John Whiteside Parsons was a mass of contradictions. By day, he was a pioneering rocket scientist, who invented a formulation for solid rocket fuel which was developed into the booster rockets that modern space launch vehicles depend upon. By night, he was a secret occultist, who believed that he could influence the world with ritual magic.
He is of interest to Scientology watchers because, before L Ron Hubbard wrote “Dianetics”, the founder of Scientology participated with Parsons in black magic rituals. This relationship ended when Hubbard absconded not only with Parson’s girlfriend, but also a substantial amount of his money.
Yesterday, it was announced on the website ‘boing boing‘ that Ridley Scott was acting as executive producer for an upcoming TV miniseries about Parson’s life based on the book ,”Strange Angel” by George Pendle (the best biography of the man).
Will the series deal honestly with Hubbard’s involvement? How will the Church of Scientology react? The story of the production of this series is likely to be fascinating in its own right.
While we are waiting, I have some background for those who like to prepare by doing their research in depth.
After the break, you can view a documentary film about Jack Parson’s occult guru, the infamous (and ultimately pathetic) Aleister Crowley. To understand Parsons (and his influence on Hubbard) it certainly helps to understand Crowley. A TV docudrama about Parsons’ extraordinary live, which includes contributions from George Pendle
Also there are links to a number of books, magazine articles and websites which describe L Ron Hubbards curious career as a ‘master of the mystic arts” and an interview with Nieson Himmel, a resident at Jack Parson’s house when L Ron Hubbard was there.2007 | In Search of the Great Beast | View Online | Download as mp4
Aleister Crowley is best known today for, “The Book of the Law” (which he claimed had been dictated to him by a supernatural entity called Aiwass) upon which he based his own ‘religion and philosophy’ – Thelema.
Like Hubbard, Crowley determinedly mythologised his own life, so it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. He styled himself “The Great Beast” and was referred to in the popular press as “The Wickedest Man in the World”. He died in 1947, addicted to heroin, and was cremated a few days later, in a controversial ceremony attended by a dozen people. He left behind him an incoherent body of ritual magic and obscure writings.
Parsons and Hubbard are mentioned very briefly at the end of this film. I was left with the impression that, if Hubbard learned anything from Crowley and Parsons, it was that you could attract a lucrative following without having to make a lot of sense.
2012 | Dark Matters season 2 Episode 13 | Magickal Jet propulsion, Missing Link Mystery, Typhoid Mary | The Science Channel
The window below contains a 5-minute extract from this programme which presents the basic facts of Parsons life.
In one of those curious coincidences, the next segment of the programme discusses “Piltdown Man“. This was once believed to an early human species which represented ‘the missing link’ between apes and humans.
Unfortunately, this belief was based on a partial skeleton discovered in England in 1912 which turned out to be a hoax. The person responsible created the skull from carefully matched and aged fragments of human and ape bones – but not before L Ron Hubbard had fallen for it, in print.
The PILTDOWN contains freakish acts of strange ‘logic,’ of demonstrating dangerous [sic] on one’s fellows, of eating one’s wife and other somewhat illogical activities. The PILTDOWN teeth were ENORMOUS and he was quite careless as to whom and what he bit and often very much surprised at the resulting damage.
What to Audit: A History of Man (1952)
For a good overview of the Piltdown fraud, you can watch the Entire Programme Online
Nieson Himmel a resident at Jack Parson’s house when L Ron Hubbard was there
This interviewee is billed as a”Resident at Jack Parson’s House when L Ron Hubbard was there.” This is probably Nieson Himmel, who is described by Russell Miller in his book “Bare Faced Messiah” as follows:
For a while, Ron shared a room with Nieson Himmel, a young reporter who had also met Parsons through a shared interest in science fiction. Perhaps because of the inbred scepticism of newspapermen, Himmel was less impressed than most by his new room-mate: ‘I can’t stand phoneys and to me he was so obviously a phoney, a real con man. But he was certainly not a dummy. He was very sharp and quick, a fascinating story-teller, and he could charm the shit out of anybody. He talked interminably about his war experiences and seemed to have been everywhere. Once he said he was on Admiral Halsey’s staff. I called a friend who worked with Halsey and my friend said “Shit, I’ve never heard of him”. Bare Faced Messiah Chapter 7
Finally, here is a selection of books, magazines and websites which cover this curious period of Hubbard’s life.
- Book – Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons (2005) by George Pendle
- Book – Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons (1999) by John Carter and Robert Anton Wilson
- Book – Robert A Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century Volume 1: Leaning Curve 1907 – 1948 (2010) William H Patterson Jr
- Book – Wormwood Star, The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron Spencer Kansa is an biography of the woman who also participated with Parsons and Hubbard in those curious ‘black magic’ rituals (mostly concerned with her later career as contemporary artist).
- Magazine Article – Fortean Times, Rocket Man: Profile of John Whiteside Parsons (2000) by Colin Bennett Read
- Additional Information – The Church of Scientology claims that Hubbard was actually an intelligence agent whose mission was to “break up black magic in America”. in 1987, a BBC radio documentary Ruthless Adventure fell for this story, which was later thoroughly debunked by websites like Ron the War Hero after documents relating Hubbard’s real (and inept) military career were released.