Friday, August 26, 2011

John Whiteside Parsons -The Weird

John Whiteside Parsons is almost a hero of mine. There was a kind of style that existed during the 40's, 50's, and 60's that doesn't exist any more. A certain style shows like Mad Men try to express with every nostalgic shot.

This goes one step farther in drawing together strange elements like rocket fuel, witchcraft, early space exploration and the occult-industrial-complex. For some reason, pure evil is so much more wicked in the hot daylight of sun-kissed California.

For some reason I'll never understand, Skinnie Entertainment Magazine published this article back in 2004. The publisher really enjoyed conspiracy theory material at the time, so it was fun getting to be The Weird Guy at all of the big magazine release parties.

John “Jack” Whiteside Parsons (1914-1952) was a native Californian, a self-taught chemist, a brilliant rocket engineer who started the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and was so influential to America’s space program there’s a peak on the dark side of the Moon named after him. 

He was also a poet, philosopher, writer and hard-drinking swinger who died of a mysterious explosion in his garage at the age of 37. Parsons was also an occultist who just might have helped kick-start the Apocalypse.


Sunny California, 1936.  Parsons, 22, met with fellow science enthusiasts Frank Malina and Edward S. Foreman at Cal Tech University to attend a lecture on the possibility of a rocket-powered airplane. The trio convinced the lead scientist of Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory-Caltech’s department, Theodore von Karman, to let Parsons and Foreman work together with Malina to create a liquid-propellant rocket motor.

Early experiments resulted in an explosion that almost wiped out their Cal Tech lab, earning the three the title of “The Suicide Squad” and forcing them to continue in a stretch of the desert near the Devil’s Gate Dam in Pasadena.

Parsons had never been to college, but would eventually receive government grants to develop breakthroughs in solid-fuel rockets that would allow America to break the sound barrier and go all the way to the Moon.
Parsons also started the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is now a major industrial complex, decorated with a statue of Parsons in tribute.  Some of his work is still classified, to this day.


Parsons had become interested in the occult at the age of 13, and in 1941 became a member of the California lodge of the Ordo Templi Orientis (an occult society with connections to Masonry) and a practitioner of Thelema, a bizarre fusion of Asian philosophy and Tantric-sex rituals.

Impressed by the young chemical engineer, Alister Crowley, the leader of the O.T.O, quickly appointed Parsons as the head of the California lodge after a single year.

Parsons’s mansion had become a haven of various personalities in an era when people didn’t say “The Occult” in polite company.  His parties frightened neighbors, who would call police that would just be turned away when the young scientist cited his government connections. 


Parsons wrote essays that reflected his inner belief that modern society quashed freedom and healthy rebellion, and that the true beliefs of Christianity had been usurped by false ones which promoted only spiritual slavery, a common theme in occult philosophy.

The rocket scientist eventually met L. Ron Hubbard, and the two decided to attempt a ritual called “The Babylon Working”, a mystic rite designed to allow “The Old Ones” (pictures of which look a lot like the “Grays” UFO people claim to have seen), end the current world, and bring about a new age of spiritual harmony.

But, before that could happen, the current world needed a potent infusion of chaos to shake things up enough for people to “evolve.”

The Babylon Working took quite some time, involving candles, chanting in Latin, summoning circles, bizarre ingredients, rituals in the desert and marathon sex with Parsons’s hot redhead girlfriend, Majorie Cameron.
Hey, it isn’t easy to bring about the Apocalypse!


Did The Babylon Working, well, work?  It depends on what you believe.  Two years after the ritual (which took place in 1946) the first atomic bomb was detonated, World War II came to an end, a UFO (supposedly) crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, and LSD was invented, resulting in the psychedelic 60’s.
Experts in the occult claim that L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons opened a door, something flew in, the laws of time and space were forever altered, and that our existence was changed forever.

Later, L. Ron Hubbard and Parsons had a massive falling out, with Hubbard skipping town with both Parsons’s cash and girlfriend.  Parsons was also kicked out of the Order of Thelma, investigated by the FBI, fired from his government position, and end up having to take various special effects jobs in Hollywood to pay his bills.

A freak explosion ended his life in 1952.  The official story is that Parsons dropped a canister full of unstable chemicals while he was working on a rocket fuel experiment in his garage.  There are also claims that he was assassinated by anyone from the FBI to a vengeful saboteur he testified against in a criminal court case a decade before.

John Whiteside Parsons was an influential progenitor of a branch of our science that still exists today, who lost it all to become a permanent fixture in occult counter-culture.  He went from the top of “accepted society” to the depths of the underground, and didn’t survive the trip.

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