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Joseph’s Magical Masonry (Part 6 of 7)

Many people in the 19th century believed in magic.  We’re not talking parlor tricks.  We’re talking about real magic.  In our next conversation with Clair Barrus, we will talk about how these magical spirits and magic circles were believed to help people like Joseph Smith find buried treasure.  We’ll talk about the combination of magical masonry.

Clair:  Lucy Mack Smith, when she was writing her family memoir. She had several drafts, and we have the earlier drafts. In this early draft, she says something to the effect, “Well, we didn’t spend all of our time trying to win the faculty of Abrac, or soothsaying or drawing magic circles, we did attend to our business and took care of it.” That’s it, in essence, and then she doesn’t go on and then the next draft, there’s nothing.  So we have this tantalizing tidbit and it’s interesting to go, “Hmm, what in the world is she talking about?” Well, we know, of course, the Smiths were heavily involved in treasure seeking. This phraseology is, I believe, about treasure seeking. But it also has a Masonic origin, an interesting Masonic origin. So Abracadabra was a magic word.  It goes way, way back. It probably had something to do with trying to conjure up the deity Abraxas and you can find it in all sorts of books going way back. If you narrow that down, though, to the word Abrac, so Abracadabra. If you draw a triangle, a magic triangle, and the bottom line has Abracadabra, and then it’s a little shorter and shorter. At the top is letter A, that is a magic abracadabra triangle.

Abracadabra triangle. Courtesy Clair Barrus

Clair:  Magic Circle is not in the Leland manuscript, but it is something that the Smiths did, and other treasure seekers [did] when trying to recover a buried treasure. When you draw a magic circle with a dagger, and the Smith’s had a ceremonial dagger with an occult symbol in it, it was quite likely used for drawing magic circles in the ground. When a magician would draw a magic circle, it was used to either keep spirits out or keep them in or to protect the magician that was in the circle or protect others that were in the circle. It was creating a magical barrier that couldn’t be crossed.

GT:  When you’re saying magician, you’re not using that in today’s term where it’s just a guy who does optical illusions.

Clair:  This is not parlor tricks.

GT:  This is actually, they believed they were doing magic.

Clair:  Yes, this is ceremonial magic. This is something the Smiths did.  If we want, I can read a very interesting quote about Joseph Smith, Sr.  Well, I’ll just summarize it. Joseph Smith, Sr. drew two magic circles. Then he puts rods of witch hazel sticks around the two circles and then in the very center he draws in a rod of iron. What he’s really doing is creating a cone. There’s an outer circle and an inner circle and then a point. It’s supposed to represent a 3D cone going down into the ground, holding the treasure at this point inside of this cone. Then Joseph Smith, Sr. walks around the circle three times, and he’s described as muttering.  Well, he’s probably using magic words, a spell, some kind of ceremonial magic and maybe the word abracadabra might have been part of it.  We don’t know, or Abrac or something.  Then that’s supposed to help protect the treasure from the spirits.

Clair:  He then goes into the house and asks Joseph Smith, who is looking in his seer stone in the hat and he says, “Joseph.”  And then they dig.  They had dug, and there’s no treasure. They go in the house, “Joseph what happened?” he says. He [Joseph, Jr.] has been watching the spirit interacting with this cone, these magic circles that Joseph Smith, Sr. has drawn. Joseph [Jr.] said that the Spirit was able to get the treasure and move it through the earth and they lost it. They had made a mistake during some part of the ritual, and that’s why they lost the treasure. It’s a fascinating account. I can’t remember if it’s William Stafford that wrote this. It’s a fascinating account. It gives you [a] very detailed [account] into what the Smiths would do.

Find out more about magic lamens!  Check out our conversation…and don’t miss our previous conversations with Clair!

410:  Masonic Legends & Golden Plates

409:  Different Types of Masonry

408:  Is Book of Mormon anti-Masonic?

407:  Oliver Cowdery’s Rod of Revelation

406:  Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family



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Masonic Legends & Gold Plates (Part 5 of 7)

Historian Don Bradley made some waves in my previous interview when he said there were masonic implements with the Gold Plates.  It turns out that Clair Barrus has some similar beliefs, and we will talk about masonic legends and golden plates.

Clair: Lucy Mack Smith writes about this. She says, “Joseph said, ‘Do not be uneasy, mother. All is right. See here, I have got a key.'” He calls it a key. “I knew not what he meant. I took the article of which he spoke into my hands and upon examination found it consisted of two, smooth three-quarter diamonds set in glass. And the glasses were set in silver bows.” This is Joseph Smith’s translating device, but he calls it a key, the same word that is used in the Royal Arch Masonic myth. The high priest puts on a breastplate, uses the key, and he translates the characters that were originally from a gold plate. So I think there’s something going on there. I think this may be what inspired Joseph Smith to go on and allow Mormonism to come forth.

GT:  So you think there’s a Masonic connection to the origins? The origin story of the golden plates? Is that [right]?

Clair:  I think so.  I think that at some point Joseph shifts from a common treasure-seeker to a restorer of ancient scripture, buried scripture written by ancient prophets.

GT:  Hmm.

Clair:  I think that story and then the idea of how do we translate these and what do we even wear while we’re translating it? I think that also comes from masonry.

What are your thoughts?  Check out our conversation…

Clair Barrus describes masonic connections to the golden plates.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Clair!

409:  Different Types of Masonry (Barrus)

408:  Is Book of Mormon anti-Masonic? (Barrus)

407:  Oliver Cowdery’s Rod of Revelation (Barrus)

406:  Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family (Barrus)

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Critics & Apologists (Part 12 of 12)

Some people call Historian Don Bradley an apologist for his seemingly too rosy view of the Book of Mormon.  Some apologists think he is stretching to far to explain what is potentially in the lost pages of the Book of Mormon.  What does Don have to say about this?

Don: One thing I would point out that they may not be aware of is my personal history, when it comes to these subjects. Actually, when I started this project, I was in the church, but I was very much a doubter. I wasn’t coming from a place of belief.  Subsequently, I came to be completely disillusioned. For a good several years, I left the church officially. I had my name removed from the church records, and was out of the church for five years before returning. The thing is, I’ve continued this project in basically the same kind of way the entire time. So, if they’re thinking that it’s a question that the question of what was in the lost pages is somehow uniquely tied to a worldview perspective, they’re mistaken. My worldview has changed dramatically across the course of doing this project, but the project itself has continued and the findings that I made while I was out of the church, about was in the lost pages, still hold water for me. I didn’t change my mind about those or anything.

Part of the reason why it’s possible, in the first place, to shift worldviews but continue the same historical project is that the project isn’t about ancient Nephites in Mesoamerica. I’m not doing faith-based archaeology or something looking for Zarahemla. As you were indicating, I’m trying to figure out what was in a certain lost manuscript. Now, while it’s controversial whether there were Nephites, it’s not controversial that there was an initial Book of Mormon manuscript that got stolen. So what I’m trying to do is figure out what was in that manuscript. So for that question, it’s really irrelevant whether one thinks that we’re Nephites or not. For that question, It’s iirrelevant whether there were Nephites or not.  It may be very important for other issues, but it’s not important for knowing what was in the lost pages.

Check out our conversation….

Don Bradley addresses critics who think his book is apologetic in nature.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Don!

364: New Insights on Liahona (Bradley)

363: How Did Nephi Get Priesthood? (Bradley)

362: Who Stole the Manuscript? (Bradley)

361: Exonerating Lucy Harris (Bradley)

360: Masonic Golden Plates & Temple Theology (Bradley)

359: Temple Endowment in Lost Pages (Bradley)

358: Laban Killed During Passover (Bradley)

357: More than 116 Pages Lost? (Bradley)

356: How Much of BoM is Missing? (Bradley)

355: Re-Writing Oliver’s Words: Dirty, Nasty, Filthy Scrape? (Bradley)

354: Dating Fanny Alger (Bradley)