Mares Eat Oats…

stunningly beautiful though they may be. seeing absolutely no meaning in the words I muttered. a kid’ll eat ivy too. so no one attempted to correct me. a kiddle e dyvie two. until one day when it all fell into place. “Mares eat oats and does eat oats. I would sing. and little lambs eat ivy. until then no one knew that I didn’t know what I was singing because what I sang sounded quite correct to them. as a child. Larson Like chanting the sounds of words we don’t understand. D o you remember that old song that goes. are not those seen in . inside or out. are unlike any other structures in Christendom. I sang that song as a string of nonsense syllables. most members of the Mormon church worship in sacred temples without the benefit of understanding the foundation of the temple and its rituals in ancient cosmology. More to the point. In fact to even the casual observer. wouldn’t you?” That’s what I thought everyone else was singing because that’s what I heard. *** Latter-day Saint temples. “Mairsy dotes and dozy dotes. WERE AND ARE TO COME Mares Eat Oats… Copyright © 2009 Anthony E. where present. there seems to be very little Christian about them.THINGS AS THEY ARE. It just never occurred to me that I was misunderstanding what I had memorized. Outside. They thought I knew what I was saying. and liddil amb zee divvy. wouldn’t you?” For years. the symbols and markings.

Therefore. that those things are consummately sacred. it will all be made clear in good time. newcomers must be assisted throughout as to what to do and say in each rite. so above and beyond our poor intellects that we can scarce comprehend them. It’s as though the focus of the temple was almost entirely on something else. Most accept the experience with equanimity. baptism and marriage being the two exceptions. no angels. confusion and incredulity by asking for an explanation are greeted with a trite statement from church and temple authorities. planets and suns. The temple ceremonies are so foreign to them. who usually explain to the quizzical party that with regular temple attendance and prayerful inquiry. In order to reconcile the obscurity and unfamiliarity of what they have been taught. conformity and compliance win the day as most initiates hide their surprise or dismay with either silence or expressions of the beauty and enormity of it all. Therefore. There are no gargoyles. They are especially so to those who enter a temple for the first time. all icons are either conspicuous by their absence. In the end. or there are copious illustrations of stars. Instead. prepares them for the oddity. no crosses and no statues of saints. there is a striking absence of ritual and liturgy typically associated with Christianity. The dissimilarities are pronounced and striking. much less begin to understand them. strangeness and peculiarity of the temple odyssey. oblique and incidental. The reaction of novice attendees to what they hear and see there ranges from mild surprise to outright shock. Some few are incredulous. References to Christ are infrequent. in church teachings and practices outside the temple. rather than being central. quietly accepting the apparent abnormality of the experience on faith alone. Those few who can bring themselves to articulate their surprise. Nothing in their experience up to this point.3 other religious architecture. openly rejecting the rites and ceremonies as foreign to their personal creed. they assuage their confusion . what is said and done in LDS temple rituals is mostly a mystery to Mormons. Inside as well. temple-worthy Mormons assume that the sole source of these temple rites and rituals is nothing less than pure revelation from God.

telestial state. the primeval heavens. planets and manifestations that emerged in our ancient skies and the traditions that evolved from them. as he professed. That this ancient story is also repeated in modern temple ritual. Joseph Smith had no access to this type of information in that bygone era. the Old Testament prophets. cultural treasure trove of information. On a personal note. is a powerful witness to the validity of the Restored Gospel. exceeding the grasp of our blinkered intellects. Along with that conviction came the realization that my fellow Mormons knew nothing of this. It has become apparent to me that Joseph Smith and his successors had a clear vision of what had happened in the past. And like their predecessors. these modern prophets had restored and preserved that cosmological tradition in modern temples. It was at that juncture that it became abundantly evident that what was rehearsed in our temples was the same. Thus they reason that any attempt to decipher them is doomed to failure in our benighted. mythological and traditional beliefs. What a stunning development.4 and ignorance by assuming that what is said and done within modern temples is uniquely spiritual and celestial. erected by prophets of God. our Savior and his Apostles in the New Testament as well as the holy men in every other ancient culture. a sacred. except it came through revelation. I had followed the logic and rationale of avant-garde or maverick scholars regarding obscure. tested their conclusions against statements of modern prophets — especially those of Joseph Smith — only to find that this information made plain the meaning of temple iconography and ritual. It is a memorial in stone and ritual of the astral drama that unfolded in Earth’s ancient heavens. where icons are present: stars. What happens inside is all … I say ALL … about the same thing as we see on the outside. traditional story told in the sacred space of religions the world over. Even temple officiators who enacted . my temple experience more or less paralleled that of my fellow Mormons — until my research unfolded an entirely unexpected yet welcome benefit. I learned that the temple is a monument to the ancient heavens. a vision that is distinctly different than that held by sectarian and secular scholars alike in our day and age.

The entire meaning is preserved. What a stunning state of affairs. None had been able to explain them to me. when I think about it — preservation without comprehension. yet no one today can or will say what they mean or what they represent. that’s what the temple ritual is to today’s initiate and worker alike — mummery and mimickery with no comprehension of its truly profound meaning.blogspot.5 those sacred temple dramas and rituals.com/ Your questions or comments are welcome: anthonyelarson@gmail. thankfully. knew nothing of the meaning in what they were doing. Like my “Mares eat oats …” story. but with absolutely no comprehension of its implication. It’s quite tragic and wonderful. For more essays from this series: http://mormonprophecy.mormonprophecy. Yet. This is why at the outset of this monograph I cited the instance from my own experience. How could the meaning behind all this sacred ritual and architecture be lost while the vehicle designed to retain it has been so well preserved? Certainly. actually.com/ For online classes. So I was left to assume that they did not understand the origins and meaning of what they were doing and saying. Such was no fortuitous accident. Church authorities have faithfully preserved our temple traditions for a dozen generations since Joseph Smith first established them in the 1840s. that’s what’s happened.com . including temple presidents. both at the same time. beginning with Joseph Smith. newsletters and published books exploring this material in depth: http://www. It’s quite odd. those who instigated it. knew the meaning of these rites. videos. This state of affairs left me incredulous.