The Chariot

by Alyssa Herzinger Elliott | Lilies in the Bardo

“The Spirit of God”, Lyrics by W.W. Phelps, Traditional Mormon pioneer hymn

Voiceover: Rachel JeffsRussell Ballard, and Richard Scott


The Chariot spoke to me of my own ancestral lineage of Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains of the United States, and the women who were pressed into polygamous marriages because it was demanded by their spiritual leaders. I envisioned the covered wagons and handcarts they used to cross the country instead becoming chariots these women drove toward the truth. As part of the process of creating this piece, I wrote the names of all of my female ancestors (whose names I can find) on a shirt to keep their memories and spirits close to me and remind me of their strength.

The voice of this piece is Rachel Jeffs, daughter of Fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs, accompanied by current leaders of the mainstream Mormon church. The music that opens and closes this piece is a traditional Mormon hymn, most known for inspiring the pioneers on their arduous journey to Utah from the eastern United States.

Throughout the piece is also a musicomancy translation of the following quote from Wife #19, a memoir by Ann-Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young’s many wives:

“I was consecrated to sorrow by the baptism of my mother’s tears upon my baby brow.”

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