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Mikveh: Jewish ritual immersion in water

A recent post on Junior Ganymede mentions the ritual bath called a mikveh where Jews practiced ritual immersions in pools of water. The parallels to Christian baptism (which means to dip or immerse) are many. In both rituals the purpose of the immersion is a symbolic cleansing or refreshing. Anciently, immersion in a mikveh was required for those converting to Judaism.

Today, these are the modern cases in which a mikveh is used:

  • by Jewish women to achieve ritual purity after menstruation or childbirth;
  • by Jewish men to achieve ritual purity (see details below);
  • as part of a traditional procedure for conversion to Judaism;
  • to immerse newly acquired utensils used in serving and eating food.

The Wikipedia article I’ve been referencing here cites a source that says “The existence of a mikveh is considered so important in Orthodox Judaism that an Orthodox community is required to construct a mikveh before building a synagogue, and must go to the extreme of selling Torah scrolls or even a synagogue if necessary, to provide funding for the construction.” (Berlin, Meshib Dabar, 2:45)

These ritual immersions can happen many times throughout the year for many reasons. It was a powerful physical reminder of Read Full Post

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An Amazing Creation Sequence With a Surprising Twist

I have not yet seen the film The Tree of Life although the title alone draws my interest. This particular sequence depicts the creation in a manner that is very similar to the creation sequence in the presentation of the LDS temple endowment. In both instances, we see the earth being organized and life appearing.

In this Hollywood version, we see the process of evolution being depicted and I realize that some people might have a problem with that. Personally, I do not have any problems with evolution being part of the creation process (that’s a whole other subject) but if you do, I invite you to focus on the symbolism, the principles and overall beauty of the story being told here and the surprising little gem towards the end.

At 12 minutes in you have this really powerful and thought-provoking scene that seems to be symbolically depicting the first act of grace or mercy where one dinosaur decides to not kill another one that is evidently injured or dying. What makes the scene striking is how such a thing does not fit within the law of the jungle.

In a creative twist, showing an act of mercy coming from a dinosaur rather than a human is making a bold statement. It is unexpected and makes the principle stand out even more.

It is a moment where compassion, this sense of caring and love enters the scene of creation for the first time. Like the temple video, I think we can pause on being literalistic and appreciate the principles being symbolically illustrated. Indeed, if we are to be instructed by symbolic teaching at all, we must suspend literalism and learn to view things from many facets.

All in all, I absolutely love this entire sequence and was quite amazed to find something of this nature coming out of Hollywood.

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Videos of 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference


The Interpreter Foundation has announced the availability of the videos of the presentations given at the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference which took place on 25 October 2014 in Provo, Utah. Videos of each of the presentations are now available for free viewing on The Interpreter Foundation’s YouTube channel, or on  They are also embedded below for your convenience. There is also a YouTube playlist available of the conference presentations. The conference proceedings will also be published in book form in the future.

Donald W. Parry’s Introduction to the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Conference

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Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant

I love symbols, and I love spirals and how they are used in architectural symbolism. The following videos are not about architectural symbolism, but the principles that are presented are worthy of consideration on a whole myriad of levels.

Vi Hart, the woman presenting the videos talks a little fast which can be a little irritating but I love how she explores spirals so these are definitely worth the watch. All the information builds up to a very interesting theory as to why these numbers appear in nature and I think it’s spot on.

There are some really interesting implications behind what she presents here that apply to many different topics, but I’ll let you ponder those things for yourself ;)

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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Yah of the Negev, the American Southwest and the Las Vegas Temple?

In the book The Name of God: From Sinai to the American Southwest, James R. Harris asks the question:

“Was the Shepherd of Israel, known as Jehovah, also known as Quetzalcoatl (The Feathered Serpent), as Pahana, as The Great Mystery, as Gucumatz, or as Kumastramho, by our Lord’s other sheep who left their witness on the rocks of the Negev in Israel, Jordan, the East Desert of Egypt and on the rocks of the American Southwest?” (p.1)

Living in the Las Vegas area of Nevada, I have hiked out to see many of the petroglyphs in New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah so this book by Harris really interests me.

Evernote Snapshot 20140406 151052

Harris’ research examines a script called “Old Negev” (a Canaanite script derived from Proto-Sinaitic) which appears on petroglyphs in the Middle East. He shows how these petroglyphs may be translated and understood. This script was used in the Negev from 1200BC to the 6th century BC.

Where it gets really mind-boggling is his hypothesis that a very similar script also shows up in the Southwestern deserts of the United States and Mexico. He provides photos and sketches of these petroglyphs along with his translations. Here is a comparison of Proto-Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite, Old Negev and some of the signs we find in the American Southwest. Read Full Post

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Early Analysis of the Potential Symbolism of a New South Jordan Meetinghouse


Link to the Deseret News article

I was listening to the This Week in Mormons Podcast when I heard this chapel mentioned. As I looked at the photos, some things stuck out to me.

I wish there were some better photos of this chapel. The only ones I could find were small and, unfortunately, dark and look like they were taken with a camera phone.

I’d like to see a better view of the front of this building, especially the very front were there are 3 areas with some kind of “cross” or “T-like” motifs towards the top. The number three is connected to the following doctrines or themes:

  • Divinity
  • Unity
  • Beginning, Middle, End
  • Past, Present, Future
  • Godhead

Symbolically speaking, the numbers 3, 4 and 8 are perhaps the most appropriate to be featured on a chapel considering the purposes of which it exists. 3 signifies divine unity while four expresses mortality and perhaps the Aaronic priesthood in that the square is a sign associate with this authority. Eight is a symbol connected with rebirth and especially Christ and we see a lot of the number eight in LDS chapel construction.

I love the fact that there are Read Full Post

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The Whole Book of Mormon in 15 Verses via


This list was obtained from a blog post over at Gently Hew Stone.

The first impression I got was to scrutinize the list but it appears that these were very wisely chosen. I did something similar back in the mission field where I created a pamphlet that summarized each book in the Book of Mormon.

It’s very interesting through exercises like these to observe how Christ-centered the Book of Mormon is. I really like this version where particular scriptures sum up entire books of the Book of Mormon though so here it is. Read Full Post

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Tolkien’s Eagles, Angels, Intervention, Agency and Grace


Eagles and Angels

Now I realize that Tolkien’s trilogy “Lord of the Rings” is fiction, but I remember wondering at the end of Return of the King, “Why couldn’t the eagles have just flown the ring to Mordor and drop it into Mount Doom”? Every now and then I’ll read a similar criticism here and there online or in discussing the topic with friends.

This past Tuesday I was reading in 1 Nephi 3 where after two failed attempts at retrieving the brass plates, an angel intervenes to stop Nephi’s enraged brothers from beating him. The angel appears and says:

“Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.” (vs. 29)

Just for kicks I pondered the question, Read Full Post

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Thoughts on the Five Core Sacramental Symbols

There are at least five core elements that are used in the ordinance of the sacrament. Back on June 16th of this year I took down some ideas in my notebook concerning them so here they are. I will also be placing any number that I think is numerically significant next to the title.

1. Altar or Table (4, 1, 2)

  • A place where heaven and earth are bridged via covenants.
  • Altar: Zabach (Hebrew) – “to slaughter an animal”.
  • The life of the animal is represented by its blood.
  • Altars are temples in their most simple form, and the covenants made at them can vary.
  • We place things on the altar to be completely consumed, we do not expect to see them again. It is expected that all ungodliness is treated this way. Read Full Post
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First oneClimbs Documentary: “Reading Temples” Now on YouTube!

Did you know that you can “read” temples? What if all of the temples around the world today constituted a vast library of new scripture just waiting to be read if we had eyes to see? This presentation covers some basic concepts relating to LDS Symbology and a guide to approaching the subject of learning symbolism.

This video presentation incorporates my first attempt at presenting principles related to “reading” temples. The content of the video is suitable for all ages and anyone interested in learning how understanding symbols can play an incredible part of their spiritual lives.

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