Why is being married in the temple such a secret? What rituals fo on so that it can't be told? . . .
Is it true that seances are held in the Temple? . . .
The standard temple ritual is a lengthy process in which the participant: listens to instructions, part of which contains a movie or a drama; participates in rituals; and learns certain hand shakes and secret words. This is called an "endowment ceremony"--endowment supposedly meaning "gift." The participant is to receive a gift of information and faith by participating in the ceremony.
Other functions happen in the temple. Baptisms for the dead are conducted. These are done "for and on behalf" of people who were not Mormons while they were alive and who may have believed the Mormon gospel in the afterlife in a place Mormonism refers to as "Spirit Prison." If they accept the Mormon gospel and if the temple ceremonies are done "by proxy" on earth, then they can advance in what Mormonism calls Eternal Progression. Weddings and so-called "sealings" are also conducted in the temple. The theology states that people sealed to each other can spend eternity together (if they have been obedient to all the other requirements of Mormonism).
The first time a person goes through an endowment ceremony he/she does so for his own benefit. He may, throughout the rest of his life, go through the endowment many hundreds or thousands of times. It is always the same ceremony (accept for periodic changes in the ceremony, which I will address below). The only difference is that each time he goes through the temple after the first time, he does so with a name pinned on his shirt--the name of a dead person. That endowment is for the dead person. This is done for people who have been identified through the efforts of Mormon genealogy, whether or not the person would have wanted such activity to take place. Most all United States Presidents, for example, have "had their temple work done for them."
Part of the ceremony includes learning certain handshakes which have names. All of the information, and the handshakes are part of what Brigham Young said would "after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enable to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell."
All of the times I went through the temple, we were told the penalties for revealing the handshakes and their names. Actually, we pantomimed having our throats cut. (See the picture on my web site at:
page from book
In 1990, the demonstration of the penalties was dropped from the ceremony.
Along with Bill schnoebelen, I have written two books about the temple: Mormonisms Temple of Doom and Whited Sepulchers: The Hidden Language of the Mormon Temple. They can be ordered on my web site. I plan to put both books online in their entirety, as soon as I can find the time to do so.
Hope this helps,