Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Nauvoo Polygamy/Magick

Table of Contents

Nauvoo Polygamy: Magick

A FairMormon Analysis of: Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Nauvoo Polygamy, a work by author: George D. Smith

The author, following the lead of D. Michael Quinn, emphasizes "magick" in Joseph's early life:

  • The author states that Joseph "had already proven his own mettle among God's elect when he mastered the use of magic stones and 'translated' the Book of Mormon." (p. 7)
  • Joseph is claimed to have performed a "ritualized five-year search for the gold plates…" (p. 12) The author simply assumes that Joseph's acquisition was ritualized because he presumes that the "magick" thesis is correct in this instance.
  • It is noted that "[e]ach year at the autumnal equinox, which according to rodsmen and seers was a favourable time to approach the spirits guarding buried treasures, Smith had gone to the hill where he sought after the plates. (p. 12) The author presumes that the "magick" thesis is correct in this instance, but he completely ignores the religious significance of this date.
  • Quoting D. Michael Quinn, it is noted that "that day in September 1823 was ruled by Jupiter, Smith's ruling planet…" (p. 12n29) The author ignores the many problems which have been pointed out with Quinn's "magick" argument. Chief among these is that (as even Quinn admits), "according to the standard contemporary interpretations of astrology, Joseph was born under Saturn, not Jupiter." Quinn's only source for this claim is an 1870 book which used an alternative means of performing such calculation. Joseph can hardly have been aware of a method outlined nearly 50 years later.[1] The present author acknowledges or treats none of these issues.
  • Oliver Cowdery is claimed to have said that Joseph wanted to "commune with some kind of messenger." (p. 13) The quote is incorrect. (p. 13) The correct phrase from Oliver is "some kind messenger." The problem is that the author used Quinn as a source instead of checking the actual primary source. The quote is incorrect in Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, 125, 134, which the author appears to be quoting without checking Quinn's primary source for accuracy.
  • Oliver Cowdery said Joseph "had heard of the power of enchantment, and a thousand like stories, which held the hidden treasures of the earth." (p. 13) The phrase is removed from its original context in order to emphasize the words "enchantment" and "treasures of the earth."
  • The author speculates that "Joseph and Emma had been bound by treasure magic from their first meeting in 1825, because Joseph…[came] to help Josiah Stowell located buried treasure [and] boarded with Emma's father." (p. 22) However, there is no evidence whatsoever that Joseph and Emma felt "bound" by "treasure magic." The author can provide no primary source for this assumption.
  • The author speculates that "[t]he treasure seeker presented himself as someone who had special knowledge that was beyond the woman's ken." (p. 23) Since no source is provided, we can only assume that this is the author's creation.
  • The author refers to a talisman that Joseph "is said to have worn while digging." (p. 28) This is the Jupiter talisman, which some claim was found on Joseph's body after his death. In reality, it wasn't. See Joseph Smith and Jupiter talisman.


  1. William J. Hamblin, "That Old Black Magic (Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, by D. Michael Quinn)," FARMS Review of Books 12/2 (2000): 225–394. [{{{url}}} off-site]