It’s almost impossible to do any research on Mormonism without coming across historical documentation of Joseph Smith’s participation in the occult and the speech we’re listing here is a good example of that.
Of all the subjects within the world of Mormonism, learning about Joseph’s participation in the occult is what shocked me the most when I finally left the Church. All I can say is that I had absolutely no idea he did these things, but looking back on the things I participated in as a Mormon I shouldn’t have been surprised…
Today we’re posting a speech given by Reed Durham in 1974. Dr. Reed Durham was the director of the Institute of Religion in Salt Lake when he delivered his speech “Is There No Help for the Widow’s Son” at the annual Mormon Historical Association’s convention held in Nauvoo, Illinois.
The topic was about his own discovery of a Jupiter’s Talisman that Smith had in his pocket on the day he died. This led to see the unmistakable connection of the LDS temple ceremonies and Smith’s involvement with the Masonic Lodge.
Because of the Church’s response to his speech you won’t find it promoted on any official LDS website, although you can find a rebuttal from FARMS. We’re posting his address here with Melvin Hogan’s opinion.
What we found interesting was the outright practice of witchcraft, astrology, and magic Smith and friends engaged in during his life and afterwards. The markings on their temples show the strong pride they have in the occult. This is nothing short of idolatry.
2 Corinthians 6:16-17; “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”.
Mervin B. Hogan
Research Lodge of Utah, F. & A. M. Masonic Temple
650 East South Temple Salt Lake City, Utah 84102
The Mormon History Association held its Convention at Nauvoo, Illinois, in the old, historic Nauvoo Hotel on Saturday, April 20, 1974. As the immediate Past-President of the organization, Dr. Reed C. Durham, Jr. contributed the climax of the convocation when he delivered the scheduled, traditional Presidential Address, which he titled: “Is There No Help For The Widow’s Son?”
Dr. Durham is the Director of the L.D.S. Institute of Religion, at the University of Utah, 1800 Hempstead Road, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112.
My acquaintance with this talk was initially made when several University students, who had heard it at Nauvoo, came to see me with various questions to which they were seeking answers. Having no foreknowledge of this unusual compilation of topics, and lacking the imagination which might have helped bridge the gap, I’m certain I was a positive disappointment to my young and able inquirers. They offered the interesting observation that several tape recordings had been made of the talk and I would probably hear more about it.
I did! One of my academic colleagues called me shortly afterward and asked me to join him in his office, to hear his tape recording and express my opinion of the subject. He also told me that someone had transcribed the speech and, as a result, underground copies were being freely distributed. A short time later, another professor handed me a copy of the typed manuscript. The accompanying manuscript has been carefully and meticulously prepared and checked by myself against an excellent tape of the speech. It is the full and complete text of the address as delivered by Dr. Durham at Nauvoo.
Hence – for clear understanding – the entire document is an underground accomplishment and is being freely reproduced and unrestrainedly distributed and circulated without the approval or concurrence of Dr. Durham.
I believe my individual interest in the speech is obvious. Further, I am of the personal opinion and conviction that this address should be made available to the Brethren of the Masonic Order. To that end, I am adding these few introductory and precautionary comments in order that the manuscript may be distributed with candid responsibility and openly acknowledged source. The reader is thereby given a declared understanding of the source and subsequent handling of the document.
Let me presume to offer a few words of caution to the reader. Prof. Charles T. Wood, the distinguished Dartmouth College scholar, declares:
It was in the nineteenth century that modern historical scholarship began, in the sense that those engaged in research began consciously to try to present an objective analysis, not merely a polemic argued from those pieces of evidence that happened to sustain their points of view. [Philip the Fair and Boniface V111, p. 113]
Dr. Durham’s unfolding of his strange thesis has numerous potholes and several – somewhat inconspicuous – booby traps which can ensnare the unsuspecting inquirer. I shall reluctantly forego the temptation to elucidate these points here. However, should the interest and circumstances warrant it, I’ll welcome the occasion to present an extensive analysis and discussion of the paper before the proper audience. The complete text of Dr. Durham’s thesis will be found below.
Melvin B. Hogan, Secretary Research Lodge of Utah,
College of Engineering, University of Utah.
Is There No Help For The Widow’s Son?
By Dr. Reed C. Durham, Jr.
Someone has said that a historical convention like this – all of these papers that we have heard – are like a pair of steer horns, with a point here and a point there and a lot of bull in between; and in my case, a lot of “Bull Durham.”
One thing we won’t have to put up with though is the wind blowing – just hot air. And I know the disadvantage that we are placed in, with the dimness of the room, the delightful meal that we have partaken of, and all the applause that we have had all night long – the papers, the busy day – but I hope you will bear with me and we will see what happens.
One historian, who has spent at least 25 years exploring the topic of Mormonism and Masonry, finally concluded that any person who ventured into this area of study was something of a “foolhardy nitwit.” So mote it be! Still, I am convinced that in the study of Masonry lies a pivotal key to future understanding Joseph Smith and the Church. Therefore, regardless of the possible incriminations and stigma that might ensue, I should like, in this paper, to interpose some unorthodox findings and fancies upon the more traditional and canonical propaganda of the faith.
In the subject of Mormonism and Masonry, there is still much that is “new under the sun.” To begin with, Masonry in the Church had its origin prior to the time Joseph Smith became a Mason. Nauvoo was not its genesis. It commenced in Joseph’s home when his older brother became a mason. Hyrum received the first degrees of Masonry in Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 of Palmyra, New York, at about the same time that Joseph was being initiated into the presence of God and angels and was being entrusted with the sacred gold plates.
Masonic influence on Joseph was further highlighted when the heated anti-Masonic crusades flared up in western New York. His milieu was ripe with things Masonic. Pro-Mason and anti-Mason, the influence was unavoidable from both sources.
Capt. William Morgan was so contemporary with Joseph Smith, both as to time and geography, that it would be difficult to deny the probability of their acquaintance. In fact, Dr. Rob Morris, an American Masonic biographer of William Morgan, wrote that Morgan “had been a half way convert of Joe Smith, the Mormon, and had learned from him to see visions and dreams.” Whether or not it was true that Joseph Smith personally knew Morgan during his lifetime, everyone in that area, including Joseph, had heard about Morgan’s disappearance and supposed martyrdom, causing most people to take sides on the Masonic issue. Joseph was no exception. He was one of the committee of 10 men who signed their signatures to an impassioned plea which was printed in the rabidly anti-Masonic newspaper, the Seneca Farmer and Waterloo Advertiser.
The committee begged anyone with an ounce of Christian humanitarian concern to come forward and offer assistance to Morgan’s unfortunate wife. The many parallels found between early Mormonism and the Masonry of that day are substantial: conferences, councils, priesthood, temples, anointing with oil, the issuance of licenses, certificates for identifying legitimate fellow workers, elders, high priests, and even the Book of the Law.
By the end of 1832, Joseph Smith had welcomed new brethren, along with their influences, into the Church. Men such as W. W. Phelps, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Newel K. Whitney, each of whom had been deeply involved in Masonry, from one side or the other, before their entrance into the Church.
In a sermon the Prophet delivered in 1835, unmistakable Masonic vocabulary was used, and I quote from the Prophet: “I exposed their abominations in the language of the Scriptures and I pray God that it may be like a nail in a sure place, driven by the Master of Assemblies.” In that same year and in subsequent years, the Prophet was involved in things Egyptian, the new revelations of suns and moons, governing planets and fixed stars, and, though unique at that time to Mormonism, was commonplace in Masonry.
The Kirtland Temple also reflected an influence of Masonry. Though not exactly like the Masonic pattern of laying and dedicating cornerstones of their temples, the Order of the Holy Priesthood employed by the Prophet in laying the cornerstones of the Kirtland Temple, and about which he explained in greater detail in Nauvoo, with a set ceremony at each corner, with pomp and procession, including definite rank of authority, was significantly similar. That the inner courts of the temple were fashioned in such a way that officers could preside on platforms at either end, east or west, was also similar to Masonic Lodges and Temples. But, more importantly, professional architects have only recently called attention to the classical and Gothic elements combined in the architecture of the Kirtland Temple as containing direct and unmistakable Masonic influence.
In 1838, the Avard extension of Joseph Smith’s Danitism in Missouri brought this disconsolation upon the Prophet: the use of secret penal oaths, accompanied with signs, hand clasps, and tokens involved therein, also reflected Masonic life practices. Before being imprisoned in Missouri, Joseph and his family lived in the Harris home at Far West. A Masonic aura certainly abided there. The woman of the house was Lucinda Pendleton (Morgan) Harris, who was at that time the wife of George Washington Harris, one of the leading elders of the Church. He had been a practicing Mason in Batavia, New York, as well as a Worshipful Master Mason in Virginia. In addition to this, Harris was also personally acquainted with William Morgan; the Morgans having lived in an apartment above his (Harris’) silversmith shop in Canandaigua (should be Batavia. M. B. H.), New York. Lucinda Harris was formerly the wife and later the widow of William Morgan. It seems highly significant to note that this same women, whom Joseph (Smith) had befriended years before, became a plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
After escaping from Liberty jail, the Prophet was reunited with his family at Quincy, Illinois. Emma and the children had been living in the home of Judge John Cleveland, another Mason (I believe this is an error. There is no documentation of such membership in Nauvoo nor Quincy. He also never converted to Mormonism. M. B. H.), who with his wife, Sarah M.(arietta) Pinsey Cleveland, allowed the Smiths to live with them until they left for Commerce (Nauvoo). What later motivated Joseph and Emma to write the Cleveland’s, inviting them to build their home in Commerce in close proximity to the Smith home, across the street and next door to George Washington and Lucinda Morgan Harris? The question becomes pertinent upon supplying the additional facts that Harris later became an active leading charter member Mason in the Church, while Sarah M. Cleveland became another of Joseph’s plural wives.
By 1840, John Cook Bennett, a former active leader in Masonry (in Ohio, where he was expelled. M. B. H.), had arrived in Commerce and rapidly exerted his persuasive leadership in all facets of the Church, including Mormon Masonry. I do not believe he was its sole instigator, nor do I believe him guilty of all which the Mormon print then, or now have accused him. However, at the instigation of John C. Bennett, George W. Harris, John Parker, Lucius Scovil, as well as other Mormon Masons residing at Nauvoo, and certainly with the approval of the hierarchy of the Church, the institution of Masonry commenced.
Joseph and Sidney (Rigdon) were inducted into formal Masonry at Sight, on the same day upon which the Illinois Grand Master Mason – and politically ambitious – Abraham Jonas officially installed the Nauvoo Lodge. It was on March 15, 1842. On the next day, both Sidney and Joseph advanced to the Master Mason Degree. In only a few years, five Mormon Lodges were established, several others in planning, a Masonic Temple constructed, and the total membership of Mormon fraternal brethren was over 1, 366.
I have attempted thus far to demonstrate that Masonic influences upon Joseph in the early Church history, preceding his formal membership in Masonry, were significant. However, these same Masonic influences exerted a more dominant character as reflected in the further expansion of the Church subsequent to the Prophet’s Masonic membership. In fact, I believe that there are few significant developments in the Church, that occurred after March 15, 1842, which did not have some Masonic interdependence.
Let me comment on a few of these developments. There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons initially, just a little over one month after he became a Mason, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry. This is not to suggest that no other source of inspiration could have been involved, but the similarities between the two ceremonies are so apparent and overwhelming that some dependent relationship cannot be denied. They are so similar, in fact, that one writer was led to refer to the Endowment as Celestial Masonry.
It is also obvious that the Nauvoo Temple architecture was in part, at least Masonically influenced. Indeed, it appears that there was an intentional attempt to utilize Masonic symbols and motifs. The sun stones, and the moon and star stones, were examples. An additional example was the angel used on the weather vane on the top of the Temple. I would like to just show a slide or two here, if that could be turned on.
William Weeks (made a Mason in Nauvoo Lodge. M. R. H.), the architect of the Nauvoo Temple, has many drawings in the Historians Office ~f the Church. This is one of the preliminary drawings – first drawings – first draft drawings of the Nauvoo Temple. You will notice that it has the beautiful picture in the whole front of the Temple of the All-Seeing Eye, and he was going to have a beautiful angel stand on the top of the Temple. Later, another design by William Weeks again: – modified the All-Seeing Eye, trimmed down the angel on the top of the Temple, and then again, in another plan, he has the small angel on the top – not a huge lady as was before – and this one comes pretty close to the way the Nauvoo Temple looked like.
Now, in the Visitors’ Center at the Nauvoo Restoration, you see a mock-up of the Temple and on the very top there is, on the weather vane, this little angel. Well, that little angel was photographed in the next picture. There is the angel: the beautiful horn, the Book of Mormon in the other hand. And, then, if you will notice, what looks as if there are crosses on the staff or the spear which is the weather vane. Do you see those crosses there? We blew that up – it is not a very clear picture – to let you know that it is a beautiful compass and square, in the typical Masonic fashion.
Now, I wondered where in the world did they get, on the mock-up of the Temple in the Visitors’ Center, the compass and square – the Masonic symbols; in fact, the most probably universal Masonic symbols that are known in Masonry. Where did they get that? Until, in the Historian’s Office in Salt Lake City, we found the drawing of William Weeks, who very clearly employed the Masonic symbols on that angel. (I have been informed that the particular illustration referred to, in the Visitors’ Center, had been removed when the Center opened the next morning. M. B. H.)
In the journals of Thomas Bullock, Mosiah Hancock, and in many of the portraits that were painted of the Temple, this angel does exist, with a beautiful description of the angel -even to the Book, the horn, the temple clothes and robes that it is clothed with. And, there is no question that it was intentionally to be a Masonic symbol on the top of the Nauvoo Temple. (That can be turned off now.)
Another development in the Nauvoo Church, which has not been so obviously considered as Masonically inspired was the establishment of the Female Relief Society. This organization was the Prophet’s intentional attempt to expand Masonry to include the women of the Church. That the Relief Society was organized in the Masonic Lodge room, and only one day after Masonry was given to the men, was not happenstance. As evidence of this claim, Brother Oliver Olney (not known to be a Mason – an apostate Mormon. M. B. H.), wrote in a doggerel verse style in 1842, that Joseph Smith, and I quote, “said there were certain degrees of the fair sex of the land. They soon met in union, a lodge to form, but changed the name they might be distinguished from the lodge of the men.” He later described the sisters’ Masonic auxiliary and the degrees in their liturgy.
John C. Bennett substantiated the same, as likewise did Ebenezer Robinson, and evidence from a different bias came from Sister Eliza R. Snow, present at the organization as its first secretary, who strongly emphasized that the Society was Priesthood. Another charter member, Sister Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, added that the Relief Society was an order of the Priesthood. And, finally, included in the actuary vocabulary of Joseph Smith’s counsel and instructions to the sisters were such words as: ancient orders, examinations, degrees, candidates, secrets, lodges, rules, signs, tokens, order of the priesthood, and keys; all indicating that the Society’s organization possessed Masonic overtones.
It was true that in orthodox Masonry, such as that practiced in Illinois, the inclusion of women was definitely prohibited and certainly unheard of. The Joseph Smith Masonry was daily becoming less orthodox and tended to follow more in the direction of some unorthodox Masonry which had been imported to America from France. In this type of Masonry, two different women’s groups operated. The first women’s group was known as the Female Lodges of the Illuminees. They were subdivided into two classes, each forming a separate society and having different ceremonies.
The first was composed of virtuous women; the second of the wild, the giddy, and the voluptuous. in both cases the purpose of their existence was to serve the men who were their counterparts – the virtuous women for the virtuous men, and so forth. This type of female Masonry had no relationship to the Mormon female Masonry, unless, of course, one believed John C. Bennett’s diatribe relative to the three degrees of womankind in Masonry, in Mormonism.
The second type of unorthodox female masonry was known as “Adoptive” Masonry. In this order the highest woman was called the “Elect Lady;” a striking parallel to Emma Smith’s title in the Mormon highest order for women. The ceremonies for women in this order were quite similar to those later found within the endowment ceremony of the Mormons. I was going to read the ceremony, but I thought I’d better not.
Continuing with my facts and fancies – that most of the things which were developed in the Church at Nauvoo were inextricably interwoven with Masonry – in addition to the endowment, the temple, and the Relief Society, I have already mentioned, I suspect also that the development of prayer circles and even polygamy are no exceptions. but more importantly, I suggest that enough evidence presently exists to declare that the entire institution of the political kingdom of God, including the Council of Fifty, the living constitution, the proposed flag of the kingdom, and the anointing and coronation of the king, had its genesis in connection with Masonic thought and ceremonies.
It could not be coincidence that all of these concepts had their counterparts within Masonry in the day of the Prophet Joseph Smith. There was an Elect Council, an Elu, and a Council of Fifty; a Supreme Council, and a Grand Council. The crown was a common Masonic symbol, as well as a portion of the regalia actually worn by officers who represented the king in the higher degrees. Anointing was commonly performed and any practicing Mason would have been familiar with the word “constitutions.”
As to the flag, although every symbol on it has not yet been identified, the majority of them can be shown to be Masonic symbols. In fact, it seems surprising, in light of these known existing parallels, that most historical treatments on any aspect of the Political Kingdom of God had rarely, if ever, mentioned any relationship with Masonry.
Perhaps the single most definite evidence that Masonry directly affected the thought of Joseph Smith, and that the Kingdom of God doctrine was Masonically inspired, can be seen in the recently brought to light holograph letter of Joseph Smith to Mr. John Hull of Lempster, New Hampshire (See Appendix A; added by me. M. B. H.) Mr. Hull was a distant cousin of the Prophet’s and was a Congregational minister. He was deeply involved in the development of the town government of Lempster, New Hampshire, and more pertinent, he was a practicing Mason for over 40 years in Mount Vernon Lodge No. 15 (then at Washington; now at Newport. M. B. H.), in New Hampshire. During that time, he held every office in Masonry up to and including the Worshipful Master of the Lodge.
If the letter proves not to have actually been written by Joseph Smith, then his amanuensis wrote the letter and signed Joseph’s signature in such a way as to make it appear as authentically like Joseph Smith’s own handwriting as possible. I personally discount any fraudulent intent because of the reliable historicity relating to Joseph Hull, and also because the content of the letter fits with the known ideology of the Restoration Movement and, further, the ideas expressed were completely consistent with the Kingdom of God development at this time. The little note at the commencement of the letter indicates somewhat the depth of ideas presented therein: “pleas not let any See my letters who you think Cannot Digest the ideas for it would do them an injury.”
The entire two-page letter clearly demonstrates that Mormonism and Masonry were related and that Joseph used Masonry and apparently had no qualms in doing so. It is also clear in the letter that the Kingdom of God was thought to be the true Masonry which, when ultimately established with a king and a president, would abolish all earthly confusion and evil and usher in the Millenium. The whole earth was compared symbolically to a Grand Masonic Lodge, the counterpart of which was the Grand Lodge in the eternal regions of Glory; an idea quite legitimate in Masonic thought.
The letter will not be completely clear unless one knows that a typical Masonic Lodge is most often a rectangularly shaped room with the altar in the center. At the front, generally at the east end of the room, is the platform upon which the Worshipful Master sits and presides. At the west end the Senior Warden is positioned, and on the south side is located the Junior Warden. As excerpts of Joseph Smith’s letter are read, please observe how the Prophet superimposed American Zionism upon his new brand of perfect, world-wide Masonry, and I quote: “The time has been when the WM (the Worshipful Master) was in Asia, at the east; the SW (Senior Warden) in Europe, at the west; and the JW (Junior Warden) in Africa, at the south.
Well, now, how will it be after the new arrangements? I must still look to Asia to find the W. M. Well, what next? Why, there is a spot in North America exactly due west from where King Solomon’s Temple stood.” Just a point here; if we were to draw a line exactly west from Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, and go due west to Nauvoo, Illinois, we would only be 10 longitudinal degrees off. So the Prophet writes, “Exactly due west from where King Solomon’s Temple stood, there is a spot in North America.
It will be the choice of our SW, but he alone can’t govern the Lodge amidst all this bustle. Well, how shall we get out of this scrape? Why, we must wait with patience until South America has made the choice of the JW. (that would be at the south, the Junior Warden.) When the above described lodge is duly formed and begins to work, we may expect to have peace on earth and good will to men and, no doubt, ‘the lion will lie down with the lamb and the suckling child will play with the asp and will not be stung!” And the postscript at the bottom of the letter, “This is my present survey of Masonry in this world.”
There are two concepts I need at this point to reiterate. Firstly, I said that Joseph Smith had no qualms about using Masonry. This letter, I think, is evidence of that. One historian has described this use of Masonry as the “grabbing on” principle employed by Joseph Smith. This was explained to me that whatever was in his surroundings, being preached, professed, or practiced, he sometimes borrowed it and incorporated it into his ideological theology and system.
The second concept I wish to reiterate is that the Masonry as practiced in the Church under the Prophet’s direction was daily becoming increasingly unorthodox as contrasted with Illinois traditional Masonry. Therefore, it appears that the Prophet first embraced Masonry and, then in the process, he modified, expanded, amplified, or glorified it. His alterations being done by the authority of constant revelation received by him, or by sheer whims and the intelligence of an egocentric genius, or at the insistence of strong personalities who surrounded him, giving advice and counsel; depending on how one views Joseph Smith.
In any case, these two concepts – that of “grabbing on,” and then expansion -seem to be further substantiated by the following statements relative to Masonry in the Church which were expressed by some of the Prophet’s closest contemporaries. Heber C. Kimball wrote to Parley Parker Pratt, who was in England at the time, only three months after Joseph Smith had embraced Masonry, in the following words: “We have received some precious things through the Prophet on the Priesthood which would cause your soul to rejoice. I cannot give them to you on paper, for they are not to be written. So you must come and get them for yourself. We have organized a Lodge here of Masons since we have obtained a charter.
That was in March. Since that there have near 200 been made Masons. Brother Joseph and Sidney were the first that were received into the Lodge. All of the Twelve have become members except Orson P. He hangs back. He will wake up soon. There is a similarity of Priesthood in Masonry. Brother Joseph says Masonry was taken from the Priesthood, but has become degenerated. But many things are perfect. I think it will result in good. The Lord is with us and we are prospered.”
Heber C. Kimball later wrote, “We have the true Masonry. The Masonry of today is received from the apostasy which took place in the days of Solomon and David. They have now and then a thing that is correct, but we have the real thing.
Joseph Fielding, a convert and a missionary from England, wrote in his diary, “Many have joined the Masonic Institution. This seems to have been a stepping stone for preparation for something else, the true origin of Masonry. This I have also seen and rejoice in it. There has been great light poured out upon the Saints of late, and a great spirit of hearing. I have evidence enough that Joseph is not fallen. I have seen him after giving, as he said before, the origin of Masonry, the Kingdom of God on the earth, and am myself a member of it.”
And, finally, Jesse C. Little reported, “The Angel of the Lord brought to Mr. Joseph Smith the lost key words of several degrees, which caused him, when he appeared among the brotherhood of Illinois, to work right ahead of the highest and to show them their ignorance of the greatest truth and benefits of Masonry.”
What, then, motivated Joseph Smith to “grab on” to Masonry and then transcend it? The question is crucial, and my answer may be satisfactory only to myself. I do not believe his motivation was for ego-building or fort any political, social, or economic prestige and power. I also believe it is inaccurate to say the reason Joseph adopted Masonry into the Church was to create a non-Mormon brotherhood which could supply a socially needed influence and physical protection.
Though all of these reasons may have merit, I believe he accepted Masonry because he genuinely felt he recognized true Ancient Mysteries contained therein. And, that in light of two fundamental concepts, already established within the theological framework of Mormonism , the Restoration of the Gospel and the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times – Joseph was under the strong compulsion to embrace Masonry. The Prophet believed that his mission was to restore all truth, and then to unify and weld it all together into one. This truth was referred to as “the mysteries,” and these Mysteries were inseparably connected with the Priesthood.
The Prophet further sermonized that these Mysteries were to be discerned, unlocked, unraveled, and appropriately unfolded unto the Church, line upon line, by the one who holds the keys of the Holy Priesthood. Therefore, if Masonry in reality contained any of the true ancient Mysteries, it would have been necessary for Joseph to accept it. The philosophic and more reflective Masonic scholars have always believed that the symbols embodied in Masonry were indeed the ancient Mysteries coming from remote antiquity.
The Mysteries were said to be traced back through the Hermetic Philosophers, through Plutarch, the Cabala, the Pythagoreans, the Magi of Media, to Babylon, to Chaldea, and Egypt. And, as these Mysteries came down into the modern institution of Masonry – the 12th and 13th centuries, A. D. – they had experienced so many progressive alterations, that there remained only an imperfect image of their original brilliancy. My assumption is that Joseph Smith believed he was restoring Masonry’s original pristine brilliancy, and that he was re-creating the Mysteries of the ancient Priesthood.
Now, I should like to initiate all of you into what is perhaps the strangest, the most mysterious, occult-like, esoteric, and yet Masonically oriented practice ever adopted by Joseph Smith. This may also be another fine example of our earlier explained principle of “grabbing on.” All available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith the Prophet possessed a magical Masonic medallion, or talisman, which he worked during his lifetime and which was evidently on his person when he was martyred. His talisman is in the shape of a silver dollar and is probably made of silver or tin. It is exactly one and nine-sixteenths inches in diameter, and weighs slightly less than one-half ounce.
After months of research, the talisman, presently existing in Utah, (in the Wilford Wood Collection, D. C. M.) was originally purchased from the Emma Smith Bidamon family, fully notarized by that family to be authentic and to have belonged to Joseph Smith, can now be identified as a Jupiter talisman. It carries the sign and image of Jupiter and should more appropriately be referred to as the Table of Jupiter. And in some very real and quite mysterious sense, this particular Table of Jupiter was the most appropriate talisman for Joseph Smith to possess.
Indeed, it seemed meant for him, because on all levels of interpretation: planetary, mythological, numerological, astrological, mystical cabalism, and talismatic magic, the Prophet was, in every case appropriately described. (See my addition: Appendix B. M. B. H.).
The characters on the talisman are primarily in Hebrew, but there is one inscription in Latin. Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical equivalent and those numerical equivalents make up a magic square. By adding the numbers in this Jupiter Table in any direction (each row, column, or diagonal. M. B. H.), the total will be the same. In this case, on the Jupiter Table, 34. (Appendix B. M. B. H.) The total of the numbers will he 136 which number you will see on the talisman. The symbol for Jupiter (closely resembling the usual script, or hand-written, numeral 4. M. B. H.) is also found on both sides of the talisman, which by the way, is the same symbol for metal tin.
(E. A. Wallis Budge, in his Amulets and Superstitions, p. 394, speaking of the “Magical Square of Tin,” states: “Whether these sixteen figures are added up vertically, horizontally or diagonally the total is 34, or in Hebrew letters D (dales equals 4 and L (lamed equals 30. These letters form a part of the Hebrew word for tin. The total of the four columns (or rows) of figures is 136, which is the number of the Spirit and of the Demon of the planet. When cut upon coral this square protected the wearer from sorcery.” M. B. H.)
Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a specific and, in some cases, a mystical and esoteric meaning. The total of those meanings, as well as the connection and importance of Jupiter, is extremely and mysteriously significant in relationship with Joseph Smith. Maybe we could show that right now. Can we have the first one?
There is the one side of the talisman belonging to the Prophet Joseph Smith. You can see the Hebrew characters and you can see the square. There will be 16 Hebrew letters, and each of those letters represents a number. And, I’ll show another slide in a minute showing you the numbers and each of those numbers (columns, rows, or diagonals. M. B. H.) total up to 34, in any way you would add them. Now, you see on the margins, at the bottom is the Jupiter sign, and then on the side over to the right is a Hebrew word which means “Ababa,” which means Father. At the top you will see another Hebrew word which means “El Bo” – which means God the Father, or Father is God – and over on the side in the margin you will see the name in Hebrew meaning “Josiphiel,” which means Jehovah is spokesman for God, of Jehovah is the mouth; on this side. Now, let’s show the other side of the talisman and you will see
It’s lousy Latin, but probably means, perhaps, “Confirm, O God, who is all powerful; or, Almighty God confirm me, or uphold me, or support me.” It is not accurately grammatical, but that is the term on the medallion or talisman. The cross at the top represents the spirit of Jupiter, and you will see the path of Jupiter in the orbit of the heavens, and then again the Jupiter sign.
I wasn’t able to find what this was, for – as I said – two months; and finally, in a magic book printed in England in 1801, published in America in 1804, and I traced it to Manchester, and to New York. It was a magic book by Francis Barrett and, lo and behold, how thrilled I was when I saw in his list of magic seals the very talisman which Joseph Smith had in his possession at the time of his martyrdom.
You will see now the numbers, rather than the Hebrew letters, in the magic square, and you will also see the three Hebrew names of deities, or intelligences, that belong to this particular talisman. You will see the square again and also the seal of Jupiter; the same back side (reverse) of the very one that Joseph Smith had, with the exactly same break in the orbit of Jupiter planet, and then again the Hebrew letters and, finally, the spirit of Jupiter. (Turn that off now.)
Jupiter, according to the Hebrews, is the morning star rising in the east, and is called in that language Sadoc (or Zadoc), which means righteous one. Now the star in the east is one of the very definite Masonic emblems, and is used regularly in most Masonic ceremonies to symbolize the every approaching dawn of perfection and restored Masonic light. To the Egyptians, Jupiter was known as Ammon, but to the Greeks he was Zeus: the ancient Sky Father, or Father of the Gods. According to the Greeks, Jupiter was seen as not only the great protecting deity of the race, but also the one, and – perhaps -the only one whose worship embodies a distant moral conception. He is specifically concerned with oaths, treaties, and leagues, and it was in the presence of his priest that the most ancient and sacred form of marriage took place: that is, marriage for time and eternity.
In numerology, Jupiter’s concern with the fortunes of life, the planet is regarded as the kindly, benevolent planet, and the adjective “jovial” indeed comes from, is derived from, the word “Jove,” for Jupiter. And I quote: “The gifts that Jupiter brings are those of reason, understanding of humanity, plus the ability to see things in a broad outline. It is regarded as the planet that brings expansion in many different forms. It weaves into the lives of some persons skeins of generous impulse, ranging from generosity with material things to sympathy in spiritual matters. He also controls expansion in all forms; most of the philanthropists of the world are strongly Jupiter -oriented and in the professions, those held under its influence are legislators, bankers, lawyers, etc.”
In astrology, Jupiter is always associated with high positions, getting one’s own way, and all forms of status. And I quote: “Typically, a person born under Jupiter will have the dignity of a natural ruler. He knows what is due him and expects to receive respect accordingly. He will probably have an impressive manner and, in consequence, is likely to be elected to official positions in clubs and other organizations. In physical appearance, the highly developed Jupiterian is.. strong, personable, and often handsome. Jupiterians are often tall, or rugged of physique. In every case, the Jupiterian influence produces a cheerful, winning personality, capable of great development.” Astrology also declares that every year is governed by one of the planets. And, therefore, the planet directs the affairs of men for good or ill during that year. Joseph Smith’s planet was Jupiter; and two significant years governed by Jupiter were 1805 and 1844.
The day of the week governed by Jupiter was Thursday. And I don’t know – perhaps just coincidence – the fast meetings in the Church were on Thursdays for 60 years, as well as all the regular Mormon Masonic meetings on the first and third Thursdays. (Nauvoo Lodge, that is. M. B. H.), as well as the day of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, on Thursday, and so many other special events in Church history.
So closely is magic bound up with the stars and astrology that the term astrologer and magician were in ancient times almost synonymous. The purpose of the Table of Jupiter in talismanic magic was to be able to call upon the celestial intelligences, assigned to the particular talisman, to assist one in all endeavors. The names of the deities which we gave you, who could be invoked by the Table were always written on the talisman or represented by various numbers. Three such names were written on Joseph Smith’s talisman: Abbah, Father; El Ob, Father is God or God the Father; and Josiphiel, Jehovah speaks for God, the intelligence of Jupiter.
When properly invoked, with Jupiter being very powerful and ruling in the heavens, these intelligences – by the power of ancient magic – guaranteed to the possessor of this talisman the gain of riches, and favors, and power, and love, and peace; and to confirm honors, and dignities, and councils. Talismatic magic further declared that any one who worked skillfully with this Jupiter Table would obtain the power of stimulating anyone to offer his love to the possessor of the talisman, whether from a friend, brother, relative, or even any female. Whether or not Joseph Smith was first introduced to this kind of magic through Masonry is not known at present.
Where he obtained his personal talisman is also not known. But the tradition, which came out of the Emma Smith Bidamon family, attributed the talisman as being Joseph’s Masonic jewel. The relationship with Masonry is possible because “Masonry did contain elements of magic, including this magic Table of Jupiter.” At the commencement of my paper, I expressed a desire to be able to present some unorthodox findings and fancies relative to Mormonism and Masonry, to provoke some thought, and present something new. If I have not succeeded in doing that by now, please indulge me one last further attempt.
There is a famous legend in which the grand orator elaborates in lecture form in the ceremonies of the 13th, 14th and 21st degrees of Masonry which has some very ancient roots, bearing remarkable similarity to Mormonism. The roots of the legend extend back into ancient Hebrew traditions, but were developed most nearly – as they are now found in Masonry – out of ancient cabalistic lore and mythology. The refinement of the legend and their incorporation into modern Masonry began in France about 1740 to 1760, but the legend was in American Masonic print by 1802; and by Joseph Smith’s time many publications had made the legend popularly well disseminated.
Now let me just comment that the basic, introductory aspect of the legend is: that up in the pre-existence, there was a special Secret Doctrine that was given by Deity, and it was given down to the earth first to Adam. Adam then was to carefully guard this Secret Doctrine because it contained all the Mysteries. It contained the knowledge of God, and the name it contained was the sacred name of God. Adam then bestowed it (the Secret Doctrine. M. B. H.) upon his son, Seth, who guarded it very carefully – only among the inner circle of believers – and then it was handed down until it came to Enoch. And, Enoch is the central figure in the legend. It is with Enoch that the remarkable resemblance with Joseph Smith and Mormon history become disconcertingly clear. The major details of the legend are outlined as follows:
- Enoch, seventh in the line of patriarchs from Adam, wee 25 years old when he received his call and vision.
- He was taken up in vision onto a hill called Moriah.
- In vision he saw a cavern in a hill, a sacred vault In the bowels of the earth. The cavity was symbolized as being a container for sacred treasures, like an holy ark, and it had a lid on it.
- In vision, Enoch perceived a shiny gold plate containing unknown engravings and symbols.
- He recognized the letter “M” upon the gold plate, which designated the name of the hill
- He further saw the sacred name of God, which had been lost to all mankind, and he was commissioned by Deity to preserve this knowledge.
- He foresaw that a flood would come to destroy ail mankind. Therefore, he felt it was his duty to preserve the Sacred Mystery.
- He placed two pillars inside the hill:
- a. One of marble upon which, written in Egyptian hieroglyphics, were found the historical events connected with the tower of Babel, and
- b. One of brass, which contained the history of creation and the Secret Mysteries. These records were placed in the hill along with the treasure of the gold plate.
- This brass pillar had a metal ball on its top, within which were contained maps, and directions of the world and of the universe, and which also acted as a sort of oracle.
- Enoch then placed a stone lid, or slab, over the cavity into the hill.
- Enoch predicted that on the other side of the deluge an Israelitish descendant would discover anew the sacred buried treasure.
- As predicted after the flood, a great king, named Solomon, came to power and desired to build a sacred house for the in-dwelling of the divine presence.
- Solomon and his builders, the Masons, while building and excavating for the temple at Mt. Moriah, discovered the cavern and the sacred treasure.
- After three attempts to obtain the treasure, they were finally successful. Those Masons were very rejoiceful upon receiving these preserved Mysteries.
- But. three wicked men intervened and committed a horrible crime. They attempted to force one of the Masons, one of the faithful Masons who had discovered the treasure. Hiram Abif; or Hiram, the widow’s son, to reveal the hiding (place) and the contents of the hidden treasure.
- He would not reveal his knowledge and therefore they killed him.
- While being slain, Hiram. with uplifted hands, cried out, “Oh Lord, My God, is there no help for the widow’s son?” This has since become a general Masonic distress call.
- Then three loyal Masons, seeking revenge, pursued the three evil ones.
- One of the three faithful Masons overtook one of the arch-villains. He was asleep with his word, or knife, nearby.
- The Mason slew the villain with his own knife by cutting off his head.
- In Masonic ceremonies, the words “strike off his head” were employed.
- Also in Masonic ceremonies, in revolutionary France, the re-enacting of the killing of this villain. the tyrant’s name was King Philippe le Bel (Philip IV or the Fair who destroyed the Knights Templar. M. B. H.)
- The loyal Mason was rewarded by King Solomon.
- The recovered treasures then became part of the temple treasury. It consisted of the brass records, the gold plate, the metal ball, the breast plate and the urim and thummim.
Such is the Masonic legend of the Secret Doctrine, or the sacred treasure in the sacred hill, or the treasure of the widow’s son.
The parallels of Joseph Smith and the history of Mormonism are so unmistakable, that to explain them only as coincidence would be ridiculous.
Joseph Smith was named Enoch, even by God. He was 25 when he brought forth his sacred record. His sacred record was buried in the hill by a man who had the initial “M”. There were gold plates containing the mysteries of God. They were also in Egyptian hieroglyphics or some Egyptian form. There were brass plates, which also contained an account of the creation of the world. There was another record which contained an account of the tower of Babel. The cavity in the hill, and the hill and the cavity Joseph both saw in vision, was covered with a stone lid. The other treasures in the stone box were the breastplate, the urim and thummim, as well as the round metal ball which served as a director and was called the Liahona.
Joseph Smith also claimed to be an Israelite, and he too made several fruitless attempts at getting the treasure when he first saw it. Joseph Smith had three witnesses to the Book of Mormon and the record itself bears witness that an arch-villain named Laban, or Laban, was thwarting the availability and accessibility of the sacred records, had his head cut off by his own sword. This prophet also built temples for the in-dwelling of God’s spirit. Now these parallels, dramatic as they seem, still do not represent the strangest part of the story. All of these aspects of the legend seem transformed into the history of Joseph Smith, so much so that even it appears to be a kind of symbolic acting out of Masonic lore.
But there is a point in this drama where the action goes beyond metaphor and the symbol merges into a tragic reality. This has to do, of course, with the death of Hiram Abif in the legend and the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, in June Joseph Smith gave himself up to be imprisoned and on June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the little Carthage jail. Hyrum was killed instantly and John Taylor seriously wounded. Joseph Smith, Master Mason and widow’s son, went to the window and with upraised hands, commenced giving the Masonic distress call to fraternal Masons who were present in the mob: “Oh, Lord, My God.” He was unable to complete his plea and fell out of the window to his death.
How does a Mormon historian interpret Joseph Smith and the Masonic Enoch legend? The parallels demand an answer. Was Joseph Smith the fruition of Enoch’s prophecy? Was this an extreme “grabbing on” by the Prophet? Or did mysterious and divine, even magical, forces attach themselves to him? Can anyone deny that Masonic influence on Joseph Smith and the Church, either before or after his personal Masonic membership? The evidence demands comments.
I have attempted to indicate that with regard to Mormonism and Masonry, there remains an abundance of that which is “new under the sun.” I do not believe that the Nauvoo story can adequately be told without an inquiry into Masonry.
There are many questions which still demand the answers. I earnestly hope I have raised some questions. Perhaps I have answered a few. But if we, as Mormon historians, respond to these questions and myriads like them relative to Masonry in an ostrich-like fashion, with our heads buried in the traditional sand, then I submit: there never will be “any help for the widow’s son.”
The Joseph Smith Masonic Letter to Joseph Hull (spelling as in original)
(page of notes – part of the letter)
Crotched, ho-we-he 1-we 2 eyes all part for we See but in part with our two that our eyes Sprang from his 1 that our 2 Spirits Did the Same Light Darkness which is Commonly called God & Saton
I pronounced eye one only
Please not let any See my letters who you think Cannot Digest the ideas for it would do them an injury
(page 1 of letter, with unknown number of lines missing from the top)
at the same time making the new choice, while doing this their has a great number of roughings have appeared over poured the Tyle broken into the Lodge and made all this Confusion amongst the Nations of the Earth. the time has been when the WM was in Asia SW in Europe & the JW in Africa, & no Doute the tyters Sword was kept in Some part of India or Chinen. wet, how now will it be. After the new Arangements. why as I See with my intellectual eyes I must Still look to Asia to find the WM, that part of the Globe being the first inhabited.