Heavenly Mother

I recently read a book which made reference to “a vision about a mother in heaven” that was had by Joseph Smith. Since this is not widely known, I did some research, and this is what I found. There are actually two accounts of this, and they differ slightly in their details.

One day the Prophet Joseph Smith asked him (Zebedee Coltrin) and Sidney Rigdon to accompany him into the woods to pray. When they had reached a secluded spot Joseph laid down on his back and stretched out his arms. He told the brethren to lie one on each arm and then shut their eyes. After they had prayed he told them to open their eyes. They did so and they saw a brilliant light surrounding a pedestal which seemed to rest on the ground. They closed their eyes and again prayed. They then saw, on opening them, the Father seated upon a throne; they prayed again and on looking saw the Mother also; after praying and looking the fourth time they saw the Savior added to the group. He had auburn brown, rather long, wavy hair and appeared quite young.” Abraham H. Cannon Journal, 25 Aug. 1880, LDS archives

Zebedee Coltrin’s journal records the event two years before Abraham Cannon’s journal did. Coltrin said the man and woman were Adam and Eve. The following comes comes from my book that will be published soon:

According to Coltrin, he and Oliver Cowdery were walking with Joseph Smith outside one day when Smith stopped by some wild grape vines and said, “Let us kneel down here and pray.” After the completion of the prayer, “Joseph stretched himself on his back upon a grassy spot with his arms extended like one upon a cross. He told me to lie by his side with my head resting upon his arm, and Oliver in like manner upon the other side”…. “We did so,” said Coltrin, “all three looking heavenwards. As I looked I saw the blue sky open. I beheld a throne, and upon the throne sat a man and a woman. Joseph asked us if we knew who they were. We answered ‘no’, Joseph said, ‘That is father Adam and mother Eve.’” Zebedee Coltrin, Diary Excerpts of Zebedee Coltrin (1878); as quoted in my book Banishing the Cross: The Emergence of a Mormon Taboo (John Whitmer Books). (Mike Reed)

Cannon says it happened with Rigdon, while Coltrin (who allegedly had the experience) says Cowdery. Cannon also says Father and Mother in Heaven and Coltrin reported Adam and Eve. Cannon evidently conflated two of Coltrin’s visions into one. And in the context of the Adam God doctrine there is even less contradiction.

As you may know… Zebedee Coltrin reported all sorts of visions, another being of Jesus crucified on the cross in the Kirtland Temple.

HC 2:50 reports that Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Zebedee Coltrin were all present on this occasion.

Once after returning from a mission, he [Zebedee Coltrin] met Brother Joseph in Kirtland, who asked him if he did not wish to go with him to a conference at New Portage. The party consisted of Presidents Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and myself [Zebedee Coltrin]. Next morning at New Portage, he noticed that Joseph seemed to have a far off look in his eyes, or was looking at a distance and presently he, Joseph, stepped between Brothers Cowdery and Coltrin and taking them by the arm, said, “Let’s take a walk.” They went to a place where there was some beautiful grass and grapevines and swamp beech interlaced. President Joseph Smith then said, “Let us pray.” They all three prayed in turn—Joseph, Oliver, and Zebedee. Brother Joseph then said, “Now brethren, we will see some visions.” Joseph lay down on the ground on his back and stretched out his arms and the two brethren lay on them. The heavens gradually opened, and they saw a golden throne, on a circular foundation, something like a light house, and on the throne were two aged personages, having white hair, and clothed in white garments. They were the two most beautiful and perfect specimens of mankind he ever saw. Joseph said, “They are our first parents, Adam and Eve.” Adam was a large, broad-shouldered man, and Eve as a woman, was large in proportion. (“Statement of Zebedee Coltrin.” Minutes, 3 October 1883, Salt Lake School of Prophets, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 66-67 ?)

Note: In a different account of this same vision, Coltrin said of Adam and Eve that “their heads were white as snow, and their faces shone with youth” (See “The Papers of Zebedee Coltrin,” in E. Cecil McGavin, The Record of the Spanish Fork Branch [29 April 1866 to 1 December 1898], LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah, 251 ?)

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