By Richard Metzger | babalon.net
"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 groups seven acre Arroyo Seco testing facility would eventually become Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA's rocket design center.
Werner von Braun claimed it was the self-taught Parsons, not himself, who 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 visibly evoked Satan 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 1930s 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 established order."
Parsons rose quickly through the ranks, taking over the Agape Lodge from Smith at Crowley's decree within a year.
"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."