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“Mormonism and Masonry” by Samuel H. Goodwin, chap 7

Within this series, we will reproduce the text of Mormonism and Masonry by Samuel H. Goodwin (1862-1951 AD) which was published in 1920 AD and is public domain. It was written to and for Masons/Freemasons.

“Mormonism and Masonry” by Samuel H. Goodwin
Fair use, to illustrate article's context.

Portions read like meeting minutes as it covers the inner workings of Masonic administration. Other portions deal with, as the book’s subtitled puts it, the “Origins, Connections and Coincidences Between Mason and Mormon Temple/Templar Rituals.”


A study in resemblances; symbols and inscriptions; sources of information; articles used in temple ceremonies.

HAVING thus traced the variegated fortunes of the Nauvoo Lodges, and noted some of the outstanding features of their environment, we are now prepared to enter another phase of the subject which may well be characterized, “A study in Resemblances.” Not infrequently the question is asked. “Does the Mormon church make use of the Masonic ritual in its Temple ceremonies?” For obvious reasons no attempt will be made here to give a categorical answer to this question; nor is it the writer’s purpose to point out any “resemblances” that may be discovered. What purports to be facts will be presented-the reader will make his own deductions.

The observant Craftsman cannot be long among the Mormon people without noting the frequent use made of certain emblems and symbols which have come to be associated in the public mind with the Masonic fraternity. Now and again he will catch expressions and phrases in conversation, and meet with terms in literature, which are suggestive, to say the least. If he should continue his residence in Utah, he will sometimes be made aware of the fact, when shaking hands with a Mormon neighbor or friend, that there is a pressure of the hand as though some sort of a “grip” is being given.

Visitors and residents of Utah often remark upon the extensive use made of certain emblems, as, for example, the conventional beehive. This familiar figure occupies the center of the great seal of the state; a model of immense size rises from the roof of the beautiful “Hotel Utah,” and one of smaller proportions crowns the platform on the cupola of the “Beehive House,” once, and for many years, the official residence of the president of the church. It is noticeably prominent on the great bronze doors which guard the entrance to the sacred precincts of the Salt Lake Temple, as well as on doors of commercial and other buildings. It crowns newel posts of cement steps which lead to the entrance of meeting houses and tabernacles, and public buildings, and frequently appears with effect in the decorative schemes of interiors and lobbies of hotels.

Other emblems, with which the public is more or less familiar, are used extensively, more especially in and about the Salt Lake Temple, and, presumably, in all other temples of the Mormon church. On the interior of this building, we learn from an unquestioned authority, there are in the walls several series of stones of emblematical design and significance, representing the earth, moon, sun and stars. On the east central tower is an inscription, the letters deep cut, lined with gold, which reads: “Holiness to the Lord.” This inscription, it might be noted, appears over the doorways of some of the business establishments conducted by the church and over the entrance to the church tithinghouses, and it is given place on the stationery used in the official correspondence conducted by church authorities.

Immediately beneath this inscription, over the central casement of the east tower of the Temple, is the emblem of the clasped hands. On the corresponding stones, above the upper windows, in each of the central towers, is carved the “All Seeing Eye.” Covering the plate glass double doors on the east and west sides of the Temple, each of which is four by twelve feet, are bronze grills of intricate pattern which carry medallions of the beehive, while an escutcheon cut in relief shows the clasped hands circled by a wreath. In the “Garden Room” of the Temple the ceiling is embellished with oil paintings to represent clouds and the sky, in which appear the sun, moon and stars. In the center of this room, and against the south wall, is a platform which is reached by three steps. On the platform is an altar upon which rests the Bible. In the “Terrestrial Room,” at the east end, is a raised floor, reached by three steps [1].

Passing now from this phase of the subject we come next to the language used in a part of the Temple ceremonies. Here we are dependent for authorities, mainly, upon certain exposes, though collateral evidence is not wanting. The exposes referred to here, are three in number, and they appeared practically a generation apart. A brief list of other authorities is given in the notes below [2].

A careful comparison of the three accounts shows that the first, or oldest one, differs from the other two, or later ones, in one significant particular, at least. The first, or van Duseri account, presents a larger number of stages than the later ones, and leaves the impression of carrying a larger amount of material that had not been as carefully worked over as has the ceremony more recently in use. This fact seems to point to the conclusion that the work was in a preliminary or experimental stage at Nauvoo, and that later it was developed and perfected into its present form, which included the practical omission of the last four degrees. A well informed member of the Mormon Church, in conversation with the writer, accounted for the character of the Van Dusen statements upon a different supposition-though upon what authority was not disclosed. He said that “Van Dusen was a d— liar,” and further, that “he was a Mason.” It may very well have been that, he was a Mason, although no records are known to the writer which support that assertion. The followers of Joseph Smith believe that the Temple ceremonies were revealed to the prophet, complete, and more than a year before he became a Mason, and that proof of this is to be found in the Doctrine and Covenants [3].

As a preliminary to a consideration of some of the language of the Temple ritual, it may not be amiss to note certain objects and articles used in connection with that ritual. The garments worn by both men and women during a goodly portion of the ceremonies are of white cloth and of the one-piece pattern. On the right breast is a “square,” and on the left, “compasses” [4]. There are other marks or openings which are of no special interest to us here.

As used in the Temple at Nauvoo, the slits representing a pair of compasses, were on the knees, rather than on the left breast. The pattern of this garment, the wearer is informed, was revealed to Joseph Smith direct from heaven, and is the same as that, worn by Adam and Eve. It must not be removed, in which case assurance is given that it will protect from danger, temporal and spiritual [5].

At one point in the ceremonies, the “devil” comes in wearing a silk hat and having on a Masonic apron. This apron is embellished with two columns, having a serpent suspended midway between them, and another serpent entwined about the base of each. The aprons worn by the men and women are alike, and are described as being a “square half yard of green silk with nine fig leaves worked on them in brown sewing silk.” Those in use at Nauvoo were of “white cloth about eighteen inches square with green silk leaves pasted on.”

In the old endowment house at Salt Lake, the ceiling of the “Garden of Eden Room” was painted much the same as that described above, with these additions: In each corner there was a Masonic emblem; in one, “compasses,” in another a “square,” and in the other two a “level” and a “plumb” [6]. Temple ceremonies; characterized by Mormon writer; Nauvoo Masonry, as understood by a present-day Apostle; Temple ordinances the only genuine Masonry.



[1] The House of the Lord, Talmage, pp. 177, 179, 186, 189. See Joseph F. Smith on the “All-Seeing Eye,” and “Holiness to the Lord,” 68th Annual Conference Report, p. 11

[2] Nauvoo and Its Temple, by Increase McGee Van Dusen and his wife Maria. (24 pp.), 1847. On the title page is the following: “The Sublime and Ridiculous Blended: Called, The Endowment; as was acted by upwards of 12,000, in secret in the Nauvoo Temple, said to be revealed by God as a reward for building that splendid edifice, and the express object for which it was built.”

The Mormon Endowment House, by Mrs. G. S. R—, Nephi, Utah, September 24, 1879. Published in the Salt Lake Tribune, September 28, 1879, and reprinted in the same paper, February 12, 1906.

The Testimony of Prof. Walter M. Wolfe, given before the Smoot Investigation Committee, at Washington, D. C., and published in the Salt Lake Tribune, February 12, 1906. A few other references are: Reminiscences of Early Utah, Baskin, pp. 98-99; The Revelation in the Mountain Major, pp. 120-160; The Tyranny of Mormonism, Mrs. T. B. H. Stenhouse, pp. 192-200; Mormonism, Its Rise, Progress and Present Condition, Green, pp. 41-53

[3] Section 124. See Note 6, p. (37) . The Temple ceremonies were received by the prophet, it is said, from one to five or six years before he became a Mason. Apostle Ballard, Salt Lake Herald, Dec. 29, 1919; B. H. Roberts, Improvement Era, vol. XXIV, pp. 937-939

[4] The rents in the garments are known as holy priesthood marks, or marks of the temple, and remind the wearer what the penalty will be should he ever violate his covenants or reveal any of the tokens. Proceedings, Smoot Investigation, vol. II, p. 182

[5] Nauvoo and Its Temple, Van Dusen, p. 8; The Salt Lake Tribune, February 12, 1906; Revelation in the Mountain, Major, pp. 121f

[6] The Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 12, 1906, p. 2; Nauvoo and Its Temple, Van Dusen, p. 11


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