Sept. 28, 2004, was not an easy day in the life of Julie Rowe. As the Mormon author wrote in her book “A Great Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil” (2014), Rowe said she was hospitalized with a strange array of symptoms: partial paralysis, migraines, mood swings, fatigue. There was something wrong with her liver, tests said – but the cause was not known.
But then came revelation.
“September 28th was also the day my spirit left my body,” Rowe wrote. “This was the day that I ‘went to the other side.’ I had the very real experience of visiting beyond the veil in the Spirit World. That world is right here on Earth — just in another realm of sorts.”
This was not your average out-of-body experience, however. In discussions with “a very kind older gentleman, John,” who Rowe said was a “distant ancestor,” she was “shown some things that would also affect many of God’s children here on Earth.”
Rowe’s predictions were mystical — and, like all good prophecies, frustratingly vague and only gradually revealed over time. John showed her things that “were meant to be,” she said in a radio interview earlier this year. And one of the things meant to be was an apocalypse of sorts — “battles,” “tempests,” “manna” from above.
She talked about “blood moons.” She talked about U.N. troops on American soil — a familiar right-wing fear. She talked about a coming earthquake in Salt Lake City. She talked about a bomb being launched from Libya into Israel — “Iran will take credit,” she said. She talked about “tent cities” — perhaps a reference to the Syrian refugee crisis? The bottom line: “It won’t be long before we meet our maker.”
“We’re getting closer,” Rowe said. “I’m rarely given dates and I’m not to talk about dates. Any dates that I have are for me and I don’t even share them and I won’t.” Why not? “That’s not how time is kept in the eternities,” she said.
Despite the ambiguity of what Rowe said was coming, her following was numerous enough for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to issue a statement ahead of Sunday’s lunar bonanza — the confluence of a supermoon (when a full moon comes as the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit), the Northern Hemisphere’s harvest moon (or the closest full moon to the fall equinox), and a total lunar eclipse, sometimes called a “blood moon.” Some, Mormon and not, thought this astronomical phenomenon — the fourth blood moon in two years to fall on a Jewish holiday — meant the end of days.
“Although Sister Rowe is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her book is not endorsed by the Church and should not be recommended to students or used as a resource in teaching them,” the church wrote. “The experiences she shares are her own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine.”
The statement from the church was a bit unusual, one expert said.
“For it to filter up to that level means and for them to decide to send out a policy letter means that they felt there was something they needed to tamp down on,” said Patrick Mason, a professor of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, told the Associated Press.
Rowe walked back her windy rhetoric — a bit.
“I agree that the Curriculum for LDS Church classes should only come from sources recognized by the LDS Church as being authoritative,” Rowe said in a statement earlier this month. “My story is not intended to be authoritative nor to create any Church doctrine. It is simply part of my personal journey that I have chosen to share in hopes that it can help people to prepare for the times we live in by increasing their faith in Christ and by looking to our Prophet and Church leaders for guidance.”
She offered quite the riposte to those who say her predictions are just a racket in a interview last year.
“They must not know how little we make,” she said. “I earn roughly 43 cents per book. I wish I could personally give each person on the planet a book, it’s that important.”
And even as the supermoon eclipse visited the skies, Rowe posted quite a provocative verse from the Book of Mormon on her Web site.
“Now the last words which are written by Ether are these,” Rowe wrote. “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the Kingdom of God. Amen.”
Meanwhile, in Utah, store owners noted that the natives were restless.
“There’s something in the air that’s making people a little more antsy,” Matt Putnam, a regional store manager at Emergency Essentials in Orem, Utah, told FOX13 in Salt Lake City, saying sales of freeze-dried food had spiked. “… With all the blood moon stuff, there’s a lot of that going around.”
Perhaps to boost sales, Putnam played a video explaining why the end was nigh in the store. Yet, though canned food and extra water might not be immediately needed, they would last, he pointed out. Preparation, after all, is never a bad idea.
“If something crazy doesn’t happen, then you’ve got peace of mind for another 25 years because you’ve got food down in your basement,” he said.