Once and for All, Amongst Mormons, It’s Called ‘Temple Garment’

Responding to commenter’s comment earlier about Mormon “magic underwear”… here’s what it actually is. It is called Temple Garment and it is worn by Mormons. Many Jews wear tefillin [phylacteries] for ceremony (straps with sacred symbols and ceremonial meaning tied around arm and forehead.) Many from many different systems of religiousity and spirituality, also place a special sign on the door of their homes. Many Catholics including myself daily wear scapulars of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We old believers often have holy water fonts just inside the door to bless our children with and ourselves to remember Who is at Center.

Sikhs wear the kara for life, a silver band on the wrist and well as not cutting their hair or beards, and wearing a turban is daily garb for many. Buddhists wear their one-shoulder robes and ministers and priests often wear their cassocks and albs for ceremony, although the cassock (a long gown with many buttons up the front) is seldom used nowadays.

Also, in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Rite, often the men officiating are dressed in lace and furbelows and there is also the 60 yard long red ‘cape’ that is used in certain high rites and carried along from the nave of the church to out the front door by numberous altar boys both young and old. There are broad brimmed hats made of fur and tall crescents of hats made of feathers and the yarmulke, depending on whether Hassidim or Karmappa or observant modern Jewish person.

There is the ubiquitous clothing of the Amish who I grew up near, who were the kindest of kind and taught their religious beliefs not by being arch or demanding why others didnt agree with them… but by being living examples of the merciful Christ in every way they could. The Amish seriously are The Beautitudes. Not ‘follow’ the Beatitudes, but ARE the Beatitudes… (three of the eight from the Christian scripture are: Blessed be the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.)

There is too, the sacred burqa which many women from Islam wear, an all encompassing head to toe gown. And it is this, that to my mind, seems closest to the sacred idea Mormon’s put forth about ‘temple garments’.

The term “magical underwear” or “magic tightie whities” or “magic without the Johnson,” are derisive for the underclothing that Mormons are to wear as part of their covenant from the temple.

But as in the use of the burqa, despite all modern day debates about it, it was meant as simple modesty. Not as hiding, but somewhat similar to what many of us female Catholics would do: always cover our hair when we entered any church/ temple/ synagogue, holy place… so as to be modest about the beauty Creator had created in us. To not distract others from prayer… admiring men or women, didnt matter. It is a practice, a ritual, a way of remembering Who is Who, and who is who.

In Mormon religion, there is an Endowment ceremony that has elaborate ritual to it, but /and the temple garments granted then are considered not only to remind of the covenants made in that ceremonial purpose, but also as protection against what I’d call ‘the worldly world.’ The garment “strengthens the wearer to resist temptation, fend off evil influences, and stand firmly for the right.” [Carlos E Asay]

On the front of my Sacred Heart of Jesus that I wear every day, there are words that say, in essence, the same. Blessed talisman as protector of soul and spirit, body and mind, heart.

Also in Mormon thought and beliefs, temple garments are definitely to be worn for life, day and night, and are considered also a form of modesty, as the burqa is also in what seems its original intent (and some say the woman wearing such is/was all the more beautifully alluring as a result, but that I leave for now to those speculate on this.)

The modesty of the temple garment is given chapter and verse in the ways of wearing it, for women and men are not to uncover any part of the body that the garment normally covers… so a woman would not be wearing a low cut neckline, nor showing any part of her shoulder, upper back, nor abdomen, nor knees. And a man the same modesty is required re the temple garment. It appears a dispensation is given for swimming and the temple garment can be removed for that.

There is much more to say about the ways and means of this ritualistic form of dress that is imbued with much by those who belong to the Mormon religion, including apparently in the Mormon handbook that covers underclothing, the temple garment is to be worn next to the skin and bra and hose and whatever other undergarments are to be put on over the sacred garment. There is also a special mill factory that makes the garments only to be sold to those who have undergone the Endowment.

Generally, I see that most all symbols and ritualized ideas made manifest — like temple garments– like the material symbols of Jews, Wiccans, Voudon, Catholicism, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, tribal religions worldwide as well as the old earth religions of Rome and Greece who remember Ariadne, as the one who graced thread and cloth and weaving.. but regardless of belief, the point of wearing the sacred item, to the purest hearts that daily strive to remain so, is that these material manifestations of cloth and thread are meant as
–Recognition that there is Greater.
–That one Accepts certain truths as outlined by usually a holy book[s] belonging to that group.
–that one is now identified as and belongs to a certain group and there are actions required, for some it is evangelization, for others (refering to Amish again) it is only to live not in, but AS peace and love and care for the world within one’s reach.
– that the wearing of various is a demonstration that one is of this world, but also of another world.

Like monks and nuns and ordinaries [and even soldiers who have medals but no heirs to care for them,] when the temple garments are worn out, their symbols are cut from them, and they are then considered ‘just usual cloth’ and can be used for other purposes. Although amongst many, including soldiers’ ribbons and the Catholics, holy garments are just folded gently, blessed and often burned and returned to earth as ashes.

From dust thou art made…

Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist