Warning: This relation of my experiences in the temple will most likely offend even open minded Mormons. I go into detail about my personal experience being endowed. I issue this warning so that Mormons feel safe to visit the site.
For those interested in the nitty gritty details see this site: http://www.mormondoctrine.net/temple/endowment/compare_1984_to_1990.htm. It goes through the words of the entire ceremony. I’ll focus not so much on getting every single detail in but more on the things which really stuck out to me and general impressions from a first person point of view.
When I left off Eve has just been tempted into eating the forbidden fruit (which kinda looks like an orange tomato) and has also tempted Adam into eating it. They hear the Gods coming down to check on them, and Lucifer lets them know they’d better cover themselves up, since now they recognize their nakedness so they fashion for themselves a fig leaf apron. The temple goers are told to take out the green apron (inside the little pillow of goodies) and put it on.
* At this point I took a break from my writing to get out my temple clothes from the top of my closet. I figure this will help jog my memory and it does. I have a floor length 100% polyester dress with long sleeves. The back bottom has black marks from the escalators. I have a floor length slip, sheer white stockings and white bathroom slippers. The fig leaf apron is a shiny green embroidered with leaves overlaying each other and the bottom is cut out wavy to stimulate the shape of the leaves. There is an elastic band with a hook on the back to put it on. Everything smells a little musty from sitting in my closet for so long, but I remember how to put it all on immediately. Okay, back to the program. *
At this point the Gods come floating down and curse Lucifer, Adam and Eve. I notice with grave disappointment that Eve makes her covenants through Adam while Adam covenants directly with God “Adam I covenant with thee…”. Ugh. My heart did sink a little at this. As these covenants are made the men and women stand up at their respective times to raise their hands to the square (lift their right hands) bow their heads and say yes to the covenants that Adam and then Eve make. A witness couple are up by the alter at the front of the room, kneeling in front of the officiator symbolizing Adam and Eve before Elohim representing the rest of us.
Now we get to learn about the Law of Sacrifice and we are told to obey the Law of Sacrifice, which is our willingness to sacrifice all that we have, even our lives to defend the kingdom of God. This strikes me as a little eerie. We stand up, raise our right hands, bow our heads and say yes. Now we get to receive the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood which is a perfectly masonic hand gesture given to us each individually by the temple workers. We are told that the the name of this token is our New Name that we just received. Huh. We swear not to reveal this information (oops).
We all sit down and the film continues on with Adam and Eve wandering around the lone and dreary world. They’re dressed up in animal skins now and we’re told the garments that we are wearing represent those. I still think it’s funny that we continue to wear the fig leaf aprons Lucifer wanted us to put on, but at this point I figured I have a lot to learn still. We see Adam at a rock altar repeating the words “Oh God, hear the words of my mouth” and naturally Lucifer swings back by. Adam is a rather straight and narrow sort of guy and holds his ground.
Meanwhile, in the floating Greek temple… Elohim tells Jehovah to send messengers to see if Adam and Even have been good, and Jehovah repeats the exact same information to Peter, James and John who are standing around off to the side. They go check out the situation, see Lucifer there running around but find out that Adam has held his ground… so Elohim tells Jehovah to tell Peter, James and John to deliver the next series of signs and tokens with the Law of the Gospel.
Anyway, they go get rid of Lucifer (finally) and Adam wants to know how he can be sure that the three are true messengers since Lucifer keeps trying to trick him. This is done when Peter gives him the first token of the Aaronic priesthood. So we all agree to the Law of the Gospel in the same manner as before which includes avoiding taking the Lord’s name in vain, loud laughter (for some reason?), speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed (the leadership of the church) and a couple other items.
Things get interesting now because we put on the reminder of our temple clothing. This is where the temple workers and my companion help me because it takes a few times to really get this down. First you have to take off your shoes and your fig leaf apron for a moment, and put on a sheer, pleated robe over the left shoulder. It has ties around the waist to keep it in place. Next you put back on the apron, and then a sheer white tie over the waist with the bow over the right hip. Next the women put on a veil. Mine is a sheer white thing with an elastic cap over the head as well as a tie under the neck. It’s kept off of the face for now. Next the shoes are put back on. Instead of a veil, men put on this sort of hat that resembles a baker’s hat. We receive the next handshake, it’s name and it’s sign and swear again to secrecy. We are told that we’ve moved on to the Terrestial World.
This series of events repeats itself so that we receive the token of the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood and the difference now is that we switch the robes to the right side and the bow of our little cloth belt is over the left hip now. We get a new handshake, a new sign, a new name for the thing and make another solemn vow of secrecy. The Law we agree to this time is the Law of Chastity, which is exactly what it sounds like. I wonder for years why this is singled out as it is for the temple ceremony.
Now we are preparing to enter the Celestial Kingdom and receive the Law of Consecration in which we solemnly swear to give everything we are or may be blessed with to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We receive the next handshake, the next sign (Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Patriarchal Grip or Sure Sign of the Nail (in similitude of Christ on the cross)) but are told that we won’t learn the name of the token yet. First, we have prayer circle.
A group of us, me included as a new person gather around the altar up front in a circle, girl-boy-girl-boy and so on (but not everyone goes up for this, some stay in their seats). At this point I realize that my kindly bishop had come to support me and was waiting for me to be my partner. I’m happy to see him but I’m also a little startled by looking at him in his temple garb, it’s truly otherworldly. He takes a moment to check in with me and I assure him I’m alright. I am, I’m very curious, but also fairly disoriented. I’m in a daze and at this point look forward to getting through with everything. We go through all the signs we just learned including the rather awkward last one which includes lifting our hands over our heads and while lowering them repeating “Oh God hear the words of my mouth” three times. The women in the room are told to veil their faces and we join hands with the grip we just learned, the men join hands with the women on their left. The prayer starts and is led by the officiator, a normal sort of prayer for the prophet, the missionaries of the church and so forth. Afterward the women unveil themselves and everyone sits down.
Finally we are told that we are going to the veil of the temple. Past the veil is the Celestial Room and then the ceremony is over. The veil is a white curtain that we pass through. On one side are the temple goers, on the other side are male temple workers symbolizing Elohim. There are slits in the veil like the symbols in our garments, and there is a slit to put our hands through to be tested. Female temple workers help the women, and males help the men get through the test. As a newbie I watch everyone else go first, then I have my turn. I’m lead to the veil, and a temple worker uses a rubber mallet to hit a steel divider between stations (there are oh, maybe six stations, 3 for women, 3 for men, to go to). The man on the other side responds and I have to give him all of the secret handshakes I’ve learned along with their names. When I get to the final one I learn the name of the Second Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, well, the guy gives it to me and the woman worker coaches me through it and the guys gently pulls me through the curtain to the other side. I walk into the Celestial room, which is pretty much an ornate, gaudy living room. Inside are a few people I recognize. At this point I’m ready to sit down for a while and I do.