An old friend from The City rang us up last night, full of good cheer, better memories and –unless we’re highly mistaken– a snoot full. Somewhere in the middle of his rambling reminiscences he popped up with “Hey! You remember it was 60 years ago this week ol’ Jack blew himself up, right?”

Actually, I had forgotten. And unless you are a degenerate space junkie you won’t know our friend was speaking of Jack Parsons.

Born John Whiteside Parsons, one of our country’s top chemical engineers, as well as a founder of JPL and the inventor of the solid fuel that would propel us to the moon, Jack died in what can only be referred to as unusual circumstances. What supposedly happened was that young Jack (he was just 37 at the time) dropped a vial of fulminate of mercury onto the floor of his home laboratory and blew himself up.

Well, according to the Pasadena, Cali, police he did.

The thing is, Jack was also an occultist. There were persistent rumors at the time of his involvement in strange rituals, sex magic and portals! He was a member of Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), the Thelemic group founded by Aleister Crowley, and lost a true love to that noted rake L. R. Hubbard, whom Jack counted –at least up to that point– as a friend. 1

Jack and L. Ron also shared the Moonchild:

From Jan. 4th to 15th, Parsons and Hubbard engaged in a nightly ritual of incantation, talisman-waving & other Black Magic, faithfully described in Parsons diary as a Conjuration of Air, Invocation of Wand, & Consecration of Air Dagger.

The climax of the ceremony occurred the following day with Ron at the alter working his 2 subjects into a sexual frenzy. Over Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead he intoned such gems as:- Her mouth is red & her breasts are fair, and her loins of full of fire.

As exalted Parsons wrote the next day, Babalon is incarnate upon the earth today manifestation. And in that day my work will be accomplished and I shall be blown away upon the breath of the father, even as it is written. 2

If you’re interested in such things Jack’s Wiki page will lead you to the couple of biographies available, though we tend to favor Carter’s Sex and Rockets. 3 Some fairly amazing stuff…

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Show 3 footnotes

  1. Though Hubbard’s side of the tale is slightly different; according to him the U.S. Navy assigned Hubbard to “monitor” Jack as part of a plan to break up a black magic ring.
  2. Blown away indeed. Also, who knew rocket scientist could be such an intriguing lifestyle?
  3. What blue-blooded boy wouldn’t!

3 Replies to “Moonchild”

  1. An intriguing story to be sure. However, you credit him with being “…the inventor of the solid fuel that would propel us to the moon”

    Not to nitpick, but according to my vast and extensive knowledge of the U.S. Space Program, the Redstone, Atlas, Titan, Saturn 1B and Saturn V were all liquid fueled rockets. It wasn’t until SST that solid fueled rockets were used on a man-rated vehicle and the space shuttle never went to the moon.

    Having said that, your references to Crowley and the O.T.O did spark some nostalgia for my youthful days of, um, “experimentation” in such matters. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

    1. wow – caught conflating solids and liquids. again. you’d think i’d know better. thanks.

      i would HIGHLY recommend Carter’s Sex and Rockets, especially to you.

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