When you think about it, the fact that humans can launch rockets is a bit magical. We’ve sent people into space, created devastating weapons, and continue to explore rocketry in many fascinating ways. But this incredibly complex field of science also has its roots in the occult. One of the reasons the idea of rocketry got off of the ground in the first place is because of a man named Jack Parsons. But his ties to Marxism, occultism, and drug-fueled sex magick rituals would ultimately lead to his downfall and, potentially, his death.
Suggested read: Deny It All You Like, Birds Aren’t Real
Who Is Jack Parsons?
Jack Parsons is often considered the occultist father of rocketry “written out” of NASA’s history. This is because Parsons and his partners would end up developing the technology for Jet-Assisted Take Off (JATO) rockets after receiving funding from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
This happened in 1939, which would end up being a major year for Parsons, for better or worse. That same year, Parsons was involved in a bit of Marxism, which meant the government was keeping tabs on him. The Red Scare may have officially ended nearly 20 years before, but the effects were still alive and well.
Either way, the JATO rockets were successful and helped bolster the U.S. Air Corps, which would eventually evolve into the U.S. Air Force (USAF) we know today. Parsons would also go on to create a restricted burning solid rocket fuel sold through Aerojet that would even be used by NASA years later.
These wondrous inventions helped America improve its Air Force, launch into space, and set the groundwork for rocketry in the world for decades to come. However, after his brief stint with Marxism, Parsons discovered Thelema (a social/spiritual philosophy/religious movement). Things got weird.
Mr. Crowley, What Went on in Your Head?
Thelema was founded by Aleister Crowley. It’s a philosophical belief system rooted in the occult. There is the use of rituals involving magick, various holidays, and apparently drug-fueled orgies. You can find more of the spicy content through a number of searches, but here’s a short rundown:
- Jack Parsons would go on to become a part of the Agape Lodge, which is a branch in California of the Thelemite Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.).
- Parsons bought a house in Pasadena. Its reputation would quickly precede it, as the Agape Lodge was moved there for a number of Thelema rituals, including sex magick.
- Helen Parsons-Smith would divorce Jack after discovering he cheated.
- He cheated on her with her 17-year-old sister Sara (yikes).
- Sara would then leave Parsons for L. Ron Hubbard, someone who frequented these sex parties, might have swindled Parsons out of money, and definitely swindled many others later on in life.
Putting the very sus age of Sara aside, we might not kink shame, but the government does. These activities, combined with the fact that Parsons would go on to work as a consultant for Israel and already had Marxist ties, had him put under the ever-close watch of the FBI.
Eventually, this would lead to his downfall. The Cold War would come, and having the ties that he had would hurt him in the long run. Jack Parsons stuck his hands into too many cookie jars and lost trust. He would be stripped of funding, access, occupations, and credibility.
The Death of Jack Parsons Sparks Conspiracies
Despite being ostracized by the scientific and government communities, Parsons still had to eat, right? So, he got a job establishing an explosives factory for the Mexican government. He’d also apparently make explosives for movie sets because it just so happened he got a rush order right as he was leaving.
The FBI was around his home. They watched, they distrusted, and they had to make sure he wasn’t up to no good. The day before he and his family were supposed to move away, hoping he could find an avenue to revitalize his rocketry career, he died.
His goal was to use the job in Mexico to regain some credibility and parlay it into a job with the Israeli government. This would never come to fruition. On June 17, 1952, the day before his departure and when the order for the set arrived, Parsons would end up blowing himself up while working.
Jack Parsons may have been a man who loved sex, drugs, and the occult, but he was also an expert in quantum physics. Did this expert simply drop mercury he was mixing on the ground, causing a fatal explosion? Was it a suicide? Or did the government put an end to Parsons’s life? We may truly never know.