Beloved of BABALON
A Psych Profile of JPL's Magickal
from "StarFire" magazine, a Thelemic
"But I say that that perfect image
in the heart of man is patterned by the awful lust in space-time
that shapes all women, the insatiable and eternal lust of Pan
that is BABALON."
"About J.W.P. -- all that I can say is that I am very sorry -- I
feel sure that he had fine ideas, but he was led astray firstly
by Smith, then he was robbed of his last penny by a confidence
man named Hubbard ... I have no further interest in Jack and his
adventures; he is just a weak-minded fool, and must go to the
devil in his own way..."
John Whiteside Parsons was born on 2
October 1914 in Los Angeles, California. His mother and father
separated whilst he was quite young and Parsons said later that this
left him with "...a hatred of authority and a spirit of revolution",
as well as an Oedipal attachment to his mother. He felt withdrawn
and isolated as a child, and was bullied by other children. This
gave him, he thought, "...the requisite contempt for the crowd and
for the group mores...". Parsons was born into a rich family, and
sometime in his youth there was what he referred to as a loss of
This loss must only have been a
temporary one, though -- perhaps caused by the break-up of the
family -- since in the 1940's he inherited from his father a large,
Victorian-style mansion in the well-to-do area of Pasadena. During
adolescence, Parsons developed an interest in science, especially
physics and chemistry, and in fact he went on to develop a career as
a brilliant scientist in the fields of explosives and rocket-fuel
technology. His achievements as a scientist were such that the
Americans named a lunar crater after him when they came to claim
that territory for their own. Appropriately enough, Crater Parsons
is on the dark side of the moon.
Parsons made contact with the
A.'.A.'. in December
1938, whilst visiting Agape Lodge of the O.T.O. in California. He
was taken along by one of his fellow scientists. At that time Agape
Lodge used to give weekly performances of the Gnostic Catholic Mass,
seeing this as both a sacrament and a recruiting front. Agape Lodge
was by then a moderately thriving and expanding concern, having been
founded in the mid-1920's by Wilfred T. Smith, an expatriate
Englishman. Smith had many years earlier been an associate of
Charles Stansfield Jones (Frater Achad) in Vancouver, Canada.
Crowley seems to have had, at least to begin with, a high regard for
Smith, and expected great things of him.
Over the years, however, he grew
increasingly disillusioned. Crowley felt that the O.T.O. should have
flowered in California, given imaginative leadership. Smith was
simply not capable of delivering, he thought, and perhaps even
deliberately impeding things. By the time that Parsons joined the
Lodge in 1939, together with his wife Helen, relations between Smith
and Crowley were already in terminal decline, and Crowley was
casting around for someone else to take over headship of the Lodge.
One of the items in the Yorke Collection at Warburg Institute is a
collection of over 200 letters exchanged between Crowley and
in which the steady decline in their relationship is starkly
At this time, the Lodge was firmly in the grip of Smith and his
mistress, Regina Kahl. They were very authoritarian, and ruled
things with the proverbial rod of iron. At the weekly performances
of the Mass, Smith was the Priest and Regina Kahl the Priestess. The
Parsons were initiated into the
O.T.O. in 1939 and like many
entrants of the time they took up membership of the A.'.A.'. as
well. Jack Parsons took as his motto "Thelema Obtentum Procedero
Amoris Nuptiae", an interestingly hybrid phrase which conveys the
intention of attaining Thelema through the nuptial of love; the
initials transliterated into Hebrew give his Magical Number, 210. He
seems to have made quite an impression on his fellow members. Jane
Wolfe, who had spent some time with Crowley at Cefalu, was an active
member of the Lodge at the time. The following entry is from her
Magical Record during December 1940:
"Unknown to me, John Whiteside
Parsons, a newcomer, began astral travels. This knowledge
decided Regina to undertake similar work. All of which I learned
after making my own decision. So the time must be propitious.
Incidentally, I take Jack Parsons to be the child who "shall
behold them all" (the mysteries hidden therein. AL, 54-5).
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. 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."
Jack Parsons seems to have had something
of a reverential attitude towards Smith, perhaps seeing him as some
sort of father figure -- the relationship between them seems to have
had that sort of ambiguity. In later years, he described how he felt
an alternate attraction and repulsion where Smith was concerned; and
Smith, whatever his limitations and faults may have been, was
evidently a charismatic man. Parsons, for his part, evidently made a
strong impression on Smith. In a letter to Crowley during March
1941, Smith wrote as follows:
"...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 then myself -- O
yes, I know it would not necessarily have to be very good to be
better than mine...
John Parsons is going to be valuable. I feel sure we are going
to move ahead in spite of Max Schneider's continual efforts to
discredit me. He still exhibits your letters as proof that I am
a number one son of a bitch. I thought you were going to write
to tell him to clamp down..."
The last sentences in this quotation
throw light on an important factor in the affairs of Agape Lodge --
the turmoil and personal friction that was a constant emotional
backdrop, and which seems finally to have invalidated all their
efforts. The Lodge was constantly driven by personal feuding and
upheaval, and Crowley's influence over the course of events seems in
reality to have been marginal. The nucleus of Agape Lodge was some
sort of forerunner of a hippie commune. Apart from anything else, Smith appears to have regarded the women members of the Lodge as
constituting his personal harem, and of course this added to the
friction. Crowley was in correspondence with many of the members at
this time, and seems to some extent to have encouraged people to
tell tales on each other. No doubt he saw it as a good way of
keeping in touch with what was going on, but it tended to inflame
the widespread personal clashes that were going on. He did try to
make openness and honesty a policy -- laying down a rule that if "A"
wrote to "B" attacking "C", then "A" was duty-bound to copy the
letter to "C" as a matter of course. This seems to have happened but
In his attempts to assert his authority over the Lodge generally,
and Smith in particular, Crowley was frustrated by the loyalty --
despite all the bitchiness around -- to Smith and Kahl. On the face
of it, he should have been able to exert his authority easily
enough. Karl Germer, his trusted right-hand man, was in New York;
whilst his colleague from the Cefalu days -- Jane Wolfe -- was a
member of the Lodge. Jane Wolfe was the same age as Crowley, but she
was very weak and indecisive. Reading about the course of the Agape
Lodge during the 1930's and 1940's is a bewildering experience. The
whole thing, despite the glamour that time and mystery now lend it,
seems to have been a mess. It is as well for us to bear in mind that
Jack Parsons -- his obvious gifts notwithstanding -- was part of
this melodramatic flux and flow.
Although Crowley grew increasingly despairing of and impatient with
Smith, and saw all too clearly the need to replace him as head of
Agape Lodge, the problem for Crowley -- quite apart from HOW to get
rid of Smith -- was with whom to replace him. In the course of a
letter to Crowley of March 1942, Jane Wolfe made her
"Incidentally, I believe Jack
Parsons -- who is devoted to Wilfred -- to be the coming leader,
with Wilfred in advisory capacity. I hope you two get together
some day, although your present activities in England seem to
have postponed the date of your coming to us. Jack, by the way,
comes in through some inner experiences, but mostly, perhaps,
through the world of science. That is, he was "sold on the Book
of the Law" because it foretold Einstein, Heisenberg -- whose
work is not permitted in Russia -- the quantum field folks,
whose work is along the "factor infinite and unknown" lines,
etc. You two would have a whale of a lot of things to talk over.
He and Helen are lock, stock and barrel for the Order."
By 1943, Crowley appears to have decided
that some definite course of action was necessary to get rid of
Smith, and that his continued presences in the Lodge was harmful. In
a letter of May 1943, to a member called Roy Leffingwell, he wrote:
"I think that Smith is quite
hopeless. I am quite satisfied with what you say about his
reactions to your family. It is all very well, but Smith has
apparently nothing else in his mind. He appears to be using the
Order as a happy hunting ground for "affairs". You say the same
thing, and I have no doubt that it is quite correct. I think we
must get rid of him once and for all; and this will include the
Parsons, unless they dissociate themselves immediately from him,
At this time Helen Parsons was having an
affair with Smith, and also supplanting Regina Kahl as Priestess in
the public performances of the Gnostic Mass. Jack Parsons retained
his strong feelings of loyalty towards Smith, although perhaps a
little confused by events. Crowley, determined to get rid of Smith,
viewed with concern the extent to which Parsons -- of whom he seems
to have held a high opinion -- was under the spell of Smith. Whilst
having a high regard for Parsons, Crowley was also keenly aware of
his faults, which he hoped Parsons would outgrow in the course of
time and experience. In view of subsequent events in the life of
Parsons, these perceptions are interesting and important. Once
again, they can best be conveyed, perhaps, by extracts from several
letters that Crowley wrote. In a letter of July 1943 to Max Scheider,
"As to Jack; I think he is perfectly
alright at the bottom of everything; but he is very young, and
he has at present nothing like the strength to deal with matters
within his jurisdiction objectively."
In the course of a letter to Jane Wolfe,
in December 1943, Crowley made the following assessment:
"Jack is the Objective (Smith is
out, an affaire classe'e: anybody who communicates with him in
any way is out also; and that is that, and the best plan is to
sponge the whole slate clean, and get to work to build up
Thelema on sound principals. And no more brothel-building; let's
use marble, not rotten old boards!). Jack's trouble is his
weakness, and his romantic side -- the poet -- is at PRESENT a
hindrance. He gets a kick from some magazine trash, or an
'occult' novel (if only he knew how they were concocted!) and
dashes off in wild pursuit. He MUST learn that the sparkle of
champagne is based on sound wine; pumping carbonic acid into
urine is not the same thing.
"I wish to God I had him for six months -- even three, with a
hustle -- to train in Will, in discipline. He must understand
that fine and fiery flashes of Spirit come from the organization
of Matter, from the drilling of every function of every bodily
organ until it has become so regular as to be automatic, and
carried on by itself deep down in the Unconscious. It is the
steadiness of one's Heart that enables one to endure the rapture
of great passion; one doesn't want the vital functions to be
In February 1944 he wrote in somewhat
similar spirit to Mr. and Mrs. Burlinghame, who were Lodge members:
"...I am very glad indeed of your
offer to co-operate practically in any way possible. I have left
Jack Parsons in charge; he is quite all right in essence, but
very young and easily swayed by passing influences. I shall look
to you to help in keeping him up to the mark."
And more expansively, in the course of a
letter to Jack Parsons himself in March 1946:
"I am particularly interested in what
you have written to me about the Elemental, because for some
little while past I have been endeavoring to intervene
PERSONALLY on your behalf. I would however have you recall
Levi's aphorism 'the love of the Magus for such beings is
insensate, and may destroy him'.
It seems to me that there is a danger of your sensitiveness
upsetting your balance. Any experience that comes your way you
have a tendency to over-estimate. The first fine careless
rapture wears off in a month or so, and some other experience
comes along and carries you off on its back. Meanwhile you have
neglected and bewildered those who are dependent on you, either
from above or from below.
I will ask you to bear in mind that you have one fulcrum for all
your levers, and that is your original oath to devote yourself
to raising mankind. All experiences, all efforts, must be
referred to this; as long as it remains unshaken you cannot go
far wrong, for by its own stability it will bring you back from
any tendency to excess.
At the same time, you being as sensitive as you are, it behooves
you to be more on your guard than would be the case with the
majority of people."
Resolved though Crowley was to get rid
of Smith, it was a long and difficult maneuver, and had to be
approached piece-meal at first. Many of the Lodge members remained
loyal to Smith, and were reluctant to see him go. Smith was only too
happy to hang on, in the hope that what he saw as "popular opinion"
would persuade Crowley to retain him after all. Throughout all this,
Smith seemed unable to understand the depths of Crowley's hostility
towards him; his letters to Crowley of this period carry the tone --
whether implicitly or explicitly -- of some wretch having to bear the
gratuitous beatings of his master. Some sort of dual authority
apparently operated between Smith and Parsons for a while -- to the
reluctance of Parsons, himself still very much a Smith loyalist.
Eventually, Crowley seems to have hit
upon a novel way to remove Smith; he declared that Smith was the
avatar of some god and should go away on a Magical Retirement until
he had realized his true identity. To this end Crowley wrote a
document of instruction for Smith to follow, "LIBER 132". Smith made
an attempt at this Operation but had no joy at all in plumbing the
depths of his divinity. It seems doubtful if Crowley intended him
to; I have seen another letter from Crowley to an American
correspondent at the time, in which Crowley came as close as he
could to admitting the Machiavellian thrust of the whole affair.
The way was now clear for Crowley to appoint Parsons as head of
Agape Lodge. If he had hoped that the Lodge would be more stable
without Smith in charge, however, he was wrong. Smith continued to
live there for some time after, despite all attempts by Crowley and
Germer to declare him a leper, contact with whom would warrant
immediate expulsion. Parsons remained unhappy at what he considered
to be the unjust treatment of Smith. In late 1943 he wrote to
Crowley attacking him on this point, and offering his resignation.
Crowley's esteem of Parsons may be gauged from the fact that he
declined to accept the resignation, and asked Parsons to reconsider.
Parsons agreed to remain as head of the Lodge.
Parsons had by this time inherited a large, Victorian-style mansion
from his father, in a well-to-do area of Pasadena. He needed to rent
out some rooms to make ends meet, and he scandalized the
neighborhood by ensuring that only bohemians and the like were
accepted. By the summer of 1943 Helen had had a child by Smith, and
divorce was in the air. Jack Parsons took up with Helen's younger
sister Sara Northrup, known as Betty. This time was one of turmoil
for Parsons. We can get a glimpse of it from a document he wrote
some years later, "ANALYSIS BY A MASTER OF THE TEMPLE", where he
speaks of himself in the third person. It includes the following
allusion to this time:
"Betty served to effect a
transference from Helen at a critical period. Had this not
occurred, your repressed homosexual component could have caused
a serious disorder. Your passion for Betty also gave you the
magical force needed at the time, and the act of adultery tinged
with incest seemed as your magical conformation in the Law of
We get a further glimpse of Parsons'
uncertainty in the course of a letter from Jane Wolfe to Crowley,
early in 1945. She wrote:
"Last evening, when Jack brought me
these various papers for me to post to you, I saw, for the first
time, the small boy, or child. This is it that is bewildered,
does not quite know when to take hold in this matter, or where,
and is completely bowled over by the ruthlessness of Smith --
Smith, who has a master-hand when it comes to dealing with this
However, Parsons was also beginning to
be seen in something of a sinister light. In the course of a letter
to Karl Germer, Jane Wolfe wrote about a strange atmosphere that was
manifesting. The following comes from the end of 1945:
"There is something strange going
on, quite apart from Smith. There is always Betty, remember, who
hates Smith. But our own Jack is enamoured with Witchcraft, the
houmfort, voodoo. From the start he always wanted to evoke
something -- no matter what, I am inclined to think, as long as
he got a result.
According to Meeka yesterday, he has had a result -- an
elemental he doesn't know what to do with. From that statement
of hers, it must bother him -- somewhat at least."
Phyllis Seckler, from whose account this
passage of Jane Wolfe's has been drawn, adds her own memories to
"Meeka also reported to Jane that
another two persons always had to do a lot of banishing in the
house. They were sensitive and knew that there was something
alien and inimical was there. When I had been there during the
summer of 1944, I also knew there were troublesome spirits
about, especially on the third floor. It got so I couldn't stand
being up there, and a friend of mine couldn't even climb the
stairs that far, as the hair on the back of her neck began to
prickle and she got thoroughly frightened."
Into this maelstrom came a
very fateful contact. In August 1945 Parsons met L. Ron Hubbard, the
future founder of Scientology, who at that time was known as little
more than a writer of pulp stories and something of an eccentric. At
the time he met Parsons he was a naval officer on leave, and Parsons
invited him to stay at his house for the remainder of his leave.
They had quite a lot in common. Parsons was very interested in
science-fiction, as was Hubbard. Hubbard, for his part, was
interested in psychism and magic. As anyone will know who has read
the critical biography of Hubbard, "BARE-FACED MESSIAH", by
Miller, he was a very bizarre character indeed. For all his
charisma, charm and eccentricity, Hubbard appears to have been
little other than a confidence trickster, and from his point of view
Parsons was one more victim to be exploited. There is a certain
parallel with Parsons' relationship with Smith -- the more so
because Hubbard and Betty started a passionate affair. In spite of
this, Parsons' admiration of and enthusiasm for Hubbard remained
unabated. In a letter to Crowley of late 1945 he wrote:
"Although he has no formal training
in Magick, he has an extraordinary amount of experience and
understanding in the field. From some of his experiences I
deduce that he is in direct contact with some higher
intelligence, possibly his Guardian Angel... He is the most
Thelemic person I have ever met, and is in complete accord with
our own principles... I think I have made a great gain, and as
Betty and I are the best of friends there is little loss. I
cared for her rather deeply, but I have no desire to control her
emotions, and I can, I hope, control my own. I need a magical
partner. I have many experiments in mind..."
The "magical partner" is a reference to
Hubbard -- not to a Scarlet Woman, as might at first be supposed. In
January 1946 Parsons devised an Operation to, as he put it,
"...obtain the assistance of an elemental mate". The core of this
Working consisted of the utilization of the Enochian Tablet of Air,
or rather a specific angle of it. This was to be the focus of VIIIš
sexual magick, with the purpose of giving substance to the elemental
summons. Parsons continued with this for eleven days, evoking twice
daily. He noted various psychic phenomena during this period, but
felt discouraged by the apparent failure of the Operation. However,
success followed several days later. In his own words:
"The feeling of tension and unease
continued for four days. Then on January 18 at sunset, whilst
the Scribe and I were on the Mojave Desert, the feeling of
tension suddenly stopped. I turned to him and said 'it is done',
in absolute certainty that the Operation was accomplished. I
returned home, and found a young woman answering the
requirements waiting for me. She is describable as an air of
fire type with bronze red hair, fiery and subtle, determined and
obstinate, sincere and perverse, with extraordinary personality,
talent and intelligence.
During the period of January 19 to February 27 I invoked the
Goddess BABALON with the aid of magical partner (Ron Hubbard),
as was proper to one of my grade."
In case any reader has just beamed down
from another planet, perhaps it should be mentioned that the "young
woman" referred to was Marjorie Cameron. The more romantic amongst
us will perhaps be disappointed to learn that she seems to have
existed prior to Parsons' elemental summons. She and Parsons married
in October 1946; and the certificate gives her age as then 24, her
birthplace as Iowa, and her profession as an artist. At one time she
had served in the U.S. Navy. At the time of this Working she was on
a visit from New York, where her mother lived, and she returned
there after the Babalon Working for a while.
The passage by Parsons just quoted is a striking one, for several
reasons. It is notable that, even with the advent of Marjorie
Cameron he continued to regard Hubbard as being his magical partner.
I don't think that Parsons ever considered that he had conjured her
from thin air, so to speak. However her appearance is accounted for
-- synchronicity, sheer coincidence, magical manipulation of events,
or whatever -- is irrelevant. The aim of the Operation as a whole
was to invoke Babalon, and obtaining the services of a suitable
Scarlet Woman by elemental summons was -- at least at the time -- a
means to this over-riding end. This needs to be borne in mind,
because otherwise there is a temptation to see Parsons and Cameron
as constituting the love-story of the century; in fact, the
relationship was rather more complex than that.
At the end of February 1946, Hubbard went away for a few days.
Parsons went back to the Mojave Desert and invoked Babalon. He gives
no further details of this, unfortunately. All he does say is that
during this invocation
"...the presence of the Goddess came upon me,
and I was commanded to write the following communication..."
communication, which purports to be the words of Babalon, consists
of 77 short verses. Whether it was direct voice, trance, or inspired
writing, he does not say. The answer probably lies in his Magical
Record of this period, but as far as I know it has not survived.
This communication of 77 verses he entitled "LIBER 49". He does not
explain the title, but no doubt considered such explanation
unnecessary, since 49 is a number sacred to Babalon. Chapter 49 of
Crowley's "THE BOOK OF LIES" is a panegyric to Babalon. The
connection is evident in "THE VISION AND THE VOICE", in which
Babalon is a strong and alluring current, and indeed the core of the
series of visions. In the account of the 27th Aethyr the symbol of
Babalon is as a blood-red rose of 49 petals -- red with the blood of
the saints who have squeezed every last drop into the Cup of Babalon.
In the afore-mentioned 27th Aethyr we read:
"O Mother, wilt thou never have
compassion on the children of earth? Was it not enough that the
Rose should be red with the blood of thine heart, and that its
petals should be 7 and by 7?"
Crowley's note to this adds:
"This is the use to which Babalon
puts the blood of the Masters of the Temple (see 12th Aethyr) to
vivify the rose of eternal creation; i.e. the attainment of the
Master of the Temple fills the world with life and beauty..."
Since it casts further light on the
symbolism of Babalon, and shows how firmly rooted this Babalon
Working is in "THE VISION AND THE VOICE", it will be useful to quote
one further passage, this time from the account of the 15th Aethyr:
"There appears immediately in the
Aethyr a tremendous column of scarlet fire, whirling forth,
rebounding, crying aloud. And about it are four columns, of
green and blue and gold and silver, each inscribed with writings
in the character of the dagger. And the column of fire is
dancing among the pillars. Now it seems that the fire is but the
skirt of the dancer, and the dancer is a mighty god. The vision
As the dancer whirls, she chants in a low, strange voice,
quickening as she goes: Lo! I gather up every spirit that is
pure, and weave him into my vesture of flame. I lick up the
lives of men, and their souls sparkle from mine eyes. I am the
mighty sorceress, the lust of the spirit. And by my dancing I
gather for my mother NUIT the heads of all them that are
baptized in the waters of life. I am the lust of the spirit that
eateth up the soul of man. I have prepared a feast for the
adepts, and they that partake thereof shall see God.
Now it is clear what she has woven in her dance; it is the
Crimson Rose of the 49 Petals, and the Pillars are the Cross
with which it is conjoined. And between the pillars shoot out
rays of pure green fire; and now all the pillars are golden. She
ceases to dance and dwindles, gathering herself into the centre
of the Rose."
Parsons spent the rest of his life
devoted to Babalon -- some would say that he became obsessed by Her.
"LIBER 49" contains instructions for the earthing of this
Babalon current in the form or an avatar, daughter
or manifestation of Babalon, who was to appear amongst us. It would
seem that Parsons was expecting a full-blown incarnation, and not
simply the inauguration of a force. The second verse of the text
declares it to be the fourth chapter of "THE BOOK OF THE LAW", and
it is worth quoting this in full:
"And this is my book, that is the
fourth chapter of the Book of the Law, He completing the Name,
for I am out of NUIT by HORUS, the incestuous sister of RA-HOOR-KHUIT."
In terms of content, level of
inspiration, and style, "LIBER 49" is nothing like "THE BOOK OF THE
LAW"; and on this basis alone, the claim can be looked at askance.
We could expect, I think, that a fourth chapter would evince some
sort of continuity with the three chapters received by Crowley, and
this is not at all evident in "LIBER 49". However, the key to the
claim lies in the reference, in the quoted passage, to "the Name".
The name is Tetragrammaton, IHVH; and the "He completing" is the He
final. On this basis, Parsons considered it axiomatic that
Father-Mother-Son, IHV, was incomplete without the Daughter, the He
final; this he considered to be Babalon, the natural complement of
Vau, the Son, Horus. Consideration of this is, I can appreciate,
something of a hiccup to a straight narrative of Parsons and the
Babalon Working. However, it is so central to his thinking that it
really ought to be outlined now.
I can best give the flavor of this by quoting a couple of passages
from one of his essays that has yet to be published. He discusses
the break-up of patriarchy in the dawn of the twentieth century, and
the beginnings of a new age of Horus. The nature of this is seen as
disruptive, bringing confusion and terror. He instances two terrible
wars, the atomic bomb, and an increase in epicene and homosexual
tendencies. He continues as follows:
"But the great event of the aeon,
which will bring with it the possibility of redemption to the
whole of the western world, has not yet been made manifest. We,
who contain the knowledge of this event among Ourselves until
the time is right, and who were in fact the instruments of its
gestation, give these present indications.
The Aeon of Horus is of the nature
of a child. To perceive this, we must conceive of the nature of a
child without the veil of sentiment- ality -- beyond good and
evil, perfectly gentle, perfectly ruthless, containing all
possibilities within the limits of heredity, and highly
susceptible to training and environment. But the nature of Horus
is also the nature of force -- blind, terrible, unlimited force.
That is why the West stands in imminent danger of annihilation.
that is why the West also stands in the possibility of the most
rapid and tremendous evolution that the world has ever known.
The balance must be love and understanding, or else all else
fails. Now We have said enough for this place.
Then let the student read and meditate upon the ritual of Horus,
constructing the total nature of Horus out of the polyphony of
the component concepts. And, if he dare, let him invoke Horus
and partake of the power and energy that is his right under the
New Aeon. And let him also consider the love whereby Horus may
be fulfilled and dignified; and meditating on this, let him
prevision and invoke that which is to come."
I haven't come across any material
written by Parsons prior to the Babalon Working. However, the
probability must be that ideas similar to this -- the need for a
complement to Horus -- were on his mind before 1946.
A few days after receiving "LIBER 49", Parsons put in hand the
ritual preparations as indicated in the text. Again in his own
"On March 1 and 2, 1946, I prepared
the alter and equipment in accordance with the instructions in "LIBER
49". The Scribe, Ron Hubbard, had been away about a week, and
knew nothing of my invocation of BABALON, which I had kept
entirely secret. On the night of March 2 he returned, and
described a vision he had had that evening, of a savage and
beautiful woman riding naked on a great cat-like beast. He was
impressed with the urgent necessity of giving me some message or
communication. We prepared magically for this communication,
constructing a temple at the alter with the analysis of the key
word. He was robed in white, carrying a lamp; and I in black,
hooded, with the cup and dagger. At his suggestion we played
Rachmaninov's "Isle of the Dead" as background music, and set an
automatic recorder to transcribe audible occurrences. At
approximately 8pm he began to dictate, I transcribed directly as
Hubbard's vision sounds a bit too glib
to me. It sounds rather like he'd seen a copy of "THE BOOK OF THOTH"
Atu XI, "LUST", showing the Whore astride the Beast. There would
have been at least one copy of "THE BOOK OF THOTH" around Parsons'
place, I would have thought. Interestingly, in spite of Hubbard
being referred to as "the Scribe", it was Hubbard who was giving
utterance to "astral communications", and Parsons writing them down.
As far as
the Babalon Working is concerned,
Hubbard is the joker in
the pack, the factor infinite and unknown. His whole career, both
before and after his involvement with Parsons, shows him to have
been a confidence man par excellence.
Events after the Babalon Working, when he effortlessly swindled
Parsons out of thousands of dollars, demonstrate that Parsons was as
readily taken in as anyone. It is surely legitimate for us to
wonder, therefore, to what extent Hubbard's undoubted talents for
deceit -- both of himself and of others -- colored the whole
Working. This is not to invalidate it, or to declare it abortive,
but to sound a cautionary note. After all, Edward Kelly seems by
some accounts to have been a person of dubious repute, to put it
mildly; but this does not automatically negate the worth of the
Workings which he conducted with John Dee. There is another
interesting parallel between Hubbard and Kelly, as we shall see
The Workings arising from "LIBER 49" continued for several nights,
and they contained instructions for further rituals. These rituals
were intended to facilitate the earthing of Babalon. Some of the
communications received in the course of these Workings are of a
fierce, intense beauty, as a few excerpts will illustrate:
"She is flame of life, power of
darkness, she destroys with a glance, she may take thy soul. She
feeds upon the death of men.
"The first ritual. Tomorrow the second ritual. Concentrate all
force and being in Our Lady BABALON. Light a single flame on Her
alter, saying: Flame is Our Lady, flame is Her hair, I am flame.
Display thyself to Our Lady; dedicate thy organs to Her,
dedicate thy heart to Her, dedicate thy mind to Her, dedicate
thy soul to Her, for She shall absorb thee, and thou shalt
become living flame before She incarnates. For it shall be
through you alone, and no-one else can help in this endeavour."
The rituals used included, for the most
part, passages adapted from Crowley's works. For instance, there is
material drawn from "THE GOTHIC MASS", "THE VISION AND THE VOICE,"
and "TANNHAUSER". This is not plagiarism on the part of Parsons. The
rituals had to be drawn up quickly, and these passages were at hand.
Parsons had a beautiful and lucid writing style of his own, and
would have been more than capable, in different circumstances, of
devising his own invocations.
Some of the communications received in the course of the Babalon
Working have very forceful sexual expression, bordering on the
rapacious. Consider, for instance, this passage:
"In verse seven verses of seven
lines, seven magick words. Stand and chant seven times. Envision
thyself as a cloaked radiance desirable to the Goddess, beloved.
Envision Her approaching thee. Embrace Her, cover Her with
kisses. Think upon the lewd lascivious things thou couldst do.
All is good to BABALON. All.
"Then rest, meditating on this:
"Thou as a man and as a god hast
strewn upon the earth and in the heavens many loves. These
recall; concentrate, concentrate each woman thou hast raped.
Remember her, think upon her, move her into BABALON. This
verse shall be used in worship when She appears.
"Then meditate upon thy desire, think upon Her, and,
touching naught, chant these verses. Recall each lascivious
moment, each lustful day, all set then into the astral body,
"Preserve the material basis... The lust is Hers, the
passion yours. Consider thou the Beast raping.
"Leaving thy casual loves -- all belongs to BABALON, thy
lust is BABALON's. She is with thee three days. The sign is
Hers, secret, and no man knows its correspondences. Guard."
We should be wary of seeking to draw too
close an analogy between differing systems, and particularly between
deities from those systems. Bearing this in mind, however, an
analogue does suggest itself between Kali and Babalon; perhaps
Babalon is more sexually loaded. In any case, all are aspects of the
One Goddess, and Babalon is a particular aspect of Nuit. Verse 22 of
the first chapter of "THE BOOK OF THE LAW" says,
"Now, therefore, I am known to you
by my name Nuit, and to him by a secret name which I shall give
him when at least he knoweth me...".
This secret name was the correct
spelling of Babalon, which was given to Crowley whilst he was
scrying the 12th Aethyr; until then, he had been using the Biblical
form -- "Babylon". By Gematria, Babalon enumerates as 156; and in a
note to his account of the 12 Aethyr Crowley tells us that "the
formula of 156 is constant copulation or samadhi on everything". It
is the blind, sexual passion that carries all before it -- dionysian.
There is a close connection between Babalon and Pan. In a note to
the account of the 2nd Aethyr, Crowley observes:
"From this it would appear BABALON (who is speaking through one of
her ministers) is the feminine (or androgyne) equivalent and not
merely the complement of Pan. This is shewn in many of her images."
This is echoed elsewhere by Parsons, who wrote:
"But I say that that perfect image
in the heart of man is patterned by the awful lust in space-time
that shapes all women, the insatiable and eternal lust of Pan
that is BABALON."
After the Babalon Working had been
concluded, all that Parsons could do was wait. He had been told that
the Operation had succeeded, that conception had occurred, and that
in due course the avatar or Daughter of Babalon would come to him,
bearing a secret sign that Parsons alone would recognize, and which
would prove her authenticity. Hubbard, though, had rather more
mundane considerations on his mind, and several weeks later he and
Betty absconded with a vast amount of Parsons' money. This amounted
to many thousands of dollars as an investigation in Allied
Enterprises, a fund set up by Parsons, Betty and Hubbard, and into
which Parsons was persuaded to sink most of his savings. Parsons
eventually managed to track them down, and recovered a fraction of
his money after taking legal action. Parsons had no further contact
with either Hubbard or Betty after this.
He was, though, beset with other problems. Preoccupied with the
Babalon Working as he had been, he neglected his duties towards
Agape Lodge and its members. This was perhaps the final straw for
many of his peers. I get the impression that many of them considered
him something of a prima donna, were tired of his waywardness, and
saw an opportunity to cut him down to size. The various members of
the Lodge never seemed to have much compassion in telling tales on
each other to Crowley, and he received reports from several
different sources on this latest escapade of Jack Parsons. From
these reports, Crowley concluded that Parsons' flaws had finally
overcome his promise, and that Parsons was a gullible fool beyond
redemption. He was, furthermore, infuriated by Parsons' intimations
that, in the interests of secrecy, he could not provide a full
account of what had transpired during the Babalon Working. Parsons
was suspended from his position as head of the Lodge, and departed
It is hard to know in greater detail just what did go on at this
time. I have seen a letter which Crowley wrote in January 1946 --
some weeks prior to
the Babalon Working -- in which he names someone
other than Parsons as Grand Master of Agape Lodge. Be that as it
may, I have also seen a reference to Parsons being called to
account, at a special Lodge meeting, over certain things with which
his colleagues were unhappy -- such as coming up with a text which
purported to be the fourth chapter of "THE BOOK OF THE LAW", an act
of heresy for which he was lucky not to be burned at the stake. It
is certain that he departed the
O.T.O. at around this time, though
he continued to regard himself as a member of the
remained on friendly terms with many of his colleagues, and he
continued to correspond with Germer until his death.
Not so with Crowley, however. Crowley must have been bitterly
disappointed with Parsons. He had had a high regard for his
abilities, as well as a keen awareness of faults such as
impulsiveness and recklessness -- faults which, as Crowley now saw
it, had led to an inevitable downfall. Two short letter extracts
show this disappointment -- both, as it happens, to Louis T.
Culling. In the course of a letter dated October 1946, he said:
"About J.W.P. -- all that I can say
is that I am very sorry -- I feel sure that he had fine ideas,
but he was led astray firstly by Smith, then he was robbed of
his last penny by a confidence man named Hubbard."
His last words are in the course of a
letter of December 1946:
"I have no further interest in Jack
and his adventures; he is just a weak-minded fool, and must go
to the devil in his own way. Requiescat in pace."
Although Parsons and Hubbard went their
separate ways after the court settlement, that is not quite the end
of the story as far as Hubbard is concerned. Mention was made above
to a further parallel between Hubbard and Kelly. In the course of a
letter in January 1950, Parsons drew attention to an interesting
similarity. In the course of the Babalon Working, the rituals
included the Enochian Call of the Seventh Aire. This was in line
with a passage in "LIBER 49", where Parsons was urged to "...seek me
in the Seventh Aire". Parsons continued:
"I have the text of Dee's skrying in
the Seventh Aire, which as he said '...so terrified me that,
beseeching God to have mercy upon me, I finally answer that I
will from this day forward meddle no more herein'. The voice,
speaking from Kelly, resulted in a sinister dissociation of
Kelly's personality. The parallel with my own Working with Ron,
is appalling. After this Kelly robbed Dee, absconded with his
wife, and developed a criminal confidence career. This is the
'I am the Daughter of Fortitude,
and ravished every hour from my from my youth. For behold, I
am Understanding, and Science dwelleth in me; and the
heavens oppress me. They cover and desire me with infinite
appetite; few or none that are earthly have embraced me, for
I am shadowed with the Circle of the Stars, and covered with
the morning clouds. My feet are swifter than the winds, and
my hands are sweeter than the morning dew. My garments are
from the beginning, and my dwelling place is in myself. The
Lion knoweth not where I walk, neither do the beasts of the
field understand me. I am deflowered, yet a virgin; I
sanctify, and am not sanctified.
Happy is he that embraceth me:
for in the night season I am sweet, and in the day full of
pleasure. My company is a harmony of many symbols, and my
lips sweeter than health itself. I am a harlot for such as
ravish me, and a virgin with such as know me not. Purge your
streets, O ye of men, and wash your houses clean; make
yourselves holy, and put on righteousness. Cast out your old
strumpets, and burn their clothes, and then I will come and
dwell amongst you; and behold, I will bring forth children
unto you, and they shall be the Sons of Comfort in the Age
that is to come.'
In view of the fact that this MSS
was unknown to Hubbard and I, the parallelism is really
extraordinary. I have found another prophecy in "KHALED KHAN",
which I shall send later..."
Quite how much of this is true, I don't
know. The passage as quoted in the letter does differ in some ways
from the passage as published in Meric Casaubon's selection of the
"A True and Faithful Relation of What Passed For Many
Years Between Dr. John Dee and Some Spirits", published in 1659.
instance, the concluding phrase "...in the Age that is to come" does
not appear. Also, I have yet to ascertain how true the account is of
Kelly's exit from Dee's life and his subsequent career.
Nevertheless, it is an intriguing thought the Hubbard's life could
have been disrupted through the Babalon Working. After reading the
critical biography about Hubbard ("BARE-FACED MESSIAH", by
Miller) it seemed to me that the time with Parsons was a definite
watershed for Hubbard. Prior to it, he seemed basically a colorful,
mendacious eccentric; after it, he seemed to slide into insanity.
There is no sharp dividing line, but the difference is clear.
In 1969, the "Sunday Times" newspaper published an article on the
lines of "Founder of Scientology involved in Black Magic", in which
they recounted details of the Babalon Working. The article was based
on details gleaned from the Gerald Yorke Collection at the Warburg
Institute, to which the reporters had gained access. Hubbard
instituted legal proceedings for libel, and the "Sunday Times" for
reasons of their own decided not to fight it. Subsequently, Yorke
withdrew from the Warburg those papers relating to the Working. They
were incidentally, returned some years ago, following Yorke's death,
but are under a 25-year seal. At the time of the action, the Church
of Scientology made a statement alleging that Hubbard had been sent
in as an FBI agent to break up a "Black Magic group" which had
included several prominent scientists. The operation had, they
continued, succeeded beyond the wildest expectations: he rescued a
girl that they were "using", and the group was dispersed and never
The activities of Parsons during the next few years are not at all
clear. I have only been able to catch glimpses through letters and
the like. In 1948 Parsons lost his security clearance to perform
classified government defense work, and for a man of his profession
this was the virtual withdrawal of his livelihood. This action was
stated to be "because of his membership in a religious cult ...
believed to advocate sexual perversion ... organized at subject's
home ... which had been reported subversive". Parsons commented
later that he was suspended on charges of belonging to the O.T.O.
and circulating "LIBER OZ". Parsons defended himself in closed
court, and the charges were dropped. In the meantime, Marjorie
Cameron left him; their estrangement lasted several years. What lay
behind this rift I do not know, but it did seem final at the time.
In the document referred to earlier, "ANALYSIS BY A MASTER OF THE
TEMPLE", he makes the following allusion -- again, he is speaking in
the third person:
"Candy appeared in the answer to
your call, in order to wean you from wetnursing. She has
demonstrated the nature of woman to you in such unequivocal
terms that you should have no further room for illusion on the
The suspension and inquisition was my opportunity -- one of the
final chains in the link. At this time you were enabled to
prepare your thesis, formulate your Will, and take the Oath of
the Abyss, thus making it possible (although only partially) to
manifest. The exit of Candy prepares for the final stage of your
"Candy" is short for Candida, the
Magical Name of Marjorie Cameron. There was a reunion in late 1949
or early 1950, and they resumed living together as man and wife.
As mentioned earlier, Parsons still considered himself a member of
the A.'.A.'. In December 1948 he took the Oath of Magister Templi,
and the name Belarion, Antichrist. This oath was taken in the
presence of Wilford T. Smith, with whom he had evidently retained
some sort of relationship. In 1949 he issued "THE BOOK OF THE
ANTICHRIST". This is a short text, and in it he relates how he was
stripped of everything that he was, and then rededicated to Babalon.
This was, he considered, a recharging of the current generated by
the Babalon Working. He also pledged that the work of The Beast 666
would be fulfilled, and he seems to have seen that work as being, at
least in part, a subversion of Christian ethics. He further
prophesied that within seven years Babalon would manifest, so
bringing his work to fruition.
In September 1950 his employment at Hughes Aircraft Corporation was
terminated. He was found to be in possession of a number of
classified documents -- several of them, as it happens, being
co-written by him and dating from his days at Cal. Tech. A lengthy
investigation by the State Attorney followed in which the FBI were
involved. Parsons it emerged, was hopeful of finding employment in
Israel. To this end he was seeking to persuade them of the case for
building a jet-propulsion factory complex, and had been using the
documents for background information. It was eventually concluded
that there were insufficient grounds for prosecution, many of the
documents containing information that should by then have been
declassified anyway. However, there were repercussions. The Appeals
Board, who had reinstated his security clearance in March 1949,
informed him that in their view he no longer had the requisite
honesty and integrity; accordingly, the clearance was again
withdrawn in January 1952. This would have been the end of Parsons'
career in that particular scientific area.
From some incomplete essays that survive from this period, it seems
that Parsons was working towards building up some sort of teaching
Order with a Thelemic core, but relating to paganism and witchcraft,
and was preparing papers of instruction for such an Order. By
profession he was now building his own chemicals practice. He had
sold the main part of his property -- the mansion itself -- for
redevelopment some time earlier, and occupied the coach-house. The
garage he had converted into a laboratory, equipped with chemicals
and equipment. There was a plan to move to Mexico for awhile, both
to pursue mystical and magical research and to further his chemical
practice. He and Cameron had actually vacated the coach-house,
Parsons went back and forth over the course of several days, moving
out his chemicals onto a trailer. On one such visit, on the
afternoon of 17 June 1952, he dropped a container of fulminate of
mercury, a highly-unstable explosive. The resulting explosion was
powerful and devastating, destroying most of the coach-house. Parsons
was seriously injured; horrifically enough, though, he was still
conscious when rescuers got to him. He died an hour later, in the
Controversy has remained over his death. Many regarded it as highly
unlikely that a scientist of his experience could so mishandle such
a powerful explosive. During those last days he wrote what was
probably his last letter, to Karl Germer. It is bizarre, and merits
quoting in full, it perhaps casts light on his frame of mind at the
"No doubt you will be delighted to
hear from an adept who has undertaken the operation of his H.G.A.
in accord with our traditions.
The operation began auspiciously with a chromatic display of
psychosomatic symptoms, and progressed rapidly to acute
psychosis. The operator has altered satisfactorily between manic
hysteria and depressing melancholy stupor on approximately 40
cycles, and satisfactory progress has been maintained in social
ostracism, economic collapses and mental disassociation.
These statements are mentioned not in any vainglorious spirit of
conceit, but rather that they may serve as comfort and
inspiration to other aspirants on the Path.
Now I'm off to the wilds of Mexico for a period, also in pursuit
of the elusive H.G.A. before winding up in the guard (room)
finally via the booby hotels, the graveyard, or ---? If the
final, you can tell all the little practicuses that I wouldn't
have missed it for anything."
No one. Once called 210.
The manner of Parsons' death brings to mind the association of
Babalon with flame. The lengthy passage quoted earlier from the "THE
VISION AND THE VOICE" uses the idea of flame, as did the material
communicated during the Babalon Working. The passage,
shall absorb thee, and thou shalt become living flame before She
incarnates..." is particularly haunting.
In some of his letters
written in the years after the Babalon Working, Parsons seemed to be
expecting a violent death, and he almost certainly had this similar
passage in mind. A fragment survives from an earlier version of "THE
BOOK OF BABALON", which is interesting in this connection:
"...because of this mystery BABALON
is incarnate upon the earth today, awaiting the proper hour for
Her manifestation. And this my book, that is dedicated to Her,
is preparation and a portent for that time. And in that day my
work will be accomplished, and I shall be blown away upon the
Breath of a Father, even as it is prophesied. And thus I labour
lonely and outcast and abominable, and he-goat upon the muck
heaps of the world. Yet I am content with my lot, since though I
am clothed with barncloth, yet shall I come in power and purple,
for of this also am I contemptuous. Yea, I am."
Whatever the truth of this matter, Jack
Parsons has remained over the years a figure of fascination to many.
I have attempted in the course of this essay to summarize the events
of the last fifteen or so years of his life. A more considered
evaluation of his life and work requires a lot more research and
experience, and remains a labour of love for someone. To that
person, "BELOVED OF BABALON" is offered as a foundation.
Go Back to Babalon