Juvenile Instructor » How To Make A Seer Stone
 


How To Make A Seer Stone

By: Jared T - March 01, 2011

A few years ago, while discussing seer stones with Steve Sorensen, he mentioned that there was an obscure reference in someone’s papers that gave a formula for how to make a seer stone and that wasn’t in Quinn’s Early Mormonism and the Magic World View. Later that day he forwarded me his notes from the John Steele collection (MS 1847) at the Church Archives (now Church History Library) and it was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

I was reminded of these notes by Matt, Steve, and Mark’s recent discussion of Brooke’s Refiner’s Fire and thought now would be as good a time as any to share them here with the reminder that the reader should consult the original record before undertaking any serious examination of the material as I have not verified their accuracy, but I present them here having a healthy measure of trust in Steve as a faithful transmitter of the information. That I could tell from a quick perusal, this is indeed not in Quinn. Quinn does, however, talk at length about other aspects of John Steele’s career as an adherent to astrology and charm-making. For a brief biography see here.

Interestingly, Quinn’s information on Steele seems to come from collections held at the Harold B. Lee Library Special Collections at BYU while this material comes from a collection at the CHL. Likely this material was not available at the time Quinn was researching.

Here are the notes (which I reproduce here just as Steve sent them to me):

“For the preparation of the glass (of vasion) Dip the glass in watter 3 times after washing your self in watter all over then: you place it in your wright hand in the first hower of the moon in the hower Gabriel with your face to the East & thus pray In the name of the Ever blessed Holy trinnity Father Son & Holy gost by the power of all that is good Both in heven & on Earth as far as it can assist me to prepare & purify this christal that when Ever it shall be lawfully used that it may be purified and be a consecrated placed fit to receive thy minastring angle of Light    O God that the may have power to show a clear true & perfect vision of any innocent nature that may be Called of them to show in the name of Jeusu Christ and the Glory shall be thine o God & Consecrate me thy Servant that I may live a pure & holy life before thee that I may have power with thee that my pettetions may be answered by thee through the ministering angles of light thata any lost property that I pettetion thee about that I may be prepared to receive an answer there from in the nme of Jesus Christ     Amen”

“Concretation of a Charge for a glass”

“In the name of the Ever blessed holy trinity Father Son & Holy gost & in the name of Jesus Christ I ask thee to assist me with thy Heavenly hosts and let one of thy ministering Angles of light come to this glass & show in it a clear true & a perfect vission of what me or my Friend . . . desire to know   And Let know Evil power may have powere to obstruct the light & the glory shal be unto thee O Father & to the Son & to the Holy gost    Amen”

“A Dis charge for a glass”

“I thank the o Father in Heaven for the privalige though thou has bestowed upon me in calling upon one of thy ministering angles of light & that thou has answered my pettetion through him I now dismiss this Angle that it may go to its place & to its office & to the holy orders & callings untill I have a privilige or occation of to call uponthee again   I dismiss thee in pease in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the holy gost and in the name of Jesus Christ          Amen”

For good measure, here is one of Steele’s explanations for how to recover lost property, again from the notes. Quinn mentions in passing Steele’s “charm ‘ To find the thief and make them bring back the things stolen” but does not elaborate (292).

“To find Stolen property, and make the thief bring back the Stolen property you must Set down the day hour and minute, as near as possible, when the goods ware Stolen, name the plannets ruling the day and hour, this being done Set down the following charactures”

“Then turn round three times, and if you haear no news of the Thief in 44 hours, as ten to one you will then prick the paper full of holes and hang it up in a Chimney whare it will keep warm and the heat of the fire scorch it a little and the Thief will be Tormented in mind and body and bring back the goods”

Now, if you were thinking of making a “Now I know what our next FHE activity will be” joke, consider yourself beaten to the punch.

Seriously, though, I think this is a fascinating description of the making and even the unmaking of a seer stone (or, glass of vision–admittedly, “seer stone” is not mentioned in the record and is my imposition on the description) and fairly unique. Steele, from what I can gather from Quinn, seems to have been an especially public example of this type of activity, and Quinn seems to want to argue that his increasing status in the Mormon community (bishop, community leader, patriarch) implies, if not approval, at least ambivalence to his practices by Church leaders. Whatever the case there, what are  your thoughts on these excerpts? Also, thinking in terms of Mormon folk beliefs (and practices), have you heard anything in recent memory concerning the contemporary use, existence, or even making of seer stones or other visionary or divinatory objects?

Note: If you decide to check this source out further (there is no indication in the notes where in the collection these excerpts are) and use it, if you first saw it here, please do give credit to Steve Sorensen for assistance in locating the source.



47 Comments

  1. This is absolutely fascinating, Jared; thanks for sharing. This is an excellent example of how religion and folk magic mingled for many during the period.

    Comment by Ben — March 1, 2011 @ 5:09 am

  2. Truly fascinating. I’m especially intriguing by the idea that a “ministering angel” is the one who shows a vision through the stone. My research suggests that a number of concepts from Joseph’s folk religion got carried over into his institutional religion and reinterpreted. (For example, “keys” referred to seer stones before they referred to the priesthood.) I wonder if ministering angels are one of those concepts.

    Comment by Christopher Smith — March 1, 2011 @ 5:50 am

  3. Why go through the difficult process of aligning yourself with the spirit. Go the easy route. Make a seer stone!!!

    Comment by wonderdog — March 1, 2011 @ 6:45 am

  4. After Harry Potter, that just doesn’t sound so unusual! (Sorry, just had to say it!)

    Comment by Emily — March 1, 2011 @ 9:50 am

  5. There is a UHQ article on Steele that accesses a cache of family papers (which highlights his career in these areas). Perhaps this cache was donated to the CHL? I’ve been meaning to do some more work on him as he was also a healer.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 1, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  6. >>have you heard anything in recent memory concerning the contemporary use, existence, or even making of seer stones or other visionary or divinatory objects?

    I was once inspired by Uncle Scrooge’s Number One Dime to go out and create my own lucky/magical coin. Not sure if that is the same thing though.

    Comment by the narrator — March 1, 2011 @ 10:27 am

  7. I understand that water witching is still reasonably common in rural Mormon communities.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 1, 2011 @ 10:38 am

  8. Very interesting find, Jared. Thanks for sharing.

    On a semi-related note, I believe that those students who participated in the now-defunct BYU semester at Nauvoo (Joseph Smith Academy) spent a day learning about dowsing and gave it a try. Perhaps Ben knows more about this?

    Comment by Christopher — March 1, 2011 @ 11:09 am

  9. Fascinating. John Steele was my great great grandfather. I knew from the Utah Historical Quarterly article that he was into astrology but this is something new.

    Comment by john willis — March 1, 2011 @ 11:14 am

  10. On a semi-related note, I believe that those students who participated in the now-defunct BYU semester at Nauvoo (Joseph Smith Academy) spent a day learning about dowsing and gave it a try.

    I have pictures to prove it. We did it at the Mt. Pisgah site, property that is now owned by a non-member. I sometimes wonder if he just sends us out to the field with our dowsing wires just so he could sit back and laugh at the silly Mormon students…

    Comment by Ben — March 1, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  11. I also know of a former-stake president who uses a crystal pendulum for binary divination.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 1, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  12. Thanks all. I’m in class most of today, so I may be in and out here.

    Stapley, I saw a reference to that UHQ article, but hadn’t gotten a chance to see it. Thanks to John Willis for indicating that this is unique even to that article.

    That’s cool, Ben. Of the various practices, I think dowsing has been the one that I’ve heard about most.

    Stapley, that’s really interesting.

    Comment by Jared T — March 1, 2011 @ 11:52 am

  13. I’ve been to that same Mt. Pisgah site on a family trip, and we played with that fellows dowsing rods. It was sort of fun.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — March 1, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  14. “Also, thinking in terms of Mormon folk beliefs (and practices), have you heard anything in recent memory concerning the contemporary use, existence, or even making of seer stones or other visionary or divinatory objects?”

    The most common one I know of, and I hear of it frequently, is the scriptures. If you are troubled with something you let them open randomly and then where the pages fall open you look for a passage giving comfort or direction.

    Comment by Mark Ashurst-McGee — March 1, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  15. Mark, it has been a while since I have looked at that, but in light of your comment on “-mancies” on the other thread, would you view the term bibliomancy as not being helpful?

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 1, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  16. This brings up a number of issues. First, blessing stones was an orthodox practice in the Middle Ages done by the most learned and orthodox people. That is, the foremost scientist who were also the foremost theologians, thus demonstrating the murky boundaries between religion, science and magic.

    Christopher Smith, exactly. Folk practices as a carrier of medieval religiosity working its way into Mormonism, I argue.

    Point 2, Edward Bever cites scientific studies indicating that water witching actually works. So what category does that go in. Is it now science?

    Studies of popular magic will talk about the practice that Mark mentioned. But again, that seems a problematic category for something that was considered pretty orthodox on my mission. (Not that you were calling it “magic”, Mark; your point about Quinn’s “-mancies” is well taken.)

    Comment by Steve Fleming — March 1, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  17. As I remember, doesn’t John Butler talk about that sort of bible-divination as being fairly orthodox?

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 1, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

  18. My father in law showed me how to dowse about ten years ago. It worked — I found the water source on the property, water lines under the lawn, and I certainly would not have known where they were. My father in law is originally from a rural Mormon area of Nevada. He’s a scientist and his ancestry is mostly old American, with some French and English immigrant families mixed in.

    Interesting post and sources. Any time I want a dose of old American magic, I pick up my collection of Washington Irving stories, and in particular the Knickerbocker stories including Hells Gate and Kidd the Pirate and Wolfert Webber (Golden Dreams). Irving is a great one for stories of treasures and seers and dreams and magic.

    Comment by Researcher — March 1, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  19. That’s a great point about Bible divination, Mark. I know I encountered and did use that on my mission and remember other members doing it as well.

    Researcher, thanks for that story and Steve for bringing up Edward Bever’s research. I have a friend in Provo who has reported his successful use of divining rods.

    Comment by Jared T — March 1, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  20. In terms of LDS related practices, I have heard accounts of LDS chiropractors in Southern Utah adjusting the auras of missionaries in the field using their parents as proxies, some fifteen to twenty years ago.

    I have a non-member neighbor, a psychologist, who is into what I can only call folk magic along with anger therapy group sessions she runs out of her house. Some of the things mentioned in Steele’s account actually sound similar to what I have seen them doing on occasion, holding a crystal over someone that is suffering from some ailment and turning round several times and aligning themselves with the points of the compass, while chanting something.

    Lest you think I’m a weird voyeur, they often do this on the deck in their back yard which is directly behind my back yard, easily visible above the fence.

    Comment by kevinf — March 1, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  21. I’m not sure I’d see this as condoning the practice anymore than a modern Bishop who happens to do water dowsing implies condoning the practice. However I think it clearly provides some great context on the early Mormon practice.

    Like Christopher mentions a lot of these things get reinterpreted within a Mormon context and then slowly evolve over time. (Ministering angels or guardian angels being but one great example)

    KevinF, sadly some of these practices remain in folk tradition. (Yeah some will criticize me for that “sadly” but I think a lot of the alt-medicine crowd ought be a lot more skeptical and at least test what they are doing) Folk magic is alive and well in Utah and arguably a lot of the many health food claims are part and parcel of that tradition which ends up tied into the traditions of herbal healing as well. But it’s hardly chance that many health food stores in Utah sell all sorts of alternative medicine stuff and often have services related to the same. The distinction between folk magic and alternative medicine is often blurry at best.

    Comment by Clark — March 1, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  22. As a side note, the CHL just posted Phelps’ Deseret Almanacs to the internet archive. 1854 includes extracts from English law against glass looking. It is included with other laws that would have been viewed as wrong-headed by the reader (though, I’m guessing the proscription on necromancy would have been affirmed).

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 1, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  23. FYI— In 1888 when the Manti Temple was dedicated(which is not that far from Tocquerville where John Steele lived) Wilford Woodruff consecrated one of the Seer stones used by Joseph Smith to translated the Book of Mormon on the altar in the temple.

    This is mentioned in both Quinn’s book and Wilford Woodruff’s journal.

    So John Steele’s actions were that far our of line with contemporary practices of the time and place.

    Comment by john willis — March 1, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  24. I had a fundamentalist Mormon friend that was studying mirror gazing, which eventually led him to meet with Dr. Raymond Moody. After hearing both of their perspectives, I started viewing the mirrors in the sealing rooms in a much different light. The mirrors could be used to actually communicate with those that proxy sealings were being done for. I thought that was an interesting concept.

    Comment by Brent Hartman — March 1, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  25. Kevin, the idea of doing things aside from Church ordinances by proxy such as healing (long distance chiropractic) is very interesting. Jonathan, have you come across anything like that in your research?

    Interesting perspective, Brent.

    Clark, agreed on that first point.

    Comment by Jared T — March 2, 2011 @ 12:59 am

  26. In the nineteenth century I’ve seen blessings by letter. And I have heard of modern blessings over the phone. But that chiropractic action is an outlier by all standards familiar to me. Weird.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 2, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  27. J, “weird” is the reaction I had when I heard it from my wife’s sister who lives in Santa Clara. Both the proxy part, and the concept of “adjusting” your aura. I’ve softened my attitude about the proxy part, as I realize to some extent that it is a manifestation of faith, and given the other instances of folk magic and its persistence. However, the aura part is still just weird to me.

    Comment by kevinf — March 2, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

  28. Jared (25) I know of at least one alt medicine place with an office at the Riverwoods in Provo that continues to do this. Of course the whole what is or isn’t Mormon arises. After all it’s difficult even today to distinguish what is official Mormon practice, normative but unofficial Mormon practice and individual practice influenced by Mormon theology and culture.

    I should note that this is one reason why many have trouble with a lot of alt medicine in a Mormon context since often the practices are reinterpreted in a Mormon way. However it then becomes blurry what is or isn’t competing priesthood theologically. This is no small matter. One could argue that this was a problem with seer stone use even in Joseph Smith’s time and contributed a lot to the centralization of priesthood organization. (Indeed in many ways this was Quinn’s thesis in his second volume on the Origins of Power)

    It’s kind of interesting how much we tend to think of all this as quaint 19th century stuff. I’m constantly surprised at how much of it remains very much a living issue for many people today.

    Comment by Clark — March 2, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  29. I admit I’m no historian, so I do feel puzzled every time I read about seer stones (I’ve read a little). On the one hand, it seems so bizarre and almost heretical now, but on the other hand, it also seems strange that I would categorically dismiss practices that were so important to early members of the Church. In fact, I read the Book of Mormon regularly as scripture, yet I would dismiss the process by which it was revealed?

    I feel quite ignorant on the matter. I want to know how the Church went from widespread use of these practices to our current paradigm that revelation is a fuzzy feeling and not much else. Was it just the onslaught of modernization in America? I don’t think the Hiram Page incident really fills in the gap like I want it to.

    Comment by Syphax — March 2, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

  30. Syphax, if we’re talking about trying to reconcile all these practices theologically I’m not sure it’s that difficult. (Nor is reconciling frankly far stranger stuff from the OT or NT) It’s more about having to communicate to people in their language recognizing language includes culture. Thus Christ probably cured blindness by putting mud on eyes not because it was essential but simply because thats the way people did it in that culture.

    I’d note that while Joseph used the seer stone to begin translating it appears that before too long he didn’t use it much at all.

    I think that people sometimes need something to get them able to work with God. Consider the Liahona. Did the Nephites really need such a thing? Couldn’t Lehi have just followed direct inspiration? Sure. But the family as a whole needed some trapping.

    None of this is to address the historical matters. I should add that from a personal perspective I tend to think that a lot of perception of spiritual events probably are erroneous. Just like you might look askance as some “fantastic” testimonies at F&T meeting on Sunday if they arose from someone with a penchance for hyperbole I think one ought to the same with the past. However for some reason psychologically we judge past figures differently just because they are in the past or just because they have a journal or the like.

    Comment by Clark — March 2, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

  31. And that’s probably the position I’d take myself. I can understand that. But if we take the position that revelation operates according to the person as they intersect with their culture, well then it seems unfair to criticize a person nowadays who wants to use crystals or Bibliomancy or whatever they wish to receive revelation, though many modern members of the Church would.

    And that’s interesting that you think most spiritual perception is erroneous. I don’t know if I’d take that position, but in my own experience with my own personal revelation, I would say that I’ve received unambiguous, direct revelation perhaps five times in my whole life, despite seeking it almost constantly.

    Comment by Syphax — March 2, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

  32. Syphax, if such devices were more meditative devices or the like I probably wouldn’t criticize. When I criticize it’s more because the claims go well beyond that into either bad pseudoscience or even a false priesthood.

    I may shake my head because I don’t believe someone. Heck, I do that all the time when I find someone’s implausible and hard to believe testimony. But I’m not apt to go up to them and criticize them simply because I do recognize the Lord works with each of us in our weakness. (Including myself – looking back at my life I can see real spiritual experiences as well as periods of really bad naivete)

    Comment by Clark — March 2, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

  33. Bibliomancy has been very common for centuries.
    Instructions on preparing stones or crystals are very common in New Age/New Thought/modern American metaphysical religion.
    I think a productive area for research would be MLM and nutraceuticals and how they interact with folk religion in MCR LDS.
    I know a Mormon scholar who has used seerstones. S/he thought it was awesome and sort of eerie.
    And a friend’s father has some seer stones that appear to be old Native artifacts, and he and many of his family are convinced that it wields supernatural power. He even debated rejoining the LDS church after the encounter, given the association with Joseph Smith.

    Comment by smb — March 2, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

  34. I had some friends who had something called a monkey claw which appeared to me to be a small rock in a woven bag. These were college students and I was flabberghast and shocked that they actually thought the thing has special powers. They started telling me all these ridiculous things so I introduced them to the notion of double blind tests. Upon which time of course it had no more powers than any other rock. Its effects were purely the power of suggestion on them. (i.e. they were subconsciously creating the effects) I thought this would change things. But no, instead (and these were college students — admittedly a bunch of them were artists, but still…) the monkey’s claw was displeased with me.

    I couldn’t believe it.

    Whenever friends, especially atheist friends start telling me how great Europe is and slamming the US for all our religious nonsense I just start pointing out that the Europeans have as much, if not more superstitious claptrap of this sort. It’s just not tied to a systemized theology nor organization.

    Humans are just plain weird sometimes.

    Comment by Clark — March 2, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

  35. I visited with former church patriarch Eldred Smith several years before he died. He told me he had an aunt who had a seer stone and used it to good advantage to help people find lost things and even mineral deposits. He said one of the family finally told her to stop using it as it didn’t an appropriate thing or the Smith family to be involved in. He also told me things about the urim and thumim I had never heard before. He was almost 100 at the time he related this to me.

    Comment by Richard McDermott — March 3, 2011 @ 2:15 am

  36. Thanks for the very interesting comment, Richard. Fortunately, I think Patriarch Smith is still with us and must have turned 104 recently (Jan. 9).

    Comment by Jared T — March 3, 2011 @ 2:37 am

  37. All this calling on the “holy trinity” in these spells. Doesn’t sound like a formual a good Mormon would use.

    Comment by wonderdog — March 3, 2011 @ 6:19 am

  38. Richard McDermott (35), what were the things Eldred Smith told you about the urim and thummim?

    Comment by Mark Ashurst-McGee — March 3, 2011 @ 9:23 am

  39. wonderdog, calling on the father, son and holy ghost is common among the folk-magic-like healing prayers found among Mormons during the nineteenth century (and others).

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 3, 2011 @ 11:13 am

  40. That’s a whole other interesting topic about when the full godhead is named in ritual versus just naming the Father. There’s no doubt that the LDS moved towards privileging the Father – especially in the 20th century as A/G was being repressed. However there’s still places where we name all three, such as the baptismal prayer.

    It’s quite interesting how tied up with particular phrasing Mormons have become. I remember when young – and I don’t know how much regional variance there is to this – that prayers were much more flexible. I’ve found the past few years in Provo that people really want you to follow the stated prayers for healing, naming and so forth exactly.

    For instance I was blessing my baby and did it slightly differently from how the Bishop expected it. I had all the right words and so forth in place but it wasn’t quite in the same order and I think I used a few synonyms. The Bishop actually stopped the prayer halfway through and asked me to give the name properly. Interestingly a different Bishop with the second baby did the same thing (albeit after Church and just wanted me to rebless her) I didn’t mind. (I’m definitely not the personality to take offense to such things – if anything I thought it funny.) It’s interesting though that these other rituals are moving toward becoming so route. More like the sacramental prayers.

    Comment by Clark — March 3, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

  41. Richard, like Mark I’m curious as to what he said although I suspect that’s private and you won’t tell me. That biography of the Patriarch that came out in the 90’s (sorry, forget the name and I’m too lazy to look it up) was interesting to me in that while it dealt with the tension between the Patriarch and the Twelve it didn’t get into the relationship between the partriarchal priesthood and natural seership either in Nauvoo theology nor how that evolved in early Utah.

    I think there’s still a lot of historical work that can be done here.

    Comment by Clark — March 3, 2011 @ 4:31 pm

  42. It seems to me, you guys are approaching the subject of seer stones from an intellectual point of view.
    One of doubt!
    The Prophet Joseph Smith did tell the Saints that every member should have their own Seer Stone, and it was common to find members routing around in the riverbeds of the day, seeking their own.

    The Book of Revelations mentions certain persons each recieving a white stone…(Urim and Thummim)

    Joseph in Egypt had what he called his “silver divining cup”(The Book of Mormon prophets revered him as a prominent Seer)

    Joseph Smith had one of his seer stones in his pocket on the day of his death.

    Mosiah 8:17-18 “…and also things shall be made known by them which OTHERWISE could not be known.
    Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings.”

    If we don’t believe that God can, or will bless us a certain way- then your right…He wont!
    If we dont believe in Ministering Angels, Gifts of the Spirit, answers to prayer- and a host of other blessing- we are not so blessed.
    It is through faith(believing the promptings of the spirit) that any man might work a miracle…and become a benefit to his fellow beings.”

    Comment by Neil — March 6, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

  43. Neil, I think most of us are well aware of the scriptures and examples you present, but thanks for the reminders.

    Why don’t you tell us more about your faith and your own use of seer stones in our day.

    Comment by Jared T — March 7, 2011 @ 12:33 am

  44. You may also wish to consult The Familiar Astrologer 1831, which contains an earlier manuscript, of which I quote a portion below:

    CELESTIAL MAGIC.
    Part 1.

    Copied verbatim from a beautifully illuminated magical Manuscript, formerly in the possession of the celebrated Mr. Richard Conray, R. A.

    “If good Angels, or elemental powers, or otherwise dignified spirits, of a benevolent or symbolizing nature with celestial powers, and allied to the welfare and preservation of mankind, are moved and called forth to visible appearance in a Christall Stone, or glass receiver, as one usual way or customary form is among the learned Magicians, then the sign of their appearance seemeth most like a vail, or curtain, or some beautiful colour hanging in or about the glass or stone, as a bright cloud, or other pretty kind of hierogliphical sh«w, both strange and very delightful to behold.

    It is therefore to be remembered, that the Magical student ought to have for his purpose a christal stone, of a round globick form, very clear and transparent, or other of like diaphanity, or ball of clear and solid glass, with a little hole on the top, of like form, of any convenient bigness or diameter, according as can reasonably be obtained or made, and the same to be set in a form; and also the Glasses, to be made with a stalk or shank fixed thereto, and so to be put into a socket with a foot or pedestal to stand upright; the stone being called by the name of a shew stone, and the glass by the name of a glass receptacle; or in practice or action upon invocation or motion, made for spiritual appearance, there shall either be a wax candle on each side thereof, or a lamp behind the same, burning during the time of action, set on a table apart, fitted and furnished for this purpose. But if appearance hereof aforesaid be moved for by invocation, out of the shewstone or christal glass; or if yet, notwithstanding appearance happen to shew themselves out of them, yet the sign of their appearance will be very delectable and pleasant; various, amazing the senses to behold, as a shining brightness or sudden flashes, or such like similitudes, very splended in shew, or in the place where action is made, or appearance moved.”

    Comment by Russell Yoder — March 12, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  45. Also, as a side note, I just happened across some notes on John Steele and thought it is worth pointing out that he was born in Ireland. This relates to Fleming’s work, I think. I’ve come across references to several prominent Irish Mormons who believed in fairies and supernatural lore that we would be mistaken to connect to JS.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 13, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

  46. Cool quote Russell.

    The Irish and fairies brings up several interesting points J. Church leaders had been on a question to squash fairy belief for thousands of years because they didn’t like the idea of ambivalent (neither good nor bad, angels or demons) supernatural beings. They had to be either angels or demons. So tracing the dwindling of fairy belief among the common people over the ages is an interesting task. It lasted longer in out of the way places among the common people, Ireland had fairy belief into the 20th century (also Sicily). It lasted longer in Scotland also.

    You don’t see belief in ambivalent beings in JS though such ideas were often in the treasure digging lore.

    Comment by Steve Fleming — March 13, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  47. Thanks Steve.
    Another aside: I have just acquired a “holey stone” from England’s shore which very much resembles a famous seer stone said to have been used by Joseph. Apparently, “Eilley” Bowers also brought a similar Scottish “peep stone” with her from Forfar when she first emigrated to the United States. (Remember that Joseph said EVERY ONE is entitled to have such a stone.) I am so glad that there is no longer a denial of this important doctrine. Btw, an independent confirmation of it can be found in Tibetan Buddhism, which speaks of the present-day discovery by holy men of “earth treasures” (called “termas”), in which blessings are revealed.

    Comment by Russell Yoder — March 15, 2011 @ 11:56 am