Jack Parsons, Scientology and the Jet Propulsion Lab

You may have heard about the recent publication of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright, a new and extensively researched exposé on Scientology, which, of course, mentions Aleister Crowley and Jack Parsons.

“Before Scientology, there was Aleister Crowley, the English “magician” revered by generations of would-be wizards. When Hubbard and a friend tried to breed an Antichrist according to Crowley’s teachings, even Crowley rolled his eyes: “I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these goats.” Of course, Hubbard – “Source,” just “Source,” no “the,” of Scientology – didn’t really want Crowley’s approval. According to the Church of Scientology, he was undercover for “naval intelligence” on a mission that “broke up black magic in America.” Phew!” [via]

Well, all this has people talking about Jack Parsons and the Jet Propulsion Lab again, such as in “The strangely true connection between Scientology, the Jet Propulsion Lab, and Occult Sorcery“.

“One of the weirdest historical confluences you can imagine took place in Pasadena, California, in the 1940s. There, a darkly handsome young man and chemistry autodidact named Jack Parsons had just made a bundle of money by inventing solid rocket fuel and selling it to the military. He was part of a group of explosion-obsessed researchers at CalTech who founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where recently the Martian Rovers were made. He was also a goddess-obsessed acolyte and generous financial supporter of the infamous Pagan leader, Aleister Crowley.

Parsons used his defense contract money to convert an old mansion into a group house whose residents included other Pagans, artists, scientists, and writers. One of his boarders was a charismatic science fiction author named L. Ron Hubbard, who became Parsons’ greatest frenemy, participating in rituals of sex magic with the rocket scientist, sleeping with his girlfriend, and finally absconding with all his money. Here is the true story of how Scientology and JPL were both conceived by men under the sorcerer Crowley’s mystical influence.” [via]

You may also be interested checking out “A Rocketship to Babalon: the Short Strange Life of Jack Parsons” in Matt Staggs from back in 2010.

“However, his scientific work was only one part of Parson’s life. He was also an avid student of the occult.

He applied his zeal for scientific research to his inquiries into the unknown, and eventually came to the attention of the Great Beast himself, Aleister Crowley. The British occultist appointed Parsons to the head of California’s Agapé Lodge – a branch of Crowley’s OTO (Ordo Templi Orientalis). The OTO practiced what Crowley called Thelemic magick: a mix of sexual rituals, bastardized Kabbalism and rites taken from Freemasonry and medieval grimoires. Crowley espoused what he considered to be a scientific approach to the practice of magick, espousing “The Method of Science, the Aim of Religion,” a statement that Parsons could stand behind. His own esoteric works were often mixed with his scientific experiments, and it has been reported that Parsons attempted to invoke spirits while working with rocket fuel.

As a leader of the Agapé Lodge, Parsons was passionate and generous, using his salary to fund the upkeep of the order while conducting occult experiments that he hoped would usher in a new age of magickal freedom. After his own wife left him, Parsons took up with his sister-in-law Sara Northrup, an OTO member herself. The two were magickal partners as well as romantic ones, and were soon joined in their occult studies by a third: future Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Soon after they met, Hubbard and Parsons began a magickal ritual called The Babalon Working: a spell to invoke the power of a goddess. This divine being – identified by Crowley as both the Biblical whore of Babylon and the goddess Ishtar – would bring about the end of what they considered an age of repressive Christian morality. Crowley warned against this for a number of reasons, perhaps the most practical of which was that the self-styled “Wickedest Man in the World” considered Hubbard a con man an swindler. Parsons disregarded the warning.” [via]