In part 1 of this series, I laid out my argument that the Book of Mormon text supports the idea that the brother of Jared (Mahonri) was a shaman. And him being a shaman goes hand in hand with the theory that the jaredites came from Gobekli Tepe (GT), their “great tower.” Let me explain.
Shamans at Gobekli Tepe?
First we should ask the question: Were there actually shamans at Gobekli Tepe?
In his 2012 book, Klaus Schmidt, head of Gobekli Tepe excavations, wrote his opinion that the rituals done at the site were shamanic. That would be expected since the earliest form of religion or spirituality was probably shamanism. (1)
So yes, there were shamans at GT. Check.
Types of Rituals
The second question is: What types of shamanic rituals were performed there?
Since nobody alive today saw any of those rituals take place during the prime of Gobekli Tepe (that we know of), we have only theories and conjecture about their nature. One researcher named Mark Black put out a theory that I think is compelling and worth noting here because of its parallels with the book of Ether account. (2)
Marks thinks that the shamans at Gobekli Tepe approached the T-pillars inside enclosure D to dance and perform a fertility ritual directed to the Mother Goddess. The shamans would do this to ask this Sky Goddess to “release her ‘female creative energy’ for their tribes”, and to ensure eternal life for the shaman.
We’re not told of any specific rituals performed by Mahonri at the great tower, but we are told in the beginning that he “cried” unto the Lord for a “long time” (Ether 1:43). This could have involved dancing, chanting, and whatever else a shaman would do to be heard by a higher power.
We see an episode where the brother of Jared is “redeemed from the fall” and “brought back into [the Lord’s] presence” (Ether 3:13). Some would say that this was an assurance of everlasting life–even Jesus said that eternal life is to know God and His Son (John 17:3). The brother of Jared received his promise of eternal life here, just like the shamans might have sought for in the enclosures of GT.
We also see in Ether that the brother of Jared is the liaison between his tribe and God, as were the shamans at Gobekli Tepe. He went to the Lord on behalf of his people, as the shaman at GT went to the Sky Goddess to ask for fertility on behalf of their entire tribe. We don’t know if any of Mahonri’s rituals were for fertility per se, but Ether 6:3 does indicate that there were children who crossed the ocean with them, and Ether 6:13-16 shows that the tribe at large “begat sons and daughters before they came to the promised land; and therefore they began to be many.” We could see this as a fulfillment of any “female creative energy” possibly granted to Mahonri for his tribe by God.
Mark Black’s theory centers around what he calls the “shaman phallus”, a cylindrical device made of stone, presumably used during these shaman fertility rituals before the Sky Goddess within the walls of Gobekli Tepe. I’ll let you read more about that on your own from Mark’s paper, but it is an interesting question to ask if the brother of Jared would have used something such as that.
First, we don’t know if he did, but we do have reason to believe that Mahonri considered some stone material special or sacred even. When searching for a solution to provide light in their vessels, the brother of Jared’s idea was to use special stones (Ether 3:1-5).
And second, a so called shaman phallus, carrying all the characteristic of those used at Gobekli Tepe, was discovered in North America. Its official name is “Spatulate Celt of Green Stone”, and can be found in the Sam Noble Museum in Oklahoma. I have yet to find a date for the artifact, but please note that it is on display at the same exhibit where they have a 10-11 thousand year-old bison skull (which skull we will discuss in another post, actually). If the “celt” is the same age, it is consistent with the Gobekli-Jaredite theory. Since Joseph Smith remarked that the Jaredites were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas, and these shaman devices were used at Gobekli Tepe, how would it have gotten there if not by the aboriginal people bringing it over from whence they came? (3)
Other Things to Consider
There are some other things to connect the North American Jaredites to Gobekli Tepe shamanism.
At enclosure H, archaeologists have discovered a “diamond-like symbol”, with a smaller diamond nested inside a larger one (see the figure below).
According to one author:
This sign very much resembles the “medicine man” symbol of Native Americans. A medicine man, or shaman, was believed to have magical powers of spiritual healing and foresight into the future. The outer lines of the symbol represent the four corners of the universe of the physical world: North, South, East and West. The inner lines represent the spirit world which the medicine man had knowledge of. The center circle represents the eye of the medicine man and his spiritual vision. (5)
Again, we have to ask the question how Native American medicine men got this symbol if not from Gobekli Tepe? And if the Jaredites are the ancestors of the Native Americans, then we have another link to that magnificent Anatolian site.
Another recognizable symbol from the pillars of Gobekli Tepe is the H-symbol. This symbol appears to show up also in some Anasazi petroglyphs in Utah, of all places. Its significance likely has something to with shamanism in both locales, and I bet you’ve guessed what the logical next question is—How did it get in Utah? I’ll let you come up with an answer for that one. (6)
I’ll have a future whole blog post about this symbol which you can read later. I think it’s very significant to the whole mystery surrounding the Jaredites’ great tower.
This last thing doesn’t really have much to do with Gobekli Tepe on the surface, but I stumbled upon it last night and think it’s cool. It does have a possible connection to the brother of Jared as the founding shaman of the Americas. I’ll quote from the article, since they make it sound better than I could:
“South American shamans, located primarily in the Amazon, are chief-like figures in their tribes. The South American shaman is associated closely with jaguars and often the word used for a shaman is similar to the word for jaguar. Shamans are thought to be able to transform into jaguars at will, and jaguars are thought of as not actual animals, but either a transformed shaman or the soul of a deceased shaman moving through the physical realm. Disparate tribes with little to no interaction have almost universally associated shamans with jaguars and believe in this ability to transform.” (8)
Apparently the word for shaman in some South American tribes is close to the word for jaguar. I don’t know what these words are at the moment, but it would be super interesting to study that. Now, why is this significant?
You might be aware that the Prophet Joseph Smith identified the hidden name of the brother of Jared to be Mahonri Moriancumer. It turns out that the last part, Moriancumer, might have something to do with jaguars… or at least, their Old World counterparts, leopards. A suggested etymology for Moriancumer has been given as “beloved of the life of the leopard.” (9)
If this name meaning is correct, then it makes sense that the words for shaman among some tribes in the Americas would relate closely to the word for jaguar–because it might be a reference to their ancestor shaman, Moriancumer, who was named for the leopard.
If you’re caught up on the fact that jaguars are not leopards, that’s fine. They’re close enough that most of you reading this probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them if you saw one. The main idea is that the shaman was associated with leopard-like things, like jaguars or other big cats.
I think the evidence from the text of the Book of Mormon indicates that the brother of Jared was a shaman, not a typical prophet that we think of, like Moses or Isaiah. Shamans were different, and I think you can see Mahonri’s shamanic/prophetic transformation as his journey progresses.
Gobekli Tepe almost certainly was built by and for shamans to perform their rituals. I wonder if any of the other proposed candidate sites for the Tower of Babel have shown evidence of shamanism? Probably not, but I’ll wait for anyone to refute me on that. This makes Gobekli Tepe the perfect fit for the “great tower” where the Jaredite story got its start.
Mark Black’s paper on shamanism there is intriguing, and I recommend you check it out if you’d like to understand more about the ceremonies at Gobekli Tepe. Apparently–and Mark isn’t the only one to suggest this–the evidence is pretty strong that the people of Gobekli Tepe performed their rituals to the Goddess in the sky, the Mother Goddess. And if it’s true that the brother of Jared was a shaman from Gobekli Tepe, then it means that the God he worshiped was probably Heavenly Mother.
And there’s actually more evidence in the Book of Ether to support that than you might think.
Sources and Notes
- The Shaman Phallus, by Mark Black: https://www.academia.edu/42019363/The_Shaman_Phallus
- https://www.academia.edu/42019363/The_Shaman_Phallus; https://samnoblemuseum.ou.edu/permanent-exhibits/hall-of-people-of-oklahoma/; https://samnoblemuseum.ou.edu/collections-and-research/archaeology/