Thursday, June 04, 2015

Jack Parsons, Jack Kirby & the Babalon Working, All in Color for a Dime

There's been little news on the project as of late but last year we heard that Ridley Scott was developing a miniseries based on the life of Jack Parsons, the co-founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratories and inventor of solid rocket fuel.

Such a project proves how esoteric Scott is becoming in his maturity, seeing as he's also executive producing a Philip K. Dick novel and an adaption of Lords of Chaos, the landmark history of the Norwegian Black Metal scene.

Of course, any project based on Parsons' life would also deal with his involvement with Aleister Crowley and the OTO, as well as his infamous Babalon Working, undertaken with future Scientology guru L. Ron Hubbard in early 1946.

Parsons' stated intent was to summon a Scarlet Woman with whom he could give birth to the Moonchild, or avatar of the New Age of Antichrist. As fate would have it, that working would indeed summon just the woman Parsons desired- that being artist Marjorie Cameron- but no Moonchild ever came from their relationship. 

But according to many Thelemites, not the least of whom was Crowley's would-be heir Kenneth Grant, the Babalon Working in fact achieved another goal, one which neither Parsons nor Hubbard seem to have foreseen as far as we can tell. 

But that's the way magick often goes- you have your stated intent and then you have often have your workings taking on an entirely different life of their own in the public consciousness. It all leads one to question just who is using whom in these things.

Using a complicated magickal regimen based in Crowley's teachings and drawing upon the so-called Enochian magickal system of the Elizabethan Era, Parsons and Hubbard began the working on January 4, 1946 and continued on for several days thereafter. Upon finishing their work they took off for the desert. 

When they returned to the Parsonage, the Parsons family home in Pasadena, they were shocked to discover a woman fitting Parsons' specifications waiting for them, one Marjorie Cameron, a former map maker for the Navy. 

At the same time half a world away, the so-called "ghost rockets" phenomenon began the modern UFO era, a marvelously appropriate event that led many to declare that the Babalon Working had opened a dimensional window and something- something being UFOs- had flown through it.

But wasn't this all just a return to first principles? Enochian magick is said to be of unearthly origin, as one of history's most remarkable "channeled" magical systems. From Thelemapedia:
Enochian magick is a system of ceremonial magick based on the evocation and commanding of various spirits. It is based on the 16th century writings of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley, who claimed that their information was delivered to them directly by an angel. They created the Enochian script and the table of correspondences that goes with it. It claims to embrace secrets contained within the apocryphal Book of Enoch. 
Enochian magick is a hierarchical system of angel magick centered on the evocation of angelic beings whose names are constructed from several tables of letters using consistent rules of formation.
The problem is that the Book of Enoch tells of more than one heavenly race, both called Watchers. One race of Watchers were fallen angels who appeared from time to time to tutor human beings in arcane arts. Enoch is not recognized as canon in most Jewish or Christian traditions and as we saw in an earlier post it was most likely based on Lebanese (read: Phoenician) magic and folklore, not Jewish sources. 

Ah, those pesky flying disks again, as those who've read their Vallee will tell you.

The Book of Enoch is also extremely strange, and includes an incredibly lucid travelogue from low earth orbit, leading one to wonder just who exactly these Watchers were, who took up with Earth women and taught men some rather useful skills, like writing and weapon-making.

(In light of Parsons' obsession with the occult we'd do well to remind ourselves how many inventors claimed to be inspired by otherworldly beings, Nikola Tesla and George Hale to name only two).

Some believe today that the Watchers were in fact other-dimensional beings who came to this world through gates or portals. And of course Babalon is a corruption of Babylon, which means "Gateway of the Gods."  That double meaning is especially important as we come to the next exhibit in our catalog of wonders here...

This was just one of Jack Kirby's many stories about interdimensional travel. Later he'd concoct an entire universe of characters around the concept. But as it happens, perhaps something else may have been expressing itself through Kirby's hands here.

I mentioned this story in the very first post in this series, but didn't realize how strange it actually was until I was recently reminded that Marjorie Cameron claimed to be from Mars  (you can read the whole comic here). 

That turned out to be the key that showed-- once again-- how Kirby was tuned in an entirely different wavelength than you or I, one that furnished him with information that he really had no business knowing. In this case, it was inside information on the Babalon Working...

The story has two men living and running a hat shop together, one a tall fellow with jet black hair and the other a shorter guy with red hair. This parallels Hubbard living at the Parsonage in Pasadena as well as their ill-fated company, Allied Enterprises. 

This is also a classic imp or sprite scenario, items going missing and belongings being rifled via an interdimensional thief. It's been updated for UFO lore, as you can see in the Dark Skies film.

What is even more remarkable is that "Max Hall" looks remarkably like a caricature of the young Hubbard, down to the bulbous nose, weak chin and receding hairline.

The pair experience a series of thefts and wait in the dark to try to catch the thief. Then a giant dimensional doorway opens up in the dark apartment. Compare this with Parsons' notes from the Babalon Working:

"Jan 14. The light system of the house failed about 9 PM. Another magician who had been staying at the house and studying with me, was carrying a candle across the kitchen when he was struck strongly on the right shoulder, and the candle knocked out of his hand. He called us, and we observed a brownish yellow light about seven feet high in the kitchen."

"Parsons opened a door, and something flew in." In this case a spectral figure emerges from the Stargate. Max tries to grab "Eddie Michaels" from entering it in pursuit of the thief. Note now the parallels of the spectral figure to the astral vision in Parsons' notes, the name Michael and "let me go free" to the figure fleeing capture into the dimensional gateway. 

The conjunction of Isis and Michael is interesting because the thief is a woman who steals mens' belongings.

Jan 15. Invoked twice. At this time the Scribe developed some sort of astral vision, describing in detail an old enemy of mine of whom he had never heard, and later the guardian forms of Isis and the Archangel Michael. Later, in my room, I heard the raps again, and a buzzing, metallic voice crying "let me go free."

After a voyage through the fourth dimension, Eddie appears back in his apartment, the very assertive female thief clutching him. Note she is wearing a purple robe. Because that's what all Martian cat burglars wear, right?

Well, it might be a good time to mention that when we first meet Crowley's Scarlet Woman (based on Leila Waddell) in his novel Moonchild, she is dressed in an identical manner:

Until Simon Iff and his party entered, these three men had been entertained by a woman. She was dressed in a plain purple robe, made in a single piece. It fell to her feet. The sleeves were long and widening towards the wrist. 
Note this assertive Martian is a fiery redhead, exactly like Marjorie Cameron. 

My question is who else came through that gate?

And the original Scarlet Woman was also dressed in purple robes as well:
“And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication”- Revelation 17:4

What's more important is that the abstract forms Eddie tangles with (obviously inspired by "modern art") in the Fourth Dimension are manifestations of his new Martian paramour, a direct parallelism of the abstracted surrealism that Marjorie Cameron became famous for. And the dominance Cameron had over Parsons is certainly symbolized in these scenes. 

And here we see the happy couple declare their eternal love upon meeting, just as Parsons and Cameron did.
On February 23, 1946 Parsons triumphantly wrote to Crowley, "I have my elemental! She turned up one night after the conclusion of the Operation, and has been with me since." The Elemental was Marjorie Cameron, sprung from Parsons' head like Sophia from the Godhead or Pallas Athena from Zeus. She adopted the magical name "Candida," calling herself "Candy" for short. Soon she married Parsons, and helped him with his magic. 
Crowley sent Parsons an admonishment about Cameron. He reminded him of Eliphas Levi's advice that, "The love of the Magus for such things [Elementals] is insensate and may destroy him."

And here we see that these characters are unconscious idealized representations of Parsons and Cameron. 

So we have caricatures of Parsons, Hubbard and Cameron, a dimensional Stargate, surreal artwork and a woman from Mars, along with a few dangling signifiers. All long before the rest of the world knew anything about the Babalon Working. All drawn by a guy who was beyond obsessed with aliens and ancient astronauts, I might add.

How about that?

At this point it's tempting to speculate that Kirby was working off inside information. But to do so is to fail to understand who Jack Kirby was. He was a man co-workers saw as somewhat off, lost inside his rich fantasy worlds. One colleague on the Thundarr the Barbarian cartoon described him as being "hermetically sealed in his own imagination." Less charitable observers described him as being somewhere deep on the autistic scale. 

Go watch some of his interviews on YouTube to judge for yourself.

This story was published in June of 1957 (cover date Sept.), five years after Jack Parsons' gruesome death in Pasadena. That event may have made the news, but as far as I know (and please let me know if you have credible evidence to the contrary) Parsons' relationship with L. Ron Hubbard wouldn't become public until 1969 and the details of the Babalon Working wouldn't be published until the mid-70s. 

This is important, since this story parallels details of the Babalon Working in a way totally uncharacteristic of Jack Kirby's storytelling. He wasn't given to subtle allegory, in fact he wasn't given to subtle anything. Everything he did was over the top. 

So if Kirby did know someone who knew Jack Parsons and knew the details of the Babalon Working- which I'm going to say is a extreme improbability given Kirby's hermit-like isolation in a basement studio in the Long Island suburbs, grinding out pages day and night-  he wouldn't retell the story the way the story is told here. It just wasn't his style.

As so much else of his published work proves, here again we see that Kirby was tuning into all this through some other transmission. 

Remember that he was working in the same way remote viewers did- sitting in an isolated room, staring at a blank sheet of paper, projecting onto it what he saw with his mind's eye.

To add the icing to the cake, Kirby even had a comic called "The Three Rocketeers," the name of Parsons' then-obscure group at CalTech. It would be from this body of work that his "Face on Mars" story and the story that prefigured the Stargate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey would emerge. 

Gee, more Stargates.

The later story- a Three Rocketeers yarn- was drawn in the late 50s but didn't see print until the summer of 1966, well after Stanley Kubrick had begun production on his landmark sci-fi opus. 

It also centered on a monolith discovered on the Moon. And in case you were wondering there was no such sequence in the original short story 2001 was based on. But just to bring it all full circle Kirby would bring his very strange imagination to a bugout adaption of the Kubrick film in 1976 and an even weirder spinoff series that year. It would be one of three Kirby titles centered on AAT (the other two being The Eternals and Devil Dinosaur) in his short tenure at Marvel in the late 70s.

And just to make this all completely improbable, "Marvel" was Jack Parsons' birth name. It was later changed to John following his parents' divorce. Kirby's birth name wasn't Jack either, it was Jacob. Either way, the two Jacks both shared a love for science fiction (and science) and changed the world in ways that continue to reverberate to this very day...