Monday, February 13, 2017

The Temple, Part II

Masonic grip of entered apprentice.  Photo by signology

There I was, entering into the temple for the first time as full fledged temple recommend holder.  The first thing I had to do prior to going into the temple, was to buy a set of special underwear to put on for the first time.  This underwear I would wear each and every day for the rest of my life.  It’s been referred to as “magic underwear” by many, and Mormons are very offended when people use that term.  I don’t understand why though, because that is exactly what they’ve become.  Mormons share legendary tales of faithful members who have been physically protected while wearing their Mormon garments.  Some stories of members being burned everywhere on their body except where they were wearing the garments.  So excuse me while your underwear is considered “magic” by outsiders.  

Mormon Garments, photo courtesy Wikipedia
Mormons downplay the supernatural expectations that come from wearing their underwear nowadays.  They consider their underwear to serve as more of a reminder than anything else, but those stories are still told.  In any case, I bought a pair of Mormon underwear, better known as Garments.  They were pure white, and the bottoms nearly touch the knee cap, and the top was like any other under shirts I had ever worn.  The difference is the symbols that were stitched into the underwear.  On the top there was a V (Masonic symbol for compass) and an L (Masonic symbol for square) stitched in over the left and right chest area.  In the naval area was a horizontal line which represented “strength in the naval”.  Lastly, on the bottoms were another horizontal stitching which represented “every knee shall bow”.

With my new sweet underwear I had just acquired, I was all ready to begin my Endowment ceremony.  The first thing I did was head back into a dressing room and strip down completely naked.  I then put on a very thin and loose white moo moo sheet thing.  It was open on both sides of the body and I remember having to physically hold the front and back together while I walked, so as not to expose my twig and berries.

Mormon Temple attire
I entered into a small cubicle area behind a curtain, where a temple worker sat me down and began to administer what is called “the washing and anointing”.  Here, the worker took dabs of oil or water (I can’t remember) and touched various areas of my body underneath my sheet.  While doing so he recited certain words and then gave me a “new name”.  The “new name” represented what I would be called in Mormon Heaven.  This name is very important to a Mormon, but apparently not so memorable, as I have forgotten what mine was.  I do know it wasn’t specially revealed in that moment, as the temples use one female and male name for all who enter the temple on a given day; so my brother and Dad knew what my name was that day because they would be given (their dead person they were doing the work for rather) the same name.

Once this was complete, I was instructed to now put 
on my new Garments I had brought with me.  So I did,
and removed my sheet and now put on white dress pants, 
a white belt, a white dress shirt with a white tie and white
slippers with white socks.

I was then led into another room with two sections of chairs.  One section for women and the other for men.  I took with me another recent purchase, which were my “temple robes”.  This attire consisted of a white toga’esque robe, a white sash to be worn cross body, a pillsbury dough boy looking hat and a green apron with fig leaves stitched in.  The females wore a similar hat, but their's included a fancy veil to cover their faces at the certain point in the ceremony.  These items would come into play during my “Endowment”. 

One of the Mormon Temple Endowment rooms. Photo by Mormonnewsroom
Once seated, the ceremony began.  The ceremony consisted of a retelling of the story of Genesis, with a Mormon twist.  In this story, God commanded Jesus in the Pre-Earth existence to create the earth.  Jesus then commanded Michael (the Archangel) to go with him to create the Earth.  The story repeated this back and forth with each creation period mentioned in the Old Testament, until finally Man was created.  Now, in this tale, Michael became Adam, the first Man.  Later, in the Garden of Eden, Jesus sends Peter, James and John to test Adam.  Adam passed the test, which was not selling Peter, James and John the secret “tokens” of the priesthood.  Makes perfect sense, right?

During this presentation, we would be taught these secret tokens, which were associated with certain signs and handshakes.  We would perform the signs and the handshakes to ensure we understood.  At the conclusion of the ceremony we would have a prayer session, which included raising our hands in the air and saying, “oh God, hear the words of our mouth” repeated verbatim I think three times.

Payson, Utah Celestial Room.  Photo: Salt Lake Tribune
After this was complete, we would be escorted to a large curtain, or Veil between Earth and Heaven.  We would be presented to the “veil” in which a temple worker stood behind cut outs in the curtain.  This person represented Jesus and we then recited certain phrases while demonstrating the handshakes and signs we had just learned.  After the successful completion of these signs, and after revealing our Heavenly name we were then permitted to enter through the “veil” and sit in the “celestial room” in somber quietness. 

Later, when I was married in the temple, I would stand on the other side of this “veil” and receive my wife and learn her Heavenly name.  She would never know mine however, because it was supposed to be my responsibility to call her forth in Heaven by using her Heavenly name.

After a time in the Celestial room of the Temple, I was then directed to the changing room, where I would take off my robes and white clothing.  I changed back into the suit I wore into the Temple.  

I was now an endowed Mormon, and had all the blessings and promises to go along with it.  I was to wear my special Garments now for the rest of my life.  Later I would discover that all these symbolic gestures I had learned in the Temple were very reminiscent of Masonic rites and symbols.  Even the handshakes were the same.  As an outsider looking in, this temple ceremony was weird, to say the least.  But Mormons just accept it as they do everything else their church tells them.

Looking back on it now, no wonder the Mormon church wants to keep what happens in their Temples a secret, lest they appear "a strange and peculiar people".

1 comment:

  1. I found nothing normal about it the first time that I went through.