Mary Lou Uttermohlen

"So Mote It Be"
Location: New Orleans, LA
Nationality: American
Biography: I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the boondocks of West Virginia. Being a country girl I developed a deep fascination for new people and what they are driven to create consciously or subconsciously. My photography feels... MORE
Public Story
"So Mote It Be"
Copyright Mary Lou Uttermohlen 2023
Date of Work Dec 2013 - Ongoing
Updated Apr 2018
Topics Pagan

Southern Pagans "So mote it be"

Some preach that New Orleans is a portal where the veil between the realms is easier to cross. Tourists, evangelicals, energy workers, psychics, healers and ghost hunters arrive like pilgrims in anticipation of a supernatural adventure.

These photographs are a small segment of a project entitled "Spiritual YaYa." This documentary is about pulling back the veil shrouding the spiritual mysteries of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. This specific edit focuses on the local Pagan communities.

Pagan can be a rather broad eclectic term as it can encompass a wide variety of groups including witches. Pagans can have more than one deity and tend to be nature-oriented. The word has also been a derogatory term to describe those who are not Christian or follow beliefs outside those of mainstream religions.

People who choose to become Pagan are often brought up in a traditional religion, personally study about their interest in God, are very spiritual people and have a deep affinity for nature. There is a strange irony that the Christians globally have absorbed the Pagan rituals and customs into their practices and then judge the actual Pagans as being ungodly. When nations were invaded back in history the area invaded would be forced to adapt to the new culture of the conqueror  who were often Christian. Only people have a habit of liking what they know and resisting change. What happens isn't complete transformation as anticipated, more like morphing of the old and the new.

For example, the use of a Christmas tree is part of a Pagan Yule tradition. In fact, in Louisiana there some Catholics that stick to old word traditions and still dance the Maypole and burn bonfires to celebrate the Winter solstice. Over hundreds of years Christians have lost track of where these customs originated but to the devote Pagans there is no question as to the origin.

As New Orleans approaches her Tri-centennial in 2018, it is important to challenge her reputation with tourists as a city of partying and drunken debauchery. One goal of this work is to remind people that Mardi Gras and the local culture has deep spiritual roots. This is sacred ground christen by the souls of the ancestors who's devotion and sacrifice created the spiritual communities that continue to thrive here today. It is the strength of these deep rooted communities that make up the spirit of New Orleans today.

Spiritual YAYA is about religious freedom and people practicing their beliefs with heartfelt devotion. Most importantly, it is a record of New Orleans as a sacred place full of people that love the soul of the city and the freedoms allowed here. This documentary demonstrates the strengths of our communities, the depth of our culture, and the joy of literally dancing to the beat of own drums.
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