Second Week of December
Into the Wilderness
To begin, let us take a moment to explain that there is a great deal of foundational work to be laid down in the month of December so that we can move on to the New Year's topic. That topic will only make sense once we have established the basics of the process of ascension. Normally, we will have only one Fireside Chat per week. For now, we hope our readers can keep up so the concepts in future articles will fall into place. We pray that the beautiful principles we have been given in the scriptures will add to your Christmas spirit.
Into the Wilderness, while furthering our understanding of the ascension process, is also a tribute to Joseph Smith, whose birthday is December 23, 1805.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Church was told to gather the members to the center stake of Zion, and then from there to send out missionaries to the four quarters of the earth. The center stake has to be strengthened first, and then Zion 's borders can be enlarged, and her stakes established and strengthened. With the foundation firmly in place, Zion could rise up without incurring destruction from the enemy. Within the canopy of the temple, we are to prepare, adorning ourselves in the wedding garment of light, thereby adorning Zion, "the city of light set on a hill" (Matt.5:14), for the coming of her bridegroom.
Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off;. Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, that the borders of my people may be enlarged, and that her stakes may be strengthened, and that Zion may go forth unto the regions round about. Yea, let the cry go forth among all people: Awake and arise and go forth to meet the Bridegroom; behold and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord.
Since the early Church was not spiritually prepared to redeem Zion, they had to go back into the wilderness. This applies both to the Primitive Christian Church and also in Joseph Smith's day. Without a center stake of Zion having the temple that connects heaven and earth, the Church was lost in the wilderness. Since the Saints were not able to return to Jackson County , a substitute center was set up in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. For forty years, Modern Israel struggled to complete the temple that would make the center stake the light on the hill.
We are no longer required to physically immigrate to Zion, but are to establish her stakes around the world. The scripture that commands us to leave Babylon and prepare for the Bridegroom still applies fully to us, as much as it did the early Saints. With prophesied events heating up, it feels like a crucial time to leave spiritual Babylon and stand in 'Holy Places.'
Slowly, through the years the Church has been continuing to rise up out of the wilderness. Now, we are becoming a shining light in the tops of the mountains. During the 2002 Olympics, many nations either physically, or visually, came to Salt Lake City in a partial fulfillment of the words of Isaiah 2:3: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it."
Later this month, we will explore the significance of the year 2012, but first, we will look at Church History from the perspective of the ascension process. In the last article, Pounding the Tent Stakes , we learned about the importance of stretching out the foundation in the four cardinal directions. This is done quietly, while Zion gains in strength and power; still in the wilderness, hiding in the swamps from her enemies who hold dominion over this earth as Nibley explains: "In the temple, we first learn by what means Satan has ruled the world, and how it came about, and how he has ruled over the world these many years."1
Before discussing that swamp, we will step back and take a look at Facsimile 2, in a way that will help clarify our personal ascension process. Later in this article we will apply these same principles to the church as a whole and to the earth.
Facsimile 2, in the Book of Abraham, is called a hypocephalus, and is one example of hundreds that have been found in Egypt. In Facsimile Two, Fig. 5, 1, and 2 have both male and female aspects. Those three figures can be read in two directions. They can be read as if flat with the other figures, and also going straight up, as the center pole of the tent. The three figures are like the trunk of the tree of life, and the figures surrounding it are like the branches spiraling upward. The two heads in fig. 1 and also in fig. 2 symbolize the Lord as both Father and Mother. In fig. 5, the cow is also a bull, so it is also both father and mother. Through the atonement, we can become born of God, spiritual children of Christ. Nibley wrote that the two heads also denote death and life.2 We have to die to be born again. One side of the veil is death, the other is life.
Figures 5, 2, and 1 make the center pillar of Facsimile Two. They fill two roles, both King and High Priest. It takes both to create the rebirth. The king is born from the waters of chaos and establishes the center point (the throne) of his kingdom. The beginning of all life is at the center point, for everything was first created spiritually and came from God (fig. 1). Next, he stretches out and establishes his territory (the foundation), sinks the stakes, and finally puts up the center pole (the Tree of Life with its branches spiraling ever upward.3 The high priest raises the tent (the cherubim act as midwife and protector). The king desires to set up his children in kingdoms of their own to work under him as joint-heirs, following the pattern he has set. Thus, the hypocephalus does not turn just once, but revolves, orbiting around the creator/king as he sets new kings on his throne. That spinning disk helps to create the energy to assist in bringing about the series of rebirths.
Figure 5 establishes the foundation, with the four legs of the cow firmly rooted beneath the earth in the marshy water of chaos. The Four Sons of Horus, standing before the king, are first redeemed, then assist in the work to bring all creation (fig 6) back to a state of Paradise from where the earth fell.
In the birth process, the spirit comes down from heaven (top half of Facsimile Two, specifically fig. 3) and enters into the baby on the fallen earth (bottom half of the Facsimile). Remember, Nibley says that the bottom is a mirror image of the top after being thrown into reverse by the adversary (Pounding the Tent Stakes). In the rebirth process, the initiate climbs upward. As in the past, we can use the metaphor of the Tree of Life, the mountain, Jacob's ladder, or many others as each together give a fuller understanding of the concept of ascension. The cater pillar is born from the earth, climbs up into the tree, builds the cocoon, and then flies upward upon (spiritual) maturation.
Perhaps we can see the birth process (into mortality) as squaring the circle. The square foundation is depicted by mother earth. The spirit comes from the circular, spiritual heavens of the Father, into the womb. Using the four elements, matter is created from spirit. So in this process of descent, the square is feminine, and the circle is masculine.
In the rebirth process, the initiate goes from symbolic death, up to the mercy seat, where the new spiritual creature is nurtured and protected by the Cherubim, whose wings guard the mercy seat over the ark. This is circling the square. The material creature is born into a higher, spiritual state. Forgetting this was only a spiritual resurrection in preparation for the physical resurrection, many members of the Primitive Church became Gnostic. They believed matter was evil.4
In the rebirth, the male and female aspects of the circle and the square have changed places. The priesthood carries the ark (coffin, womb), and through its ordinances, gives new birth to the initiate. Under the direction of the priesthood, the feminine aspect, shown by the female Cherubim, assist as midwife, nursing mother, and caretaker over the initiate as he/she is sanctifying him/herself by the power of the Holy Ghost.5 This is not to say that the Holy Ghost is a woman. We personally believe that there are many sanctified men and women acting in this office beneath the authority of that male member of the Godhead.
Returning to Facsimile 2: The rebirth process begins at the bottom. Hathor, the goddess cow, is combined with the bull to birth the initiate from the pit of Hades, the realm of the dead. They are pulled from the jaws of hell both spiritually and physically because without the atonement, that is where we would all end up. The fish is caught in the gospel net. The twelve oxen in the basement of the temple holding the baptismal font reinforce the theme of rebirth from Taurus the bull. We are born into mortality through Adam, and reborn into immortality through the second Adam (Christ in the role of Adam).6
The water in the protected womb of that cow/bull, is enlivened by God, as depicted from the cow's crown and medallion (which will be tackled another time). Although the cow is standing in the swamp water, the water in the womb is sacred. Egyptians considered Hathor "the birthhouse of the king".7 Nibley calls it "the passage from darkness to light."8 We come from the basement of the temple pure and move up into the realms of light:
And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God;
The Four Sons of Horus have a counterpart. The Egyptians spoke of four goddesses: Neith, and Selqet, joined Isis and Nephyths to watch over the byre of Osiris and to work as Openers of the Ways. These nursing Kings and Queens would take the newborn infant, to clean, anoint, and swaddle. After being named, the initiate is ready for tutoring. When the time is right, the midwife/tutor presents the child to the father (fig. 7). The Father determines whether the child is ready to move on to more advanced schooling. Has he/she proven they will listen to the voice of the shepherd who will lead them up the hill to feed in green pastures? Is the initiate ready to go from milk to meat?
Figure 1 has many lessons to teach and facets to understand. It represents the birth place of creation, symbolized by a cave in Bethlehem, and the second birth of re-creation symbolized by a cave in a garden in Jerusalem . Although we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism, it takes awhile for the purifying fire to complete its work. Each initiate must pass through their own Gethsemane if they are to follow the Savior. They must take up their cross and ascend Golgotha, that crossroad where an X marks the door. This is where heaven and earth meet and there death takes place in preparation of a higher birth. Gethsemane, Golgotha and the garden tomb are all in the same vicinity, as they should be. The successful initiate enters that fiery death/birth process as a lamb and is born from the two-headed ram god in Facsimile 2 figure 1 as a new creature, the phoenix.
Most hypocephali are depicted with four-headed rams (figure 1 of Facsimile 2) We do not think it is a mistake that Facsimile 2 has only two heads because of the symbolism of being both mother and father, and also the need it suggests, to read the Facsimile both horizontally and vertically. The third reason for the two heads is that they depict death and rebirth. There is, however, an important metaphor behind the common four-headed depiction. Being birthed from four rams is like passing through four stages of the veil of death and rebirth, being led by the Four Sons of Horus (they keep popping up, never leaving us without a guide). The four stages of the veil of death and rebirth takes place in the cave (of the heart) acting as a womb where the light from God's scepter shining down through the veil from above. That light contains the seeds of rebirth to provide life to the initiate who was symbolically dead.
From the heart of the hypocephalus, the initiate, when prepared and found worthy, is taken aloft on eagle's wings (Isaiah 40:1 and fig. 4), on the journey toward the final birth to be presented. The initiate is kept carefully in the solar boat and allowed no contamination. He/she must be offered pure and untouched as a sweet savor to the Father as in the example set by Christ: "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my father" (John 20:17). Nibley wrote that the mummy (initiate) must be hermetically sealed away from contamination as it is carried in the boat (Fac. 2, fig. 4).9 The nursing Kings and Queens (Isaiah 49:23) make sure the initiate is fully clean (they don't actually lick the feet) for the final stage. It was a custom in the Lord's time for the host to wash the feet of the invited guest before sitting down to sup.
Nibley taught that Joseph Smith made it plain that "the valiant obtain the crown along with the Son.the kingship itself is the highest glory" To attain that glory, "Adam, being drugged, fell into a deep sleep and forgot everything, it was an eagle that came and awakened and instructed him.this was originally the sun-bird (the phoenix of the resurrection) and later the figure of the Redeemer."10 At last the initiate is brought to the Father, and symbolically birthed from His head (like the Greek goddess Athena born fully armored) becoming a jewel in His crown11 (see Points to Ponder).
The top of Facsimile 2 is: "the heavenly Jerusalem .Church of the Firstborn.the spirits of just men made perfect,"12 where the crowning ceremony takes place and a scepter of light is given as the brand-new god is made a joint-heir. In Facsimile 3, Abraham, the Father of Lights (see Points to Ponder), is sitting on the throne, standing in the place of Father. Abraham is there with the approval of Pharaoh who represents the Father to his people. We cannot stress enough the danger of taking the focus from Heavenly Father and His Son. We believe it is a flawed understanding of this process that has brought about so much apostasy throughout history. People insist on worshipping the servants, who assist the Father and work in His name, but God alone is the author of our salvation and our eye must remain single to His glory.
After the initiate has finished the journey from the garden in a center place of earth, to the heavenly garden, he/she is in the land of milk and honey. There he/she is fed the sweet nectar and symbolically nursed by the goddess Maat, the perennial wife.13 Bees hum while they busily work and the birds sing for joy because of the upcoming celebration.14 The Bridegroom awaits, dressed in His special garment as Nibley wrote, Christ told his followers after His resurrection: "Do not touch me. I am not in the right garments yet.I'm going to my father and receive the garment that is waiting for me."15 Finally, the Church of the Firstborn, the Bride, finishes her adornment and comes to the sacred marriage.16
Summing up the above, the scriptures speak often of becoming part of the Body of Christ. Try and picture figures 5, 1, and 2 as the vertical central pillar that connects heaven and earth. We know that Christ is the chief cornerstone for the foundation, (fig. 5). He is the Word of God, written in the hearts of the children of men (fig. 1). That Word is symbolized by the broken tablets containing the commandments written on Sinai, and His death of a broken heart. We have to offer a broken heart on the altar of sacrifice if we are to be born of the Spirit. Finally, Christ is the capstone (fig. 2). The capstone speaks volumes (see Points to Ponder). There is ample evidence that these sacred esoteric principles were known and taught in the early Church during Christ's 40-day ministry. A misunderstanding of these things must have led to the idea of the trinity--three in one. Christ holds all of the offices, as all must who wish to become like Heavenly Father, but there are still three distinct personages in the Godhead. The things we are taught in Primary are true.
Now, after a glimpse of the bigger picture, let's go back and take a closer look at Hathor the Cow/Taurus the Bull, Figure 5. She/he is hiding down in the marsh where Isis is holding the papyrus or the lotus flower to denote birth, and is hiding her son from the enemies of her murdered husband, Osiris. We can equate this Isis with the Pharaoh dressed as Isis, standing behind the throne in Facsimile 3. Pharaoh, the bull of Egypt , in the office of Isis, bears witness to the world that the new creature born of the throne is her son and has a right to that throne. Isis also acts as a nursing King/Queen to the child.
One final warning about the temptation to insist on an office being a specific person. Each office represents Christ. Shepherds that have been given the proper keys work under His instructions, and also, the various offices are part of the path we each must take in the ascension process.
The first king of earth was Adam, who lived in the age of Taurus, as the cow/bull. Also, Abraham worked in that office, (as well as others) as shown in Facsimile Three and if we had the time here, could be supported by many examples from Brother Nibley. As we will see later in this article, Joseph Smith works in that office for this last dispensation.
Hugh Nibley taught that the Lord often quarantines His people when they are in need of protection, and also in order to allow them to grow into their full strength. He called it being "Quarantined in the Wilderness"17 and gives Abraham, Moses' Israel, and Lehi as a few examples of that principle. Now we will take an abbreviated look at that same situation happening to the Latter-Day Church when it was first restored.
In the early days of the Church, most of the members were spread out in New York and Pennsylvania until the Lord commanded the members to flee their enemies and go into the wilderness of Ohio. In Kirtland, they established a center place and from there, they spread out into the surrounding communities. Before the Church could fulfill its destiny and fill the world, the Saints needed to build a meeting point between heaven and earth. The Church needed to be empowered with the keys of the gathering of Israel, the ordinances of the temple and the sealing power. The Kirtland Temple fulfilled this purpose. It also brought the wrath of the adversary who knew full well the threat of temples to his claim on this earth. The resulting rage brought chaos and danger and the Saints had to flee further into the wilderness.
In Missouri, Joseph Smith could no more than designate the temple site before the hoards of hell were unleashed. A temple in Kirtland was bad enough, but the devil could not stand for the sacred place of Adam to fall into the hands of the Saints and be redeemed. The Saints could not gain a solid foothold anywhere in Missouri before the mobs would again descend. The land of Zion was not redeemed, but a claim was established and the removal was illegal. The situation was heartbreaking but necessary. Only an endowed, sanctified people could build the New Jerusalem.
We feel that one of the reasons early church members went through so much is that great sacrifice and suffering is required of those who would learn to succor those in need, as the Savior does. Jesus Christ suffered the blows of death in our place, but we are still tried according to our capacity. Most members have not been required to become martyrs, but some of His disciples have been required to sacrifice their lives for the gospel's sake. When the jaws of hell gape open the mouth wide after the initiate, the sacrifice of the lamb is the substitute, if the power of the atonement is applied. The initiate does not have to literally descend into the pit. There are occasions when a prophet has to follow the Lord, descending symbolically into the pit in order to assist both the spiritually and physically dead. These prophets have to be rooted in as a pillar that holds the foundation stone. Daniel was thrown into the lion's den but proved immune to the dangers. Joseph of Egypt was thrown into the pit of death by his brothers, sold to the enemy who took him from the Promised Land down into Egypt , away from the presence of his father. His brother had the proof of his death; the coat of skins, which legend claims are the garments given to Adam in the Garden of Eden. This not only parallels the Savior's betrayal and death, but also Adam's spiritual death and fall from the Garden where he had been betrayed by his brother. There, he had become naked, having lost his skin of light.18 Christ was betrayed unto death by one of the twelve apostles; conversely, Joseph of Egypt was the one out of twelve brothers who was betrayed by them.
Like Joseph of Egypt, Joseph Smith had to partially drink the bitter cup in a symbolic pit of death. Betrayed into the hands of the mob at Far West, by a brother (in the gospel) whose job it was to protect the prophet, Joseph ended up in a jail that was mostly below ground, accessed by a trap door; definitely a pit.
The Lord has given Joseph the keys of the kingdom to release the captives from the pit. We learn from Section 138 of the D&C, that Christ himself did not descend into the spirit prison, but sent emissaries in his name. Joseph Smith was one who was sent:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good things unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
(Isaiah 61: 1)
"Liberty Jail" is an interesting play on words. Baptismal fonts are in the basements of temples. Regarding the work for the dead, the door leading into the temple goes from a symbolic pit, up through a trap door in the middle. Christ became the door of the sheepfold because of His descent below all things. He brings liberty to the spiritually dead and sets representative in place to raise the initiates from the water. On behalf of our ancestors, we are lifted out of the water of a baptismal font resting on the backs of the oxen.
Joseph was tried to the point that he went below all things as much as his personal capacity allowed. When he came up again from that pit, he was better able to stand as a representative of the Savior and succor those who were in need of succor. If we want to give our Abrahamic sacrifice, and follow the Lord as Joseph did, we have to be willing to have our heart broken to learn how to heal the sufferers. Christ gave the example:
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
( Alma 7:12)
What happened to Joseph in that jail was a type for a death and rebirth. Upon spiritual rebirth, the new creature has what is referred to as "the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony". Nibley tells us that this ceremony is a reversal of the blows of death.19 No wonder the prophet spoke with greater power after he was released.
Isaiah 11:1 and D&C 113, refer to the root from which the branch (Christ) will grow during the Millennium. The Father planted Joseph into the ground as a pillar to be that root (John 15:1). As in the days of Peter, the foundation stone of the Priesthood was securely laid. This time, however, the root was sure, and will never be uprooted. That pit of a jail in Missouri fulfilled many symbolic roles in the pattern of the gospel.
Christ had to lay down His life to save us. The sacrament represents His body and blood. Joseph of Egypt had to descend into Egypt in order to feed his brethren, the Israelites, saving their lives. Joseph Smith feeds modern day Israel the spiritual food that will save their eternal lives. We feast from the scriptures he received by the power of God. We partake of the sacrament and other ordinances that were restored through him.
Since Joseph's descent into the pit is symbolic for the death of Christ, then we can see the wrenching flight of Emma in a new light. She was like a widow with her young son, Joseph. They are a type for the woman (the Church) and her son who fled into the wilderness after the apostasy (Rev. 12). This is like Adam, cast out of the Garden of Eden to earth. Everything was thrown into reverse, just as Emma had to reverse course and head east, back across the Mississippi and into the Marsh. Remember Facsimile 2, fig. 5, the bull/cow in the marsh.
This scenario plays out a number of times in the scriptures, including John the Baptist and his mother who fled into the wilderness when the father was killed near the altar of the temple. This draws a striking parallel to Christ, His bride (the Church holding the priesthood ordinances of rebirth) and His offspring (Children of Israel) (Matt. 23:35).
Isis was known as the devoted widow in ancient Egypt . She was the consort of Osiris, god of the dead. In some stories he is Horus the elder. After the evil brother Seth (no connection to Adam's son Seth), brought about the death of Osiris, Isis became impregnated by divine fire. In some versions, she used her magic powers to revive Osiris for just long enough to conceive a son by him. Changing into a bird, she fanned the breath of life into him with her wings. Once she knew she was pregnant, Isis fled to the marshlands of the Nile delta to hide from her brother Seth, who would try to kill her child. Her son, Horus the younger, was born in hiding and she nursed him and helped protect him, aided by deities. She waited until Horus was old enough to come from the swamp and avenge his father.20
Before there were ever paintings of the Madonna and child, there were paintings of Isis with her child Horus on her lap. Christians have been accused of stealing the motif similarly-styled, but when the root of the matter is understood, then we can see the true beginnings were the ones sent from Heavenly Father to Adam and Eve. They brought the ordinances of the priesthood that gave spiritual rebirth to Adam and Eve, the first offspring of the Church.
The symbolically-widowed Emma had to flee with her son and into the marsh to hide and grow. The son, named Joseph for his father, as Horus the Younger was named for Horus the Elder, suffered along with his mother. A heartrending account is given in D&C 122, where Joseph is told:
If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; .and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can't you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? And if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
(Doctrine and Covenants 122: 6, 7)
The events in verse 7 either literally, or symbolically did happen to Joseph in that dark jail. Now we will take a final look at the widow and her son. The Church becomes a widow when the husband who holds the keys of the ordinances is taken from her. It is those ordinances that plant the seed that grows to a new child. Cross-referencing the verse regarding the woman who flees with her child in Rev. 12, takes us to Isaiah where we learn the child is the spiritual children of Israel (Isaiah 66:7-9). It is through the temple that we become those children. There we complete the process of truly becoming part of the Body of Christ and take upon us His name. Having the blood of Israel in your veins is not what counts, we must have our hearts bound to Israel or the earth will be smitten with a curse at His coming (Malachi 4:6). The laws that this fallen earth are under are different from those in heaven. We learn in D&C 105:3-5, that Celestial law works on a different principle than this one. Only those united with the principle of Zion can be received up to the Lord. Until the initiate is ready to join the ship of a thousand (fig. 4), they can not fully be a part of the kingdom of God .
The Church was not really without the keys when Joseph was in jail but there were lessons learned by all involved during this symbolic episode. Years later, when Joseph was actually murdered and taken from the presence of the Church, he still held the keys, and additionally, he had completed passing them on to the twelve not long before his death.
In Nauvoo, the Church redeemed the swampy marsh, turning the diseased, rough place into a beautiful paradise, the largest city in Illinois at the time. The Saints spread out to the surrounding areas (four cardinal directions) and had a time of peace, hidden and protected in the swamp. That peace began to erode when the temple began to be built on a hill overlooking the river. It was time for the ordinances to be given to the members in order to bring forth Israel and establish kings and queens on the earth; Kings and Queens whose kingdoms would not be of this world. The temple had to be built for the kingdom to roll forth, but it came at a steep price. Nevertheless, Zion had to separate itself from the world.
After losing Joseph, the Church had to again flee into the wilderness. Both in Nauvoo and Egypt , places where the people were fed by men with the same name, Israel had to depart without their Joseph, who died yearning for that trip.
The Mississippi River had to be crossed for the Saints to be safe from their enemies. In an obvious type for The Red Sea, they crossed over on dry ground since the river was frozen solid. There was one very big difference between ancient Israel and modern Israel in this crossing. The ancient Israelites did not have the blessings of the temple. The Saints crossed with their Ark of the Covenant internalized. They were endowed with power from on high. Their wagons were perfect types for the sacred Ark with its Mercy Seat as Nibley portrays:
".a Hebrew aron (an ark or vessel, like the ark of the covenant"), and an Arabic tabut (borrowed from the Egyptian word for "chest, coffin") - all these words designate the ancient tribal shrines. And they have two characteristics in common: they are dome-shaped, and they are mounted on a boxlike frame; the two come together in a substructure, merkabah, a vessel or wagon (something you ride on).Whatever its precise meaning, it was meant to provide mobility" (T&C 142).
Those covered wagons, were like boats with soft, white covers, like wings over the wooden box. The Ark of the Covenant contained the broken tablets of stone with the law written upon them, the staff of Aaron, and a bowl of manna. Inside the wagons fleeing Nauvoo (ark; tomb/womb), the endowed Saints had been furnished with the bread of life, and had been given their staff. These were the members who had remained faithful, and whose broken hearts had the word written (Deuteronomy 11:18) upon the tablet (Proverbs 3:3) of that broken heart; a heart that had once been stone but had been removed and replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Within that wagon, that ship of Zion, was a heart touched with the light of Christ (Ether 3:4). Brother Nibley wrote that the law written on the heart brings kingship.21
Exodus From Nauvoo
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
Embraced by the
Father of Waters,
the mother of a multitude
plants her feet on stones
white as crescent moons
waxing in the evening sky.
Temple-true she stands,
clothed in suns,
crowned with stars.
In limestone skin
pure as the longing
of her covenant children,
she gathers them close,
seals their desires
then watches with
darkening eyes as,
facing west, they flee
into the wilderness.
Sharon Price Anderson
Ancient Israel had to wander in the desert. Their path symbolized the reverse course the fall brought about. Without the full blessings of the temple (which they rejected), their journey can be depicted like a helix course, shown by the serpents winding up the caduceus staff. The endowed modern Israel was able to walk in a straight course toward the Promised Land. It is only the first time around as an initiate, that Facsimile 2 does not follow a clockwise pattern. Once the effects of the fall are overcome, so is the reversal of the pattern.
Some weeks after the first groups of wagons had left, Brigham Young sent a number of wagons back to the Mississippi to bring back the poor and infirm who had crossed the river but could get no further. Surely, no sacred chariot could have looked better to those forlorn, stranded Saints, than their rescuers' wagons.
The beauty of the scriptures is that they apply to so many situations, as when Isaiah wrote of the day that kings and queens would carry the sons and daughters upon their shoulders and nurse them (Isaiah 49: and 60:16). Surely this was a small type and shadow of those verses. A few years later, the Emigration Fund would assist in bringing more of the poor from Europe crossing plains, and we assume there will be greater fulfillment in the Millennium when those kings not destroyed will organize under the Lord and assist the poor. The missionaries, endowed with power from on high, are also sent to bring into the stakes of Zion, the poor in spirit who need sustenance.
Many of the Saints who had been leaders in the young Church did not cross the plains. That, coupled with the previous story is another type and shadow for the day when many of the called will refuse to come to the great Marriage Feast. We can read in Matthew, chapter 22, and Luke, chapter 14 about the invited guests who would not come to the feast. The Lord of the feast then sent his servants out into the highways to bring in the poor and infirm.
Brother Nibley often taught about the "Sent Ones."22 These servants, who have progressed to the point of being "spiritual kings and queens", are sent to bring in the poor in spirit who are then taught the light of truth.23 Sent Ones can be mortal or immortal. The poor and infirm from Nauvoo crossed the river but had not the means and strength to come on to Zion. To sustain them, the Lord sent quail, just like with the Israelites. Then the merkabah (sacred chariot) came and they were carried to safety. This pattern was repeated in the events of the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies, and was discussed at length in our last Conference (Oct. 2006). Our prophet is asking us to repeat that rescue as so many are attempting to flee the world but are spiritually dying without help.
The Center Stake
and the Law of the Harvest
After a long and arduous journey, the Saints arrived at the chosen place, and Brigham immediately established a center stake of Zion. Not long after, he sent many of the Saints out figuratively to the four cardinal directions to organize more stakes of Zion and bring in the great harvest. After the foundation was wide enough and strong enough to support a tent canopy, the serious building of temples began. If the foundation had not been sufficiently spread out, or the tent stakes were not driven in firmly, the cords that attached the center pole to the stakes would not have held the pole upright on the foundation stone.
Brigham Young, like Captain Moroni, knew the enemy's next attack was only a matter of time. Both Brigham and Moroni had many new cities built in a very specific way. Captain Moroni drove the enemy from the area, and built fortresses with pillars sunk firmly and protected with a garment of earth as protection from the fiery darts of the adversary. Brigham encouraged the members to drive out sin, and he worked hard to get the people endowed. Both groups put on armor of protection, erected watch towers and kept their heads down for the enemy was always watching for an opportunity.24
The first temple to be dedicated in the new land rose from the swamps, as it should have. Symbolizing the first mound of earth rising from the waters of chaos, Brigham had the Saints pound in a foundation into the marshy ground. The Kirtland Temple was no longer consecrated, and the Nauvoo Temple had been destroyed. A new round had begun. Many were puzzled by Brigham's choice, but he understood more than he is sometimes given credit for. The temple was built at the bottom of the territory (Fac. 2, fig. 5), a land of rich, red earth. A number of ancient cultures equated red lands with the first creation, and also showed Seth (Satan) to be red-headed. Hebrew tradition associates Michael with the south; one of four prophets who oversee the four quarters of the Universe.25 The land the St. George temple was built on was redeemed from a fallen world. Brigham could have chosen the beautiful mesa where the temple could have over-looked the valley, but the ancient pattern was followed. Although a watch tower, the sacred edifice stayed low and kept its head down, hidden in the swamp. The purifying fountain sprang up and spread from there.
Quietly, other temples arose, this time on hills, and then, the center stake was completed in the tops of the mountains. The granite temple in Salt Lake City is considered a mountain itself. The church was finally strong enough to endure the raging of the enemy.just barely. Things were not easy, as this was the era of vicious persecution regarding polygamy, but they made it through the fire. From that time the gospel has spread around the globe and now temples dot the earth.
The Law of the Return
The day will come when the eagle will fly from the heart of the Rockies, to the head of Zion. With the protection of a cloud by day and a pillar by night, the ship of Zion, covered by wings of the Cherubim (Facsimile 2, fig. 4), will return to graft Israel back into the center point of Zion.
In D&C 101:17, speaking of Jackson County, we read that "Zion will not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered." Appropriate that Joseph was rooted in Liberty jail (Isaiah 11:1), in Missouri. The center pole of the tent is there. D&C 101:21 tells us that other places appointed to the Saints "shall be called stakes for the curtains or the strength of Zion." Salt Lake is the Center Stake of Zion around which the Church revolves until the center pole can be raised. Yet the Church revolves around that center pole even now for the pole represents the ordinances which Joseph restored.
The scriptures teach that: ".out of Zion shall go forth the law, [the New Jerusalem] and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3). Neither place has been redeemed, so the Center Stake of Zion stands in place of both for now. The parallels between Salt Lake and the surrounding area with the country of Israel are tremendous and we will look at those another time.
What is interesting to note, is that the law issues from the mouth, the head. The New Jerusalem will symbolize this head as it will be the seat of Christ's political kingdom. Jerusalem will symbolize the heart where the word of the Lord is written. Salt Lake, in the heart of the Rockies, the tops of the mountains, is where the Church will eventually send out a righteous return, flying on wings of mercy, back to Paradise, the Garden of Eden (remembering that they mean the same in Hebrew). The Latter-Day Church has been climbing the spiritual mountain, ready to be taken on "eagle's wings" (Isaiah 40:1) back to God's presence (Fac. 2, fig. 4). We know that the Lord will walk the streets of Zion even before the Second Coming. All who return there must be able to abide His presence. And so, we prepare.
The goal of the ancient civilizations, Nibley tells us, was always."to restore the primal community of Gods and men, or as we would say, to achieve atonement".26 First comes the harvest of souls from the effects of the fall (lower half of Fac. 2) then comes the return to at-one-ment (upper half of Fac. 2). In the last days, it is the responsibility of the Church to assist God in preparing the earth for that unity of heart. With the changes that have come upon the land, Mount Zion, in Missouri is no longer on a mountain. One could say the mountain is hidden. In Fac. 2, fig. 1, there are three mountains, or pillars. Two on either side, hide the middle where the sacred birth takes place. The two mountains of Zion, Salt Lake and Jerusalem, with Missouri in the middle is a type and shadow. In addition to the two mountains hiding the center place in Fac. 2, fig. 1, figures 22, and 22 have many facets of understanding, one of them being a further type for the two Mount Zions in the mountains of the west, and the mountain of Jerusalem in the east. The light that comes from them reflects the center place and will assist in the rebirth of the sacred Mount Zion of Missouri. At the time of the Second Coming, the city of God, the Church of the Firstborn, will be a city of light, adorned and ready for the Bridegroom.
The citizens of the center place of Zion will be the "Pure in Heart", for as we read in the Bible Dictionary, p. 792, Zion is both the pure in heart, and a geographic location. The king's substitutes, those who act in the office of "the four sons of Horus", will be sent out one last time to bring in the final harvest. all who will come into the safety of one of the stakes of Zion. The stone will fill the earth, the foundation will spread out broad and firm so the center tent pole can rise to the heaven. Then the canopy of heaven will be unveiled and the face of God revealed, along with the righteous who will return with Him:
.truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City , that my people may gird up their loins; and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion , the New Jerusalem. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;
(Moses 7: 62, 63)
Points to Ponder:
1. First and foremost, we want to make very clear here that the use of animals to depict stations or offices is not to be taken literally. In both scripture and mythology, animal metaphors are used to denote a specific quality or qualities that help explain a concept. For instance, I struggled over Nibley writing about baboons. I dislike baboons and think they are awful creatures. Once I finally got over my problem with the animal and looked at the traits that explained certain aspects of an office, I repented of my dislike of the animal and appreciated the truths taught. The vulture, another creature used in Egyptology also bothered me until I learned that the females are fiercely protective mothers with strong wings. It is also important to note that one office may have many aspects to it and can be best explained using a variety of animals. It is better not to think of a specific animal being the only metaphor for any office. Sometimes an office is explained by two opposite animals to show two sides to the duties. A hint for this would be Isaiah telling us that in the Millennium, the lion will lie down with the lamb. Among other qualities and offices these animals can depict are these; Christ first came as a lamb and in His second coming, He will return as a lion, or any other fierce animal one could think of to fulfill the role.
2. The Egyptian goddess Maat, is the feminine aspect of figure 2, in Facsimile 2. Her chisel of light, as discussed in Pounding the Tent Stakes, acts as the sun stone, infusing with life, shaping the "lively stone" below on Mount Zion , and touching the stone to make it shine.
3. Abraham means "father of a multitude". A further study of the name in Hebrew shows more specifically: Ab means father, and ra means to see or behold. Ra is the sun god in Egyptian. The seer stone (Maat stone of truth), sun stone, and scepter of light held in fig. 2 of Fac. 2, all enlighten this concept. Ham is perhaps just the plural, making Abraham the father of lights. It could also be seen as the (ha), M (mem). Father of light of the mem. The mem is the middle letter and seems to relate to figure 1, in Fac. 2. The letter is shaped like a cave with a door, and a ray of light piercing it from the top right side. The star shone down on the cave where the Christ child was born. Through Him, we all are given the chance for a spiritual rebirth. Abraham stands above in fig. 2, shining light through the veil (lotus on altar), upon the mountain below that shields the new babe. We are not saying that Abraham is the father of Jesus Christ. Just as he stood in the place of the Father in willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham stands as a symbol for the father. In very fact, he is the father of the seed of Israel. Circles within circles, orbits within orbits.
4. In figure 1, there are three mountains, or pillars. The middle pillar is shielded by the two on either side, and also by the baboons who represent Isis and Nephthys, or the wings of the Cherubim.
5. The new babe must grow and rise up the mountain, grace to grace, until ready for the final death, then rebirth from a cave higher up in Jerusalem. The Olmecs, who lived in North America at the time of the Jaredites, carved their stone statues with square heads. Many native American tribes had the custom of the chief wearing a round headdress. Every time one of his followers would complete the rituals and become a man, the chief would add a feather to his cap, so to speak. Nibley wrote that a feather denotes deity (Temple and Cosmos, p. 218). Feathers and stars are the same word in Hebrew. Jewels in the crown (D&C 101:3) also come to mind. (quote D&C). Relating this information to the discussion on circling the square can be enlightening.
6. Play with the idea of the sacred tomb (cave) in the garden, and a beehive. Sweetness of breath that smells of the Garden of Eden is a common theme among ancient beliefs and written of many times by Nibley.
7. The butterfly has poor vision here but sees far in ultraviolet light (the highest in the rainbow). It is attracted to light and also loves to bask in the rays of the sun. It smells the nectar of flowers from far off and is attracted to gardens.
8. The ordinances provide the very means and the discipline by which light operates on material things" (Nibley, Temple and Cosmos, p. 311).
9. Druids believe that trees are doors to another realm where one can converse with deity. Those with the proper words and letters written upon their fingers have the power to cross over (Dutchie.org/Tracy/tree).
10. "The first thing which emerged from the primordial waters was the temple" (Temple and Cosmos, p. 72). The root rises above that water, spreads in four directions and up to bring order out of chaos. Christ is the creator, but He is also assisted in the work of the creation by righteous saints.
11. "It is the ultimate particle, the ennas, which came from the Father, of those who are without beginning, emanating from the treasure house of light from which all life and power is ultimately derived. Thanks to the vivifying and organizing power of the Spark, we find throughout the cosmos an infinity of dwelling places, other worlds, kosmoi, either occupied or awaiting tenants. These are colonized by migrants from previously established topoi or worlds, all going back ultimately to a single original center.
The colonizing process is calling "planting," and those Spirits which bring their treasures to a new world are called "plants," more rarely "seeds," of their father, (Temple and Cosmos, p. 153).
12. The idea of one animal changing into another is common and in light of this idea, the following quote is interesting: "The ship in which Horus fuses with Re represents transition from one state to another, from the state of death to life in heaven. The scene is read from the bottom upward. Between the passage is represented by the symbol and hieroglyph hpr, meaning "to become" or pass from one state to another. The butterfly wings (astonishingly like those found on Mesoamerican temple reliefs) dramatically illustrate static change of form while preserving individual identity" (Joseph Smith Papyri, p. 298).
1T&C p. 35
2Ibid p. 196
3J.S.P. p. 324
4T&C p. 201
61 Corinthians 15:44-47
7J.S.P. p. 288
8Ibid p. 322
9T&C p. 265
10Ibid pp. 493-4
12Hebrews 12: 22, 23
13J.S.P. p. 252
15Ibid p. 118
16Ibid p. 54
17T&C p. 243
18Ibid p. 117
20Willis, World Mythology, p. 43
21T&C p. 193
221Ibid p. 303
24See Alma 50
25WM p. 25
26T&C p. 400