JACK PARSONS LABORATORY
Occultist Father of Rocketry “Written Out’ of NASA’s History
by Olivia Solon / 23 April 14
Jack Parsons was a founding member of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab, with some crediting him as being one of the ” fathers of rocketry” and others joking that JPL was actually Jack Parsons’ Laboratory, but you won’t find much about him on Nasa’s websites. Parsons’ legacy as an engineer and chemist has been somewhat overshadowed by his interest in the occult and, and has led to what some critics describe as a rewriting of the history books. “He’s lived in the footnotes since his death. He’s a forgotten figure,” says biographer George Pendle, author of Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parson (Jack’s full name). Pendle did an “archeological dig” into Parsons’ life after finding a mention of him in a science book. “The more I dug, the more bizarre and extreme the story seemed.” In short: Parsons played a critical role in the formation of rocket science and was instrumental in building the rockets that were eventually used in the Space Race. However, he also believed in magic, was involved in the early stages of Scientology and had an extremely colourful sex life. For that reason, Pendle speculates, Parsons’ was a figure who didn’t fit into the mould of the Industrial Complex. “Wernher von Braun — a former Nazi — was a much easier fit than Parsons,” says Pendle. “A lot of people would be shocked to find out that the space programme was founded by a man who held orgies in his Pasadena mansion.”
Early Chemistry Experiments
Parsons’ interest in chemistry stemmed from his teenage years when, inspired by space travel found in science fiction literature, he started amateur rocket experiments with a school friend called Edward Forman. He later studied chemistry and high school and took a holiday job at the Hercules Powder Company, where he got to handle a wide range of explosives. After school, Parsons was keen to access the rocketry facilities at Caltech but his academic ambitions had been plagued by financial difficulties. He and Forman ended up teaming with a PhD student called Frank Malina to apply for funding from the university to explore rocketry. They didn’t reveal their ambition to develop rockets for space exploration as this was, at the time considered to be a science fiction. At the university’s Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory, the trio collaborated on developing rockets in a creative and liberal environment as members of the GALCIT Rocket Research Group. The group — which increased in numbers over the next few years — set about developing a static rocket-motor before moving onto working rockets. The team became known as the “Suicide Squad” on campus because of how dangerous their experiments were, but eventually had success in building a static rocket that could burn for more than a minute.
In the late 1930s, Parsons started to develop an interest in esotericism, attending something called The Gnostic Mass at the Church of Thelema. Parsons came to believe in magic, a force that he felt could be explained through quantum physics, as espoused by Thelema’s founder Aleister Crowley. As Parsons’ interest in the occult developed, his colleague Malina approached the National Academy of Sciences for funding into “jet propulsion” as a means for developing more nimble aircraft. The team was granted $1,000 (£595 at today’s exchange) — the first government-funded rocketry research group in history. A quarter of the funding had to go towards repairing damage to Caltech buildings caused by the group’s experiments and the group was eventually forced to relocate to some iron sheds in the Arroyo Seco canyon, where they were closely watched by the FBI which was keen to make sure that no political extremists were accessing the explosives. It was here that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory would be founded. One of the group’s key innovations was developing Jet-Assisted Take Off (JATO) engines for the US Air Corps, with Parsons developing a restricted burning solid rocket fuel that was stable enough to be stored indefinitely. The engine technology and fuel were commercialised through a company called Aerojet, where Parsons became project engineer. Versions of this fuel was eventually used by Nasa in the Space Shuttle as well as in military ballistic missiles.
Hedonistic Pasadena Lodge
At the same time — 1941 — Parsons started to have a sexual relationship with his wife’s Helen’s 17-year-old sister Sara — something that was encouraged by his church. His wife started a relationship with one of the church’s most senior members, Talbot Smith. The four of them, along with other Thelemites ended up moving into a large house together in Pasadena. Drugs flowed freely, as did sexual partners. The lodge attracted negative attention, with the police and FBI receiving allegations that it played host to a cult involved in sexual orgies and black magic — although upon investigation, it was deemed not to represent a threat to national security. The US government heard that Nazi Germany was developing the V-2 rocket and so gave the GALCIT rocket research group — now without Parsons — a grant to develop rocket-based weapons and the group was renamed the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At around that time Parsons was expelled from Aerojet by new majority shareholders who disapproved of his “unorthodox and unsafe working methods”. Parsons and Forman moved onto found the Ad Astra Engineering Company. In 1945, science fiction writer — and later the founder of Scientology — L Ron Hubbard moved into the Pasadena lodge. Sara took an interest in Hubbard, which made Parsons jealous. He developed a deeper interest in witchcraft and the darker side of magic, becoming fascinated by poltergeists and ghostly apparitions. In a bid to find conjure up a new lover, he took part in extraordinary rituals where he would masturbate onto magical tablets to the sound of music. “After his girlfriend ran off with Hubbard, he decided to create his own girlfriend and summon an elemental,” explains Pendle.
Poetry for his ‘Elemental’
After one such ritual in 1946, Parsons decided that he had managed to conjure up his perfect woman. So when he came into contact with Marjorie Cameron, he was convinced she was the one. “He felt as though his elemental had arrived,” says Pendle. Cameron had no idea that she had been “invoked” in this way. She became his muse and was the subjet of a book of poetry Parsons wrote at the time. “When you think about scientists, you don’t think of them as necessariy being fun or having a creative side. But Parsons saw himself of being at the end of the line of a group of scientists stretching back to Newton, who saw himself as a natural philosopher,” explains Pendle. “Newton wrote about alchemy. Poetry used to be part of what the scientist was. He was a renaissance man with a whole swathe of interest.” When Parsons worked on his rocketry experiments in the desert he would recite a pagan poem to Pan. Pendle doesn’t see this as particularly strange, saying, “They were all young guys, it would have been like going into a huddle and shouting the name of your team.” Parsons’ financial fortune fell apart after he invested his life savings in co-founding a company with Hubbard and Sara — his ex-girlfriend and her current primary partner. Hubbard convinced Parsons he was going to buy yachts and resell them at a profit, but this never happened. Parsons lost the vast majority of his money in the scam, the company fell apart and eventually Hubbard and Sara went on to found Scientology together.
Shunned in the Cold War
Parsons remained a specialist in rocketry and was often called as an expert witness in police investigations involving explosives. “He was good with things that went boom — so au fait with rockets and explosives,” says Pendle. As the Cold War set in, any academics suspected of being communist sympathisers were frozen out. Parsons and many of his colleagues lost their security clearance, leaving him unemployed. He found himself earning money as a manual labourer, a hospital orderly and a car mechanic. Having been pushed out of science, Parsons became even more deeply entrenched in the occult. He ended up applying his skills to create pyrotechnics and explosives for the film industry. Just before a planned trip to Mexico in 1952, Parsons — who was 37 — received a large order of explosives for a movie. While preparing the order, there was an explosion involving mercury in which Parsons suffered fatal wounds — some of his friends suspected a state-sponsored conspiracy although it was ruled an accident.
To mark the centenary of Jack Parson’s birth in 1914, Fulgur Press is publishing a collection of Parsons’ poems — Songs for the Witch Woman — which he wrote about Marjorie Cameron. It provides an intimate glimpse into the final years of their relationship which was cut short by his untimely death. Cameron provides the illustrations. “In the poems, he’s writing to what he saw as a magical creature,” explains Pendle. “Parsons uses imagery that is pretty far out,” says Pendle, mentioning a “vision of a girl and goat dancing together in a satanic ritual”, where the girl is more fearsome than the goat she’s dancing with. “This is how he saw his relationship with Cameron. She was a girl he’d summoned but he was also terrified of her.” Many of the poems are “about a hidden world beyond the view of normal mortals”, Pendle says. “Parsons had his rocketry as well as his normal life. He discovered other worlds by imagining going in a rocket to the Moon. He wanted to explore this new frontier. He saw both space and magic as ways of exploring these new frontiers — one breaking free from Earth literally and metaphysically.” In the end it was Parsons poetry and other interests that ended his career in rocketry. “The government doesn’t really want any people with quirkiness,” says Pendle. “With all of the rumours about the Pasadena lodge, the magic and chanting poems at rockets, he couldn’t fit into a government job.”
In Pendle’s view, Parsons is the founding father of rocketry and should be recognised as such. This sentiment is echoed by a number of his colleagues, including Wernher von Braun and Malina, who felt as though his contributions to American space technology had been neglected. “If you are looking for a conspiracy it’s not his death, it’s why he’s been wiped from history. There is much more room for mavericks now than there was in the 1940s and 50s.” “He’s not really mentioned in a tour of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, there’s no mention of him as a founder,” continues Pendle. “He may be referenced briefly in the footnotes, but it’s the occult side of his life that keeps his light burning, not the science.” Wired.co.uk contacted JPL and we asked whether Parsons had been written out of the history books. Historian Erik Conway said: “Jack Parsons is included in history books and other venues, and in fact, his role is discussed in the JPL-involved standard history, JPL and the American Space Program by Clayton R. Koppes. Parsons was one of the original founders of JPL. He was the team’s chemist and developed the first castable solid propellant used to power aircraft.”
FREEDOM is a TWO-EDGED SWORD
by Fra. Belarion, O.T.O. (Jack Parsons) / The Seventh Ray 1976 – C.R. Runyon, Editor
[Editor’s note: Parsons died in a laboratory accident in 1952.]
Since I first wrote this essay in 1946, some of the more ominous predictions have been fulfilled. Public employees have been subjected to the indignity of “loyalty” oaths and the ignominy of loyalty purges. Members of the United States Senate, moving under the cloak of immunity and the excuse of emergency, have made a joke of justice and a mockery of privacy. Constitutional immunity and legal procedure have been consistently violated and that which once would have been an outrage in America is today refused even a review by the Supreme Court. The golden voice of social security, of socialized “this” and socialized “that”, with its attendant confiscatory taxation and intrusion on individual liberty, is everywhere raised and everywhere heeded. England has crept under the aegis of a regime synonymous with total regimentation. Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have fallen victims to communism while the United States makes deals with the corrupt dictatorships of Argentina and Spain.
As I write, the United States Senate is pursuing a burlesque investigation into the sphere of private sexual morals, which will accomplish nothing except to bring pain and sorrow to many innocent persons. The inertia and acquiescence which allows the suspension of our liberties would once have been unthinkable. The present ignorance and indifference is appalling. The little that is worthwhile in our civilization and culture is made possible by the few who are capable of creative thinking and independent action, grudgingly assisted by the rest. When the majority of men surrender their freedom, barbarism is near but when the creative minority surrender it, the Dark Age has arrived. Even the word liberalism has now become a front for a new social form of Christian morality. Science, that was going to save the world back in H.G. Wells’ time, is regimented, strait-jacketed and scared; its universal language is diminished to one word, security.
In this 1950 view some of my more hopeful utterances may appear almost naive. However, I was never so naive as to believe that freedom in any full sense of the word is possible for more than a few. But I have believed and do still hold that these few, by self-sacrifice, wisdom, courage and continuous effort, can achieve and maintain a free world. The labor is heroic but it can be done by example and by education. Such was the faith that built America, a faith that America has surrendered. I call upon America to renew this faith before she perishes. We are one nation but we are also one world. The soul of the slums looks out of the eyes of Wall Street and the fate of a Chinese coolie determines the destiny of America. We cannot suppress our brother’s liberty without suppressing our own and we cannot murder our brothers without murdering ourselves. We stand together as men for human freedom and human dignity or we will fall together, as animals, back into the jungle. In this very late hour it is with solutions that we must be primarily concerned. We seem to be living in a nation that simply does not know what we are told we have and that we tell each other we have. Indeed, it is far more than that. It is to the definition of freedom, to its understanding, in order that it may be attained and defended, that this essay is devoted. I need not add that freedom is dangerous — but it is hardly possible that we are all cowards.
For numberless centuries society accepted the proposition that certain men were created to be slaves. Their natural function was to serve priests, kings and nobles, men of substance and property who were appointed slave-masters by almighty God. This system was reinforced by the established doctrine that all men and women were owned ‘in mind’ by the church and ‘in body’ by the state. This convenient situation was supported by the authority of social morality, religion and even philosophy. Against this doctrine, some two hundred years ago, rose the most astonishing heresy the world has yet seen; the principle of liberalism. In essence this principle stated that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights which belong to every man as his birthright.
This idea appealed to certain intractable spirits — heretics, atheists and revolutionaries — and has since made some headway in spite of the opposition of the majority of organized society. As a slogan, however, it has become so popular that it is rendered unwilling lip-service by all the major states and yet it is still so distasteful to persons in authority that it is nowhere embodied as a fundamental law and is continually violated in letter and in spirit by every trick of bigotry and reaction. Further, absolutist and totalitarian groups of the most vicious nature use liberalism as a cloak under which they move to re-establish tyrannies and to extinguish the liberty of all who oppose them. Thus religious groups seek to abrogate freedom of art, speech and the press; reactionaries move to suppress labor, communists to establish dictatorships — and all in the name of ‘freedom’. Because of the peculiar definitions of freedom used by some of these camouflaged tyrants, it seems necessary to redefine Freedom in the terms understood by Voltaire, Paine, Washington, Jefferson and Emerson.
Freedom is a two-edged sword of which one edge is liberty and the other, responsibility. Both edges are exceedingly sharp and the weapon is not suited to casual, cowardly or treacherous hands. Since all tyrannies are based on dogma and since all dogmas are based on lies, it behooves us to look beyond them for truth and freedom will both be far away. And yet the Truth is that we know nothing…
…Objectively, we know nothing at all. Any system of intellectual thought, whether it be science, logic, religion or philosophy, is based on certain fundamental ideas or axioms which are assumed but which cannot be proven. This is the grave of all positivism. We assume but we do not know that there is a real and objective world outside our own mind. Ultimately we do not know what we are or what the world is. Further, if there is a real world apart from ourselves we cannot know what it really is; all we know is what we perceive it to be. All that we perceive is conveyed by our senses and interpreted by our brain. However fine, exact or delicate our scientific instruments may be, their data is still filtered through our senses and interpreted by our brain. However useful, spectacular or necessary our ideas and experiments may be, they still have little to do with absolute truth. Such a thing can only exist for the individual according to his whim or his inner perception of his own truth-in-being.
The witches and devils of the middle ages were real by our own standards; reputable and responsible persons believed in them. They were seen, their effects observed and they accounted for a large body of otherwise inexplicable phenomenon. Their existence was accepted without question by the majority of men, great and humble. From this majority there was not and still is not any appeal. Yet we do not believe in these things today. We believe in other things similarly explaining the same phenomenon. Tomorrow we will believe in still other things We believe but we do not know. All of our deductions, for example the theory of gravitation, are based on observed statistics, on tendencies observed to occur in a certain way. Even if our observations are correct, we still do not know why these things happen. Our theories are only assumptions, however reasonable they may seem. There is a type of truth that is based on experience: we know that we feel hot or hungry or in love. These feelings cannot be conveyed to anyone who has not experienced them. We can describe them in terms of similar feelings experienced by someone else, analyzing their cause-and-effect according to mutually acceptable theories but that someone else will never really know what your feeling is like.
The above may be negative considerations but within their limits we can deduce positive principles:
- Whatever the universe is, we are either all or part of it by virtue of our consciousness but we do not know which.
- No philosophy, scientific theory, religion or system of thought can be absolute and infallible. They are relative only. One man’s opinion is just as good as another’s.
- There is no absolute justification for emphasizing one individual theory or way of life over another.
- Every man has the right to his own opinion and his own way of life. There is no system of human thought which can successfully refute this thesis.
So much for positivism but other problems still remain. There is necessity, expediency and convenience. If these are illusions they are very popular and it is usual to consider them. We might say that politics is concerned with necessity and expediency whereas science is concerned with convenience. This is not intended to discredit science and reason in their proper spheres. Reason is one of our greatest gifts, the power that differentiates us from the animals, and science is our greatest tool, our best hope for building a genuine civilization. (It is curious that this modern truism appears, in this system of reasoning, as a concession.) In spite of its inestimable value, science is a tool and has nothing to do with ultimate truth. Herein is the danger of science. As a tool it is so valuable, so useful and so irresistible that we incline to regard it as the arbiter of the absolute, giving final and irrefutable pronouncement on all things. This is exactly the position that the pedant, the dogmatist and the dialectical materialist would have us take. Then, posing as a “scientist” or propounding “Scientific” doctrines, he can persuade us to accept his values and obey his orders. Today’s science must forever be free to overthrow its yesterdays, otherwise it will degenerate into ancestor worship.
It is necessary that we defend freedom unless we all wish to be slaves. It is expedient that we achieve brotherhood unless we desire destruction and it is convenient that we grant others the right to their own opinions and life-styles in order to maintain our own. The intelligent individual will not base his conduct on an arbitrary or absolute concept of right and wrong. It may be argued that all motives and all actions are selfish since they are intended to satisfy some requirement of the ego. Perhaps this is true of self-sacrifice, abnegation and the highest altruism. We engage in them in order to satisfy ourselves by attaining some object however intangible it may be.
The ego can be very broad. A man may include the whole world as a part of his ego and thus set out to redeem or save it for no other reason than the pleasure of personal accomplishment. Such a man, far from being unselfish, is extremely egotistical. The artist devoted to the production of pure beauty is so dedicated because of his need and his nature; at least such egotism is not petty. Motives of family-love and patriotism are rooted in bigotry. This does not necessarily detract from such actions and motives. Everything in nature is beautiful and it is no less beautiful because it is understood. However, the unenlightened man will assign arbitrary values to all things in order to protect and justify his own position. His morals are based on things he wishes were true or which someone else wishes were true. His philosophy pays no attention to relative facts or realities and yet in his life he must deal with them. He is consequently involved in a constant round of pretenses and evasions.
The enlightened liberal needs no such justification. He will realize and accept his inherent selfishness and the inherent selfishness of all men. He will understand living as a technique, the technique of getting what he wants on the terms he wants. Such is the case with freedom. If we abrogate another’s freedom to gain our own ends, our own freedom is thereby jeopardized. That is the cost. If we wish to assure our own freedom, we must assure all mens’ freedom. That is the technique. If a liberal were to develop two personalities and one of these personalities were to establish a benevolent dictatorship while the other continued his liberal activities it would only be a matter of time before he killed himself. The restriction of others freedom is ultimately self-enslavement and suicide. The dictator is the most abject of all slaves.
These simple considerations are the logical basis of the philosophy of liberalism. From such considerations and from many more the fundamental principles of liberalism arose as a code of rights, basic in nature and clear beyond misconception. This code must be the Law beyond the law, an ultimate expression of the dignity and inviolability of the individual. It must be above compromise by courts and lawyers, beyond the whim of the populace and the treachery of demagogues.
It must be the epitome of man’s aspersion toward liberty and self-determination, a canon so sacred that its violation by a state, a group or an individual is treason and sacrilege. The Bill of Rights in the American Constitution was a step in the right direction and its study will indicate further development. In a world so threatened by positivism and paternalism this doctrine is limited in both scope and application. It permits such violations of liberty as the late National Prohibition Act, the Draft Law, the closed shop, the Mann Act, censorship laws, anti-firearms laws and racial discrimination.
It has been said, with justification, that the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means. A document so fundamental as a Bill of Rights cannot be jeopardized by arbitrary interpretations. It should need no interpretations. It must apply equally to the national state, the federated states, counties, municipalities, official agencies and the private citizen within their province. It must apply in such a way that the individual or minority needs no recourse to elaborate, lengthy and costly proceedings in order to protect these rights. It is the duty of the state to provide this recourse to all alike.
Freedom cannot be subject to arbitrary interpretation and misinterpretation. It must plainly include freedom from persecution on moral, political, economic, racial, social or religious grounds. No man, no group and no nation has the right to any man’s individual freedom. No matter how pure the motive, how great the emergency, how high the principle, such action is tyranny and is never justified. The question is, are we able to face the consequences of democracy? It is not sufficient that freedom be assured by purely negative means. Freedom is meaningless where its expression is controlled by powerful groups such as the press, the radio, the motion picture industry, churches, politicians and capitalists. Freedom must be insured.
It can only be insured by the allegiance to the principle that man has certain inalienable rights; among which are the rights:
- To live his private life, insofar as it concerns only himself, as he sees fit.
- To eat and drink, to dress, live and travel as, where and he will.
- To express himself; to speak, write, print, experiment and otherwise create as he desires.
- To work as he chooses, when he chooses and where he chooses at a reasonable and commensurate wage.
- To purchase his food, shelter, deical and social needs and all other services and commodities necessary to his existence and self expression at a reasonable and commensurate price.
- To have a decent environment and upbringing during his childhood until he reaches a responsible majority.
- To love as he desires, where, how and with whom he chooses, in accordance only with the desires of himself and of his partner.
- To the positive opportunity to enjoy these rights as he sees fit, without obstruction on the one hand or compulsion on the other.
- Finally, in order to protect his person, his property and his rights, he should have the right to kill an aggressor if necessary. This is the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms.
These rights must be counterbalanced by certain responsibilities. The liberal accepting them must guarantee these rights to all others at all times, regardless of his personal feelings or interests. He must work to establish and protect them, live in a manner commensurate with them and be prepared to defend them with his life. He must refuse allegiance to any state or organization which denies these rights and he should aid and encourage all who, without qualification or equivocation, endorse them. He must refuse to compromise these principles on any issue or for any reason.
Nothing short of such a commitment will assure the survival of liberty, or democracy of society itself. Liberalism is not only a code for individuals and their state, it is the only possible basis for a future international civilization. However, these principles will be only rhetoric unless they are revered and protected by those to whom they apply. They must be interpreted and applied with understanding and sympathy, with humor and tolerance. Pretentiousness, sentimentality or hysterics are not needed in their application or their defense. Insufferable demagogues of “high principle” are sufficiently numerous as it is.
It must also be understood that we cannot force man’s rights upon him. Man has a right to be a slave if he so desires. If he does not assert and defend his rights he deserves slavery. The person who is tyrannized by his family, his peers, by public opinion or slave morality, providing he is free to leave their influence or to challenge it, is worthy of his condition. His protestations are those of the hypocrite.
Freedom, like charity, begins at home. No man is worthy to fight in the cause of freedom unless he has conquered his internal drives. He must learn to control and discipline the disastrous passions that would lead him to folly and ruin. He must conquer inordinate vanity and anger, self deception, fear and inhibition. These are the crude ores of his being. He must smelt these ores in the fire of life; forge his own sword, temper it and sharpen it against the hard abrasive of experience. Only then is he fit to bear arms in the larger battle. There is no substitute for courage and the victory is to the high hearted. He will have nothing to do with asceticism or the excesses of weakness. Self expression will be his watchword, a self expression tempered keen and strong. First he must know how to rule himself. Only then can he cope with the economic pressures which are employed by institutions and corporations or the political pressures employed by demagogues.
He may then find himself in a difficult predicament. If he calls himself a liberal, he discovers that he is supposedly committed to a policy of accommodation with the Russian Government. If he opposes a pro-Soviet policy he is welcome to the camp of the Catholic Church and the Manufacturer’s Association. If he eschews both camps, he is condemned for lack of principle. If he should support the rights of the workingman or minority and racial groups, he is a Red. If at the same time he believes in Constitutional Government and individual rights, he is also a Fascist.
Many liberals are familiar with this situation but few seem to have deduced the conclusion. The difficulty lies in the confusion of the rights of the individual in relation to the responsibilities of the state. It is a sad comment on our mentality that the social reformer subscribes to total regimentation while the alleged individualist propagandizes for total irresponsibility. The rights of the individual can be clearly defined. His responsibilities vis-a-vis the responsibilities of the state can be clearly defined. The individual’s rights end where the next man’s begin. It is the function of the state to ensure equal rights to all. But, in the absence of a social devotion to the true principles of liberalism, positivists have usurped its name and even its phrases in order to propagandize for their various totalitarianisms. This process has been aided by that faction of pseudo-liberalism which believes that all opinion contrary to its own must be suppressed.
As I write, allegedly liberal groups are agitating for the denial of public forums to those they call fascist. Americanism societies are striving for the suppression of communist or “red” literature and speech. Religious groups, backed by a publicity conscious press, are constantly campaigning for the prohibition of art and literature which, as if by divine prerogative, they term “indecent”, immoral or dangerous. It would seem that all these organizations are devoted to one common purpose, the suppression of freedom. Their sincerity is no excuse. History is a bloody testament that sincerity can achieve atrocities which cynicism could hardly conceive of. Each of these groups is engaged in a frantic struggle to sell out, betray or destroy the freedom which was their birthright and which alone assured their present existence.
Freedom is a two-edged sword. He who believes that the absolute rightness of his belief is an authority to suppress the rights and opinions of his fellows cannot be a liberal. Liberalism cannot exist where it violates its own principles. It cannot exist where the emergency monger or the utopia salesman can obtain a suspension of rights, whether temporary or permanent. Liberty cannot be suppressed in order to defend liberalism. If we are to achieve a democracy, the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of states must be openly defined and ardently defended. It is inconceivable that men who fought and died in a war against totalitarianism did not know what they fought for. It seems a fantastic joke that the institutions they believed in and defended have turned, like a nightmare, into home-grown tyrannies. A generation went down in blood and agony to make the world “safe” but the evil that makes the world “unsafe” still goes undefeated, plotting new sacrifices of misery and blood. The guilt lies not entirely with the warmongers, plutocrats and demagogues. If a people permit exploitation and regimentation in any name, they deserve their slavery. A tyrant does not make his tyranny. It is made possible by his people and not otherwise.
Much of our modern thought is characterized by pretenses and evasions, by appeals to ultimate authorities which are non- liberal, superstitious and reactionary. Often we are not aware of these thought processes. We accept ideas, authorities, catch- phrases and conditions without troubling to think or investigate and yet these things may conceal terrible traps. We accept them as right because they have a surface-level agreement with the things in which we believe. We welcome the man who is for liberalism, against communism, without troubling to inquire what else he is for or against. In our blindness we leave ourselves open to exploitation, regimentation and war. Tumultuous developments in science and society demand a new clarity of thought, a reexamination and a restatement of principles. It is not sufficient that a principle is sacred because it is time-worn. It must be examined, tried and tested in the crucible of our present needs. In our law, in our social and international relations, we are guilty of a myriad of barbarisms and superstitions. These injustices continue and proliferate because we have become used to them. We have lost our freedom through tolerance and inertia.
The principle we have developed herein is simple: the liberty of the individual is the foundation of civilization. No true civilization is possible without this liberty and no state, national or international, is stable in its absence. The proper relation between individual liberty on the one hand and social responsibility on the other is the balance which will assure a stable society. The only other road to social equilibrium demands the total annihilation of individuality. There is not further evasion of nature’s immemorial ultimatum: change or perish but the choice of change is ours.
Of all the strange and terrible powers among which we move unknowingly, sex is the most potent. Conceived in the orgasm of birth, we burst forth in agony and ecstasy from the Center of Creation. Time and again we return to that fountain, lose ourselves in the fires of being, unite for a moment with the eternal force and return renewed and refreshed as from a miraculous sacrament. Then, at the last, our life closes in the orgasm of death. Sex, typified as love, is at the heart of every mystery, at the center of every secret. It is this splendid and subtle serpent that wines about the cross and coils in the bloom of the mystic rose. The sexual perversion of Christianity becomes obvious when it is realized that “The Holy Ghost” (The Sophia) is feminine. The very Tetragrammaton, Yod He Vau He, means: Father-Mother-Son- Daughter and asserts the splendor of the biological order. How could life proceed from a strictly masculine creation? What miracle could possibly be superior to the miracle of copulation, conception and gestation? In the corrupt and demonic Jehovah, the priesthood blasphemed nature in order to perpetuate a tyrannical and superstitious patriarchy. Woman was insulted and affronted with the calumny of immaculate conception — then, by this mystery mongering, a premium was placed on moral and spiritual sterility. This sublimation of the sex-urge has been the basis of the power of the church and is the source of much of the psychosis rampant in the modern world.
It has been asserted that the church has been a champion of progress and freedom; nothing could be more fallacious. Organized Christianity has been inevitably allied with tyranny, reaction and persecution. No organized dogma can contribute to progress except by occasional accident. The church’s main contribution has been to unintentionally foment revolt against its bigotry. It could hardly be otherwise with an organization founded on a double fallacy: the sin of sex and the infallibility of man. No religion can hope to benefit humanity while it preaches love and reviles the root of love. Anyone hoping to understand and cope with human relations must understand both the importance and over-emphasis of sex in society. Sexual concepts and symbolism underlie all the world’s religions. As I mentioned above, sublimated sex has been the source of power for the Christian church. Sex and sex neurosis are fundamental factors in the attitude of modern men. These three facts give sex a place of prime importance in our liberal examination of society. Our sex attitudes are largely characterized by pretense. The majority of people under fifty today have, at one time or another, engaged in what is termed illicit intercourse — and yet we pretend, publicly, that we have not done so. Some of us go so far as to state that we don’t do it, never would do it and disapprove of the criminal types who do. Policemen arrest and judges convict persons discovered in a pursuit which they themselves indulge in. The enjoyment of a natural urge is defined as a crime. Young persons thus enjoying the urge in the wonder of the beginning are burdened with a sense of guilt and shame. They are classed with common criminals — why?
The shameful answer is that back in the Middle Ages, under conditions of squalor, ignorance, superstition and oppression, the sex taboo became a prime instrument of power in the arsenal of a band of brigands known as the Christian church. This is the reason that young people in love are classified as criminals. Venereal disease thrives and abortionists prosper as an inevitable result. The superstition which fostered this shameful condition is no longer absolutely dominant but the institution that promoted the belief that the human body was obscene, that love was indecent and that woman was forever made foul by original sin remains to mold our thoughts and shape our laws. It is most significant that the spiritual and physical inheritors of that church, both catholic and protestant, vigorously and effectively oppose birth control, venereal disease education, divorce law reform; i.e., anything which would limit the power of their weapon.
If the Christians enforced these taboos only among their believers they would be within their rights. Man has the right to any personal stupidity however monstrous it may seem but this is not their principal concern. They seek to impose this nonsense on everybody, by every method of legislative, moral and economic intimidation at their command. The success of their efforts can be judged by the reflection of such attitudes in the press, the radio, the motion picture industry and our legal statutes. True to fascist form, the censor utilizes his moral victory to impose political and social censorship in all fields. Bigots and demagogues invoke the divine right of religion and of morality in order to gain extraordinary power. Freedom of religion and of he press should not afford a justification for giant propaganda campaigns to suppress freedom! We must not only have freedom of religion, we must have freedom from religion.
The concept that sex in art, literature and life is subject to criminal law is based entirely on this superstitious sexual taboo. The censorial power of the church, the state and established press is founded solely on this one assumption: that the taboo of a particular religion should have universal legal sanction. This sanction, once established, is then subtly extended to imply that all the other dogmas of that religion are now the “unwritten law” of the land. Such a religion, always respectable and conservative, forms alliances with fascist and capitalist cliques, thus gaining a privileged position from which to persecute liberalism in all its forms. Superstition, taboo, reaction and fascism augment one another most effectively. The fact that one type of totalitarianism persecutes another — or appears to do so — is hardly a palliative.
Modern man must recognize the source and nature of his sexual taboos and discredit them in the light of truth. Only thus can he achieve sanity in sex and a healthy outlook on life in general. In our society early marriages are often prevented by economic considerations, therefore pre-marital sexual relations are natural and often desirable. Contraceptive techniques, available to any intelligent young person from a druggist or doctor, can minimize the problem of venereal disease and unwanted pregnancies. The development of sexual technique, the determination of the qualifications of one’s partner and the gratification of the youthful urge to experiment all assure a far more lasting and stable marriage than one begun in ignorance and prudery. In marriage itself the social contract is biding. Property acquired by the joint efforts of husband and wife belong to both jointly. Where any two persons have pledged their love together, no outsider has the right to interfere. Either party is justified in resisting such interference by force if necessary. But neither party, whether the relation be in or out of wedlock, has any right or jurisdiction over the love, affection or the sexual favors of another for longer than that person desires.
Where children are concerned a separation presents a serious problem. Broken homes are hard on children but a loveless and bitter home is worse. No state can assure a child the affection of his parents but it can guarantee his physical welfare and security, thus insuring him against many of the frustrations of childhood and adolescence which develop into unstable and maladjusted adult behavior. The laws against mutually agreeable sex expression must be repealed, together with the laws prohibiting nudism, birth control and censorship. We must emphatically deny that love is criminal and that the body is indecent. We must affirm the beauty, the dignity, and joyousness and even the humor of sex.
Indeed there are obscene things in the light and in the darkness; things that deserve destruction: — The exploitation of women for poor wages, the shameful degradation of minorities by the little lice who call themselves members of a ‘superior race’ and the deliberate machinations towards war. Nowhere among these genuine obscenities is there a place for the love shared by men and women. There are sins but love is not one of them and yet, of all the things that have been called sins, love has been the most punished and the most persecuted. Of all the beauties we know, the springtime of love is closest to paradise. And as all things pass, so love passes — too soon.
This most exquisite and tender of human emotions, this little moment of eternity, should be free and unrestrained. It should not be bought and sold, chained and restricted until lovers, caught in the maelstrom of economics and laws, are hounded like criminals. What end is served and who profits by such cruelty? Only priests and lawyers. Let us adhere to a strict morality where the rights and happiness of our fellow man is concerned. Let us call our true sins by their right names and expiate them accordingly — but let our lovers go free.
If we are to achieve civilization and sanity, we must institute an educational program in love-making, birth control and disease prevention. Above all we must root out the barbaric and vicious concepts of shamefulness and indecency in sex, exposing the motives and methods of their proponents. Happy are the parents who, as a result of sexual experimenting, are well mated, taking joy in each other’s passion, seeing beauty in their nakedness and not fearing to expose their bodies or the bodies of their children. They would never shame their children for their natural sexual curiosity.
Jesus told the “fallen woman”, “Go and sin no more” but I, who am a man, say to you who have given your body for the need of man’s body, who have given your love freely for his spirit’s sake:
“Be blessed in the name of man. And if any god deny you for this, I will deny that god.”
The ancients, being simple and without original sin, saw God in the act of love and therein they saw a great mystery, a sacrament revealing the bounty and the beauty of the force that made men and the stars. Thus they worshipped. Poor ignorant old Pagans! How we have progressed. What was most sacred to them, we see as a dirty joke. From this sordid joke we have played on ourselves only Woman Herself can redeem us. She has been the ignominious butt of the joke, the target of malice and arrogance and the scapegoat for masculine inferiority and guilt. She alone can redeem us from our crucifixion and castration.
Only woman, of and by herself, can strike through the foolish frustration of the advertisers’ ideal. She must elevate her strong, free and splendid image to take her place in the sun as an individual, a companion and mate fit for, and demanding no less than, true men. Let there be an end to inhibition and an end to pretense. Let us discover what we are and be what we are, honestly and unashamedly. The rabbit has speed to recompense his fear, the panther strength to assuage his hunger. There is room for both even though the rabbit would probably prefer a world of rabbits (dull and overpopulated). All traits are useful wrath, fear, lust and even laziness — if they are balanced by strength and intelligence. If we lie about things we call our weaknesses and sins, if we say that his is “evil” and that is “wrong”, denying that such faults could be part of us, they will grow crooked in the dark. But when we have them out in the open; admitting them, facing them and accepting them, then we will be ashamed to leave any vestige of them secret to turn crippled and twisted. Fear can sharpen our wits against adversity. Anger and strength can be welded into a sword against tyrants both within and without. Lust can be trained to be the strong and subtle servant of love and art.
It is not necessary to deny anything. It is only necessary to know ourselves. Then we will naturally seek that which is needful to our being. Our significance does not lie in the extent to which we resemble others or in the extent to which we differ from them. It lies within our ability to be ourselves. This may well be the entire object of life; to discover ourselves, our meaning. This does not come in a sudden burst of illumination; it is a constant process which continues so long as we are truly alive. The process cannot continue unobstructed unless we are free to undergo all experience and willing to participate in all existence. Then the significant questions are not “is it right” or “is it good” but rather “how does it feel” and “what does it mean”. Ultimately these are the only questions that can approach truth but they cannot be asked in the absence of freedom.
There was a time when these questions were whispered in the shadow of the stake. That Christian instrument of conversion is not sanctioned at present but the will and the malice remain and will continue until the power of the superstition-mongering tyrants is finally broken. Meanwhile religious dogmatism continues to support the sexual jealousies of neurotic parents for their children and neurotic marriage partners for their mates. It is not because of economic desperation and greed that crime and war wash over the world in ever-mounting waves. It is only necessary to look back on the Middle Ages when St. Vitus’ Dance, epidemic flagellation and the Witchcraft Persecutions, all spawned out of Christian guilt and shame, swept the Western World. It was the tone set by these fearful events, reinforcing the divine right of reactionary monarchs, that produced the liberal revolutions of the 18th century. But the root, the sexual taboo, was unfortunately not destroyed. It remained to revitalize the power of religion over the new bourgeoisie. The frenetic hatred of Jews and Negroes (symbols of illicit sexual freedom) and the lust toward the blood-and-fire baths of warfare are the very aberrations of sexual frustration. They are the nightmares of souls in a hell of guilty desire, laboring like madmen over their instruments of destruction in order to destroy the world which has denied them satisfaction. It is only in the unobstructed exercise of sexual function, by a generation trained from youth in contraception and the technique of love, that it will be possible to achieve mature social relations.
In this childish folly of sexual possession each man and each woman hates and fears every other man and woman as the potential despoiler or some joke by the ever-present specters of jealousy and suspicion. It is possible that the application of two old axioms; “that you love one another” and “that you do unto others as you would have others do unto you” might go a long way in helping us solve our sexual problems. The application of these maxims in sexual relations is easy and pleasant. If firmly established the principles might spread to other areas of human intercourse. The sexual revolution will not produce any instantaneous paradise nor will it be accomplished without tears. The way to racial maturity is long and painful but it is at least possible to attain the maturity and richness that comes with full and satisfactory sexual expression in private life. It may be that other considerations become more important in one’s later years but I would hesitate to say at what age to set the mark. It does not seem possible to grow old gracefully unless one has known something of a graceful youth.
There is no evidence to show that man was created and accoutered to serve as God’s vice-regent upon the earth. There is no reason to believe that he is naturally good and kind, brave and wise — or that he ever was. On the contrary, there is much to show that he was a beast who took a strange turning in the jungle and blundered rather aimlessly into a mental world in which he was certainly not at home. There is much evidence that man is by nature cruel, cowardly, lustful, avaricious and treacherous. He holds dominion over these terrible internal enemies and defends against the other predators (his fellow men) by virtue of his ferocity, his cunning and his indomitable will. This is his beauty and his significance: that out of the blind primordial forces of sex and the survival urge, he has forged reason and science and spun the splendorous web of art and love. If there is no other reason and no other significance, man himself has on occasion created reason and significance, standing as the maker of his gods in a garden made fruitful by his own creative power.
We think in terms of ourselves relative to the external universe. It cannot be shown, however, that this external universe is other than an extension of our own perception. But if we differentiate the internal from the external, we are still part of and not separate from the entire process of nature. We are made from the nova by way of the sun and built from the air, the rock and the sea, animated by the primordial fire of life. There are filaments in our consciousness that reach back to the first ancestor and extend to all other men and all other life with which we share a common creation and a common destiny. Here is the totality that the Greeks called “Pan”; all-devourer, all-begetter — life and death, good and evil, pain and pleasure, unity, duality and multiplicity; all things and beyond all things. The Soul of Night and the Stars. If in our folly and fear we will ascribe moral qualities to the lightning that strikes, to the star that shines, to the tiger that kills, then we will not hesitate to assign them also to the woman who gives and the man who takes. Thus we will define god and found a religion. And thus we degrade the living universe into a bewhiskered and irascible character endowed with immortal omnipotence and a hatred for our enemies, or with those nature lovers who catch cold communing with “The All” in the park at night, we sink into the platitudinous sitz baths of various ‘religious science’ systems on our way to the catalepsy of middle age.
All nature partakes of the eternal sacraments of life and death, of ebb and flow, of creation and destruction and regeneration. These are the harmonies of eternity that change forever and never change. The cry of the baby is echoed in the tumult of the nova. Men suns and seasons pass and return again. The spate of semen is one with the jet of stars men call The Milky Way. The mind that comprehends these immortal processes in love and in worship is an immortal mind that soars beyond time and death. We are of one age with Aeschylus and Sophocles and Shakespeare, of one blood with Moses, Lao Tse and Newton. The body changes and decays while time cuckolds all shapes of desire and all transient things. But the shapes of desire, although transient, are the very vehicles of man’s adventure. He cannot attain by denying these steeds but by strengthening them — by training and bridling them with love and creative will until their wings are revealed. Sex and hunger are the raw stuff of art. Out of his passion, fury and despair the artist transmutes the shapes of terror and wonder into an eternal beauty. All ways are the right way when will and love are the guides. The grace and bounty of life are free to all, saint and sinner alike, who desire them. The voice of the wind, the poignancy of music, the shout of thunder all cry out to man, daring him to know himself. Sunlight, sea and stars and the splendour of a naked woman are the signs and witnesses of a covenant that is forever. We know these things; we know them with the only certainty that is ever given us. This is the beautiful-pitiable knowledge of childhood and first youth — that the world denies and necessity circumvents. This is the knowledge of the poets, artists and singes who are beloved and outcast by men and of the mystics whom the world calls mad.
And man, self-castrated and self-frustrated, flees down the corridors of nightmare, pursued by monstrous machines, overwhelmed by satanic powers, haunted by vague guilts and terrors — all created out of his own imagination. He escapes into absurdity, drowns his spirit in pretense, worships brass gods of power and tin gods of success. Then, shamed by his pretenses and frustrated by his self-denial, he projects his horror on imagined enemies, seeks release in scapegoats and false issues, thereby propitiating those bestial gods who have arisen from the shattered edolons of his spirit with sacrifices of blood.
Nothing is of its nature, evil – and nothing is of its nature, good. Evil is only excess; good is simply balance. All things are subject to abuse and likewise susceptible to beneficial use. Balance does not consist in denial or excess in indulgence. Balance can only be obtained by exceeding. The elemental forces in man’s nature are so tremendous that they can only be balanced by an ultimate self-expression. To place limitations and restrictions on this nature is to build a wall of plaster around a sun. If we clip an eagles’ wings or feed carrots to a lion we will not uplift or improve either species.
The fundamental purpose of religion is to attain an identity with a power which we believe to be greater than ourselves, whose omnipotence and immortality we can share. Having achieved some sense of this identity, we then feel that we can cope with problems and attain ends with more confidence. The reliance on religion as well as the reliance on property can indicate a lack of self-reliance. We ourselves create this ‘God of Power’. It is from our own individual ‘self’ that his power is drawn and this self is greater than any god which it creates. Therefore to know ourselves is the highest form of wisdom and to believe in ourselves is the highest form of faith. Science which seeks to know and art which seeks to interpret are two forms of love which constitute the only availing way of worship. That these two greatest expressions of the human spirit should be subservient to religion, politics, nationalism and war is the ultimate blasphemy.
We are now in the midst of a tremendous battle of forces contending for domination over the mind and spirit of man. It is not, unfortunately, a battle between good and evil, between freedom and tyranny but rather a struggle of dogma against dogma and authority vs. authority. The contenders are fascism and communism. Each is a doctrine alien and hostile to the ideal of freedom. Each says that we must choose between one or the other and each is, in reality, identical. Each demands the absolute enslavement of the individual, the abnegation of the intellect and the subjugation of the will. The authoritarian is right, absolutely right, so right that every extreme of falsehood, suppression and tyranny is justified in the accomplishment of his ‘divine’ ends. Behind his benevolent paternalism lurks the star chamber and the concentration camp; behind his morality looms the stake and the inquisition of the “Old Time Religion” so many profess to long for. All these systems are old; older than human history. Freedom and democracy are the only new things under the sun and they offend alike the slaves and the slave masters.
“Come unto me,” goes the old harlot’s song. “Come unto me you weary and heavily laden. Surrender your intolerable burden of freedom and I will fill your mouths with miracles and your bellies will be full of food. Come with me and I will confound your enemies and show you paradise. Look, you do not even have to change a name, only keep the letter and deny the spirit, for the letter giveth life.”
She is harvesting the nations now, that old whore, for an appointment in the place called Armageddon. There will be a hunting of free men in the name of freedom and there will be prisons and pogroms in the name of democracy, murder and slavery in the name of brotherhood, and all for the sake of dominion over the minds and bodies of men.
There is a choice: the choice of freedom which has no other name and no other cause. Man, freed of his demons, without the need of a dogma or the use of a creed, can, of and by himself, avail, triumph and achieve significance. This is the faith of a liberal; belief in himself and belief in man. There is no other way to the full status of manhood. It is the long way, the hard way; through trial, error, failure and heartbreak — but it is the way guided by science and inspired by art; leading at long last to the stars. This is our choice: we may believe in ourselves, believe in our fellow men and in freedom and in brotherhood. We may start to achieve here and now that paradise which has so long been relegated to the hereafter. Or, with the dogmatists, the positivists, the authoritarians we can return again to the ape-hood from which we have so late arisen.
If we wish identity with a greater power, let us seek union with ourselves — our total self, raised to its highest potential of wisdom, knowledge and experience. If we wish to unite with the universe, let us court the whole of nature, all experience, all truth and the splendour of the awesome cosmos itself. For ‘out there’ lies the great campaign that comes first and last; the ultimate adventure of the individual into himself. He must go down like Moses into his unknown self, out into the new dimension, out with Orpheus and the barque of Arthur, with Tammuz and Adonis, with Mithra and Jesus, into the labyrinths of the Dark Land. There he will meet The Mother and hear Her final question: “What is man?” Thereafter, close by the heart of the cryptic Mother, he may find the Graal; ultimate consciousness, total remembrance, instinct made certain, reason made real. For it is he, wonderful monster, embryo god who has swum in the fish, shed the skin of the crocodile, peered from the eyes of serpents, swung with the apes and shaken the earth with tramp of the tyrannosaur’s hoof. It is he who has cried out on all crosses, ruled on all thrones, grubbed in all gutters. It is he whose face is reflected and distorted in all heavens and hells — he, the Child of the Stars, the son of the ocean; this creature of dust, this wonder and terror called MAN.
Chapter Four : The Woman Girt with the Sword
It is to you woman, beautiful redeemer of the race, whom I address this chapter. That which stirs in you now is not madness, not sin, not folly — but Life! This new life is the joy and the fire that will beget a new race; create a new heaven and new earth. When you were a child, did not the wind and the sun speak to you? Did you not hear the mountain’s voice; the voice of the river and of the storm? Have you not heard the whisper of the stars and the ineffable voice in silence? Have you not gone naked in the forest with the wind on your body and felt the caress of Pan? Your heart has swollen with Spring, blossomed with Summer and saddened with Winter. These things are the covenant and in them is the truth that is forever. You have sought companions as high-hearted as yourself and found them not save in the elusive memories of dream and song. For you found a blight over the world; a blight of silence and sorrow. Your companions walked in guilt and shame, in fear, in hate, in sin and in the sorrow of sin. There was only nervous laughter and furtive pleasure; unsatisfying and shameful — But be no longer sad, my beloved. Be joyous and unafraid for within you is the song that shall shatter the silence, the flame that will burn away the dross.
It is you who are the redeemer from sing and sorrow, from guilt and shame. WOMAN; oh splendour incarnate! How long have you served in chains, a slave to the lust and guilt of pigs? How long have you writhed under the degradation of your Holy Name, “Whore”, or suffered silently under the degradation called, “virtue”? How well you have known the stake, the rack, the whip, the chains of imprisonment and even entombment in the service of your master. And was the bond fear, was it weakness, was it cowardice and inferiority? Oh shame of man, it was none of these; it was love. A man was once crucified in a redemption that failed, yet if ten times ten million men were crucified, this infamy could not be redeemed. Husband, father, priest, jailer, judge, executioner, exploiter, seducer, destroyer — so has your lover mastered and defiled you. Yet pity him for he sought love… But finally there is an end and then the beginning and all the future will be with you. For you are the mother of a new race, the redeemer and lover of the new men; the men who shall be free.
I shall speak to you of men. Men desire three things of a woman: a mother greater than themselves, a wife less than themselves and a lover equal with themselves. Against the mother they are in revolt, the wife they hold in contempt and the lover ever eludes them. Consider the husband; how he throws his clothes about, eschews dirty dishes and housework and asserts himself in a loud voice. Consider the homosexual; how he hates woman and flees himself, fearing that he will slay her. Consider the great lover; how he grasps for love and his hands close on nothingness. These are bewildered, frightened children playing games against the dark. And those who wear brass and swords, who strut and slay, are they not the most frightened of all? Therefore pity them and forgive them.
In the ancient world there were men for a season, before cities arose and they turned to gilded popinjays, gracefully accepting futility. Then came Christianity,an anodyne for slaves, an enteric for barbarians whose deeds gave them indigestion — and ultimately, a whip for slave masters. Faust was the prototype of the Middle Ages, but not the Faustus of whom Kit Marlowe tells. It was a darker Faust; Gilles de Rais, who betrays the Maid in his lust for power, then, after his fall and the failure of his prayers, he descends to horror in his cellars. This theme lasted an age until man, appalled by his nightmares, turned finally to a dream of liberty. It is the voice of Voltaire, jaded, cynical, weary of folly, that sounds the opening bar of a tremendous, mocking prelude. Tom Paine, one real man, broken and at last betrayed by all the wooden champions, Cagliostro, plotting the revenge of the Templars with a woman and a necklace, Will Blake, speaking uncomprehended with the tongue of angels, Shelley and his beautiful gesture; Swinburne, who almost recreated Helas before he too was broken — Byron, Pushkin, Gautier; all instruments in a prelude to a symphony that was never played. And Science — how it was to save us! That “Brave New World” of Huxley, Darwin and H.G. Wells with only the voice of Spengler in dissent. Science remaking the world; an international language, a universal brotherhood beyond nationality, prejudice or creed… A beautiful vision fallen like a house of cards. You creators of the “New Age” who dare not speak, think or move without permission from the military, you unfettered titans who will hang for speaking across one border — where is your ‘New World’? Champions, where is freedom? What treasure have we lost? We must turn to women for that answer.
The key lies back ten thousand years ago in the Age of Isis that is mistakenly called “The Matriarchy”. It was not a Matriarchy as we conceive it; a rule of club-women, of frustrated chickens, in fact it was not a rule at all; it was an equality. The Woman was and is the Priestess. In Her reposes the Mystery. She is the Mother, brooding yet tender, the lover, at once passionate and aloof, the wife, revered and cherished. She is the witch woman. She stands co-equal with her mate who is the chieftain, the hunter, the thinker and the doer. The woman is the Priestess, guardian of the mystery, syble of the unconscious and prophetess of dreams. Together they balanced each other until the catastrophe of the Patriarchal Age, arch-typified by the monosexual monster, Jehovah.
Then, under the rule of Priests, woman became an inferior animal while man became isolated in his imagined superiority and found himself at the mercy of his own merciless intelligence. It was total war between the emotions that must and the intellect that will not. Every patriarchal religion is a self-contradictory monstrosity. They are dogmatic creeds that shift like straws in the wind of the intellect. Upon this shifting structure man has failed. He knows the futility of such artificial systems but he fights for them with all the sick fury his frustration can generate. In the process he has lost his mother, his wife has failed him and his lover eludes him. The Mystery has gone out of the Temple, banished by a senile and self-sufficient council of beards.
Woman, Woman — where are you? Come back to us again. Forgive even if you cannot forget and serve once more in our Temples. Take us by the hand. Kiss us on the lips and tell us we are not alone. Witch-Woman, out of the ashes of the stake, rise again! It was in the Dianic Cult that the old way continued. Those splendid and terrible women; Messilina, Toffana, La Voisin and DeBrinvillies raised revenge to a high art. Others sought the forbidden mystery in secret rites and purchased a brief reunion at an awful price. This was the ope in the Maid of Orleans, the dream of hopeless millions that the woman who was to redeem them had come at last. Her failure and her fate teach us that innocence is no protection. Be cunning, oh woman, be wise, be subtle, be merciless. I have asked you to understand and forgive — but forget not overmuch. Trust nothing but yourself.
Now I have spoken of those great poisoners but there is a worse revenge. Know that all revenge is revenge on self and the most terrible is that taken by the frigid woman. Count her in the tens of millions. The curse lies in the failure of her mate to be a man and her failure to be true to herself but the cause is the dark guilt with which parents poison their children. There is also suppressed incestuous love and the fear of unwanted children — yet those who have known of these things should have no shame there-from. Strength is not born, it is gained by understanding and overcoming. Go free; sing the old, wild song:
EVOE IO, EVOE IACCHUS IO PAN, PAN! EVOE BABALON!
Go to the mountains and the forest; go naked in the Summer that you may regain the old joy. Love gladly and freely under the stars. But you say your body is not beautiful? Here is a secret: the body is molded by the mind. If you have embraced fear, repression, hate — then you may find your body repulsive. But go free, love joyously and without restraint. Run naked then watch the cheeks flush, the breasts well and the supple contours develop from the flowing rhythms of life. Disease and deformity are bred in fear and hate, therefore be fearless lovers and ever beautiful.
The woman is the Priestess of the Irrational World! Irrational – but how enormously important, and how dangerous because it is unadmitted or denied, we do not want to be drunken, murderous, frustrated, poverty-stricken and miserable without cause. These conditions are not reasonable or ‘scientific’ and yet they do exist. We say we do not want war but war seems a psychological necessity. Wars will continue until that need is otherwise fulfilled. We do not love or hate a person because it is “reasonable”. We are moved willy-nilly, despite our reason and our will, by forces from the unconscious, irrational world. These forces speak to us in dreams, in symbols and in our own incomprehensible actions. These passions can only be redeemed by intuitive understanding in the feminine province. Only after such understanding can will and intelligence be truly effective for otherwise they are blind and powerless against the tides of emotion.
Woman, put away unworthy weapons. Put away malice and poison, frigidity and childishness. Draw the two-edged sword of freedom and call for a man to meet you in fair combat; a man fit to be your husband and a father to your eagle brood. Call upon him, test him by the sword and he will be worthy of you. Together you will be archetypes of the new race. Somewhere in the world today there is a woman for whom the Sword is forged. Somewhere there is one who has heard the trumpets of the New Age and who will respond. She will respond, this new woman, to the high clamor of those sar-trumpets; she will come as a perilous flame and a devious song, a voice in the judgment halls, a banner before armies. She will come girt with the Sword of Freedom. Before her, kings and priests will tremble, cities and empires will fall, and she will be called BABALON, The Scarlet Woman. She will be lustful and proud, subtle and deadly forthright and invincible as a naked blade. Women will respond to her war cry, throwing off their chains, men will respond to her challenge, forsaking foolish ways. She will shine as the ruddy Evening Star in the lurid sunset of Gotterdamerung. She will shine again as a Morning Star when the night has passed and a new dawn breaks over the garden of Pan. To you, oh unknown woman, is The Sword of Freedom pledged.
WE are the WITCHCRAFT
by John Whiteside Parsons (excerpt from Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword)
We are the Witchcraft. We are the oldest organization in the world. When man was born, we were. We sang the first cradle song. We healed the first wound, we comforted the first terror. We were the Guardians against the Darkness, the Helpers on the Left Hand Side. Rock drawings in the Pyrenees remember us, and little clay images, made for an old purpose when the world was new. Our hand was on the old stone circles, the monolith, the dolmen, and the druid oak. We sang the first hunting songs, we made the first crops to grow; when man stood naked before the Powers that made him, we sang the first chant of terror and wonder. We wooed among the Pyramids, watched Egypt rise and fall, ruled for a space in Chaldea and Babylon, the Magian Kings. We sat among the secret assemblies of Israel, and danced the wild and stately dances in the sacred groves of Greece. In China and Yucatan, in Kansas and Kurdistan we are one. All organizations have known us, no organization is of us; when there is too much organization we depart. We are on the side of man, of life, and of the individual. Therefore we are against religion, morality and government. Therefore our name is Lucifer. We are on the side of freedom, of love, of joy and laughter and divine drunkenness. Therefore our name is Babalon. Sometimes we move openly, sometimes in silence and in secret. Night and day are one to us, calm and storm, seasons and the cycles of man, all these things are one, for we are at the roots. Supplicant we stand before the Powers of Life and Death, and are heard of these Powers, and avail. Our way is the secret way, the unknown direction. Our way is the way of the serpent in the underbrush, our knowledge is in the eyes of goats and of women. It is our own force that sometimes shifts jeweled coils and […] mighty pinions in the breast of man; our Power is one with the Power that causes the God to stir in the heart of the seed, and the bud to burst into blossom and fruit; and whenever a man and a woman are united in one substance, our power is that substance. Merlin was of us, and Gawain and Arthur, Rabelais and Catullus, Gilles de Retz and Jehanne d’Arc, De Molensis, Johannes Dee, Cagliostro, Francis Hepburn and Gellis Duncan, Swinburne and Eliphas Levi, and many another bard, Magus, poet, martyr known and unknown that carried our banners against the enemy multiform and ubiquitous, the Church and the State. And when that vermin of Hell that is called the Christian Church held all the West in a slavery of sin and death and terror, we, and we alone, brought hope to the heart of man, despite the dungeon and the stake.
We are the Witchcraft, and although one may not know another, yet we are united by an indissoluble bond. And when the high wild cry of the eagle sounds in your mind, know that you are not alone in your desire for freedom. And when the howl of the wolf echoes in the forests of your night, know that there are those who also prowl. And when the ways of your fellows about you seem the ways of idiocy and madness, know that there are also others who have seen and judged – and acted. Now know that the power that we serve lies in the heart of every man and woman as the tree lives in the seed. And to be with us, you have but to call upon that Power, and you are as one of us. And when our Power and Joy have come upon you, you may go forth and do your will among men, and none shall say you nay. And if it be your will, you shall do your will secretly, and if it be your will, you will do your will openly, as your will. Therefore lift up your hearts saying, “I am a man” or “I am a woman, and the Power of Life is mine!” And in the Power of Life you shall live and love, accepting no restriction and placing no restriction, freely and granting freedom. And it may be in the bounty of life you shall see the love of life shine in the eyes of another, and the lust of life burn upon his brow, and thus you shall take great joy together. And it may be in good fortune you may find a number such; and share your joy in secret feasting and rejoicing and all manner of lovemaking and festival. Or it may be that at hazard and danger you will teach the joyous power to men; as your wills move you. And this is well so long as you remember one thing. There can be no restriction. The Power of Life is not restricted; it knows its own way, but no mind knows that way. Therefore in yourself practice all the giving and taking of freedom that is consistent with life, for thereby alone can you remain in our joy. Pain is. Terror is, loss and loneliness and agony of heart and spirit, even unto Death. For this is the gateway to the kingdom of Pan. Our way is not for all men. There are those who are so constricted and sick in themselves that the thought of their own freedom is a horror, and that of others a fierce pain; so that they would enslave all men. And these you should shun, or, if you must, destroy them as you will know how, for this also is bounty. Nor think the life power should manifest in those who have no trouble or turmoil, for these may be mere dumb cattle, innocents out of season. Rather does the power often show the most where conflict rages, since at any time, and especially in a false civilization, the way must be won through. Surrender is disaster. The other side of the coin is a song in the sunlight and a dance in the moonlight, where all mists are dispersed. But the way must be won.
WIZARDS of the COAST
by Colin Bennett / March 2000
John Whiteside Parsons, born Marvel, known as Jack, writer, visionary, dedicated occultist, and chemist of genius, was born in 1914 and died in 1952 in a mysterious explosion whose cause has never been fully explained. He was a tall handsome Californian, whose early work on highly volatile rocket-motor fuels was regarded highly enough for French scientists of a later generation to name a crater on the moon after him. Parsons introduced into early American rocketry a range of exotic solid and liquid fuels whose later forms were eventually to help drive Apollo 11 to the Moon. He helped create the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, now a major industrial complex. In early colour footage from JPL archives, he looks like a better-fed James Dean in some 1950s road movie. In the manner of many mid-century heroes such as Dean, his life was more a script than a life. Today, over fifty years later, we can run Parsons in our heads, in torn jeans and greasy shirt as he off-loads equipment from a hired pick-up truck in the baking dust of some remote desert arroyo, and gets ready for one of his many pre-war rocket experiments.
By August 1941, these tests had produced rockets stable enough to use as bolt-on jet-assisted-take-off (JATO)  units for military aircraft. Daring experiments, probably the first of their kind in the world, were also made with no less than 12 of these 28lb/12-second thrust units fitted to an Ercoupe light aircraft. With its propeller removed, the hobby-plane soared and landed. Thus a mail-order aircraft became the first rocket aircraft of America, and therefore the direct primitive ancestor of the air-launched Bell X1 which Chuck Yeager took through the sound barrier in 1947. Post-war, these JATO “bottles” grew into the liquid-fuel Corporal rocket, and the solid-fuelled Sergeant. The much-vaunted Germans were surprisingly way behind in solid-fuel technology, which Parsons? pioneered. From his work there arose a whole range of first-generation American missiles, including the solid-fuelled submarine-launched Polaris.
Parsons was certainly ahead of his time in things other than rocketry. Before each test launch, he was in the habit of invoking Aleister Crowley’s Hymn to Pan, the wild horned god of fertility. Parsons was an active member of the California Agape Lodge of the sex magickal group Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), and in letters addressed The Great Beast as “Most Beloved Father”. Out of the inspirations of fire, dust, and grease came a visionary mystical writing formed out of conflicts with what he saw as an increasingly oppressive society. There are passages in his book, Freedom Is A Two-Edged Sword  very similar to Timothy Leary?s much later seminal book, The Politics of Ecstasy. His style also predates the ?beat? poetry of Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the New Age views of Wilhem Reich. Parsons had the kind of hallucinatory head-visions about spirit, magic, and human freedom which were to rocket Californian culture headlong into the 1960s, causing a world-revolution in thinking which, alas, Parsons was never to see.
Parsons’ home, 1003 South Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena, was a vast old pre-war mansion populated by his own Adams Family selection of the free and the inspired, the mad and the lost. Local adverts for rooms specified that only bohemians, musicians, artists, atheists and anarchists need apply. Rumours of black magic, orgies and other strange goings-on abounded. One evening in 1942, several police appeared to investigate reports of a pregnant woman jumping naked through a fire in the back yard. Ever the gentleman, Parsons convinced the officers of his status as a respectable scientist and the affair was laughed off.
As a scientist, a prototype hippy poet-anarchist, and romantic occultist, Parsons? beliefs appear sculpted out of the mysteries and conflicts of the Californian landscape and the renowned scientific culture it nourishes. In his experiments, like a desert prophet of old, he performed miracles with strange mixes of explosive substances in remote locations, often at risk to his life. Outside chemistry, he was somewhat less sure-footed. He practised “sex magic” but was so lacking in occult disciplines that his early “workings’ more resembled early free-love orgies than anything else. Outside of these “religious” activities, Parsons was an incorrigible womaniser, who also blithely styled himself the Antichrist. This title was lightly assumed, compared with Crowley’s earlier self-christening as the Beast of Revelation. It was also an ambitious title for someone who was, for the most part, far too nice a person for such an exalted position in infernality. Like many enthusiasts before him, Parsons failed to distinguish between Paganism and Satanism, and the many tricks that sprite called the Unconscious plays with that pair of duplicitous sirens. It was probably for such confusions that the far more sophisticated and mature Crowley criticised Parsons, probably causing Parson’s resignation from the OTO in 1946.
British culture, with its eternal hatred of clever folk, would have got rid of Parsons if he had been born here. Like Alan Turing, he would have been ritually crucified. But in brilliant people we should not look for balance and democracy, for fairness and objectivity. If Parsons’ vital energies were confused, anachronistic, and hypocritical, he nevertheless represents (and indeed so does Ron Hubbard, his partner in magical rituals), that seething undertow of light-and-dark contrast in American life which is connected in some vital formative sense with the prototype aircraft that barrel down American runways. This is the nightmare of every democrat and social psychologist: take away the nut-cases and the anomalies the contradictions and even the criminality, and nothing works any more. A glittering madness is gone. True leadership and creation involves that higher disturbance whose “products” vary from spaceships to schoolyard shootings.
Parsons’ chemistry, like its parent alchemy, is by nature a thing very different to physics. It has colour, smell and taste, and depends on character and relation rather than the push-me-pull-you of nuclear forces. Chemistry therefore is linked not to momentum, or gravity, those arriviste “objective” harpies, but to a gentler world of homeopathy and pharmacy, to herbs, colour-changes and smells. It has no need to reduce the world to a cartoon in order to make the equations work out. The old alchemical idea of “affinity” rather than “objectivity” between compounds and elements suggests the operation of forces that the world well understood before the so-called “enlightenment”. In all likelihood, Parsons used his somewhat cavalier attitude towards occultism to activate those sympathies which got his early fuel combinations right, astonishing colleagues such as Frank Malina. But he may have found out too late that magic, once summoned, is far more volatile than even the most dangerous rocket fuel.
[Photos: JPL] Risky Business: Starting in 1935, Malina, then a Caltech grad student, led a colorful and dedicated team of fellow students and rocket enthusiasts, advised by aerodynamics pioneer Theodore von Kármán. The team, which became known around campus as the Suicide Squad for their reckless experiments, scored their first major success in the fall of 1936. Hauling their makeshift equipment out to the Arroyo Seco [top left], a dry river basin on the western edge of Pasadena, Calif., they successfully fired a small methyl-alcohol-fueled rocket motor [top right] on their third day of tests. At bottom is Malina’s sketch of the experimental apparatus; note the “protective barrier for observers,” otherwise known as a pile of sandbags.
Of course, science as Mr Straight would have us believe that it has swept away all such “subjective” elements, along with religion, metaphysics, and mysticism. But deep inside any twentieth-century product are schemes of product-agendas, those occult rituals of which the cultural “successes” of science are but the masks.We have only to scratch the paint off a twentieth-century bus-stop, and we discover a conspiracy. The paint itself, the aluminium, the drilling milling and casting – all these things are, like the bus-stop, a temporary shelter in time, and finally vanish into that haze of mysteries we like to call Causation, if only to help us get some sleep at night. That old fraud called Official Reality would have us believe that American rocket technology and space-science was created by a bunch of apple-cheeked graduates tinkering with some wartime scrap, but the face of that social-scientific conspiracy which took us to the moon has the shape of that most occult of geometrical configurations – the triangle.
The Nazis were at one apex in Alabama (which is still the best place in America to put Nazis if you don?t want them to come to any harm). The doings in the arroyo, which became the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, occupied another apex. Frank Malina, a powerful figure in GALCIT  and sometime friend of Parsons, was a secret communist who sat at the third remaining apex, along with Dr. Hsue-shenTsien, another fellow-traveller, who became Chairman Mao?s first Missile Godfather, and produced the Silkworm missile for him. In the centre of the triangle there is the winking eye of Aleister Crowley, and providing comic interest was a character no less fantastic than Crowley: namely L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. After being demobilised in 1945, he appears in this network of forces as the Joker and only leaves the triangle after much occult, personal, and legal intrigue (see panels below).
Jewish light relief was provided by Von Karman, Head of GALCIT, who claimed that his Rabbi father had actually created a golem, no less. Von Karman was a legendary figure, the protagonist of swept-back wings, a new technology in the early 1940s. Such was the regard of Von Karman for Parsons, he named him as the third most vital influence on space-science, and although Parsons did not have a degree, Von Karman gave him the run of Caltech. While this produced success, on at least two occasions Parsons and his equally part-qualified A-team nearly blew the entire place to pieces, before being rapidly moved back to the desert arroyo by popular request.
Knickers without mystique are no knickers at all. Similarly, with rockets, there has to be mystique, and the quietly imported Nazis formed the televisual part of our space-triangle. Like Hitler’s Armament Minister, Albert Speer (the acceptable face of Nazi bourgeois intelligentsia if ever there was one), the legendary Wernher Von Braun  looked good even on the low-definition television of John Parson’s last days. As the world rapidly became pure media in the decades succeeding 1945, it was looking good that was beginning to count. Von Braun’s glowing features lapped it up as the prime-time interviewers of the 1950 and 1960s just forgot to mention that he joined the SS in 1940 and had personally ordered the public hanging of 12 slave-workers at Nordhausen in 1945 .
Those historians of rational causation who look at costs and economies may have to get rid of every idea of what constitutes a life-form, never mind an economy. Our strange geometry, trailing twilight characters and full of advertising-concentrate, dropped into the right cultural bio-soup, opened like a Chinese flower in water, and became the great American Space Adventure. Towards the end of 1943, the Von Karman group joined forces with U.S. Army Ordnance and the resulting project ORDCIT built the solid-fuelled Private A with a range of 54000 feet. This in turn evolved through Private F and Sergeant to become the WAC Corporal (still essentially a Parsons-type rocket). The Corporal was the first American ballistic missile to go into production and reach field deployment. While it could hardly match the V2, nevertheless, on September 26th, 1945, a Corporal reached a height of 42 miles above the Army’s new testing grounds at White Sands New Mexico.
Finally, our occult triangle became a pyramid, on the tip of which sat a Corporal rocket seated in turn on top of a modified V2 (the combination was called the Bumper-WAC). In February 1949, this hybrid soared 250 miles above the earth. In 1958, six years after Parsons’ death, this marriage of German and American ideas, occult and mechanical, ideological and political, good and evil, had given birth to America’s first satellite, Explorer 1. Not that after 1945 Parsons took much notice of these developments. Like many people after the war, he seemed to come apart, talking about investing in washing machines and fireworks. He was a hopeless businessman, and taking part-time jobs with various explosive and pyrotechnic companies, he became ever more deeply involved with occultism. Like all dedicated occultists, he looked for bigger things than objective science. For those who wish to look for them, the rejected and abandoned systems of the Ancient World still lie about 20th century consciousness like the ruins of Rome. Put them together again like old car parts, and with a cough and splutter, they all still work, if with somewhat less efficiency than the latest glistening metaphor-game in the showroom.
A character like Parsons could hardly avoid the FBI. From the early 1940s he was watched because of suspected communist affiliations, though we are left to speculate on what a communist occultist would sound like. A further FBI investigation of 1951 shows him still under investigation, this time for alleged espionage. While working for Hughes Aircraft, it was found he had taken some 17 technical papers from research files. According to Sex and Rockets author John Carter, their titles are still censored from the FBI files. Carter suggests that Parsons used jargon associated with the Manhattan Project. At this time Parsons had formed strong sympathetic contacts with the new-found state of Israel, the implication being that he could have been the target of a covert effort to help Israel build a nuclear weapon.
Parsons’ security clearance was never reinstated. This, combined with several past investigations into his magical and sexual activities, two other separate charges of having taken classified documents, an investigation into alleged communist activities, and a previous loss of clearance, hastened his sad decline, though now he was re-united with Cameron. Reduced to working at a filling station and designing explosive effects for films, he wrote to Germer, Crowley’s successor at the OTO, of his “depressing melancholy stupor”.
On Tuesday, 17 June, at 5:45 PM, Parsons died after two mysterious explosions devastated his home. He was consumed with flame, just as Hubbard’s “channelling” had prophesied some six years previous: “She (Babalon) is the flame of life…She shall absorb thee, and thou shalt become living flame before She incarnates”. A few hours after Parsons’ death, his mother Ruth killed herself with a fatal overdose of Nembutal. Carter reports that according to Police investigator Donald Harding, and George Santmyer, a close working colleague of Parsons, a box was found on the Parsons’ property which contained a film showing Parsons and his mother Ruth having sex. If this circumstantial evidence is true, we can now rest assured that American Space Science rests on good classical foundations. The dynamic transforms of Jack Parsons’ life had taken on the evolving character of the rocket: a dangerous, explosive, pagan thing, hot from hell, and stinking of the sulphurous essence of gloriously bad behaviour, suggesting that even freedom, progress and enlightenment must go through a violent struggle for birth. Like the V2, a thing born in blood, violence and Faustian hubris – with not a little fun along the way.
The Babalon Workings
In August 1945, on leave from his less than spectacular naval career, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was introduced to Parsons. Jack was impressed by Ron’s exuberance and energy and wrote in a letter to Crowley: “I deduced that he is in direct touch with some higher intelligence. He is the most Thelemic (Crowley’s branch of magic) person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our own principles”. Hubbard moved in and promptly gained the affections of Parsons’ main squeeze, 19-year-old Betty Northrop. He was soon initiated into the secrets of the OTO and made Parsons’ magical partner. In January 1946, the two commenced a long and complex magical ritual called the “Babalon Working” (sic). This was intended to create nothing less than an elemental being. As far as Parsons? was concerned, the invocation worked. The elemental turned up two weeks later in the form of the beautiful blue-eyed, red-haired Marjorie Elizabeth Cameron, who became, after Parsons’ death, the star of Kenneth Anger’s 1965 cult-film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, friend of Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell, and prototype witch-biker. It is interesting to note that Cameron?s two brothers, her sister and also her father were to work at JPL, as if Project and People were knit by associations. As John Carter says in Sex and Rockets, Cameron was “sprung from Parsons’ head like Sophia from the Godhead or Pallas Athena from Zeus”. On February 26th, Parsons wrote to Crowley: “I have my elemental!”
In April 1946, Parsons, Cameron, and Hubbard, acting as scribe, attempted the second part of the Babalon Working, which was intended to raise a “moonchild” in the manner described in Crowley’s novel of the same name, with Cameron the vessel for Parsons’ magical seed. The mundane world intruded however, and the tricky Hubbard, despite his intense and apparently sincere involvement with the Babalon working, vanished with ,000 of Parsons’ money and Betty, who was no doubt peeved at Parsons’ involvement with Cameron. Parsons eventually located the fleeing pair at sea, rented a room in Florida, and cast a spell upon them, whereupon Hubbard and Betty were nearly drowned in a storm. In 1955, the widowed Cameron, in the company of a group of bikers, severed her ties to the past and destroyed the Black Box of the Babalon Working that Parsons believed had brought her to him.
Wizards of the Coast
Amongst the many areas in which Parsons’ influence was felt, and one that further cemented the bond between him and Hubbard, was the burgeoning West Coast science fiction scene. Many key SF writers could be found gathered at the Parsons household in the early ’40s, including Jack Williamson, A.E. Van Vogt (who would become head of the Los Angeles Dianetics Foundation), Robert Heinlein, Alva Rogers and Forrest J. Ackerman. Ackerman ran the LA SF Society, where Parsons also met Ray Bradbury who professed to being fascinated by “his ideas about the future”. Parsons was particularly fascinated by Williamson’s Darker Than You Think, the tale of an ancient lycanthropic race who seek to regain power amongst men through the birth of a magical child, “The Child of Night”. It has also been suggested that Parsons’ ideas influenced Heinlein in writing Stranger in a Strange Land.
JACK PARSONS LIVES
Jack Parsons and the FBI / January 31, 2012
Beyond any shadow of doubt, the one person whose actions led to a belief in certain quarters of the U.S. Government that the UFO phenomenon has origins of a demonic, occult, and supernatural nature was Jack Parsons. Less well known, however, is Parsons’ relationship with the FBI – which turned out not to be a good one.
At his birth in 1914, Parsons was given the memorable and unusual name of Marvel Whiteside Parsons and had a truly extraordinary life. An undoubted genius, he indirectly led NASA to send the Apollo astronauts to the Moon in 1969. Moreover, the Aerojet Corporation – which Parsons personally founded – today produces solid-fuel rocket boosters for the Space Shuttle that are based on Parsons’ very own, decades-old innovations. For his accomplishments, a large crater on the far side of the Moon was named in his honor, and each and every year, on Halloween no less, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory holds an open-house memorial, replete with mannequins of Jack Parsons and his early JPL cohorts known as “Nativity Day.” And, within the aerospace community, there is a longstanding joke that JPL actually stands for “Jack Parsons Laboratory” or “Jack Parsons Lives.”
In fact, however, this man Parsons, who was so revered and honored by very senior figures within the U.S. space-program, was an admitted occultist, a follower of Aleister Crowley, and someone who topped even Crowley himself by engaging in bestiality with the family dog and sexual relations with his own mother, perhaps at the same time, no less. Moreover, before each rocket test, Parsons would undertake a ritual to try and invoke the Greek god, Pan. And, on top of that, much of Parsons’ – and the JPL’s – initial rocket research in this period was undertaken at the appropriately-named Devil’s Gate Dam in Los Angeles. And with that background data in hand, let’s see what the FBI thought of Parsons…
On November 2, 1950, a California-based special-agent of the FBI prepared a report on the actions of Jack Parsons that stated in part: “Subject, on September 15, 1950 removed certain documents pertaining to jet propulsion motors and rocket propellants without authority from Hughes Aircraft Company, Culver City, California; his place of employment [and which had been his place of employment since May 8, 1949].” On September 25, after the documents in question had been retrieved by the authorities, they were duly handed over to a Air Force Major E.J. Krenz, after which, the FBI recorded: “[Parsons] voluntarily came to the Los Angeles office, September 27, 1950 and in [a] signed statement admitted removing documents without authority stating he desired to extract certain information from them as aid in computing [the] cost proposal on jet propulsion motors. He planned to submit this with [an] employment application through American Technion Society for employment in the country of Israel.”
Twenty-four-hours later, an FBI agent, whose name has been carefully excised from the available documents, “displayed the document and papers to John T. Berdner, Air Provost Marshal, U.S. Army, who advised that it would be necessary for him to forward copies of them to the Chief of the Security and Policy Division, Intelligence Department, Headquarters, Air Materiel Command, Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, where the documents would be examined for the purpose of determining whether or not they contained classified or non-classified information.” As a result of the brewing trouble surrounding Parsons, he was fired from Hughes Aircraft on that very day and Hughes’ security personnel hastily advised the military that, at the very least, the documents should be classified Confidential. Then the next morning Parsons prepared a written statement for the FBI, the Army, and Air Materiel Command in which he conceded: “I now realize that I was wrong in taking this material from the Hughes Aircraft Plant.”
Whether his apology was genuine or it was simply a groveling attempt to try and avoid serious problems with the authorities and charges that he was secretly engaged in espionage operations for Israel, Parsons certainly obfuscated the facts and played down his ongoing involvement in matters of an occult nature. When interviewed by the FBI on September 28, he said that he had “severed all relations” with the dark world that had so dominated his earlier years, and “…described himself as being an ‘individualist,'” according to the interviewing special-agent in his report. Significantly, files pertaining to Parsons’ theft of the papers from Hughes Aircraft reveal that, several years earlier, he had worked with some notable bodies, including the Government’s Office of Scientific Research and Development, the National Defense Research Council, and the Northrop Aircraft Company. Meanwhile, as several FBI offices across the state of California tried to determine – with help from the military – if Parsons was acting as an Israeli spy or if his actions were just plain reckless and stupid, the Cincinnati FBI Office entered into a period of liaison with the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations to “ascertain the facts” concerning Air Force knowledge of Parsons’ activities.
A Major Sam Bruno of the USAF advised the FBI that the Air Force did have files on Parsons, including some that related to his relationship with Aleister Crowley, one of which, dated May 17, 1948, stated: “A religious cult, believed to advocate sexual perversion, was organized at subject’s home at 1003 South Orange Grove Avenue, Pasadena, California, which has been reported subversive…” The same documentation referred to USAF and FBI knowledge of the Church of Thelema, explaining in typically-humorless tones that “this cult broadly hinted at free love,” that there had been “several complaints of ‘’strange goings on at this home,'” and that an unnamed source had described the church as “a gathering place of perverts.” Surely not?! The military’s records also noted that in 1943, Parsons was interviewed by the FBI and “stated that the Church of Thelema was a lodge and fraternity as well as a church, and that they studied philosophy as well as religion and attempted to inform themselves concerning all types and kinds of religion.” Parsons admitted that the church was based on the teachings of Crowley (who, rather amusingly, an obviously under-informed FBI special agent described merely as “an internationally known poet”!), and added that “…the organization was sometimes referred to as Crowleyism or Crowleyites.” A less-than-impressed Air Force advised the equally unimpressed FBI that: “”…women of loose morals were involved and…the story of Parsons’ activities had become fairly common knowledge among scientists in the Pasadena area.”
Then, on November 14, 1950, Major Frank J. Austin, Jr., of the Ordnance Liaison Office at the Redstone Arsenal, determined that most of the documents from Hughes Aircraft should be classified as Confidential – with four remaining unclassified. It’s eye opening that on the very same day, Major Donald Detwiler, of AFOSI, admitted in a letter to the FBI that on March 7, 1949, the Industrial Employment Review Board had authorized Parsons “access to military information through Top Secret.” That Parsons had been highly cavalier with Confidential files and papers was a serious matter in itself. But that Parsons – occultist, and perhaps literal mother-fucker – had been granted a Top Secret clearance, which covered the work of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in relation to rocketry, was seen as being utterly beyond the pale. As a result, on January 9, 1952, Parsons was informed by one J. Mason, the Chairman of the Industrial Employment Review Board, that: “The board has decided as of 7 January 1952 to revoke the clearance granted you through top secret of 7 March 1949, and to withdraw access by you to Department of Defense classified information and/or material. The foregoing and all the evidence in the case file, when considered with the duties and responsibilities of any position in which you may be engaged with Department of Defense classified contract work, indicate that you might voluntarily or involuntarily act against the security interest of the United States and constitute a danger to the national security.” Parsons’ security clearance may have been revoked, but the government was very far from finished with him. Actually, matters had barely begun, as Final Events demonstrates…
-Documentation declassified under the terms of the United States’ Freedom of Information act by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Department of State; Department of the Army; and the Department of the Air Force.
-Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons, George Pendle, Harcourt, 2005.
-Jack Parsons and the Fall of Babalon, http://www.excludedmiddle.com/jack_parsons.htm.
-Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons, John Carter, Feral House, 1999.
-John Whiteside Parsons, Colin Bennett, Fortean Times, March 2000.
-Arroyo Seco (Los Angeles County), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arroyo_Seco_(Los_Angeles_County).