As an Occultist I am often surprised and confounded by the obvious occult and magical traditions and symbols that surround everyday Americans without them even knowing. From the inverted pentagram adorning the vestments of America's most honored heroes (the Medal of Honor), to the simple occult principles that have become mainstays of modern self help literature (The Secret being a reprint of basic truths known to Magicians and Occultists for ages). It often seems that the oblivious masses accept aspects of the occult as normal without ever knowing that they are doing so. They respond to basic sigilization all the time (corporate logos are, of course, nothing but the corporations' ideals manifest as a sigil), they enjoy entertainment with increasingly strong occult themes ("Wizards of Waverly Place" teaches our children that magic is positive and beneficial, and most of the CW's fans wouldn't even know the word Enochian if it weren't for "Supernatural" which also consistently teaches that pentagrams are for protection and should even be tattooed on the body to avoid possession), and many more Americans put stock in horoscopes, feng shui, and The Secret than in any other time.
But even with all these, I am sometimes floored by the occult rituals that pass unnoticed under the nose of even dedicated practitioners of the occult arts. Especially, when it comes to religion.
We, as Occultists, often take a "live and let live" stance with folks of other faiths in an effort to avoid conflict and to not have the spotlight pointed back on us for fear of ignorant retribution (or even just basic 'outing'). But in a few cases, it may be to our detriment not to focus our attention on "the enemy" (so to speak) and their own occult practices. It is no real secret to the academically inclined that modern religion is inundated with occult and metaphysical practices stolen from previous religions or developed by priests with an inclination toward early metaphysical training (remember that most of our medieval grimoires were written by educated priests and practiced with their training and knowledge). But when does the line get crossed from "minor metaphysical practices" to "powerful occult rituals?" At what point does a church's fervor for their own practices override our spiritual and magical freedoms?
The answer can be found within the pseudo-Masonic subset of Christianity: Mormonism.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as "Mormon" because of its founding text the Book of Mormon, Mormon being the name of the guy who supposedly wrote the book), is a rapidly growing church under the Christian umbrella with over 13 Million members in 176 countries. As churches go, it is huge. Unlike most denominations, Mormons are all (with some debatable branch offs) members of, and subordinate to, the same centralized church authority. Much as the Roman Catholic church looks up its rigid hierarchy to the Vatican for word from the Pope on what God wants the church to do, so to do the members of the LDS church look to Salt Lake City, Utah, for their instructions from God through his Prophet, the President of the Church. Currently that position is held by Thomas S Monson, a man just as disturbing looking as Pope Benedict, and the Mormon equivalent to a CB radio to God himself.
The church was born out of a desire by its founder to mix Biblical organization, the church being modeled after Christ and his apostles (read: Monson and his 12 Apostles), and Masonic ritual, its founder being an initiate of the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge, as well as Biblical architecture and prophecy, its temples being fashioned after Solomon's and after the Apostle John's description of "the church" in Revelations.
So why should we care?
What about this seemingly innocent (as churches go) faith has any bearing on us as practitioners and students of the occult?
Very simply, the Mormon church can (and probably will) baptize you Mormon without your permission.
Among the beliefs of the LDS church is that any man or woman not baptized Mormon, in a Mormon temple, cannot get to heaven (or rather, the Telestial Kingdom). But unlike many other churches with this same belief, the LDS church has solved the age old question of "what happens to those who never heard the church's doctrine" by simply cutting out the legal fine print and directly baptizing non-Mormons without them consenting or even being present. These baptisms by proxy are supposedly only done for deceased relatives of Mormons. However, Baptisms for the Dead (as they are called) have been the subject of much controversy, as the church has been accused (and proven in some cases) of baptizing deceased persons not connected to the church but submitted on basis of their fame or notoriety. Famously, the church was found to have included in its database names found on lists of Holocaust survivors, as well as Nazi officers, including Anne Frank (famous Holocaust victim) and Adolf Hitler (Nazi party leader). Even further, because the LDS church teaches that only married couples can get into the highest degree of glory in heaven (the Celestial Kingdom), baptisms aren't the only ritual performed by proxy and after death. Marriage ceremonies are also performed for couples who weren't married in the temple originally, and in some cases, who weren't married and may not have known each other at all.
But aside from the incredibly offensive nature of baptizing people who died for their faith, and marrying people who never knew each other, why should we as occultists care? Does it matter what they do with our names after our death (especially if we are related to them)?
The short answer: Yes, it does matter. Because the rituals are binding.
Those of us who practice the occult understand the basic formula of effective and lasting magic. We understand that magicians can evoke immense power through very simple rituals. Magic takes only three things: focused will, whole-hearted intent, and proper ritual symbolism (sometimes not even the later). The combination of occult symbolism, Masonic ritual, and properly prepared priests and participants, makes this practice dangerous and most probably binding.
To understand the concern we need to look at the LDS church and its rituals.
The Mormon ritual format comes from that of Freemasonry, the basis for occult orders like the Hermetic/Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and traditional Wicca. The rituals of Freemasonry follow occult formulae and command the attention of the ethereal laws of magic. Occult orders have always known this and so model their rituals to match (with obvious modifications based on group practice). Masonic ritual mirrors that of medieval grimoires and even that of biblical practices. It uses secret signs, words of power, allusions to supernal truths, mystery plays related to mythology, and kabalistic authority. One has only to read through Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma[i], or Lon Milo Duquette's The Key to Solomon's Key[ii] to see the occult truths held in Masonic rites. While the format has been changed over the years by the LDS church, the remaining handshakes, gestures, and ritual format is still so similar that they are indistinguishable Masonic handshakes and gestures.
Along with the Masonic ritual format, Mormon temples are designed after the biblical Temple of Solomon (also taken from the Masonic tendency to do the same), even including a "Holy of Holies" (that only the President/Prophet can enter). The Temples are designed in the manner of "ancient religious tradition" (according to Frank Moore Cross, Harvard professor of Ancient History), the same source that occult practice insists upon for private "outer temples." It is a separate place set apart for rituals and ceremonies and covenants with God, and everything that goes on in the temple is solely for those who are 'properly initiated' and 'worthy' and is a guarded secret (supposedly because the goings on are too sacred to be profaned by talking about them). Temples are completely closed to the public except for just after being built and before the temple is properly consecrated[iii].
The temple its-self is designed similarly to those of other faiths and is covered in astronomical images (suns, moons, stars). Among the occult symbols on many temples are all seeing eyes and pentagrams[iv]. The temples include a massive baptismal font, consisting of a huge pool being held on the backs of Twelve life size Oxen statues[v].
The rituals take young men and women, who are ritually prepared and physically abstinent from sex, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and fun (sorry, had to), for the purpose of being 'worthy' to enter the temple. Those youths are ritually anointed "on behalf of" a named individual with holy water and consecrated oil[vi]. A note on this: for anyone who doubts these consecrated liquids, I include the personal witness of that consecration, which includes touching the vessel of oil and concentrating upon it while invoking the authority of a deity (in this case Jesus) and giving the oil a purpose (not dissimilar to the consecration of oil in Wiccan and pagan rites). Until about 1990 those youths were stark naked with only an open sided poncho on[vii], but now they are dressed in temple garments, which are special clothes set aside for the purpose with occult symbols on them (specifically a square and compass).
We Occultists know that magic is done through sympathy. We anoint images on intended subjects of a ritual, or use the name of a spirit, both powerful connections to those subjects. Through those connections, rituals can be performed on another without their presence or permission.
So Mormon rituals have all the components of a binding occult rite:
-They are performed in a consecrated place surrounded by occult symbols (Sacred Temples).
-They are performed by ritually prepared participants (unsuspecting virginal youths).
-They follow established occult ritual format (Masonic Rites).
-They are even done in secret and then never spoken of (To Know, Will, Dare, and BE SILENT).
With this in mind, consider now the plight of the Occultist who knows this. Our names can be submitted by relatives after our death (and some say, before) for these rituals. And those of us who understand these rituals understand that the consequences may be that our souls shall be bound to others through Mormon marriage against our will "for time and all eternity" (as opposed to "til death do us part"), and even be bound to the Mormon church for the same! Whether or not they are right. The full consequences can be considered by occultists who accept the idea of reincarnation, and realize that this binding ritual could force you to be with the same spouse (whom you may never have met or fallen in love with) throughout your next lives and throughout "all eternity," as well as being bound to the Mormon church in your next lives. To look one step further, those who believe in their own versions of heaven (Valhalla, Tir Na Nog, Summerlands, etc) might want to be concerned about being pulled away from that eventual restful reward and bound to whatever fate awaits the Mormons (ahhh)!
Consider, that forcibly coercing or binding a person (alive or dead) through magic, is what most practitioners would define as "Black Magic" or "Left-handed Practices." And the Mormon church does this daily, all over the world!
So what's the answer for dedicated occultists, pagans, and others who believe in magic and metaphysical laws? Good question. Personal rite to counteract any binding? Maybe. Formal request to the LDS church to leave us off their lists? Probably not (since they feel they are right, such a request might just add you to their lists because you'll "thank them in heaven"). Unfortunately, I have no answer. All I offer, is the chance for Occultists to view the rites that their 'enemies' may be binding them with.
Just when we thought we were safe from surprise baptisms, this growing religion finds a new and inventive way of converting us "after the fact."
I, for one, am amazed at the audacity of these folks and suggest we begin vicariously baptizing them as pagans (I kid, I kid... maybe).
Either way, if you have family in the LDS church, my suggestion (and it is just that, a suggestion) is that you consider having a serious discussion about NOT submitting your name. Let your wishes be known. Unless you couldn't care less, in which case, this is just an FYI.
(for a step by step demonstration of these ceremonies, and more, take a look at the video listed under iii in my endnotes)
[iv] http://hismin.com/navoopentagram.html as well as http://mrm.org/nauvoo-pentagrams
[vii] http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon366.htm#The actual ordinance