egypt hermes thoth

“The Secret Wisdom of Thoth” Book Review 

I received my hardcover edition of The Secret Wisdom of Thoth (Revised Edition), which is written under the pseudonym “Tat of Heseret” and follows in the same tradition of so many nameless Hermetic authors that attributed their work to Hermes Trismegistus or some other character in the Hermetic milieu, and I am very satisfied, to say the least, not only with the quality of the book and dust cover but also with the contents of this new English interpretation. 


This book contains two main sections. First, we read an introduction and an explanation for why the use of a semiotic approach is necessary for the understanding of this translation. After this section, and before we reach the text translation (which starts the second part of this read), we move on to my absolute favorite part of this book: a “key” which is basically a glossary of commonplace words and terms found throughout this text, and the esoteric, or spiritual, dual-meanings of these terms. 

A short list of examples from the key includes: “Dogs = followers, Baboons = priests, Bull = worker/citizen, Seshat = Demiurge/Logos, The Ibis = Thoth, ‘animals that need to be captured’ = ‘wisdom that needs to be uncovered,’ Net = Mind (or) Gnōsis, Fish = teachings, the Sea = ‘symbol for limitless, endless or boundless wisdom,’” so on and so forth.

An interesting and extremely cool phenomenon that I encountered with this key is that it can be used to decipher other (sometimes non-Hermetic) texts. I will give you an example of an epiphany I had while reading an aphorism from the Gnostic “Gospel of Thomas” that sprang to mind after my reading of the key. From the Gospel of Thomas:

[8] 1. “And he said, ‘Humankind is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. 2. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. 3. He threw all the little fish back into the sea and with no difficulty chose the larger fish.

Gospel of Thomas

Using the examples that I have given from the key, we can see that this passage in the Gospel of Thomas can be semiotically translated to mean something along the lines of: “Humanity is like a wise philosopher whose mind drew, from the sea of limitless wisdom, a grand and important teaching among the numerous other trivial teachings. With no difficulty, this philosopher accepted the knowledge of the grand teaching and disregarded the many other ignoble teachings.”

Pretty cool, right!? 

I now try to keep my copy of this book within arm’s reach whenever I am reading a new text, simply to evaluate whether or not the key is applicable to what I am reading. 

After the key, we finally move to the second half; the real meat and potatoes of this book: the translation. This translation is a dialogue between a master and a disciple about duality, unity, and the ritual of entering the sea of non-duality. Connecting with the One and the All, that is.

Being that the original text is written completely in Demotic Egyptian, and not in Greek, and no living translation in our awareness exists in Coptic or Greek, the characters, ideas, and themes presented in this book of Thoth are completely Egyptian. For example, we see the use of characters such as Thoth and Seshat instead of Hermes Trismegistus and the Demiurge/Logos. So while reading this book, don’t expect to encounter the usual Hermetic cast of Greek characters such as Hermes, Asclepius, Tat, Ammon, Poimandres, etc.

Now, because of this Egyptian-flavored Hermetic wisdom present in this text and the date to which it is attributed, this text falls into the category of “extra-Hermetic” instead of being part of the classical Hermetica (Corpus Hermeticum, Asclepius, Definitions.., etc.). That being said, The Secret Wisdom of Thoth offers much to learn for a student of Hermeticism (or spirituality and philosophy in general). It leans heavily on the monist views of Hermeticism and the unity of all that is.

With the low low price of the digital format, and also a paperback version being offered, there is no excuse not to have this book as part of your library. The knowledge contained in this book is, in my opinion, invaluable to a student of Hermes Trismegistus, or Thoth (also called “the thrice great”).

The key alone is worth the cost of admission and the language of the text is poetic, written in allegories, and is written in clear and organized verses. This is an excellent Hermetic compendium outlining the inherent monism found throughout the Hermetica.

“The divine Thoth, who dispenses the most ancient wisdom, is the greatest among the great ones. He is indeed the one who received the first knowledge before all others. Thoth’s uttering are his children. He is the thrice-greatest.”

The Secret Wisdom of Thoth

Rating (5/5)


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