A modern spiritual organization blending ancient Egyptian practices with contemporary mummification.

Summum, founded in 1975 by Claude “Corky” Ra (formerly Claude Nowell), is a unique blend of religion and philosophy that emerged from Ra’s claimed encounters with extraterrestrial beings known as “Summa Individuals.” These beings purportedly imparted to him profound insights into the nature of creation, forming the basis of Summum’s teachings. The organization is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, within a distinct pyramid structure that serves as a sanctuary and temple for its followers.

Origins and Beliefs

Summum’s philosophy is encapsulated in what it calls the “Seven Aphorisms,” which echo the Hermetic principles of ancient wisdom traditions, such as “As above, so below” and the concepts of psychokinesis, correspondence, vibration, opposition, rhythm, cause and effect, and gender. These principles suggest a universe governed by mental creation, dynamic balance, and an underlying order that binds the cosmos together.

The movement also practices what it terms “Modern Mummification,” a ritualistic service offered not only to humans but to pets as well, symbolizing a transition or transference of the essence to a greater plane of existence after death. Claude Ra himself was the first to undergo this process following his death in 2008, his body now resting within a mummiform casket inside the pyramid.

Legal and Social Engagement

Summum has been involved in notable legal battles, particularly concerning the display of its Seven Aphorisms in public spaces alongside or in place of the Ten Commandments. This contention led to the case of Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, which reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court ruled unanimously against Summum, establishing that a government’s acceptance of a permanent monument in a public park does not constitute a public forum requiring viewpoint neutrality. This ruling underscored the distinction between government speech and private speech within public spaces.

The Summum Pyramid

The Summum Pyramid, located in Salt Lake City, is not only an architectural marvel but also a spiritual hub for the organization. Built between 1977 and 1979, the pyramid aligns with true north and incorporates the Golden Ratio in its design, reflecting the organization’s adherence to principles of harmony and proportion rooted in ancient wisdom.

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