Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism

Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 37, pp. 1-85, Winter 2011

85 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2011

Date Written: January 1, 2011


In this paper, we briefly review women’s integral participation in the development of Mormonism’s distinct healing liturgy by the time of the settlement of the Great Basin, highlighting the interaction of healing ritual and power with the development of the temple. We then discuss the various healing rites employed by women in Utah and the contexts in which they administered. All Mormon ritual operates in two partially overlapping liturgical modalities: one folk and the other formal. Throughout the nineteenth century, Mormon liturgy generally existed as oral tradition. There were no manuals to dictate precise ritual formulations; instead Latter-day Saints learned ritual performance from the example and mentoring of both male and female church leaders. Folk pedagogy served the Latter-day Saints well; however, due to pressures within and outside of the Church, the hierarchy first reformed liturgical authority and then explicitly formalized the Church liturgy itself. In this paper, we show how female ritual healing evolved in context of this history and how it is a key feature in understanding the development of Latter-day Saint liturgy. Furthermore, we show how these dynamics led to the end of female administration of healing ritual in the Church.

Keywords: Mormon, LDS, Latter-Day Saint, Women, Ritual, Healing, Anointing, Female, Liturgy, Temple

Suggested Citation

Stapley, Jonathan A. and Wright, Kristine, Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism (January 1, 2011). Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 37, pp. 1-85, Winter 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1754069

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