The Occult Origins Of Mormonism

His Ministries International

The Occult Origins of Mormonism

The Occult Origins of Mormonism
(Availability of Occult books and information to Joseph Smith)

Most of the information and quotes are taken from 
“Early Mormonism and the Magic World View”
(640-page book representing excellent research of LDS Historian and professor D. Michael Quinn. His first edition was published in 1987. These quotes are from his enlarged edition of 1999.

(Some underlining and emphasis added.)

It is most often stated by LDS Church members as a proof of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling that Joseph Smith was an uneducated and nearly illiterate individual and thus he could not have come up with such a work as the Book of Mormon and other consequent books after that. While it maybe possible that he was uneducated as far as his formal schooling is concerned, he did know how to read and it is obvious that he had read many if not most of the popular books circulating in young America at his time.

“Influential in early American folk belief were the thousands of occult books that had circulated in Europe since the invention of the printing press. By 1843 this list of titles was large enough to fill 175 printed pages.” (p.17)

“Book-sales for this early period are only sporadically available, but the number of imprints and editions gives evidence of the reading-public’s demand for occult works.” (pp.17, 18)

One of the “…occult bestseller of the period was Erra Pater’s Book of Knowledge, which went through thirteen British editions in the eighteenth century, and thirteen American editions from 1791 to 1809.” (p.18)

“…book sale notices show that Americans were circulating seventeenth-century books of European occultism a hundred or more years after their publication.” (p.19)

“Another evidence of continued interest in magic during the Age of Reason was the popularity of works condemning the occult while also affirming its reality in the present. ”(p.19)

In 1801 Francis Barrett published in England The Magus as a systematic presentation of occult knowledge and ceremonial magic.” (p.20)

By contrast, Americans were not very interested in books that condemned the occult strictly as a delusion. William F. Pinchbeck’s ‘Witchcraft: or the Art of FortuneTelling Unveiled’ was not reprinted after its original 1805 publication in Boston.” (.p.19)

“In America…occult books…often circulated privately.” (p.21)

In 1828 a New York magazine noted: ‘We find text books of Cabala, necromancy, astrology, magic, fortunetelling, and various proofs of witchcraft…’” (p.21)

Less recognized as a source of occult books in early America, itinerant book peddlers had enormous influence in rural areas. For example, the 1809-10 accounts of one peddler showed that he ‘sold $24,000 worth of books’ door-to-door in the rural area of the South. That equaled an astonishing number of books. Twelve years later rural bookstores in western New York were selling new books for 44 cents each and a ‘fine edition, with engravings’ for 75 cents…’by the early 1800’s there were thousands of peddlers…some peddlers also stocked clandestine works’. ‘If local stores would not supply occult publications to American farmers, book peddlers were there to fill the need. And there is clear evidence of widespread demand for occult works in rural and urban areas’.” (p.21)

Magic and Treasure-digging in Early America

“English traditions and practices of treasure-digging crossed the Atlantic and by the late 1700s were thriving in America. During the period Joseph Smith’s family lived in Vermont, the state was something of a treasure-digging mecca.” (p.25)

At this time (1810) Joseph Smith was less than five years old and living in Vermont’s treasure-digging region. Six years later his family moved to Palmyra, New York.
In Pennsylvania, ‘the belief in ghosts, or spooks, as they were often called, was general; and wherever any treasure or ill-gotten gain was concealed, it was believed that the spirit of the perpetrator would guard it ever after.” (p. 25)

“A Palmyra news paper is one of the best sources for describing the treasure-digging environment in western New York during the 1820s. ‘Men and women without distinction of age or sex became marvelous wise in the occult sciences, many dreamed and others saw visions disclosing to them, deep in the bowels of the earth, rich and shining treasures, and to facilitate those mighty mining operations, (money was usually if not always sought after in the night time,) divers devices and implements were invented’,
the newspaper proclaimed. ‘Mineral rods [I.e., divining rods] and balls, (as they were called by the imposters who made use of them,) were supposed to be infallible guides to these sources of wealth—peep stones or pebbles, taken promiscuously from the brook or field, were placed in a hat or other situation excluded from the light, when some wizzard or witch (for these performances were not confined to either sex) applied their eyes, and nearly starting their [eye] balls from their sockets, declared they saw all the wonders of nature, including of course, ample stores of silver and gold (emphasis in original)”.
(p. 25)
Treasure Digging and Seer Stones

“By the early 1820’s the Smith family had already participated in a wide range of magic practices…Several generations of the Smith family were influenced by the magic world view before the 1800’s. …other generations of his ancestors resided in areas noted for beliefs and practices of folk magic and alchemy. In fact Joseph Smith Jr. continued to express his belief in witches as LDS church president.”(pp.30-31)

According to Vermont neighbors, Joseph Smith Sr. expressed belief in seer stones before the family moved to New York… During a visit to the area [a] Vermont judge learned that ‘Joseph Smith, Sr., was at times engaged in hunting for Captain Kidd’s buried  treasure’…” (p. 42)
[Note: For more information on this see Joseph Smith’s involvement with Magic, Masonry and the OccultPart I, by Janis Hutchinson.]

His wife Lucy Mack Smith also used seer stones. New York neighbor Samantha Payne said that Joseph Smith Sr.’s wife ‘once came to my mother to get a stone the children had found, of curious shape. She wanted to use it as a peep-stone’.” ( p.42)

“…Palmyra residents Willard Chase and Peter Ingersoll witnessed (and even participated with) Alvin Smith in local treasure digging…[Other] Palmyra resident claimed that Joseph’s older brothers Alvin and Hyrum joined him in the treasure quest.” (p. 51)

“A newspaper article in 1831 claimed that about 1826 or 1827 a court tried Smith ‘as a disorderly person’ because he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker: pretending to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, etc. “ (p.56)

“Emma Smith’s cousin Joseph Lewis (b.1807) wrote: ‘Alva Hale [Emma’s brother] says: ‘Joe Smith never handled one shovel full of earth in those diggings. All that Smith did was to peep with stone in hat, and give directions where and how to dig, and when and where the enchantment moved the treasure.’” (p.65)

Ritual Magic, Amulets and Talismans

“…during the 1820’s Joseph Smith and his family used divining rods and seer stone as part of the folk magic of treasure-seeking …In fact Lucy Mack Smith specifically commented in ‘drawing Magic circles or sooth saying. Unlike later apologists, she did not attempt to disassociate Joseph Sr. and Jr. from those occult practices. She simply acknowledged them as part of her family spectrum of activities…”(p. 66)

“Lucy Mack Smith denied the affidavits of New York residents that the Smiths in the 1820’s neglected their farm and other necessary work in order to dig for treasure in Palmyra and adjacent Manchester. [What is in adjacent Manchester County? The Hill Cumorah!]…However, her reply acknowledged that the Smiths practiced ritual magic… Joseph’s mother did not deny that her family participated in occult activities… She simply affirmed that these did not prevent family members from accomplishing other, equally important work. More important, she also affirmed that these activities of folk magic were part of her family’s spiritual quest. ‘Drawing Magic circles or sooth-saying’ was ‘one important interest of Joseph Smith’s family’. Their neighbor and early Mormon convert Orrin Porter Rockwell also described how Lucy Mack Smith helped direct her son to treasure-digging locations by dreams she had. As Marvin S. Hill has written: ‘Belief in magic was not at odds with the Smith family’s religious attitudes and can be seen instead as evidence of them.’ (p.68)

“Mormon historian Richard L. Bushman observed that thereby Lucy ‘revealed knowledge of magic formulas and rituals.’            One Palmyra resident reported that the prophet’s mother also performed various forms of magic divination, including palmistry.
Without dissent, the LDS church’s official newspaper reprinted this statement. Marvin S. Hill has concluded: ’In her mind magic circles, sooth saying, and other magical arts were one with her religious activities’. (p. 70)

Since antiquity, drawing magic circles has been central to the ritual magic of incantation, necromancy, and treasure-hunting. This could be done with chalk, yet most magic handbooks required a specially consecrated sword or dagger for the ceremony…” (p. 70)

“Confirming these stories, the Hyrum Smith family has preserved as an heirloom the kind of dagger necessary for ritual magic…” (p.70)

“Modern Mormons have often assumed that any early Mormon symbol or artifact that could not be otherwise identified was Masonic, because of Joseph Smith’s association with Masonry in the early 1840s. However, the inscriptions on the Smith family dagger have nothing to do with Freemasonry and everything to do with ceremonial magic.” (p.70)

Francis Barrett distilled centuries of occult instructions into his 1801 book which created an immediate sensation. Barrett’s book and teachings were also widely available to Smith’s generation. Its instructions ended up in Smith’s artifacts.”(p.84)

“Barrett translated the Latin and copied the English from Abano into The Magus.”
(p. 85)

“ When Barrett put this inscription around the edge of the Jupiter talisman, he apparently got the idea from the book in which Abano’s work was a supplement. The 1783 edition of Agrippa’s Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy specified that one of three verses to be written around a pentacle for spirit invocation was: ‘Confirm, O God, thy strength in us’. The inscriptions on Joseph Smith’s Jupiter talisman indicated its use as an implement in ceremonies of spirit conjuration.” (p. 85)

In fact, the influential manuscript ‘Key of Solomon’ defined a Jupiter talisman’s use strictly in terms of ceremonial magic: ‘This defendeth and protecteth those who invoke and cause the Spirits to come’.This ceremonial purpose of the Jupiter talisman in Joseph’s possession in 1844 was consistent with the ceremonial purposes on the magic parchments in the possession of his brother Hyrum in 1844.” (p. 85)

“…Utah’s Deseret Museum displayed ‘the pistol which he [Joseph] had as well as the one that His brother Hyrum Had at the time of thare [sic] assassination in Carthage Jail.’ Hyrum received a smuggled one-shot pistol at the same time Joseph got his smuggled revolver. As a list of items confiscated from Joseph Smith at his entry in Carthage Jail (traditionally a requirement for the prisoner to empty his pockets), the inventory’s gaps are understandable. Concealed under his shirt next to the skin, the Jupiter talisman would not make the list while he lived.“ (p.86)

“There is also a reason why Joseph Smith possessed a talisman but did not display it to others during his life, according to known documents and reminiscences. Magic books instructed that the talisman should be “worn round the neck” and “carried on the breast.” Typically an amulet was worn under the clothing next to the skin of the person seeking its protective powers. That explains why the Smith talisman has a hole at the edge opposite the astrological symbol of Jupiter. Smith’s silver medallion was designed to hang on a chain or ribbon around the neck, thus concealing the talisman underneath his clothing.” (p.87)
[This may explain why the LDS Temple Garments are worn under other clothing, next to the skin.]

“An 1825 occult handbook described both the secrecy and purposes for wearing a Jupiter talisman: ‘It may be suspended about the neck, or worn about any part of the body, so that it may be kept secret to all but the wearer. Its effects are, to give the most decisive victory over enemies, to defend against machinations, and to inspire the wearer thereof with the most remarkable confidence’ (emphasis in original). Those purposes of a ‘secret’ Jupiter talisman matched Joseph Smith’s needs, particularly in 1844.” (p.87)

Similar to the situation with Smith’s talisman, contemporary associates did not report during his lifetime that LDS president Brigham Young possessed the bloodstone amulet his niece donated to a museum decades after his death. She stated that Young used this stone for protection, and its metal casing allowed this amulet to be hung from the neck, next to his skin. Like Smith’s close friends, Young’s associates did not know he possessed an amulet. …the bloodstone was used for ritual magic during the part of September that is significant for the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.” (p. 88)

“…[Joseph Smith] was long dead when Mormon researchers recognized it [Jupiter talisman] as an occult artifactThere are clear answers to the question of why the Mormon prophet acquired this medallion: (1) there were precise astrological connections between the Jupiter talisman and Joseph Smith’s own birth, and (2) the talisman’s purposes matched his own interests and needs. This artifact was neither incidental nor coincidental in the Mormon prophet’s life. “(p.88)

Visions and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon

The earliest Mormon account stated that Smith’s 1823 epiphany was the nocturnal visit of a spirit… Beginning in 1829, newspapers reported similar statements of young Smith’s encounter with a spirit, adding that this occurred in a dream. (p.138)

Cousins of Smith’s wife also reported that…’He said that by a dream he was informed by a ‘ghost’. “ (p.138)

Why did the earliest Mormon accounts call the 1823 experience “a dream” while official narratives later used the word ‘vision’?“  (p.138)

“In 1832 Joseph Jr.’s earliest autobiography shows that at one point he vacillated between regarding the 1823 experience as a dream or as a vision of   literal appearance. ‘I supposed it had been a dreem [sic] of Vision,’ he wrote. ‘But when I consid[e]red I knew that it was not.”` (p.139)

“More important, Smith’s early Mormon followers linked treasure-seeking with his religiously defined visions of September 1823.”(p.139)

“Brigham Young also spoke ‘of the circumstances which I personally knew concerning the coming forth of the plates, from a part of which the Book of Mormon was translated.’ Then he reverted to folk vernacular, referring to the plates five times in the next ten sentences as ‘that treasure’ or as ‘the treasure’. His sermon did not repeat this single reference to the gold ‘plates’.” [See: J of D vol. 2:180-181.]In its 1986 edition of the first official nineteenth-century Mormon biography of Joseph Smith, the LDS church’s publishing company also titled the chapter about the discovery of the gold plates as ‘Cumorah’s Treasure’.” (p.139)

Angel or Spirit

“By 1830 Smith and his followers were emphasizing that the otherworldly messenger was an angel named Moroni. According to Mormon belief, he had lived on the American continent anciently as a soldier, prophet, historian, and final custodian of the ancient records written on gold plates. This claim caused one critic to write in June 1830 that ‘Jo. Made a league with the spirit, who afterwards turned out to be an angel’ (emphasis in original.)” (p.139-140)

The change from “spirit” to “angel” is significant for two reasons. First, there was a crucial difference in how the words ‘angel’ and ‘spirit’ [was] applied to heavenly beings. It was not customary to use ‘angel’ to describe a personage who had been mortal, died, and was returning to earth to deliver a message to someone. Nine editions of Daniel Defoe’s pseudonymous book on apparitions stated from 1727 to 1840: The apparitions I am to speak of are these. 1. The appearance of angels. 2. Of devils. 3. Of the departed souls of men.  Six American editions of Macleods work from 1802 to 1817 reaffirmed this distinction between ‘angel’ and ‘disembodied spirits’. In later years, Mormon theology included the existence of resurrected mortals sent by God as angels to humankind. This was foreign to Smith’s Judeo-Christian heritage and not part of his 1832 world view.
Second, the visit of a spirit messenger to a human was common in magic and familiar to folk perceptionsFor more than a century, there were published reports of departed souls returning to communicate messages to living persons.” (p. 140)

“Smith’s official history described the 1823 visitor: ‘He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. …I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.’  This messenger instructed him to translate ‘a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the sources from whence they sprang.’ This experience ended when ‘he ascended until he entirely disappeared’.” (p. 140)

Smith’s description echoed the widely published vision of Henry Bell. ‘My self yet awake, there appear’d unto me an Ancient Man, standing at my Bed-side array’d all in White, having a long and broad Beard, hanging down to his Girdle [belt].’ Bell continued that before ‘he Vanish’d away out of my sight,’ this personage said: ‘Will not you take time to Translate the Book which is sent to you out of Germany?’ For decades Bell‘s vision was in the preface to all printings of his English translation of Martin Luther‘s Table Talk. (p.140)

Times and Dates

Even after Smith and his followers consistently described the 1823 visit’s as appearances of an angel, both believers and non-believers referred to the context of magic beliefs about thrice-repeated dreams in the treasure-quest. In 1835 Oliver Cowdery’s official history denied the Moroni experience was a dream, but referred to the common belief in thrice-repeated dreams as support for the actuality of Joseph Jr.’s experience: ‘Was  he deceived? Far from this; for the vision was renewed twice before morning’.” (pp. 140-141)

“When comparing accounts of the 1820 vision with the 1823 vision, both Mormons and non-Mormons have commented on the contrast in details. None of Smith’s known narratives of his first vision were precise about dates: ‘the 16th year of my age,’ ‘I was about 14 years old,’ and ‘my fifteenth year’. Smith even required Cowdery to change his age at the first vision from ‘15th year’ to ‘17th’ in the first published history. The most detailed dating in the final version of official history is still less than wholly satisfying: ‘in the spring of Eighteen hundred and twenty’. Joseph Smith did not specify 1820 for hisfirst vision until he dictated his history in 1838.” (p.141)

By contrast, Smith was very specific about the date and time of his 1823 visions. His earliest autobiography gave the day, month, and year for these experiences. The first published history even gave the hours: ‘On the evening of the 21st of September, 1823…
[Joseph Jr.] supposed it must have been eleven or twelve, and perhaps later,’ he began praying to commune with some kind of messenger.’ A few years later after this published account, Smith precisely described the final moments of what happened on 22 September: ‘when almost immediately after the heavenly messenger had ascended from me the third time, the cock crew, and I found that day was approaching so that our interviews must have occupied the whole of that night’. On 22 September 1823 sunrise occurred at 5:59 a.m. in this part of New York. Smith’s prayer-visitation therefore occurred between Sunday night at 11:00 and Monday mornings sunrise at 5:59 a.m.”. (p.141)

“Palmyra’s Joseph Smith was not the only one who valued the date of 22 September “to commune with some kind of messenger.” In his Complete System of Occult Philosophy, Robert C. Smith quoted from the recent experience of three of his occult proteges in London. ‘On the night of September 22, 1822, we resolved upon invocating the spirits of the moon, and accordingly, having prepared the circle, and used the necessary ceremonies and incantations … to urge the spirits more powerfully to visible appearance … (our ceremonies began at midnight) …. Within traditional magic lore, detail of Smith’s 1823visitation were consistent with ritual magic’s requirements for successful encounters with otherworldly beings(pp.141-142)

“…published guides specified that the hour and day of Joseph Smith’s 1823 prayer ‘to commune with some kind of messenger’ was ideal for the invocation of spirits. The magic angel of that hour was Raphael whose name was inscribed at the center of the Smith family’s lamen [magic parchment] to commune with a good spirit.” (p.144)

“All official and unofficial, traditional and nontraditional, friendly and unfriendly sources agreed that Smith was not able to obtain the gold plates on 22 September 1823. Instead, he returned to the hill on exactly the same day each year until 1827. None of these accounts explain why the visits must occur each year on exactly the same day. Magic tradition gives an explanation: ‘Should nothing result [from the attempt at necromancy], the same experiment must be renewed in the following year, and if necessary a third time, when it is certain that the desired apparition will be obtained and the longer it has been delayed the more realistic and striking it will be.’ The specific day continued to coincide with the autumn equinox. Thus Smith visited the Hill Cumorah annually from 1823 to 1827 to fulfill his quest ‘to commune with some kind of messenger’.” (p.158)

“Both Mormon and non-Mormon sources agreed that in September 1823 Moroni required Smith to bring his oldest brother, Alvin, to the hill the next year in order to obtain the gold plates. Their friend Joseph Knight recorded Smith’s description of his meeting on the hill in 1823: ‘Joseph says, ‘when can I have it?’ The answer was the 22nt [sic] Day of September next if you Bring the right person with you. Joseph says, ‘who is the right Person?’ The answer was ‘your oldest Brother.’ But before September [1824] Came his oldest Brother Died. Then he was Disapointed and did not [k]now what to do.’ This requirement is absent from Smith’s own narratives.” (p.158)

“Joseph [had] tried to enlist the help of several others but none responded.” (p.162)

While engaged in this treasure-seeking venture in the fall of 1825, Smith met Isaac Hale’s twenty-one-year-old daughter, Emma, at Harmony. She immediately attracted the young man’s interest.” (p.163)

“Alvin’s death left the requirement unfulfilled in 1824 and caused a village uproar over rumors of necromantic grave-robbing. Samuel Lawrence failed him as a fellow-seer in 1825. Now Smith went to the appointed spot with no idea what he should do next.” 
(p. 163)

“Knight described the condition of renewed hope and anxiety at Smith’s 1826 meeting ‘with the Personage.’ The angel ‘told him if he would Do right according to the will of God he might obtain [the plates] the 22nt Day of September Next and if not he never would have them.’ Smith learned from his seer stone what the requirement was: ‘Then he looked in his glass and found it was Emma Hale’…” (p.163)

“As Palmyra neighbors learned, the requirement was not simply to bring Miss Emma Hale to the hill. …’an angel appeared, and told him he could not get the plates until he was married’…” (p.163)

“According to Joseph Knight, Smith’s visit to the hill in September 1826 was the reason the twenty-year-old Smith was determined to set aside his family’s tradition of delayed marriage. That requirement also explains why he ignored the opposition of his intended father-in-law. He had to marry Emma Hale within a year or the gold plates of Cumorah would be lost forever. “  (p.164)

[At one point in Palmyra, Joseph Smith Junior’s father, Joseph Smith Sr.] “…did publish a denial of exhuming Alvin’s body, after rumors (verified by convert Joseph Knight) that the Angel Moroni had required Joseph Jr. to bring his now-deceased brother to the hill.”  (p. 168)
Emma accompanies Joseph to the hill

“Emma’s cousins reported that she ‘stood with her back toward him, while he dug up the box.’ Martin Harris said that ‘while he was obtaining the plates, she kneeled down and prayed.’ Harris added that Joseph ‘then took the plates and hid them in an old black oak tree top which was hollow.’ This is another use of the color black, as…was required by Moroni.” (p.168)
Joseph starts the translation

“Emma and her family said that he translated some characters from the plates in December 1827”. (p. 169)

In 1829 Harris told a newspaper of his experience with Smith’s first effort at translation. ‘By placing the spectacles in a hat and looking into it, Smith interprets the characters into the English language’.”(p.169)

“This dictation of translated words proceeded slowly until the arrival of Oliver Cowdery at Smith’s home in Harmony. Cowdery began acting as scribe on 7 April 1829. He and Smith completed the translation and transcription process by the end of June.”
[BYU professor Robert]“Bushman has noted that Smith dictated [after Cowdery’s arrival] at the rate of eight pages of printed text a daya marvelous production rate for any writer and a stupendous one for an uneducated twenty-three-year old who, according to his wife, could scarcely write a coherent letter’.” (p.172)

[Note: One cannot help but wonder if this process became speedier because Oliver may have brought with him his minister Rev. Ethan Smith’s book titled, “View of the Hebrews” that was found to have a similar story line to the Book of Mormon and even many exact quotes from it are in the Book of Mormon! For verification, see late LDS General Authority and Historian B. H. Robert’s book, “Studies of the Book of Mormon.”]

Sources of Joseph’s doctrines

[As mentioned at the beginning, books on the occult were plentiful in that part of New York during Joseph Smith’s time.]

“By 1826 there were at least twenty-three libraries in communities surrounding ‘Manchester / Palmyra. More than half were incorporated as ‘public library’ or “farmer’s library’…membership required only the donation of one book to the library. (…new book [cost]  for as little as 44 cents”). (p.183)

In addition to the occult handbooks on sale in Palmyra…Canandaigua’s newspaper advertised books which gave summaries or details of occult ideas in astrology, alchemyceremonial magic, witchcraft, and folk magic.“(p.187)

“Most significant, Joseph Smith’s diary made no reference to publications he obviously was reading. While editor of a newspaper for eight months, Smith often told subscribers about publications he had read. As editor, he provided ‘extracts’ from eight identified books and thirty-five newspapers, but his diary did not mention he was reading them. By that time its daily entries were sometimes long and detailed, yet Joseph Smith’s manuscript diary revealed nothing about his wide-ranging interests in reading. Moreover, less that two years later he donated his personal copies of thirty-four nonMormon books to a library at Nauvoo, Illinois, yet his extensive diaries made no reference to these books, either. The church newspaper and the Nauvoo library’s donation-list both demonstrate that Joseph Smith’s manuscript is the worst source for identifying any of the books he read. “ (p. 188)

“His 1844 donation of Thomas Dick’s Philosophy of a Future State also confirms Smith’s personal interest in this book, which was extensively quoted in the LDS periodical [Times and Seasons] seven years earlier. Like most people, Smith acquired books he liked or planned to read and donated what he had finished reading… it is reasonable to assume that the Mormon prophet’s private library contained hundreds of volumes.” (p.188)

“…Joseph Smith donated twenty books whose initial publication was before 1830… 
Of the books Joseph Smith donated before his death 75 percent of the pre-1830 titles can be verified as either directly available in the Palmyra area or as being promoted there.” (p.189)

“This probability of Joseph Smith’s access to occult literature increases due to three factors. First, the wide circulation of occult and esoteric literature in early AmericaSecond, the direct indebtedness of his talisman to Francis Barrett’s occult handbook.
Third, the direct indebtedness of the Smith family’s magic parchment to occult handbooks by Ebenezer Sibly and Reginald Scot.” (p.193)

“In fact, Brigham Young himself clearly indicated that the 1830 Book of Mormon substantially reflected Joseph Smith and his times. Thirty-two years later, Young preached that if the Book of Mormon were now to be rewritten, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation.” (p.193)

“According to occult traditions  on the early 1800’s, persons with magic experience were the most appropriate interpreters of the Egyptian hieroglyphics identified with the
Book of MormonThings Egyptian were of special interest in Joseph Smith’s neighborhood as of June 1827. From late June through early July, an Egyptian mummy was on display in six nearby communities, including Canandaigua (only nine miles from Smith’s home).” (p. 194)

“The endorsements to the Book of Mormon also contain a suggestion of numerology and Joseph Jr.’s Jupiter talisman. Smith on the title page, identified himself as the sole ‘author and proprietor’(‘translator’ in later editions) of this ancient American scripture. The 1830 edition also contained the testimony of three witnesses that they saw an angel and heard the voice of God bearing witness to the truth of this work written on gold plates. They, in turn, were joined by eight witnesses who saw no angel but saw and handled the plates. The divinely commissioned translator and the two groups of witnesses totaled twelve, a holy number in biblical and occult traditions. Occult numerology also identified the combination of one, three, and eight witnesses to the Book of Mormon’s gold plates as linked to Joseph Jr.’s ruling planet in astrology ‘Jupiter hath three numbers allotted to him, viz. one. three, eight’.” (pp.194-195)

“The Book of Mormon quotes Isaiah 29 as a biblical prophecy for  its own 1830 publication: ‘But behold, I prophecy unto you concerning the last days; concerning the days when the Lord God shall bring these things forth unto the children of men. After… the seed of my brethern shall have dwindled in unbelief, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles…their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit… They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book’ (2 Nephi  26:14-17). An LDS leader explained that the ‘familiar spirit’ in Isaiah 29:4 means that the Book of Mormon has a biblical sound and feel to it. Apostle LeGrand Richards wrote: ‘Truly it has a familiar spirit, for it contains the words of the prophets of the God of Israel.’ However, that separates the text from the English language of its time. In 1830 there was a more common meaning of ‘familiar spirit’ that placed the Book of Mormon’s use of Isaiah 29 within an occult context.” Centuries before 1830 the phrase ‘familiar spirit’ referred only to necromancy.” (p. 195)

In 1825 Robert C. Smith’s English occult handbook instructed how ‘to raise an evil or familiar spirit’. In the U.S., Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary gave the second definition of “familiar” as a noun: ‘A demon or evil spirit supposed to attend at a call. But in a general way we say, a ‘familiar spirit’ (emphasis in original). From 1824 onward, Webster’s dictionaries were on sale in Palmyra.” (p. 195)

“The Book of Mormon’s use of Isaiah 29:4 to describe its own coming forth was consistent with the Smith family’s magic parchments or spirit invocation. This passage also linked with early testimony that the otherworldly messenger Moroni introduced the book to Smith by appearing as a spirit three timesas expected within the magic world view. (p.195)

“The name ‘Mormon’ has several non-magi parallels. It is one of the forms of the Scottish name for ‘the official in charge of the cattle on the marsh or waste ground.’ It is phonetically close to ‘Moorman’  or ‘Moormen’ a designation for the Moors. The common view of Smith’s time was that the Moors were special devotees of occult sciences. (p. 197)

In the Book of MormonAlma is a male’s name. The existence of Alma as an ancient Jewish name for males was unknown even to modern scholarship until the mid-twentieth century. However, the Latin word ‘Alma’ was a female name in Anglo-European-American culture for centuries before the 1800’s… Alma also had reference to spiritsceremonial magic, and treasure. In an 1828 Spanish-English dictionary published in Boston, the first meaning of ‘alma’ was ‘soul, the immaterial spirit of man’, and the first meaning of soul was ‘alma’. A seventeenth-century English magic manuscript also used ‘Almaas one of the names to conjure a treasure guardian-spirit. In other English manuscripts of magic (one dated sometime before 1739), ‘Almazim’ and ‘Almazin’ were names of a ‘giver of treasure’.” (pp. 197-198)

The name of the Book of Mormon’s founding prophet Lehi has several parallels, the last of which is similar to a name used in the ritual magic of spirit incantation. ‘Lehi’ was a biblical geographic name(Judges 15:9). Unknown to Smiths generation, Lehi was also a personal name in the ancient Near East. On sale in Smith’s neighborhood, an encyclopedia specified that “LEHI’, Lehigh, or Lecha, in Geography, [is] a river of America, which rises in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, about 21 miles E. of Wyoming Falls, in the Susquehanna river…‘Lehon’ is one of the names used to invoke spirits through ritual magic.” (p. 198)

“The name ‘Nephi’ appears in some of the most important sections of doctrine and history in the Book of Mormon. In the Apocrypha, Nephi was a geographic name. Nephi was also the first part of two namesin the King James Bible, ‘Nephish’ and “Nephishesim’ (1 Chor. 5:19; Neh.7:52). Publications before 1830 specified that “Nephilim (translated ‘giants’ in Gen. 6:4) was the term for the offspring of intercourse between angels and humans.” [Note: Nephilim in Hebrew means ‘fallen ones’.] (p 198)

“Nephi is also a name with several parallels to spirits and magic. “Nehpiomaoth” was one of the magic names of God in early Christian Gnosticism, while “Nephum” and Nephaton” were holy names in spirit incantation…Perhaps the most publicized parallel to Nephi was that “Nephes” or “Nephesh” meant the disembodied spirit of menaccording to the Cabala—the ancient Jewish system of magic. Published in English since 1695, this cabalistic term and its meaning also appeared in William Enfield’s 1791 History of Philosophy. Enfields’s book had three editions by 1819 and was advertised for sale from 1804 to 1828 near Smith’s home.” (p. 198)

This necromantic parallel to the name Nephi may help to explain a historical puzzle in Mormon history. In the 1839 manuscript of Smith’s official history and its printed versions of 1824 and 1851, the name of the messenger who appeared three times in one night of 1823 was stated as Nephi rather than Moroni. Since Smith’s earliest autobiography(1832) gave the angel’s name as “Maroni,” LDS historians have defined the later use of Nephi as ‘a clerical error’.” (p. 199)

“However, clerical error is not a convincing explanation. As editor of Times and Seasons in 1842 Smith published the Nephi reference, which he could have corrected but did not…Joseph Smith himself intentionally referred to Moroni as Nephi.” (p. 199)

“One of Smith’s revelation also verifies that ‘occult’ was synonymous with ‘secret’. The 1838 document referred to ‘the Nicolaitane band and all of their secret abominations’ (D&C 117:11. This is a reference to Revelation 1: 6, 15 (that did not specify the ‘deeds of the Nicolaitans’ which God hated). However by Joseph Smith’s time, the Nicolatians were generally identified as the ‘Authors of the Sect of Gnostics’ who ‘apply themselves to the study of magic’. Thus a more precise reading on the language of the 1830’s was: ‘the Nicolaitan band and all of their [occult] abominations’.”  (p.202)

The Book of Mormon’s doctrinal emphasis is on Jesus Christ, but one of its primary social preoccupations is ‘secret combinations’.” (p. 202)

“Several twentieth-century writers have interpreted these passages as referring specifically to the anti-Masonic fury that swept America in the late 1820’s. New York state was the center of anti-Masonry after Sept 1826, when some Masons kidnapped and murdered William Morgan for revealing Freemasonry’s secret rites.” (p.202)

“Freemasonry barrowed from older occult traditions.” (p.206)

“Since the 1700’s the vast majority of anti-Masons had regarded Freemasonry as a strictly modern development, denied that it was of divine origin, and defined is as a man-made conspiracy….” (p.203)

“… some Masonic writers extended the New Testament’s  reference to a ‘high priest after the order of Melchisedek’ to Masonic claims for antiquity.” (p. 204)

“After 1826, New York state was also the source of anti-Masonry’s most insistent denials that Freemasonry had any ancient origin (divine, diabolical, or secular). In March 1828 Palmyra’s anti-Masonic newspaper declared that the ‘Antiquity of Masonry…is a sheer fabrication’. That same year the state’s most widely circulated anti-Masonic magazine published a ‘History of Free Masonry’ which repeatedlydenied Freemasonry’s antiquity.” (p. 204)

“ … the Anti-Masonic Review insisted, ‘That [stone] masonry is as old as Babel, we do not refuse to believe; it is Freemasonry, otherwise called Speculative Masonry, of which we treat, and of which… we affirm that its era is A.D. 1717. …In vain we search for any proof of this sort existing earlier than the 18th century’. The magazine concluded: ‘Fifty centuries are a long period for the active labors of a great mystery [to] spread over the face of the whole world, to pass entirely unobserved’. This was apparently the antiMasonic Review advertised for sale in Palmyra in November 1828.” (p.204)

“…Mormon converts from denominational Protestantism faced a crisis in 1832 when they learned about the three degrees of glory. Brigham Young’s brother Joseph reminisced: ‘Then when I came to read the vision of the different glories of the eternal world, and of the sufferings of the wicked, I could not believe it at first. Why, the Lord was going to save everybody!’  Brigham Young’s brother Joseph Young had been a Methodist minister prior to converting to Mormonism. Brigham Young himself recalled: ‘When God revealed to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon that there was a place prepared for all, according to the light they had received and their rejection of evil and practice of good, it was a great trial to many, and some apostatized because God was not going to send to everlasting punishment heathens and infants, but had a place of salvation, and in due time, for all, and would bless the honest and virtuous and truthful, whether they ever belonged to any church or not. It was a new doctrine to this generation, and many stumbled at it’.  The diaries of Orson Pratt and John Murdock from the 1830’ recorded their efforts to reassure Latter-day Saints who questioned the 1832 vision. The two men described the excommunication of Mormons, including branch presidents, who denounced ‘the degrees of glory’ as a satanic revelation.“ (p. 216)

“On the other hand, the 1832 vision’s description of multiple heavens was compatible with occult views. Even ‘degrees of glory’ was an occult phrase connected with the ancient mystical beliefs of Judaism… Sibley’s A New and Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences stated in 1784 that ‘seven evil angels, before their fall, enjoyed the same places and degrees of glory, that now belong to the seven good angels or genii’. Sibley’s thirteenth edition appeared six years before Smith’s 1832 vision. In biblical commentaries published in the United States during the early 1800’s, Charles Buck and Adam Clarke acknowledged the Jewish occult’s concept of ‘degrees of glory in heaven’, but it was a major emphasis of occult advocates.” (p.216)

[Mormon writers from FARMS] “…have written that ‘the idea of three heavens, or degrees of glory,… associated with the sun, moon and the stars’ can be derived from 1 Corinthians 15:40-42 and 2 Corinthians 1:2.’  However, the phrase ‘degrees of glory’ is nowhere in those biblical verses. The phrase does appear in (1) English occultists (like Sibley and Robert C. Smith) who advocated multiple heavens as described in Jewish magic and mystical texts, in (2) anti-Semitic commentators (like Clarke) who unconditionally denounced the idea, and in (3) more liberal Protestants (like Buck) who affirmed that individual persons had  ‘degrees of glory’ within a single heaven.” (p. 216)

“…Joseph Smith’s environment included books, practices, and oral traditions of the occult.”  (p. 217)

“ …before 1830 occult writers were the only public advocates of three heavens. In publications in England since 1784 (and in the United States since 1812), Emmanuel Swedenborg insisted: ‘There are three heavens’, described as ‘entirely distinct from each other’. Often regarded as a devotee of the occult, this Swedish mystic called the highest heaven ‘the celestial kingdom’, and stated that the inhabitants of the three heavens corresponded to the sun, moon, and stars.“ (p.217)

“By Joseph Smith’s own statement, he was acquainted with those views…Nine miles from the Smith farm, in 1826 the Canandaigua newspaper also advertised Swedenborg’s Treatise Concerning Heaven and Hell for sale. The bookstore offered Swedenborg’s publications for as little as 37 cents. Aside from his lengthy summary of Swedenborg’s teachings, Sibley was also the only source for various inscriptions on the Smith family’s magic parchments. “(p.217)

The Mormon prophet’s knowledge of such literature in not a mythThe myth is LDS emphasis on Joseph Smith as an ill-read farm boy.” (p.218)

“Not all commentators have given Swedenborg’s teachings an occult status, but there was no ambiguity about Robert C. Smith. His Complete System of Occult Philosophy declared in 1825: ‘there are three heavens, answerable externally to the Trinity, and internally according to three degrees of glory, the first, second and third heaven” (emphasis in original). His handbook of astrology and ritual magic did not acknowledge his indebtedness to the Swedish author for this ideabut a footnote three hundred pages later showed that Smith had read Swedenborg.” (p.219)

“…some on the most frequently cited magic books divided angels and gods into three kinds: celestial, terrestrial, and infernal. Manuscripts for ceremonial magic frequently used this three-tiered classification. Robert Burton’s seventeenth-century work on magic also provided the three symbols of this classification: ’Fiery spirits or devils…counterfeit suns and moons, stars oftentimes’. First published in 1621, Burton’s book was popular enough to have fifteen reprints by Joseph Smith’s generation (seven from 1800 to 1827). It was in Utah’s pioneer library.” (p. 219)

“Joseph Smith’s 1832 revelation identified the Telestial as those ‘who are thrust down to hell’ for a period of time. This may have contributed to his apparent substitution of Telestial for infernal. Thus the celestial, terrestrial, and infernal of magic literature became the Celestial, Terrestrial, and the Telestial in Mormon revelation.” (p. 219)

“The word ‘mysteries’ had a well-recognized, singular reference by Joseph Smith’s time. The King James Bible used mysteries’ only three times, compared to occurrence of the ‘the mystery’ sixteen times. By contrast, the Book of Mormon used mysteries’ nineteen times and ‘mystery’ only four times. The Doctrine and Covenants used ‘mysteries’ twenty times compared to five times for ‘mystery’. Buck’s Theological Dictionary (on sale in the Palmyra area from 1817 to the 1820s) stated: ‘MYSTERIES, a term used to denote the secret rites of the Pagan superstitions, which were carefully concealed from the knowledge of the vulgar [i.e., common people]…they originated in Egypt, the native land of Idolatry’Smith later quoted from Buck’s dictionary.” (p. 227)

From Smith’s time to the present, these ancient mysteries have been viewed as the climax of the occult tradition and magic world view.” (p. 227)

“In the early 1830s LDS revelations announced an imminent restoration of ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ mysteries. …these words also meant ‘occult’ in contemporary language. In February 1832 Smith’s vision of the degrees of glory announced: ‘And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the [occult] mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come’ (D&C 76:7).” (p.227)

[Above quotes are from Dr. D. Michael Quinn’s 1999 well researched book, “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View.” (Some emphasis added.)]

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Those who question the LDS Church who are looking for answers

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