Jack Parsons, founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the father of rocket science, was an enigma of a man to say the least. Parsons lived a double life, one of science by day and dark magic by night, although he believed the two were one and the same. He conjured spirits and ancient deities, and he delved into sex magic. He believed he had no limits and could manifest energies just as real as the once-believed-impossible science he helped create.
His known associates were eccentric and somewhat controversial. He was mentored by none other than cult leader and prince of darkness Aleister Crowley. Parsons even became a Priest for Crowley's order of Thelema. Parsons also became friends with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and ended up contributing to much of Scientology's foundation – as he and Hubbard would discuss magic and philosophy for hours on end. As brilliant a scientist as he was, it wasn't long before his unorthodox personal life began to affect him professionally. Much like pet owners who begin to resemble their animals, this mad genius began to mirror his work – becoming highly explosive. In the end, he became too unpredictable to work with, and one of his experiments ended up leading to his death at just 37 years old.
It was the occult philosophy of Thelema, which was founded by occultist Aleister Crowley, that Parsons adhered to. In the late 1930s, Parsons joined the Ordo Templi Orientis (The O.T.O.), in Los Angeles and partook in their drug-fueled, sexually charged rituals.
According to Crowley, he had a revelation in Cairo, Egypt, in which the spirit Aiwass dictated an entire prophetic text to him; this text became known as The Book of the Law. This acid trip became a religion and a way of life for Parsons and many others. Not only that, but Parsons was also actually mentored by Crowley. They eventually became very close, and Parsons was promoted to a priest of the Los Angeles chapter.
As part of the O.T.O., Crowley and Parsons would perform the "Gnostic Mass," which Crowley devised as a perversion of the Catholic Mass. During the Mass, an altar of candles and hieroglyphic patterns stands together with an upright coffin on a black-and-white stage, awaiting the ceremony's officiants to emerge. In the coffin, the priest awaits the arrival of the priestess who, once she makes her entrance, leads the ceremony and prayers along with the priest.
During their unholy version of the Eucharist, all those present drink wine and eat the Cake of Light – which is made with menstrual blood among other things. Yes, as in actual cakes made with actual menstrual blood inside them.
With all Parsons's rocket science genius, he became pretty rich (naturally). What did he do with his riches? He bought a mansion on Pasadena's Millionaire's Row and welcomed his sex-magic cult into it with open arms, and it quickly became a den of hedonism. In addition to housing all of the O.T.O.'s operations, all sorts of eccentrics became frequenters of the "the Parsonage."
Science fiction writers, poets, Manhattan Project scientists, self-proclaimed witches – the house was always full of people, many of whom donned strange masks and costumes during their stay on the premises.
Apparently, there was no line Parsons wouldn't cross when it came to sex. Ritual sex, adulterous sex, and even a little bit of incest... it was all fair game to him. With the encouragement of his church, Parsons began having a sexual relationship with his wife's 17-year-old sister, Sara. His wife, Helen, started sleeping with another man around the same time, a senior member of the church named Talbot Smith.
The four of them decided to move into the Parsonage together and continued to have multiple sex partners while also engaging in group sex (for ritual and recreational purposes) until Jack and Helen Parsons finally divorced.