February 13, 2015

Mormon paganism: Heavenly Mother, co-creator of spirit children

A key feature of pagan creation myths is that in the heavenly realm, reproduction takes a similar form to mundane reproduction, through the union of two sexually differentiated deities.

In Greek mythology, the original male sky god (Uranus) mates with the original female earth goddess (Gaia) and creates the generation of gods known as the Titans. A brother and sister among the Titans, Cronos and Rhea, mate and produce the generation known as the first six of the Olympian gods. A brother and sister among these six Olympians, Zeus and Rhea, mate and produce the rest of the Olympian gods.

With the shift toward transcendent monotheism during the Axial Age, there would be no role left for female goddesses, since there was no longer a pantheon of gods to be created, perhaps through several generations. The sole god (or two, in a dualistic religion like Zoroastrianism) had always existed, and will always exist. He does not need a story about who his mother and father gods were.

Like Christianity, Mormonism posits a variety of not-godly yet not-mortal beings, such as angels and demons. They are all of the same genus -- Heavenly Father's spirit children who have not yet been born on Earth. Reminder: Mormonism teaches that the soul of each mortal person came from a spirit being in the pre-mortal stage of existence.

Lucifer is one of these spirit children, although he was denied being born on Earth, for his rebellion. So is the pre-mortal spirit form of Jesus Christ, who before being born is called Jehovah in Mormonism (his, and our, Heavenly Father is called Elohim). Spirit children also include the demons, those pre-mortal spirits who sided with Lucifer and against Jehovah (pre-mortal Jesus) during the War in Heaven. And they include angels such as the archangel Michael.

Unlike Christianity, Mormonism does not hold this cast of spirit characters to be the production of the sole creator god. Instead, they all came from a physical marital union between the god Heavenly Father and his wife, the goddess Heavenly Mother. Reminder: gods in Mormonism have physical, flesh-and-bone bodies that are human in appearance, although in glorified form that is not subject to sinfulness, decay, death, and so on.

Given the emphasis that Mormonism places on the corporeal similarities between mortals and gods, the natural conclusion is that the act which created our world's spirit children resembled the act by which any mortal father and mother create mortal children. Yep, bumping their glorified uglies is how Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother created our pre-mortal spirit forms.

This gives Mormon women quite a bit more to strive for than in other religions. Where else can they become a creator goddess in their own right? Recall that in Mormonism our ultimate goal is to reach the highest degree of "exaltation" and become creator gods ourselves, producing a race of spirit children, shaping their world, receiving their worship, and so on.

Men can expect to play the role of Heavenly Father, overseeing the shaping of the world and the creation of life and mankind. Women cannot expect those roles to play, but women are bored anyway by creating worlds out of Lego blocks, playing Sim City, and looking after an ant farm. Women can look forward to a role that truly matters to them: giving birth to the spirit children of her world, and nurturing them during their child-like pre-mortal spirit existence -- and without having to change diapers and breastfeed in the middle of the night!

Plus, women will be married to the head honcho god of their world -- not too shabby. Even better, that head honcho won't be just any old god, as though it were a Cinderella story. In fact, their godly husband will be the exalted form of the man to whom they were married during their mortal lives, continuing their Earthly marriage in exalted form for eternity.*

Because of the blatantly pagan nature of their Heavenly Mother goddess, Mormons try not to draw too much attention to her, as that might raise suspicion among the outsiders. They are instructed by their leaders not to pray to her or worship her, and to mention her as little as possible in church meetings and in lay discussions. And being inveterate rule-followers, they go along with it.

That's not to say that she receives no worship, however. The lyrics to an early Mormon hymn, "O My Father" (written by a woman), summarize their beliefs in the "eternal progression" from spirits to mortals to gods, organized around the theme of birth to loving parents, growing up away from them, and returning home to them in maturity.

In two separate verses it mentions Heavenly Mother in addition to Heavenly Father, making an argument from common sense that our creator god must have a creator goddess as his wife (a prime example of the Mormon aversion to mystery):

In the heav'ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?

Because of the distinctly non-Christian nature of their theology and theogony (creation of gods), Mormons try not to draw too much attention by setting it to music and broadcasting the message to outsiders. To minimize suspicion, the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir mostly sings and records Christian standards, especially for Christmas. To end on, here is a rare exception of them singing "O My Father":

* The highest degree of exaltation requires that you be married and "sealed" to each other by a Mormon temple ceremony. This goes beyond a normal wedding, and is more of an initiation ritual, only this rite of passage is bringing in a couple rather than an individual.


  1. You really need to brush up on your Greek mythology. Zeus' wife was Hera, not Rhea. Also, Zeus and Hera were only the parents of two of the rest of the Olympians: Hephaestus and Ares. The others were Zeus' children by other women.

  2. That was a brain fart, after writing about Cronos and Rhea, her name carried over while typing.

  3. I've just watched the first two of the Twilight movies with my daughters and they remind me very much of a pagan mythological epic.
    The scenery is lush, dark, and breathtakingly beautiful except when they show the "anti-vampires" who look like Spanish Catholics celebrating a holy day: super sunny and sterile.
    Obviously, as is well-known, the couple is immortal, has sparkling skin, imperfect, but superior to people.
    Someone told me way back that they believe the Catholic Church was wrong, or an imposter, can't quite remember, but the Mormon Church was to right the course.

    Twilight was meant to be allegorical, no doubt.

    Still enjoyed it, but not going to turn this into a review. The last time I felt a movie transport me to a feeling back in deep history was "Merlin", an underappreciated made-for-tv movie back in the late 90s. That one was of the world turning from Pagan to Christian. Isabella Rosselini's character even mentions discovering Lord, Jesus Cbacks and Sam Neill's Merlin tells Mab that magic will die because they will forget her and they turn their backs on her.

  4. That same theme appears throughout Excalibur, also with Merlin. Classic '80s movie with great cinematography and production design. If you have sons, they'd dig it. Mythological and epic without being bombastic like Lord of the Rings. It does have T&A, but then I already said it was an '80s movie.

  5. I looked into it and found an interview with the director who said it was about the arrival of Christian man and the one god displacing the other gods. I'll ask my husband about it. Curious, was Jesus Christ explicitly referred to?

    I'm curious how the Twilight movie will shake out. They are teen films, but not at all "tween" movies. I have an 11-year-old who, by watching the first two, has been exposed to more sexuality than this unsheltered 80s kid was at her age.
    I guess because some of the elements sounded ludicrous (glittery vampires), many people mistakenly associated it with young girls. No, they're a nod to pagan myths.

  6. A note about the Twilight movies: beautiful movie, interesting story, but I cannot recall a female romantic character, love interest who was so boring and uncompelling. It actually makes watching a bit uncomfortable, how everyone slavishly adores her despite her being so avoidant and withdrawn. It's not just with the boys, but everyone in her life.
    I've seen more compelling women who didn't even have lines! I'm not sure, but the blonde younger sister in Last of the Mohicans was convincing and I can't recall her speaking.
    And it has nothing to do with her looks.
    The redhead girl with an afro in Dazed and Confused who drives the older blond guy crazy? That girl had more sex appeal in her pinkie than Bella altogether.
    Fault of script or actress, I'm not sure.

  7. " Mythological and epic without being bombastic like Lord of the Rings. It does have T&A, but then I already said it was an '80s movie."

    Ya know, I think a great movie could be fashioned out of a greatest hits assortment of Lord of the Rings scenes. Jackson needed to tighten his belt by about 4 notches but with CGI and the studio giving him carte blanche that wasn't gonna happen.

    LOTR's main problem was the excruciating nerdy attention to the source material detail (dorks still complained anyway). Had the filmakers just whittled the story and character arcs down to the essentials it could've been so much better. All the elaborate costumes, effects, locations, photography etc. gone to waste because of the OCD "check every box" mentality which rips the heart out of potentially good material.

    There's also the post 1992 tendency to have too many scenes/subplots period on top of the fact that said scenes/subplots will be annoying because of too much loitering. Enough exposition and sentimental "character development". Get on with it, already.

    I've sworn to not watch another Peter Jackson movie until he, under gun point from the studio, makes a non sequel/non remake under 2 hours.

    Excalibur is very cool movie and an exciting antidote to the wimpy Millennial friendly stuff. This is a really in depth look at the movie written in the early 80's:



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