If we accept that “Mysticism” is the study of ordinances you can’t avoid discussing “Masonry.” [Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, Deseret Book, pg. 28.]
Hugh Nibley said: “Latter-day Saints believe that their temple ordinances are as old as the human race and represent a primordial revealed religion that has passed through alternate phases of apostasy and restoration which have left the world littered with the scattered fragments of the original structure, some more and some less recognizable, but all badly damaged and out of proper context.” (Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity, Deseret Book, pg 369).
I suspect Nibley had Masonry foremost in mind when he gave the above quote, but where does that put Masonry in a modern setting? More importantly, what should we think of Joseph Smith, and the early brethrens involvement with Masonry? These questions have sent some Mormons packing, some screaming, but most just settle into a cognitive dissonance.
I see Masonry as the fragmented remains of earlier dispensations. These remains were the intellectual frameworks that provided (or assisted) Joseph Smith with understanding of how to structure modern temple worship, with ordinances being provided against a theatrical backdrop. The same could be said of Joseph Smiths life that was set in a protestant society where he learned the bible. In an English speaking America the intellectual frameworks existed to read the bible, study history, and use logic. These all made Joseph as sharper tool in the Lord’s hand.
Ultimately, the real question is did Joseph Smith restore the ascension rites under the direction of God, or did he borrow it from Masonry – and it is just dead quaint philosophy? If we answer that, the questions of did he use this from Masonry, and that from the Baptist becomes irrelevant.
I participated in a discussion about Masonry and Mormons at TheBackYardProfessor.com that I think discussed these issues pretty well; Masonry Discussion.
I vote friend.