Images: ?Scenes in the Endowment Ceremonies? in Beadle

By May 20, 2015

Note: today?s post deals with temple ordinances, which can be a sensitive topic. Please tread considerately.

Today?s image, ?Scenes in the Endowment Ceremonies,? allegedly depicts portions of the Mormon ordinance of temple endowment. So far as I can tell, ?Scenes? first appeared in John H Beadle?s Life in Utah: or, The Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism (1870), which—if the title didn?t give it away—takes a dim view of Mormonism. Beadle reused the image in 1882 and again in 1904. [1] 

SebaldH ScenesInTheEndowmentCeremonies Beadle 1870 ap486 Crop

(Click to enlarge.) The key reads:

1. Preparation—Washing and Anointing. 2. Eloheim Cursing Adam and Eve—Satan Driven out. 3. Trial of Faith—The ?Searching Hand.? 4. Oath to Avenge the Death of Joseph Smith. 5. The ?Blood Atonement.?

A name, ?Hugo Sebald SC,? is on the image (bottom right). ?SC? in this context indicates that Sebald engraved the image for printing (?sculpsit? is Latin for (I think) ?[he] engraves [it]?). Sebald might be illustrator and engraver or just engraver. On the left side of the podium in the bottom left image there are script letters, ?EB,? which might be the illustrator?s signature.

Without taking a position on the reliability of these images as a record of the endowment as practiced in the 1860s or purporting to do any detailed analysis, a few things draw my idiosyncratic attention. First, Satan has what looks like a pickelhaube—a spiked helmet.

SebaldH ScenesInTheEndowmentCeremonies Beadle 1870 ap486 detail Satan closeup

The fellow in the center image has hair draped as if it were horns. I have not noticed any evidence to say whether the hair horns were or were not intentional.

SebaldH ScenesInTheEndowmentCeremonies Beadle 1870 ap486 detail TrialOfFaith hair horns

And, finally, the thing that prompted this post in the first place: I?ve written about hooded and masked vigilante Mormons before, but I had not noticed the background figure in the bottom right image.

SebaldH ScenesInTheEndowmentCeremonies Beadle1870 ap486 detail BloodAtonement combine HiLite

I?m still going back and forth on whether there is actually a Danite in the background or just a funny looking rock. And then there are the three dark spots to the left of the Danite—and the two to the right. Are we supposed to think there are eyes watching everywhere? Maybe Sebald/EB was a time-traveling Foucauldian making a performative comment on the paranoia and suspicion created by a(n alleged) surveillance state.

For good measure and in case you missed the Mormons-are-violent motif, note the weapons intertwined in the picture borders. I think it could be fun if the border plants could be identified and it turned out to be something poisonous; looking casually—and innocent of any botanic competence—I don’t recognize belladonna, hemlock, upas, ignatia, foxglove, or nux vomica.



[1] The version of ?Scenes in the Endowment Ceremonies? I used came from 1904: John H Beadle, Polygamy: or, The Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism, revised edition (Philadelphia: World Bible House, 1904), 395. I briefly compared the image to the version in the other two books but did not notice any differences; I didn?t make a production of it, though, so it?s quite possible I missed something. John H Beadle, Life in Utah: or, The Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism (Philadelphia: National Publishing Co, 1870), after p 486. John H Beadle, Polygamy: or, The Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism (Philadelphia: National Publishing Co, 1882), 395.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Well. Okay, then.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — May 20, 2015 @ 10:15 am

  2. Great stuff, Edje.

    Comment by Ben P — May 20, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

  3. Reminds me of the time that I was accosted with some Chick tracts in SE Portland. The person spent a lot of time pointing to pictures like this and telling me to ask my mission president about the mysteries of “Kobos.”

    Thanks, Edje.

    Comment by J Stuart — May 20, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

  4. Thanks, Ardis, Ben, and J.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — May 20, 2015 @ 7:16 pm

  5. I find it interesting that in the “Oath to Avenge the Death of Joseph Smith” section, the high priest giving the sign seems to be wearing on his chest something akin to how the breastplate and the seer stones have been depicted elsewhere. Posibly implying that the avenging is being led by the one holding the Urim and Thummim, or in other words, the “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.” But I love to speculate on these things. 🙂

    Comment by Manuel Villalobos — May 21, 2015 @ 5:02 pm

  6. Thanks for posting this. Reminds me of the picture in Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” of a woman in temple garb threateningly wielding a dagger.

    Comment by Bro. Jones — May 22, 2015 @ 8:23 am


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