So we’ve been making fun of Scientology in the tabletop I play, as you do, and so the discussion turns, as it does, to L. Ron Hubbard: Piece of Work. At this point, of course, I say something about “yeah, and that was after he was in the weird sex cult with like Heinlein and Parsons and Crowley,” and then I have to explain what I remember about the, I am not even kidding with this name, Babalon Working.
Then I looked it up. Turns out Heinlein wasn’t part of it. Heinlein was only tangentially connected to the weird sex magic, and that’s probably not the strangest sentence this blog will contain.
First of all, it should be noted that reading about the California occult scene is the occult equivalent of listening to someone with a really incestuous group of college friends talk about their schooldays. You didn’t know Anne slept with Bob? Oh, fucking everyone slept with Bob, or wanted to sleep with Bob, or was convinced that their SO was sleeping or wanted to sleep with Bob, yeah, it was a whole thing. Same deal, except substitute “did weird magic shit with” for “slept with,” except and sometimes also slept with, AS YOU WILL DISCOVER.
So okay. Aleister Crowley wrote a novel called Moonchild, because of course it fucking was, which appears to involve the standard pregnancy-and-child plot in fantasy: it’s super mystical and rival groups are fighting over it, like every plot-significant baby from Jesus to Damian. This one has the soul of “an ethereal being,” and something something black and white magicians rival lodges blah blah knocking up some chick and then magical rituals. Mkay.
Now it’s the forties, and a rocket scientist named Jack Parsons is leading a magical lodge in Pasadena based on Crowley’s teachings, despite the fact that nobody in goddamn Pasadena should be believing in magic. He meets this dude called L. Ron Hubbard, describes him as “the most Thelemic person I have ever met,” and “in direct touch with some higher intelligence,” and is Totes Okay Really with LRH bonking his girlfriend who’s now “just friends” with Parsons, which…I am not monogamous, I will never be monogamous, and I would jump in a goddamn volcano before I was okay with fucking L. Ron Hubbard banging my SO, especially if she chose him exclusively, and also how the hell did that happen? Parsons in the 1940s looked kind of like Errol Flynn, and Hubbard looked like the bastard child of Rick Moranis and a liver fluke. Was LSD involved?
But not only did this happen, Parsons and Hubbard read Moonchild, decided that was a Great Idea, and embarked on this two-week project to summon an incarnation of the divine feminine–or a really hot chick–which legit involved at least Parsons jerking off (there was some seriously Smurfy text about his “magical wand” and divine energy) while Hubbard looked for portents. Sources vary about whether Hubbard was also contributing in a more physical sense, and if summoning the incarnation of the divine feminine involved being anywhere in the tri-state area when Hubbard, um, operated his thetan, I would take my chances with the singles bars.
(Wikipedia, BTW, describes the ritual as “he masturbated onto magical tablets, accompanied by Sergei Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto,” which is goddamn hilarious, especially because I assume the concerto had an occult purpose and wasn’t just Music to Wank Occultly By, but I do not know, and that would be a cracktacular playlist.)
So okay. That…happens. At some point soon after, this chick named Marjorie Cameron shows up. Hubbard and Parsons decide she’s the “elemental” they summoned. She and Parsons hook up, Hubbard and Parsons continue their quest to incarnate Babalon moonchild thing–which Crowley hears about and describes as “idiotic,” and this is a guy who wrote poems about girl-on-dog action–without telling Cameron, because that’s ethical as hell. Not that Cameron would get pregnant: the ritual would cause a magical child to be born to a totally different woman somewhere in the world.
AS YOU DO.
(There is the vague possibility that Hubbard also was part of the sex, or at least watched, as Wiki says he “continued to participate as the amanuensis” and now *I* will never have sex again. Uuuugh.)
During, or after, or adjacent to this whole…situation–Hubbard and Parsons’s ex got Parsons to invest in a bunch of yachts, which they then sailed away with, because what this story needs is goddamn YACHT FRAUD.
Parsons accidentally/maybe not accidentally blew himself up some years later. His “elemental” wife, who’d been skeptical, then went full-on conspiracy theory, decided she was too the incarnation of blah de bloo, changed her name to “Cameron” or maybe “Hilarion” and founded her own cult, The Children. Is anything good called The Children? No. No, it is not. These particular Children were adults, THANK GOD, who did sex magic to produce Moonchildren plural who would worship Horus. Cameron, on getting knocked up, actually referred to the fetus as “The Wormwood Star,” because at that point you might just as fucking well.
L. Ron Hubbard…”continued research on another planet” in 1984. And was L. Ron Hubbard.
In conclusion: however out there you might think a given subculture is now, it doesn’t even come close to the fucking 1940s in California, and it’s only a pity we didn’t have fandom_wank at the time.