Sex, Drugs and Rocket Science: The Occult World of Jack Parsons with Adam Parfrey
West of The Rockies
Original Air-Date: July 10, 2016
Adam Parfrey’s fearless publishing style has lead to an invaluable contribution to the modern literary world – he dares to venture where few men dare, releasing information to the world that is absolutely priceless. Known for his risqué and unconventional choice in books, their content and subject-matter provide insight and illumination into topics that the general public, for the most part, has never stumbled upon or even heard of.
Parfrey aside for now though, this West of The Rockies episode focuses on a very particular book, namely, Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons, written by John Carter (alongside a rather insightful and entertaining foreword by Robert Anton Wilson). Jack Parsons was a rocket scientist, inarguably the most significant and influential rocket scientist to have walked this Earth. Though oft overlooked in history and popular media, his works and inventions are essentially the entire basis for NASA's successful rocket program. He was an eccentric, daring and fearless man, co-founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an absolute genius whose experimentations lead to the invention of rocket fuel, helping the allies to win WWII.
When not engaging with rockets and explosives, however, Parsons lead a secret life of underground occultism, associating with the likes of Aleister Crowley and L. Ron Hubbard, engaging in sex-magick rituals, and, most incredibly, signing an oath asserting himself to be the Antichrist (and in fact genuinely believing so). Interesting, or perhaps more frighteningly, Parsons decided to invoke the Devil at the mere age of thirteen, performing a ritual in his bedroom (which is commonly believed to have been successful), and rather unsurprisingly frightening himself to such an extent, that he ceased to pursue his bizarre occult interests for quite some time.
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Real Science includes Metaphysics!!
Sometimes rabbit trails go deep, and this is one such subject. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is still located in Pasadena, California; right where Jack Parsons grew up, conducted his early experiments, conducted long complex Thelemic rites with L. Ron Hubbard, headed the local OTO, held sex magic parties in a mansion, was a major figure in the founding of JPL, and ultimately also where he was killed during an experiment... all in Pasadena! He didn't need to move to California... he hosted this big party in his own backyard. Some have speculated that JPL really stands for "Jack Parsons Laboratory".... or perhaps "Jack Parsons Lives." He was Aleister Crowley's hand picked OTO successor, but died young.
Lots of good and bad things have been said about Parsons, so you may decide for yourself... or not at all, and just connect the many interesting dots of this little known maze that ties mainstream science, metaphysics, occultism, well known figures, a wild lifestyle, and much more. From clear facts, connected dots, and occult symbolism... one can easily extrapolate from Crowley to Parsons, JPL to NASA, to the present day... and even from the OTO to the military if you want to just keep digging. Sometimes the best kept secrets are the ones right out in the open.. because few would ever believe it!
Jack Parsons--for better or for worse--must have correctly concluded that Metaphysics was very much a part of science. CERN is on the cusp of fully proving that right now! It's a whole new frontier, with both positive and negative energies, spirits, and even laws. He was right on the cutting edge of science in his time. In many of these mainstream endeavors, especially within the scientific community (then and now), there are certain milieus who would both embrace and shun someone like Parsons. While most are Atheists, there are probably many more occultists than there are Christians or mainstream religious people.
After Jack Parsons was blown up during an experiment in his home, he was still alive. He reportedly said: "I wasn't finished"... which was somewhat of a haunting statement since he very likely would have gone on to much greater success and fame... although he likely was disoriented and was referring to that particular experiment. If I were to guess, I would say that the recent interest in this largely unknown important figure is due in part to the end of an unofficial "gag order." Those within these secret societies probably long to be "known".. and release information from their mainstream fronts.. even while officially pretending to be silent on the issue. I'm certain members of occultic societies despise "Atheists," but support them as "useful idiots."
Jack Parsons [Crowley, O.T.O, L. Ron Hubbard]
John Whiteside Parsons (born Marvel Whiteside Parsons October 2, 1914 – June 17, 1952), better known as Jack Parsons, was an American rocket engineer and rocket propulsion researcher, chemist, inventor, businessman, expert witness, writer, socialite, and Thelemite occultist. Parsons was associated with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and was one of the principal founders of both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Aerojet Engineering Corporation. He invented the first castable, composite solid rocket propellant, and pioneered the advancement of both liquid-fuel and solid-fuel rockets.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Parsons was raised by a wealthy family on Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena. Inspired by science fiction literature, he developed an interest in rocketry in his childhood and in 1928 began amateur rocket experiments with school friend Ed Forman. He was forced to drop out of Pasadena Junior College and Stanford University due to financial difficulties during the Great Depression, but in 1934 he united with Forman and graduate student Frank Malina to form the Caltech-affiliated GALCIT Rocket Research Group, supported by Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory chairman Theodore von Kármán. In 1939 the Group gained funding from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to work on Jet-Assisted Take Off (JATO) for the U.S. military. In 1942 they founded Aerojet to develop and sell their JATO technology in response to American involvement in World War II; the Group became JPL in 1943.
After a brief involvement in Marxism, in 1939 Parsons began practising magick and converted to Thelema, the English occultist Aleister Crowley's new religious movement. In 1941, alongside his first wife Helen Northrup, Parsons joined the Agape Lodge, the Californian branch of the Thelemite Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). At Crowley's bidding, he replaced Wilfred Talbot Smith as its leader in 1942 and ran the Lodge from his mansion on Orange Grove Avenue. Inciting criminal investigations into allegedly illicit activities, Parsons was expelled from JPL and Aerojet in 1944 in part due to the Lodge's infamy, along with his quixotic working practices as a scientist. In 1945 Parsons separated from Helen after having an affair with her sister Sara; when Sara left him for his friend L. Ron Hubbard he conducted the Babalon Working, a series of rituals designed to invoke the Thelemic goddess Babalon to Earth. He and Hubbard continued the procedure with Marjorie Cameron, whom Parsons married in 1946. After Hubbard and Sara defrauded him of his life savings, Parsons resigned from the OTO and went through various jobs while acting as a consultant for the Israeli rocket program. Amid the climate of McCarthyism he was accused of espionage and left unable to work in rocketry. In 1952 Parsons died at the age of 37 in a home laboratory explosion that attracted national media attention; the police ruled it an accident, but many associates suspected suicide or assassination.
Parsons' occult and libertarian polemical writings were published posthumously, reigniting intrigue in his status as a Thelemite among Western esoteric and countercultural circles, with occultists citing him as one of the most significant figures in propagating Thelema across North America. Although academic interest in his scientific career was negligible following his death, in subsequent decades scientific historians came to recognize Parsons' contributions to rocket propulsion chemistry and design. For these innovations, his advocacy of space exploration and human spaceflight, and his role in the founding of JPL and Aerojet, Parsons is regarded as among the most important figures in the history of the U.S. space program. He has been the subject of several biographies and fictionalized portrayals.