Friday, September 15, 2006
This semester I am taking a Mormon Culture course at seminary as an elective toward my graduate degree in intercultural studies. One of the course requirements is that students research an aspect of Mormon culture in order to write an ethnography, an insider's cultural perspective on a facet of a given culture. When I first began thinking about the focus for my ethnography I considered doing follow up research on my previous work looking at aspects of symbolism and pilgrimage related to Latter-day Saints at the Mormon Miracle Pageant at Manti, Utah. (As a side note, Dr. Kent Bean at Snow College reviewed a copy of my paper on this topic for my Cross-Cultural Hermeneutics course last semester and plans on quoting it in an upcoming presentation on Manti for the American Folklore Association.) But after further thought I decided to pursue another avenue.
In a previous post I mentioned Morwics, a term coined by individuals in Utah who are both active Latter-day Saints and Pagans who combine these differing religious/spiritual pathways do to a common thread of esotericism and folk magic. I recently received approval from my instructor to write my ethnography on Morwics, Mormo-Pagans or Eclectic Mormons in alternative terminology. I have been part of several Yahoo discussion groups on Paganism since my relocation from California, and have made several contacts with Mormo-Pagans who have expressed an interest in completing an ethnographic survey, and perhaps a follow up interview. This Saturday is Pagan Pride Day in Salt Lake City, and I will be going to meet some of the contacts and to begin to develop relationships with them and other Pagans in Utah. I have also found a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University who is researching a related topic in the form of LDS women who supplement and sometimes replace Mormon beliefs with those of Neo-Paganism. D. Michael Quinn, who has done extensive work on early Mormonism and folk magick, was helpful in providing research contacts for this. I am looking forward to combining research interests in both Mormonism and Neo-Paganism, and to contributing to our awareness of this interesting religious subculture.