This book is of interest here due to its detailed description of Parson’s brief ‘Magickal’ partnership with L Ron Hubbard (the founder of Dianetics and Scientology). Hubbard acted as Parson’s ‘scribe’ and participated in occult rituals with him over a prolonged period.
“Strange Angel” by George Pendle covers the same ground, and is probably better written. “Sex and Rockets” , however, tells the story from the perspective of Parson’s ‘Magickal’ practices, and discusses this aspect of his life (and Hubbard’s participation) in greater detail.
It is apparent that Hubbard encouraged Parsons in his ‘Magickal’ efforts. Hubbard’s motives are a matter of speculation – however, after gaining Parson’s trust, Hubbard suggested they go into business together. They formed a company called “Allied Enterprises”,which was financed from Parson’s life savings.
The stated purpose of the company was to buy small private vessels on the East Coast of the USA, and transport them to California (under their own power, or overland by trailer) where they could be sold at a profit. Hubbard bought three ships (supposedly for the business) then absconded in one of them. He took with him not only the remainder of Parson’s money, but also his girlfriend (the third partner in the business). Parson’s subsequently recovered two vessels (a yacht and a three-masted schooner) after legal action which also dissolved the partnership.
Hubbard came out of the dissolution of the company the owner of a three-masted schooner (which he sold) despite never having contributed any funds. Parsons never recovered from either the betrayal or the financial blow. They never met again.
A cynic would suggest that Hubbard’s interest in ‘Magick’ was motivated by a desire to gain Parson’s trust and separate him from his money. Although some critics of Scientology consider that Parson’s brand of ‘black magick’ strongly influenced Dianetics and Scientology (for example, they point to the similarity of the Scientology ‘double cross’ to various similar occult symbols) there is little evidence for this.
Dianetics can be seen as a fusion of Freudian Psychoanalysis, technological optimism and self-help. Scientology is a development of Dianetics which adds the sort of ‘Space Opera’ scenario that was familiar to Hubbard the pulp fiction writer. Parsons had little influence on Hubbard’s most enduring creations.
Parsons should perhaps be remembered for his achievements in rocket science. These were significant. So much so that his life is commemorated by the International Astronomical Union by naming of crater on the moon after him.
The crater “Parsons” is, of course, on the dark side.