The author [Lawrence Wright] contacted me when a high church official 1 said the biography confirmed that Heinlein as Hubbard’s naval intelligence handler sent Hubbard to Jack Parsons to break up “black magic” practice.
The author of the article2 noted that the biography doesn’t say anything about this. He contacted me by email and we had a short exchange a couple of months ago in which I said I had investigated that claim on behalf of the Scientologists but had found no evidence for the claim.3
Hubbard’s intense curiosity about the mind’s power led him into a friendship in 1946 with rocket fuel scientist John Whiteside Parsons.
Parsons was a protege of British satanist Aleister Crowley and leader of a black magic group modeled after Crowley’s infamous occult lodge in England.
Hubbard also admired Crowley, and in a 1952 lecture described him as “my very good friend.”
Parsons and Hubbard lived in an aging mansion on South Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena. The estate was home to an odd mix of Bohemian artists, writers, scientists and occultists. A small domed temple supported by six stone columns stood in the back yard.
Hubbard met his second wife, Sara Northrup, at the mansion. Although she was Parsons’ lover at the time, Hubbard was undeterred. He married Northrup before divorcing his first wife.
Long before the 1960s counterculture, some residents of the estate smoked marijuana and embraced a philosophy of promiscuous, ritualistic sex.
“The neighbors began protesting when the rituals called for a naked pregnant woman to jump nine times through fire in the yard,” recalled science fiction author L. Sprague de Camp, who knew both Hubbard and Parsons.
Crowley biographers have written that Parsons and Hubbard practiced “sex magic.” As the biographers tell it, a robed Hubbard chanted incantations while Parsons and his wife-to-be, Cameron, engaged in sexual intercourse intended to produce a child with superior intellect and powers. The ceremony was said to span 11 consecutive nights.
Hubbard and Parsons finally had a falling out over a sailboat sales venture that ended in a court dispute between the two.
In later years, Hubbard tried to distance himself from his embarrassing association with Parsons, who was a founder of a government rocket project at California Institute of Technology that later evolved into the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Parsons died in 1952 when a chemical explosion ripped through his garage lab.
Hubbard insisted that he had been working undercover for Naval Intelligence to break up black magic in America and to investigate links between the occultists and prominent scientists at the Parsons mansion.
Hubbard said the mission was so successful that the house was razed and the black magic group was dispersed.
But Parsons’ widow, Cameron, disputed Hubbard’s account in a brief interview with The Times. She said the two men “liked each other very much” and “felt they were ushering in a force that was going to change things.”
One definition of magic is, “Total commitment to get, to achieve, to win – with such totality that one’s life itself becomes the ritual of that commitment.” (It has been noted that, when that commitment “is malevolent, the magic is black.”)
For Hubbard, morality was a straitjacket worn by fools. Morality was utilized only when it aided him in reaching his objective. (He gave lip service to all sorts of noble humanitarian sentiments, but he also visibly, especially from the mid-sixties on, gave vent to base motives expressed in vindictive policies and writings.)
His WILL was the supreme consideration.
This philosophy has been described as “the ends justify the means.” This vaguely says it all, but it describes neither the intensity nor the total commitment which appears to have driven him.
His life was indeed a ritual of total commitment to the achievement of power. Power concentrated exclusively under his control.
Hubbard may have had this drive for power – this obsession – all his life. But the point at which it burst into a raging passion was, according to Ron Jr. sometime in his teens when Ron Hubbard and his mother visited the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. From that time on he was, more and more, able to support his obsession with a detailed, well-developed philosophy.
His mother was at the Library tracing back her family’s genealogy, while he was poking around trying to find something that interested him. He did.
It was a tiny volume called The Book of the Law. According to its writer, Aleister Crowley, The Book was “dictated” to him in Cairo, between noon and one P.M., on three successive days: April 8th, 9th, and 10th, in the year 1904. (p. 52)
Crowley’s The Book of the Law adds a new and fiery twist to the Law of Thelema as described by Rabelais.
In the words of The Book:
We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of Kings: stamp down the wretched and the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.
…I am of the snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. To worship me take wine and strange drugs…They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie, this folly against self …Be strong oh maIl! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture… …the kings of the earth shall be kings forever: the slaves shall serve.
Them that seek to entrap thee, to overthrow thee, them attack without pity or quarter; and destroy them utterly.
I am unique and conucror. I am not of the slaves that perish. Be they damned and dead! Amen. Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled and the consoler!
(According to Ron Jr., his father never sincerely felt remorse or sympathy.) Did the young L. Ron Hubbard take special quote, when he read:
…in these runes [words and letters of The Book] are mysteries that no Beast [Crowley] shall devine [understand]. Let him not seek to try: But one cometh after him…who shall discover the key to it all? (Emphasis and bracketed words added)
According to Ron Jr. his father considered himself to be the one “who came after”; that he was Crowley’s successor; that he had taken on the mantle of the “Great Beast. ” He told him that Scientology actually began on December the 1st, 1947. This was the day Aleister Crowley died.*
*Many people interpret The Book of the Law and Crowley’s overall work in many ways. Here I am only attempting to illustrate what appears to have been Hubbard’s interpretation of The Book. (pp. 54, 55) 1
- Corydon, B., & Hubbard, L. R. (1987). L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or madman?. Secaucus, N.J.: L. Stuart. ↩