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Jack Parsons: The Sex Occultist Who Was Key in Sending America to Space

BY Venkat Pulapaka July 4, 2019
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Jack Parsons

Jack Parsons during a murder trial. (Los Angeles Times / Wikimedia Commons)

Very few people across the world know that the space programme of the United States should actually be credited to a Satanist, Jack Parsons, and not Wernher Von Braun. The later was a German-American aerospace engineer and a pioneer of rocket technology in the US. Wernher Von Braun was also a contemporary of Jack Parsons. Strangely though, most people of the later times never heard of Jack Parsons.

Born on October 2, 1914, as Marvel Whiteside Parsons, Jack’s actual name was John Whiteside “Jack” Parsons. His family was a wealthy family in Pasadena.

Jack lived a colourful, but an eventful life for just 37 years. He died on June 17, 1952, in Pasadena.

Interest in science fiction literature

Thanks to his interest in science fiction literature, Jack is said to have developed an interest in rocketry at a very young age. At the same time at the tender age of 13, Jack is said to have first invoked Satan. Simultaneously, by the age of 14 in 1928, he started to indulge in amateur experiments on rockets with the help of his school buddy Edward Forman.

Jack started his initial experiments in the backyard of his house. There he made gunpowder-based rockets.

Most of his experiments ended up as explosions and he used to have fun. Generally, he used to blow up things with fireworks. As a result, he and Forman were considered as crazy guys at school. The two boys were the kind of kids who were trouble at their school all the time. It was also during this period that the two boys experienced spells and incantations.

The ‘Suicide Squad’

Jack and Forman eventually dropped out of high school. In 1929, when the Great Depression crippled the world, the fortunes of Jack’s family nosedived. He had to drop out of Pasadena Junior College and later from Stanford University due to cash crunch.

In that background, the two friends joined a California-based company known as Hercules Powder Company. The company manufactured armaments. While they were at the Hercules Powder Company, Jack became famous across the nation as a rocket expert.

Later, Jack went to CalTech. In 1934, he teamed up with Forman and approached a graduate student named Frank Malina at the California Institute of Technology. The three formed a

Rocket Research Group that was focused on studying rockets and referred themselves as the ‘Suicide Squad’.

The group was known as the Caltech-affiliated Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory (GALCIT) RRG. GALCIT chairman Theodore von Kármán supported the activities of the research group.

Jack Parsons and Edward Forman.

Jack Parsons (bottom right) and Edward Forman (top right) along with other GALCIT group members. (NASA / JPL)

Even as World War II was coming to an end, the Rocket Research Group came to be known as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Wernher Von Braun credited Jack with US space programme

Wernher Von Braun.

Wernher Von Braun. (SDASM Archives / Flickr)

Later, of course, Wernher Von Braun acknowledged Jack’s contribution to jet propulsion and rocket technology. In this connection, Wernher Von Braun credited Jack with inventing the American space programme.

It was Jack who actually created the solid fuels that the US later used in the propulsion Polaris nuclear missiles and in the Apollo space missions, said Wernher Von Braun.

During the 1920s and 1930s, rocket science was largely confined to science fiction. In this background, when engineering professor Robert Goddard suggested that a rocket would one day reach the moon, he was mocked at.

Nevertheless, the Suicide Squad’s Jack was a genius at developing rocket fuels. It was a delicate process involving the mixing of chemicals in the right amounts to avoid explosions. During this period he had developed controllable versions of the rocket fuel. NASA later used them.

Aerojet Engineering Corporation (AEC) established

By the 1940s, Malina approached the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for funds to do research on ‘jet propulsion’. Flush with funds from NAS, the Suicide Squad established a company called Aerojet Engineering Corporation (AEC) in 1943.

The formation of AEC, more or less, legitimized their work. Thus, the Suicide Squad played a vital role in the founding of Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA. JPL is the research centre that has been sending ever since spacecraft into the outer space.

With more government involvement, Jack Parsons and his team experienced greater success. More opportunities opened up for Jack. Following this success, the government agencies had to take a closer look into his personal life that had several shocking covert activities.

Jack was engaging in occult activities

While pioneering scientific developments that later put men on the moon, Jack was engaging in occult activities like the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). The notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley was leading OTO at that time.

Across Britain and the US, Crowley was said to be “the wickedest man in the world”. It was at OTO that Jack and others took part in strange occult rituals like eating cakes prepared with menstrual blood.

As his career progressed, Jack’s interest in the occult grew manifold. In the early 1940s, Jack was appointed as the West Coast leader of the OTO.

He pumped in money from his rocketry business into his occult activities. He even purchased a mansion in Pasadena to use as a den of hedonism. This gave him an opportunity to explore sexual adventures. During this period, he slept with his wife Helen’s 17-year-old sister Sara in the form of cult-like orgies.

FBI increased its vigil on Jack Parsons’ nocturnal activities

The US government directed the FBI to increase its vigil on Jack Parsons’ nocturnal activities. The FBI found that Jack’s behaviour became a liability to national security. Therefore, in 1943, Jack was forced to quit Aerojet Company and he was paid off his shares. This clearly shows that Jack was expelled from the field that he had actually helped to grow.

With no work on hand, Jack plunged deeper in the occult. During this period, Jack met science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard was on the verge of establishing Scientology.

Hubbard urged Jack to summon a goddess to Earth

He urged Jack to summon a goddess to Earth during an outlandish ritual. The ritual itself involved ritual chanting and drawing occult symbols in the air with swords. Then, dripping animal blood on runes and then masturbating to ‘impregnate’ the magical tablets.

During the late 1940s and on the onset of the Red Scare, Jack came under government scrutiny for involving in “sexual perversion” at the OTO. With no hope of getting a government job, Jack started using his expertise on explosives to work on special effects in the movies.

Jack was 37 years old when he died

In spite of this environment, Jack continued to indulge in reckless backyard experiments on rockets. On June 17 in 1952, Jack got a job to work on explosives for a film project. When he was working for his project, an unplanned detonation destroyed his home laboratory and killed him. Jack was 37 years old when he died.

Jack Parsons death scene.

Police investigating the site where Jack Parsons was killed. (Los Angeles Time)

One of the interesting facts includes Jack’s habit of working by day and involving in dark magic during the night.

On Pasadena’s Millionaire’s Row, he purchased a mansion and welcomed his sex-magic cult with open arms. The mansion turned into a den of hedonism.

Enjoyed this article? Also, check out “Space Burial: Making Skies Our Cemetery“.


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