Jack Parsons

Marvel Whiteside “Jack” Parsons was an American rocket engineer and rocket propulsion researcher, chemist, and Thelemite occultist. Associated with the California Institute of Technology, Parsons was one of the principal founders of both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Aerojet Engineering Corporation.

The predecessor to NASA was a young talented rocket scientist, Jack Parsons. Werner von Braun claimed it was the self-taught Parsons, not himself, who was the true father of the American space program for his contribution to the development of solid rocket fuel.

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In 1934, with Jack now 20 years old, the duo’s interest in rockets went from a child’s fantasy to an academic pursuit when, despite not being students there, they gained the support of the close-by California Institute of Technology (CalTech). Ed, Jack, and several members of CalTech’s community formed the GALCIT Rocket Research Group.

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On Halloween 1936, the group performed their first motor test near the Devil’s Gate Dam in Pasadena. The motor exploded, but soon they became

infamous on campus. They were called the “Suicide Squad” due to the danger and perceived craziness of their experiments, particularly as rocket technology was considered by many scientists at the time to be foolish and mere science fiction in terms of any practical use and development of the technology.

JPL's original "Suicide Squad” members, from left: Rudolph Sch

This “Suicide Squad” was the beginnings of the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the institution responsible for the Mars Rover Landing and many other advancements in rocket and robotic sciences. Obviously Parsons was a real talent with a seemingly innate sense of propulsion and rocketry (a very nascent industry at the time) were coveted by the military industrial complex. His design and understanding of the chemical composition of liquid rocket fuels was considered without peer.

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Parsons cut a path as a dashing figure with a reputation as a rocket hot-shot and risk-taker. You would think all this scientific achievement would be enough for one person in one lifetime, but Parsons had a much loftier set of ambitions. He wanted to tear down the walls of time and space, and he had an entirely non-scientific set of ideas on how to do it.

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The non-scientific set of ideas were steeped in the occult, satanism and black magic. Parsons “swore the Oath of the Abyss, having only the choice between madness, suicide, and that oath. (then) I took the oath of a Magister Templi, even the Oath of Antichrist before Frater 132, the Unknown God. And thus was I Antichrist loosed in the world; and to this I am pledged, that the work of the Beast 666 shall be fulfilled.” Who knew it was so easy?

Apparently noting that Antichrist is only a few letters away from “anarchist,” the manifesto that follows is in large part an exhortation to “do what thou wilt” in most things bodily-fluid-drenched, economic and/or political. The goal of all these efforts, according to Metzger, was to bring on the Apocalypse, since in theory things can only get better from there.

By now you may be thinking “What a load of crap!” But the FBI, none too keen about the notion that Parsons’ taxpayer-funded salary might be supporting the Antichrist and the hastening of the Apocalypse, took it seriously enough to open an investigation. Documents recently released through the Freedom of Information act make up 130 pages of heavily redacted text in which G-Men try to make sense of Parsons’ religious beliefs and document his frequently careless handling of classified materials. Perhaps the Errol Flynn persona fitted Jack Parsons best. But truth be told, Jack Whiteside Parsons is best known for his occultists ideals, black magic and reverence to the satanic agenda.

But he had a secret life, which appeared totally at odds with his public one, and it came to further dominate his life as the ’40s progressed. Jack Parsons and his wife Helen had come into contact with the Agape lodge of the O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis)international magical fraternity in Los Angeles in 1939, and had joined it in 1941. It was under the leadership of Wilfred Talbot Smith, a Britisher who had founded this particular lodge about a decade earlier, circa 1930.

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