Cristina Rosetti is a Doctoral Candidate in Religious Studies whose research examines neglected histories of Mormonism
This summer I began ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in several cities across the state of Utah. My archival work was based in the Church History Library and Harold B. Lee Library Special Collections. My research centered on the period of Brigham Young’s Presidency (1847-1877), including Young’s personal correspondence and diaries, as well as diaries and letters from individuals who participated in dissenting Mormon movements. Particular attention was given to the Godbeite movement, the life of Amasa M. Lyman, and the practice of spirit communication in early Mormonism. In addition to work in the archive, I spent a large portion of the summer conducting ethnographic research with Mormons who are actively participating in religious practices that both engage the tradition of spirit communication and call into question the nature of spiritual authority within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The image below was taken during an immersion ceremony at a retreat I attended in September. During the ceremony, women stood in the river singing hymns directed to the divine feminine while immersing one another in a ritual similar to baptism. This ceremony is indicative of the ways in which LDS women use subversive religious practices to garner spiritual authority in their lives.