PASADENA, CA — They called it the “Babalon Working” — a ceremonial procession of occult rituals enacted in 1946 by a 31-year-old rocket engineer and a 34-year-old science fiction writer intended to manifest a living incarnation of the goddess Babalon right under the sunny skies of southern California.
The scientist, Jack Parsons, was a genius who had dropped out of CalTech to cofound the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and pioneer the invention of rocket fuels that are still used today. The fantasy scribe was L. Ron Hubbard. He went on to create Scientology.
At the height of World War II, the U.S. military enthusiastically funded Parsons and the JPL to beat the Nazis with advancements in rocket technology.
Parsons emerged from the war, then, as a brilliant inventor who also had considerably deep pockets with which to finance his actual greatest passion: the implementation of the pagan “magick” contained in the writings and practices of British occult icon Aleister Crowley.
In 1945, Parsons purchased a Pasadena mansion and bid like-minded seekers to join him there in a libertine commune that came to be called “The Parsonage.”
According to the essential Jack Parsons biography Sex and Rockets by John Carter:
“Jack specified that only bohemians, artists, musicians, atheists, anarchists, or any other exotic types need to apply for rooms — any mundane soul would be unceremoniously rejected.”
L. Ron Hubbard quickly made Parsons’ cut, and an uneasy, short-lived, and, in many senses, explosive friendship commenced between the two visionaries.
Throughout both his scientific and spiritual work, Parsons kept in close touch with Aleister Crowley, his idol and mentor. Parsons also practiced Crowley’s Thelema religion and espoused and lived by Crowley’s main credo (“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of law”). In addition, Parsons also regularly sent Crowley money.
As a result, Crowley’s personal endorsement of Hubbard — “He is the most Thelemic person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our own principles” — suggested to Parsons that perhaps he had finally met his magickal match.
Newly emboldened with a partner in otherworldly proclivities, Parsons sought with Hubbard to manifest the pagan goddess Babalon out of the divine and into this earthly realm. Thus began the machinations of the Babalon Working.
Among Crowley’s most vaunted ideals, absolute sexual freedom ranked high. Parsons embraced this concept in 1945 when he left his wife Helen Northrup for her 17-year-old sister, Sara Northrup.For a while, the new couple’s open relationship pleased both. That changed, though, when Sara took up with L. Ron Hubbard instead.
Sara’s affair with Hubbard strained the limits of Parsons’ ability to suppress his jealousy, but it also inspired him to embark on a spree of “sex magick” undertakings that, according to true believers, rocked The Parsonage with supernatural activity.
According to occult expert Richard Metzger, most of the rituals involved Parsons masturbating onto magical tablets while Hubbard, working as his scribe, “scanned the astral plane for signs and visions.”
Following a Babalon Working ceremony in the Mojave Desert, Parsons believed he had finally conjured Babalon in the form of Marjorie Cameron, a 23-year-old illustrator who had dropped by The Parsonage. The two immediately became a couple and embarked on whole new realms of sex magick.
The Babalon Working culminated with Parsons and Hubbard, inspired by Crowley’s 1917 novel Moonchild, attempting to conjure a newborn Thelemic messiah that would overthrow Christianity by way of an immaculate conception somewhere else on the planet.
Reportedly, this stage involved Parsons and Cameron having sex while Hubbard chanted alongside them. Even Crowley is said to have backed off from this notion.
As far as anyone knows, nobody ever did give birth to the Antichrist as a result.
In the wake of the Babalon Working, Parsons invested his considerable life savings into Allied Enterprises, a business partnership with Hubbard and Sara Northrup. Allied Enterprises ended in fairly short order with Parsons losing all his money while Hubbard and Northrup sailed off in Parsons’ boat and got married. It especially stung, then, when even Crowley chided Parsons for being a “weak fool” who fell for an obvious “confidence scheme.”
From there, Hubbard authored Dianetics and instituted Scientology. He departed this realm of existence in 1986, a hugely powerful multimillionaire.
In 1952, after a lifetime of international rocketry breakthroughs, interdimensional occult adventuring, boundless sexual derring-do, and accusations of espionage and devil worship, Jack Parsons blew up at only 37. He died in a home laboratory explosion that’s on record as being accidental. At least that’s the official story.
To learn more about Scientology, watch the “A Scientologist’s Escape” episode of Investigation Discovery’s Dangerous Persuasions on ID GO now!
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Main photo: Jack Parsons [WikiMedia Commons]