Jack Parsons and the Occult History of JPL
Jack Parsons is a legendary name in Los Angeles history. Known for being one of the founding fathers of rocketry as well as an eccentric, stories of Jack Parsons are woven into the history of Hollywood. Nonetheless, larger institutions such as NASA have attempted to distance themselves from Parsons. His strange, bohemian lifestyle and occult beliefs omitted him from many of the credits he should have received for his work in rocketry and its use by NASA.
Early Experiments in the Arroyo Seco
Parsons led an extraordinary life and, although short, he made more than a mark on history. Even though he had no degrees, his work paved the way for rocketry both in the past as well as modern day and he is one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) used by NASA today. After being expelled from his lab at Caltech where his experiments were deemed too dangerous to host, Parsons and his fellow rocket enthusiasts set up their experiments in some sheds in the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, which would later become JPL. The area is known to contain the stretch of nature called The Devil’s Gate, a place that both Parsons and Aleister Crowley believed to be one of the planets 7 gates to hell. The area contains a rock formation that looks very devilish and, since ancient times, it was known to have a sinister reputation. Jack Parsons along with his friend Ed Forman conducted what he later referred to as JPL’s “first rocket experiments” in Arroyo Seco.
Occult Soirees at the Jack Parsons Home in Pasadena
Parsons home was known to be host to a range of Satanic rituals and occult activities. The enormous house, located in Pasadena on Millionaire’s Row, had 10 bedrooms with a coach house in the back containing another 3 bedrooms. It was host to a vast number of sex magic parties and a place where many of Hollywood’s elite came to party and do drugs. Rumors of the house being home to a cult were spread by neighbors who called both the police and FBI on Parsons but neither sector of law enforcement found any sign of cult activities on the property. They concluded that the house was simply being visited by a group of people who had an interest in the occult.
Love and Magic
Parsons love life was also an area of controversy. L. Ron Hubbard, who had been a close friend of Parsons and living in his home, ended up taking off with Parsons’ girlfriend Sara Northrup before founding Scientology. Parsons decided he would conjure the perfect woman. An elemental being who was perfect. When he met Marjorie Cameron, he believed her to be the perfect woman he had summoned. They remained together until Parsons was killed in an explosion in his home. His death was ruled an accident, although Cameron believed he was murdered.
Jack Parsons was a complex man. He was an eccentric scientist who was a throwback to the kind of man who had a genuine interest in life, spirituality and how things worked. His science wasn’t separate from the divine or the occult. Rather he explored all as aspects of life that he sought to understand.