Suddenly a Light Descended

One of the things I like to do when I read scriptures is to add Heavenly Mother in. Where it says “God” I add “and Goddess,” where it says “Father” I read it as “Parents,” and where it says “Lord” I add “and Lady.”

Because we are studying Doctrine and Covenants in Sunday School this year, I thought it would be interesting to re-imagine the First Vision with God the Mother introducing Christ. So I opened up my scriptures and read,

When the light rested upon me Isaw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

And then I read it again.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading: I didn’t need to change anything to imagine Heavenly Mother standing there- no pronouns, no names.

I even went to other written accounts of the First Vision and couldn’t find any explicit declaration of the sex of the first personage. The closest thing I could find was that in one version, Joseph Smith states that the personages looked alike. As a mother with very dominant genes, my son looks very much like me, so I don’t know if that phrase could exclude imagining Heavenly Mother in the First Vision. At face value, you could imagine Heavenly Mother introducing the Savior here.

While it is probably not historically correct to place Heavenly Mother in the First Vision scene, especially considering other writings of Joseph Smith such as the first Article of Faith, it’s an interesting theological thought for me. The lack of factuality doesn’t take from its ability to evoke truth. I believe She had a hand in the Restoration.

Sacred Grove Mormon, by More Good Foundation, Creative Commons License

Sacred Grove Mormon, by More Good Foundation, Flickr
The word “grove” is mentioned in the Old Testament 41 times, and is translated from the Hebrew word for “Asherah”, who some believe to be the female consort to Yahweh.


TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.

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6 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    I love this. I really love this.

    I also recently read an old article from an old edition of the Exponent magazine ( that very compellingly considers the possibility of Heavenly Mother being the Holy Ghost. As part of that consideration it talks about the dove that appeared when Christ was baptized, and that birds were strongly associated with goddesses. I loved imagining that Heavenly Mother was there too, for that important event, as I think she was (in some way) for the one you write of now.

  2. Libby says:

    I’m convinced that the Godhead is much more complex than we imagine it to be, and that our human, fallible language can only approximate who is involved and how. Traditional Christianity describes a trinity because it’s all the information we have: there is a God who gave commandments to the Israelites and led them out of Egypt, there is a Christ who walked on the earth, and there is something we feel in our most transformative moments that we refer to as the Holy Spirit. That’s a whole lot to take in just there. Add in “God is love” and The Couplet, and I’m pretty sure we’re only capable of understanding a fragment of what and who God is.

  3. Caroline says:

    I love this too, Tophat.

    And I absolutely believe in adding Heavenly Mother into our scripture readings, into significant historical events, into everything. Whenever I see the word “God,” I interpret it to mean HF and HM. (Which is why I exclusively refer to God when I teach and pray.) I also figure that nearly all the references to the Father in scripture and talks also refers to the Mother.

    Mormonism has such enlightening, empowering potential in the concept of God the Mother. Too bad Church leaders haven’t done more with that. In the meantime, I am happy to mentally or verbally include her in every phrase that mentions God.

  4. EmilyCC says:

    Great post, TopHat! And, I love the Sacred Grove connection. I named my son, Asher because of Asherah. Thank you for pointing out the location of Joseph’s First Vision. We’re so using that in FHE soon.

  5. Curtis Penfold says:

    Janice Allred, in her book “God the Mother”, suggests just what TopHat suggested in this article, but Allred goes one step further.

    Since the Book of Mormon says constantly that Jesus is both the Father and the Son, Allred thinks that the Godhead consists of the Father who on Earth is the Son and the Mother who on Earth is the Holy Spirit. Allred believes that those are the two personages that visited Joseph Smith that day. When Heavenly Mother said, “This is my Beloved Son,” (the same words she said as the Holy Spirit in 3 Nephi 11), Allred believes that she was referring to Christ’s title as the Son, even though He was really Her husband.

  1. February 1, 2016

    […] is often translated to “grove” in the King James Version of the Bible. Mormonism has its own grove imagery, as well as other tree symbols. Besides the garden story’s Tree of Good and Evil, we have the […]

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