these actions. If the occultist is not well-trained, then the psyche is vulnerable to the effects of deep-seated psychoses and the mind can find itself obsessed or even a bit more deranged than even Rimbaud would be comfortable experiencing.
While this can occur in an individual—and it does, with more regularity than one might believe—the effects have wider consequences. When an occult ritual goes awry with even the most competent magician—with side effects that Kenneth Grant refers to as “tangential tantrums”193—then the results can be felt in the immediate environment. Strange phenomena occur, some banal, others weirdly compelling, experienced by non- occultists as well as those with a vested interest in the outcome of the ritual.
This is the Mauve Zone making itself felt through a rent in the veil that separates it from the “real world,” something about which the Schlangekraft recension of the Necronomicon warns us when it insists that we close the Gate lest something creep through when we are unaware. This is also consistent with medieval attitudes towards demonic conjuration, when the correct construction of the magic circle is required and its physical integrity insisted upon. The circle is the Gate the magician uses to venture into the Mauve Zone; it is also the wall that he erects between himself and the entities that live there.
One of the requirements of both Tantra and magic is that one’s partners in the rituals be selected carefully beforehand. There are numerous examples given in the Tantras of the correct type of priestess; the grimoires of magic are rather less clear on the subject, but it is nevertheless an important factor. One can control one’s own actions during the ritual; it is much more difficult to do that and to control the actions and reactions of others, whether the priestess in a rite of maithuna, or assistants in a ritual of ceremonial magic.
It was quite likely this particular problem led to one of the most famous
—and influential—rituals of modern times. It involved one of Crowley’s most brilliant disciples, a man who was literally a rocket scientist. It ended in the destruction of the magician on the one hand and the creation of a new cult on the other.
No discussion of the Mauve Zone would be complete without reference to the example of John Whiteside Parsons (1914-1952): an example of how
an occult life can go terribly wrong and yet still contribute so much.
We are used to the example of famous artists and writers being car wrecks as human beings. Edgar Allan Poe is one example, a brilliant author and poet who was an alcoholic and who died in a gutter. Vincent Van Gogh is another, as are any number of modern rock stars. Hemingway committed suicide.
Some of Lovecraft’s inner circle can be included, such as the creator of Conan, the Barbarian: Robert E. Howard who committed suicide at a young age. And Lovecraft’s own literary executor, the brilliant scholar Robert Barlow, committed suicide in Mexico on January 2, 1951 when he was still a young man in his thirties.
The artistic life can have that effect on people. Too close contact with the Mauve Zone, over too long and extended a period of time, is poisonous if it is not controlled. Once that Gate is opened it must be constantly policed, and closed if the threat level rises.
Therefore, in the occult world there are similar lists.
One of the most important names on that list is Jack Parsons.
His story has been told in several places and we won’t go into too much detail here. He was a rocket scientist who made an important contribution to the war effort in the 1940s, and was a founding member of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Most famously, he has a crater on the Moon named after him: a fact that should be of some importance to those who follow the Kaula path, for Parsons was also a magician and a follower of Aleister Crowley. For a time he ran the only active OTO lodge in the United States, in Pasadena, California. It was probably due to this, and to several unlucky friendships, that he eventually lost his all-important security clearance and subsequently had a hard time finding work. It was the Cold War, and paranoia about crazy California occultists ran about as high as it did for crazy California communists.
In June of 1952, at the age of thirty-eight, Parsons blew himself up in a garage outside his home. Opinions differ as to whether it was an accident, a suicide, or a murder. There is room for all three versions.
But it was in 1946 that everything changed.
Parsons had met a science-fiction author and Naval officer named L. Ron Hubbard as the war came to a close. Parsons had run a kind of salon out of his home for writers and for people interested in the occult. Hubbard
had heard of it, and began frequenting the home, meeting Parsons and developing a close relationship with him. Hubbard’s background was sketchy. Declassified FBI files on Hubbard tell a story that is somewhat at odds with the official version promoted by Hubbard’s creature, the “religion” known as Scientology.
Regardless, from January to March, 1946, Parsons enlisted the assistance of Hubbard in a series of ambitious magical rituals known as the Babalon Working. The goal was to summon or incarnate the Scarlet Woman herself with a view towards creating a “magical child.” The inspiration for this manouver was evidently Crowley’s novel, Moonchild, which we have already referenced. The method was consistent with Crowleyan sex-magical techniques, such as we have been discussing at length in these pages, and the result—at least, according to Grant—was predictable.
At the completion of the first part of the ritual, a red-headed woman— Marjorie Cameron—appeared at Parsons’s home, waiting for him as he returned from the ritual in the desert. Parsons took this to be a sign that the ritual had been successful, for the Scarlet Woman is famously a red-head. They soon formed a relationship and married. The next phase of the ritual was to use IXth degree OTO sex magic rituals in order to incarnate a magical child who would be the Thelemic messiah.
A study of this event is instructive for anyone who has managed to follow this report thus far. Everything we have been discussing comes together in the story of Parsons and Hubbard and the Babalon Working, from Thelema to the OTO, sex magic, Babalon, creating magical offspring
… and opening a Gate that perhaps should never have been opened.
Hubbard’s agenda in all of this is a mystery, except that in the end he made off with a great deal of Parsons’s money in a venture called Allied Enterprises. Hubbard absconded with the funds to Florida (and Parsons’s former girlfriend Sara Northrup) where he bought a boat and tried to escape. According to the story as it has been told many times, Parsons chased Hubbard to Florida and when he saw that his former partner making for open waters, he conjured a spirit to raise a tempest and force the ship back to shore … and that is exactly what happened. Hubbard was detained by the Coast Guard and told by the court to repay the money he had stolen from Parsons.
Within a few short years, Hubbard would write Dianetics—the book for which he is best known—and began the creation of what would become Scientology. In the early years of the movement he would often claim to have met Aleister Crowley and to praise him in speeches and talks he gave to his followers. Later, he would drop all references to Crowley and downplay his involvement with the Parsons lodge of the OTO.
One thing, however, seems to be agreed upon by those who study the case, and that is that the rituals performed by Parsons, Hubbard and Marjorie Cameron were effective, but in ways no one had expected or planned. The common analysis has it that the rituals “blew a hole in the space-time continuum” through which … something … came in.
The rituals took place from January to March, 1946. Parsons wrote the text that he claimed was the “fourth chapter” of the Book of the Law, The Book of Babalon. By June, 1947, the UFO phenomenon had begun with the Kenneth Arnold “flying saucer” sightings, and the Roswell incident the following month. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered that year, and the CIA was founded in the Fall.
And on December 1, 1947, the Great Beast himself, Therion, Aleister Crowley the Prophet of the New Aeon, died at his home in England.
Kenneth Grant, who had been studying with Crowley in 1945, was at the Beast’s funeral and later worked closely with John Symonds, one of Crowley’s literary executors. He became involved with the OTO and by 1955 his Nu Isis Lodge began the intense workings that became the basis for his Typhonian Trilogies. He would focus on sex magic, and on the concept that a Gate could be opened between this world and the next by the experienced or capable magician.
His group worked with fiction—short stories and novels—as magical environments, which was an inspired strategy. What difference is there, after all, between the narrative we find in fiction and that which we find in the myths and legends that make up scriptures and Tantras? If a story works—if it conveys a truth, elicits an emotional response, tells us something we did not know before and allows us to own that something— then it has much the same function as a scriptural text. The first dramas were religious in nature; the first theatrical performances were rituals. It was through this direct experience of working with fiction to provide ritual
elements that Grant and his lodge came to realize that inspired fiction was as legitimate a source of occult knowledge and technique as sacred texts.
Science fiction authors have made contributions to science, such as Arthur C. Clarke and his invention of the geosynchronous satellite, among other ideas. Fantasy and horror authors make (unconscious) contributions to occultism and magic by identifying information at deep levels of the human psyche. By focusing on fear and horror, these authors directly address our most hidden nature, which is another way of saying that they open a Gate into the Mauve Zone.
- Kenneth Grant, Beyond the Mauve Zone, p. 57.
- Technically speaking, the prefix “an-” would seem to indicate that anuttara (an-uttara) is a negative or comparative term, most likely indicating “not surpassed” or “unsurpassable” rather than a positive term such as “absolute” or “highest,” but the sense is more or less the same.
- A marma is the point where three lines intersect on the Sri Chakra. There are traditionally 28 marmas, but some authorities insist on variously 37, 38, 39, 40 or 41 such marmas depending on how they are calculated. The sandhis are the points where two lines intersect. There are traditionally 24 sandhis in the Sri Chakra. The sum of these numbers—28 + 24—gives us the 52 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and thus a kind of Kabbalistic format that could be used to create (or analyze, or diagram) mantras.
- Kenneth Grant, Beyond the Mauve Zone, p. 70. 186 Ibid., p. 60.
187 Ibid., p. 80.
188 Ibid., p. 58.
189 Ibid., p. 133-134.
190 Ibid., p. 134.
191 Ibid., p. 134-135.
192 Ibid., p. 135
THE DARK LORD
… when the world was destroyed by fire on 21st March, 1904, one’s attention was inevitably called to the similarity of this card to the Stele of Revealing. … This being the beginning of the New Aeon …
—Aleister Crowley, The Book of Thoth
My father died in 1904, but without any message to leave to me, or to my only child … it was this boy who reversed the order of family information …
—H. P. Lovecraft, “The Rats in the Walls”
But why do we think that love is a magician? Because the whole power of magic consists in love. The work of magic is the attraction of one thing by another, due to a certain affinity of natures …
—Marcilio Ficino, De Amore, VI, 10
IN ORDER TO PROGRESS BEYOND a certain point in the Golden Dawn, one had to demonstrate one’s ability to conjure a spirit to visible appearance. This had to be witnessed by other initiates in order to pass the test.
Contact with non-human entities is one of the inescapable requirements of magic. There is no magic without this type of supramundane communication. And the most intense form of this contact is sexual.
Those who have been inadvertently or unwillingly involved in this type of encounter speak of it in sexual terms. The UFO abductee experience seems to include various types of (often uncomfortable) sexual encounter with alien beings. In the Middle Ages average men and women complained about incubi and succubi. The Witches’ Sabbat is portrayed as a kind of orgy. Lovecraft’s aversion to sexuality may be a reflection of this unconscious understanding that, somehow, sexuality and contact with alien forces are linked.
This is the basis for what we have learned of the Typhonian Tradition. In a Typhonian Order newsletter published in Miami, Florida in the
1990s we find the bold statement:
The central concern of Magick is communion with discarnate or extraterrestrial Intelligences.194
This is characterized by Grant as the “occult policy of the OTO”195 and it more or less throws down the gauntlet. There is no insistence on lofty spiritual goals or an Asian-inspired quest for non-duality or nirvana. While these are certainly present in Grant’s works they are there almost as after- thoughts. After all we have read—and it has been only a drop in the Typhonian bucket—we know that this “policy” of communion with discarnate and extraterrestrial Intelligences involves some form of sexual magic or Tantra.
Why is this specifically Typhonian, then? After all, Crowley’s Thelema also involves sexual techniques and is not characterized as Typhonian. Grant is clear on the difference between the two approaches. Grant’s magic is stellar-based, while the mainstream of Thelema is solar-based. His emphasis is not so much on Horus as it is on Set, and he is willing to accept input from sources as diverse as Jack Parsons, Frater Achad, and even H. P. Lovecraft. He is reaching for a greater scope for Thelema and believes that this is achievable through the operations of ceremonial magic with sexual or Tantric enhancements conducted as a series of experiments to gather more, and deeper, information about the nature of our universe. This universe is not perceived as the visible solar system and the star systems outside of it alone, but as that universe plus other dimensions, other realities beyond the ones we see or measure with our conscious minds.