of civilization than that in which a connection is traced between the food supply and the solar phenomena.
The worship of the moon preceded in Egypt, as in many other countries, the worship of the sun. It still survives in Central Africa, and among primitive peoples elsewhere throughout the world. Even in highly civilized Europe we can still trace lingering evidences of belief in the benevolence of the lunar spirit, the ancient guide and protector of mankind.
Although the strictly lunar character of the Egyptian god Thoth is not apparent at first sight, it can be traced through his association with kindred deities. At Hermopolis and Edfu he was fused with Khonsu (or Khensu), who had developed from Ah, the lunar representative of the male principle, which was also “the fighting principle”. Khonsu was depicted as a handsome youth, and he symbolized, in the Theban group of gods, certain specialized influences of the moon. He was the love god, the Egyptian Cupid, and the divine physician; he was also an explorer (the root khens signifies “to traverse”) and the messenger and hunter of the gods. Special offerings were made to him at the Ploughing Festival, just before the seed was sown, and at the Harvest Festival, after the grain was reaped; and he was worshipped as the increaser of flocks and herds and human families. Like Thoth, he was a “measurer”, and inspirer of architects, because the moon measures time. But in this direction Thoth had fuller development; he was a “lawyer” because the orderly changes of the moon suggested the observance of well-defined laws, and a “checker” and “scribe” because human transactions were checked and recorded in association with lunar movements. Time was first measured by the lunar month.
Moon gods were also corn gods, but Thoth had no pronounced association with agricultural rites. That phase of his character may have been suppressed as a result of the specializing process; it is also possible that he was differentiated in the pastoral and hunting period when the lunar spirit was especially credited with causing the growth of trees. In the Nineteenth Dynasty Thoth was shown recording the name of a Pharaoh on the sacred sycamore. He must have been, therefore, at one time a tree spirit, like Osiris. Tree spirits, as well as corn spirits, were manifestations of the moon god.
Quoted from: “Egyptian myth and legend”, by Donald Mackenzie