The Endowment Ceremony is the first big temple ritual you get to perform as a Mormon. It's your big rite into adulthood [not what it's about, but what it is.] Guys will usually perform this just before they leave for their missions at 19, it's essentially a commitment ceremony to the Church [first] and to god [second.] Cough. This is when you get your garments, and they serve as a steady reminder of your commitment to be chaste, pure, blah blah blah.
Girls will perform this either before they leave for their missions at 21, or before they are married. A lot of girls do this the day before they are married, or the morning before their wedding, if they're not getting married first thing in the a.m. [Side note: unless you have garments, you cannot go see a wedding of a family member or friend in the temple. Period. Weddings usually take place in the morning, the bride and groom go do it, then the wedding reception is in the crappy church gym with streamers and paper cups of nuts in the late afternoon/early evening. I've only been to ONE LDS reception that wasn't in a gym. ONE.]
I'm confused as to why the show has Barb going through the Endowment ceremony, though. I assumed she and Bill had done it already, since they used to be members in good standing. I thought they had been married to the temple, and that was a big thing to them? (A lot of polygamists keep their church membership as long as they can so they can go to the temple. Now that the FLDS has a temple in El Dorado, TX, though, I bet this is no longer the case.)
The Church is going bananas about this "sacred rite" being taken "out of context" and is trying to get them to remove it. This has always been the case with anyone talking about the temple and what goes on in there. Why? Because most everything has been lifted from the Freemasons, one, and two, it all looks so cuckoo that anytime this stuff gets leaked, people leave the church - meaning, new converts. No kidding. From the article:
fears among church leaders that Mormons will become a target for ridicule or persecution because the details of the sacred temple ceremony will seem strange to non-Mormons.
Deborah Laake wrote about her experiences in the church and detailed the wedding ceremony in the temple and was raked over the coals in the church, called a slut, a whore, a pot stirrer, etc*. She just wanted to explain why she felt so weird, and how on earth she could have gone through with her wedding when everything (including the ceremony) felt bad. But the Church didn't want that out there. Because it's jacked up. It's not anything like a traditional Western wedding ceremony. At the end, your husband steps through a tear in a big cloth (hey-o, vagina) and pulls you through it - it's him taking you "beyond the veil" into the eternities. But before you do that, there's a Masonic handshake, and you touch all the points of your bodies together with the cloth between you. And everyone is sitting their in their stupid white clothes while you do it. (And the bride and groom have "fig leaves" over their genitals [over their temple clothes] and green caps on. Fucking crazy, guys.)
Back to the E. C. Just like with Baptisms for the Dead, you can go back and re-perform this ceremony for people who died without doing it, a necessary step before you do the marriage ceremony for people who died before being Mormon Married. (Like how some members stood in for Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun in the late 60s in the LA Temple. Aww, those crazy kids, together at last.)
In the storyline of Big Love it seems that Barb is going through the Endowment to save her membership. Um, I'm not buying that. There has to be more than that. She either has her garments and goes through a court with her church leaders (either being disfellowshipped or excommunicated for Her Sins) or she didn't have garments in the first place (big misstep on the writer's part if so) and has to get HER HUSBAND to go along with her. Rare is the woman that gets G's without being married to a Worthy Man.
I'll be watching this next episode very closely.
* When you go through the temple for any of the rites, you are told to not talk about what happens in the temple outside the temple. Not even with your husband, spouse, etc. It's considered too sacred for the world, and you will tarnish the beauty and sacredness of their ordinances. I was raised to believe this and always followed this dictate until I left the church in the 2000. I firmly believe that anytime an entity of any kind (organization, leader, husband...) tells you to not talk about something they're training you to do, that's a massive Red Flag that Something Is Wrong Here.
The Actual Endowment Ceremony
(Note: I left the church before going through this rite. However. Being Born in the Covenant, as it's called, I'm well versed in what happens. Because let's face it: your parents will instruct you on what to expect, even though you're not supposed to talk about it. Parents, like my dad, want/ed their children/me to be excited about the spiritual journey that you're going about to take.
First off, this event is HOURS long. In the older days (pre 80s, mainly) members that worked in the temple would re-enact various aspects of the church's spiritual belief, like Adam and Eve being cast out of Eden, etc. Now they usually have a video made at BYU that you watch. I still think that's weird, and did when I was devout, too.
The first stage is a "washing and anointing." Men and women would NOT do this in the same place, btw. Everything here is the same, minus the part about receiving the higher level of Priesthood (Melchezidek) for the men. Women do not and will not ever have the Priesthood in the LDS church. Because they were gifted with Motherhood, you see. *eye roll*
The part of this that bugs me is that once you get there, you go to your dressing room and put on a "shield." That's basically a long sheet with a hole in the middle so you're open at the sides. A temple worker "washes" you with a damp cloth by reaching in those gaps and touching you with that cloth on various parts of your body. Your head, eye lids, nose, neck, shoulders, arms, LOINS, legs, feet. For women toss in breasts, too. HI THERE NO THANK YOU. A prayer is said at every point wishing you health and proper function of all of those parts. A prayer with two sets of hands on your head cleansing you from sin and then protecting you from "the sins of this generation" happens, then the washing steps are then repeated with their fingers dipped in sacred oil.
Next up, you're dressed in the garments. YOU are dressed, you do not dress yourself. Side note: in order to climb the spiritual ladder in the church, you have to have garments. You have to buy them, by the way. They aren't provided for you, even though you have to have them. Does this bug anyone else? Just me? Alrighty then.
Next, you're given a new name, and this is the holy name that you'll be called at the time of the
OH SNAP! I just asked my dad about this, and he informed me that they've changed this whole thing up. Um, what about everything in the Church being perfect and true? Whatever. Instead of being dressed, you can dress yourself, and instead of the temple workers feeling you up, they just do your forehead. WHY NOT DO IT THAT WAY BEFORE? Also, lol at them changing this up. I swear, I have been told ad nauseum that The Church and all its teachings are True and Perfect my whole life, and they are CONSTANTLY changing things. *head thunk*
Anyhoodle, after the washing and anointing, you go back to the locker room (where there are locks on the lockers in the Lord's House. Ahem.) and put on your temple clothes. All white, nothing but white from stem to stern. Shoes, laces, etc. (Bill and Joey were dressed in Temple Clothing at the wedding that didn't happen, btw. I thought that was a nice touch.)
Everyone that came with you is now in an auditorium, and you go in there, hopefully beaming after being molested by an 80 year old temple worker. Men on one side, women on the other. That's when you get to put on the funky apron and hat - a green bib to dangle in front of your dangle - it's meant to symbolize the fig leaves Adam and Eve wore, a long robe like you see Jesus wearing in those brown hair, blonde-eyed Jesus pictures, but not read, it's also white and only covers one shoulder, and a sash for the other shoulder, tied in a bow at your waist. Women get a veil over their face (now everything but your hands are covered. Ahem.) and the guys get a white cap that almost looks like a deflated chef's hat.
Now starts the show: the dramatization of the creation of Man, the fall of Adam, getting kicked out of Eden (there are lots of scary pictures of all of this stuff all over the temple, too. Esp. in the SLC temple,) and Peter James and John getting the Keys of the Priesthood. There's a guy that plays Lucifer in these that has talked about how hard it is for him to play the devil and go to church every Sunday. Weird. There used to be a derogatory Christian Minister that played the part of Satan's Helper, but this was taken out after I graduated high school.
Note: Jesus ONLY APPEARS ONCE as the creator of the universe as Jehovah. But no, they're so Christian it hurts, right?
My dad laughed one time about going to the SLC temple and seeing all of this reenactment by these old codgers (most temple workers are retired people that are members) and how monotone it would be delivered, or when someone would strike at Satan everyone was afraid the person would fall over and break a hip. Sidetracked, sorry.
Before all of this was put on video tape, you would go to a new room for every part of this 'play." I believe you still do at the older temples like the one in St. George, SLC, and Manti. I mean, they have those rooms built, why not use them? You end up in the Celestial Room (all temples have this place) and it's crazy opulent and decadent, because it's symbolizing the highest kingdom of heaven. (Don't forget: Mormons have a caste system in heaven.)
Throughout the viewing, you'll have to pledge an oath to obey the Law of Obedience, Sacrifice, The Gospel, Chastity [the biggy] and Consecration. That third one is you not talking about what went on in the temple, and also that you won't participate in "loud laughter." I am not making that up. Also, for women, you would not only promise to Obey the Church and its Priesthood, but your husband, too. I don't think they make you say that last one any more, but you sure did say that when I was growing up.
To swear this oath, you bring your arm to the square (hand up, elbow bent at 90 degrees.) All of these following three elements are HEAVILY STEEPED in Freemasonry (if not lifted from their ceremonies verbatim) which is all about the Square. (They were builders, for Pete's sake. The Level and the Square?) You have "tokens, signs and penalties" which are this:
- tokens: special handclasps, and again, anyone that knows a Mason knows what I'm talking about. It's the exact same handshake with the finger bent into the palm? I say it again: Joseph Smith was a 32nd Degree Mason. But no, the LDS temple has nothing Masonic about it.
- signs: ways to hold your hands and arms to indicate that you are endowed. Again, this is ALL from the Freemasons! The arms are presented in the sign of the freaking level and square. You aren't supposed to do this outside the temple, btw. Big no no. But you do this in the temple, where everyone is the same, because you need to identify yourself? What? The idea is that you'll need to do this in The Last Days to gain admittance to the Penthouse Level of Heaven, or something.
- Penalties: this was taken out recently, but some old timers STILL DO THIS. Mostly because they've said these words for 40 some-odd years, so it's ingrained. This is when you swear to cut your throat, cut your heart out, and slit your bowels, spilling them forth if you ever talk about the temple rites outside the temple. WHICH IS WHY MORMONS GET FREAKED OUT WHEN SOMEONE TALKS ABOUT IT. You swore to kill yourself, basically. There was an upsurge in new converts in the 80s and 90s and this part was freaking people out (again, when you're Born in the Covenant, you kinda know this stuff already, so you're not freaked.) The church officially modified the temple ceremony to keep people coming back to the temples.
I always thought this was so weird - I used to be TERRIFIED of getting my Endowments. Also, please note that once again the Great and Perfect Church with the Truth from God in Everything changed some shit up.
There's other stuff like a big group prayer, and anyone that's seen a baby blessed in Sacrament Service can imagine the way the guys stand with their hand out for the baby and the other hand on the shoulder next to them? You do that, hopefully boy-girl-boy-girl. At this point anyone who has their name on the "temple list" gets included in the Proper Prayer, so if you're sick, or something like that, they all pray for you.
Lastly you get to walk through The Veil, symbolic of being resurrected and becoming Eternal with a capital E. Women have to be "brought through" the veil by their priesthood holder, aka their spouse or their father. This veil has the same symbols that are on the garments - the Square and the Level, called the Mark of the Compass and the Mark of the Square. Before you're pulled through, a temple worker smacks a mallet down (again, a part of the Mason's rituals) has a dialog with "The Lord" (an unseen temple worker on the other side of the cloth,) you have to be called your new name, answer back with the word you've been given, do the hokey pokey and badda boom, you're all holy now.
When women were brought through, they had to "embrace the Lord." Here we go, people. This is when a woman's Five Points would come in direct contact with "the Lord" (aka the person representing him that day)
1. The inside of your right foot to his outside of his right foot
2. your knee to their knee
3. breast to breast
4. hand to back
5. mouth to ear
No, that's not creepy or weird at all. Again, I think this, along with "I will totally gut myself, O My Father" part was altered because it's gross. You don't know who that person is and that's pretty damn intimate for someone that's never gotten any nookie before. (You have to be pure to go to the temple.) You're through the veil and enter the Celestial Room where you get to sit, beam at your new status, or quietly freak out because that was some weird-ass shit you just did. I have some friends that confided in me that they were trying to not burst into tears, completely disillusioned by what just happened, but they couldn't, because apparently now they were married (if that's a part of the ceremony) and everyone was watching.
I cannot stress how HAPPY I am that I ended up not going on a mission, which means I didn't have to get my Garments and do all of this stuff. Oh, and from this point on, after the ceremony, that is, you do NOT take off those garments unless: swimming (you're not encouraged to tan - that's time exposing your sacred vessel) during vigorous exercise, or showering. They're made so that you can have sex while wearing them, incidentally. For ladies, your bra and panties go OVER the garments. How hot is that?
For more on how the LDS church ripped off the Masons (Joseph Smith introduced all of this stuff to his followers two months after being initiated as Mason) you can read about it here.
And here are some pretty pictures of the SLC temple, which really is a beautiful building. You can see all the different rooms used in the ceremony. I used to go to the temple all the time in college to relax, find peace, pray, try and figure out what on earth was true. Interesting and Random Fact: all Eastern facing doors of LDS temples are sealed, waiting for the Second Coming and when Moroni will blow his trumpet (that golden dude on top of all the temples?) signaling the end of days. That will blast open the doors.
It's frickin' freezing here today and rainy. I require more coffee and possibly some curry and rice-type dish. And naps. Mmmm, naps. I probably won't do any of that, but spend the day writing and revising. Maybe a hot chai? OOOH. Yes. *zooms to make some*