The Salt Lake Temple Astronomy Symbols
The walls of the Salt Lake Temple are adorned with a series of carvings depicting astronomy symbols. There are earth stones, moon stones, sun stones on the pilasters; and star stones over the doors, windows and along to top of the towers. The astronomical symbols have both collective and individual meanings. This page will focus on the collective meanings. Subsequent pages will detail the individual meanings of each symbol.
Back before the times of GPS systems, digital watches, smart phones and Google, people used the skies to tell the time, seasons and to navigate their way. In the Old Testament, festivals, sacrifices and other religious observances were dictated by the phases of the moon. (Ezekiel 46) Stars were used by travelers to help them find their way. So the carvings of heavenly bodies on the temple walls are symbolic of looking to Heaven for guidance, of remembering our sacred and religious obligations to God, and of finding our way back to God's Kingdom.
The astronomical characters remind us of God's creation, and testify of Him, and of His power to keep all things in the universe in order. They also represent the Biblical edict to watch the skies for signs of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:19-20)
The carvings on the pilasters go in order of Earth, Moon and Sun. This placement represents the Three Degrees of Glory or Kingdoms of God; which are The Telestial Kingdom, The Terrestrial Kingdom and The Celestial Kingdom.
The placement of the carvings also invokes the concept of upward progression. They represent the divine potential for people; which is that through the atonement of Christ and obedience to His gospel and priesthood ordinances, we can be redeemed and ascend from our fallen state, to a paradisaical state, and finally to an exalted state in God's Kingdom.