7: Sex and the Single Succubis
I had made it to the office around eleven o’clock in the morning,
and we had worked steadily since then. Sheri’s expert on Scientology
turned out to be Trisha, and Sheri had filled in some gaps with her
over the phone. Sheri summarized:
"Here roughly is the
chronology so far. Jack Parsons shows up at Cal Tech in 1936,
age 21, wanting to build space rockets. The GALCIT project is
initiated. At this time L. Ron Hubbard, age 26, is off somewhere
writing men’s action-adventure stories, pulp westerns, and so
on. Hubbard doesn’t write his first science-fiction story until
1938, about the time that Hap Arnold of the Army Air Corps
appears at the GALCIT laboratory in Pasadena wanting to know if
rocket research could help him with the problem of air strips
which were too short for takeoff of modern military planes.
"Parsons supposedly learns about Aleister Crowley while taking a
couple of night classes at USC. He and his wife Helen join the
Los Angeles branch of Crowley’s O.T.O. in 1939. While pursuing
magic, Parsons is also working with Theodore von Karman,
Frank Malina, and Ed Forman at Cal Tech, and he and Forman are working
for the Halifax Powder Company in the Mojave Desert.
"The Army Air Corps takes over sponsorship of the GALCIT project
in 1940, and Parsons spents most of his time developing jet-
assisted takeoff units.
"Meanwhile L. Ron Hubbard also goes go war. What happens there
is all part of Hubbard’s Navy record, which gets released to a
Scientologist named Gerry Armstrong under the Freedom of
Information Act in 1981. Hubbard gets into the U.S. Naval
Reserve in July 1941, as a Lieutenant, using various letters of
recommendation out of which he has fabricated an apparently
bogus past. In the Naval Reserve he first writes public
relations articles, and then takes Intelligence Officer training
in New York. He gets bumped out of Intelligence after his first
assignment, because he is considered unreliable. He is always
trying to draw attention to himself and impress others with his
importance, and turns in reports which read like, and may have
been, pulp fiction. Eventually he goes to anti-submarine warfare
school in Miami, and gets appointed Commanding Officer of a
submarine tracker, the USS PC-815, but has his career
sidetracked again when he spends several days dropping depth
charges on what the Navy concludes is a magnetic soil deposit.
Hubbard also shells a Mexican island (target practice, he says),
and Mexico lodges an official protest.
"Back in Pasadena, Parsons leaves his position as head of solid-
fuel rocket research at the Army Air Core Jet Propulsion
Research Project in 1942, and devotes his full time to similar
work at Aerojet, the new company he helped found. His friend
Forman does the same. Parsons is experimenting with drugs at
this time, as illustrated by a poem he published in 1943 in the OTO’s Oriflamme:
Don Quixote, I live on peyote,
marijuana, morphine and cocaine,
I never know sadness but only a madness
that burns at the heart and the brain.
I see each charwoman, ecstatic, inhuman,
angelic, demonic, divine.
Each wagon a dragon, each beer mug a flagon
that brims with ambrosial wine.
"He is also building
up the Agape Lodge. His technique may have been similar to that
of his mentor Wilfred Smith. The latter’s technique was
described by another member of the lodge, Louis T. Culling, in
his book A Manual of Sex Magick. Culling refers to Smith under
the name `Frater 132’. When Smith started the Los Angeles O.T.O.,
there were only eight members. He would invite visitors to
observe the performance of something called the Gnostic Mass,
during which he would have sex with as many different women
visitors as possible. During sex, he would concentrate on the
idea that he was transmitting into them a psychic force of
attraction to the O.T.O. His paramour did the same with the men
visitors. As a consequence, within one year the lodge membership
had grown to eighty-five.
"Parsons takes over as head of the California O.T.O. in 1944,
after Crowley expels Wilfred Smith for turning the lodge into a
love cult. Living with Parsons at this time is `Betty’, or
Elizabeth Northrup, who later marries L. Ron Hubbard. She is an
beautiful, blond eighteen-year-old USC coed when she moves in
with Parsons, after her sister, Parsons’ wife Helen, leaves with
Wilfred Smith. Parsons encourages Betty not to be monogamous in
her relationships, saying that jealousy is a base emotion.
"Now about that mansion. Parsons owns the place at 1003 S.
Orange Grove, as well as the adjoining carriage house where his
laboratory is when he dies. He inherits the property from his
father. He subdivides the mansion into apartments, keeping the
two largest rooms for himself. These also serve as the Agape
Lodge for O.T.O. meetings. He puts an ad in the paper that only
`Bohemians’ need apply to rent his apartments, so he had
basically artists, actors, and people like that staying there.
"By war’s end in 1945, Parsons and Forman have sold out all of
their Aerojet stock to General Tire, though Malina and von
Karman still own half their shares. Meanwhile, L. Ron Hubbard
ends up the war in a naval hospital in Oakland, Calif. He has an
ulcer. He devotes his time trying to convince the V.A. he should
be given a full disability pension, claiming various ailments,
war wounds, and so on. By this time, Parsons is possibly
familiar with Hubbard’s name, because sometimes the people at
his place sit around discussing the latest science fiction
stories, criticizing ideas and techniques.
"A science fiction illustrator named Lou Goldstone introduces
Hubbard to Parsons. Goldstone often visits at Parsons place, and
one day he brings Hubbard with him. According to a letter
Parsons wrote Crowley in July 1945, he had met Hubbard about
three months previously, and Hubbard had been living with him in
the house at 1003 S. Orange Grove for a couple of months.
"Parsons and Hubbard first hit it off really well. Eventually
they have a falling out over a business with some boats. Trisha
says that Hubbard and boats always spelled trouble. She says
that when Hubbard wrote his first hardback in 1937 (a book
entitled Buckskin Brigades) he got a check for $2,500 and rushed
out and bought a small boat, the Magician, despite a pile of
"Anyway Parsons, Betty, and Hubbard start a company called
Allied Enterprises. They sign the papers in January 1946. The
purpose is to buy boats on the East Coast and sell them on the
West. Parsons puts up nearly all the money, about $21,000.
Hubbard kicks in $1,200, while Betty free rides.
"In the meantime there is heavy tension between Parsons and
Hubbard. Although Parsons and Betty have had other bed mates in
the past, Parsons has a strong streak of jealousy when Betty
devotes herself exclusively to Hubbard. So Parsons sets about
seeking another partner. He wants more than just another girl
friend. He wants a `scarlet woman’, a magical partner with whom
he can beget a `Moonchild.’ The Moonchild will be the
incarnation of a God, and Parsons has in mind one prophesied in
The Book of the Law. His scarlet woman shows up in the form of
the artist Marjorie Cameron.
"Meanwhile Hubbard and Betty head off to the East Coast with
$10,000 of Allied Enterprise money to purchase the first boat.
Hubbard calls from Miami and says they’ve bought a yacht called
the Diane. Then Parsons doesn’t hear anymore from them, and
after a while gets alarmed. He goes to Miami to discover that
Allied also owns two schooners, The Blue Water II and the
Harpoon. Parsons can’t find the lovebirds, so has someone watch
the schooners, and one day gets a report that the Harpoon is
pulling out of the harbour. This is when he does a ritual to the
spirit of Mars and a squall drives Betty and Hubbard back to
"Parsons files suit in Dade County court and gets back two of
the boats, and part of the third, and dissolves Allied
Enterprises. He goes back to Pasadena. This is July 1946. The
love birds Betty Northrup and Ron Hubbard sell their share of
the third boat and get married on the East Coast. This is while
Hubbard is still married to his first wife."
"What does Parsons do with his boats?" I asked.
"No information." Sheri continued: "Hubbard goes off and writes
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which is first
serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1950."
"What is the relation between Hubbard and Parsons during this
"Apparently they had no contact. Hubbard spends a good bit of
time in Laguna Beach, and in Los Angeles after the publication
of Dianetics. But there is no indication they saw each other
again, after Allied was dissolved in July 1946."
"Do we know where Hubbard was when Parsons died, in June 1952?"
"Hubbard seems to have been in Phoenix, delivering lectures on
Scientology to the Hubbard Association of Scientologists. By
this time Dianetics had already been superseded by Scientology."
I felt again the twinge
of disappointment. We had been over this before and it had negated
one working hypothesis. I had toyed with a title for the report to
Trans-Global: "Scientist Slain by Scientologist." But I should have
known the job wouldn’t be that easy.
So much for Hubbard. I would have to look for another villain.
"What year was it
Parsons wrote the poem?"
"1943." She recited it again.
Parsons was ahead of his
time. I thought about the date. The timing was coincidental, of
course, but 1943 had been a pivotal year in the history of
psychedelic drugs: Albert Hoffman had discovered LSD; the
started experiments with marijuana; and the SS had tested the
effects of mescaline.
At Sandoz in Basel, Switzerland, Hoffman had been examining
derivatives of ergot, the rye fungus. He had apparently absorbed
some d-lysergic acid diethylamide through his skin while changing a
filter paper. He became not unpleasantly drunk and found his mind
displaying a series of vivid images. To test the theory LSD had
caused the experience, he deliberately took 250 micrograms--which he
thought a very conservative dose--and embarked on a three-day trip.
The Office of Strategic Services, meanwhile, had been looking for a
truth drug that would make people talk. In early 1943 it had decided
the most promising among the ones tested was cannabis indica, and
began trying it out on personnel from the Manhattan Project. The
Project, the wartime effort to construct an atomic bomb, had a high
level of security. Concentrated oral doses of marijuana made the
subjects throw up, but when smoked in a mixture with tobacco made
them mellow and loquacious. The first field test took place on May
27, 1943, when an OSS agent supplied marijuana-injected cigarettes
to the New York gangster August Del Gracio. The OSS had been talking
to Del Gracio about Mafia cooperation in keeping the waterfront free
of enemy agents, as well as help in preparing the Allied invasion of
Sicily. The test was a success: Del Gracio babbled on and on,
revealing secret details of the drug trade.
The Schutzstaffel doctors at the Dachau concentration camp were more
interested in control than confession. The SS was looking for a drug
to turn unruly people into spineless zombies. Mescaline didn’t do
the trick, even though it made some people reveal their innermost
secrets: the covert hostility of the inmates simply became overt.
Later in the 1950s the CIA, the OSS successor agency, had also
searched for drugs useful in agent control, and had funded through
foundation grants the bulk of LSD research. With the cooperation of
Eli Lilly and Sandoz, the two LSD manufacturers, the CIA monitored
or controlled worldwide LSD distribution for the rest of the decade.
As part of the testing, interestingly enough, the early researchers
CIA’s MKULTRA project agreed among themselves that a
co-worker could slip them LSD at any time. It made for hazardous
duty. One co-worker was slipped LSD at the morning coffee break, and
fled fearfully out of his office and across the nearby Washington
Mall. He crossed the Potomic into Virginia, and hid under a fountain
to escape monster cars.
I rubbed my eyes and looked at Sheri. There was still the issue of
Crowley’s or Parsons’ (or Homer Nilmot’s) connections to
intelligence agencies. Here the record was murky and our best
information was only moderately reliable.
Theodor Reuss, the world-wide head of the O.T.O. who gave Crowley a
commission in 1912, was apparently an agent for the German Secret
Service as well as a journalist. With Crowley himself the record was
Crowley was turned down for an job in British Intelligence at the
beginning of World War I because he was too controversial (although
Crowley claimed it was because he wasn’t sufficiently stupid).
Crowley subsequently wrote for the German-American poet and
publisher George Sylvester Viereck. Viereck thought the American
press one-sidedly British, and took it upon himself to rectify the
balance. He published The Fatherland, a weekly which expounded
Germany’s view of the European war, and The International, a
literary journal that he also gave a pro-German orientation. His
efforts were generally approved by the rest of the media up until
the U.S. entered the war against Germany in 1917. Typical afterward
was the view expressed by one previously- sympathetic editor, who
called Viereck "a venom-bloated toad of treason."
Crowley began to contribute articles to both periodicals in 1915
after a trip to New York. Whether or not Crowley’s primary intent
was to act as an agent provocateur, as he claimed, and to undermine
German propaganda by carrying it to excess, his devotion to the
cause was clearly tongue in cheek. Privately he expressed the
opinion Viereck would do anything for money. Crowley’s cynical view
of the war ("we have waited a long time to smash Germany and steal
her goods") and opposition to British Imperialism impressed Viereck,
however, and in 1917 Crowley became the de facto editor of The
International. Crowley seized the opportunity to get into print a
lot of his unpublished stories, poems, and essays, including a
series about a detective named Simon Iff.
Crowley’s pro-German and pro-Irish writings caused consternation in
Britain, but not in America because, according to Richard Deacon in
A History of British Secret Service, Crowley was supplying
information to American Intelligence. But, if Deacon was correct, to
whom and about whom was Crowley reporting? In 1915 President Wilson
had instructed the U.S. Secret Service to set up a unit to spy on
suspected German agents. The unit had stolen documents relating to Viereck’s activities and had leaked them to the New York World. If
Crowley gave information to the Secret Service regarding Viereck or
anyone else, the fact was not shared with the FBI, for later, in
1942, J. Edgar Hoover used Crowley’s previous association with Viereck as a basis for denying him entry into the U.S. Crowley
himself seemed to imply he supplied information to someone
concerning Theodor Reuss, the "Outer Head of the Order," an O.T.O.
position Crowley later assumed himself in 1922.
In the 1930s Crowley roomed in Berlin with Gerald Hamilton, a German
spy. Deacon indicates that, being friends, they concocted reports on
each other: Crowley’s reports on Hamilton going to MI5, while
Hamilton’s reports on Crowley went to German Intelligence.
Sheri had shown me a picture in The Book of the SubGenius in which
two individuals, one from the political left and one from the
political right, are snarling and fuming at each other, while J. R.
"Bob" Dobbs surreptitiously picks both their pockets. You could
imagine Crowley and Hamilton doing something similar: milking the
system for their own purposes.
As World War II approached, both the Germans and the British became
suspicious of occult organizations. Heinrich Himmler, head of the
Nazi SS, thought the Rosicrucians were a cover for the British
Secret Service, though it was in fact through independent
astrologers that British Intelligence scored one of their greatest
coups. The Third Reich’s Deputy Fuhrer, Rudolph Hess, relied heavily
on the advice of astrologers, and in 1941 a plan conceived by Ian
Fleming of Naval Intelligence was executed using faked astrological
forecasts to lure Hess to Scotland, where Hess expected to negotiate
with a pro-German political circle. Hess was captured, but the
British subsequently failed to exploit the event for propaganda
effect, because British higher-ups feared there really was a
pro-German clique within their own government.
Then there was Crowley’s relationship to Maxwell Knight, the
officer who alleged served as model for Ian Fleming’s "M" in
Fleming’s James Bond stories. Knight was introduced to Crowley by
the occult writer Dennis Wheatley. In a biography of Knight entitled
The Man Who Was M, Knight’s nephew is quoted as saying his uncle
told him that Knight and Wheatly went to Crowley’s occult ceremonies
out of academic interest in black magic. Wheatley was doing research
for his books, so Knight and Wheatley, the nephew said, "applied to
Crowley as novices and he accepted them as pupils." The biography
indicated that both Wheatley and Knight had apparently found Crowley
disappointingly normal in one respect: he was well-dressed and had
the voice and manner of an Oxbridge don.
"The Phallus is the
physiological basis of the Oversoul," wrote Aleister Crowley. From
my conversation with Homer Nilmot, I gathered that Lyndon Johnson
would have agreed. The President thought he had the Vice-President’s Oversoul in his pocket.
I decided to stop by Dirty Frank’s on the way home. I was thinking
about A.C., since I was assuming at this point that Jack Parsons’
beliefs were the same as Crowley’s, once updated a generation and
translated to California. (A big transition, to be sure.)
Aleister Crowley’s magic was based on that of John Dee, the
Elizabethan mage. Crowley even thought of himself as a reincarnation
of Edward Kelley, the sometime rogue who served as Dee’s scryer.
That is, it was Kelley who received the channelled revelations which
Dee recorded, just as it was another Kelley-- Rose Kelley, Crowley’s
wife and the sister of a future President of the Royal Academy--whom
the alleged being Aiwass used as a medium to prepare Crowley to
receive The Book of the Law in Cairo in 1904.
What Dee called angels, Crowley called preterhuman intelligences.
These intelligences resided in other dimensions, and humans could
interact with them to human benefit. Anyone could do it, Crowley
indicated. But of special importance were those whom Crowley termed
"The Secret Chiefs," a group of superhumans who were in constant
contact with certain of these intelligences, and who were concerned
with the spiritual progress of mankind.
I was sitting at the bar having a draft when my thoughts were
A bearded man of medium
height and build was grinning at me. He was sitting at a booth with
a companion who had one forearm wrapped in a bandage.
I looked at him inquiringly.
"You got to separate
the chaff and the wheat," he cackled.
The extended campaign of
mind-fucking was beginning to annoy me. I looked at these two
characters. They didn’t look like members of a vast conspiracy, but
you never could tell.
I finished my beer and left.
Much of Crowley’s magic was devoted to establishing communication
with various nonhuman beings. He found sexual magic more efficacious
than other methods he had tried, and after 1914 most of his rituals
involved Bacchus, Aphrodite, and Apollo.
Bacchus was invoked by wine
or by what Crowley called the "elixir introduced by me to Europe":
fruit juices mixed with an extract of peyote. Ether, strychnine, and
cocaine could also be used, the latter with "prudence."
invoked by the tom-tom, the violin, or the organ.
invoked by auto-, hetero-, or homosexual acts.
Crowley seemed to think that sex was an independent force. He would
have disagreed with William Sargant, who had implied that such
rituals work only by changing the consciousness of the participants.
But theory was less important than the fact the rituals produced
observable results. Sex magic was described by Crowley in Of the
Nature of the Gods, Of the Secret Marriages of the Gods with Men,
and Liber Agape.
The opus, or Work, of sexual magic, was explained using the
traditional terminology of alchemy. In an act of magic, the erect
"wand" of the magician might be introduced into the "privy chapel"
of the woman. While the magician concentrated on the goal of the
Work, the couple would then spend at least an hour at the altar,
exulting in love, before performing the "Sacrifice of the Mass," or
coming to orgasm.
The "Gluten of the White Eagle," or female sexual secretions,
mingled with the "Elixir of the Red Lion," or male sexual
secretions. The mixture was allowed to undergo a transmutation in
its natural alchemical furnace for a few minutes. It was then
consumed in its entirety by the magician.
It couldn’t be any worse than eating yogurt, I suppose.
Spirits were contacted using the talismans and invocations of John
Dee’s Keys of Enoch. The magician would recite the invocation of a
particular Key, and then masturbate over the talisman while
concentrating on the ruling spirit of that Key.
creation of a Moonchild was covered in Crowley’s novel of the
same name. The operation was an attempt to get a nonhuman spirit,
such as a planetary spirit or a God, to incarnate into a human body.
Jack Parsons had endeavored to produce a Moonchild with
Cameron, and had undoubtedly followed Crowley’s instructions
carefully. The key factors seemed to be that the prospective parents
have appropriate horoscopes and copulate continuously in a
ceremonial manner toward the desired goal. After impregnation took
place, the woman was to immerse herself and her thoughts in an
environment consistent with the Work:
"Let the mind of the woman be
strengthened to resist all impression, except of the spirit desired.
Let the incense of this spirit be burnt continually; let his colours,
and his only, be displayed; and let his shapes, and his only, appear
so far as may be in all things."
In addition, the spirit was to be
invoked through daily rituals in the magician’s temple.
Crowley believed any developing fetus began as just a lump of
protoplasm. Only after three months or more would it attract a soul
for which it would form a suitable vehicle. It was at this point of
incarnation that the couple would, if the Work of Magick was
successful, bar the gate against any human ego and bring about the
incarnation of some non-human being.
Thus was the Moonchild begotten.