Book Review

Sex and Rockets; The Occult World of Jack Parsons

by John Carter, with an introduction by Robert Anton Wilson

Review by,
James Bergman

John W. Parsons, was mainly known as a self-taught rocket scientist extraordinaire who developed rocket technology that helped America's military during World War Two, and that helped to get America's space program to the moon and beyond, but he also lived a controversial double life that included practices of sexual magick and other forms of obscure occultism. Besides these activities he also was an author and considered himself to be an occassional poet. Along the way to becoming a respected scientist, he somehow managed to involve himself with Aleister Crowley's O.T.O., a system of mystical occultism. He was an influential member of the O.T.O. Agape Lodge in sunny southern California and somehow became friendly with the future Church of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard. He also held court at his Pasadena mansion with numerous luminaries of the science-fiction literary community as his guest (in attendence were Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury among others). A crater on the dark side of the moon has been named in honour of his contributions to aerospace technology and some to this day jokingly refer to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) as Jack Parsons Laboratories. His death, in 1952, at the age of 37, from a purported accidental mishap in his garage involving explosive chemicals (fulminate of Mercury), has been the subject of much speculation and mystery in scientific, intelligence and occult circles. His mother, upon hearing the news of her son's death, promptly committed suicide by the ingestion of pills. Unfortunately, not much has actually been published about his intriguing life and the events surrounding his mysterious death. That is, until now.

This fascinatingly detailed book covers all the major events of Parsons’ life. The intrigue and scandal that accompanied his magickal practices, particularly the ones that have come to be known as "The Babalon Workings" are covered in depth, and some excerpts from his magickal diaries have been reproduced here. This information alone covers two jam-packed chapters worth of information that is sure to get anyone interested in this man's life quite excited. A chapter is given that explains the Enochian system of magick that was used so extensively within the Babalon rites. Details are provided about the friendship andmagickal partnership between Parsons and Hubbard. The discovery of Parsons' Scarlet Woman, Margerie Cameron, during this magickal working is explained. Apparently, Hubbard andCameron ran away and absconded with a good portion of Parsons' life savings and after these events some say that Parsons gradually declined in stature and mental acuity. All the assorted and sordid details are given about this timeframe in Parsons life, making it the best documented information I've ever read about the Babalon Workings. This alone will make it worth the cover price for many. Thankfully though, that's not all that this book contains. It also contains biographical and anectdotal evidence pertaining to Parsons early life, his formative rocket science years, and many proofs of his intellectual dominance within the early aerospace sciences, both before and after World War Two. As well, we are treated to numerous reproductions of various articles culled from journals, newspapers, and magazines that pertain to his career and Untimely death. Plus, a wealth of information having to do with many of the events regarding his tragically early demise is provided. We also get a brief history and background on the O.T.O. organization that Parsons once belonged to. Interspersed amongst all this are numerous photographs, diagrams, and other relevant visual information that helps the reader to come to understand the scope of his life and death more fully.

The author of this book, John Carter, and the ever controversial publishers, Feral House, have to be praised for being willing to write and publish this book. However, Carter, and Feral House, have come under some scrutiny and criticism from within the post-Parsons community. For one, apparently the name, John Carter, is a psuedonymn because the author wishes to remain anonymous due to much of the intrigue that surrounds this topic. Secondly, a particular part of the book has come under much intense fire, and Feral House publisher, Adam Parfrey, has issued statements regarding this heated controversy. Page 183 talks about an amateur rocket hobbyist, Harold Chambers, who reports that; within a strange box, in a trailer at Parsons mansion, were found various films of Parsons and his Mother, engaged in sexual acts, and certain scenes that depicted bestiality with a dog. This page has caused much of a scandal, that, according to various members of the post-Parsons camp feel is based upon ridiculous and unfounded accusations. Apparently, Chambers is now very foggy in his recollection of ever having said this, and many feel that this is a part of the book that is poorly researched, if not outright fabrication and sensationalism. Keeping this in mind, I attempted to sift through the information given in other areas and find things of a similar nature, but was unable to. With the exception of the controversial page 183, this book appears to be an engagingly well-written book that is chock- full of important facts, information, and anecdotal evidence. One that, if you are interested in this subject matter, will provide you with a treasure trove of information.

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