Saturday, July 11, 2009

Joseph Smith and the Masonic Sign of Distress

I have recently read a book loaned to me by a dear friend titled, “The Fate of the Persecutors of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, by N.B. Lundwall. Contained in the pages of the book is an in depth account given by John Taylor regarding the events that took place just prior to, and during the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, in Carthage jail. John Taylor, having been there himself, and suffering injuries from the same mob attack, gave his first-person account of the dreadful scene that occurred on that fateful day. For many years I have been plagued by the accounts given in Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff’s journals that have opined that the last act done by Joseph Smith prior to his falling from the window was a Masonic sign of distress. They were simply not there to witness it personally. This has never made any sense to me, and has been hard for me to believe. I hope to explain why.

Joseph Smith had learned very early in his ministry what would happen to him if he trusted in the “arm of flesh” instead of the Lord. As early as Section 3 in the Doctrine and Covenants, when he caved to the pressure of Martin Harris, resulting in the loss of the 116 pages of translated manuscript, he was taught by the Lord to fear God and not man.

Doctrine and Covenants 3:1 The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.

2 For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

3 Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;

4 For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.

5 Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them.

6 And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men.

7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—

8 Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.

9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.

10 But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work;

The loss of the manuscript and the temporary power to translate was a painful memory and a lesson well learned early on in his life, it was one he never forgot. I know that Joseph Smith understood from this experience the importance of relying solely on the Lord in his times of distress. For more proof of this fact, while in Liberty Jail the prophet sought the Lord diligently.

Doctrine and Covenants 121: 1 O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

2 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?

3 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?

4 O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.

As the Prophet Joseph Smith was being taken to Carthage to be tried and ultimately unlawfully jailed, he expressed the calm knowledge that he was “going like a lamb to the slaughter.” I believe he knew he would not return to Nauvoo. On that dreadful day of his martyrdom an eye witness to the death of Joseph Smith, Col. M. B. Darnell, later related the scene, “I remember to have seen Joseph Smith jump from the window. It was a terribly exciting time and it all happened in an instant. I cannot describe it in any better way than by saying he came out just as though some one big and powerful had thrown him right through the window. Undoubtedly, however, he came by his own effort. He certainly did not hang to the window. It seems to me he came out head first, and he was shot while passing through the window. I do not know that I really saw any one set him up against the well. I know I partially saw it and got it from what they said at the time. I could not hear distinctly what Joseph said when he fell, but it seems to me to be, ‘O Lord, My God.’ That was all he said.”

John Taylor, after having been shot himself, did not notice the circumstances of Joseph at the window until he noticed someone cry that he had leaped out of the window. He did not hear Joseph say anything at the time. When Willard Richards, who had escaped the shower of bullets unharmed, noticed John Taylor was still alive he reacted in this way, “Oh! Brother Taylor, is it possible that they have killed both Brother Hyrum and Joseph? It cannot surely be, and yet I saw them shoot them.” He then elevated his hands two or three times and exclaimed, “Oh Lord, my God, spare thy servants!” This seems to be the same manner in which Joseph was reported to have called upon the Lord before he fell from the window.

Although a normal attitude of prayer does not require the elevation of hands, there are certain prayers that do. Some may claim this to be a Masonic distress sign, but for me, I know that there is absolutely no way on this green earth that Joseph, in his time of complete submission to the will of the Lord, would have relied on the arm of man to spare him. He would have never relied on the Masons over the Lord. He had learned that lesson far too long ago.

I knew it, I simply knew it!

34 comments:

George Miller said...

Of course John Taylor who as you note was present at the event would later state in the Times and Seasons.

"Leaving religion out of the case, where is the lover of his country, and his posterity, that does not condemn such an outrageous murder, and will not lend all his powers, energies and influence to bring the offenders to justice and judgement [judgment]? Every good man will do it when he remembers, that these two innocent men were confined in jail for a supposed crime, deprived of any weapons to defend themselves: had the pledged faith of the State of Illinois, by Gov. Ford, for their protection, and were then shot to death, while, WITH UPLIFTED HANDS they gave such SIGNS OF DISTRESS as would have commanded the interposition and benevolence of Savages or Pagans. THEY WERE BOTH MASONS IN GOOD STANDING. Ye BRETHREN of "THE MYSTIC TIE" [note this is a commonly used name Masonic use for themselves] what think ye! Where is our good MASTER Joseph and Hyrum? Is there a pagan, heathen, or savage nation on the globe that would not be moved on this great occasion, as the trees of the forest by a mighty wind? Joseph's last exclamation was "O Lord my God." (John Taylor, Times and Seasons, July 15, 1844)

While you may not wish to believe that Joseph Smith was doing anything Masonic, John Taylor who was present at the event took the opposite stance. As you have pointed out, he was there, I tend to trust his interpretation.

In The Doghouse said...

Hi George,
Although I do not claim to be a scholar by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I have nearly the creditably that you do in this area of research, I still believe in my original line of thinking. Joseph Smith would have never relied upon the "arm of flesh" at this point in his life.

There are many different theories regarding Masonic ritual and the similarities between the endowment ceremony revealed to Joseph Smith, each arguing whether one was borrowed or added upon by the other, but in the end I believe each culminates by calling upon what ever form of deity one chooses to believe in. As for Joseph Smith, I know he believed in a God who was all powerful.

Thank you for providing me with the quote from John Taylor from the Times and Seasons, I had not read it before. Still, I believe that in the final stage of life, Joseph Smith was calling upon his God, and not man by the simple words he uttered and who they are addressed to.
"O Lord, My God" makes the distinction pretty clear to me.

George Miller said...

"In the end I believe each culminates by calling upon what ever form of deity one chooses to believe in."

Well I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God the Jesus prayed to; and the God that Joseph Smith taught to his followers. I imagine this is the same God you believe in.

"Joseph Smith would have never relied upon the "arm of flesh" at this point in his life."

I completely agree that Joseph Smith learned his lesson not to lean on the "arm of flesh". But I also know that men and women very close to Joseph Smith who knew him intimately, learned at his feet, and carried on his teachings believed that Joseph Smith's last words were a Masonic call of distress. I have mentioned John Taylor but there are many others.

George Miller said...

John D. Lee the secretary of the Council of Fifty wrote:
The mob was headed by Williams and Sharp, editors of the Nauvoo Signal. When they approached the jail the guard made no resistance, be fell back. When they approached the jail the guard made no resistance, but fell back. ... John Taylor received a shot, but fortunately it struck his watch which saved his life. The four were in prison. Taylor, however, received another shot and fell. Joseph left the door, sprang through the window, and cried out, "Oh, Lord my God, is there no help for the widow's son!" as he sprang from the window, pierced with several balls. (Lee, John D. (1891) Mormonism Unveiled. p. 152-3)
Zina D.H. Young was a member of the Holy Order/Quorum of the Anointed, later president of the Relief Society, and one of Joseph Smith's plural wives. She proclaimed:

The principle of our religion that is assailed is one that lies deep in my heart. Could I ask the heavens to listen; could I beseech the earth to be still, and the brave men who possess the spirit of a Washington to hear what I am about to say. I am the daughter of a master mason! I am the widow of a master mason, who, when leaping from the window of Carthage jail pierced with bullets, made the masonic sign of distress; but, gentlemen (addressing the representatives of the press that were present), those signs were not heeded except by the God of heaven. That man, the Prophet of the Almighty, was massacred without mercy! Sisters, this is the first time in my life that I have dared to give utterance to this fact, but I thought I could trust my soul to say it on this occasion; and I say it now in the fear of Israel's God, and I say it in the presence of these gentlemen, and I wish my voice could be heard by the whole brotherhood of masons throughout our proud land. (Jenson, Andrew. (1891) LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, 1:699)
Heber C. Kimball after discussing in detail his thoughts on his becoming a Freemason in 1823 reported:

Yes, Masons, it is said, were even among the mob that murdered Joseph and Hyrum in Carthage Jail. Joseph leaping the fatal window gave the masonic signal of distress. The answer was the roar of his murderes' muskets and the deadly balls that pierced his heart. (Whitney, Orson. (1888) The Life of Heber C. Kimball . p. 27. Salt Lake City: The Juvenile Instructor Office.)
Even Joseph Smith's successor Brigham Young was reported to say:
President Young said the people of the United States had sought our destruction and they had used every Exertion to perfect it. They have worked through the masonic institution to perfect it. Joseph Smith & Hyrum Smith were Master Masons and they were put to death by masons our through there instigation and he gave the sign of distesss & he was shot be masons while in the act. (Wooduff, Wilford. (1860) Journal of Wilford Woodruff. 19AUG1860.Volume 5)

George Miller said...

Thus the men and women surrounding Joseph were unanimous on this point. To my knowledge there is not a single occurrence of a dissenting view on this point. They were proud he was a mason. Even after Joseph Smith's death Brigham and others continued to participate in Freemasonry. They kept the vows they made as Freemasons sacred. In Heber C. Kimball's words:

"I have been as true as an angel from the heavens to the covenants I made in the lodge at Victor."

"No man was admitted into a lodge in those days except he bore a good moral character, and was a man of steady habits; and a man would be suspended for getting drunk, or any other immoral conduct. I WISH ALL MEN WERE MASONS and would live up to their profession; then the world would be in a much better state than it is now." (Whitney, Orson. (1888) The Life of Heber C. Kimball . p. 26. Salt Lake City: The Juvenile Instructor Office.)
They were saddened by the failure of some Masons to live up to the oaths they made to God before the altars of Masonry.

It was only years later, as the next generation of Mormons who knew Joseph and were Masons had passed away, that Mormons such as B.H. Roberts and yourself began to feel uncomfortable with Joseph Smith's last words. I suspect this is because they no little of freemasonry. There is nothing to fear in regards to Joseph Smith's involvement in Freemasonry.

George Miller said...

The main thrust of your blog entry is that if Joseph Smith's last words were a Masonic distress signal, then this could be construed as Joseph Smith relying on the "arm of flesh" instead of God. Let me demonstrate why a knowledge of Freemasonry can help you out of this conundrum.

Exposees of Freemasonry in Joseph's day suggested that every freemason, on entering the lodge for the first time, was asked to kneel for prayer. The prayer, was reported to be something like this:

"Vouchsafe thine aid, Almighty Father of the universe, to this our present convention; and grant this candidate for Masonry may dedicate and devote his life to thy service, and become a true and faithful brother among us! Endue him with a competency of they divine wisdom, that by the secrets of our art, he be better enabled to display the beauties of holiness, to the honor of thy holy name. So mote it be. Amen!"

"The Master then asks the candidate, "In whom do you put your trust?" (Bernard, D. (1829) Light on Masonry , p. 19)

There is only one acceptable answer to this question. "In God." I have sat in lodges where the brother will say, "My fellow Masons" or something like this. If he answers this then the Master always tells him that men are fallible and that there is one greater than man in which he should place his trust. He is then asked the question again.

IOW there is no way that any Mason in the mob, the audience to which Joseph was addressing, would have thought that Joseph Smith placed his trust in them. They knew he place his trust in God.

Exposees in Joseph Smith's day reported that as Master Masons each brother promises and swears, that he will "apprise [a brother] of all approaching danger if in [his] power," and "that I will not give the grand hailing sign of distress, except I am in real distress ... and should I see that sign given, or the word accompanying it, and the person who gave it appearing to be in distress, I will fly to his relief at the risk of my own life... ." (Bernard, D. (1829) Light on Masonry , p. 62)

Every mason knows that he can not fulfill this promise by his own strength solely relying on the arm of flesh; and thus each promise ends with a plea to God, "So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same."

Joseph Smith was not relying on "the arm of flesh" to save him. As you have pointed out there is reason to believe he knew he would die. Joseph Smith, as a prophet, was just reminding the Masons among the mob of the sacred promises they had made to God. This sounds like something a prophet would do with his dying breath.

George Miller said...

Dear Doghouse, I wanted to thank you putting up with my many comments, long comments at that. I hope thy all came through in order. I can completely understand you reticence to believe that this was a Masonic distress cry. Sadly most Mormons hear about this odd bit of Mormon history from someone trying to attack the church. There are really very few Mormon Masons. I want to note that your reaction to this information was not only understandable but also common :-) It takes a fair amount of Masonic understanding to understand this complicated subject, and Mormons, understandably so, don't know where to start. I wish you all the luck in your future posts and feel free to ask any other questions you might have. I will be hovering for the next few days. May your life be a blessed one :-)

In The Doghouse said...

George,
Thank you for taking the time to share some of the wisdom you have discovered about the Masonic views and how they relate to those of the LDS faith.

Again, I must confess that you are far more knowledgeable about the craft of Masonry than I. In fact some of the recent findings I have read since your first comment have changed my perception of the Masonic rituals from the views I had before. I am very limited in my research in this area, having read only a few books exploring Masonry myself. I believe that although Masonic teaching does not claim to be religious in nature (I hope that I am correct in that statement), a belief is God is evidenced by the ceremony that is learned. I find that this "non-religious" belief in God becomes sort of an oxymoron. Do you feel it would be better stated that the Masonic viewpoint is religious, however non-denominational?

You have been the first to explain the "craft" to me in a way that has made me want to know more about it. Your explanations have made it possible for me to reconcile the last act that Joseph Smith is reported doing as a Masonic distress signal, with the fact that he was indeed calling upon God. I love the statement that you made that "Every mason knows that he can not fulfill this promise by his own strength solely relying on the arm of flesh; and thus each promise ends with a plea to God, "So help me God, and keep me steadfast in the due performance of the same."

And yes, I believe that it would be fitting for a prophet of God to remind all Masons of the promises they had made to God. That would be exactly what a prophet would do.

In making the symbol that Joseph is reported to make, he was not calling on men to spare his life as many would have us believe, he was reminding those who had made sacred covenants, of the responsibility they had of honoring them. I know that Joseph Smith was certainly at the level of trusting only in the living God, this much I do know.

Thank you for taking the time to teach.

In The Doghouse said...

BTW George, would if be too presumptuous to ask to be one of the select few that is permitted to read your BLOG. If is explores this in more detail I would love to read more of what you have to say.

George Miller said...

"I believe that although Masonic teaching does not claim to be religious in nature, a belief is God is evidenced by the ceremony that is learned.

I think your description is fairly accurate. Let me expand on what you have said a little. As you have stated, Freemasonry is not a religion. But this statement does beg the question, "Why not?"

First, religions instruct their members on the nature of the God they worship. Freemasonry does not do this.

Second, religions typically provide ordinances or practices which they claim have the power to "save" an individual. Freemasonry does not.

Third, religions typically provide some sort of book that contains God's word. Freemasonry does not. It is true that Holy Scripture is always present in our meetings. However, if a Muslim were to be initiated into Masonry the Koran would be opened upon the altar. A few Mormons have reported to me that a Quadruple Combination was open on the altar when then were initiated.

Without these three qualities is difficult to call Freemasonry a religion. If Freemasonry was a religion then of course Joseph Smith would have been disobeying his own revelation "not to join any of them."

One has to smile at people would think that Freemasonry is a religion. What type of religion tells its adherents would tells its adherents that they should actively participate in another religion and that they should prioritize their life so that God, Religion, Family, and WorK should ALL be prioritized before itself :-)

George Miller said...

"BTW George, would if be too presumptuous to ask to be one of the select few that is permitted to read your BLOG."

It would not be presumptuous at all. I would love to allow you to read my Blog. However, currently there is no blog to read :-) However, I will make sure that you are one of the first informed when I am ready for other to read what I am writing.

Greg said...

I am in agreement with George's comments above. There were those in the mob who had made these covenants with God. Had they lived according to the covenants they made, they would have come to the Prophet's aid. Consequently, they broke those sacred bounds and will likely be held accountable to the light and knowledge which they possessed.

BTW - the Lundwall book is a fascinating read.

In The Doghouse said...

George,
Thanks again for your added insights on this. I find what you have taught very interesting and would love to be included on the list of BLOG viewers when you do decide to publish. :)

Greg,
George does make a lot of sense. And yes, the book is a very fascinating read. I enjoyed it very much.

George Miller said...

I am glad that my comments were helpful. I am also thrilled that I "have been the first to explain the "craft" to [you] in a way that has made [you] want to know more about it." There are many "keys" that help us understand Joseph Smith's thoughts. Some "keys" like understanding the religious fervor taking place in the 1800s and the dynamics of Joseph Smith's family have been successfully explored by other historians. IMHO Freemasonry is also a thrilling interpretive "key" to understanding Joseph Smith that has been largely ignored. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a monster hiding behind the door. Contrary to public opinion Joseph did not first open the door in Nauvoo. Masonic influence on Joseph Smith is a factor from his birth to his death.

Please keep up your studies on Masonry. BTW I am unsure if I really answered your question about the religious nature of freemasonry. Did I?

George Miller said...

BTW if you have any other Masonic questions you would like like to ask, then I am more than happy to answer to the best of my ability :-) There is VERY little about Freemasonry that we are not allowed to discuss.

George Miller said...

BTW I wanted to ask if you were aware that you blog is being cross-posted at the following address.
http://www.mormonbloggers.com/51305/joseph-smith-and-the-masonic-sign-of-distress

With your permission I would like to crosspost my comments there as well.

cnoy26 said...

Considero que no es necesario discutir el asunto si José Smith hizo o no hizo la señal masónico juntamente con las palabras, señales que todo maestro masón las hace para los momentos difísiles. Cabe mencionar que estas señales son conocidas solo por los maestros masones, el tercer grado de la masonería simbólica y no por los grados inferiores como y aprendices y compañeros, primero y segundo grado respectivamente.
Es necesario destacar que José, Hyrum y John Taylor fueron masones, es más, Dan Jones quien se encontraba en la cárcel también lo era y dijo al Gobernador Ford cuando éste dejaba la cárcel:The Prophet and his brother are "American citizens, and have surrendered themselves to your Excellency upon your pledging your honor for their safety; they are also Master Masons, and as such I demand of you protection of their lives" (History of the Church, 6:603)
Lo importante aquí es que la masonería no es una religión ni se mezcla con ella, es una institución iniciática, filantrópica y filisófica que solo busca la perfección del hombre.
Es cierto que se hacen señales, toques y palabras pero son solamente para reconocerce entre masones, mas nada, si el Profeta José levantó los brazos y dijo lo que dijo considero que solo fue para que algún masón que se encontrara entre la chusma lo reconociera y tuviera piedad de él porque él sabía que iba a morir desde el momento que se despidió de su familia y se entregó a sus captores.
http://canoya.blogspot.com/

In The Doghouse said...

George,
The three qualifications that you gave for something to be considered a religion were very clear. One question I have to ask is, if it is non-religious, then who are the “covenants” made to? Are they made to what ever form of Diety the initiate worships or are they made to their fellow man? Are the Masonic belief systems similar to the original forms of humanism, not secular humanism of today, but the original form of humanism? How does the role of women fit into the Freemasonry belief system? Are you familiar with the report that women were admitted (snuck) into the Masonic lodge in Nauvoo? (I believe it was Tullidges book I read that in.) Why is the Relief Society considered to be patterned after the Masonic views?

Also, do you recommend any further reading material that could possibly unlock some of those “keys” that you allude to in understanding Freemasonry and how it was practiced during the time of Joseph Smith.

I was aware that I was being linked over to another location, but I am really not that tech savvy so don’t really pay attention to it. If you know how to link the comments, be my guest. Lol

Lastly, I must reiterate the fact that I do have a knowledge that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and I apologize for none of his behavior. Freemasonry, polygamy, or whatever else is thrown my way will not alter my views about his calling. I am thoroughly interested in exploring Freemasonry because I know there is an explanation out there that has not been discovered yet, or discussed openly, that satisfies my curiosity about his involvement in the “craft”. I still do not believe it was to “fit in” with a group of gentlemen that would advance his career.

Thanks George for sharing what you know about this subject so willingly.

In The Doghouse said...

George,
"And again, verily I say unto you, my servant George Miller is without guile; he may be trusted because of the integrity of his heart; and for the love which he has to my testimony I, the Lord, love him."

Why, oh why, George did you let your conflicts with Brigham influence you to leave the church?

In The Doghouse said...

Cnoy26,
I did publish your comment but...my Spanish is not very good. I hope that I got the real message of what you said because of my translator. I believe that you were another witness to what George was saying, that Masonry is not a religion but an instruction on a philosophy of life to improve the individual. Am I correct?

George Miller said...

One question I have to ask is, if it is non-religious, then who are the “covenants” made to?

To answer this question let me first turn to a problematic quote from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. This article was written by Kenneth W. Godfrey who was not a Mason. As such, parts of the article misrepresent what Masons believe.

"While Masons believe in an undefined, impersonal God, everything in the LDS endowment emanates from, or is directed to, God who is a personage and man's eternal Father. The endowment looks to the eternities and to eternal lives, but Freemasonry is earthbound, pervaded by human legend and hope for something better."

"Freemasonry is a fraternal society, and in its ritual promises, oaths, and agreements are made between members. In the temple endowment all covenants are between the individual and God." (Godfrey, K.W. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 529)
http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/EoM&CISOPTR=4391&CISOSHOW=4257

There is SO much wrong with this statement. I have discussed this article with other Mormon-Masons and they generally agree that it has MANY problems.

The answer to your question is that Freemasons make their covenants to God and man.

Are they made to what ever form of Diety the initiate worships or are they made to their fellow man?

They are made to BOTH God and his Brothers in the Lodge. The same is true in LDS temples. Within the lodge a Christian makes this covenant with God, a Muslim with Allah, ect....

Are the Masonic belief systems similar to the original forms of humanism, not secular humanism of today, but the original form of humanism?

Many of Freemasons of the early 1700s were humanists. MANY were also practicing Catholics and Protestants. In America during the 1820s MANY pastors in America were also Freemasons. Some jurisdictions even tried to pass legislation requiring a belief in the Christian God. However, such legislation was never passed. The two most prominent Masonic writers in the 1820s were Rev. Salem Towne and Rev. George Oliver. The idea that Masons believe in a "humanist God" or as Godfrey says an "undefined, impersonal God" is simply FALSE. Freemasonry requires a belief it God but does not dictate ANYTHING about the nature of that God.

George Miller said...

"Are the Masonic belief systems similar to the original forms of humanism, not secular humanism of today, but the original form of humanism?"

That is an interesting question. I think there is good evidence to suggest that Humanism was an intellectual input into Freemasonry. I can expand on this more, but I think a simple example will be sufficient. Humanism affected Freemasonry in exactly the same way that Humanism affected the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

George Miller said...

"How does the role of women fit into the Freemasonry belief system?"

Freemasonry generally dates its beginnings to 1717 in England. In England Freemasonry is predominantly only open to adult males.

As Freemasonry spread into Europe many countries (especially France) opened up Freemasonry to women. These female lodges adapted Masonic ceremonies from England and made up their own ceremonies, some of which were overtly feminists which were highly empowering to women. The second degree of women's Freemasonry had the candidate portraying the role of Eve in Eden. These female Masonic rites were known as Adoptive Masonry. [I have other information if you are interested]

In America adoptive Masonry was not highly popular but the rituals were owned and performed in America by Scottish Rite Masons. There were also exposee of these rituals published on multiple occasions in America. [I have references if you would like them.] In addition there were other degrees given to wives and daughters of Freemasons including the Daughters of Jericho degrees which were available to the general public in exposees. The wife of George Washington (a mason as many of the founding fathers) is known to have received one such degree.

During the 1820-1840s some districts favored the conferral of such degrees while others forbade the practice.

Does this answer your question? Any further questions on women and Freemasonry?

George Miller said...

"Are you familiar with the report that women were admitted (snuck) into the Masonic lodge in Nauvoo?"

I am familiar with Tullidge but I am not aware of such quotes. I would love to have them. :-)

George Miller said...

"Why is the Relief Society considered to be patterned after the Masonic views?"

The reason it is considered to be patterned after Masonic views is because it was :-)

Let me give you a VERY brief overview.

Joseph Smith organized the relief society days after he became a Freemason. He used Masonic language to describe the organization and promised them they would become Kings and Priests [Read Queens and Priestesses] in the Kingdom. I will be happy to provide you the quotes if you would like. This promise was essentially Masonic in nature. [More if you are interested.]

The present-day Relief Society is NOT like it is today. Not every woman was automatically admitted. Instead they would vote on candidates in Masonic style.

The RS was organized in the Masonic Lodge room.

These are some of the reasons why the RS was considered Masonic. There are other reasons based on its connection with the Holy Order/Annointed Quorum.

George Miller said...

"Also, do you recommend any further reading material that could possibly unlock some of those “keys” that you allude to in understanding Freemasonry and how it was practiced during the time of Joseph Smith."

Yes there is further reading I would suggest. Mormon articles on the subject are almost completely useless. However, I would start with a careful reading of Michael Homer's "Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry" from Dialogue. Also of interest would be a talk by Reed C. Durham entitled, "Is there no help for the widow's son."

To understand Freemasonry in the context of the 1800s I would suggest reading anything from George Oliver or Salem Towne. Their works are readily available on Google Books.

Then I would turn my study to the Quorum of the Annointed in Nauvoo. That is a start. That should provide you with about three years of reading :-)

George Miller said...

" I am thoroughly interested in exploring Freemasonry because I know there is an explanation out there that has not been discovered yet, or discussed openly, that satisfies my curiosity about his involvement in the “craft.”

There is an explanation and it is VERY COOL!!!

"I still do not believe it was to “fit in” with a group of gentlemen that would advance his career."

I am glad you don't believe this. To believe it is to make Joseph Smith into a liar and cheat. Every freemason who is admitted to the lodge is asked if he does it for mercenary means. If this was Joseph Smith's intention then he would have lied to the lodge. My ire is thus raised when people like Godfrey write, "Joseph Smith had reason to expect that the Saints might benefit from the network of friendship and support normally associated with the fraternal organization, but instead, the Nauvoo Lodge only produced friction." (Godfrey, K.W. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 527). Unknowingly Godfrey is suggesting that Joseph Smith lied about his intentions.

George Miller said...

"Why, oh why, George did you let your conflicts with Brigham influence you to leave the church?"

Good Job on making this connection. You are a bright cookie. BTW can you figure out why I chose the name?

In The Doghouse said...

Hi George,
I have skimmed all of the books I have read that I would have assumed that the information would be in, I simply could not put my finger on the “sneaking” episode in the Nauvoo Masonic lodge. I remember reading that the women were taken up the back stairs at night. I will keep looking.

I am quite aware of the fact that the original RS is not like ours today. I also understand that women were a part of the Holy Order/Anointed Quorum. That is why I was wondering if they also played a part in the Masonic rituals as well.

The definition in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is one that I am uncomfortable with too.

Thanks for the reading list. As I looked over one of my favorite books, these same suggestions were made, so you have become a second witness to their validity.

I believe that your loyalty to Joseph Smith is unquestionable, but you were first a Mason before a Mormon. Your loyalties are strong to that commitment as well. You are trying to reconcile them to one another in a way to show that they are both organizations of truth. Is that why you chose to be George Miller?

Perhaps your disagreements with Brigham were over Masonry? Brigham felt that the “craft” of Masonry was not needed after the “true” form of worship was restored with the endowment in the Temple. Why do you feel Brigham Young was wrong about that? Are there many members of the LDS Church that are Mason’s today?

George Miller said...

"I have skimmed all of the books I have read that I would have assumed that the information would be in, I simply could not put my finger on the “sneaking” episode in the Nauvoo Masonic lodge. I remember reading that the women were taken up the back stairs at night. I will keep looking."

I believe that Tullidge's books are online via google. If such a quote exists, I would LOVE to have it. Please keep looking :-)

George Miller said...

"That is why I was wondering if they also played a part in the Masonic rituals as well."

Hint ... The Holy Order/Annointed Quorum is Masonic :-)

George Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Miller said...

ITDH- I believe that your loyalty to Joseph Smith is unquestionable, but you were first a Mason before a Mormon.

I (George Miller) was in fact a Mason before I was a Mormon. I was made a mason while in Virginia. I however, view the relationship between Freemasonry and Religion in the same light others of my day viewed it. "Freemasonry is the handmaid of religion."

ITDH- Is that why you chose to be George Miller?

Nope! I am George Miller :-)

ITDH- Perhaps your disagreements with Brigham were over Masonry?

Actually it was the rumor that he planned to have me killed :-)

ITDH- Brigham felt that the “craft” of Masonry was not needed after the “true” form of worship was restored with the endowment in the Temple.

Actually such a way of thinking didn't pervade the church hierarchy until till long after I left the Brighamites.

Are there many members of the LDS Church that are Mason’s today?
There are not in fact many Mormon-Masons. Though back in my days at Nauvoo almost every man in the leadership was a Freemason.

shawna said...

my ancestors, the henries (my great great grandfather, i think), lived near (supposedly next door to) the prophet, and joseph smith actually rode their horse to carthage. the "white horse" which joseph smith is riding is depicted in a painting in the salt lake temple. i also, like you, share ancestors who crossed the plains and sacrificed greatly for their religious freedoms. just thought i would share that little tidbit of info with you...right up your alley.