Khonsu (alternately Chonsu, Khensu, Khons, Chons or Khnshu), is most often the son of Ammon-Ra and Mut. He is part of the Theban Triad of Ammon, Mut, and Khonsu. But at Kom Ombo He was believed to be a son of Sobek and Hathor, and sometimes a child of Sekhmet or Bast. He is usually shown as a mummy wearing the symbol of childhood, a shaved head and the sidelock of youth. Very rarely Khonsu was shown with a falcon-head, relating Him to Horus. But you can difference Him from Horus because He wears a lunar headdress, not a solar one. Like Thoth He is pictured in the form of a baboon, but as time went on He was more and more pictured as a man. Sometimes He is standing on the back of a crocodile, another thing relating Him to Horus, Who is also shown like this. When called “Khensu, the chronographer” He has a solar headdress and a stylus in His hand.
It’s believed that His name comes from khens which means “to travel”, or “to move about”. It refers to the moon, which was called “The Wanderer”, and which He patronizes. He is sometimes depicted wearing an upside-down crescent on His head.
Khonsu is one of the most ancient Gods. Besides being the God of the crescent moon, He caused women to conceive, cattle to be fertile, and for every throat to breathe fresh air. In this sense, He could be seen as the God Who animates all life. The Thebens considered Khonsu to be a form of Thoth. He is believed to have marked the passage of time, a job He shares which Thoth, also a moon-God, and Seshat (also one of the Gods of this month!), Who is sometimes the sister or wife of Thoth. He is often shown playing a game of Senet against Thoth. Khonsu is often said to be a great lover of games.
In earlier times, Khonsu appears to have been a very violent and terriorifying God, described as “living on hearts” and He even appears in the so-called “Cannibal hymn”, wherein He helps the recently deceased king to catch, kill and eat lesser Gods in order to absorb Their powers. This bloodthirsty side may make sense if we consider His origin to be from Sekhmet, the fierce lion-Goddess of battle Who once became so drunk with the joy of destruction that She nearly wiped out mankind. Yet at the dawn of the New Kingdom, this destrustive side of Khonsu was nearly completely gone and He was known as the gentle son of Ammon and Mut known particularly as a great healer.
He was also revered as a god of healing, as is recorded in the story of the “Princess of Bekheten”. It was said that he personally healed the pharaoh Ptolemy IV (who took the epithet “beloved of Khonsu who protects the king and drives away evil spirits” in thanks for the gods help) and he was also thought to extend his protection to the common people. As a result, many Egyptians were named after him….
However, he was also known by the more specific names; “Khonsu nefer hotep” (in Thebes) was described as the “lord of Ma´at”, an epithet he shared with Ptah. When there was a new moon he was known as the “mighty bull” and during the full moon he was associated with a neutered bull. This god not only ruled the month, but he also supposed to possess absolute power over the evil sprits which infested earth, air, sea, and sky, and which made themselves hostile to man and attacked his body under the forms of pains, sickness, and diseases, and produced decay, and madness, and death. He it was, moreover, who made plants to grow, and fruit to ripen, and animals to conceive, and to men and women he was the god of love.
Thus Khensu-pa-khart was both the spring sun, and the spring moon, and also the moon at the beginning of each month, in fact, the symbol of the renewed light of the sun and moon, and the source of generation and reproduction. In these aspects he could be linked to Horus, Ra, or Min. He was also known as “Khonsu pa-ir-sekher” (“Khonsu the provider” -Chespisichis to the Greeks) and “Khonsu heseb-ahau” (“Khonsu, decider of the life span“).
In Khumnu, which the Greeks called Hermopolis, He was called Khonsu-Djehuti (Thoth) going so far to say They are the same God. In Thebes He was associated with such ancient and primal Gods as Ra and Shu, the moon-God Min, and even Horus. During later periods Osiris was considered the sun and Khonsu the moon, the two of Them together being called The Two Bulls.
When Ra forbid Nuit from giving birth on any day of the year, Thoth figured out a way around the proclamation by gambling with Khonsu for a portion of His moonlight until the God of Wisdom had enough light to fashion 5 extra days to add to the three hundred days of year. It was on those days that Isis, Osiris, Seth, Nethpys, and Horus the Elder were able to be born. So, in a round-abound way, if it wasn’t for Khonsu, some of the most popular and well-known Gods from the Egyptian pantheon could not have come into existence!
My favorite depiction of Khonsu is actually this one from the Anubis Oracle deck. This one shows Him in the form of a baboon, riding the cresent moon. According to the Anubis Oracle (still one of my absolute favorite decks to work with) “Khonsu brings spiritual nourishment to our bodies and souls. He knows the exact timing in which we are ready to receive communion and ‘eat the flesh of the Gods’ so that we may become as one of them. Khonsu works on our behalf to fertilize our minds and hearts with the seeds of our own divinity. He engages the power of the moon to bring forth the healing rains that cleanse our old belief systems …. He governs the tides of the oceans and human emotions. Khonsu is a great healer, said to be able to exorcise demons. He goes this by honoring, feasting, and celebrating the diseases, and they go away happy.”