And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad” (Ether 12: 19)
Some years ago I had what would be a first of many discussions with sisters in the church about the meaning of veils, particularly how they are used in the temple.
The sister felt that it demeaned her. That it was a sign of servitude. She felt that she was a second-class citizen in the Kingdom.
It was an unfortunate perspective, but I understand why some women would feel this way. Many in the world have used veils as a means to demean women. The Adversary will work to counterfeit, or invert, that which the Lord has set apart as sacred. He will make light look like darkness, and darkness look like light.
And so it is with veils. The Adversary has been successful in convincing many of God’s children that a veil is a sign of marginalization.
Fortunately, the truth of the matter is exactly the opposite.
Veils are partitions that denote holiness. They separate the sacred from the unprepared.
The veil of the Lord partitions the Lord in a state of glory from those that are yet unprepared to be in the same state of glory. The entire purpose of the temple is to teach and give a sequence of covenants to prepared a person to be brought through the veil. It is a process of sanctification.
In the same way that the Lord is veiled in the temple, so is (was) woman. This practice should signal the men to ask the questions:
Which side of this veil is unprepared to be united to the other side?
Why is she partitioned from me?
What must happen to have the veil lifted?
Within The Veil
Two accounts in the Book of Mormon provide insight into the question, which side of this veil is unprepared to be united with the other side?
The first is in Ether 12.
“And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad” (Ether 12: 19)
The second account comes from the Brother of Jared.
“And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.
Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him” (Ether 3:19-20).
In both accounts Moroni identifies that which is “within the veil” as that which is holy. Those in Ether 12 could not be kept from within the veil because of their faith. And the Brother of Jared could not be kept from the Savior’s presence, which was “within the veil”.
So, when women veil their faces, are they not clearly “within the veil”?
This denotes the woman as that which is being partitioned and held within the veil because of a state of holiness, or a state of a sacred nature that must be discovered.
We come to the temple to learn who she is, and have her nature and stature unveiled to men (and women).
Just as the Lord is veiled in the temple, and we come to learn the process of sanctification to part that veil and have him revealed to us, so it is with women. We come to learn how to be prepared to be brought into her divine presence, and how to receive the revelation of the divine feminine.
The Revelation of the Tree of Life
Why are women partitioned from men in the temple?
When Nephi was shown his Father’s dream and being given the interpretation, he was given the following knowledge.
The Spirit showed Nephi a tree which was “precious above all”. And the Spirit asked Nephi, “What desirest thou?”
And Nephi responded that he wanted to know the interpretation of this tree. Then he was shown a sequence. The first thing of this sequence that was revealed to him was the Mother of the Lord.
“And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.
And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?
And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?
And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (1 Nephi 11: 13 – 18).
The interpretation of the meaning of the Tree of Life, or, the unveiling of the Tree to those that seek it with all their hearts, will receive the unveiling of the Mother along with the Savior of mankind. For this reason, I believe, Nephi uses the very broad description of the tree as “the love of God”.
The mother is a primary aspect of “the love of God”. She is revealed to us in the same revelation as the Savior is revealed to us in the great unveiling of the tree.
The veil of the temple partitions us from the Tree of Life. As it is parted, we receive the knowledge and revelation of both our Mother and our Redeemer.
We come to the temple to receive the revelation of the Divine Feminine. She is the great mystery. And she is unveiled and revealed to us in our own revelatory endowment, just as Nephi received his own revelatory endowment as recorded in his record.
Just as the Spirit and the Angel reveal to Nephi both the dream and the interpretation of his endowment, so do we receive by revelation, perhaps in stages, the revelation of the divine feminine as we ascend and are sanctified to behold within the veil.
As we are endowed with revelatory knowledge of the Father and the Son, the mother is not witheld from us. Her unveiling is a central part of the temple revelation.
And as all sisters are to consider themselves respectively as Eve, they are veiled from the men until men are sanctified and brought through the veil of the temple, and the great manifestation of the divine feminine is revealed to them.
Only when they become sanctified sufficiently and are prepared to receive more light and truth by coming into the presence of the Lord, is the veil of the woman also revealed and they are then prepared to be in her presence and have the full revelation of her divine nature.
The veil of the temple restores all things into at-one-ment. We become at-one with our Father.
At-one with our Redeemer.
And men and women become at-one with each other with the full revelation of one another’s divinity.
As men receive the revelation of the divine feminine they will be judged as stewards of Her divinity.
Temples and Questions
In the temple we receive the keys of the priesthood “that whereby [w]e may ask and receive” answers to our questions (D&C 124: 95).
The questions we ask are inspired by the ritual and symbolism we participate in the temple.
Symbolism, ritual, allegory, ordinances – all of these things are given to us to inspire us to ask questions that produce revelation. And when we ask the right questions, with the right heart, the Lord is desirous to teach and increase our understanding.
So much, though, is dependent on our asking the right questions, with the right heart.
The more we are faithful to the ritual and symbolism – asking the right questions to increase in light and truth, the more we can learn the great mysteries of eternity.
And we ourselves can be brought to both understand the veil of the woman, and be brought within the veil.
(For more on this topic, I recommend the works of Margaret Barker, to whom I am indebted to opening the hearts and minds of many to the symbolism of the Divine Feminine in the temple.)