Temple Garments

What is the temple garment? How did it originate? How have the garments changed over time? What is the church's stance on garments today? 

and the Temple Veil

Symbols cut into the skin?

In an article written by a writer who goes by the name of "Klark of the Kent Team" he gives the following recitation:

"Masonry swears its members to secrecy with grisly, anatomically explicit oaths. A Master Freemason must 'promise and swear, that I will not write, print, stamp, stain, hew, cut, carve, indent, paint or engrave' the mysteries of his order "under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea,' according to one version of the oath. 10th-degree Masons 'consent to have my body opened perpendicularly, and to be exposed for eight hours in the open air, that the venomous flies may eat my entrails' if they talk. Even the Shriners, a 'fun' order, may incur 'the fearful penalty of having my eyeballs pierced to the center with a three-edged blade.' . . .

"Successful candidates are invited to the Lodge for initiation. There are three basic degrees: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason.

"Each has its own ritual.

"Entered Apprentice candidates begin by taking off their clothes to prove their gender (women may not become Masons). In practice, this means taking off the pants and any jacket. Underwear and shirt are kept on, but the shirt is unbuttoned and pulled down to bare the left arm, shoulder and breast.

"The candidate is hoodwinked (blindfolded). A cabletow (rope) is placed around the neck. (The Lauterer catalog's hoodwink is simply a standard, black satin half-face mask--without eyeholes--secured with an elastic string. The cabletow is a heavy blue rayon cord with tassels at both ends.) Ideally, the cabletow is supposed to have four strands to symbolize the four senses (they don't count touch).

"The candidate is escorted to a room where three candles are burning. One of the lodge members takes a mason's compass or other sharp instrument and pricks the candidate's bared skin. The candidate is instructed to recite a formula to the effect that what he desires most is light. The other Lodge members remove his hoodwink and cabletow. Before the candidate are three candles. He is told that the candles represent the sun, the moon, and the master of the Lodge."

["How to Crash the Freemansons," by "Klark of the Kent Team]


Mary Ettie V. Smith

A man behind the veil examined us, as to the passwords and grips Brigham had given us, and to whom we gave our "new name," received at the first anointing. Holes through the veil enabled him to see us when we could not see him, and also, to cut with a small pair of scissors, certain marks, beside others, the Masonic square and compass, upon the right and left breast of our " garments," and upon the right knee, a gash, deep enough to make a scar, by which we were to be recognized as Mormons. This gash upon the right knee is now often omitted, because many of the women object to it. We were then admitted into the " Celestial Glory," where, seated upon a throne, in great state, was a person representing "our god." This was a gorgeously furnished room, illustrating by earthly signs a heavenly glory. This ends the first " anointing."

The time occupied in this initiation is about ten hours. Two days in the week are set apart for this purpose, and sometimes group after group succeeds each other, and the initiation is continued all day, and not unfrequently long after midnight.

Arrived at this point, the candidate is prepared to proceed to the " second anointing." This I have never received, and for various reasons, not the least of which was, that very few have received this as yet, and will not until the new temple at Salt Lake city is finished. I had also heard it hinted, that the "second anointing" was administered without clothing of any kind ; and moreover, as it will be seen hereafter, I had reason to doubt somewhat, though not entirely to discard Mormonism.

[Nelson Winch Green, Fifteen Years Among the Mormons, pg. 48-49]


Fawn Brodie

"The Masonic square and compass were cut into the garment on the breast and a slash was made across the knee. In the beginning, the cut across the knee was apparently deep enough to penetrate the flesh and leave a scar but this practice was eventually abandoned as a result of protests from the Mormon women. There was also a slash in the garment across the abdomen, symbolic of the disemboweling that would be the fate of anyone who revealed the sacred secrets."

[Fawn Brodie, "No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet", pg. 281]

Thomas Coleman

According to W. Paul Reeve, in 1866 a black man was murdered in Utah. "Coleman's unknown murderes left his butchered body on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City with a note affixed: "Notice to all niggers. Take warnign. Leave white women alone." 
[Religion of a Different Color, pg. 181]

Coleman's head was nearly severed from his body and in addition, a mark had been left over his right knee -refective of the mark given during the Temple Endowment for the marking of the temple garment.

Historian Connell O'Donovan said of Thomas Coleman:

"The assailants then took Coleman’s own bowie knife, which was engraved “T. Coleman”, and they slit his throat so deeply that his neck was nearly severed in two – remember, Young said “have his head cut off”? They also slit open his right breast, and then castrated him, in what surely was a temple-based “blood atonement” killing, performed on one who was never allowed to enter the temple or participate in its rituals. In fact, I would argue that this is the clearest act of nonconsensual “blood atonement” in the history of the LDS theocracy...

[The Life and Murder of Thomas Coleman in Theocratic Utah, pg. 16]

Ann Eliza Webb Young

Ann Eliza went through the temple when she was seventeen years old, in 1861.

After the washing and anointing, I was given a garment which I was told to put on, and charged, after once assuming it, that I must never leave it off. When it became necessary to change, I must take off one side, then put the fresh one in its place ; then I could drop the soiled one altogether, and get the fresh one on as soon as possible. So long as I wore it, I was free from danger, and even from death. Disease should not assail me, and neither shot nor the assassin's knife should have power to harm me ; all should be turned one side. 

After the washing and anointing, I was given a garment which I was told to put on, and charged, after once assuming it, that I must never leave it off. When it became necessary to change, I must take off one side, then put the fresh one in its place ; then I could drop the soiled one altogether, and get the fresh one on as soon as possible. So long as I wore it, I was free from danger, and even from death. Disease should not assail me, and neither shot nor the assassin's knife should have power to harm me ; all should be turned one side. Every good Mormon wears this garment, and is very superstitious about allowing it off. It is said that Smith never would have been killed had it not been that he left off this charmed garment when he went to Carthage. Had he allowed it to remain on, the balls of the murderers would have been utterly powerless to harm him.

There is nothing elegant about this garment; on the contrary, it is quite ugly, and the young Saints who assume it dislike it terribly for its plainness and awkwardness. In shape, it is like a child's sleeping-robe, with the waist and drawers combined, and reaches from the neck to the feet. It is of white, bleached muslin, and untrimmed. Latterly, some of the younger daughters of Brigham Young, and other young ladies of the Mormon bon ton, have instituted a reform, and, to the horror of the older ones, — who are not given over to the "pomps and vanities," &c., — have had their garments cut shorter, low in the neck, and shortsleeved, and elaborately trimmed. Of course the majority of the people, who have known of this innovation, have been terribly scandalized; but all to no avail. Mormon girls, like girls of the world, object to making guys of themselves; and neither "counsel" nor ridicule can affect them when once their minds are made up on the subject of dress. They will suffer for that what they will not for their religion.

Mine, of course, was made after the true orthodox fashion. Over it I wore a white night-gown and skirt, and on my feet white stockings and white linen shoes. My Temple robe was the last to be donned. It is a long, loose, flowing robe of homespun linen, falling to the ankle, and at the top plaited into a band, which passes over the right shoulder, and is fastened under the left arm ; it was girdled by a white linen belt: the cap, which accompanies it, is a simple square of linen, or muslin, gathered in one corner to ht the head ; the remainder falls down over the back of the head, like a veil.

While all this washing and robing was going on on one side of the curtain, the same things were being done on the opposite side. I suppose we could hear the murmur of voices and the splash of water; but everything was quiet and subdued, and the most perfect order reigned.

When we were all ready, a name was secretly given to each one of us, which was the name by which we were to be known in the celestial world, and which was to be told only to the man who should take us through the veil. If a woman was married, her husband took her through ; if not, some brother kindly performed the office for her, and he was rewarded for his kindness by having the young Saint's celestial name whispered confidingly in his ear. I was not married; so Elder Samuel Richards took me through, an' I told him my name, — and, by the way, he was the only person who ever knew it until after my apostasy, as I never told it to either of my husbands.

It is believed that as the husband has to " resurrect " his wife by her Endowment name, so it is rather necessary that he should know it. Consequently, when he is sealed to her, she is permitted to whisper her name to him through the veil, and after that it must be spoken no more between them until he shall call her by it on the morning of the final resurrection. If the Mormon doctrine were true, there would be a mighty shouting for " Sarah " at that time, as every person whose name I have heard was always called the same. It was the name that was given me, and I have known many others who received it. It certainly will make the husband's work at that time much lighter, since he need call but once to summon his entire family.

[Ann Eliza Webb Young, Wife No. 19, pg. 359-361]

Fawn Brodie

"The men were stripped, washed, anointed and then, as in the Masonic ceremony, dressed in a special 'garment' which was held together with strings or bone buttons, metal being forbidden. . . . But it was shortly changed into an unlovely and utilitarian suit of underwear which the novice was instructed to wear always as a protection against evil."

[Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet" pg. 280-81]

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