Heavenly Mother

Is there a Heavenly Mother?[BIO]

Yes. The concept of "heavenly parents" is a fundamental concept to Latter-day Saint theology.[1] There is a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father.[BIO][2]

Does the Church teach doctrine about Heavenly Mother?

No, not very much.[3] There is no specific canonized revelation that refers to Heavenly Mother, but prophets and apostles have acknowledged her existence since the early days of the Church.[4] More recently, the Family Proclamation states each person is the son or daughter of "heavenly parents."[5] The Church website also has an essay on "Mother in Heaven"[6] and General Authorities have mentioned her in conference talks.[7]

Where did the "Heavenly Mother" idea in LDS theology come from?

It's unclear. In February 1844, the first recorded reference of the Heavenly Mother concept was possibly in a Times and Seasons article written by W. W. Phelps[BIO] that referenced a "queen of heaven" in a poem.[8] Then in January of 1845 Phelps referred directly to Heavenly Mother in Times and Seasons when he wrote "Thy father is God, thy mother is the Queen of heaven."[9]

Did Joseph Smith ever teach about Heavenly Mother?

Possibly. There are no firsthand historical records that indicate that Joseph Smith taught the concept. However, Eliza R. Snow,[BIO] one of Joseph Smith's[BIO] polygamous wives, used the concept of Heavenly Mother in her poem "My Father in Heaven" published in the Times and Seasons in 1845,[10] so it's possible that Joseph may have taught it.

The most specific evidence that Joseph Smith taught about Heavenly Mother is a thirdhand report written over 60 years after Joseph's death. It stated that Joseph taught Zina D. Young[BIO] about Heavenly Mother in 1839.[11]

A watercolor painting by John Hafen for an illustrated 1909 booklet of Eliza R. Snow's lyrics to the hymn O My Father.

Do we know anything about the character of Heavenly Mother?

No, not much. When Church leaders and authors describe Heavenly Mother, they use words like divine,[12] immortal,[13] perfect,[14] glorified,[15] and wise.[16]

Has anyone seen or heard from Heavenly Mother?

Possibly, but probably not.

Abraham H. Cannon[BIO] recorded in his journal a thirdhand account of a story when Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Mother. According to Cannon, Zebedee Coltrin,[BIO] Sidney Rigdon,[BIO] and Joseph Smith saw a vision of the Father, the Mother, and a young Jesus.[BIO][17] However, there are two other accounts of this vision recorded elsewhere that say it was a vision of Adam[BIO] and Eve[BIO] instead of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother.[18]

Are there scriptural supports for Heavenly Mother?

No, not directly. In 1885, Erastus Snow[BIO] acknowledged the lack of scriptural support for Heavenly Mother.[19]

The Hebrew Bible (in Genesis 1:26-27) states, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." According to one interpretation, "God" here can be read as plural and not singular, and perhaps a "plural God" could imply a male and a female deity.[20] Some scholars have speculated that a "plural God" and/or ancient Near Eastern symbolism could imply a male and female deity.[21]

Why don't Latter-Day Saints talk about Heavenly Mother more?

Probably because there is very little established information about her.[22]

Some, like author Hoyt W. Brewster,[BIO] have supposed that Heavenly Mother is too sacred to discuss.[23] Others may think Heavenly Mother doctrine is strange or would distract from other gospel principles.[24]

Where did the "too sacred to talk about" idea come from?

Not from any authoritative source. BYU scholars looked at hundreds of Church publications and found no General Authority that had called for a "sacred hush" about Her.[25] Church leaders seem comfortable bringing up Heavenly Mother.[26]

Does Heavenly Mother have a role to play in the Plan of Salvation?

According to Church leaders, Heavenly Mother shares goals and responsibilities with Heavenly Father[27] (though exact details are fuzzy). She, like Heavenly Father, raises, nurtures, and shapes souls.[28] Several times, Church leaders have suggested She has a central role in shaping the character and personality of Her children.[29]

In General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "To a Mother in Heaven, I say, 'Thank you for your crucial role in fulfilling the purposes of eternity.'" [30]

Is She a god?

Yes, probably. Latter-day Saint leaders have taught that she stands "side by side" with God the Father.[31] Historically, Latter-day Saints have been conflicted on whether they recognize her in the Godhead.[32]

Is it okay to pray to Heavenly Mother?

No. Christ and the scriptures teach that prayer is directed to Heavenly Father.[33] Church leaders have instructed members not to direct prayers to Heavenly Mother.[34] President Gordon B. Hinckley explained that “the fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.”[35]

Is Heavenly Mother a polygamous wife of Heavenly Father?

Possibly. Orson Pratt[BIO] seemed to think so.[36] John Taylor[BIO] also taught it.[37] But the majority of references to a Mother in Heaven tend to refer to a singular person, not a plurality.[38]

Do other Judeo-Christian religions believe in a Heavenly Mother?

Not really. Catholicism has a type of holy maternity in Mary,[BIO] mother of Jesus.[39] A mystic school of thought in Judaism recognizes Shekhinah, the female aspect of God.[40] Early Christian Gnostics saw Sophia[BIO] as a feminine divine.[41] But in general, divine femininity, and especially a Heavenly Mother, is not a mainstream Christian belief.

The Facts

  • Heavenly Mother is an acknowledged doctrine of the Church.

  • The idea of Heavenly Mother can be traced back to the 1840s.

  • There is no contemporary evidence that Joseph Smith taught this doctrine.

  • There are no specific scriptural references to Heavenly Mother.

  • The Church has instructed members not to pray to Heavenly Mother.

  • Some early Church leaders taught that Heavenly Mother was a polygamous wife of God.

Our Take

For some, the idea of a Heavenly Mother can be both comforting and frustrating. Knowing of Her existence and purpose can help us understand more about eternal progress. But the lack of information on Heavenly Mother can also feel like it diminishes Her role or value.

It’s not really clear why there is so little information about Her. Maybe the patriarchal nature of the Church just hasn't provided enough of a space for Her. Or maybe God has decided it's best to not reveal too much about Her.

Whatever the reason, the Church still clearly accepts and supports the doctrine of Heavenly Mother, including Her divine characteristics and how she shares goals and responsibilities with Heavenly Father.

And as part of a Church with continuing revelations, we may receive more revelation about Heavenly Mother. Though sparse on detail, the doctrine of Heavenly Mother is a cherished truth of the restored gospel and pretty unique to our faith. Latter-day Saints can aspire to be like their heavenly parents, who we know love Their children.

What's Your Take?

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These takes are curated for a general audience and may contain minor edits when posted.
  • Britt
    I just joined the church a few months ago so I never heard the concept of a heavenly mother. However, through out my life there have been times when I would pray for help relating to feminine issues and I was lead by spiritual direction. Many testimonies throughout my life.
  • handcycle100
    Of course heavenly mother is a God. As a father here on this Earth I cringe when somebody disrespects my wife I'm sure heavenly Father would be many times more heartbroken than I would be with my wife if somebody showed disrespect to his wife.
  • Cory
    She's probably just like, "I'm dealing with all these spirit children, mortality is your thing." So if someone tries praying to her she says, "No, go talk to dad."
  • John
    When I learned Spanish I was taught to use the feminine form of words when referring solely to girls or women but if it was a group of both men and women to use the masculine form. I sometimes wondered if praying to Heavenly Father was meant as praying to both.
  • K. Carpenter
    Elder W. Bradford, Quorum of Seventy: Wilmette Stake Conference, 2/18/97 asked “What is God’s grand title. It is Father, and when you hear Father, you hear Mother. “. This was the conclusion of his talk about the Patriarchal priesthood. Absolutely , we have Heavenly Parents.
  • Chris
    The only reason we do not know more about our heavenly mother is that our heavenly parents have decided not to reveal more and for no other reason. We should not speculate what the reason is because we have no evidence to justify that speculation.
  • Melissa
    I agree there is a Heavenly Mother, I however don't believe that our prayers to Heavenly Father aren't also heard by our Heavenly Mother. I'm sure they both listen and work together for our ultimate happiness. Thank you for putting this site together.
  • Krystal B
    There are references to Her in the scriptures. The Queen of Heaven. Asherah, Asheroth, Wisdom, Eloah. She was not vilified prior to reforms. Elohim is plural deities, male and female in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek. Rev. 12, Prov, Isa, Jer, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles. Apocryphal books.
  • Tim W
    According to Ancient Archaeological evidence in Israel their existed the male God Yahweh and his wife female Goddess Asherah. We can consider them to be the heavenly parents of humanity.
  • User From Ohio
    The role of each family member, is how it is in Heaven with God’s family. It makes perfect sense and is not a complicated concept and we are living it and get more clarity from our Savior, being a Son and then growing into a Father. Daughters can become like Heavenly Mother too.
  • Jana
    I believe in her. As someone said the thought of not having her would "make reason stare."
  • Taylor W
    I love that we're actually talking more about Heavenly Mother. Maybe we just weren't ready for more information about her until recently. I hope we talk about her more as the restoration continues forward.
  • Sarah W.
    I sometimes wish I could pray to Heavenly Mother and want a less sexist Church, but this makes me see that the Church is progressing. Reading all the primary sources give me hope that Church leaders do recognize Her.
Footnotes