Summum: The Salt Lake City Cult That Wants You to Masturbate (And Then Mummify You)

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.

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Settling in to Summer in Salt Lake City

The beginning of summer is always a strange time. It hit me today as I was on my way down from a jog up the City Creek Canyon trail. My phone said that it was 8:15, but I would have sworn from the high angle of the sun still splashing light across the valley that it was closer to 5. Summer really does bring a lot of changes, whether it is the weather or the schedule.

Yesterday was also my first dodgeball week of the year, which I am ridiculously excited about. There is an adult Salt Lake City dodgeball meetup every Monday during the summer, and we play casual games of pickup with whoever shows up each week. It was good to see some people that I haven’t seen since the dodgeball season last year, and to experience that familiar ache in my arm when I woke up this morning.

I am starting to fall into a new summer routine. Monday nights are dodgeball, Tuesday nights are spent out on the trails, Thursday nights I walk dogs for a community animal rescue group CAWS, and Friday nights I play on the softball team for Capital. So far, I have managed to leave Wednesday nights for relaxing, but we will see how long that lasts.

It is crazy to think that the year is almost halfway over already. It seems like just a couple weeks ago that I was celebrating the new year and unsure of where I would be living or working. Now, it will be only a short time before starting school again in the fall. I plan on taking full advantage of my time this summer until I do.

 

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Memorial Day Camping in Escalante Utah

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to spend a fantastic Memorial Day weekend camping in Escalante, Utah with some very good friends. I was also able to make a new friend as well. The weather cooperated way better than the weather forecasters had predicted, and we were able to hike all weekend while barely getting wet at all. The cool, cloudy weather made it very pleasant indeed. On Saturday, we ventured down the famous Hole In The Rock Road to Devil’s Garden, where we explored the arch formations and hoodoos there. We then made the three mile hike up to Lower Calf Creek Falls, which is consistently named one of the best waterfalls in the southwest and even all of the US. It is easy to see why once you reach this beautiful oasis.

Lower-Calf-Creek-Falls-Escalante
Lower Calf Creek Falls

Sunday we made a change of pace, heading up into elevation to hike along part of the Great Western Trail and take in the serene views of cold mountain lakes. We hiked the entire day without encountering anyone else on the trail in this remote destination about an hour’s drive from Escalante. There is nothing quite like the peace that you experience when sitting in solitude next to a calm, reflective lake in the mountains.

Calf Creek Falls Trail in Escalante Utah

On Memorial Day, we decided to make a stop at Bryce Canyon National Park on our way back from the Grand Staircase in Escalante Utah. We weren’t sure how crowded the park would be on a national holiday, but the threat of rain may have deterred many because the crowds weren’t bad at all. The views of Bryce Canyon are absolutely gorgeous, and well worth a visit any time that you are in the Escalante area.

Bryce Canyon National Park  near Inspiration Point
Bryce Canyon National Park
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Do You Go By Mike or Michael?

Whenever I meet someone new, one of the first questions I often get asked is if I prefer to go by Mike or Michael. And to be honest, I do not have a preference either way. I have, however, started to change everything in my professional or online presence to “Mike Nay” in order to stay consistent. You might look at this url and think that I must prefer “Mike”, but really that just boils down to the fact that the “michaelnay” url was already taken by an Australian painter.

So when people ask, I let them decide which one they would like to call me. I am perfectly happy either way. However, most of my friends have been calling me “Mike Nay” for many years now. And most of the time they don’t just say “Mike”, almost as if it is a rule that my last name must accompany the first. I suppose it is one of those names that just fits well together as a single two-syllable name. (I remember this especially happening during the popularity of rapper Mike Jones in the mid-2000s.) It then becomes a matter of trickle-down identifying. While some may start out by calling me “Michael”, most will eventually switch to saying “Mike” because it is what they hear everyone else calling me.

At this point, the people that have always called me “Michael” are my mom, my sister, and my boss. So call me what you’d like, but to most people it is “Mike Nay”.

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Exploring the Tintic Standard Reduction Mill

Tintic Standard Reduction Mill in Goshen Utah
View from the bottom of the Tintic Standard Reduction Mill

Yesterday afternoon I decided to drive out to the remains of the Tintic Standard Reduction Mill near Goshen, Utah. Visiting the mill was one of the tasks to complete during the Cotopaxi Questival that my team didn’t get to, but I was intrigued and wanted to check it out.

About an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, the remaining structure of the mill is located a few miles east of Goshen on US-6 West. Originally built and opened for operation in 1920, the mill was only operational for 5 years before shutting down and being left to serve as a canvas for graffiti artists nearly 100 years later.

Goshen Standard Reduction Mill in Utah County
Colorful graffiti awaits you as you approach the remaining foundation

Built at a cost of over half of a million dollars in the 20s, it was a large project that provided a short boom for Goshen, with 25-men shifts keeping the mill operating around the clock. You can see the original layout and plans for the mill here. (Thanks to Scott at seekraz for that useful info)

When we got to the two-car parking lot that is just down a short path to the mill, we were warned to “be safe” by a man that was just leaving. We would later find out what he meant when we encountered the rocky ascent to the mill, the many precarious areas, and a guy walking around and shooting a shotgun.

Abandoned Standard Reduction Mill in Goshen Utah
I didn’t realize how big this place was going to be before I got here

As you can see, there is some really great graffiti all over the remaining foundation of the mill, and it is worth it to just walk around and take in all the art. The position up on the hillside also offers great views looking down over the warm springs and surrounding landscape. For those that are curious, here is what the mill used to look like a century ago.

Goshen Utah Tintic Standard Reduction Mill
Just be careful that you don’t fall into one of the vats – it could be difficult to get back out

Whether you are a graffiti artist, photographer, or just enjoy exploring historical abandoned sites, the Tintic Standard Reduction Mill is well worth a visit.

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10 Things To Do In Salt Lake City, Utah

10 Things To Do In Salt Lake City

It is crazy to realize that I have been living in Salt Lake City for nearly an entire year now. To recognize this anniversary, I have compiled a list of 10 of my favorite things to do in Salt Lake City:

1.) Get up close and personal with some Buffalo. Antelope Island is a beautiful getaway filled with wildlife such as buffalo and antelope, plus it offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the valley.

2.) Take a walk through the Temple grounds and enjoy the thousands of beautiful flowers. The grounds crew goes all out to make the Temple Square one of the most beautiful spots in the city.

Flowers at White Pine Lake SLC
The hike to White Pine Lake near Salt Lake City is well worth it.

3.) Go on a hike. There are many great hikes within minutes of Salt Lake City that lead to beautiful mountain lakes, such as Red Pine and White Pine Lakes, Cecret Lake, and Lake Blanche are some of the best and offer spectacular views. Another option is to hike to one of the many waterfalls in the area such as Waterfall Canyon in Ogden, Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Stewart Falls in Provo Canyon.

4.) Go to an RSL match. Real Salt Lake is the local professional sports team with the most devoted game. No offense to the Jazz and their fans, but RSL jerseys outnumber Jazz jerseys 10 to 1 in Salt Lake City.

5.) Visit one of the many gardens in Salt Lake City. There are many gardens to enjoy such as the International Peace Gardens, Red Butte Garden, and Gilgal Sculpture Garden.

Things to do in Salt Lake City: Drive in a canyon
The Nebo Loop Scenic Byway is perfect for an afternoon drive

6.) Take a drive in a canyon. There are many amazing drives that take winding routes through the canyons and provide fantastic views, especially in the fall when the leaves are shades of red, purple, and gold. Some of my favorite are East Canyon, the Alpine Loop, and the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway.

7.) Play dodgeball with a bunch of other fun-loving adults. On Monday’s during the summer, a group of dodgeball enthusiasts meet on the tennis courts of East High School for a few hours of playground pickup style dodgeball games. With players ranging in age from 21-75, the games are friendly and “not too competitive”, and newcomers are always welcome.

8.) Take a day trip to one of the nearby National Parks in Utah. Within five hours drive of Salt Lake City you can be exploring Arches National Park, wondering at the vast spaces and mazes of Canyonlands National Park, or hiking up to Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park. If a day is too short, turn it into a weekend!

9.) Attend a Utah Gymnastics meet. This may seem a strange addition to this list, but University of Utah gymnastics meets are not your ordinary sporting events. For years, the gymnastics team has drawn crowds bigger than even the men’s basketball team in the same venue. They have the highest attendance of any women’s college sports team in the nation – by far. Attend a meet and you will see why.

10.) Go skiing at one of the many Salt Lake ski resorts. The skiing here is fantastic with some of the greatest ski slopes in the country and the world. There is good reason that the 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City.

 

I look forward to doing these things and many more in the next year to come and can’t wait to add to this list of things to do in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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