The Mystical State of Consciousness in Joseph Smith’s First Vision

I suggest that Joseph Smith's earliest direct encounters with God happened in mystical experience, or what is also known as altered states of consciousness.

Reconstructing Joseph Smith’s “First Vision”

Mormonism traces back its history in modern times to its founding prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., and his "First Vision." Joseph was a young farmer boy who lived in western New York, born in the early nineteenth century. This was the time of what's known as the Second Great Awakening, and where Joseph lived is known as the "burned-over district." It was a time of much Protestant religious excitement, revivals, reforms, and the formation of new religious movements and denominations (which eventually included Mormonism). A Restoration Movement grew in popularity in the area, which involved ideas of "restoring" a pure, primitive, uncorrupted, and original form of Christian faith.

Annie Dillard's "First Vision" Account

Annie Dillard (b. 1945) is an American author of fiction and non-fiction. She won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction in 1975 for her work Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. This nonfiction book was written in the first-person detailing Dillard's exploration around her home in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and her close observation of nature and life.

Bahá'u'lláh's "First Vision" Account

Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892) was the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. In 1863 he announced that he was the fulfillment of a messianic prophecy given by the Báb in 1845. This prophetic call he said was made clear by a vision he had while imprisoned. The vision was of a heavenly Maiden who he said gave him his mission as a messenger of God, or Manifestation of God, as had been prophesied by the Báb.

Armella Nicolas’s “First Vision” Account

Armella Nicolas (1606-1671) was a serving-maid who lived in France in the 17th century, who came to be held in high veneration in the Catholic church. She could not read or write, but told friends of her spiritual experiences, including one sister Jeanne de la Nativite, who wrote down her experiences. The following is one of her recorded experiences.