Early Masonic Ties

Heber C. Kimball,41 Hyrum Smith (brother of Joseph Smith, Jr.)42 and others of Joseph's family43 were Freemasons at Palmyra before Joseph ever announced any of his visions or gold plates. Men like the Mason itinerant preacher Lorenzo Dow came through their territory.44

Items used by the Smith family prior to Joseph's revelations, also indicate a Masonic influence. A Masonic dove medallion from an English Masonic Lodge was used by Joseph Smith, Jr. Some of the magic items that still survive today of the Smith family are 3 magic laman parchments, a magic Jupiter talisman, the Masonic dove medallion, another Talisman possibly the magic seal of Jupiter, a magic pouch, a healing handkerchief, and a healing amulet (a cape blessed by Joseph used by the John L. Butler family).45

Dr. Reed Durham, director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah and president of the Mormon History Association announced his discovery in 1974 of information about Joseph Smith's masonic Jupiter talisman,

"...I should like to initiate all of you into what is perhaps the strangest, the most mysterious, occult-like esoteric, and yet Masonically oriented practice ever adopted by Joseph Smith...All available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith the Prophet possessed a magical Masonic medallion, or talisman, which he worked during his lifetime and which was evidently on his person when he was martyred originally purchased from the Emma Smith Bidamon family, fully notarized by that family to be authentic and to have belonged to Joseph Smith, can now be identified as a Jupiter talisman...The characters on the talisman are primarily in Hebrew, but there is one inscription in Latin. Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical equivalent and those numerical equivalents make up a magic square To the Egyptians, Jupiter was known as Ammon, but to the Greeks he was Zeus: the ancient sky Father...Jupiter is always associated with high positions, getting owe's own way, and all forms of status The purpose of the Table of Jupiter in talismanic magis (magic?) was to be able to call upon the celestial intelligences, assigned to the particular talisman, to assist one in all endeavors. The names of the deities which we gave to you, who could be invoked by the Table were always written on the talisman or represented by various numbers."46

A guest in the Smith's home around 1830 wrote, "This Joseph Smith, Senior, we soon learned, from his own lips, was a firm believer in witchcraft and other supernatural things; and he had brought up his family in the same belief."47

In the rituals of the 13th, 14th, and 21st degrees of Masonry the legend (derived from cabbalistic sources) is told of Enoch's gold plate. The resemblances to Joseph Smith, Jr.'s story about finding the gold plates is interesting. The stories are basically identical, which suggests Mormonism may have been founded from the beginning on a Masonic legend.48

The use of crystal-gazing which the Smith family, including Joseph Smith, Jr. and their friends, used was called scrying and was practiced in the Masonic Lodges.49

These points have been brought out to give the investigator the feel that the Fraternity of Rodmen, which are known to have used the Rod of Aaron to obtain revelation,50 may have also had affiliation with witchcraft and masonry. The leaders of the Fraternity had previously been notable citizens, and one had been a state legislator.51 The Fraternity felt led to build a temple.52 The Fraternity became apocalyptic and upset the non-believers in the area. The night that the Fraternity prophesied would bring an apocalyptic event 14 January, 1802, only brought gunfire from the Middletown, Vt. militia who were frightened by the group.53 One witness claimed Joseph Smith, Sr. was one of the leaders of the Fraternity. Justus Winchell, who was involved in the fraternity, became the Mormon prophet-to-be's occult mentor.54 After 1802, the group began moving to Palmyra, N.Y.

It has been interesting to note that Palmyra, N.Y. repeatedly shows up in this author's Masonic research as a real stronghold of Masonry, and Poultney, Vt. as a place where new religious ideas seem to appear.55

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