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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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.