Joseph Smith/Occultism and magic/The magician Walters as a mentor to Joseph Smith

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Joseph Smith and the "magician" Luman Walter

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Question: Was a "vagabond fortune-teller" named Walters Joseph Smith's "mentor"?

The idea that Walter's "mantle" fell upon Joseph is the creation of an enemy of Joseph Smith, Abner Cole

It is claimed by some that a "vagabond fortune-teller" named Walters became popular in the Palmyra area, and that when Walters left the area, "his mantle fell upon" Joseph Smith. However, the idea that "Walters the Magician" was a mentor to Joseph Smith and that his "mantle" fell upon Joseph once Walters left the area originated with Abner Cole. Cole published a mockery of the Book of Mormon called the "Book of Pukei."

Matthew Brown discusses the "Book of Pukei":,

Cole claims in the "Book of Pukei" that the Book of Mormon really came into existence in the following manner:

  • Walters the Magician was involved in witchcraft and money-digging.
  • Walters was summoned to Manchester, New York by a group of wicked, idle, and slothful individuals—one of which was Joseph Smith.
  • Walters took the slothful individuals of Manchester out into the woods on numerous nighttime money-digging excursions. They drew a magic circle, sacrificed a rooster, and dug into the ground but never actually found anything.
  • The slothful group of Manchesterites then decided that Walters was a fraud. Walters himself admitted that he was an imposter and decided to skip town before the strong arm of the law caught up with him.
  • At this point, the mantle of Walters the Magician fell upon Joseph Smith and the rest of the Manchester rabble rallied around him.
  • The "spirit of the money-diggers" (who is identified implicitly with Satan in the text) appeared to Joseph Smith and revealed the Golden Bible to him.[1]

Matthew B. Brown, "Revised or Unaltered? Joseph Smith’s Foundational Stories"

Matthew B. Brown,  Proceedings of the 2006 FAIR Conference, (August 2006)
Abner Cole wanted to mock the Book of Mormon in his newspaper (The Reflector). He was most probably motivated to do this because he had violated copyright law by printing portions of the Book of Mormon in his paper and the Prophet Joseph Smith forced him to stop his illegal activity. Cole’s mockery text was called the “Book of Pukei.” In this peculiar literary production the editor took many authentic elements of the story of the Book of Mormon’s origin and mixed them together with elements of speculation that had been floating around the community. Cole utilized the dialogue of one of the characters in his mockery text to call Joseph Smith an ignoramus, a criminal, and a servant of Satan. It is in this text that Joseph Smith is first connected with a man from Great Sodus Bay, New York, called “Walters the Magician” (probably Luman Walter).

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  1. Matthew Brown, "Revised or Unaltered? Joseph Smith's Foundational Stories.", 2006 FAIR Conference.

Revised or Unaltered?: Joseph Smith's Foundational Stories, Matthew Brown, 2006 FAIR Conference