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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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Oliver Cowdery’s Rod of Revelation (Part 2 of 7)

In the 19th and 20th century, dowsing rods were commonly used to find water.  Apparently Oliver Cowdery believed he could get revelation from one of these rods, and Joseph Smith encouraged him to use his rod of revelation.

GT:  Okay, so let me make sure. I want to be clear on this. So, Oliver Cowdery has had a history of receiving his own revelations through this rod, or wand.

Clair:  Yes….Oliver shows up in 1829, and it’s literally, like within a month, that these revelations come out.

GT:  So, Oliver says, “Joseph, I get these revelations through my wand,” and then Joseph says, “Oh, you’re going to have this great gift, too.”

Clair:  Yes, and probably, I think, to be a translator.

GT:  So, then we get, I think it is D&C 10 where it says you must study it out in your mind.

Clair:  Right.

GT:  That’s a scripture that all of us are familiar with.

Clair:  Yeah.

GT:  I don’t think most of us are familiar with these rods.

Clair:  Right.

Clair:  So Joseph had a seer stone, through which he translated. Oliver has a rod. My guess is that was what he was supposed to translate through, because he’d been getting revelations through it already, just like Joseph had been getting revelations through his seer stone. Both are treasure seeking tools. Why wouldn’t it be? It seems the most obvious thing. So Oliver, here’s how I read it. To Joseph, it’s easy. He pops the rock into a hat and man, he’s seeing stuff.  He can see, just like that. It’s easy and revelations come popping in.  He doesn’t even have to try. Then Oliver’s is like me, right? You give me anything. {Clair picks up a can of soda and talks to the can.}  It would be like, “Tell me some stuff.” And it just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen for Oliver.  Joseph says, “It’s easy, Oliver, you just study it out in your mind, and if you feel good about it, what you think the translation is, that’s it. If you have a stupor of thought, then that’s the wrong translation. But then it never works.

GT:  So is Oliver trying to use the seer stone? Or is he trying to use the rod?

Clair:  Well, we don’t know. I think it’s the rod.

Were you aware of this history with D&C 10?  Apparently other church leaders used a rod of revelation as well.  We will learn more about this in our next conversation with Clair Barrus.

Oliver used a dowsing rod to receive revelations, as did other church leaders.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Clair Barrus!

406:  Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family

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Masonic Connections in Oliver Cowdery’s Family (Part 1 of 7)

Clair Barrus has been studying Mormon history since before Al Gore invented the internet!

Clair:  Well, to show my ancientness, I was actually online in 1984, on the internet, when only engineering firms and universities were on the internet.

GT:  Was this like Prodigy or AOL or something else?

Clair:  It was before. I remember when AOL and Prodigy came online. This was pre-anything. You had to be working at an engineering firm, and some universities had access.

GT:  So like the ARPANET?

Clair:  Oh, yeah, it was the ARPANET. Yeah, it was pre-internet. It was the ARPANET.

GT:  Wow, you’re very experienced.

Clair:  Yeah, I’ve been around for a while. (Chuckling)

I was surprised to learn that it isn’t just Joseph Smith who has connections to masonry and magic.  It turns out that Oliver Cowdery has a family history with magic and masonry.  Clair Barrus will tell us more.

Clair:  Let me start with Oliver Cowdery and his father William Cowdery. I think there’s some interesting early Masonic influences that may have come through Oliver Cowdery. Oliver Cowdery’s father was actually involved very early on in a group called, the New Israelites. When you think of New Israelites, compare that with Latter-day Saints.  New and Latter are related, and Saints and Israelites are related. So, you have an interesting relationship just in the naming there. The New Israelites were a very interesting group of people up in Vermont that William Cowdery was involved with. They used rods a lot. They were rodsmen, and they would use rods to get revelations through. Then they created a religious movement and they had a dietary code/restrictions, just has an interesting parallel to the Word of Wisdom. They wanted to build a new Jerusalem. They actually would use their divining rods to gather underground gold and had vast heaps of gold and they were going to use that gold to pave the streets of their new Jerusalem.  They got a revelation. Nathaniel Wood, who was the leader, got a revelation that they should build a temple. Now this is interesting because think about it. What temple builders are there in American religious history? The Mormons or the Latter-day Saints and the New Israelites and the Masons. The Masons are symbolic temple builders.  The interior of every Masonic Lodge is a temple. That was it before Joseph Smith, so I think this is an interesting, unique parallel.  If anyone knows of another temple builder before Joseph Smith, I would love to know, please let me know.

Check out our conversation….

Historian Clair Barrus tells about the masonic connections in Oliver Cowdery’s family.

Don’t miss our previous conversation about Masonry and Mormonism with historian Cheryl Bruno!

405: Mormon-Mason Similarities/Differences (Bruno)

404: Joseph Smith’s Masonic Connections (Bruno)

403: Masonry from King Solomon to Kirtland (Bruno)