National Treasure: Symbolism

Many of you may have seen last year’s movie National Treasure. Despite one rather glaring problem in the plot, I enjoyed the movie quite a lot. It was relatively clean and it was fun to see Sean Bean, who did a great job as Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring, play the villain.

The movie got me thinking about masonry and its alleged connection to the founding of the United States, which plays a big part in the film. It is interesting to me that masonic symbolism is often tied to LDS and Utah symbolism. I’ve done a little research into our national symbols and Utah state symbols that you may find interesting. In the case of LDS and Utah symbolism, it helps to dispel some of the alleged connections to masonry, and in the case of our National symbols, it has some interesting implications for the “separation of church and state.”

I’m sure you have all heard the claim that there are masonic symbols in the great seal of the united states, which people most frequently encounter on the reverse side of the one dollar bill. What follows is a history of the great seal adapted from this site and this document. It is a bit of a long read, but worth it, I think.

History of The Great Seal

July 4th, 1776. The colonies had just officially declared their independence from Britain. In one of its first post-declaration actions, the Continental Congress formed a new committee comprised of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, all of whom had been key participants in drafting the declaration. This new committee was assigned to design a Seal for the new United States of America. This committee enlisted the help of an heraldic artist named Pierre Eugène Du Simitière and during the next month the committee worked to design a great seal for the new nation. Each member proposed a design.

John Adams suggested that the seal employ an allegorical engraving by Simon Gribelin known as “The Choice” which depicts young Hercules as feminine personifications of Virtue and Vice attempt to convince him of one path over the other. It was based on the classic tale told by Xenophon.

Thomas Jefferson proposed a depiction of the children of Israel guided through the wilderness by a daytime cloud and a nighttime pillar of fire, and on the reverse side the first Anglo-Saxon settlers in Britain, according to legend Hengist and Horsa.

Benjamin Franklin, the only mason in the group, suggested an image of “Moses standing on the Shore, and extending his Hand over the Sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm Pharaoh who is sitting in an open Chariot, a Crown on his Head and a Sword in his Hand. Rays from a Pillar of Fire in the Clouds reaching to Moses, to express that he acts by Command of the Deity” and the motto “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

Simitière, who was versed in the traditions of heraldry, presented a depiction of a shield divided into six portions, each alluding to the countries from which the colonists had come: England (a rose), Scotland (a thistle), Ireland (a harp), France (Fleur-de-lis), Germany (Imperial Eagle), and Holland (Belgic Lion). The shield was garnished with the initials of each of the thirteen states. On the right side, the shield was supported by a Goddess of Liberty, in an armor corslet holding a spear and cap in her right hand and resting her left hand on an anchor. On the left side of the shield was an American soldier in hunting attire, carrying a tomahawk, powder horn, pouch, and rifle. Above the shield was The Eye of Providence inside of a triangle, radiating glory, and below it the motto: “E Pluribus Unum” (“Out of many, One”).

On August 20th the committee presented its joint proposal. On the obverse side of the seal they implemented most of Simitière’s design, modified only to replace the soldier with the Goddess of Justice holding a sword in her right hand and a balance scale in her left and to remove the anchor. On the reverse side they used Franklin’s depiction of Moses and Pharaoh and his motto.

This design, however, was not approved by the Congress.

It was not until four years later that a second committee was formed. It was comprised of James Lovell from Massachusetts, John Morin Scott from New York, and William Churchhill Houston from New Jersey. They enlisted the aide of Francis Hopkinson from Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Hopkinson had signed the Declaration of Independence and designed the flag that the Congress had adopted on June 14th 1777. Hopkinson is credited with most of the work of the second committee.

On May 10th, they presented a design. On the obverse side, a shield with 13 diagonal stripes of red and white supported by a sword-wielding warrior on the right and a woman bearing an Olive Branch on the left. Above was a radiant constellation of 13 stars, and below the motto “Bello vel Paci” (“For war or for peace”). On the reverse was a sitting woman holding a staff and cap, personifying Liberty. Above her was the motto “Semper” (“Always”). This motto was later replaced, however, with “Virtute perennis” (“Everlasting because of virtue”).

A final committee was formed on May 4th, 1782. The founders felt that they needed to have a national seal, as evidence of their independence, at the signing of the impending peace treaty. The committee consisted of Arthur Lee from Virginia, Arthur Middleton from South Carolina, and Elias Boudinot from New Jersey. Lee, however, was soon replaced by John Rutledge, also from South Carolina. They enlisted the talent of 28-year-old William Barton, who produced two proposals in less than five days. The committee submitted his second design to the Congress on May 9th. The obverse side was very similar to the design of the second committee, with additional Laurel Leaves, spangled ribbon, and a flaming phoenix. On the reverse side they placed an incomplete pyramid, The Eye of Providence above it, with the words “Deo Favente Perennis” (“God favoring everlasting”). The reverse side was probably based on Hopkinson’s 1778 design of the $50 bill which had an incomplete pyramid and the word “Perennis” combined with Simitière’s Eye of Providence inside a triangle from the first committee’s design.

In June of 1782 Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, was assigned to come up with the final design for the seal. Thomson reviewed the reports and designs of the previous three committees, and then created his own design, incorporating elements from the others. Thomson took his design to Barton who made a few minor changes. Thomson submitted his design to the Congress on June 20th and it was adopted that same day.
Here is the official blazon of the seal, followed by explanatory remarks by Thomson:

The Secretary of the United States in Congress assembled to whom were referred the several reports of committees on the device for a great seal, to take order, reports

That the Device for an Armorial Achievement & Reverse of the great seal of the United States in Congress assembled is as follows.–

Arms
Paleways of thirteen pieces Argent and Gules: a Chief, Azure. The Escutcheon on the breast of the American bald Eagle displayed, proper, holding in his dexter talon an Olive branch, and in his sinister a bundle of thirteen arrows, all proper, & in his beak a scroll, inscribed with this Motto. “E pluribus unum”.

For the Crest
Over the head of the Eagle which appears above the Escutcheon, A Glory, Or, breaking through a cloud, proper, & surrounding thirteen stars forming a Constellation, Argent, on an Azure field.

Reverse
A Pyramid unfinished. In the Zenith an Eye in a triangle surrounded with a glory proper. Over the Eye these words “Annuit Coeptis”. On the base of the pyramid the numerical letters MDCCLXXVI & underneath the following motto. “novus ordo seclorum”

-

The Escutcheon is composed of the chief & pale, the two most honorable ordinaries. The Pieces, paly, represent the several states all joined in one solid compact entire, supporting a Chief, which unites the whole & represents Congress. The Motto alludes to this union. The pales in the arms are kept closely united by the chief and the Chief depends upon that union & the strength resulting from it for its support, to denote the Confederacy of the United States of America & the preservation of their union through Congress.

The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue, the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. The Olive branch and arrows denote the power of peace & war which is exclusively vested in Congress. The Constellation denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers. The Escutcheon is born on the breast of an American Eagle without any other supporters to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own Virtue.–

Reverse. The pyramid signifies Strength and Duration: The Eye over it & the Motto allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause. The date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence and the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Æra, which commences from that date.–

The motto “Annuit CÅ“ptis” literally means “he nods in assent to the things that have been started,” and in combination with the Eye of Providence symbol is officially translated as “He (God) has favored our undertakings.”

…………………

It is a shame that our modern culture has largely forgotten the art heraldry. Symbolic tradition has been mostly lost and as a culture we don’t understand the symbolic messages our forebears meant to send us. The explicit old testament symbolism employed by Franklin and Jefferson in their proposals is interesting as neither were trained in heraldry. Jefferson and Franklin were deists, but they were not deists by strict modern definitions. When compared to modern Deism, their beliefs allow for a more involved God. This view of God comes out in their proposed symbols for the nation. The seals proposed by Franklin and Jefferson, who also coined the phrase separation of church and state, would be declared unconstitutional by the ACLU and activist judges of today. Jefferson’s proposed seal makes it clear that he did not intend the separation to the extreme that the ACLU and others like them interpret it.

The final version of the Great Seal, which we obviously still employ today, expresses the same invocation of God in our political institutions. It indicates that God should nod in assent to what we undertake as a nation. The fact that the pyramid representing our nation is unfinished but is being built in the mirror image of the triangle containing the eye of providence above it expresses the notion that our nation is built in the image of an ideal established by God.

Thomson explained that the presence of the eye of providence in the Seal as ratified by congress alluded to “the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause.” This is the official symbol of the United States, and its symbolism expresses what our founders thought were the guiding principles of our nation. As we have forgotten the meanings of the symbols, we have forgotten the principles as well. The Great Seal of the United States is one of the greatest evidences that our modern concept of the extent of separation of church and state is far removed from that of the founders.

As for masonic connections, Franklin was the only mason among the committee members, and his proposal did not include the symbols that are mistaken for masonic symbols today. The great eye is a traditional heraldic symbol for providence in government. It may have entered into heraldic symbolism from masonry centuries earlier, but during the founding, its use does not imply any masonic intent.

Likewise, in LDS and Utah symbolism, the beehive, the all-seeing eye, clasped hands, etc. have been mistakenly attributed to masonic influence. Bees are a traditional heraldic symbol for industry. Clasped right hands are a traditional heraldic symbol for unity and alliance. As already mentioned, the all-seeing eye, or eye of providence is a traditional heraldic symbol as well. The presence of these symbols in LDS temple architecture and state seals shows an understanding of heraldry, not masonic influence. The fact that the word “industry” appears on the Great Seal of the State of Utah above the beehive is evidence of this heraldic understanding.

I wonder if some of the modern rejection of symbolic knowledge is related somehow to the protestant rejection of Catholic ritualism? I also wonder how it might be related to the modern abandonment of traditional forms in arts and literature? In any case, as Latter-day Saints, symbolism plays an important part in our ordinances and I think we should strive to become acquainted with symbolism and symbolic traditions.

Incidentally, you can start to learn more about the meanings of heraldic symbols here. Another symbolic tradition that I am not as familiar with but that you might want to look into is tombstone symbolism.

UPDATE: Several websites claim that Hopkinson was a mason, but there is no evidence that he was one. Likewise, some sites erroneously say that Jefferson was a mason. Modern research has concluded that he was not. William Barton was not a mason, but he is often confused with another man of the same name who was. Other writers often point to other parts of the Seal (like the number of feathers on the eagles wings) as masonic symbols but none of these details are stated in the blazon itself and are not to be found in the Great Seal die of 1782. They are comparitively recent stylistic additions.

21 thoughts on “National Treasure: Symbolism

  1. Come on, JMW: ALL of the early Mormon prophets were Freemasons (do we have this on the brain today?!). The fact that certain Masonic and Mormon symbols are similar is surely attributable to such. OK, maybe many of these symbols were not original to Masonry, but even so, we know for a fact that Mormonism was rubbing shoulders with Masonry in Nauvoo. You seem to deny any link, which seems like going too far.

    What do you make of Brigham Young’s infamous masonic pin that was subsequently airbrushed out of his photos?

    Of course, the masonic symbols as used by Mormons cease to be masonic and take on a life of their own. Thus, the beehive becomes Deseret.

    Do you find Masonic-Mormon parallels to be unhelpful?

  2. Wow, what a post! So rich and full of great links. I marked them all, and will read them. As both a writer and student of psychology, symbolism is key in my life. My engineer husband laughs at people who “sit around discussing symbolism” but I told him, symbolism is a huge part of my life. From childhood, I have always noticed the underlying symbolism in everyday events and tasks, and it is fundamental to my spiritual growth, as well as a mainstay in both my occupations (writing and psychology).

    I didn’t see National Treasure, but would like to. I’ve heard many of the myths that you refuted (about the heavy Masonic influence, etc.), so I am really glad to have read your piece before seeing it! I am fascinated by history now, much more so than as a kid, probably from doing family history work. Interesting the six countries you listed: Great Britain, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany and Holland. Every ancestor I have identified has been from one of those six countries. I want and need to know more history, because I feel a strong need to write the histories of several of my ancestors, even if it is only so I can better understand them, and what their lives were like.

    I love your writing; keep it coming!!! Thanks!!
    Peggy

  3. You think the beehive got adopted from the Masons? Isn’t Ether 2:3 a more likely “source” ?

    Eth 2:3 And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.

    I think much of the LDS symbolism typically ascribed to direct Masonic influence is not as cut-and-dried as it appears, but it’s probably not appropriate to go into it.

  4. Ben,
    Of course Deseret is from the BoM! But the beehive symbol is a skep-hive, not anything like the kind of hives that the Jaredites would have had (believe me!). So the Mormons had a notion (Deseret) and the Masons had a symbol (the skep hive), and the Mormons fused the two creating something entirely new. Isn’t that the genius of Mormonism?

  5. I find nothing wrong with Masonic-Mormon parallels.

    As to the reverse of the Great Seal, I had understood that the Founders used it to signify that God would accept what they had created and complete it. In other words, they believed that if they could create the right structure, then God would descend and complete it, ushering in the Millenium of peace.

  6. Ronan: I think that the influence of masonry on the church is exaggerated. I’m sure that when the beehive was chosen as a symbol for the territory that President Young was aware of its use by the masons, but since the symbol has a long standing tradition in heraldry, and bees appear in the Book of Ether and the name of the territory was taken from them, I do not feel compelled to believe that he chose it because of his experience in masonry.

    I only find Masonic-Mormon parallels helpful when the masonic rites are viewed as a corruption of the rites of the ancient church. From my own studies I do not feel compelled to believe that masonry had a significant influence on the restored church. I suspect that the prophets were able to help the masons understand their own symbols, while the masons had very little to offer the church.

  7. It seems strained to assume that the early saints would not have associated bees with hives without the influence of Masonry…

  8. The bee-hive is an important symbol in the third degree, and it is extensively mentioned in the lecture where it is depicted as a symbol of industry, hence the work of the Lodge, so that Masons should continue to learn in all stages of life.

    Joseph Smith was a third degree mason.

    I do not know why Brigham Young chose the beehive. But remember, he and all early Mormons believed that Masonry, as you claim, was a corruption of ancient ritual. So can you imagine his excitement to see that the 3rd degree symbol of the industrious bee fit so nicely with a Book of Mormon image? He fused the two. This is simply the most plausible explanation. For Brigham, Masonic symbols were Mormon symbols, the latter being a “true” restoration of the former. We don’t need to reach for heraldry in this instance, although I think your research concerning American heraldry in general probably has much to commend it.

  9. You have explained the role it played in Masonry (which I am fairly familiar with.)

    But, there’s still no reason to assume that it must have been Masonry that first made the association for Brigham between beehives and Deseret or between bees and work ethic. That assumption seems to violate Occam’s razor, for me.

  10. But Ben, bees and hives as a “religious” image? The Deseret of the BoM hardly commend themselves as something worth symbolising, but if you already have a symbolic tradition of beehives in something you consider to be replete with truth (Freemasonry), why not link the two?

  11. It makes more sense when you link it that way, though my personal jury is still out.

    And FWIW, my main problem with most of the Masonry discussions is the simplistic assumptions evinced by most. Many members who hear about it simply assume that Masonry=Solomon’s temple, while others more informed or less sympathetic simply assume direct and unequivocal borrowing from Masonry. I don’t think either is correct, and neither makes use of all the historical and scriptural evidence.

    Those on the history/masonry side don’t know much about the scriptural evidence and vice-versa.

  12. At last Ben, we can agree:

    Masonry is NOT Solomon’s temple
    The Endowment is NOT Masonry

    But the symbolic beehive is Masonic :)

    Anyway, I’m off to watch CSI. Good night from the East Coast!

  13. weren’t many of the early Mormons masons?

    I mean I have seen pictures of B. Young with a masonic pin on and masonic symbols in the early temple.

  14. Ben, I think you downplay the masonry a tad bit too much. Of course how much masonry was “essential” and how much a useful tool is a matter of debate. Further, of course Masonry also made use of extensive scripture imagery. I think a lot of it is just non-essential additions. But I also think that a lot was restored by what Masonry and related movements provided to Joseph, if only as a catalyst for revelation.

    With regards to the beehive, I had this in my notes from an old discussion of Masonry from the mid-90’s. I unfortunately neglected to record who wrote it. (I didn’t) Take it for what it is worth. Probably a bit of healthy skepticism is helpful.

    Notes on the Beehive

    A symbol’s “meaning” is perpetually open to interpretation, but in this particular case there is strong historical precedent for assuming a deeper allegorical text.

    This exact metaphor of the honey bee as the alchemist and the hive as the alchemical retort is presented on the title page of Michael Maier’s Examen fucorum (Frankfurt: Nicholas Hoffman for Theodor de Bry, 1617), facsimile in Klossowski de Rola, The Golden Game, 65. (See Fig. 5) The bee and beehive seems to have entered the symbolic vocabulary of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries through a rediscovered and influential work of the third century Neoplatonist Porphyry, De Antro Nympharum (On the Cave of the Nymphs). In this short essay, Porphyry examined several verses from the thirteenth book of Homer’s Odyssey and showed how they were to be interpreted as an allegory of the immortal soul’s passage through mortality and on to liberation. The bees and hive are among the objects encountered in this “cave of generation.”

    As Kathleen Raine notes in her introduction to Thomas Taylor’s translation of the work, “Porphyry’s interests in symbols and myths is central–in what Henry Corbin has called the mundus imaginalis, the imaginal world where sensible images are informed with meaning, and where higher worlds may be discerned under symbolic forms. . . . With the revival of Neoplatonic learning in Renaissance Florence, De Antro Nympharum spoke immediately to the imaginative genius of those gifted painters whose works communicated the profoundest philosophic realizations in the lightest vestures” (“Introduction” in, Porphyry, On the Cave of the Nymphs [Grand Rapids: Phanes Press, 1991], 10, 13.)

    It is this same intent to convey an understanding of “higher worlds” through symbolic forms that subsequently animated the seventeenth-century genre of “hieroglyphic” alchemical emblems; and it is only natural that they would pay homage by echoing imagery from De Antro Nypharum. Porphyry associated Homer’s Cave of the Nymphs with the cave-temples of an ancient mystery religion and gave a long discussion to the symbolic, allegorical meanings of the bees and honey combs found there. The web and beehive were subsequently linked together in emblems identifying the royal patron of the Rosicrucian enlightenment, Fredrick V, Elector Palatine and King of Bohemia (this linkage helps identify their joint origin in Porphyry, a fact I have not seen elsewhere noted). Fredrick’s reign became the focal point of reformative aspirations, and under his patronage in Oppenheim several of the most influential emblematic “Rosicrucian” books were published. These included works published by the de Bry firm and several authored by Michael Maier (Examen fucorum, noted above, is an example–on the title page Maier identifies himself “Count Palatine, Free Knight of the Empire, Doctor of Medicine”). The Rose Cross, spider’s web, and beehive are again linked on the title page of Robert Fludd’s and Joachim Frizius’s collaboration, Summum bonum, The True Magic, Cabla, and Alchemy of the True Fraternity of the Rose Cross (Frankfurt, 1629) (Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, 72, 102).

    The symbol of the beehive subsequently entered into Freemasonry as one of the ten emblems (including the “All-seeing Eye”) given to a Master Mason at the time of his ceremonial initiation; in Masonry it was associated with the motto “industry” (Jabez Richardson, Richardson’s Monitor of Free-Masonry [facsimile reprint, Chicago: Charles T. Powner, Co., n.d.], 40).

    Nearly every priesthood leader of Joseph Smith’s church present in Nauvoo was “given” these two symbolic emblems when entered as Master Masons (see discussion below). In a bizarre historical twist, after the failure of the reign of Fredrick V, the next political kingdom to which this symbol would be widely linked was Brigham Young’s Kingdom of Deseret. The beehive and the motto “Industry” remain today the emblem and motto of its successor, the State of Utah.

    —-

    I have been intrigued with another aspect of this symbol. The fact that the male dies after inseminating the queen means that all male bees are (in a manner of speaking) “Sons of the Widow.” It seems very appropriate that this symbol would be associated with the MM degree in Freemasonry; it is also a veiled symbol of Christ, who was also a “Widow’s Son.” In his book, _Who Was Hiram Abiff?_ Masonic scholar JSM Ward takes this even further, and shows that like the Song of Songs, the beehive is connected with the Tammuz-Astarte tradition. In this tradition –and in its variations around the ancient Near East– the God-King is first joined in a union with his Queen (reminiscent of the Alechemical “Coniunctio”); following this he dies, later to be born as his own son (the Father and the Son were literally one!). So the wife is also the mother, and her child is the Widow’s Son. All of this is very strange to our ears today, but the whole concept of the “dying and rising god” is rooted in this; in fact, in other versions of the story, the god is chopped in pieces, and is resurrected out of the ground. I am only touching on a few points of interest — the entire subject is much more interesting than I have indicated, and once you see the thread JSM Ward is following, the whole thing will strike you with some force (no pun intended).

  15. Ben, I think you downplay the masonry a tad bit too much.

    We haven’t really talked Masonry here, only Beehives :)

    I consider myself middle-of-the-road on the issue, which is of course, the only reasonable and right-thinking opinion to have :)

  16. According to The Herder Dictionary of Symbols the bee is a ubiquitous symbol:

    It is an insect that primarily symbolizes diligence, social organization, and cleanliness (since it avoids everything dirty and lives from the fragrance of flowers).–In Chaldea and imperial France, the bee was a regal symbol (for a long time the queen bee was thought to be a king); it is possible that the fleur-de-lis of the House of Bourbon developed from the bee symbol.–In Egypt the bee and the sun were associated, and the bee was considered to be a symbol of the soul.–In Greece it was considered a priestly creature (the priestesses of Eleusis and Ephesus were called bees, probably with reference to the virginity of the worker bees).–The bee, which appears to die in winter and return in spring, is sometimes a symbol of death and rebirth (e.g., of Persephone, Christ). Because of its untiring work, the bee is a Christian symbol of hope. For Bernard of Clairvaux the bee signifies the Holy Ghost. The bee is a Christ symbol as well. Its honey represents Christ’s gentleness and compassion; its stinger symbolizes Christ as judge of the world.–Since according to ancient tradition bees do no hatch their own young but collect them from blossoms, bees were symbols in the Middle Ages of the Immaculate Conception.–The bee is also symbolic of honey-sweet eloquence, intelligence, and poetry.

    According to this heraldry site:”the bee is undoubtedly the most popular insect found in heraldry, and even the beehive occurs often as a crest.”

    Ronan: Clark’s information is interesting. Perhaps Joseph Smith and Brigham Yong did first become acquainted with the symbolism of the beehive through masonry. But I think that it is important that we recognize that the bees and beehives were a common artistic convention to symbolize industry and had been used as such for a very long time. I’ve even seen some articles suggesting that the beehive only entered into masonic symbolism in the 1700s from the already existing heraldic tradition.

    It seems to me reasonable to say that it was the symbolic meaning of the bee and beehive that Joseph and Brigham liked, and that the meaning thereof was not uniquely masonic. Look at difference between these two passages:

    “Joseph Smith and Brigham Young adopted the masonic symbol of the beehive to symbolize the LDS community.”

    “Joseph Smith and Brigham Young adopted the beehive, which had a long tradition in art and heraldry as symbol of industry and community, as a symbol for the LDS community. They may have been first introduced to this symbolism through its use by the Freemasons, though it is not a uniquely masonic symbol.”

    The first, in its connotations, sensationalizes the connection and implies deeper connections to masonry. The second seems more circumspect, recognizing the masonic influence without implying further connection.

    I think it perfectly reasonable to suggest that the beehive was adopted as a symbol because of what it represented, not because it was masonic. I don’t see much in the declarations of Brigham Young or Joseph Smith that indicate that they were particularly enamored of masonry, nor that it was “replete with truth”. Perhaps you have some examples to the contrary?

  17. Well, if Masonry is not replete with truth then I would worry about why the first five Mormon prophets were Masons.

    “Joseph Smith and Brigham Young adopted the beehive, which had a long tradition in art and heraldry as symbol of industry and community, as a symbol for the LDS community. They may have been first introduced to this symbolism through its use by the Freemasons, though it is not a uniquely masonic symbol.”

    Sounds good.

    Tuesday, 15.-I officiated as grand chaplain at the installation of the Nauvoo Lodge of Free Masons, at the Grove near the Temple. The day was exceedingly fine; all things were done in order, and universal satisfaction was manifested.

    – Joseph Smith. Diary. History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 4, Ch. 32.

    We have organised a Lodge here of Masons since we obtained a Charter. that was in March since that thare has near two hundred been made masons Br Joseph and Sidny was the first that was Recieved in to the Lodg. all of the twelve have become members Except Orson P. he hangs back. he will wake up soon, thare is a similarity of preast Hood in masonry. Bro Joseph Ses Masonry was taken from the preasthood but has become degen[e]rated. but menny things are perfect. we have a prosession on the 24th of June. which is cold [called] St Johns day in country. I think I think it will result in good. the Lord is with us and we are prosperd…

    -HEBER C. KIMBALL TO PARLEY P. PRATT, 17 JUNE 1842, LDS ARCHIVES

    Who was the founder of Freemasonry? They can go back as far as Solomon, and there they stop. There is the king who established this high and holy order.

    -Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. XI, February 10, 1867.

  18. It’s also interesting that Joseph had a mark penny that was not masonic.
    Clark, what you describe in #15 is very similar to what happens in the Egyptian Sed festival, which is what facsimile #1 is all about.
    It is interesting to note that since we believe that the restoration is a restoration of the ancient order of Adam, Enoch, and Noah (Teachings: p167 -168) we might expect that the symbolism would correlate as well.
    In Abraham 1:26 it tells us that the Egyptian Pharoahs were in earnest imitation of that order.
    According to Allen Fletcher, who has done exhaustive studies on the Egyptian religion and it’s relationship to the Gospel, “ancient Egyptian symbolism reveals great similarities to that of the Mormons” (Insights and Background Into the Possible Meaning of the Five Pointed Star: p8).
    Hugh Nibley did a marvelous study on the bee and it’s symbolism in the Instructor (I believe) in the 1960’s, and of course, it ties heavily into LDS and Egyptian religion.
    The problem that we have today in the Church is that there is a great deal of symbolism that we use that most don’t understand. They are significant in their meaning but officially little comment is made with respect to them.

  19. “Likewise, in LDS and Utah symbolism, the beehive, the all-seeing eye, clasped hands, etc. have been mistakenly attributed to masonic influence.”

    Mistakenly? As a Mormon-Mason myself, I feel hurt by this on behalf of my numerous good Masonic Brethren who went before me as the early leaders of the LDS Church. This is the sort of comment that leads people out the door of the Church into inactivity: They believe you, when you say the symbols have been mistakenly attributed to Masonry. It quenches their thirst for an easy answer to things. Then, when they find out the truth, they feel betrayed. I am sorry but I cannot see how you honestly (in the genuine sense of the word) arrived at the conclusion you specified.

    Masonry had an ENORMOUS influence on the Church.

    All those in favor, please indicate by the usual sign of a Mason…

    Any opposed by the same sign…

    *rap*

  20. Why be concerned with Vick when the Owner of the clib thinks his team went to the Championship Game 5 times in the last decade. I remember only one trip to the Championship (Super Bowl). This is clear evidence that his “one goal” is to promote his team for his own enrichment not to compete and win as a Champion. He makes statements that are so full of it that he makes me wish for a return of Braman.

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