15 Incredibly Bizarre Facts About Rocket Scientist Jack Parsons

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.

  • Parsons Was Mentored By Aleister Crowley

    Parsons Was Mentored By Aleister Crowley
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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

  • He Ate Menstrual Cakes With His Cult

    He Ate Menstrual Cakes With His Cult
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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.

  • He Bought A Mansion For Sex Magic And All Things Hedonistic

    He Bought A Mansion For Sex Magic And All Things Hedonistic
    Photo: NASA/JPL / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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.

  • He Made His Marriage A Foursome After Seducing His Wife’s 17-Year-Old Sister

    He Made His Marriage A Foursome After Seducing His Wife’s 17-Year-Old Sister
    Photo: Los Angeles Examiner / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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.

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

    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

    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.