Ibis, Symbol of Tehuti

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In ancient Kemet, Tehuti was the head or leader and messenger of the gods. Represented by an Ibis, Tehuti is also called Djehuty, Tahuti, Sheps, Lord of Khemenu, Khenti, Mehi, ASten, and Thoth, and, finally, Hermes Trismegistus. The name Tehuti is derived from the Kemetic tehu, meaning to measure in relation to the moon. Tehuti is derived from the oldest name of the Ibis in Egypt, hence his physical depiction as an Ibis, often illustrated with a head of an ibis as well as a baboon on occasion. Tehuti is known as the father of written language, and many other contributions to mankind are attributed to this legendary figure.

The Ibis Representation

Most of the Neteru or Gods were associated with an animal or totem. Of course, the Ibis is the symbol for Tehuti. An ibis is stork-like bird that is presently extinct in Egypt, but was plentiful in ancient Egypt. The writing system of Egypt used the word akb (i.e., the image of a crested ibis) to express a powerful concept.
The akh is an evolved spirit form as a result of the reintegration of the ka and ba after death. The ka is the essence or spirit, and the ba is the personality concept; the merging of the two is what brings one to the image of a crested ibis, the akh. Also, in medu neter, the ibis and the heart are interchangeable. The name of the ibis is “Tekh,” and the beak of the ibis resembles that of the crescent moon. Tehuti's connection to the crescent is believed to relate to his invention of the 365-day calendar because he also measured the Heavens and planned the Earth.

A Writing System

In the beginning, in Africa there was the word, an oral tradition, a powerful concept with the ability to breathe forth life and make all things manifest into reality. Then came Tehuti, who demonstrated the ability to transform these energetic oratory tools into symbolic representations to further enhance communication and emphasize the way people see themselves and their world. Tehuti is credited with the invention of the world's oldest and most sophisticated writing system, medu neter. His depiction often shows him holding a scroll and papyrus, the symbols of a scribe, and wearing a crown that illuminates his Earthly royalty, cosmic powers, sovereignty, strength, and virility. The Kemetians' reliance on symbols was prevalent throughout their ancient culture, and Tehuti simply stepped it up another dimension by giving meaning to the visual clues. Tehuti laid the foundation for formal written communication.
In addition to the invention of divine words, Tehuti personified the thought process, manifested first from knowledge and wisdom. Thus, Tehuti is often recognized as the epitome of manifest reality. He is the source of power that can make all come to fruition. In many other African religions and traditions, the power of the word, such as Nommo, is believed to possess the innate ability to heal the sick and resurrect the Dead. Adherents of New Age occult sciences believe that prayer or word-sound-power has the ability to change the molecular structure of water or simply raise the vibration of food to be eaten.
According to Kemetians, Tehuti was at the beginning because he is said to be born of himself. Tehuti symbolizes how the esoteric aspect of a being can materialize into the exoteric. This ideology is an aspect of the philosophy of the above and the below or microcosm as a reflection of the macrocosm. Tehuti is also referred to as the “Divine Tongue” and represents the will to do and courage to hone the higher faculties to maximize one's full potential.

Tehuti as Writer and Subject

Tehuti made his mark on civilizations of the past, and his contributions are still evident today. In fact, philosophy credits him with writing more than 1,000 books, and much of what has come after him reflects his understandings about life on and after Earth. He has made a significant contribution to the history of Western thought. A few of his most well-known texts are the 42 books of Thoth, which detail instructions for achieving immorality and foundation for much of the Western sciences; and the Emerald Tablet, which details “truth” and axioms of the universe and the human connection to it, also known as the Kybalion. He is also said to have authored the Ebers Papyrus and the Divine Pymander.
Tehuti is said to have written and was written about in texts ancient and modern, such as the Book of the Coming Forth by Day, better known as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, individually, but more so in juxtaposition with other Gods and Goddesses. These books were versions of the original pyramid or funerary texts, a compilation of spells that accompanied the deceased, earlier only accessible to royal families and later democratized. In the Pyramid Text, Tehuti is thought to be a funerary entity, appearing as a god who helps the Dead and awaited for by those souls that passed onto the after- or underworlds.
He is also referred to as the heart of Ra, the sun god and master of the physical and spiritual realms. Tehuti personifies Ra's mind and heart and built the Great Pyramid under his orders. In mythology, the primordial egg was a gift to Tehuti laid by the ibis, from wherein Ra emerged. In The Book of the Dead, Tehuti plays a significant role by the weighing of souls before the acceptance or denial into the afterworld. One could not access the next level of existence without his permission.
He is also known as the brother of Osiris and serves as the judge in the battle between Horus and Set. Tehuti had the ability to, in his binary relationship with Auset, resurrect Ausar to life. In connection with Maat, the Goddess of Justice, Reciprocity, and Truth, he established the principles Maat represents. Tehuti and Anubis balance the scales of Maat, judging heart against feather.
Tehuti's contributions to mankind extend beyond the parameters of writing; he is also known as a master in the areas of medicine, chemistry, law, rhetoric, advanced mathematics, astronomy, and early understandings of universal order and principles.



  • maat
  • Egypt
  • pyramids
  • gods
  • goddess
  • moon
  • symboling


Related Entries

Further Reading

  • Budge, W. E. A. The Gods of the Egyptians: Studies in Egyptian Mythology (Vol. 1 (1969). ). New York: Dover.
  • Freke, T., and Gandy, P. (1997). The Hermetica: The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs. London: Judy Piatkus.
  • Sertima, I. V. (1999). Egypt Revisited (5th ed.). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publications.
  • Wilkinson, R. (2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. New York: Thames & Hudson.