and JPL’s Scientific Sorceror
"With the magickal rites of the
Babalon Working, it was Parson’s goal to bring on the Apocalypse
... the Babalon gambit was dazzling to say the least: If the
earth must first be covered in evil before the return of the
Christ consciousness and the final triumph of good, what better
way to hasten the uplifting of humanity than to rip an
alchemical hole in the fabric of reality and invite the very
spawn of Hell in for a rip-snorting orgy of howling madness? The
question must be asked: Who is the greater hero -- he who
prolongs the agony of this pathetic existence or he who opens
wide the Pandora’s Box of perdition knowing that this is how the
final eschatological chapter must play itself out?"
Parsons: Anti-Christ Superstar
by Richard Metzger
"All stories are true, every last
one of them. All myths, all legends, all fables. If you believe
them true, then they are true. If you don’t believe them, then
all that can be said is that they are true for someone else."
-- Dave Sim, Cerebus
When the history of the American space
program is finally written, no figure will stand out quite like John
Whiteside Parsons. Remarkably handsome, dashing and brilliant,
"Jack" Parsons was one of the founders of the experimental rocket
research group at Cal Tech and the group’s seven acre Arroyo Seco
testing facility would eventually become
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), NASA’s rocket design center.
Werner von Braun claimed that the self-taught Parsons, not himself,
was the true father of the American space program for his
contribution to the development of solid rocket fuel. Although
Parsons has been memorialized with a statue at JPL and has had a
crater on the dark side of the moon named in his honor, his story
remains shrouded in mystery for what is little known about this
legend of aerospace engineering is that Parsons was an avid
practitioner of the occult sciences, and for several years, Aleister
Crowley’s hand-picked leader of the US branch of the Ordo Templi
Orientis, the Southern California-based Agape’ Lodge.
Parsons was born in Los Angeles on October 2, 1914, the son of a
wealthy and well connected family living in a sprawling mansion on
Pasadena’s "Millionaire Row." His father worked for Woodrow Wilson.
After his parents divorce, the solitary childhood of Parsons imbued
him with a deep hatred of authority, and a contempt for any sort of
interference in his activity. Parsons interest in the occult
apparently commenced at an early age and in one of his diaries he
claimed to have invoked Satan to visible appearance at the tender
age of 13.
After discovering Crowley’s philosophy of
Thelema (Greek for "true
will"), Parsons joined the Agape’ Lodge in 1941. Wilfred T. Smith,
the expatriate Englishman who started the order in the early 1930’s
with a charter from the Great Beast himself, wrote of Parsons in a
letter to Crowley:
"I think I have at long last a
really excellent man, John Parsons. And starting next Tuesday he
begins a course of talks with a view to enlarging our scope. He
has an excellent mind and much better intellect than myself...
John Parsons is going to be valuable."
Another member of the Lodge, Crowley’s old friend, actress Jane
Wolfe described Parsons as "26 years of age, 6’2", vital,
potentially bisexual at the very least, University of the State
of California and Cal Tech, now engaged in Cal Tech chemical
laboratories developing ’bigger and better’ explosives for Uncle
Sam. Travels under sealed orders from the government. Writes
poetry -- ’sensuous only’, he says. Lover of music, which he
seems to know thoroughly. I see him as the real successor of
Therion [Crowley]. Passionate; and has made the vilest analyses
result in a species of exaltation after the event. Has had
mystical experiences which gave him a sense of equality all
round, although he is hierarchical in feeling and in the
Parsons rose quickly through the ranks,
taking over the Agape’ Lodge from Smith at Crowley’s decree within a
"For I am BABALON, and she my
daughter, unique and there shall be no other women like her."
The Book of Babalon, verse 37
In one of the most celebrated feats in
magickal history, Parsons and pre-Dianetics L. Ron Hubbard (whose
role is too complicated to describe in this short essay) performed
"The Babalon Working," a daring attempt to shatter the boundaries of
time and space and intended to bring about, in Parsons own words,
"love, understanding, and Dionysian
freedom [...] the necessary counterbalance or correspondence to
the manifestation of Horus."
The above reference recalls Crowley’s
announcement of the Aeon of Horus, described in his Book of the Law
(Liber AL vel Legis), a blasphemous, strangely beautiful, prose poem
which Crowley "received" from a discarnate entity called
Cairo in 1904. Crowley, self-styled "Great Beast 666," considered
himself the avatar of the Antichrist and the Book of the Law is a
proclamation that the era of the "slave gods" (Osirus,
Jesus) had come to an end and that the Age of Horus and "the Crowned
and Conquering Child" had begun.
In its infancy, Crowley predicted, the
Aeon would be characterized by the magickal formula of bloodshed and
blind force, the tearing down of the established orders to make way
for the new. Crowley held the two World Wars as evidence of this,
but did not see the Horus-force, as evil, rather as embodying the
innocence of a hyperactive child who is like a bull in a china shop.
Babalon, a Thelemic counterpart of Kali or Isis, was described by
"...black, murderous and horrible,
but Her hand is uplifted in blessing and reassurance: the
reconciliation of opposites, the apotheosis of the impossible."
The impossible was precisely what Jack
Parsons, the scientific sorcerer, had in mind.
In its initial stages, The Babalon Working was intended to attract
an "elemental" to serve as a partner for Parsons’ elaborate sex
magick rituals. The method employed was that of the solo "VIII
Degree" working of the O.T.O, the quasi-Masonic organization
reformulated by Crowley in the earlier part of the century in
accordance with his "Do What Thou Wilt" mythos of Thelema. Parsons
used his "magickal wand" to whip up a vortex of energy so the
elemental would be summoned. Translated into plain English, Parsons
jerked off in the name of spiritual advancement whilst Hubbard
(referred to as "The Scribe" in the diary of the event) scanned the
astral plane for signs and visions.
Apparently, it worked. In a letter to Crowley dated February 23,
1946, Parsons exclaimed "I have my elemental! She turned up one
night after the conclusion of the Operation, and has been with me
The elemental was a green-eyed, flaming redhead named Marjorie
Cameron, (later of Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome
film, an artist of some reknown and a primary force in the New Age
"Goddess" movement). Cameron was only too happy to participate in
Parson’s sex magick and now Parsons could get down to the real
business of the Babalon Working: the birthing of a "moonchild" or
homunculus. The operation was formulated to open an interdimensional
doorway, rolling out the red carpet for the appearance of the
goddess Babalon in human form, employing the Enochian Calls [angelic
language] of Elizabethan magus John Dee and the attraction of the
sex force of the duo’s copulation to this end.
As Paul Rydeen points out in his extended essay Jack Parsons and the
Fall of Babalon:
"The purpose of Parson’s operation has been
underemphasized. He sought to produce a magickal child who would be
a product of her environment rather than of her heredity. Crowley
himself describes the Moonchild in just these terms. The Babalon
Working itself was preparation for what was to come: a Thelemic
To wit: Babalon incarnate as a living female, the
Woman as consort to the Antichrist, the bride of the Great Beast
666. In effect, Parsons also claimed the mantle of Antichrist for
himself, as the magickal heir of Crowley prophesied in Liber AL:
"The child of thy bowels, he shall
behold them [the mysteries of the Apocalypse]. Expect him not
from the East, nor from the West, for from no expected house
cometh that child."
Without the Scarlet Woman, the
Antichrist cannot make his manifestation, the eschatological formula
must first be complete. In whiter words, with the magickal rites of
the Babalon Working, it was Parson’s goal to bring on the
Dean of the Occult
Parsons’ Babalon gambit was dazzling to say the least: If the earth
must first be covered in evil before the return of the Christ
consciousness and the final triumph of good, what better way to
hasten the uplifting of humanity than to rip an alchemical hole in
the fabric of reality and invite the very spawn of Hell in for a
rip-snorting orgy of howling madness?
So much is written of Parsons as a psychotic lunatic, but I put it
to you dear reader, is the Babalon Working the product of a deranged
mind or the ultimate exploration of the absolute furthest reaches of
consciousness, putting the peddle to the metal for the living end in
revolutionary chic and mind expansion?
Parson’s perverse "imitation of Christ" was intended to disrupt,
oppose, and subvert the established order of things. It’s the age
old Manichaean battle between good and evil, the forces of order and
chaos, the status quo versus revolutionary tendencies. But in the
20th century, these lines have become significantly blurred: If you
the New World Order multinational
corporate monoliths poisoning the planet and reducing mankind to the
level of wage slavery for the benefit of the very few to be
representative of the "good," then the Babalon Working must sound
like the most outright evil deed ever perpetrated by a human being.
But if you’re like me, and would dearly
love to see the vile, puss-ridden edifice of Western society burned
to the ground, you should see Parsons as the penultimate style icon
of psycho-sexual/magickal insurrection, a truly American original if
ever there was one. This darkly handsome, genius scientist, was, I
submit, the James Dean of the Occult -- "one spectacularly cool
the Greater Hero
"Only in the irrational and unknown
direction can we come to it [wisdom] again"
-- Jack Parsons in a letter to Marjorie Cameron, late 1940s.
The question must be asked: Who is the
greater hero -- he who prolongs the agony of this pathetic existence
or he who opens wide the Pandora’s Box of perdition knowing that
this is how the final eschatological chapter must play itself out?
Isn’t the Great Work, the cosmic perfection of mankind, the final
goal of the alchemists? Just as the rocket scientist Parsons was
willing to play dice with heavy explosives, Parsons, the nuclear age
warlock was willing to play with fire of a very different sort.
Parsons rests firmly in the tradition of the fraternity of Western
Magi who include Moses, Solomon, Jesus Christ, John Dee,
Adam Weishaupt, Cagliostro,
Crowley, Gurdjieff and Timothy Leary -- great
revolutionaries and liberators all.
Parsons wrote in his
Manifesto of the Anti-Christ:
"An end to the pretence (sic), and
lying hypocrisy of Christianity. An end to the servile virtues,
and superstitious restrictions. An end to the slave morality. An
end to prudery and shame, to guild and sin, for these are of the
only evil the sun, that is fear. An end to all authority that is
not based on courage and manhood, to the authority of lying
priests, conniving judges, blackmailing police, and an end to
the servile flattery and cajolery of mods, the coronations of
mediocraties, the ascension of dolts."
Amen to that! Parsons was clearly
willing to put his money where his mouth was! Abbie Hoffman,
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos and Che Guevara seem total pussies
Forget your Conspiracy Theory 101,
the Illuminati are not the bad
George Bush was never a member and neither is
Kissinger. If, in the words of Christ, it is by their fruits and
works that men shall be judged, would you want the Mai Lai massacre
or the Gulf War slaughter staining your karma?
Hey, being the Antichrist is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do
it. It’s not such a black and white world anymore. I know who I’m
Magickal Call to Arms
"Parsons opened a door
and something flew in."
-- Kenneth Grant, Outside the Circles of Time
Did the Babalon Working actually work?
For the sake of argument, if you believe it to be true, it’s true
enough. As a metaphor or a myth to explain the psychic and
atmospheric turbulence taking place in the world today, it certainly
works for me. What has long been prophesied by the world’s major
spiritual traditions is now coming to pass. Turn on CNN for a couple
of hours for ample proof: wars, killer viruses, floods, famines,
violent crime, earthquakes, Armageddon cults armed with nerve gas,
suicide bombers; Heaven’s Gate; the list goes on and on. Certainly
Parsons untimely death in a 1952 chemical explosion would leave the
crown of the "conquering child" unclaimed to this day as
continue to await their Chaos Messiah, but perhaps Parsons was an
Antichrist and his particular mission was to crack open the
Apocalyptic gateway and activate the occult forces necessary for the
upheaval of consciousness.
The apostles of the new forms of gnosis unearthed by the Babalon
Working will be art, the inspired initiator of sacred science and
the torch of Gods appearing in new and unexpected forms in the
unfolding of the divine drama. The poets, artists, philosophers and
thinkers will form the first ranks of perfected humanity and no
rules will apply save for freedom and nobility beyond the Kali Yuga.
But this will not happen without a struggle between the forces of
control, black magick, and oppressive boredom on one hand and the
Luciferian agents of wisdom, unleashed creativity and anarchic
rebellion on the other. What we have been brainwashed to believe is
"good": patriotism, so-called "free" enterprise, private property,
Christianity (not the teachings of Christ, but the hateful travesty
that the religion bearing his name has become thanks to the likes of
Pat Robertson and his filthy ilk), is now beginning to be seen by
the emerging generation of the crowned and conquering child to be
the deathtrip bullshit it truly is.
A whole culture is collapsing and a new one is about to be born.
Richard Metzger is the editor of
DisInformation and would like to
gratefully acknowledge the valuable conversations with Grant
Morrison and the enigmatic being known only as
Brother Blue that
helped in preparation of this essay.
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