Mormonism is without a doubt the dominant religious affiliation in Salt Lake City, but there is one religious group entirely at odds with the LDS community that has quietly resided in a modern day Egyptian style pyramid in the industrial sector of West Salt Lake for the past 36 years. You can view the pyramid on Google here. You may have heard of Summum in the news since it has made national headlines for being the only official provider of modern day mummification techniques.
A few weeks ago I was able to attend a Wednesday night (7:15 pm) Summum meeting in the Salt Lake City pyramid. I was excited to learn that these weekly meetings are open to the public and anyone can attend. (There is a waiver form you must sign stating that you will be respectful and not attend if you are sick.) For those that cannot make it to the meeting in person, you can also watch the weekly meeting via online broadcast.
I was raised in a Christian household and I have attended many religious observations from Jewish Seders to Hare Krishna prayer mantras, but this was my first experience with what I would label an “alternative” religious meeting. After visiting the Summum website and reading up on the group’s philosophy, I was expecting something unique, different, and probably a little weird, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
From the outside, the pyramid resembles an Egyptian tomb, with actual mummies inside. Stepping inside, you must take off your shoes, and it is best to bring warm clothing or a blanket because of the constant cold temperature that the pyramid is kept at. (The pyramid is officially recognized as a winery due to the alcoholic spiritual “nectars” that are produced.) Looking around the inside of the pyramid, I counted nine mummified cats as well as one giant golden mummy case of a person. I must say that these feline mummies were beautiful, and this wouldn’t be a bad memorial for a beloved pet if you have the money for it (about $5,000 for a small animal). According to the Summum website, it will cost you about $67,000 to be mummified when you die, and there will be an additional cost for the burial casket of course.
I label Sumum as a cult due to the fact that the group is very small (there were 5 others present at the meeting I attended), has an alternative belief system, and is a self-professed thorn in the side of the LDS community that governs Salt Lake City. As for the actual meetings, they typically consist of reading and discussion on the wisdom of spiritual teachers from various religions around the world. The meeting I attended was very relaxed, there wasn’t any pressure to contribute, and everyone was respectful of each other’s input.
In all likelihood, I would have gone back for another weekly meeting if it were not for the surprising “gift” I received for attending. This gift was actually a book about masturbation and the joys of sexual pleasure. Basically, it is a (very) graphically illustrated how-to book of sex. From self-pleasure to kegel exercises to bringing your partner to multiple orgasms, it encourages exploring ones sexuality with the goal of achieving sexual ecstasy.
The especially strange part was that there was no forewarning of what this book contained or any explanation as to why they give this book out to first-time visitors. It was simply given as a parting gift, and I was told that I would “enjoy reading through it”. I can only imagine the reaction of a conservative person from a Mormon background encountering this type of material. I was certainly shocked, and now keep the book (hidden on a bottom shelf) as a souvenir and talking point when anyone asks about Summum. If you would like your own copy of the book without attending a weekly meeting, they are available here on Amazon.
All in all, the Summum pyramid is one of the most unique parts of Salt Lake City and a worthwhile visit if you would like to expand your horizons.by