Why can’t she be a seer?


I remember an interview I had for a temple recommend once. The counselor in the stake presidency asked me to describe my spiritual goals to him. I responded that I wanted my mind to become a Urim and Thummim.

The Urim and Thummim have a special place in Mormon folklore. They are talked about as ancient seer stones preserved and buried underground for centuries. An angel visited Joseph Smith and led him to the Urim and Thummim. He then used the seer stones to assist him in producing the Book of Mormon. The names Urim and Thummim appear in the Old Testament, and together are translated as “lights and perfections.”

Possession of a seer stone, in Book of Mormon doctrine, designates a person as a seer. (Magic informs a tremendous amount of early Mormon lore. I’ll be writing more on this in the near future.) Thus, an angel–by guiding young Joseph Smith to ancient Urim and Thummim stones–confirms Joseph Smith’s preeminence among seers.

Seership and its mystique contribute terrifically to LDS spiritual imagination. In the Book of Mormon, a seer is ranked higher than a prophet.

interpreters[for more on the The Interpreters sculpture, please visit Shawn Bitter’s artwork page.]

Seership, to me, is a departure point wherein I lay the literalness of interpreter stones and the like aside, while still deriving inspiration from the instructive metaphors I observe. Using religious vernacular, I think seership, as any number of abilities that may be designated as spiritual gifts, can be cultivated. If seership is described as the ultimate high point in spiritual giftedness, why not aim high to acquire this gift?

I think Joseph Smith wanted a line of seers in his church. He went as far as saying it is the right of every person to find their own seer stone. (This coincided well with my boyhood love of rocks and gems.) Joseph dealt poorly with the bureaucratic messiness inescapable in creating a new system of spirituality. The episode of Joseph curtailing the legitimacy of Hiram Page’s seership smacks of being only too human in nature. But lousy management of authority is one of Joseph’s many forgivable flaws. It’s no easy task to make vision and revelation as Joseph wanted them to be: a community affair. (Try starting with a quorum affair, that’s difficult enough.)seer

We as queer Mormons can look to the Quakers for tricks of this trade. They have several hundred years of a head start on Mormon lineages of tradition. Why not cultivate these gifts if you feel motivated by them? Why not encourage others to explore budding interests and passions they may feel? Don’t let the previous, “You can’t,” “You’re not worthy,” or, “You’re not permitted,” deter you from responding positively to those impulses for personal development. My husband found this Quaker video link that describes the prophetic gifts within The Religious Society of Friends. 

Additionally, should one desire to cultivate seership within Mormon spirituality, I recommend appeals to Heavenly Mother. At a symbolic level, women in Mormonism are the seers and keepers of wisdom. The Mormon readings of the fall narrative repeatedly credit Eve with seeing the necessity for deliberate transgression. Eve models for us the role of wisdom in our ability to see the spiritual, and to discern good, better, and best paths forward in our eternal journey. As Joseph Smith used to channel the spirit of the Restorationist movement, if any of you lack wisdom, let them ask of God [gender neutral].


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