Description of the attic story of the Nauvoo Temple
(Note: this article is originally from www.helpingmormons.org)
(The original temple in Nauvoo was destroyed by a mob in 1848. In 1999 LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinkley announced that it would be rebuilt)
The following description of the attic story of the Nauvoo Temple was written by William Clayton in Heber C. Kimball's Journal under the date of 11 December 1845. William Clayton was the Nauvoo Temple Recorder. Heber C. Kimball's Journal is located in the Historical Department of the LDS church, Salt Lake City, Utah. This portion of the journal is the official Nauvoo Temple Record. The original spelling is retained.
Thursday Decr. 11th 1845
I will now give a description of the way the attic Story is finished. The main room is 88 feet 2 inches long and 28 feet 8 inches wide. It is arched over, and the arch is divided into six spaces by crop beams to support the roof. There are 6 Small rooms on each side [of] the main room about 14 feet square each. The last one on the west end on each side is a little smaller.
The first room on the South side beginning on the East end is president Brighams Room the second Er H. C. Kimball, the third, O. Hyde, Parley P. Pratt and Orson Pratt the fourth, John Taylor, Amasa Lyman J. E. Page & George A. Smith; the fifth, Joseph Young and presidents of Seventies, the sixth, is a preparation room for the male members.
On the north side, the first from the East end is for Bishop Whitney & the lesser Priesthood; the second for the High Council; the third and fourth president George Miller and the High Priests quorum The fifth the Elders quorum and the sixth the female preparation Room.
The main room is divided into apartments for the ceremonies of the endowment. Beginning from the door at the West end is an all[e]y about 5 feet wide extending in about 3 feet beyond the first Beam of the arch. On each side of the alley is a small room partitioned of[f] where they saints receive the first part of the ceremony or where the man is created and a help mate given to him. From these rooms to the third partition in the arch is planted the garden, which is nicely decorated and set off with shrubs and Trees in pots & Boxes to represent the Garden of Eden. In this apartment is also an alter. Here the man and woman are placed & commandments given to them in addition to what is given in the creation. Here also after the man & women has eaten the forbidden fruit is given to them a charge at the alter. And the first and second tokens of the Aaronic Priesthood. They are then thrust out into a room which is dark being the one on the north side between the fourth & fifth division of the arch which represents the telestial kingdom or the world. opposite to this is another apartment of the same size representing the terrestilal kingdom and between these two is an alley about 4 feet wide. In the telestial Kingdom, after the man has proved himself faithful he receives the first signs & tokens of the Melchizedek priesthood and an additional charge. Here also he vouches for the conduct of his companion. They are then left to prove themselves faithful after which they are admitted into the terrestrial Kingdom, where at the alter they receive an additional charge and the second token of the Melchizedek Priesthood and also the key word on the five points of fellowship.
There are words given with every token and the new name is given in the preparation room when they receive their washing and anointing.
After received all the tokens and words and signs they are led to the vail whare they give each to Eloheem through the vail and are then admitted into the Celestial Room.
The Celestial room occupies the remain[d]er of the main room being the space between the two divisions of the arch. This is adorned with a number of splendid mirrors, paintings and portraits. On the East wall are the following P[o]rtraits viz. in the center Pres. B. Young and next to the left H. C. Kimball[,] Orson Hyde. To the right, Willard Richards, John Taylor and George A. Smith.
On the East side of the first division of the arch in the center is the portrait of L. S. Scovil, next to the right is George A. Smith, next John Smith, the Patriarch. To the left is Barsheba Smith, and mother Lucy Smith.
On the West side of this partition in the centre [center] is the portrait of [blank space] to the left H.C. Kimball & Caroline Smith to the right [blank space] Wm Coltier [____] L. Smith.
On the East side of the second division in the centre [center] a brass clock over which is a splendid portrait of the late Hyrum Smith and next to the right C.C. Rich, George Miller & Clarissa Smith. To the left sister Rich, next Mary Catherine Miller and last Leonora A. Taylor.
There are also a number of maps. A large map of the world hangs on the north side wall, and three maps of the United States and a plat of the City of Nauvoo hangs on the west partition. On the South wall hangs another large map of the United States, besides a number of large mirrors and paintings.
In the centre [center] of the Celestial Room are two splendid tables and four splendid sofas. Also a small table opposite the large window on the East end of the room on which stands the Celestial and terrestrial globes.
All the rooms are nicely carpeted and has a very splendid and comfortable appearance. There are a number of handsome chairs in it.
* * * *
The following persons officiating[:]
Orson Hyde as Eloheem
Orson Spencer as Jehovah
George A. Smith as Michael and
Wm. W. Phelps as the Serpent.
Instructions by Brigham Young, President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Thursday, December 28th 1845 Meeting at half past 10' o'clock this day in the attic story of the Temple . . . Pres. Young came into the room at 1/4 before 12. M. – He said he supposed those present were a part of those who have received their endowment, that they were those who desired to be wise and do honor to the cause they have espoused, and bring no reproach upon the character of him who has given us of the things of his Kingdom liberally. The Keys or signs of the Priesthood are for the purpose of impressing on the mind the order of the creation – In the first place the name of the man is given, a new name, Adam, signifying the first man or Eve, the first woman – Adam's name was more ancient than he was – It was the name of a man long before him, who enjoyed the priesthood The new name should be after some ancient man – Thus with your ancient name, your modern name, and the name that was last given you, you enquire concerning thing[s] past present & future –
After his fall, another name was given to Adam, and being full of integrity, and not disposed to follow the woman nor listen to her was permitted to receive the tokens of the priesthood.
(Heber C. Kimball Journal, 28 Dec. 1845, LDS archives)
The Seventies Record recorded the following concerning the same instructions that Brigham Young told those who received their endowments:
Sunday, December 28, 1845 . . . President B. Young then arose and said that inasmuch as this congregation that are present are those that have received their endowments and only a small part of them, therefore I will give some general instructions.
While the bread and wine are preparing[,] the ordinances that you have received in the garden together with the performances of those things that has been presented are to represent the creation of the world, the name that was given to Adam was more ancient than he was. The name Adam was given him because he was the first man but his new name pertained to the Holy Priesthood and as I before stated is more ancient than he was. There are four penal signs and four penal tokens and should I want to address the throne to enquire after Ancient things which transpired on planets that rolled away before this planet came into existence I should use my new name which is ancient and referred to ancient things. Should I wish to enquire for present things I should use my own name which refers to present things and should I want to enquire for future things I would use the third name which refers to the first token of the Melchizedek priesthood or is the third token that is given and refers to the son.
The second token of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to be given only in one place and nowhere else[,] but these signs and token[s] that pertain to the Priesthood should never be given any where only in such places as belong to the priesthood and that too by none but such as belong to the order of the priesthood.
(Seventies Record, Book B, 28 Dec. 1845, LDS archives, typed copy)
Account by Heber C. Kimball:
"The main room is divided into apartments for the ceremonies of the endowment. Beginning from the door at the West end is an all[e]y about 5 feet wide extending to about 3 feet beyond the first partitioned off where the saints receive the first part of the ceremony or where the man is created and a help mate given to him. From these rooms to the third partition in the Arch is planted the garden, which is nicely decorated and set off with shrubs and trees in pots and Boxes to represent the Garden of Eden. In this apartment is also an altar. Here the man and woman are placed and commandments are given to them in addition to what is given in the creation. Here also after the man and woman has eaten the forbidden fruit is given to them a charge at the Alter and the first and second tokens of the Aaronic Priesthood. They are then thrust out into a room which is dark being the one on the North side between the fourth and fifth division of the arch which represents the telestial kingdom or the world. Opposite to this is another apartment of the same size representing the terrestrial kingdom and between these two is an alley about 4 feet wide. In the telestial kingdom, after the man has proved himself faithful he receives the first signs and tokens of the Melchizedek priesthood and an additional charge. Here also he vouches for the conduct of his companion. They are then left to prove themselves faithful, after which they are admitted into the terrestrial kingdom, where at the alter they receive an additional charge and the second token of the Melchizedek Priesthood and also they key word on the five points of fellowship.
There are words given with every token and the new name is given in the preparation room when they receive their washing and annointing.
After received all the tokens and words and signs they are led to the vail where they give each to Eloheem through the vail and are then admitted into the Celestial Room."
(Source: Nauvoo Temple Journal, 11 December 1845, George D. Smith, ed., An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991), p. 205; "On the day temple ordinances begin, Heber C. Kimball asks William Clayton to help him keep a record of Nauvoo temple–related activities." Ibid. p. 199.)
"Last evening an arrangement was made establishing better order in conducting the endowment. Under this order it is the province of Eloheem, Jehovah and Michael to create the world, plant the Garden and create the man and give his help meet. Eloheem gives the charge to Adam in the Garden and thrust them into the telestial kingdom or the world. Then Peter assisted by James and john conducts them through the Telestial and Terrestrial kingdom administering the charges and tokens in each and conducts them to the vail where they are received by the Eloheem and after taking with him by words and tokens are admitted by him into the Celestial Kingdom...."
(Source: Nauvoo Temple Journal, 13 December 1845, Ibid., p. 210.)
Increase Van Deusen (or Van Dusen) Account of the Nauvoo Temple Ceremony
The following account of the Nauvoo Temple endowment was written by Increase Van Deusen (and his wife Maria). They received their endowment on 29 January 1846. His description is not 100% accurate. He describes going from the different rooms through the attic story of the temple and some of the ceremony. Some paragraphs are shortened for easier reading.
I will now describe the ceremony said to be revealed from God as a reward for building the Nauvoo Temple. The following is what myself and wife were taken through personally in the Temple, in 1846, in the month of February, said to be our reward from God for four years' labor on the Temple. The Drama, (as I call it) runs thus: We have a notice to appear at the Temple at five in the morning. I am instructed to wear drawers; they are to be white. My wife is to bring her night clothes with her. –– What these orders are for, we have no idea in the least. We go according to orders at five precisely, for we are anxious to receive our long expected blessing from God.
We are first conducted through a narrow temporary hall, where we meet a man stationed; he says to us, "you must here separate" – directs me through a door to the right, my wife through one at the left, in an opposite direction:
I am here ordered by a conductor to lay off my clothes, all but shirt and drawers: I now find what was meant by being ordered to bring drawers. We are now examined with regard to our character, and whether we are responsible for what may be committed to us, &c.
We are taken from this into another room: In this room is a temporary bath of water on the floor. We are nor ordered by the conductor to divest our selves of the remaining part of our clothing. They now put us in this bath and wash us all over, from heat to foot, accompanied with the following ceremony: "I wash you that you may be clean to perform the work assigned you; your eyes, that you may see the glory of God; your ears, that you may hear His voice: your mouth, that you may speak forth His praise; your arms and breast, that you may be strong to perform His work; and so down to our feet, that we may be swift to run the race," &c. We are, all this time, rolled and tumbled about in the bath, – at last, the priest lays his hands on our heads and pronounces us clean, in the name of the Lord. –
We are then taken by another priest, who turns oil on our heads, from a horn, until it runs partly over the body. We are thus annointed all over – even to the soles of the feet. After this, we are placed on a stool, and ordained to power and authority, for time and eternity. I was ordained to be King in time and eternity, and my wife to be Queen. After being ordained King, I am presented with, and have put on, what they call an under garment. This is a tight fit, made of white cotton cloth, with two marks in it; a square on the breast, and a compass on the knee.
We are told this garment represents the white stone in scripture, in which was a new name given. We here have a new name given us. We are told, also, that we are always to wear this garment under our clothes, while we are in the world. God has ordered this; and we can receive no harm while we have it on. The name I received was Lehi, one of the names of the Book of Mormon. This name I was forbidden to reveal to any but the one at the door of the Celestial Kingdom. What this meant, I found our afterwards. The compass on the knee signifies our willingness to now always; the square, God's protection, &c. We now have put on us, over this under garment, a common shirt.
In this dress, after so much ceremony, we are conducted into a third room, where a lesson commences, as the reader will see by attention. We are now seated – all is silent for a while; the silence is at length broken by a rumbling noise, as from a distance; the noise terminates in a voice, as follows: "Let the light be divided from the darkness; let the light be called day, and the darkness night: Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters; let the firmament be called heaven; let the waters under the firmament be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear; let the dry land be called earth; and the gathering together of the waters, seas; let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit–tree yielding fruit, after his kind, whose seed is in itself upon the earth; let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth, after their kind." . . .
After the individual thus representing the Lord behind the curtain, (as in the act of creation) is supposed to have created the heavens and the earth, cattle, beasts, creeping things, fowls of the air, fish of the sea, &c., he continues his work further, and says, "Now let us go down and make man in our image, after our likeness." All this time we are seated in silence, hearing, but not seeing anything, and knowing not what is to take place the next moment; for all is new and unexpected, from first to last, of this whole drama. When he says, "Let us go down and make man," we hear his footsteps approaching the room where we are seated; he comes in – comes to where we are – puts his hand to the floor, and then on us, as if fulfilling this scripture: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."
After going on, as if forming us newly of the dust of the ground, he stoops down and breathes on us, and now we are supposed to first spring into life. We are next ordered to change our position from sitting to a sleeping one, as if fulfilling, "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept." We are now ordered to put our heads down low, and feign ourselves in a deep sleep. The individual representing the Almighty, continues his work as if fulfilling, "And he took a rib, and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.["] After he has taken the rib, he passes out of the room and is supposed to have formed the woman of the rib; he soon returns with a woman and places her directly before us, as we are sitting, heads down, as if in deep sleep. We are now saluted with a loud voice, "Adam, here is thy companion. I give her to be with thee – what wilt thou call her?["] He awaked out of sleep and answers, "This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man." This was my wife whom I parted with on first entering the Temple; she has passed through two rooms, in the same ceremony that I have gone through, precisely, only conducted by the females exclusively.
We are now brought together in the third room; she is brought in her night clothes. We are now supposed to be Adam and Eve, and the reason of my shirt's being out side, and she having on night clothes, is, to represent nature. I now am ordered to take Eve and follow our conductor out through a partition door into another apartment; and what should you suppose we there behold? A large room, the floor all nicely covered with green trees, shrubbery, flowers, &c. Representing the garden of Eden. We follow a conductor about this temporary garden, beholding the strange and unexpected scenery that has just presented itself to our view. He says, "This is a beautiful place, every thing delightful for the eye and taste – of all these things you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat; neither shalt thou touch it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
He leaves the garden, and in a few moments another individual comes in, representing the Devil. He walks round between the trees and peaks and skulks, as if intent on some mischief, and coming to the tree which we have been forbidden to partake of, he says to Eve: "This is the best of all the fruit of the garden," and solicits her to partake. She takes, eats, and gives to Adam. While we are amu[s]ing ourselves with the delicious taste of the fruit, (which is raisins tied on a small tree on the floor) the conductor starts up all of a sudden, and says, "Hark! The Lord is coming; let us hide!" We are ordered to squ[at] down behind the shrubbery on the floor. The supposed Lord's foot steps are now heard – coming in, he walks about on the floor, at last calls out, "Adam! where art thou?" We answer, "we heard thy voice and footsteps in the garden, and were afraid, and hid ourselves. And he says, "Who told thee that thou was naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I command thee not to eat?" The answer is, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat." He then turns to the woman, and says, "What is this that thou hast done?" She answers, "The Serpent beguiled me and I did eat." He now turns to the individual representing the Devil, and says, "Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt eat all the days of thy life."
The Devil is now supposed to have on him the curse, and he gets down on his belly and crawls out of the room or garden. To the woman he now adds, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children," &c. And unto the man he says, "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake: in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for dust thou art, and unto the dust shalt thou return." He adds, "the man is now as one of us, knowing good and evil. Thou shalt now be sent forth to till the ground from whence thou wast taken."
We now have aprons put on of white cloth, about eighteen inches square with green silk leaves pasted on. We are ordered to kneel down to an altar that stands on the centre [center] of the floor. We are now instructed in many things with regard to the fall, the law of God, &c.
We have also certain signs and tokens given. One of the grips, is, the two right hands clasped with the end of the thumbs on the upper joint of the fore fingers; second, the end of the thumbs directly between the upper two joints of the first and second fingers. One of the key–words is the Sun [Son]. We are particularly instructed in these signs, key–words, grips, &c., three of each.
After some more ceremony of not much consequence, we are conducted into another, a fifth room, which is a representation of the present Religious world, or Adam and Eve, six thousand years old, having been engaged for eighteen hundred years in promulgating the sectarian religion, except the Mormon, (for this is what is represented in this room.) Our attention is now attracted by an individual coming in from an adjoining room, representing the Devil. He comes in great glee, hopping and skipping about the floor, holding in his hand a long–handled wooden noggin, which holds about a pint. He says, "Good morning brother Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Universalist, Shaking–Quaker, Millerite, Campbellite," &c., enumerating all the sects of the day, except the Mormons: "Come, let us drink the cup of fellowship this morning." He now drinks, and hands the noggin to us; we drink, and hand it back.
He then goes on with a long ceremony, as follows: Wel[l], brethren, you have done well – had a great many revivals – gained a numerous host of converts, and would have succeeded in getting the whole world into some of our churches, had it not been for that Joe Smith and the Mormons. They are round every where, preaching that we are all wrong – not organized according to Scri[ptu]re, and say we (Protestants) have no authority to preach, except what we have got from the Catholics, and all the world agrees that is good for nothing. And now, brethren of the sects, I tell you that Mormon plan is an almighty one, and much to be dreaded – it strikes at the very root and foundation of all our holy religion, and will eventually become the prevailing religion, unless something can be done to stop it. It has been supposed a humbug, and would soon come to naught. But this supposition is founded altogether in ignorance. Now, who can not but see his (Joe's [Joseph Smith's]) plan is well calculated to undermine all of us.
He says, ["]God has nothing to do with our churches – he has never sent us to preach; and they have the impudence to ask us to show our authority, and this we cannot do, of course. It is true, we read in the Bible, 'God ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature;' but they say that commission is not to us, but to men of that generation in which it was given. (And is not this true?) Now, the world has been long wondering how so many ways could be right, and differing one from the other; and Mormonism is calculated to unravel all this mystery; and they come right out and say we have all been preaching men's precepts for the commandments of God. And now, I tell you there is much truth in their sayings. We might as well know the truth, and then prepare ourselves accordingly. We could do well when our authoirty was not questioned; but when they come with the evidence they bring, and say, 'They are sent by Revelation;' I tell you it is not easy to withstand them. And finally, brethren, I am satisfied that it will not do to undertake to hold an argument with them, and we had better let them entirely alone, and neither hear nor read any of their books, but keep up the popular cry, 'Oh, how great is the delusion of Joe Smith and Mormonism! Oh, how great!' and as long as we can keep the people ignorant of their real principles, we shall do well. Now, brethren, of all sects, we are talking over things this morning among ourselves – and it must not go to the world." &c.
After a long ceremony of this kind in favor of the Mormon Fraternity, we are interrupted by another individual coming in, supposed to have been sent directly from Heaven, with authority and great power. He commands the Devil to depart and let these deceived people (the sects,) alone, and trouble them no longer; for the time has come when they shall be delivered from your Satanic influence and power, by which they have been bound since the Apostolic age of the world.
The Devil now reluctantly withdraws, and makes towards the door, looking back over his shoulder at the heavenly messenger, and halts, as if at a loss to leave or stay. He is now commanded again, in the name of the Lord, to leave, and let the sects alone. He now drops his noggin and flees out of the room with great haste and fury; we, Adam in his shirt–tail and Eve in her night–gown, are left standing. After hearing all this conversation, supposed to be contaminated with some one of the religions of the day, except Mormonism, we are taken by the heavenly messenger and instructed in Mormon doctrine, exclusively, and supposed to be converted to that faith; in token whereof, we have our clothing changed, and are dressed in white linen, exactly alike.
We are now conducted into another secret room, in the centre [center] of which is an altar with three books on it – the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, (or Joseph's Revelations.) We are required to kneel at this altar, where we have an oath administered to us to this effect; that we will avenge the blood of Joseph Smith on this Nation, and teach our children the same. They tell us that the nation has winked at the abuse and persecution of the Mormons, and the murder of the Prophet in particular; Therefore the Lord is displeased with the nation, and means to destroy it; and this is the excuse for forming this league or conspiracy.
We are also sworn by a solemn oath, that we will never divulge what we here see, and do, and agree to, &c. in this Holy Temple. The penalty is, if we do, we agree to let them take our lives, and the manner of taking them is described: Our bowels are to be taken out, throats cut across, tongues taken out by the roots, &c. We now have signs, tokens, key–words, &c. given, of a higher order than those given in the garden, the particulars of which we do not distinctly recollect.
After this, we are conducted to a veil, behind which stands a man – we converse with him awhile through this veil, which is composed of very thin cloth. We here give the signs, new name, &c. which are the conditions of our entrance. A door is now knocked at, a few feet to the left of this veil, by our conductor. One from within asks, "who is there?" Our conductor says, one having kept all the commandments of God, (referring to this ceremony) desires to enter the kingdom and be forever with the Lord." We now pass through this door into a large room,, representing the celestial kingdom of God. Here we are clothed in white robes, and have crowns put on our heads, and are really King and Queen, according Mormon theory.
(Mr. and Mrs. McGee [Increase and Maria Van Deusen], The Mormon Endowment; A Secret Drama, or Conspiracy, in the Nauvoo Temple, in 1846 [Syracuse: authors, 1847], 3–9, emphasis omitted)
Account by "Emeline":
"Dear Sir:–I discover by your paper, in what you have published in regard to the Mormon endowments, given of late in the temple, that you have been wrongfully informed at least, so far as an actual experience has taught me in the orgies of an afternoon, in that (as I have been taught to believe) most holy building. In revealing what I am about to do, I have no lashing of conscience; notwithstanding I took upon myself, during the laughable farce, several oaths and obligations of a serious character, not to reveal the secrets of the priesthood…
I went into this pretended holy operation, in company with 14 others, all sisters in the Mormon church, and with most of whom I was well acquainted. They were, in the main, women of good character, and appeared sincere in their respective devotions. We were first received past the Guard into a private room on the north side of the Temple–this was the room of preparation or purification.–We were divested of all our apparel, and in a state of perfect nudity we were washed from head to foot,–a blanket was then thrown about our persons, and then commencing at the head we were anointed from head to foot with sweet oil scented (I think) with lavender. We were then clothed in white robes. All this was done by sisters in the church–none others were present–it is false to say that men and women are admitted together in an indecent manner. We were then conducted into a room called the garden of Eden; here we found several of our brethren robed in white also, and apparently in a soporific state. We were presented before them and a voice from the Lord awake them from sleep. After a considerable ceremony, which I do not recollect much of, we were left by the Lord and soon a very dandy–like fellow appeared with a black cape on, that had a long tail attached to it; he appeared very familiar–and by his very insinuating and friendly manner induced some of our sisters to eat of the 'forbidden fruit.' Soon after the voice of the Lord appeared again in the garden; we a;; appeared frightened, and both men and women huddled together into the corner of the room, as if in the act of hiding. The fellow in the black cap presents himself before the Lord and engages in a controversy, boasting of what he had done. The Lord pronounces a curse upon him–he gets down upon his belly and crawls off. At this period of the holy ceremony, I could not suppress my visible passions; for this fellow acted his part well–undoubtedly his part being the part of the Devil–was the most natural. We were then presented with aprons, which we put on about this time, a sword was shook at us through the partition of the room, which was to guard the Tree of Life. After considerable ceremony, which I do not recollect, we were passed into another room, which was dark and dreary. This was called the Terrestrial Kingdom; immediately the dandy in the black cap made his appearance; at first he appeared very sly–peeping about, and when he found the Lord was not present, he became very familiar and persuasive. Said he, 'here we are, all together, and all good fellows well met. Some Methodists, some Presbyterians, some Mormons, and some Strangites, &c. &c. Come let us drink together.' In this way he tempted us, and we partook with him. After a considerable parade and ceremony, we passed into another room, or Celestial Kingdom. Here I saw some of the twelve, and particularly Brigham Young, with a white crown upon his head, and as I have since been told, representing God himself. We passed this room without much ceremony into another. I have forgotten what it represented; not so much of interest transpired here, & we were conducted back and put in possession of our clothing….
In the different apartments of this singular farce, we took upon ourselves paths and obligations not to reveal the secrets of the priesthood. I do not consider them binding; as I have had ample and repeated opportunity to prove the administrators of these obligations as corrupt as the Devil in Hell. In one place I was presented with a new name, which I was not to reveal to any living creature, save the man to whom I should be sealed for eternity. By this name I am to be called in eternity, or after the resurrection. This name was ––; and from what I can gather, all the females had the same name given them, but we are not allowed to reveal it to each other, under no less penalty than to have our throats cut from ear to ear, our hearts torn out, &c., &c. I have forgotten a part of the penalties. In one place something was spoken to me which I do not recollect–the meaning was 'marrow in the bon' the token was a firm hold of the hand, pressing the finger nails firmly into the wrist of the right hands. I have since been told by a brother, that there was a mystical meaning in this, that will hereafter be revealed.
Now sir, this is the substance of the Mormon endowment…."
(Source: "Mormon Endowment" by "Emeline" in Warsaw Signal, April 18, 1846)
Account by Catherine Lewis:
The following account is by Catherine Lewis who went to the temple for her endowment as a single unmarried woman on 22 December 1845. Her description is not 100% accurate. She describes some of the ceremony.
"On Monday, Mrs. K. and myself proceeded to the Temple; we went up three or four flights of stairs to the upper story, called the 'upper room of the Temple,' which is a large Hall with six rooms on either side, for the Apostles; and the Hall for the purposes of Initiation, or Endowment, is divided by canvass into six rooms more, making eighteen rooms in the whole. Two of these rooms, separated by canvass, are reserved for dressing–rooms,–one for males, the other for females; and one of the Apostle's rooms on the right of the entrance, another on the left, are used for washing and anointing rooms. The right hand room for males, the left for females, with a large entry separated by canvass, into which Mrs. K. and I entered; she (Mrs. K.) knocked at a door, which was opened by the Porter; we went in; she conducted me to the women's dressing room; I was told to remain until I was called to be 'washed and anointed.' While waiting, a company were going through the room called the Garden of Eden.–This part of the ceremony any number of persons can go in company, with or without wife or husband; but at the second part, none are allowed to go without a companion. I heard language from Scripture, and a noise apparently as if by a man crawling on the floor; soon after I heard singing, what seemed to me a romantic song; the sound was farther off than at first, and I puzzled to know what it meant. I was called into the wash–room to receive my washing, anointing and a new name; the females were attended by females; one of whom came to me with a basin of water, and began to wash my face, saying, "Beloved Sister, I wash you with pure water in the name of the Lord, that you may be clean,' &c.
My companions and myself were required to go into a large bathing tub, and wash; then each had a blanket wrapped around us, while we were anointed. One of the ordained women, called Priestess, begins to anoint, another stands by with a horn, containing consecrated oil, which she gives to the Priestess from a wooden spoon, in such quantity and at such times, she is directed; the priestess begins at the head to anoint, and blesses by saying:–
'Sister, I anoint you in the name of the Lord, and bless you. I anoint you to be a Queen; you shall do the same work in the Temple which you now see me do. I anoint your ears, that you may hear, your eyes, that they may see, your arms, that they may be strong, &c.'
She then whispers in the ear a name, called a new name, adding–
'You must not tell any one your new name, until you get to the vail; it must never be spoken above the sound of your breath; if you ever mention it, the name will be taken away.'
Our names were then recorded; we then dressed and went into the other room, and waited. When the men and women were ready, a voice was heard saying, 'Michael Jehovah, there is space, go down, create a world.' After a few minutes the second person said, 'I have done as thou hast said.' The first person says, 'all is good,' and pretends to send the second person until all the ceremony of creation is gone through with; then man is found without an helpmeet, the first person says, 'it is not good for man to be alone; I will cause a deep sleep to fall on man, take a rib and make a helpmeet for him.' Then a noise was heard in the men's room, but I know not what they did; after a while, it was silent, the doors were opened to the men's and women's rooms, and the women called for; who proceeded to the men's rooms, selected their companion, each for herself, except myself and two others; then the company marched into (what they term) the Garden of Eden–which was adorned with flowers and branches of trees, one of which represented the tree of life, and another the tree of knowledge of good and evil. While walking around, the guide told us the Garden was made for us to dress and keep, of all the fruit we might eat, but of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, we must not eat; for in the day we eat thereof, we shall surely die.
I was behind the others, which the Guide observing, he came to me, and said, 'walk along with the rest.' I looked on him contemptuously, but obeyed orders. Soon a person appeared frightfully dressed; he went to the tree of forbidden fruit, and plucked the same, then came to the women and gave them to eat, saying, 'take, eat and give to your husband,' &c. When he came to me, I refused, and looked upon him with contempt, it seemed so foolish to me. I found there was no time for words, so I took it. We were then told to hid amid the trees in the Garden, for the Lord was coming, &c. Men and women began to hide, but I stood gazing; the Guide came and said, 'Hide, the Lord is coming.' I walked toward the trees by a door; he said, 'go amongst the trees, for the Lord will come in at that door.' So I moved again. Presently a person representing the Lord came in, who walked round and said 'Adam, where art thou' the guide answered, 'I heard thy voice in the garden, and was afraid, &c.' The rest of the ceremonies are recorded in Genesis 3d chapter, with some slight variations. This person then cursed the earth, also the one who personified Satan, who goes on his hands and feet, and crawls out of the garden. A man and woman were then called to the Altar to receive the signs and tokens of the Priesthood; the one who is styled God, says:–
'I knew you would transgress, &c. Before I created, and placed you here, I in intended you should; but I have prepared a Saviour for you, and in due time he will come. I will now give you the signs and tokens of the priesthood. If any one comes without these signs, you may know they are not sent by me; do not receive them; the first sign or token is to take hold of the right hand, pacing the ball of the thumb between the two upper joints of the fore–fingers. The second sign is to place the thumb on the upper joint of the second finger;–these tokens signify you have two names; one of which is a new name. The third sign is called the patriarchal grip, and has three names; the first, Patriarchal grip; second, the Son; the third, you will receive at the Veil.'
Whilst theses ceremonies were enacted, I heard a noise, when looking round I beheld a flaming sword come flourishing in at the door, near the tree of life. It had a singular appearance, and looked like fire. After another room, representing this world, the only light we had came through the canvass, which separated one room from the other. The Devil came in to tempt us with a vessel of wine; (as it was called, I did not taste it.) He was singing a vulgar, obscene song; he handed the wine all around, saying 'this is my kingdom; here you may eat, drink, and be merry.' He strutted about, singing; some one came in and tried to get the signs. Soon another came with the Gospel, and began to preach; the Devil contending with him for some time; a knocking was heard at the door, upon which the teacher went to the door, and appeared to be listening; he returned and said, 'Peter has given me the Keys of the Kingdom, which is to be set up in the last days.' Then the Devil began to rage, and was cast out, and he left the room hissing. Soon after this our robes, caps and shoes were brought; the men wore shirts over a pair of white pants or drawers, and had no other clothing until our robes, &c. were brought – linen caps for men, and muslin caps for women. We were then ordered into another room, which was called the terrestrial kingdom, and there say after our Teacher what he said. So far as my memory serves me, he began by saying 'I swear, I will sustain the Bible and the Book of Mormon; the Book of doctrine and covenants. – I will not disclose any thing here made known. – I will avenge my brother's blood in every possible way.' To the men the Teacher said, 'I will not touch a daughter of Adam unless she be given me of the Lord' then to the women, 'I will not have any other man but my husband.' The men and women were told to hold up their hands. It seemed so frivilous to me, I did not raise my hand; as I had no husband I thought it altogether unnecessary. The teacher came to me apparently frightened, and said 'Sister, you did not raise your hand.' I smiled and raised by hand, but wondered at his appearance. I have since been informed it would be death to resist. Our shoes and loose clothing were carried to the upper part of the Hall; we could not obtain them without going through; there was no way to escape; if any one should attempt it, they would be met by Brigham's Holy Ghost, I suppose, which one of the Elders told me 'was a man standing at the door to knock them in the head with a mallet, if they attempted to escape.'
We were to hold up the heads of the Church, and obey them in all things, and at all times. Then we held up both hands above the head, and placed out right hand under our left ear, drew it across the throat, the left hand was placed to the right shoulder, then drawn across the breast, and the right hand suddenly thrust down the right side. We then raised our hands again, and were taught how to pray. This ceremony concluded, we proceeded singly to the veil, (which is a large sheet separating us from the upper part of the hall, having five hole in it–two for the eyes, one for the mouth, and two for the arms,) the person representing the Lord is on the other side of the veil, to take the signs and converse with us. Our Instructor tells us how to answer. Then the Lord asks for the signs; we give them; our new name is whispered in his ear; he then whispers the third name of the Patriarchal Grip in our ear, viz:–'Marrow in the bones, Strength in the sinews, and virtue in the loins throughout all generation.' This being over, our Instructor knocked at the door, which was partly opened by this Lord, who asked, 'what is wanting?' The Instructor answered 'a Candidate is ready to enter' he says, 'take off your robe and put it on the right shoulder; everything appears wrong end foremost in the other world. Take off your shoes, the place upon which you stand is Holy Ground.' A motion being made, we enter the place representing 'the Celestial Kingdom' we obtain our clothes, and go out a different way to our homes."
(Source: Catherine Lewis, Narrative of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons (Lynn: Published by the Author, 1848. According to Mormon Apostle Heber C. Kimball's Journal # 93, p. 174, Catherine Lewis received her Temple Endowment in the Nauvoo, Illinois, Temple on December 22, 1845.)
Last Updated: December 31, 2008 12:07 PM EST