Timeline of Events
Reed Durham expresses regret for his original statements, calling the idea that Joseph had a Jupiter talisman "highly questionable."
Did Joseph Smith own a Jupiter talisman?
Probably, but the evidence is circumstantial. The earliest historical reference was 58 years after Joseph died, but there are other corroborating accounts as well.
What is a Jupiter talisman?
A Jupiter talisman is a metal coin-like object with engravings of sayings and symbols on it. It's named after "Jupiter" because the symbols on it relate to the Roman god Jupiter.
The particular type of Jupiter talisman that Joseph possibly owned originated in an 1801 book about occult philosophy, magic, and Christianity. The one Charles Bidamon[BIO] said belonged to Joseph Smith was probably a silvery, metal disc with a Hebrew number table on one side and astrological symbols on the other.
What evidence is there that Joseph owned it?
There's a thirdhand account that claimed Joseph had the Jupiter talisman with him when he died. But a legal declaration of things Joseph had on him when he died doesn't mention anything like the talisman.
Joseph never mentioned anything related to the Roman god Jupiter or the talisman. Joseph did have an interest in Hebrew, Latin, and God though—and the rumored talisman has religious inscriptions in Hebrew and Latin.
There's not really a consensus on whether Joseph actually owned it.
Where is the Jupiter talisman today?
According to Reed Durham,[BIO] it is in the Church-owned Wilford Wood Collection, where he examined it in 1974.
How did it get there?
In about 1937, Charles Bidamon responded to a want-ad in the Nauvoo Independent newspaper looking for Mormon documents and relics. He said he had several items, including the "silver pocket piece." He said that he received this from his father, Lewis Bidamon,[BIO] who was the second husband of Emma Smith.[BIO] That same year, Latter-day Saint collector Wilford C. Wood[BIO] purchased the "silver pocket piece."
Other items obtained from Bidamon included part of the Pearl of Great Price manuscript, a credit statement from 1839, and several other authentic documents.
So does it matter if he did have a Jupiter Talisman?
Maybe. For modern people, this may seem weird. To Joseph Smith, revelation, spiritual gifts, and powers came from God.
Did Joseph adopt other folk magical practices, like "peep stones"?
Read more in Seer Stones
Wasn't Joseph Smith sometimes referred to as "Baurak Ale" in meeting minutes and in some revelations? And couldn't that be a variant of Barchiel, which is the traditional archangel of guardian angels that also oversees Jupiter? Or Baraq’el which means "lightning of god" which is possibly referring to Zeus, the Greek version of Jupiter?
Possibly. Baurak Ale is also a name from the Book of Job (Barachel). In some revelations, Joseph Smith was referred to as Baurak Ale, which meant "God bless you" in Hebrew.
- Nathan C
“Joseph was curious about lots of things that had nothing to do with being a prophet. He was a human and had a separate life outside of his prophetic life.”
- Ray B
“It would be awesome if Joseph Smith had a Jupiter Talisman. It wouldn't bother me at all. I mean, he used a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon, so why care if he had a Jupiter Talisman. We believe a resurrected native guy gave him gold plates, why not this?”
- Grayson K
“I recognize past Church Leaders might not like the idea, but I think occult stuff is cool. I don't mind if Joseph was into folklore or folk magic—to me that doesn't have much to do with whether he was a prophet. Let people have their weird hobbies, sheesh.”