“Brother David Twede, in the name of Jesus Christ and by authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood in me vested, I lay my hands upon your head and seal upon you a patriarchal blessing. I pray that the Spirit of the Lord will guide and direct you in those things that you should do, that you may receive an understanding of those questions that are in your mind, that you will be blessed and guided as you travel through life by the precepts of this blessing.”
Here we see a similar claim of gift, power and skill to pronounce guidance that will answer questions needed to travel through life. It’s really a lot like a psychic reading, minus the cards, stones and credit card charges (there was a fee at one time -- note 1 at end). After telling me that I am special, that I was a good little spirit boy before coming to earth, further on, my blessing makes predictions such as:
- “It will be your opportunity to serve a mission”
- “You will go to a very special mission”
- “You will come to love your mission president with a deep and abiding reverence”
- “You will be a leader among men “
- “There is a young lady who the Lord is preparing now for this great experience with you”
- “The work you do to make your living will be of great pleasure to you”
- “Your name will be known for good throughout the annals of the church”
- “Your life will be one of direction, achieving goals and great understanding”
You can view the P. blessings of many former members who've decided to put them up for public viewing at this link.
The most official LDS definition (http://www.lds.org/topics/patriarchal-blessings?lang=eng ) I could find on this says:
“A patriarchal blessing includes a declaration of lineage, stating that the person is of the house of Israel—a descendant of Abraham, belonging to a specific tribe of Jacob. Many Latter-day Saints are of the tribe of Ephraim, the tribe given the primary responsibility to lead the latter-day work of the Lord.“Because each of us has many bloodlines running in us, two members of the same family may be declared as being of different tribes in Israel.“It does not matter if a person's lineage in the house of Israel is through bloodlines or by adoption. Church members are counted as a descendant of Abraham and an heir to all the promises and blessings contained in the Abrahamic covenant.”
My own blessing says:
“I bless you to know that you are of the house of Joseph through the loins of Ephraim…”Why would I say this is insidious? Because it is racism at some level. All of Abraham’s descendents, as described in the bible story, are white Middle Eastern tribal people. LDS church doctrine declares that:
“For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.” (D&C 84:33-34)
The Coral Castle in Homestead, FL is believed to have been erected by magic.
- You must act with confidence. You don't need to be arrogant. In fact, you will probably benefit by pretending to be humble. ...
- You must do your research. You have to be up on the latest statistics... You have to know what people in general are like from polls and surveys. Also, you must pick up in casual conversation before a performance any information that might be useful later...
- You must convince the mark that he or she will be the reason for success or failure. ...
- Be observant. Does the person have expensive jewelry on but worn out clothes? Is she wearing a pin with the letter 'K' on it. ...
- Use flattery and pretend you know more than you do.
- The patriarch does hold the authority and yet they are humble.
- The pre-blessing dialogue and interview helps the patriarch to pronounce personalized blessings.
- The fulfillment of a blessings is always predicated on worthiness. This is an out for anything not fulfilled and leaves the mark feeling insecure about their standing in the church, and thus reliant on it.
- Most patriarchs have personal knowledge of the blessee and his/her family, who lives in the same stake as the patriarch. Mormon communities are close-knit.
- Loads of flattery and very little negative content exist in P. blessings.
Appearing to accurately predicting events that seem too unqiue to be just coincidence is actually not that difficult when viewed in hindsight. Take a look at this page to see how a high number of nearly identical coincidences between US Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy make it appear they were both destined to be assassinated.
Lastly, it was pointed out to me that the Forer Effect could be at play in P. blessings. The effect "is the observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, graphology, and some types of personality tests."
 From D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy--Extensions of Power" Chap 6, Signature Books, 1997.
"For several decades only the Patriarch had a set compensation, while other General Authorities depended on haphazard donations from the rank-and-file or ad hoc appropriations from general Church funds. In 1835 the Presiding Patriarch was authorized a salary of $10 a week, plus expenses.
"Both the Presiding Patriarch and local stake patriarchs charged a fee. In the 1840s the fee was $1 per patriarchal blessing at Nauvoo; by the end of the nineteenth century it had increased to $2 per blessing. Joseph Smith, Sr., gave patriarchal blessings without payment of a fee, but would not record them. 'Uncle' John Smith commented that he 'lived very poor ever since we left Kirtland Ohio' in January 1838 until January 1844. Then his nephew Joseph Smith ordained him a patriarch 'through which office I obtained a comfortable living.'
"Financial incentive is another explanation for the fact that individual Mormons received more than one patriarchal blessing in the 19th century, often at the invitation of the patriarch. In October 1877 John Taylor criticized the monetary motivation of some stake patriarchs. He said they were using their patriarchal office as 'a mere means of obtaining a livelihood, and to obtain more business they had been traveling from door to door and underbidding each other in the price of blessings.'
"In addition, patriarchs received fees for giving unrecorded blessings of healing to the sick. In fact, Apostle Francis M. Lyman commended Patriarch Elias Blackburn for 'doing a great deal of good among the sick, without receiving very much pay for his services.'
"Patriarchal blessing fees ended in 1902, although patriarchs were allowed to accept unsolicited donations. Not until 1943 did church authorities prohibit patriarchs from accepting gratuities for giving blessings."