Friday, November 26, 2010

LDS Temple Earth Stones and other Earth Representations

In my last post I mentioned "earth stones" and received a comment from Jon saying that he hadn't heard of them.  This really shouldn't have surprised me as they are somewhat obscure.  In any event, the comment prompted me to write about earth stones.

The Salt Lake Temple as currently built has moon stones and sun stones at two different levels of the buttresses around the building.  Originally it was also planned to have earth stones on the bottom level of the buttresses, just above the ground.  These were planned to have continents carved.  Each stone would show the earth rotated slightly so the stones would be going through the hours of a day.  Symbolically these stones would represent:
1. The current telestial earth (with the moon and sun stones representing the terrestrial and celestial kingdoms of God respectively)
2. Time (hours and days).  These show a progression to eternity.  Reading symbols going up the temple you get:
     earth stones = days and hours
     moon stones = days and months
     sun stones = days and seasons and years
     star stones = seasons and years (certain constellations come up at different times of the year)
     star stones representing planets = years - planets move in patterns taking years
     Saturn stones (originally planned) = years
     North Star (Implied by big dipper) = Eternity
3. Earth as the celestial kingdom of God.
There are probably other interpretations such as the gospel going to all the world, or creation.

When it was decided to make the Salt Lake Temple out of granite it became impossible to add the desired details to the earth stones.  They are still on the Salt Lake Temple, but they are blank spheres seen here.

When the Washington D.C. Temple was built the church added earth medallions on the doors.  This is the first time I am aware of that earth stones with actual details of continents appeared on a temple.

The only other temple I am aware of with earth stones is the Edmonton Alberta Canada Temple.  It has earth stones on the outer gate wall complete with continents.

I should recognize that other temples have circles in squares at their bases which could be considered blank earth stones like those on the Salt Lake Temple; however, I don't know that any of those are actually intending to be earth stones.


Brian said...

Other temples do have earth stones, and in the same fashion as Salt Lake. Mount Timpanogos and Bountiful, for example, have Earthstones, Moonstones in phases, Sunstones at the spire base and stars at the spire tops. Las Vegas has Eartstones, horizontally in the foundation next to the windows, then moons suns and stars in the stained glass. Some of the smaller temples have the traditional circle stones carved in moon phases.

Scott said...

Thank you for commenting. I was a little disappointed that no one seemed to care about earth stones but me.
Yes a few temples have earth stones, although I think only Edmonton and D.C. have actual continents carved. I'd love to be proven wrong on that point.

Brian said...

I have never been to Edmonton, but I will make it to DC this summer, I was not aware any had carved continents. This makes me hope I can some day get up to edmonton!

Jefferson Moreira said...

I'm from Porto Alegre Brasil and we have a lot of earth-stones in our temple here. I saw some pictures on internet and I think all small temple have it.