So this is probably the second ~*~real~*~ tarot image I’ve done (after some notebook sketches), and for this one I did not randomly select the cards, but intentionally selected the two cards I felt best represented the Egyptian god Thoth: The Magus and The Moon. Even the deck I used, The Hermetic Tarot, was specifically chosen for Thoth’s connection to hermeticism.
More about Thoth (via Wikipedia):
Thoth is the god of writing, measurement, Magick, the moon, mediating between good and evil, serving as the scribe of the gods, and secretary and counselor to Ra. He is depicted as having either the head of an Ibis or a Baboon, and he reports the results from the scales that weigh the deceased’s heart against a feather to determine the soul’s passage into the afterlife. As A’an he is depicted as the dog-faced baboon god of equilibrium, and as A’ah-Djehuty in a more humanoid form representing an entire moon cycle. The Greeks equated him to their god Hermes, who were given this title Hermes Trismegistus (Thrice Greatest)…
And so we have an image of Thoth as a baboon of magick and the moon. Primarily, he is the magician, the hermetist, alchemist, philosopher, the fool set off on his journey to Make Shit Happen. He is animal-man-god, the completion of creation. He exists in the void of space, out of time, within the imagination. Each of his wings represents one Minor Arcana suit of the tarot and their respective elements (Pentacles/Earth, Swords/Air, Wands/Fire, and Cups/Water), and the six-pointed star representing the unity of opposites and of elements in the Major Arcana (as you can “extract” each of the elemental symbols from the hexagram). He wears a triple crown of Moon/Sun eclipses, to recall the title “Trismegistus”. He holds an instrument in his left (passive) hand that combines the caduceus, snake, and scarab into one powerful tool. His right (active) hand appears to be manifesting a creature out of thin air…
The two dogs on either side of Thoth represent aspects of the moon. As the moon they represent the unconscious and illusion. The dog on the right has ram horns, representing Ra the Sun god (illuminated moon, fire and light), and the dog on the left has a scorpion tail, representing darkness and control (shadow self, water). The scorpion dog seems to be trying to play with Thoth, while also bowing to him (but we can see this could just be preparation for an attack), while the ram dog is moving away from Thoth, going into the unknown future. Thoth seems to be taming the scorpion dog (who is playful but defensive and dangerous) via his caduceus/wand, representing the power of will to heal unconscious wounds, and the use of hermetics to resolve and transcend the passions. The power he has accumulated through such an endeavor is then transformed to manifest a new being, retaining the same spiritual essence as before, but for new purpose. Thoth looks up at his creation and it looks back at him, as they both smile. But the old subconscious is still there, trained now, but poisonous none the less.
A curious thing about the moon symbols in this image is that they’re all really sun symbols, as that is the source from which the moon receives all of its illumination. Both the ram and the scorpion are symbols of the sun, “Sun dogs” are an interesting solar phenomenon, and even the scarab on the wand that holds a disk represents the sun. So what does this mean? Firstly, we have the light of the Sun as spirit being the hidden illuminator of the moon as self-knowledge. Moon light is simply a reflection of Sun light, moon light being unreal, insubstantial, and illusory. It also relates the sun and moon as deities, the moon displaying hidden aspects of the sun. This plays out in the passage of time, as the movement of the sun through the sky as a marker of the days, and also the year; the phases of the moon mark the months (and also menstrual cycles… it’s theorized that women were the first to create calendars in order to track their fertility); days being “aspects” of months, months being “aspects” of years, the movement of the solar and lunar (and planetary) bodies through the zodiac creating an intricate dance of various energies. We can even see that as the moon revolves around the earth, it changes in appearance depending on the triple relationship of Sun (Spirit, material world) illuminating the Moon (subconscious, unconscious) as viewed by the Earth (ego, personality, action manifest). Indeed, one of the Triple Crowns is the Sun-Moon-Earth syzygy.
Hermes is also known to the Romans as Mercury, so we basically have a triple god of Thoth-Hermes-Mercury, and Thoth-Ra-Anubis (As moon-sun-underworld), plus the animal-man-god mentioned earlier. There is also a symbol for mercury vaguely suggested by the position of Thoth’s arms (as the horizontal bar) and the circle and “horns” at the top (either created by the crescent moon, or alternately by the “energy lines” radiating up and out).
I feel like this image also has strong symbolic ties to (now don’t get all spooked and run away) Baphomet. This symbol (and i stress that She is a symbol/archetype and not a god) is also a union of opposites and trinities. Both hold a caduceus, both are related to alchemy (Baphomet bears the Spagyric Formula on her forearms, “Solve et Coagula”), and both combine forms of animal, man, and deity.
Thoth as the Magus here exists in a purely energetic realm, the realm of thought, and thus illusion and deception. He has the power to create and define anything he so wishes, as he exists eternally un-created. This space also represents transition in a number of ways. Primarily we have the transition of thought into expression. We can also see the process of illumination, as light transforms from the breakdown of material into a purely energetic state and goes on to be reflected by material objects, thus defining them. Similarly, we see the Source/spirit being separated into and defined as the four elements, which then re-form into material phenomena. As the messenger god, he exists in a “communication tunnel” capable of transmitting energy instantaneously over long distances via electricity, which is encoded at the source and decoded at the display. Much the same, the information contained within the Prima Materia/Base Metals is dissolved and decoded, and transliterated into Noble/Higher Forms. There is also the transition between the Esoteric/Psychological elements of symbolism in alchemy and Exoteric/Material applications, which moves both ways as the philosophy is explored, applied, shared, and rediscovered. You can also see the moon “transiting” the sun in Thoth’s crown, as the disk moves from right to left as if in an eclipse, doubly transforming the disk of the sun into the disk of the dark moon, and turning the crescent moon into the solar corona.