Part 14: The Tyranny of
the Black Brotherhood
I had gathered a few things through Renny. The Jack Parsons Memorial
Society ran an archive and lending library out of an old mansion
near South Orange Grove. It turned out that The Book of the
Antichrist, a copy of which Sheri had faxed me at the Hilton, was
followed by Parsons' The Manifesto of the Antichrist. I had
collected a copy of this, and copies of some related O.T.O.
It was late in the afternoon on a warm and smoggy Pasadena day, and
I decided to take the copies with me, and head for the park over in
San Marino. In the hotel closet, I found an extra quilt, and I
carried it with me out to the car. When I arrived at the park, I
found a relatively secluded space, and spread the quilt over the
grass in the shade of a tree. Much better. Now I could concentrate
My thinking was this: if Parsons thought he was the Antichrist, then
he would undertake actions consistent with whatever it was the
Antichrist was supposed to do. These activities were sure to stir up
antagonism, even fanaticism, considering we were talking about the
Big Bad Antichrist here. And Parsons was no ordinary Antichrist.
This Antichrist was an explosives expert.
True, one coworker had described Parsons as the kindest man he had
known. And von Karman had called him "an excellent chemist, and a
delightful screwball" and noted he loved to recite pagan poetry to
the sky while stamping his feet. It seemed evident that Parsons was
liked by colleagues as well as the ladies. But that wasn't the
point. The point was that now Parsons was getting political. He was
no longer content just to discuss "fortune telling"--as he had so
quaintly described his occult activities to the Pasadena police- -in
private. No. Now he was writing manifestos and declaring war. I
wanted to get an idea who would have felt threatened by Parsons.
First, the Manifesto. I followed my standard practice: Read all the
way through. Then go back and focus on details.
THE MANIFESTO OF THE ANTICHRIST
by Jack Parsons
I, BELARION, ANTICHRIST, in the year 1949 of the rule of the Black
Brotherhood called Christianity, do make my Manifesto to all men.
And I, THE ANTICHRIST, come among you, saying:
An end to the pretense, and lying hypocrisy of Christianity.
An end to the servile virtues, and superstitious restrictions. An
end to the slave morality.
An end to prudery and shame, to guilt and sin, for these are of the
only evil under the Sun, that is fear.
An end to all authority that is not based on courage and manhood, to
the authority of lying priests, conniving judges, blackmailing
An end to the servile flattery and cajolery of mobs, the coronations
of mediocrities, the ascension of dolts.
An end to restriction and inhibition, for I, THE ANTICHRIST, am come
among you preaching the Word of the BEAST 666, which is, "There is
no Law beyond Do What Thou Wilt."
And I BELARION, ANTICHRIST, do lift up my voice and prophesy, and I
I shall bring all men to the Law of the BEAST 666, and in His Law I
shall conquer the world.
And within seven years of this time, BABALON, THE SCARLET WOMAN
HILARION will manifest among ye, and bring this my work to its
An end to conscription, compulsion, regimentation, and the tyranny
of false laws.
And within nine years a nation shall accept the Law of the BEAST 666
in my name, and that nation will be the first nation of earth.
And all who accept me, the ANTICHRIST, and the Law of the BEAST 666,
shall be accursed and their joy shall be a thousand fold greater
than the false joys of the false saints.
In the name BELARION shall they work miracles, and confound our
enemies, and none shall stand before us.
Therefore I, THE ANTICHRIST, call upon all the Chosen and elect and
upon all men, come forth now in the name of
Liberty, that we may end for ever the tyranny of the Black
Witness by my hand and seal on this day of 1949, that is the year of
What a couple of weird names: Belarion and Hilarion. It sounded like
a vaudeville couple. Maybe Parsons was going mad, as John Symonds
had alleged. All this making of pronouncements and proclamation of
laws to be followed. However, it was hard not to like a lot of what
Parsons was saying.
No matter what Parsons called himself, who wanted to be on the side
of "lying priests, conniving judges, blackmailing police"? Who
wanted to defend the "tyranny of false laws"? This was dangerous
stuff. Parsons was attacking the established order, fraught as it
was with corruption, and papered over as it was with fake religion.
How would the U.S. government react to all this? Not well, I
suspected. I looked through some of the other papers and found a
statement from a Agape Lodge member in 1940 that Parsons traveled
"under sealed orders from the government". But in 1948 he
temporarily lost his security clearance due to the charge that his
membership in a "sex cult" was subversive. After a closed court
hearing, the charges were dismissed in April 1949, and his security
But in September 1950 he lost his job at Hughes Aircraft because he
was in possession of classified documents. Some of these, however,
were ones from his Cal Tech days, papers of which he was a
co-author. Parsons argued that he was in the process of trying to
convince the Israeli government to build a jet- propulsion
laboratory and factory, and was using the documents only for
background information. The Justice Department decided there were
insufficient grounds for prosecution. But the Appeals Board was not
amused, and withdrew his security clearance in January 1952.
So. The Antichrist wanted to build missiles for Israel. I tried to
put this in perspective. Laying on my stomach on the quilt, I
sketched out a brief chronology of Parsons' life, as I now
understood it, in my notebook.
Oct 2, 1914: Parsons' birth.
1928: Jack Parsons, age 13, invokes "Satan" but reacts with
"cowardice when He appear[s]."
1936: Parsons, age 21, shows up with his friend Ed Forman at Cal
Tech wanting to build space rockets, something they have been
working on for years. The GALCIT project is initiated under Theodore
von Karman, with Frank Malina, Jack Parsons, and Ed Forman initially
the key individuals. Money is always an issue, and Parsons and
Forman later take jobs with the Halifax Powder Company in the Mojave
1938: The Army Air Corps becomes interested in the research. Hap
Arnold 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.
1939: Parsons and his wife Helen (Northrup) join the Los Angeles
(Pasadena) branch of Crowley's O.T.O. This group is known as the
Agape Lodge, and is headed by Wilfred Smith. Smith and his wife have
an innovative way of recruiting members via sexual seduction,
according to member Louis T. Culling.
1940: The Army Air Corps takes over sponsorship of the GALCIT
project. Parsons spends most of his time developing jet-assisted
takeoff (JATO) units. Most of the JATO patents are in Parsons name.
December: Jane Wolfe, a Crowley associate who is a member of the
Agape Lodge, writes in her diary that Parsons travels "under sealed
orders from the government." She also says she believes Parsons will
be the future leader of the order.
March 1941: The head of the Agape Lodge, Wilfred Smith, writes
Crowley that he had "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."
1942: Parsons, von Karman, and others found Aerojet in order to
build and sell JATO units to the Army Air Core. Parsons leaves his
position as head of solid- fuel rocket research at the Army Air Core
Jet Propulsion Research Project to take a similar position at
Aerojet. March: Jane Wolfe writes Crowley: "I believe Jack
Parsons--who is devoted to Wilfred--to be the coming leader." She
goes on to note that 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."
July 1943: Crowley wants to get rid of Smith and appoint Parsons
head of the Lodge. But he has problems doing so, because there is a
good bit of loyalty to Smith, including on the part of Parsons
himself. Crowley writes an Agape Lodge member named Max Schneider:
"As to Jack; I think he is perfectly alright at the bottom of
everything; but he is very young . . ."
1944: Aleister Crowley expels Wilfred Smith from the OTO for turning
the Agape Lodge into a "love cult". Smith leaves with Parsons' wife
Helen, who had taken the place of Smith's previous mistress, Regina
Kahl, as high priestess in weekly performances of the gnostic mass,
in which Smith served as high priest. Crowley appoints Parsons as
head of the California O.T.O. in Smith's place. Helen's sister
"Betty" (as she is known around the house at 1003 S. Orange Grove)
moves in with Parsons. Parsons, Theodore von Karman, and others
found the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, near Devil's Gate Dam in the
Arroyo Seco-- nearby the location of many of their early rocket
August 1945: Parsons and Lafayette Ronald ("L. Ron") Hubbard are
introduced by a science fiction illustrator named Lou Goldstone.
Goldstone often visits at Parsons' place, and one day he brings
Hubbard with him. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have just been devastated
by atomic bombs. The world is amazed. Many people are elated. The
social consequence, only seven years later, when every Pasadenan
would be contemplating wearing a "colorimetric dosimeter," a
chemical radiation detector, to tell who would live or die in an
atomic raid, was the furthest thing from anyone's mind. Association
with someone like Jack Parsons, conversant with JPL and Aerojet
projects, is heady fare for Navy Lieutenant L. Ron Hubbard, on
temporary leave, who is in any case eager to take up residence in a
Bohemian house bustling with attractive women. After sleeping with
as many of them as possible, Hubbard then creates turmoil by taking
up with Betty, Parsons' own girlfriend. Parsons tolerates this (just
as he had previously tolerated Smith's affair with his wife Helen)
because, he says, he needs a magical partner, and he believes
Hubbard can play that role.
Dec. 5, 1945: Hubbard is officially discharged from the Navy. He
immediately applies for a pension, claiming various disabilities,
and heads for Pasadena, where he moves in with Parsons. Betty (Sara
Elizabeth Northrup) again devotes herself to Hubbard. Parsons, sans
Betty, looks for a replacement, and decides to attract one through
magic ritual. But Parsons has bigger things in mind also.
January 1946 to January 4: Parsons and Hubbard begin work on a magic
ritual to attract a Scarlet Woman, through which Parsons will
conceive a Moonchild. January 15: Parsons, Betty, and Hubbard start
a company called Allied Enterprises. Parsons puts up most of the
money, which he has from the sale of his Aerojet stock to General
Tire. January 18: Parsons and Hubbard are in the Mojave desert, when
Parsons realizes the experiment has succeeded, and tells Hubbard:
"It is done." He returns home and finds the artist Marjorie Cameron,
on visit from New York, waiting for him. "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 energy," Parsons wrote.
January 4 to March 4, 1946: Parsons writes an account, called The
Book of Babalon, of the whole magick working. Jan 19-Feb 27: Parsons
continues to invoke Babalon with the help of Hubbard. Feb 28: With
Hubbard gone on a trip, Parsons, invoking Babalon by himself in the
Mojave desert, receives a revelation of 77 clauses, which he calls
Liber 49. He claimed it was the fourth part of the heretofore
three-part Book of the Law (Crowley's revelation). This claim upsets
many Agape Lodge members. March 1-3: Following the instructions in
Liber 49, Parsons and Marjorie Cameron spend three days in ritual
sex, with Hubbard in attendance, in an attempt to conceive a
March 6, 1946: Parsons writes Crowley: "I am under command of
extreme secrecy. I have had the most important, devastating
experience of my life." He goes on to say: "I believe it was the
result of the IXth degree working with the girl [Cameron] who
answered my elemental summons. I have been in direct touch with One
who is most holy and Beautiful as mentioned in The Book of The Law.
I cannot write the name at present. First instructions were received
direct through Ron the seer. I have followed them to the letter.
There was a desire for incarnation. I do not know the vehicle, but
it will come to me bringing a secret sign. I am to act as instructor
guardian for nine months; then it will be loosed on the world. That
is all I can say now . . ." Crowley was annoyed with Parsons'
secrecy, and wrote back he had no idea what Parsons was talking
April 1946: Hubbard and Betty head to Florida with Allied Enterprise
money to purchase a boat on the East Coast, to be sold on the West
Coast. Parsons doesn't hear from them subsequently, because they are
in fact taking a luxury vacation with Parsons' money.
July 1946: Parsons tracks Hubbard and Betty to Miami, where he
discovers they have purchased three boats. He files suit in Dade
County court and gets possession of two of the boats, and part of
the third. Parsons then dissolves Allied Enterprises, and Parsons
and Hubbard part ways. But the first boat Hubbard had acquired with
Allied Enterprise money had been the Diane. Hubbard would afterward
combine Diane (which may have been another name for Babalon) with
the then popular term cybernetics (Gk. "steersman") to form
"Dianetics", the label Hubbard gave the philosophy and system of
mind control which he created by combining his own science fiction
concepts with the magick he learned from Jack Parsons as well from
as the writings of Parsons' mentor Aleister Crowley. Later, mostly
for tax reasons, Dianetics was renamed "Scientology."
August 1946: Hubbard, age 37, marries Betty (Sara Northrup), age 21.
Hubbard is still married to his first wife at the time.
October 1946: Parsons, age 32, marries Marjorie Cameron, age 24.
Crowley thinks Parsons has gone off the deep end with the Babalon
working. Crowley writes Louis T. Culling: "About J.W.P.--all I can
say is that I am very sorry--I felt 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." Sometime during 1946
Crowley suspends Parsons as OTO head.
December 1946: Crowley further writes: "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."
1947: Parsons becomes involved in arms for Israel, according to von Karman.
Dec. 1, 1947: Aleister Crowley dies.
1948: Parsons loses his security clearance for doing classified
government work, because "of his membership in a religious cult . .
. believed to advocate sexual perversion . . . organized at
subject's home . . . which had been reported subversive." He also
breaks up with Marjorie Cameron. This break-up lasts until late 1949
or early 1950.
Oct. 31, 1948: The events recorded in The Book of the Antichrist
begin. He has put away magick for two years, when Babalon calls.
March 1949: Parsons successfully defends himself against the
subversion charges in closed court, and the Appeals Board reinstates
his security clearance.
1949: Parsons writes The Manifesto of the Antichrist.
September 1950: Parsons loses his job at Hughes Aircraft for being
in possession of classified documents, which he was using to
persuade the Israeli government to build a jet-propulsion laboratory
and manufacturing plant.
January 1952: The Appeals Board again revokes Parsons' security
July 17, 1952: Parsons, while making preparations for a trip to
Mexico, where he will build an explosives factory for the Mexican
government (he tells von Karman), is killed by an explosion at his
garage laboratory at 1071 South Orange Grove at 5.08 p.m. He is
pronounced dead an hour later at Huntington Memorial Hospital. His
mother commits suicide after hearing of the death.
So. If Parsons had been involved in arms for Israel in 1947, as von
Karman said, this would have been just prior to the founding of the
state in 1948. This would probably imply continuing relationships
afterward, hence leading to his 1950 proposal for an Israeli jet
propulsion lab. Parsons was undoutedly contemplating building
solid-fuel missiles as one of the by-products of the jet propulsion
work. That was, after all, his specialty.
This had to be the key. Parsons' beliefs about the Antichrist, and
similar beliefs--say concerning the Knights Templar--would have led
Parsons to focus his attention on Jerusalem. Combine this with
Parsons' need to make a living.
Who would Parsons have upset?
Parsons calling himself the Antichrist was powerful stuff. It would
upset Christians concerned with the same matrix: namely, the notion
of an end-time clash of Christ and Antichrist around Jerusalem.
And where would that lead? The image of Oral Jerry Swagger whom I
had seen on TV in the room at the Hilton, talking about the final
battle on the Plain of Esdraelon by Mount Megiddo (Armageddon) came
to mind. To someone like Oral Jerry Swagger, I thought. Someone who
is into beliefs as equally apocalyptic as those of Parsons himself.
Given the right incentive, I thought, someone like that might want
to kill the Antichrist. The Antichrist Jack Parsons.
Where was Oral Jerry Swagger based? I wondered. At the moment, I
decided, he seemed as likely a possibility as any to look into. I
wrote his name down in my notebook, and drew a box around it.
I closed my notebook, rolled over on my back and closed my eyes.
Even though the lead might be tenuous, I felt strongly confident I
was on the right track. The world was at peace. Perhaps I dosed for
When I opened my eyes again, the light had turned pinkish. I turned
on my side and looked through the tree at the sky to the west. The
sun had just set, the sky glowed with a reddish hue. One star was
visible: the evening star, Venus.
It was time to go, I thought. I lay back for a moment. Then I saw
the man staring at me. He was only a few feet from the quilt, short,
rotund fellow, black hair, slicked back, perhaps olive skin--hard to
tell in the light--and something in his hand. He raised his right
arm as he lunged at me, and I saw it was a hand ax.
Instinctively, like a thousand times on the school playground or the
wrestling mat, I swung my right leg up and caught him in
mid-abdomen, simultaneously rolling to the left, sweeping my arm
trying to catch his and deflect the ax from my face. His momentum
and the pivot of my leg carried him completely over and to the side.
I scrambled up and saw that he had dropped the ax as he had come
down hard on the ground. I started to reach for it, but then a blur
in the corner of my eye caused me to leap to one side. This one was
taller, dressed in black, but with a pasty face. In shock, I
realized it was the ghoul I had met at the Palladium, in
Philadelphia. The ghoul picked up the ax. I turned and ran through
an opening in a hedge, then turned again and ran parallel to the
hedge. I glanced back to see if anyone had come through the opening.
No one. I did a couple more turns. Where was I going? Was it safe to
try for the car? I decided that sounded more attractive than
wanderning around on foot in a strange part of town. I was a little
disoriented, and it took me a minute to locate where I had parked.
When I saw the car, I stopped a moment, looked around. Then I raced
for the car and hopped in. Had the car been rigged? I turned the
key. The engine started and I pulled out. I looked in the mirror and
through the windows as I departed. There was no sign of either of
I thought about going back to the hotel. I passed a shopping center.
There was a hardware store open. I went in and purchased a full size
ax, and a large chef's knife. The blade on the latter was sturdy and
razor sharp. There was a sporting goods store nearby. I bought a
baseball bat, a nice Louisville slugger.
When I got back to the Hilton, I parked in the garage. I decided to
leave the ax in the trunk. I kept the knife in my right hand, but
pulled a shopping bag over the blade, wrapped the bag around my
hand, and held the end along with the knife handle. People would be
able to see I was carrying something rolled up, but not what
exactly. I picked up the bat in my left hand and went into the
"Any messages for me?" I asked at the desk. There weren't any. The
woman at the desk looked at me strangely, with hostility. Maybe she
was just reacting to my body posture, I thought. But maybe not.
At the door to my room I leaned the bat against the wall, and
slipped in the card with my left hand. As the door lock clicked, I
shoved open the door with my foot and picked up the bat. The room
was partially lighted. The maid had turned down the covers, and left
the bedside lamp on. I put the bat down on the bed, dropped the
paper bag from the knife in order to get a better grip, and checked
the bathroom and the closet. Everything seemed normal.
Normal. I turned on the TV, trying to return to a normal frame of
mind. Maybe I would call Sheri and chat for a while.
Only then did I realized I had left my notebook back in the park
with the two ghouls.