clasped hands LDS endowment


INTRODUCTION

Why this website?
Site contents
About the endowment


THE CEREMONY

The Initiatory
The Endowment Proper
 The Creation
 The Garden
 The Telestial World
 The Terrestrial World
 The Veil


OTHER TEMPLE RITES

Baptism for the dead
Sealings
Second anointing


FOR FURTHER STUDY

Timeline
Historical documents
Masonic parallels
The endowment on film
Garments & temple clothes
Suggested readings

Note: This text represents the initiatory as it was performed prior to 2005; significant 2005 revisions are explained in footnotes.

On the Historical documents page, you can read the current ceremony or a side-by-side comparison of the pre- and post-2005 versions.


[The initiatory is, as the name suggests, a preliminary ritual preceding the endowment proper. It recalls the rite for consecrating priests described in Exodus 29:4-7 and alluded to in Revelation 1:5-6.]

[Each initiate is presented individually to the washing rooms. Throughout the initiatory, women officiate for women, and men for men.]


WASHING

[An officiator places water on the initiate's head while pronouncing the following words.]

Brother _________, having authority, I wash you preparatory to your receiving your anointings [for and in behalf of _________, who is dead], that you may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation.

[While pronouncing the blessings which follow, the officiator touches each part of the body as it is named.]

I wash your head, that your brain and your intellect may be clear and active;
your ears, that you may hear the word of the Lord;
your eyes, that you may see clearly and discern between truth and error;
your nose, that you may smell;
your lips, that you may never speak guile;
your neck, that it may bear up your head properly;
your shoulders, that they may bear the burdens that shall be placed thereon;
your back, that there may be marrow in the bones and in the spine;
your breast, that it may be the receptacle of pure and virtuous principles;
your vitals and bowels, that they may be healthy and perform their proper functions;
your arms and hands, that they may be strong and wield the sword of justice
in defense of truth and virtue;
your loins, that you may be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth,
that you might have joy in your posterity;
your legs and feet, that you might run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.

[A second officiator enters. Both officiators place their hands on the initiate's head, and the second officiator seals the washing as follows.]

Brother _________, having authority, we lay our hands upon your head [for and in behalf of _________, who is dead] and seal upon you this washing, that you may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation through your faithfulness; in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


ANOINTING

[An officiator places oil on the initiate's head while pronouncing the following words.]

Brother _________, having authority, I pour this holy anointing oil upon your head [for and in behalf of _________, who is dead] and anoint you preparatory to your becoming a king and a priest unto the most high God, hereafter to rule and reign in the house of Israel forever.

[While pronouncing the blessings which follow, the officiator touches each part of the body as it is named.]

I anoint your head, that your brain and your intellect may be clear and active;
your ears, that you may hear the word of the Lord;
your eyes, that you may see clearly and discern between truth and error;
your nose, that you may smell;
your lips, that you may never speak guile;
your neck, that it may bear up your head properly;
your shoulders, that they may bear the burdens that shall be placed thereon;
your back, that there may be marrow in the bones and in the spine;
your breast, that it may be the receptacle of pure and virtuous principles;
your vitals and bowels, that they may be healthy and perform their proper functions;
your arms and hands, that they may be strong and wield the sword of justice
in defense of truth and virtue;
your loins, that you may be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth,
that you might have joy in your posterity;
your legs and feet, that you might run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.

[A second officiator enters. Both officiators place their hands on the initiate's head, and the second officiator confirms the anointing as follows.]

Brother _________, having authority, we lay our hands upon your head [for and in behalf of _________, who is dead] and confirm upon you this anointing, wherewith you have been anointed in the temple of our God preparatory to becoming a king and a priest unto the most high God, hereafter to rule and reign in the house of Israel forever, and seal upon you all the blessings hereunto appertaining, through your faithfulness; in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


THE GARMENT

[An officiator clothes the initiate in the garment. The officiator then pronounces the following words.]

Brother _________, having authority, I place this garment upon you [for and in behalf of _________, who is dead], which you must wear throughout your life. It represents the garment given to Adam when he was found naked in the garden of Eden and is called the garment of the holy priesthood.

Inasmuch as you do not defile it, but are true and faithful to your covenants, it will be a shield and a protection to you against the power of the destroyer until you have finished your work on the earth.


THE NEW NAME

[In the case of a living endowment, the officiator who clothed the initiate in the garment continues as follows.]

With this garment, I give you a new name, which you should always remember and which you must keep sacred and never reveal, except at a certain place that will be shown you hereafter.

The name is _________.


[In the case of a person receiving the endowment on behalf of the dead, the person is presented to an officiator, who pronounces the following words.]

Brother _________, having authority, I give you a new name for and in behalf of _________, who is dead, which you should always remember and which you must keep sacred and never reveal, except at a certain place that will be shown you hereafter.

The name is _________.



NOTES

  1. At the time I wrote this explanatory note, it reflected my own efforts to connect the initiatory to biblical imagery. In 2005, a preface was added to the initiatory which explicitly cites the consecration of priests, described in Exodus, as an ancient model for the initiatory.

  2. Originally, initiates were presented to the washing room nude. Sometime in the early twentieth century, it became customary for initiates to wear a "shield," a sleeveless robe open at the sides. The shield preserved modesty while allowing officiators to touch the various parts of the body named in the rite. In a slightly complicated procedure, the temple garment was placed on the initiate under the shield following the washing and anointing.

    Beginning in 2005, initates were instructed to clothe themselves in the garment in the privacy of their locker, before being presented at the washing room. This means that they are clothed throughout the initiatory. As before 2005, initiates wear a shield during the initiatory, but this is now worn over the garment.

  3. The initiatory affords LDS women the unusual experience of exercising what appears to be a kind of priesthood authority. However, while most LDS rituals require the officiator to state that he is acting by the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood, in the case of the initiatory the officiator does not specify by what authority he or she acts, merely that he or she has authority.

  4. Nineteenth-century exposés suggest that there was originally some variety in the phrasing used to bless different parts of the body. The following alternative blessings have been reported:

    your eyes, that you may see the glory of God  -OR-
    your eyes, that you may see the glories of the kingdom
    your mouth, that you may speak forth His praise
    your arms and breast, that you may be strong to perform His work
    your bosom, that you might nourish the children whom you shall raise
    your loins, that you might raise up a godly seed, that they might be pillars
    of strength to the upbuilding and strengthening of Godís kingdom upon
    the earth
    your feet, that you may be swift to run the race  -OR-
    your feet, that they might be swift in the paths of righteousness and truth

  5. In the nineteenth century, water and oil were generously applied while the initiate sat in a tub. In the twentieth century, the washing and anointing became more symbolic: officiators merely dabbed a little water and oil on each part of the body while the initiate sat on a stool, clothed in the shield. Despite the increased modesty, the twentieth-century initiatory remained a physically intimate rite, requiring officiators to touch initiates on the center of the sternum (while blessing the "breast"), on the lower back near the kidney (while blessing the "vitals and bowels") and on the side near the hip (while blessing the "loins"). These gestures were facilitated by the shield's being open at the sides.

    The 2005 revision eliminated the touching of the various body parts. Officiators pronounce the same blessings as before, but they do so while laying hands on the initiate's head. The washing and anointing have thus become even more symbolic than in the twentieth century, with water and oil being applied only to the forehead or crown. Because officiators no longer wash or anoint other parts of the initiate's body (which is covered by the garment), the shield is now closed at the sides.

  6. Women are anointed to become queens and priestesses to their husbands.

  7. As of the 2005 revision, initiates clothe themselves in the garment before the initiatory begins. Officiators therefore no longer speak of placing the garment on the initate. Instead they declare the garment to be "now authorized."

    In a curious development, the new ritual for authorizing the garment replaces the phrase "having authority" with "under proper authority." The motivation for this change is not clear. Elsewhere in the initiatory (e.g., during the washing and anointing), officiators continue to use the phrase "having authority."

  8. In a woman's initiatory, reference is made to Eve, not Adam.


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