History: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry

The history of Mormon belief in a Heavenly Mother is intimately entwined with poetry. She is first mentioned in poetry, and the most probing explorations of Her are inside poetry and literature. Most Latter-day Saints are familiar with Eliza R. Snow's lyrics to the hymn, "O, My Father," which were originally published in the poem "My Father in Heaven" in November 15, 1845. Many believe that the reality of a Heavenly Mother was revealed to Snow when she wrote this poem, or that Joseph Smith shared this knowledge with Snow, and from there passed on to the main body of the church. While such a revelation may have came to Snow, she was definitely not the first to mention Heavenly Mother in a publication. The first published account of Heavenly Mother was actually in February 1844, four months before the death of Joseph Smith, in a poem written by William W. Phelps. Phelps had been working with Joseph Smith in translating the Book of Abraham, helping produce the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and had become familiar with the prominence of queens with both the mummies (such as the Queen Kahtoumun) and the Abraham text. As Sam Brown has pointed out in his excellent In Heaven as It is on Earth, Phelps and Smith linked queens and priestesses to Egypt's origins, the creation of scripture, and the secrets of hieroglyphs. With these ideas in the backdrop, Phelps' "A Song of Zion" describes the coronation and annointing of Jesus to be the Christ in the pre-existence. At this event, Phelps notes the presence of "the queen of heaven."

'Tis like the precious ointment
That God Almighty had
At Jesus Christ's appointment,
Which made his heart so glad.

'Tis like a little leaven
The woman hid for good,
When she, as queen of heaven,
In gold of Ophir stood.

Phelps' "queen of heaven" was not initially described as Heavenly Mother, but quickly became so in later writings and poems. In a letter dated December 25, 1844, and published on January 1, 1845, Phelps chronicled the same scene to Joseph Smith's brother, William. Heavenly Mother is this time mentioned and referred to as the Queen of Heaven. The Son of God is anointed for his calling on earth, crowned in the midst of his brothers and sisters, while Heavenly Mother stands with approving virtue and smiles upon her Son that kept the faith as the heir of all things. Phelps referred again to this scene in his Deseret Almanac, for the Year of our Lord, 1853 and his Deseret Almanac, for the Year of our Lord, 1854.

Phelps described Heavenly Mother in at least 10 other works, including poems, articles, commentaries, and literary works. For instance, in December 1844, he wrote a hymn entitled "A Voice from the Prophet: Come to Me" that was sung at the dedication of the Seventies Hall in Nauvoo. He described the Prophet Joseph introducing the saints to a mother in heaven, the queen, when they entered the celestial kingdom. This poem was actually a reworking of an earlier poem, "Vade Mecum" (or "Go with Me"), which Phelps wrote in January 1843 to Joseph Smith and was published in the August 1843 Millennial Star. Phelps added four new stanzas to the poem, including the one mentioning Heavenly Mother, in the subsequent reworking. In May and June 1845, Phelps published a brief "sketch" for a story he had been working on, entitled "The Paracletes," which he claimed was inspired by Joseph Smith. In this story he envisions prophets foreordained to come to Earth, and notes that the veil keeps us from knowing the details of these spirits' pre-existence. However, he notes one detail as a matter of fact: that their premortal life included dwelling with a mother in heaven.

Snow’s poem, "My Father in Heaven," followed in the wake of Phelps' poetry, and other church leaders' (Orson Pratt, John Taylor, Brigham Young, and Parley P. Pratt) explicit or implicit discussions about Heavenly Mother in 1844 and 1845. What makes Snow's poem remarkable is that it marked a shift in the dialogue about Heavenly Mother. Instead of describing exclusively the wonder of Her existence, or having Her stand at events like some trophy, there is a yearning to relate with Her and be in Her presence. The last stanza involves an invocation to both Heavenly Parents, sharing a desire to complete their shared will: that which “[the Mother and Father] sent [her] forth to do." Importantly, Eliza hopes to return to their presence with their "mutual approbation," not just the Father's.

Phelps' "A Voice from the Prophet" and Eliza R. Snow's "My Father in Heaven," which were both included in early LDS hymnals, were influential on future Latter-day Saint poetry regarding Heavenly Mother. They encouraged writers to think of Heavenly Mother eschatologically and in the context of the cosmic human narrative, the divine anthropology. Poems were written in response, or dialogue, with Phelps' and Snow's works. The former can be seen in Joel H. Johnson's "I'll Come to thee Joseph" (1882) that accepts Joseph's invitation in Phelps' work to come to him. He'll come for "My Father and Mother celestial to see; / And by their permission, I'll soon come to thee." The latter can be seen in several instances. J. Urban Allred recorded in his journal in 1899 that a Ms. Edwards, of the Willard ward Sunday School, sang a song she had composed for the occasion by her father. It is a clear reworking of "My Father in Heaven," and by far a more amateurish work. It can be seen in William C. Harrison's "Our Mother in Heaven" (1892), which is appropriately described as a "companion hymn" to "O, My Father." Harrison follows a similar transition from premortal to mortal to postmortal life, and addresses Heavenly Mother in it throughout those stages. Another example of this indebtedness to Snow can be seen in a eulogy written to her by poet Emily H. Woodmansee. In "Apostrophe" (1887), Woodmansee makes constant references to Snow's poem:

Free from this most "frail existence"---
Free to lay "this mortal by"--
Free to span the starry distance
To the "royal courts on high,"
Ransomed spirit! deathless essence!
Hie thee hence to realms so fair;
Gain thy Father's radiant presence;
Greet thy noble Mother there.

Other writers took tips from Phelps and Snow without directly responding to the earlier works, such as in Joel H. Johnson's "Our Father was once like us" (1882). Authors elaborated on Heavenly Mother in the premortal existence or in an imagined homecoming in the future. In terms of the premortal life, this can be seen in John Taylor's "The Origin and Destiny of Women" (1857), Santiago's "To My Wife" (1890) or Lula L. Greene Richards' "A Thread of Thought" (1892). Richards' piece weaves in Phelps' approving Mother in the pre-existence. Instead of describing her as being pleased with Christ (as in Phelps' writings), Richards noted Her being pleased with all of Her daughters that chose to come to earth. As for poems addressing a homecoming with Father and Mother after death and resurrection, this is described in John Lyon's "Epistle--Inscribed to S. R." (1853), Joel H. Johnson's "To Kolob Now My Thoughts Repair" (1882), and Hannah Bennett's "Lines Composed in Fond Remembrance of the Late Bishop Hunter" (1884). It is most vibrantly described in the official LDS hymn "Oh, What Songs of the Heart" (1879) still within the official LDS hymnal (#286), written by Joseph L. Townsend. "O My Father," contrary to popular opinion, is not the only official hymn that includes Her (Hymn #311, We Meet Again as Sisters, also makes a reference to "heav'nly parents"):

Oh, what songs we’ll employ!
Oh, what welcome we’ll hear!
While our transports of love are complete,
As the heart swells with joy
In embraces most dear
When our heavenly parents we meet!
As the heart swells with joy,
Oh, what songs we’ll employ,
When our heavenly parents we meet!

But while some poets borrowed heavily from Snow and Phelps, other contemporary poets applied the doctrine of Heavenly Mother in other fruitful directions. W. G. Mills' "Good and Evil Necessary" explored the ideas of the King Follet discourse, that God had once been a man and become divine, and applied it to the problem of evil:

When we first received a being--
Spirits born of Parents great--
We rejoiced and sung, foreseeing
We should fill this humbler state.
We have learned in yonder glory,
What was necessary there;
But this state's preparatory
For the Gods' exalted sphere.

Jesus gave himself an off'ring,
For our frailness to atone,
But was perfected through suff'ring,
Ere He gained His Father's throne:
And the Gods in glory seated,
Passed through good and evil thus;
For when man was mortal stated
"He is now as one of us."

The prior mortality of divine beings--of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, amongst other gods--helped Mormons like Mill think of the evil they experienced as necessary for their deification and exaltation, making them more like the gods above. Whatever they went through, they had a trust that it was necessary, since the gods--male and female--themselves suffered it.

Hannah Cornaby, an early Mormon poet, thought about her heavenly parents in terms of rearing their own children on earth. It is not surprising that this is a theme that Snow did not cover, since she could have no children herself. Cornaby wrote on such a topic for the birth of her grandson, Samuel Hollingsworth Cornaby, in 1878:

Father, Mother, in the heaven
Thou has sent our sweet baby here;
We thank thee for the treasure given
And will prize the gift most dear.

May our little darling grow,
Blest of Thee from day to day;
And fill his mission here below,
Nor ever from Thy precepts stray.

Bless his parents with the wisdom
And the patience which they need,
That their offspring may become
Mighty for truth in word and deed.

The prayer she offers in the poem to Father and Mother shares gratitude and asks for blessings upon both the child and the parents who will raise it. In "Lead Me to the Rock," Hornaby considers the flipside of this calling to raise the Parents' children. Given to them through birth, "my children, by death, are called from my arms, / To their Father and Mother on High." The experience is harrowing: "Then, all lonely and weak, I pray to be led / 'To the rock that is higher than I.'"

As far as we have been able to determine, Heavenly Mother retreated from poetic treatment in the early twentieth century (besides some passing references in Apostle Orson F. Whitney's epic Elias (1904)), although She did surface in several fictional stories. In 1931, Willard W. Porter wrote a poem "The Noblest Treasure," where he calls out to his Heavenly Parents to aid him in treating well his earthly mother:

Father Eternal--Mother Supernal;
Grace and honor be Thine,
Noble the treasure--help me in measure
To reward that dear Mother of mine.
Youth is so fickle--failing to cycle
The ripened grain in its day,
Else days they'd brighten--heavy loads lighten
And make Mother happy alway.

After Porter's poem, neglect of depicting Heavenly Mother continued on until in Linda Sillitoe's excellent "Song of Creation" (1979), which portrayed an active, creative, unified, and even playful Heavenly Mother and Father. Each contributes to the world's organization, and their works intertwine.

Following in the wake of Sillitoe's work, and a new wave of Mormon feminism concerned with a variety of issues (including, but not limited to, gender equality, female ordination to the priesthood, greater ecclesiastical representation), poetry surrounding Heavenly Mother turned away from describing Heavenly Mother, to addressing Her with the purpose of voicing dissatisfaction about Her portrayals and earthly involvement. Early Mormon poetry and writings viewed the reality of Heavenly Mother as an incredible revelation; modern writings were no longer satisfied with this fact. They wanted to know a being that they saw as largely aloof, silent, and perhaps subservient. Earlier portrayals of Heavenly Mother as the model Victorian housewife no longer resonated with many LDS women. Some poems took this chance to "rediscover" their Heavenly Mother in a positive light. This can be seen in Kristine Barrett's "To Mother in Heaven" (1981) that whimsically explores the natural world for clues of Her and asks Her gently to know Her name. It feels far more in line with Sillitoe's work. The majority of the poems written in this time period, on the other hand, are more desperate and sorrowful. LDS Women voice an earnest concern to better understand their earthly purpose by knowing their Mother. This can be seen in Nola Wallace's "A Psalm" (1990) or Lisa Bolin Hawkins' "Another Prayer" (1980). Many poems mention crying at night, unable to find answers, such as in Margaret Rampton Munk's "First Grief" (circa 1980), or Carol Lynn Pearson's "A Motherless House" (1992). In their pursuit for a different understanding of Heavenly Mother, and faced with a lack of revelation and social progress, some Mormon female poets voiced anger, frustration, and confusion. This is most poignantly done in Susan Hafen's "Down on my Knees" (circa 1980) and Maxine Hanks' "Medusa's Prayer" (1990):

Our mother in heaven is hidden
fear hushed her hallowed name;
no queen to come,
her will undone on earth
has shut her in the heavens,
has given us medusa
by rumor spread, to daily tread
where few will dare trespass
this trespass against us.
Leave us not, but let us tempt thee out,
for thou art medusa in the kingdom
of the power and glory of men

In the twenty-first century, the voiced anger in LDS poetry addressing Heavenly Mother has subsided. That being said, there is still a desire to know Her better, such as in Melody Newey's "Missing God" (circa 2010), Dayna Patterson's "Proselytizing by a Marian Shrine in Quebec" (2013), Lindsay Hansen Park's "Where is Mother?" (2011), and Edward R. Snow's "Invocation" (2012). However, there are now poems less concerned with questions of identity, but with requesting divine help from Her and receiving it. Joanna Brooks' "Invocation / Benediction" (2010) asks for guidance in honing greater love for humanity and forming a more cohesive life. Carol Lynn Pearson's "Blessing" (2005) describes Her Heavenly Parents' blessing of comfort, and Melody Newey's "Heavenly Mother Sings" (2013) reorients Heavenly Mother with Christ and the work of human redemption. Another poem of Pearson's, "The Family of Light" (2005), expresses the unity of the Father and Mother in their work of nurturing and spreading light throughout the universe. There seems to be a return to some of tone of earlier LDS poetry, but with a greater focus on Heavenly Mother's influence in mortality.

History: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Fiction

Prose accounts of Heavenly Mother were (and are) far less common than in poetry. The first mention of Her in this genre is in a passing note inside Phelps' brief sketch of his story "The Paracletes" in 1845. Heavenly Mother resurfaces in a 1853 short story published in the Millennial Star entitled "Little S--; or the Happy Exchange," which described a family broken by the parents' poor decisions, such as substance abuse. In the story, the oldest sister discovers “the secret of her first parentage before the world was.” Before coming to earth, these “first parents caressed [her and her siblings] with all the fondness which their childish nature had sought in vain from their earthly parents.” But besides her Heavenly Parents' pre-mortal involvement, “She had learnt that their heavenly parents were kind-hearted, and were only waiting to see the dominant bias of their minds to virtue and truth, when they would assist them, and reveal a queenly inheritance for the pure in heart, however low and obscure their condition might be upon the earth (emphasis added).” Heavenly Mother was included as an active participant in watching over and aiding in the affairs of men.

Besides that one story, Heavenly Mother wasn't mentioned again in a work of prose fiction until the twentieth century. In 1906, Ruth May Fox composed a short dialogue entitled “The Parable of Ten Talents." The dialogue inverts Christ's parable to refer to the expectation of a mother for her daughters with the gifts she grants to them. It is also a thinly veiled story of the daughters of Heavenly Mother leaving her to experience mortality. Before they leave, the Mother gathers them together, announces her departure, and grants each of them a heavenly gift (a divine character trait) before she departs. The gift is to prepare them “for the battle of life.” She also declares that she will return and require a reporting of their accomplishments. Eventually, the Mother returns and asks them to account for their activities. All but one report positive results, and so are blessed with more gifts. Hagar, however, failed to use her talent and therefore it is taken away by Heavenly Mother and given to one of her sisters.

In the early twentieth century, some Mormon authors included Heavenly Mother in their fiction less to explore the idea or personality of Heavenly Mother and more to encourage fascination with the Mormon church because it held such a progressive belief. Several stories recount non-members being taught of and basking in the knowledge of a premortal existence and having a Heavenly Mother.

For instance, Elsie C. Carroll wove knowledge of a Heavenly Mother inside short stories she published in the Young Woman's Journal. In "Margaret Hartwell's Dream Man" (1912), the protagonist Margaret tells a potential suitor named Fred about her learning about the LDS Church. She describes how her Father had been a Mormon, but drifted away from the church after marrying a non-member. His wife was not interested in the LDS Church, but he tried to get her, his daughter Maragaret interested in it. When she accepted the invitation to learn more, the two of them rode home and her father “sang to [her] the most wonderful hymn [she had] ever heard. It was something about [her] Father who dwells in heaven; and it pictures a heavenly mother, too. [She] want[ed] to hear that song again.” In another story by Carroll, "A Volunteer Missionary" (1918), she uses Snow's lyrics in "My Father in Heaven" to again fascinate a woman who is not a member of the church. A Mormon girl named Frances sings church hymns as she goes about her work. Her friend Alice hears them and comments, “The one that begins, ‘O, My Father.’ It makes one feel so—so safe, to be sure that there is a heavenly Father —and mother (I had never thought of that before, but of course there must be a mother too)—waiting for us when we go. It makes one feel so sure too, that there is a real place to which we are going and that this life isn't all of it. I do like those songs..."

The popular Mormon author, Nephi L. Anderson, continued this "didactic" inclusion of Heavenly Mother in his Added Upon (1912) and Piney Ridge Cottage: The Love Story of a “Mormon” Country Girl (1912). In the latter, a country girl named Julia describes the plan of salvation to a non-member and discusses living with Heavenly Parents in a pre-existence and needing to become like them. "A Prince of Ur" (1916), published by an unknown author in the Relief Society Magazine takes a similar approach, but this time in a fictional exchange between the prophet Abraham and a Damascene merchant. This trend can be observed in other LDS works like William A. Morton’s The Making of a “Mormon” (1915) and Benjamin E. Rich’s Mr. Durant of Salt Lake City, "That Mormon" (1909).

This tendency was broken in arguably the most impressive and lengthy account of Heavenly Mother in early Mormon literature. This would be in Laura Moench Jenkins’ "Beyond the Portals" (1916). It is an extensive and emotional story about the premortal life, Heavenly Mother, child-bearing, and abortion. There are strong similarities between Fox's work and Jenkins' “Portals.” Enough such that it is hard to believe that Jenkins' didn't consult it for source material. In "Beyond the Portals," Heavenly Mother is portrayed again with her premortal daughters, granting them gifts for their sojourn in mortality. The daughters are separated from the Mother and then are to give a reporting upon their reunion (as Dorcia in the story does). In both stories, the Mother is a decision-maker, a powerful personality with a strong voice. These are significant comparisons, but "Beyond the Portals" also diverges from "The Parable of the Ten Talents.” "Parable" is very didactic in its tone; "Portals" is dramatic and darker. Fox's Mother is portrayed as able to give any gift to her daughters that she desires. Jenkins' Mother is far more limited in this regard, recognizing that some gifts (such as musical talent) often require coming from a gifted line and the right earthly opportunities. She cannot will the gift by divine fiat. Human agency can, and does, get in the way.

"Portals" shows how much a gift bestowed can be denied. Dorcia's earthly mother intentionally takes drugs that causes an abortion and almost ends her life, as she does not want to have children. They would get in the way of her singing career. So Dorcia never gets to enjoy her gift at all. She reenters the celestial realm and returns her gift to her Heavenly Mother in sorrow, still loving the mother that refused to have her.

Another unique aspect of "Portals" is the inclusion of Heavenly Mother charging guardian angels to watch over Her daughters in mortality. In this regard, Jenkins' may be borrowing from thoughts expressed by John Taylor in his "The Origin and Destiny of Women." Regardless, for Jenkins these angels are also Heavenly Mother's daughters, but they are more mature, having already successfully gone through earthlife, but not yet resurrected. The guardian angels' protection helps bridge the gulf of the separation of the daughters and the Mother during earth life. She does not leave them orphans.

On the whole, “Portals” is a powerful story about the Mother in Heaven and about the choice women make to have children in a Mormon theological context. Jenkins’ dynamic portrayal of Mother appears to be the last portrayal of Her in fiction for nearly seventy years, for we have not discovered any other works of Mormon religious fiction that incorporate Her in them following the publication of “Portals” until the 1980's.

The next story where Heavenly Mother is included is in Levi S. Peterson's short story "Sunswath" (1986), published in Sunstone Magazine. In it the narrator Lora, a Mormon previously excommunicated for sexual promiscuity, visits her partner Harlan's sister, Winifred, who had raised Harlan as a child. As they visit Bear Lake with Winifred and Milton, Lora unfolds some of her distaste of the church, even though she "couldn't be anything but a Mormon." Heavenly Mother appears throughout the story in conversation and in thought. Lora tells Winifred that "Even if I come back in [the Church], I'll pray to Heavenly Mother. No more prayers to Heavenly Father." This makes Harlan's sister Winifred a little uneasy. Lora is aware that Our Mother in Heaven isn't very involved, and since Mormons aren't permitted to pray to her, she does. At another time, Lora is tempted to say Hail Mary's, even though she recognized it "was actually very irrational." Heavenly Mother isn't Mary, but rather "she's truly half of God, not just the foremost of the Saints."

Later, Lora recounts the first time she and Harlan went to Buller's Gulch and spotted a small Anasazi ruin. Harlan noted how he felt he could hear the past and sense eternity in the location. Lora commented that it might be God, which she listed as being "God the Father. And God the Mother. Also God the Son and God the Holy Ghost." Harlan harped back to her list, describing it as "The Holy Christian Quadrumvirate."

Lora also prays to her Heavenly Mother twice in the story to help her deal with her partner. Harlan is suicidally depressed, and dying. Lora makes love to him at times to just make sure that he is alive. One time after some romance, Harlan tells her that he named some primrose that was growing in a sandstone crevice after her. This scares Lora, and she says a prayer to heavenly mother: "Mother in Heaven, don't let me let him die; I can't accept that much mortification of the flesh." Harlan decides to end his own life, but Lora begs him not to. She creates her own sacrament service, and offers the sacrament prayers. At the end of the story, she offers another prayer: "This is for him, I said to Heavenly Mother; he suffers so much; help us to bear it."

In 2003, Chris Stewart wrote the first book of his The Great and Terrible series, which explores the conflict between the children of God and Satan in the last days. As a precursor to this conflict, the novel The Brothers describes the first conflict between the sons and daughters of God in the premortal life when Lucifer rejected God's plan to have his children come to earth, and depending on their decisions, possibly not return to heaven. Many of the spirit children debate on whether the risk will be worth it. Two characters, Luke and Beth, discuss whether earth life could be almost as wonderful as life in heaven. Luke doesn't think it will, and Beth admits that it could hardly be as good since "our Parents won't be there."

Besides this reference to Heavenly Mother, there is a scene in the Council in heaven where Heavenly Mother appears. Stewart gives Her a deeply inactive role: she has no name, is not referred to as Mother, or by any title for that matter. He uses the words simply "she" and "her" (lower-cased) to refer to Heavenly Mother. She never speaks a word, makes a recognized gesture, or makes a decision that influences others. To the contrary, She just listens intently. And She is not on a throne at this Council meeting, but "near the front... off to the side of the throne."

Stewart physically describes Heavenly Mother as having "a white sash wrapped about her shoulders, her hair pulled back in a wibbon, her face majestic, her eyes bright and passionate." He then proceeds to put Her on a pedestal, where She is for all intents and purposes ignored: "Every person in the room was aware she was there, though few dared glance toward her, and out of reverence, none held her eyes. Those who had the privilege of seeing her face, those who had the pleasure of speaking with her--they knew in their hearts that she was the most magnificent thing to grace eternity. Nothing in the universe would ever compare. Her beauty and majesty, her love and sweet smile were more than mere man could ever endure. Even the moon and the stars would hide their face when she padded, for the light they reflected was but a reflection of her." Stewart's ultra-conservative portrayal of Heavenly Mother definitely parallels the ultra-conservative ideologies he promotes throughout the series.

Stewart writes one short scene from Heavenly Mother's perspective where we experience Her internal conflict with the war breaking out between Her children. Although She is omniscient and knew this would happen--that some of Her children would disobey and need to be cast out of heaven--it still hurts Her when the moment arrives. Stewart has the Mother wrap Herself with the sash, leave the great hall, and find Her private chamber. There, She weeps in agony on the stone floor for the "son of the morning" and Her other fallen children. Stewart clearly portrays this scene as a sort of Gethsemane. Heavenly Mother takes Her children's rebellion as directed at Her, as a rejection of "Her goodness and mercy, her kindness and love. She had offered everything to them, everything that she had... She would have paid any price to keep them in the fold." They just "didn't love her enough." Stewart imagines Her pain as being so great in this scene that, quite melodramatically, "all of eternity, from beginning to end, every living creature and thing, bowed and wept for her pain. The Heavens wept while she suffered, for all good things loved her." Before retiring alone in this scene, one of Her children (Ammon) feels the urge to comfort Her, but senses that this was something She needed to endure alone.

Christopher Kimball Bigelow wrote a novel, Kindred Spirits, in 2007 that explores the romantic relationship between a disfellowshipped Mormon RM (Eliza) and a recently divorced, non-member she meets on the subway (Eric). As Eliza dates Eric and discusses the LDS faith with him, Heavenly Mother comes up as a topic of conversation as it did in some early twentieth century pieces of Mormon literature. Updated for more twenty-first century culture, instead of being impressed with the doctrine's beauty, Eric's response is merely one of surprise.

Of more interest, which distinguishes Kindred Spirits from the earlier Mormon literature, is a discussion later in the novel between Eliza and Kinda, Eric's ex-lover and birthmother of his adopted daughter Manda. Kindra is an active, colorful Wiccan, and this leads to some interesting religious conversations between her and Eliza. During one scene, Eliza notices Kindra is wearing a necklace that has the symbol for the goddess upon it --"a silver circle with an outward-pointing crescent connected on each side." When asked about it, Kindra notes that she's not big into the male deities. Eliza reveals that she, as a Mormon, believes in a Heavenly Mother. But she offers a strong criticism of her culture's lack of conversation and concern about Her. Eliza notes that "the excuses why not [why we don't talk about her] are totally lame, like she's too pure and precious for mortals to discuss." Eliza then admits that she wishes that Heavenly Mother was included more in the Mormon faith. This is an odd statement for Kindra, who thinks one can just pick and choose whatever one wants from religions to cobble together one's own faith and understanding of the divine. Eliza is resistant to this position; religion isn't just a choose your own adventure, since one needs to consider what God wants. Kindra disagrees, believing that perspective in instilled by authority figures that want to lord their influence over others. Bigelow succeeds in providing a fascinating discussion regarding the nature of holding religious beliefs, while simultaneously offering insight into the current approach Mormons have taken to Heavenly Mother on the whole.

In 2010, Keith Honaker published his novel, The Urim and Thummim, which explores the spiritual development of the Guthrie family throughout the different phases of God's plan of salvation. They witness events in the pre-existence, and later experience earth life, the post-mortal spirit world, their resurrection, and dwell on the millennial earth until the end of the thousand years. Of interest, Honaker describes the advent of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother during the second coming. They both appear "as if in white clouds" and are followed by numberless angels. Christ's presence is dwarfed, "subordinated" by the Parents' appearance. Father and Mother each wear a jeweled crown that signifies "supreme but loving dominance," and are dressed in the "most exquisite whiteness, accreted by a waist length robe having an ermine appearance. They greet their exalted children smiling. Honaker then focuses on the mother's love for all: "Here she is, our Heavenly Mother, her beauty even exceeding that of Mother Eve, our first mortal mother. Her indescribable beauty, her love exceeding any on earth, her motherly spirit and her love is felt by all there."

Honaker's description is pretty benign. The descriptions of the Parents borrows from scriptural accounts, including Joseph Smith's account of the appearance of the resurrected angel Moroni to describe their clothes. While Honaker does not denegrate Heavenly Mother to a status below the Father, the two are so identical in description that they lose their individuality. Honaker is likely trying to emphasize their unity and equality, but the result is that both Father and Mother cease to feel like persons, evaporating into statuesque types.

History: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Visual Arts

The most abscent of portrayals of Heavenly Mother comes in the visual arts. The first work portraying Her came in John Hafen's paintings that were meant to accompany Snow's "O, My Father." He created 8 paintings for this project in 1908, and the sixth one communicated that we have a Heavenly Mother.

Hafen used his wife Thora to serve as the model of his painting of Heavenly Mother and his daughter Delia as the earthly daughter being held by Her. It is easy to capture in the monochromatic work the Mother's tender love for the daughter.

Besides Hafen's work, there is only one other painting that portrays Heavenly Mother. This is in an illustration by Galen Dara in 2012, which clearly is meant to echo Michelango's The Creation of Adam. The detail below shows how the angelic beings surrounding Heavenly Mother are exclusively Her daughters, as opposed to the male beings in Michelangelo's work.