Ellen White and the
By Dirk Anderson, 2005
Adventist pioneer Joseph Bates was fascinated by his observation of what appeared to him to be a "gap" in the constellation of Orion. He first observed the phenomena while sailing on a ship in the southern hemisphere in the 1820s. He later wrote about it in his tract "The Opening Heavens" which was published in late 1845. In his autobiography he describes the Orion gap:
"But the most remarkable of all the cloudy stars, he says, 'is that in the middle of Orion's sword, where seven stars (three of which are very close together) seem to shine through a cloud. It looks like a gap in the sky, through which one may see as it were a part of a much brighter region. Although most of these spaces are but a few minutes of a degree in breadth, yet since they are among the fixed stars they must be spaces larger than what is occupied by our solar system; and in which there seems to be a perpetual, uninterrupted day among numberless worlds which no human art can ever discover.' This gap or place in the sky is undoubtedly the same that is spoken of in the Scriptures. See John i,51; Rev.xix,11."1
Although Bates connected Orion with the "gap" in Scriptures, he was not the first Christian to theorize that nebulae were gate-ways into the heavens. The Reverend William Derham (1657-1735), an astronomer and author of a book Astro-Theology, described nebulae as "openings in the firmament through which the fiery Empyrean is seen."2 An Empyrean is defined as "The highest reaches of heaven, believed by the ancients to be a realm of pure fire or light. The abode of God and the angels; paradise."3
Ellen White's Vision of the Orion Stargate
After the Whites linked up with Joseph Bates in the mid 1840s, Mrs. White acquired a sudden interest in Astronomy. During this time she had her infamous solar system vision. Adventist historian J.N. Loughborough describes how during that vision Mrs. White...
"began a description of the 'opening heavens,' with its glory, calling it an opening into a region more enlightened. Elder Bates said that her description far surpassed any account of the opening heavens he had ever read from any author."4
Adventist historian A.W. Spalding shares more details of the vision:
"But after seeing the planets, she seemed to pass over a great distance in the heavens, until she came to the place that is called 'the gap in the sky.' When she began to describe this, Elder Bates rose to his feet in great excitement. 'She is giving a more wonderful description,' he said, 'than any astronomer ever dreamed of.' And still she spoke of its great beauty, with the four great stars far apart as its gates, and the glory, the wonderful glory, shining through. The heavens beyond, she said, made a region more enlightened. This indeed is the gateway from our part of the universe into the central heaven where God dwells."5
Apparently Mrs. White had subscribed to Bates' theory that the open space in Orion was a special, heavenly gateway. Thus, she put the prophetic stamp-of-approval on his conjectures about Orion.
A couple of years later, on December 16, 1848, Mrs. White took the Orion theory one step further. She had another vision in which she saw the functioning of the Orion stargate:
"Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. The atmosphere parted and rolled back; then we could look up through the open space in Orion, whence came the voice of God. The Holy City will come down through that open space."6
From these visions we can learn three things:
- There is an "opening" or stargate into "a region more enlightened"
- Orion is a gateway between our universe and the dwelling place of God
- The voice of God comes through an "open space in Orion"
- The "holy city" will come to earth through the opening in Orion
Orion figured prominently in the ancient pagan religions such as that of the Egyptians. New Age author Barry Martin describes the importance of Orion:
"It is through the gateway in Orion that we receive the higher light...we will understand why the ancient Egyptian texts refer to Ihm-'sk and why the Great Pyramid was aligned with Mintaka (delta), Alnilam (epsilon), and Alnitak (zeta) in Tak-Orion (Orionis). These are the central threshold controls for the region of 'positive programming' used by the Elohim Lords of Light to connect the many galaxies to our Father Universe. Within our galactic quadrant, these threshold controls are necessary in coordinating celestial navigation between universes. Through the energies of Orion, the Central Threshold Control, the higher beings of Light moved across the waters of the deep."7
Notice the following from the above quote:
Does this sound strangely familiar to Ellen White's teachings? The following excerpt shows the importance of Orion to the ancient Egyptians:
- There is a gateway in Orion
- Humans receive "higher light" through that gateway
- Orion is a navigational point for the "higher beings" to connect with earth
"In The Orion Mystery we presented graphic as well as written evidence showing how important the Egyptians considered the constellation of Orion to be. We published an illustration based on a drawing from the ceiling of the tomb of Senmut, companion and vizier to Queen Hatshepsut. In this picture Sahu/Orion is shown standing in a small boat with three prominent stars representing Orion’s belt) over his head. This figure carries in his left hand a staff of office, while in his right he holds an ankh—the Egyptian hieroglyph usually translated as “life.” Behind him, following in her own boat, is a goddess identifiable as representing the star Sothis or Sirius. Another diagram showed part of the ceiling painting from the mausoleum of Seti I, one of the greatest of the New Kingdom pharaohs and father of Ramses II. In this drawing Orion is again shown in his boat with the staff in one hand and an ankh in the other, above which is a five-pointed star. A third illustration of Orion came from the Cairo Museum, custodian of the pyramidion that once capped the pyramid of Amenemhet III at Dashur. Being from the Middle Kingdom, this pyramidion is older than the ceilings of the tombs of Senmut and Seti but it carries a very similar representation of Orion. Again he is shown as a walking man holding a staff in one hand, but this time he is cupping a star with the other.
"...The positioning of a star above the outstretched hand of Orion has another important meaning that would not have been lost on the Egyptians. The hieroglyph of a five-pointed star is transliterated as s’ba, literally meaning “star.” However, s’ba has a secondary meaning, which is “door.” It is used in this way in Wallis Budge’s monumental edition of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, where he translates a particular sentence as “I open the door in heaven.” The hieroglyphs for “door,” which he transliterates as s’ba, are a five-pointed star with an Egyptian vulture symbol next to it. Thus the star held out in the hand of the Sahu figure on the benben stone of Amenemhet III conveys in shorthand the exact meaning of ”stargate.” ... We can see from this that the placing of a star in the hand of Orion was entirely appropriate. It indicated that the point where the Milky Way intersected with the ecliptic above the hand of Orion was the location of one of the gates of heaven."8
The idea that God has a stargate in Orion is found nowhere in the Bible. It appears to have originated in ancient heathen religions and was later adopted by New Agers. What is to be made of Mrs. White's Orion Stargate vision? What makes this all the more unusual is that Mrs. White consistently opposed paganism and the occult in her writings.9 Where then did this vision come from? Did God show her the same truth He revealed to the ancient heathen Eqyptians? Does He really have a stargate in Orion? Or did she fabricate the Orion stargate vision to win the approval of Captain Bates, a prominent leader in the early church? Or was she simply hallucinating? You decide.
For Further Study:
1. James White, editor, The Early Life And Later Experience And Labors Of Elder Joseph Bates, chapter 12, (Steam Press of The Seventh-Day Adventist Publishing Association, Battle Creek, Mich. 1877). Emphasis in the original.
2. Editor's Notes by Blake Linton Wilfong in the Preface to the English translation of Voltaire's Micromegas. http://wondersmith.com/scifi/micro.htm.
3. American Heratige Dictionary, ©2000.
4. J.N. Loughborough, Great Second Advent Movement, p. 258.
5. A.W. Spalding, Pioneer Stories of the Second Advent Message, chapter 17, "The Opening Heavens and the Unchanged Law", (1942).
6. Arthur White quoting Ellen White in Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 - 1827-1862, p. 154. Same quote is also found in Early Writings, p. 41; The Present Truth, August 1, 1849, "Dear Brethren and Sisters"; The Present Truth, January 31, 1849, "To Those who are receiving the seal of the living God". A similar statement was made in an unpublished letter, Letter 2, 1848, written Dec. 18, from Rocky Hill, Connecticut. "...then we could see the open space in Orion from whence came the voice of God. I saw that the Holy City will come down through that open space." The notable difference between Early Writings and this letter is that in the unpublished letter Ellen White said "I saw" in reference to the Holy City descending through the open space in Orion.
7. Barry Martin, The Time Spiral, http://www.spiritwheels.com/writers/kiara/barrymartin.html.
8. Adrian Gilber, Orion’s Mystical Origins From Pre-History,
http://www.btinternet.com/~orionmoon/ORION.htm. Photo from web site. Extracts from: Signs in the Sky (Three Rivers Press: 1972. ISBN 0-609-80793-5).
9. Mrs. White consistently and frequently opposed pagan and occult philosophies in her writings. She did make two references to occult symbology in her writings. In all likelihood, these were benign references, with no harm intended, but they do illustrate the fact that Mrs. White's books were not authored by the "Holy Ghost" as she claimed in Selected Messages, Vol. 3, p. 30. Here are the references to mother earth in her writings:
The trees, shrubs, and flowers, will soon be attractive to the eye, inviting all who delight in the beauties of nature to enjoy life out of doors. The flowers and green foliage have not appeared, but mother earth has thrown from her bosom her white mantle, and she even now bears a cheerful aspect in the bright sunshine and shadows. (The Health Reformer, March 1, 1871)
Mother Earth is a pagan concept. According to Wikipedia:
May has come, with all her beauties of the sunshine, clothing nature with a glorious dress. Mother earth has laid off her brown mantle, and wears her cheerful robes of green. (The Health Reformer, May 1, 1871)
"In many Neo-Pagan and Wiccan traditions, Mother Earth is seen as the Goddess, with the Horned God as her consort (and sometimes son). The idea of the Earth as a deity was and is also prominent in many pagan religions."