Indian Prophet; Handsome Lake’s visit from The Three Nephites

Good Morning All,

More on The Three Nephite Translated Beings: working under the direction of John the beloved of Christ also a Translated Being…

PROPHET. Albany, New York: University of the State of New York, 1913

1968 and later as part of a compilation entitled Parker on
the Iroquois.Also reprinted 1967 and later from the 1913 edition considered here, by Iroquoians, Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada. —OCLC
Parker’s manuscripts and typescripts of Iroquois legends are preserved at the New York State
Library as part of the William Martin Beauchamp collection;

Religious instructions of Ganio’dai´io (Handsome Lake), the Seneca
Indian prophet who died at Onondaga,New York,in 1815, just south of
Syracuse; he is buried near the council house (or “Long House”) in Onondaga
Nation territory ahalf-dozen miles from my home. The publication considered
here is an excellent anthropological gathering of accounts by leading Native

Third Nephi

The Book of Nephi
the Son of Nephi, Who Was the Son of Helaman.Chapter 28
Nine of the twelve disciples desire and are promised an inheritance in Christ’s kingdom when they die—The Three Nephites desire and are given power over death so as to remain on the earth until Jesus comes again—They are translated and see things not lawful to utter, and they are now ministering among men. About A.D. 34–35.

1 And it came to pass when Jesus had said these words, he spake unto his disciples, one by one, saying unto them: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?

2 And they all spake, save it were three, saying: We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry, wherein thou hast called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom.

3 And he said unto them: Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me; therefore, after that ye are seventy and two years old ye shall come unto me in my kingdom; and with me ye shall find rest.

4 And when he had spoken unto them, he turned himself unto the three, and said unto them: What will ye that I should do unto you, when I am gone unto the Father?

5 And they sorrowed in their hearts, for they durst not speak unto him the thing which they desired.

6 And he said unto them: Behold, I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved, who was with me in my ministry, before that I was lifted up by the Jews, desired of me.

7 Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.

8 And ye shall never endure the pains of death; but when I shall come in my glory ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality; and then shall ye be blessed in the kingdom of my Father.

9 And again, ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world; and all this will I do because of the thing which ye have desired of me, for ye have desired that ye might bring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall stand.

10 And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;

11 And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of me.

12 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he touched every one of them with his finger save it were the three who were to tarry, and then he departed.

13 And behold, the heavens were opened, and they were caught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things.

14 And it was forbidden them that they should utter; neither was it given unto them power that they could utter the things which they saw and heard;

15 And whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God.

16 But it came to pass that they did again minister upon the face of the earth; nevertheless they did not minister of the things which they had heard and seen, because of the commandment which was given them in heaven.

17 And now, whether they were mortal or immortal, from the day of their transfiguration, I know not;

18 But this much I know, according to the record which hath been given—they did go forth upon the face of the land, and did minister unto all the people, uniting as many to the church as would believe in their preaching; baptizing them, and as many as were baptized did receive the Holy Ghost.

19 And they were cast into prison by them who did not belong to the church. And the prisons could not hold them, for they were rent in twain.

20 And they were cast down into the earth; but they did smite the earth with the word of God, insomuch that by his power they were delivered out of the depths of the earth; and therefore they could not dig pits sufficient to hold them.

21 And thrice they were cast into a furnace and received no harm.

22 And twice were they cast into a den of wild beasts; and behold they did play with the beasts as a child with a suckling lamb, and received no harm.

23 And it came to pass that thus they did go forth among all the people of Nephi, and did preach the gospel of Christ unto all people upon the face of the land; and they were converted unto the Lord, and were united unto the church of Christ, and thus the people of that generation were blessed, according to the word of Jesus.

24 And now I, Mormon, make an end of speaking concerning these things for a time.

25 Behold, I was about to write the names of those who were never to taste of death, but the Lord forbade; therefore I write them not, for they are hid from the world.

26 But behold, I have seen them, and they have ministered unto me.

27 And behold they will be among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles shall know them not.

28 They will also be among the Jews, and the Jews shall know them not.

29 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord seeth fit in his wisdom that they shall minister unto all the scattered tribes of Israel, and unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, and shall bring out of them unto Jesus many souls, that their desire may be fulfilled, and also because of the convincing power of God which is in them.

30 And they are as the angels of God, and if they shall pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus they can show themselves unto whatsoever man it seemeth them good.

31 Therefore, great and marvelous works shall be wrought by them, before the great and coming day when all people must surely stand before the judgment-seat of Christ;

32 Yea even among the Gentiles shall there be a great and marvelous work wrought by them, before that judgment day.

33 And if ye had all the scriptures which give an account of all the marvelous works of Christ, ye would, according to the words of Christ, know that these things must surely come.

34 And wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom he hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day;

35 And it would be better for them if they had not been born. For do ye suppose that ye can get rid of the justice of an offended God, who hath been trampled under feet of men, that thereby salvation might come?

36 And now behold, as I spake concerning those whom the Lord hath chosen, yea, even three who were caught up into the heavens, that I knew not whether they were cleansed from mortality to immortality—

37 But behold, since I wrote, I have inquired of the Lord, and he hath made it manifest unto me that there must needs be a change wrought upon their bodies, or else it needs be that they must taste of death;

38 Therefore, that they might not taste of death there was a change wrought upon their bodies, that they might not suffer pain nor sorrow save it were for the sins of the world.

39 Now this change was not equal to that which shall take place at the last day; but there was a change wrought upon them, insomuch that Satan could have no power over them, that he could not tempt them; and they were sanctified in the flesh, that they were holy, and that the powers of the earth could not hold them.

40 And in this state they were to remain until the judgment day of Christ; and at that day they were to receive a greater change, and to be received into the kingdom of the Father to go no more out, but to dwell with God eternally in the heavens.
Americans, together with analysis and commentary by a respected scholar.
Material of Mormon interest includes the story of the young preacher ordered by
a queen to clean some old books “which she had concealed in a hidden chest,” the
last of which told of Christ and His resurrection. When He did not come again to
start His kingdom, “Then said one chief follower, ‘surely he will come again
sometime, we must watch for him.'” p. 16.
The Mormon concept of the Three Nephites(see MP 109, Croly)is brought to
mind by Handsome Lake’s vision of the three messengers. Four are called for
throughout these accounts, but the fourth (John the Beloved)was absent during this event:

The Prophecies Of Handsome Lake taken from Seneca Legend by Cecil Abbott

In the late 1700’s in an area that is now part of the Allegheny National Forest, the Seneca Indians resided. Halfway between where we now find Jamestown, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania near the New York Pennsylvania state lines was the town of Cornplanter named after the Seneca Chief, Cornplanter.

Chronic alcoholism had long been known among the Delaware who had lost their lands two generations earlier, but until now it had been rare among the Iroquois. The Iroquois often referred to as the Six Nations are: Onondaga, Onieda, Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga and the Tuscaroras. Many of the most honored men among the Six Nations became known as drunkards. Among those was Cornplanter’s brother, Handsome Lake.

Following the American Revolution Handsome Lake saw the defeat of his people and the loss of their lands. In spring of 1799 he and several other men returned from a hunting trip of some six months. Having sold their furs at Pittsburgh and purchased supplies that included several barrels of whiskey they lashed their four canoes together and headed upstream back home to Cornplanter town.

The men began to partake freely of the whiskey and arrived in Cornplanter in a drunken state not knowing the turmoil of their town. The Quaker missionaries had the town divided over the teaching of English to their children. When the men arrived and ran thru the town wrecking havoc, tearing doors off of hinges, beating their wives and abusing their children, the residents of the town fled for fear of their lives and camped in the bushlands.

Part of the time in the days that followed, Handsome Lake was depressed and melancholy and knew he was evil and loathsome in the eyes of the Creator. Other times when he had whiskey and got drunk, he would sing sacred songs and resolve to never touch alcohol again. He was brooding over the loss of his niece, Cornplanter’s daughter, who was thought to have been killed by a witch. This old woman had the reputation of poisoning the families of her enemies and now she was threatening the life of a newborn baby in the Cornplanter household. Belief in and practice of witchcraft, love potions and abortion/sterility medicines were common among the people.

On the morning of June 15, Handsome Lake had his first vision. He had taken to his bed sick and dying. He was in this state when his daughter heard him exclaim “Niio!” (So be it) and come out of the cabin as “yellow skin and dried bones.” She caught him as he stumbled and fell into her arms. When his nephew, Blacksnake, and Cornp1anter, Handsome Lake’s closest male relatives arrived, they asked, “Is he dead?”

There was no breathing or heartbeat, the body was cool to the touch. Upon examination, Blacksnake discovered a “warm spot” on Handsome Lake’s chest. After about half an hour his breathing began again and the warm spot spread and after two hours he opened his eyes and began to speak. He described his vision.

Handsome Lake had heard his name called and left the house. Outside he saw three middle-aged men dressed in fine ceremonial clothes with red paint on their faces and feathers in their bonnets, carrying bows and arrows in one hand and huckleberry bushes
in the other. Handsome Lake collapsed from weakness, but the angelic messengers caught him and told him they were sent by the Creator. He was told to join his kinfolk the next day at the Strawberry Festival and tell them how things should be on earth.

He was told the Strawberry Festival should always be held. The message to his people was “four words” concerning the evil practices of men about whom the Creator was sad and angry. The words are Whiskey, Witchcraft, Love magic and Medicine that kills unborn babies. People were told to repent and never sin again. Handsome Lake was charged with getting drunk and told to never drink again. The messengers left but promised to return.

Handsome Lake continued to be in poor health. He told Cornplanter the three angelic messengers mentioned a fourth that would visit him. During the night of August 7 he dreamed the fourth angel was coming to take him on a .journey. The next morning he put on his best clothes and told his brother not to prepare him for burial even if he appeared to be dead. That evening he fell into a sleep that lasted about seven hours. His body was again cool and his breathing slight. This second vision, called the sky journey, was led by a guide in sky blue clothes.

He and the three angels were standing on earth with Handsome Lake viewing a series of scenes while the guide made moral comments. When they met Jesus bearing the nail scars on his hands and feet, Jesus said that his people had slain him in their pride and that he would not return to help them “until the earth passes away.”

On the second part of the journey they saw human souls being directed onto the narrow road to heaven and the wide road to hell. It was mostly children that went to heaven. The third part was a tour of hell where they saw the nature and punishment of evil with its sadistic torments to fit the crimes of the prisoners. They then visited the lands of Gaiwiio and Handsome Lake saw his niece and his son and grandson. The guide then admonished him to help his people because the Great Spirit sees all things and , they needed to mend their ways.

The third vision took place six months later on February 5, 1800. Handsome Lake’s health was much improved and he had been able to share this “new religion” with his people. The three angels advised that the Great Spirit was troubled over the condition of the Indians and that the revelations should be written in a book. Handsome Lake was told the children should be taught about Gaiwiio and the people should keep up their Old form of worship and never quit it, particularly the Midwinter Ceremony. Handsome Lake was advised to devote half his life to his family and half to the new religion. This third vision was to prepare his people for salvation.

By the 1840’s the dreams and visions had been retold many times. Preachers who knew the material and could recite the teachings were called upon at the two great annual festivals. Blacksnake, now an old man organized the moral teachings in “twelve commandments” that prohibited: whiskey, witchcraft, love magic, abortion, divorce, adultery, premarital sex, refusal of the wife to live with her husband’s parents, failure of parent to discipline unruly children, unwillingness to love all mankind, feelings of hostility and gossip.

Many of the Seneca now practice the religions of the modern world but if they return to their reservation they will observe the ways of the Gaiwiio, the teachings of the Great Spirit. They still keep the festivals because of the visions of the three angelic messengers.



This entry was posted in Let's Share Our Dreams and Visions. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.