LDS Temple Endowment Homepage – page 2
Articles Necessary for Temple Initiatory Work (Washings and Anointings)
Special regalia (ritual clothing) is needed for temple work. In order to participate in the Initiatory Work one needs a Shield and a Garment.
The Shield is a poncho-like covering. It is made by folding a rectangular piece fabric (such as terry cloth, or cotton flannel) in half, and cutting a circular opening at the fold for the patrons head to fit through. It reaches about eight inches from the floor on both sides, and covers the front and back sides. The sides are open, and are held closed by the patron. Prior to receiving the Washings and Anointings the patron removes all clothing and puts on the shield in the privacy of a locker. The temple worker performing the Washings and Anointings touches the partron’s various body parts as they are mentioned in special blessing s/he recites. It must be understood that all Washings and Anointings are performed in sexually segregated rooms.
The Garment of Holy Priesthood (Garment, Regulation Garment, Temple Garment) is distinguished as the only article of Temple clothing members are expected to wear outside the Temple confines. It represents the garment given to Adam when he was found naked in the garden of Eden. It is an undergarment with religious significance and has four symbols known as the “Marks of the Holy Priesthood” sewn into it. Over the left breast is “the mark of the compass”; over the right breast is “the mark of the square”; over the navel is a mark, and another appears over the right knee (the latter two are one-inch horizontal lines). These marks remind the wearer of the covenants assumed in the temple ritual. There are currently a variety of Church-approved Garment styles available for wear (manufactured by the LDS-owned Beehive Clothing Mills). Garments are currently available in one-piece (ankle-length, long sleeve; ankle-length, short sleeve; button front; knee-length, short sleeve) and two-piece styles, some of which are available in square back, V-back, crew neck, maternity and nursing varieties. They may be made of cotton, polyester, nylon, nylon-mesh, rayon and/or rayon-nylon (Bemberg) fabrics. Early Garments were reportedly made of unbleached muslin and/or cotton.
The Nauvoo “old style” Garment (c1842-1975) was partially described by Ebenezer Robinson (who had once served as the editor of the Mormon newspaper Times and Seasons) in his periodical The Return Vol. II (April 1890), 252:
“As early as 1843 a secret order was established in Nauvoo, called the HOLY ORDER, the members of which were of both sexes, in which, we are credibly informed, scenes were enacted representing the garden of Eden, and that the members of the order were provided with a peculiar under garment called a robe. ‘It was made in one piece. On the right breast is a square, on the left a compass, in the center a small hole, and on the knee a large hole.’ This was the description of the garment as given to the writer in Nauvoo, in Joseph Smith’s life time. It was claimed that while they wore this ‘robe’ no harm could befall them.”
Increase McGee Van Dusen, who described the Nauvoo temple endowment ceremony in 1847, mentioned that the Garment was a “tight fit” and only remembered the Priesthood marks of the square and compass-mistakenly stating the latter was on the knee. A description attributed to Elizabeth Warren Allred, who had been hired by the Prophet Joseph Smith to cut out the garment pattern, intimated that the Marks of the Holy Priesthood were originally stitched in red:
“It was while they were living in Nauvoo that the Prophet came to my mother, who was a seamstress by trade, and told her that he had seen the Angel Moroni with the garments on, and asked her to assist in cutting out the garments. They spread unbleached muslin out on the table and he told her how to cut it out. She had to cut the third pair, however, before he said it was satisfactory. She told the prophet that there would be sufficient cloth from the knee to the ankle to make a pair of sleeves, but he told her he wanted as few seams as possible and that there would be sufficient whole cloth to cut the sleeve without piecing. The first garments were made of unbleached muslin and bound with turkey red and were without collars. Later on the prophet decided he would rather have them bound with white. Sister Emma Smith, the Prophet’s wife, proposed that they have a collar on as she thought they would look more finished, but at first the prophet did not have the collars on them. After Emma Smith had made the little collars which were not visible from the outside of the dress, Sister Eliza R. Snow made a collar of fine white material which was worn on the outside of the dress. The garment was to reach to the ankle and the sleeves to the wrist. The marks were always the same.”
(Diary of James T.S. Allred; Letter to Col. Williams; [Microfilm d.1021/f.92, end of roll #2 (July 10, 1844)] LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City).
The design of the garment has gone through various stages of evolution, the four principle designs are illustrated below. The earliest Nauvoo-period garment (c1842) is based on an original owned by Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith’s brother.
The second garment shown above was commonly called the “old style” temple garment. It was used in Initiatory Ordanances until 1975, at which time patrons receiving their own endowment were clothed in the third style shown. This third garment is put on by stretching the neck open wide and stepping into it one leg at a time. In 1979 the new two-piece garment was introduced, which became very popular with missionaries and sports-active Mormons.
Below appears a list of the temple clothes. It should be noted that at certain stages of the endowment, participants are required to change their robes and caps from the left side of the body to the right side (the girdles are worn opposite the robe). This indicates a transition from officiating in the ordinances of the lower, or Aaronic Priesthood, to the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood.
Articles Necessary for Temple Endowment Work (This includes articles worn by couple at time of marriage)
White Robe (worn over the shoulder)
White Cap (has a bow on one side, and a string on the other side. It is tied to one of three loops on the top of the robe)
White girdle (worn as a sash, and tied over the hip on the opposite side as the robe)
Green apron (with fig-leaf pattern)
White Trousers and Shirt (or White Jumper)
White Tie (optional)
White slippers or moccasins of sturdy fabric.
White Robe (worn over the shoulder)
White girdle (worn as a sash, and tied over the hip)
Green apron (with fig-leaf pattern)
White slippers or moccasins of sturdy fabric.
Below is a picture of the temple clothing from an old exposure of the endowment called “Lifting the Vail.” It was published in The Daily Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), Sunday September 28, 1879. It shows the “old style” garment, a robe, a cap, an apron and a woman’s veil (the head is placed in the hole, the diamond-shaped part hangs down the back, and the two strings are tied beneath the chin).
The Endowment Ceremony: An Overview of the Ritual.
Modern “Endowment rooms” are small movie theaters inside the temple with an aisle running down the center of the room. Women sit on the left, men on the right, separated by the aisle. In the front of the room is an altar, on which rest the Bible and the Mormon Scriptures known as the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The endowment is presented as a film which is halted occasionally to allow the viewers brief participation at key points.
When all is quiet a tape recording begins which welcomes the patrons to the temple and explains that they should all have already received the Initiatory Ordinances of Washing, Anointing, clothing in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood and receiving the New Name. The lights are then dimmed and a movie begins which depicts the creation of the earth in “creative periods” of unspecified duration which are afterward called “days.” The creation is performed by two Gods under the direction of a third. The head God, named Elohim, orders Jehovah and Michael to perform the creative labors. (Mormons believe that Elohim is God the Father, while Jehovah is Jesus Christ in his pre-mortal form, and Michael is the Archangel whose spirit will be put into the first human, which makes him Adam.) In order to make the ritual impressionable and vital to them in their daily lives, the temple participants are counseled to consider themselves respectively Adam and Eve.
Following the creation, the spirit of Michael is put into a body. The Gods awaken him, but put him to sleep again in order to form a woman from his ribs. When he awakens from the sleep which the Gods caused to come upon him, he is known as Adam, and is become “as a little child.” He has also forgotten everything about this pre-mortal existence. After awakening, Adam names his wife Eve, “because she is the mother of all living” and Gods forbid the couple to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The happy couple then go about their way and tend to the garden. The temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is then enacted.
Satan (played by Mormon opera singer Michael Balam in one version) is shown lurking about the garden, when he introduces himself to Adam as his “brother.” Unable to seduce Adam into taking the fruit, Satan succeeds in pursuading Eve to partake of the fruit. She, in turn tells Adam what she has done, and he partakes “that man may be.” Suddenly Eve’s eyes are opened, and she recognizes her tempter as “He who was cast out of father’s presence for rebellion.” Lucifer acknowledges this, and then tells the couple to clothe themselves in fig-leaf aprons lest God discover their nakedness. The couple makes the aprons and hides. (At this point the participants put on their aprons). The Gods appear and chastise Adam and Eve for their disobedience, and Elohim curses, and then thrusts Lucifer out of the garden. Cherubim and a flaming sword are placed between Adam and Eve and the Tree of Life, lest they put forth their hands and partake of the fruit and live forever in their sins.
Although Elohim has provided a Savior for mankind (meaning Jesus), Adam and Eve must still take upon themselves certain covenants and learn the secrets of the Priesthood if they are to return to his presence. The Priesthood secrets consist of Signs, Tokens and Words. The Signs are physical gestures, the Tokens are secret handclasps, and the Words are the names of the Tokens. In the pre-1990 ritual there were also “penal signs” or “penalties” which indicated how the patron could expect to die if s/he betrayed the temple secrets. The film is paused to enable the participants the opportunity to learn these valuable secrets. The covenants (given at appropriate times throughout the ceremony) include such things as living chastely, obeying the Mormon leaders and donating all one’s wealth to the Church, if called upon to do so. The temple participants are required to stand and take all the obligations given to Adam and Eve. Patrons are also required to put on their temple clothing. The robe, cap and girdle are switched to the other side of the body during a later part of the ceremony. After receiving these first secrets, they are thrust from the garden.
After being thrust out of the garden into the “lone and dreary world” Adam and Eve are followed around by Lucifer who attempts to lead them astray. Elohim sends down the pre-mortal spirits of Peter, James and John, to learn whether Adam has been true to the Token and Sign he was given. The Apostles report that Adam and Eve “and their posterity” (the Temple patrons) are true and faithful, and they later return to provide the “further light and knowledge” Adam desires. They also cast out Satan. They then give Adam more secret signs, tokens and covenants.
This ends the film, and the remainder of the endowment is pantomimed by an “officiator” who stands at the head of the altar and who teaches the secret signs, etc., when the recording mandates. The patrons are also taught “the True Order of Prayer.” This consists of standing around the altar and making all the Priesthood Signs and Tokens, including a chant of the words “O God, hear the words of my mouth” (repeated three times). In the pre-1990 endowment the words were given in the Adamic Language as “Pay Lay Ale.”
Following this, Patrons learn the meaning of the symbols on their garments, by watching the officiator point to similar marks on the temple veil. They are informed that they must all pass through an opening in the veil into the Celestial Room to complete the ceremony (this represents entering the Celestial Kingdom, the Mormon heaven). The veil has several slits in it, in the shape of the marks on the garment (the square and compass, etc.) and a person, representing “the Lord” stands unseen on its other side. He puts his hand through a slit at mid-waist to test the officiator’s knowledge of the tokens of the Priesthood. There is a rehearsal of all the Priesthood tokens at this time, given in a catechism. The patrons are informed that they must do likewise, and they are called up to the veil to do so. After doing so, they enter the “Celestial Room.” This completes the endowment.
The Endowment Ceremony Online
The most accurate temple ceremony transcription and description ever.
In January 1997 I received an improved transcription of the current temple endowment ritual, made with the assistance of an active, though unbelieving Mormon (she showed me her current temple recommend). Prior to reading it, however, I suggest you read the “Initiatory Ordinances” or preliminary temple rituals performed on behalf of the dead. Otherwise, click on this link: Current Temple Endowment Ritual
Changes in the Temple Rituals
Most of the changes resulted from political pressure. To read about some of them, click on the underlined links below.
The Adam-God Doctrine
This controversial temple teaching maintained that Adam, as a resurrected being, came to earth and had sexual relations with Mary, who then begat Jesus as their offspring. This was taught in the temple prior to about 1904.
The Oath of Vengeance.
Following Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, Brigham Young introduced a traitorous oath in the endowment ritual which required members to swear vengeance “upon this nation.” It became the subject of a United States Senate Investigation.
Prior to 1990, the endowment included specific “penalties” for revealing its secrets. These penalties were demonstrated by certain signs made during the ritual, and they symbolized having the throat cut, the breast cut open, and the bowels torn out. The wording was toned down in recent years, and finally removed in 1990. Knowledge of these penalties remain important to understand why Mormons were afraid to talk about the temple rituals. They could loose their lives over it! This section includes the actual wording of these oaths, as well as a photograph of a man in temple clothes demonstating the “penal signs.”
Early Versions of the Temple Ceremonies
The Kirtland, Ohio “endowment” was much different from the later Nauvoo-type ritual.
The Nauvoo, Illinois, version was the first to resemble the current version, but has such differences as members being washed in bath tubs and Satan crawing on the floor.
The Salt Lake City, Utah, “Endowment House” version (“Lifting the Vail”) was a refinement of the Nauvoo version. The Endowment House was used prior to the completion of the Salt Lake Temple.
There are other Internet sites containing descriptions of the temple rituals, some of which provide a rather complete version of the 1931 version, as well as the complete text of the 1984 and 1990 (current) versions.
Other Temple Rituals:
Temple Marriage and Sealing Ceremony
Both older versions and the current ritual are provided of this interesting ritual, which is essential for “exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom.” Included is the complete ritual, and the most accurate description of a Mormon marriage ever published.
Washing of the Feet
In addition to the Initiatory Ordinances, the Endowment and Marriage Ceremony, there have been other secret rituals. The ceremony of “washing of the feet” was performed by early LDS Church leaders in imitation of Jesus’s act on his disciples. This act was a preliminary to receiving the “Second Anointing,” which is the most secret of all temple ceremonies. In connection with the latter, the foot washing is done by a wife to her husband so she may claim him in the resurrection.
The “Second Anointing”
The most secret Mormon temple ceremony is known as the “Second Anointing” and was designed to ensure a person’s exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom, which resulted in Godhood. The text of an outline of this ordinance and early versions (with source citation) was sent to me by an anonymous e-mail.
� � � Books “exposing” the temple ceremonies � � �
There have been over one hundred printed exposures of the LDS Temple Ceremonies. The most extensive bibliography of these exposures was prepared with the assistance of Mormon / Masonic scholar Art Dehoyos, and is found in David John Buerger’s The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994). I highly recommend this book. It is by far the most scholarly study ever written on the subject.
The following list only includes exposures which are both reliable and should be still readily available in libraries, or by contacting the publishers.
Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Mormon Kingdom, vol. 1 (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co. [later called Utah Lighthouse Ministry], 1969), pp. 123-72.
Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality (Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm Co. [later called Utah Lighthouse Ministry], 1972, 1982), pp. 451-92.
Latayne Colvett Scott, The Mormon Mirage: A Former Mormon Tells Why She Left the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979), pp. 196-204.
Bob Witte and Gordon H. Fraser, What’s Going on in Here? An Exposing of the Secret Mormon Temple Rituals ([?Florida] Gordon Fraser Pub., c1980)
Chuck Sackett, What’s Going on in There? The Verbatim Text of the Mormon Temple Rituals, Annotated and Explained by a Former Temple Worker (n.p., 1982; 2nd edition, Thousand Oaks, CA: Ex-Mormons for Jesus, 1982)
Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony: 1842-1990 (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1990).
Don’t Believe Everything You Read
One does not have to agree with Mormon theology to know when it has been misrepresented. Many anti-Mormon books and writings are either rubbish, or greatly distort and misrepresent Mormon theology. Some people have distorted the purpose of the temple by relating lurid tales of sexual depravity and abuse. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Nothing indecent or immoral occurs during the temple ritual, as will be seen in the text of the ceremony itself.
AUTHORS I DO *NOT* RECOMMEND include Ed Decker (Ex-Mormons for Jesus), Pastor Ron Carlson (Christian Ministries International), and William J. Schnoebelen.
In my opinion, the above three individuals have purposely distorted the truth about Mormonism and other religions, as well as non-religions, like Free Masonry.
Ed Decker’s most popular book, The God Makers, is a misrepresentation of Mormonism that is just deplorable. Decker appears to prefer “shock tactics” to reason, and falsely claims Mormons worship Lucifer in the temple. Some of his more ludicrous allegations outraged Jerald and Sandra Tanner, who exposed his deceptions in their book The Lucifer-God Doctrine: A Critical Look at charges of Luciferian Worship in the Mormon Temple, with a Response to the Decker-Schnoebelen Rebuttal (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987, 1988).
Ron Carlson collaborated with Decker on a book called Fast Facts on False Teachings (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994). It presents inaccurate representations of Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Free Masonry, New Age practices, Evolution, and more.
William J (Bill) Schnoebelen and James R. Spencer co-authored Mormonism’s Temple of Doom (Idaho Falls: Triple J Pub., 1987). This silly little book claims that the temple ceremony is akin to witchcraft, and Bill, who at one time belonged to a wiccan (modern witch) group and several other occult societies, claims the LDS temple ceremonies are intended to awaken occult powers in the participants. Some of his dubious claims are demolished by the Tanners in The Lucifer-God Doctrine, mentioned above. If you are interested in the true sources of the modern Wiccan ritual, I recommend reading Aidan A. Kelly, Crafting the Art of Magic. Book 1. A History of Modern Witchcraft, 1939-1964 (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Pub., 1991). It gives the complete Wiccan initiation ritual (including those parts similar to the endowment), and traces their origins.
Be Fair: Give Mormons a Chance to Explain Their Views.
I always suggest hearing the “other side” of an argument. Because there are dishonest books by people like Decker, Carlson and Schnoebelen, I recommend a you give the Mormons a chance to answer their critics. If you have had the misfortune of reading a book by the above authors, or others who falsely claim that Mormonism is “satanic,” you might want to read the following:
Randall L. Mackey, ed., “The Godmakers Examined” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought vol. 18 (Summer 1985) No. 2, pp. 14-39.
Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth About “The God Makers” 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Publisher’s Press, 1986, 1989).
There are several interesting LDS books on the temple. My two favorite are:
Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond this Ignorant Present (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992)
Donald W. Parry, ed., Temples of the Ancient World (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994)
A simple, introductory book on Mormon temple symbolism is Allen H. Barber, Celestial Symbols. Symbolism in Doctrine, Religious Traditions and Temple Architecture (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Pub., 1989, 1990).
Other Temple-Related Material of Interest
The Book of Abraham
Mormons believe that Joseph Smith learned about the Temple endowment while “translating” a Mormon scripture known as The Book of Abraham. This book was supossedly “translated” by Joseph Smith from Egyptian Papyrus. Modern Egyptologists (even active Mormon ones) say that Joseph was wrong, and they’ve translated the papyrus. After the “Book of Abraham Papyrus” was discovered, Hugh Nibley wrote a book in which he claimed the Egyptian funerary papyrus contained a ritual similar in purpose to the temple endowment. The book has become a classic among Momon “intellectuals” even though the argument is worse than weak. Nibley’s book was called The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: an Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975).
Books on temple architecture and interiors
Mormon temples are beautiful structures by almost anyone’s standards. Four books which include several illustrations of temple architecture and interiors follow.
Laurel B. Andrew, The Early Temples of the Mormons: The Architecture of the Millennial Kingdom in the American West (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1978). This book includes a reconstruction of the Nauvoo, Illinois temple, and has some nice prints of the architect’s drawings for the Salt Lake temple.
C. Mark Hamilton, The Salt Lake Temple: A Monument to a People (Salt Lake City: University Service Corp., 1983). This book is magnificent, and would make a great coffee-table book (Mormons don’t drink coffee, but “Postum-table” just doesn’t sound right). It includes many beautiful color photographs of the Salt Lake Temple’s interior, as well as some early photos taken in the temple in 1920. The first photos taken in the Salt Lake temple were actually illicitly taken and many are included in Kent Walgren’s article, “Inside the Salt Lake Temple: Gisbert Bossard’s 1911 Photographs” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought vol. 29 (Fall 1996) No. 3, pp. 1-43. Among other things, Mr. Walgren reproduces a photo of a washing and anointing room in which a tub is clearly visible. This feature was often mentioned in early exposures.
Douglas F. Tobler and Nelson B. Wadsworth, The History of the Mormons in Photographs and Texts: 1830 to the Present (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987). Although this book is not dedicated to temples it does include some nice shots of some of them, including the Kirtland, Nauvoo and Salt Lake temples.
Janice Force DeMille, The St. George Temple: The First 100 Years (Hurricane, Utah: Homestead Publishers, 1977). The St. George Temple was the first temple competed after the Mormons migrated to Utah. This book includes some architectural drawings, photographs and an interesting history.
This site explores the issue by examing the theology and function of the Jerusalem temple. If you would like to read a great book on the temple at Jerusalem, we recommend Alfred Edersheim’s classic, The Temple: its Ministry and Services as They Were at the Time of Christ (reprint ed., Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1990). Those of you already familiar with the connection between Freemasonry and the LDS temple ritual may want to read Alexander Horne, King Solomon’s Temple in the Masonic Tradition (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: The Aquarian Press, 1972). They are both fascinating books with a wealth of information.
Some interesting links to learn about Mormonism
Mormon Temples includes book reviews, options of belief, relationships between Mormonism and Masonry, and more.
Mormon Origins is a site by H. Michael Marquardt, author of Inventing Mormonism. Tradition and the Historical Record.
A scene from the prayer circle as they chant PAY LAY ALE, meaning, “O God, hear the words of my mouth!”
The arms raised over their heads form the first part of the “Sign of the Second Token of the Melchezedek Priesthood, the Patriarchal Grip, or Sure Sign of the Nail.”
This page Copyright (c) 1996 by Vince Hoffer.
This page was last modified on May 20, 1997.