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15 Incredibly Bizarre Facts About Rocket Scientist Jack Parsons

Updated June 14, 2019 38.7k views15 items

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.

  • He Became 'Frenemies' With L. Ron Hubbard (Who Stole His Girlfriend)

    Photo: YouTube

    After crossing paths with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Parsons quickly fell under his spell. The two became friends and confidants. They fenced together; they discussed philosophy and magic together; they were even rumored to be sexually involved, and, by 1945, Hubbard was living at the Parsonage. 

    Hubbard greedily worked his way through many women in his time at the Parsonage – right on through, in fact, to Parsons’s girlfriend Sara. Sara was very taken with the scifi author, and she and Hubbard ended up founding Scientology together.

  • He Tried To Conjure Up A New Girlfriend

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Fair use

    After Parsons’s lover/sister-in-law became enamored with L. Ron Hubbard, Parsons turned to his trusty old black magic. He became obsessed with researching things like ghosts and poltergeists and decided to conjure up himself a new lover.

    That’s right – he decided to summon up an "elemental" to be his new girlfriend, and the ritual involved him masturbating onto magical tablets to the sound of music.

    It was after one of these rituals in 1946 that Parsons met his soon-to-be-second wife, Marjorie Cameron. He was convinced his ritual worked, and she was his elemental. She was even the inspiration behind his book of poetry, Songs for the Witch Woman.

  • Parsons And Hubbard Tried To Summon A Goddess Together

    Photo: YouTube

    Hubbard and Parsons teamed up to perform an Enochian magical ritual known as the Babalon Working, which basically involves trying to incarnate an actual goddess. The ritual took weeks during which the two men engaged in ritual chanting while waving swords in the air and drawing occult symbols. Then they broke out the runes and dripped animal blood on them. Finally, they attempted to “impregnate” magical tablets by masturbating on them together.

    News of this got back Crowley, and he was actually appalled. The founder of a sex cult, the guy widely known as "The Wickedest Man in the World," was appalled. In a telegram, he called Parsons a “weak fool” and insisted Hubbard was a swindler taking advantage of Parsons. He was right. Hubbard just gained Parsons’s trust, stole his girlfriend, and ran off with $20,000 under the guise of a business investment that Parsons never saw again.

  • He Had Affairs With Secretaries, Recited Pagan Poems, And Hosted Duels... At Work

    Photo: NASA/JPL / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Those who worked with Jack Parsons – especially members of his rocketry “Suicide Squad” like Edward Forman and Frank Malina – would often hear him recite a poem to Pan that was penned by Crowley while he worked on his rocketry experiments. Sure, this could be a little strange, but the real issue was his excessive lifestyle spilling out into work.

    His devil-may-care attitude led to dangerous behavior that put the business at risk. He’d have not-so-subtle affairs with secretaries and host duels out on the rocket-testing range. He and Edward Forman would literally fire off guns at each other’s feet, trying not to flinch.

    On one occasion, Fritz Zwicky insisted on a particular type of rocket fuel that Parsons didn't want to try. So Parsons decided to go out to where this fuel was being stored and just blew the whole batch up. He literally blew up inventory.