My children seem to think that, “…to Dad, all things lead to the scriptures.” Well… it’s no different with this blog. The origins of the theatre come from ordinances performed by initiates and temple workers in ancient endowments ordinances, revealed to us through scripture.
The Egyptians believed that their ordinances/rituals came from the records of Thoth. Thoth surprisingly resembles the attributes of Enoch. The ordinances tell of a battle between Horrus-Osiris (Christ) and Sett (Satan). Sett takes the eye of Horrus-Osiris, leaving him blind to the things of the heavens. Horrus-Osiris goes through the “amduat” or the underworld (Earth) and passes through twelve gates of that lower heaven, using signs, tokens, and keywords. He comes out of the underworld at the rising of the sun in the east horizon, clothed …and victorious. His eye was restored, and he ascends on a solar bark into the divine deep ocean (the heavens).
The Egyptian endowment plays out the same events for their initiates. The endowment begins at sunset. The initiate looses their memory in a battle with Sett. The initiate goes through the amduat or the dark underworld (the evening) and are given signs, tokens and keywords to pass through the 12 gates (twelve hours till sunrise). At the end of the twelve hour performance, the initiate has been equipped with knowledge and clothed in bright robes (clothed in glory). The ordinance concludes at the rising of the sun in the east, as the initiate boards the solar bark and passes into the heavens in an ascension through the great deep ocean.
The Egyptian endowment was always performed at Spring or Fall Equinox. The Equinox is named for the attribute of the light and darkness being equally 12 hours. The ordinance was performed for a couple (husband and wife) alone. It was not a group ordinance. The man and woman took on the names of the characters in the ritual, as if the were the original characters.
What I find interesting, other than the easily seen connection between our temple rituals and the Egyptian temple rituals, is that the endowment was not for a group, but for individual couples. The original endowment given to us, by Joseph Smith in the red brick store, was also done for an individual couple. We don’t know exactly how long Joseph Smith’s endowment took, but we know it took a long time because historic records state that the changes Brigham Young made to the ordinances were to shorten them and make it available to a large group of people all at the same time. His intent was to make it more “efficient.” Instead of each initiate taking upon themselves the names of certain characters, Brigham Young’s changes instructs all the initiates to “think” of themselves as if they were Adam and Eve.
Something else I found unique was Joseph’s use of the Egyptian symbol of the “sun-stone” at the horizon, designed and placed on the Nauvoo temple. Later, Brigham Young found it necessary to put the same sun-stone image on the Salt Lake temple. The modern saint has lost the meaning of this symbol, but in the book of Abraham Joseph teaches us of the connection between Egypt and Abraham, and then leaves three Egyptian drawings (facsimiles 1-3). The drawings come with notes from Joseph saying that these things are sacred and cannot be revealed, but if you seek them out you can know it. In the book “Joseph Smith’s Papyri” Hugh Nibley teaches that the sun-stone was the symbolic point of the horizon, which the initiates make their ascension into the presence of Christ. Placing the sun-stone on the temple was an intentional invitation to all who enter therein.
It was through original ritual endowments that theatre came to be. The three act structure in story-telling, theatrical plays, and movies, come from the ordinances showing life before earth, earth-life (the amduat or underworld), and the great ascension on a solar bark into the deep. Actors on a stage, playing roles of characters, outside of themselves, came from this form of learning, in an ordinance-ritual (experiential learning). It was all founded in the words of Christ. Since, the original theatre, things have been lost in the transition of time. Rituals have been corrupted. Our television and movies are evidence of this corruption. But for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, the truth can be received.
The carvings on the walls of the Egyptian Pyramids and on Egyptian records date back to 4,000 years before Christ. Our modern compilation of the Bible only dates back to about 200-300 A.D. (the Old Testament having been manipulated by the Deuteronomists within this period of time). Our Book of Mormon dates back to 600 B.C., and was written in reformed Egyptian. We find Abraham completing his endowment in Egypt, within the Book of Abraham. We see Joseph, having been sold into Egypt and receiving his endowment there as well. We find Moses being the Prince of Egypt, and leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. In our modern day, Joseph Smith, through the translation of the Book of Mormon, became fluent in the ancient Egyptian language (the Greek language as well), obtained ancient Egyptian papyri (along with some Egyptian mummies), and translated for us the record of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. Then, Joseph uses Egyptian symbols on the Nauvoo temple, and designs an observatory at the top of the temple, just as the Egyptians did in their temples.
Joseph not only knew Egyptian, he also knew Greek. The Joseph Smith Translations were all done from Greek. Greek mythology may have different names for the characters that we often see in movies. However, they directly coincide with the characters and attributes of the ancient Egyptian endowment. Historians today know that Egyptian is far older than Greek. What’s the connection here, that we continually miss as we study only on the surface? Is the Lord still extending his hand and we keep pushing it away because we are too occupied with other “things?”
What was Joseph’s fascination with the Greeks and the Egyptians? Was it a fascination with those people… or was it that Joseph knew that the Pharaoh was a “…righteous man,” and that he tried “earnestly” to mimic the things of the order of God, as stated in the Book of Abraham?
I am beginning to understand that all truth is circumscribed into one great whole. As we know the words of Christ, through the study of the scriptures, we can start to see the truth outside of the traditional-line of our modern Mormonism. God is not limited to revealing truth. Through the words of Christ, we can recognize the works of God and then add them unto ourselves. This is the knowledge, that if we gain more of in this life, it will be more to our advantage in the next life.
Knowing the words of Christ makes us so that we need not be afraid of more truth. We won’t be so quick to condemn the beliefs of others. We will not limit our understanding of the heavens to the doctrines that set boundaries on our God.
As I drove my wife to work this morning, a question came to my mind. When we make decisions with our time, our money, our talents, and our life, …do we make those decisions, concerned about the fear of the consequences, if our decisions are wrong? That mindset requires us to know all things before making any decision. Thus we are left paralyzed by too much analysis. If we made all our decisions based on principles, with a high confidence that those principles were the principles of God (scriptures), would we ever be afraid of consequences? No… not ever. The only concern would be how well we knew God. The rest, we would be confident, would fall into place. That is the value of the words of Christ. Then will our confidence wax strong in His presence.
The words of Christ offers us “…all that the father hath,” to be “equal heirs.” Agency in this life will, and always has been, protected because you are required to choose for yourself in whom you trust. Those that trust not in God, will be left unsupported by the enemy of God. However, those who trust in God, have been given support, will not be left alone, will be added unto, and are promised that angels will minister unto them. All of the obedience required of us is only for the purpose of our return to receive treasures in the heavens.
The choice, when we know the words of Christ, seem so obvious. Learn of Him, listen to His words, walk in the meekness of His love. The peace you will find “is” Christ. He is the mark. Doing good things for “good-things-sakes” is looking beyond the mark. Any other reasoning is looking beyond the mark. Coming unto Jesus is the targeted mark. Feast upon the words of Christ. The words of Christ will tell you all things what you should do!