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“Mormonism and Masonry” by Samuel H. Goodwin, chap 8

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.”


Temple ceremonies; characterized by Mormon writer; Nauvoo Masonry, as understood by a present-day Apostle; Temple ordinances the only genuine Masonry.

THE opening part of the Temple ceremonies, which have been characterized by a Mormon writer “* * * as the Masonic sacred drama of the Fall of Man” [1], need not detain us. Here occur the washings and anointings and assumption of the garment, before referred to, and a representation, in dialogue, of the creation of the world and of man and woman.

Following this preparatory part, the first obligation, or oath, is taken. One of the several couples, representing Adam and Eve, kneels at the altar, and all participate in the ceremonies. The audience stands, each with the right hand raised to a square, when the following oath is taken: “We, and each of us, solemnly bind ourselves that we will not reveal any of the secrets of the first token of the Aaronic priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign or penalty. Should I do so, I agree that my, throat may be cut from ear to ear, and my tongue torn out by its roots.”

“Grip. The grip is very simple: Hands clasped, pressing the point of the knuckle of the index finger with the thumb.”

“Sign. In executing the sign of the penalty, the hand, palm down, is placed across the body, so that the thumb comes directly under and a little behind the ear. The hand is then drawn sharply to the right across the throat, the elbow standing out at a position of ninety degrees from the body; the hand is dropped from the square to the side.” In the earliest form of these ceremonies, as used in Nauvoo in 1846, this obligation, or a part of it at least, appears to have been given in what was termed the sixth degree [2].

The exercises then proceed. Various characters appear and carry on a dialogue, and then a robe and sandals are put on the candidates, and the apron replaced and the second oath is administered: “We, and each of us, do solemnly promise and bind ourselves never to reveal any of the secrets of this priesthood, with the accompanying name, grip and penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our breasts may be torn open, our heart and vitals torn out and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.”

“Grip. Clasp the right hand and place the thumb into the. hollow of the knuckles, between the first and second fingers.

“Sign. The sign is made by extending the right hand across the left breast, directly over the heart; then drawing it rapidly from left to right, with the elbow at the square; then dropping the hand to the side.”

The candidates are then conducted into what is known as the “Celestial Room.” Here also characters appear and carry on conversation, relating to the ceremonies, and other preparations are made for the administering of the third oath, which is as follows: “You, and each of you, do convenant and promise that you will never reveal any of the secrets of the priesthood, with any accompanying name, sign and penalty. Should you do so you agree that your body may be cut asunder and all your bowels gush out.”

“In this, the left hand is placed palm upright, directly in front of the body, there being a right angle formed at the elbow; the right hand, palm down, is placed under the elbow of the left; then drawn sharply across the bowels, and both hands dropped to the side” [3]. The grip is given by “grasping the right hands so that the little fingers are interlocked and the forefinger presses the wrist. This is known as the patriarchal grip, or the true sign of the nail.”

The Neophytes are then ready for the three-fold obligation which relates to “The Law of Sacrifice,” “The Law of Chastity,” and the “Law of Vengeance.” The last named law, it might be noted in passing, is given with but slight variation, by all three of the authorities quoted here. The character of the second law is indicated by its title, and is not without significance, though it need not detain us.

Following these obligations the candidates are seated and a long sermon or lecture is given, in which the entire history of the Temple work is rehearsed. They are then instructed in the true order of prayer. In this, when all is in readiness, an elder kneels at the altar, his right arm raised to the square, his left hand extended, as if to receive a blessing. A form of prayer is then offered which, it is said, is used in all priesthood meetings. The candidates are then ready to pass through the veil.

“In the veil are to be seen the square and compasses; also other openings which represent the slits in the knees of every garment.” In the room where this veil is placed, there is also a platform upon which the candidates take seats when their names are called, and which is ascended by three steps. With the aid of an attendant the Neophyte gives the required answers and grips, which include the two grips of the Aaronic priesthood and the two grips of the Melchizedek priesthood. Following the last grip, a dialogue ensues

“Elohim-‘What is this’?”

“Neophyte-‘The second grip of the Melchizedek priesthood, patriarchal grip, or sure sign of the nail’.”

“Elohim-‘Has it a name’?”

“Neophyte-‘It has’.”

“Elohim-‘Will you give it to me’?”

“Neophyte-‘I cannot, for I have not yet received it; for this purpose I have come to converse with the Lord behind the veil’.”

“Elohim-‘You shall receive it upon the five points of fellowship through the veil. These are foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back, and mouth to ear’” [4].

Here we may take leave of the Temple ceremonies, and consider briefly a few significant utterances derived from the written and spoken words of those who, presumably, speak from first-hand information. First, is language used by a brilliant writer of the Mormon faith. In a chapter that deals with the Temple at Logan, Utah, he contrasts the views of this structure held by Latter-day Saints and Gentiles, and then proceeds:

“To the Mormons the Logan Temple is a grand Masonic fabric, reared unto the name of the God of Israel, where endowments are given, and ordinances administered, and services performed which concern salvation and exaltation, both of the living and the dead, and connected with the Mormon Church.”

After referring to a supposed “Polygamic Theocracy,” which he says, is popularly supposed to exist in the Logan Temple, the author continues:

“And what makes this matter of so much importance and interest. . . . . is that the Logan Temple today is looked upon as the Masonic embodiment of that ‘Polygamic Theocracy.’ ”

The author then passes upon the relative merits of two exposes of the endowment house secrets, and continues:

“Meantime the Mormon apostles and elders with a becoming repugnance and Masonic reticence quite understandable to members of every Masonic order have shrunk from a public exhibition of the sacred things of their Temple.” When describing certain scenes enacted in the endowment ceremonies, he refers to the Garden of Eden representation as “* * * the Masonic sacred drama of the Fall of Man.” And again, “A sign, a grip, and a keyword were communicated and impressed upon us, and the third degree of Mormon endowment, or the first degree of the Aaronic priesthood was conferred.”

And finally our author refers to the “oath of chastity,” alluded to above, and marks with especial emphasis the fact that “the oath implies that no man dare, under penalty of death, to betray his brother’s wife or daughter” [5].

Perhaps the most interesting and significant utterance on the subject, from one who is in a position to know whereof he speaks, is attributed to a member of the present quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In an address delivered in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, on the last Sunday of 1919, as reported in one of the daily papers, the speaker said:

“Modern Masonry is a fragmentary presentation of the ancient order established by King Solomon, from whom it is have been handed down through the centuries.”

“Frequent assertion that some details of the Mormon Temple ordinances resemble Masonic rites, led him to refer to this subject,” the speaker declared, and he added, “that he was not sorry there was such a similarity, because of the fact that the ordinances and rites revealed to Joseph Smith constituted a reintroduction upon the earth of the divine plan inaugurated in the Temple of Solomon in ancient days.”

“Plans for the ordinances to be observed in the Temple built at Nauvoo * * * were revealed to Joseph Smith, as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, more than a year prior to the time the founder of the Mormon Church became a member of the Masonic order. The latter order,” the speaker affirmed, “claimed origin with King Solomon, but through lapses and departures, which had naturally come into the order in the course of time, it had fallen somewhat into imperfection of detail. The temple plan revealed to Joseph Smith * * * was the perfect Solomonic plan, under which no man was permitted to obtain the secrets of Masonry unless he also held the holy priesthood.”

The speaker then explained that authentic proof in Masonic history goes to show that “the five lodges of the order, established by Joseph Smith and other members of the Mormon Church, had been discountenanced by the great organization through mistaken non-observance of a mere technicality.” The Mormon lodges, Apostle Ballard declared, “had been accepting and advancing members in the order by viva voce vote, instead of by secret ballot, as the rule required.” “But,” he said, “the technical offense had been seized upon as a cause for repudiating the lodges established by members of an unpopular church” [6].

It is not our purpose to examine critically any of the assertions made by this speaker. Enough has been said in the preceding pages, and more evidence could be adduced, to show that the Apostle here ignored some very material facts and that the action of the Grand Lodge of Illinois with reference to the Mormon lodges was due to other causes than the one named by the speaker quoted.

Further, no objections will be urged here to the acceptance on the part of anyone of the statement that the temple ritual, parts of which have been presented in these pages, was revealed to Joseph Smith, or to anyone else, direct from heaven. The writer will only say that no evidence has come to his knowledge which points to any such supernatural derivation, while on the other hand he is of the opinion that in the preceding pages attention has been directed to the real source and origin of the temple ceremonies.

In taking leave of this part of the subject, the fact is worthy of record that Joseph Smith fixes the date of the introduction of the endowments as May 4, 1842, nearly two months after he became a Mason. Under that date he wrote that he instructed certain of his followers “in the principles and order of the priesthood, attending to washing, anointings, endowments and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic priesthood and so on to the highest order of the Melchizedek priesthood setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days” * * * and that, “in this Council was instigated the ancient order of things for the first time in these last days.” This, of course, does not preclude the possibility of the “revelation” of this order having been received much earlier than the date given, as is held by the historian of the church [7].



[1] Tullidge’s Histories of Utah: Northern Utah and Southern Idaho, vol. II, p. 444

[2] The Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 12, 1906. If this paper is not available, see The Revelation in the Mountain, Major,. pp. 129-160, where the Tribune article is reproduced; Nauvoo and Its Temple, Van Dusen, p. 13

[3]The Salt Lake Tribune, February 12, 1906

[4] The Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 12, 1906, p. 3; Tell It All, Mrs. Stenhouse, pp. 192-200; The Latter Day Saints, Kauffman, pp. 155-169; 312-328

[5] Tullidge’s Histories of Utah: Northern Utah and Southern Idaho, vol. lI, pp. 425, 426, 444, 446, 4.50; also his life of Joseph Smith, pp. 391-393. The same author declares: “Mormonism is Masonic,” The Women of Mormondom, p. 75

[6] The Salt Lake Herald, Dec. 29, 1919. See also, B. H. Roberts, Improvement Era, vol. XXIV, pp. 937-939

[7] Concerning the entry in the prophet’s journal, quoted in the text, B. H. Roberts states: “This is the Prophet’s account of the introduction of the Endowment ceremonies in this dispensation, and is the foundation of the sacred ritual of the temples.” History of the Church, Period 1, Joseph Smith, Roberts, vol. V, p. 2, Note. Roberts follows this statement: “There has been some controversies as to the time when these ceremonies were introduced into the church.” The intelligent Craftsman will hardly need to be told that the matter has significance in our present study. One of the founders and first editors of Times and Seasons, and who was editor-in-chief of that periodical up to the date on which Joseph Smith took the first degree in Masonry, said, “that all these ceremonies were introduced into the Church by the Prophet Joseph Smites at least as early as 1843.” Quoted by Roberts, as above, p. 3, Note. Wilford Woodruff, then “virtual head of the Church” (History of Utah, Whitney, vol. III, p. 587) in 1887, in a letter which was read at the Semi-Annual Conference of the Church, that year, fixed the time when Joseph Smith gave the endowments to the twelve apostles, as being in the winter of 1843-44. An Epistle of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, Oct. 10, 1887, p. 2


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