Who Doesn’t Love a Good Crowley-Scientology Connection?

Y’all, the things you can learn digging around Wikipedia! 

So, Jack Parsons (which, you must admit, is a name so perfect for an occultist one almost wants to run right out this very minute and write a story in which a Jack Parsons, occultist, is a character) is a central figure to our rocket program here in the U.S. and co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Crowley appointed him the head of the Agape Lodge in California.

Who should happen to be working magick with Parsons (and working some love magic on his girl)?  L. Ron Hubbard.

I shit you not.

If wikipedia is to be believed, much of Hubbard’s ‘Dianetics’ is derived from Golden Dawn ideas, which, it would seem, probably came to him through his association with Parsons and Parsons’ connection to Crowley* (**).

There’s something so funny about this I almost don’t know where to place my biggest laugh.  I keep thinking of that South Park episode where they talk about the fundamental beliefs of Scientology–all the thetans and the aliens and the levels of nonsense that only come to seems more nonsensical because the Scientologists take them so seriously.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous than how Matt & Trey depicted it, you find Crowley back there as some spiritual grandfather to the movement.

Crowley has his issues, to put it lightly, but you have to give a man props for being such an enormous influence on the twin evils of heavy metal and Tom Cruise.

I’m sorry.

I just can’t get over that.

When we were young and allowed to wander off to church things unsupervised by my dad, I remember being told that Scientology was just a front for the Satanic Church.  Of course, one gets older and comes to doubt that the Church of Satan could organize anything more complex than a backyard cook-out, but if one is calling something "Satanic" based on the long shadow cast by Crowley?

Then such accusations begin to make sense.

 

 

 

 

*I have got to find me a good book on the Golden Dawn.

**It always strikes me how short time is.  Crowley was in college when Wilde was being persecuted for being gay.  And Crowley lived long enough to see the middle of this century.

29 thoughts on “Who Doesn’t Love a Good Crowley-Scientology Connection?

  1. "If wikipedia is to be believed"You’re trying to make me laugh, aren’t you?Actually, that’s a perfectly reasonable path of transmission, but probably unnecessary. You don’t need Parsons as an intermediary, because SF writers from the Golden Age on through the Futurians seem to have been pretty familiar with Crowley’s ideas.

  2. Oddly enough, I’ve found most of the best reading about the Golden Dawn in several of my (pre-Madonnaglurge) Kabbalah texts. Much of the OGD philosophy was taken whole cloth from Kabbalah.

  3. It’s complicated, because OGD and Theosophy have a lot of similar beliefs. The vast oversimplification is to say that OGD follows more closely to traditional Kabbalah, while Theosophy takes most of its driving teachings from Eastern faiths (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) Alchemy and Rosicrucianism are more taken from Arabic astrology, but vast parts of the Temple Of The Rosy Cross feed heavily into Theosophy and OGD, which is why they are thought of as similar. And I could go on about this all day.

  4. It’s crazy. I love it. I’ll admit, I’d have a much more charitable view of Scientology if the followers didn’t seem to take themselves so damn seriously and knowing that they’re mixed up with Crowley makes them even funnier to me. Which, again, is probably not very nice, but there you go.

  5. Aunt B – Agreed. If they stopped harrassing critics and didn’t do things like "Operation : Freakout" and "Operation : Snow White" I definitely agree.

  6. But, you know, not to excuse them by any stretch of the imagination, but now that I know that their religion was started by a hack sci-fi writer who even Crowley thought was a con artist? It’s easier for me to understand why they go to such extreme lengths to silence their critics.If they don’t try to force you to shut up, what other recourse do they have?The truth about their founder undermines their credibility and does suggest just what you claim–that they’re a big old scary cult.They only have two options in the face of the truth–either accept that it is hilarious and say that much of what he was talking about was metaphor anyway and move on like non-scary adults or insist that their version of the truth is the truth and continue to behave like scary cultists.I think we see which path they’ve chosen. And that’s too bad, really.

  7. I dunno, the content of their "beliefs" doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that it *is* all a racket started by a con artist. I know a wealthy man who gave all his money to them over a period of a few years, and once he was broke they kicked him out. He ended up working as a janitor. Now, you can say that he was a big enough fool that he would have lost all that money some way or other, but they were the theives who took it. I know another guy who in their terminology was "confused about his sexuality," and as long as he takes a certain number of classes (I forget what they call it) at a steep price every year, they will pronounce him "no longer confused." I mean, remember *why* a con man starts a "religion" like this one: to take people’s money.

  8. No, I completely get what you’re saying and agree. I just can’t help but think that most Scientologists must not get that it’s a cult and a con game. I’m probably naive in this regard. But I have to think that they’d stop doing so much damage if everyone just acknowledged that everything about Scientology is stupid. How worked up can people get over stupid things?Oh, never mind. I’ve answered my own question.It does make you wonder about the limits of religious tolerance, though, doesn’t it? If you know someone is a con artist who starts a cult as a way to improve his own life, how much due are we supposed to give that belief system, even if the people who practice it seem genuinely sincere?I mean, do we say that Scientology is a cult but the LDS church is a religion? If so, why? What makes one so much different from the other?

  9. Yes… I noticed that. It’s certainly not the longest thing I’ve ever posted here, so I doubt it’s a space issue… but just on the off chance that’s the case, let’s try breaking it down. (The page keeps going blank at: http://tinycatpants.squarespace.com/process/CreateJournalEntryComment?moduleId=520894&entryId=786138 without ever getting around to creating the post, and refreshing does nothing, nor does it quietly post without informing me. It’s been an hour and a half from first try, so I’m going to conclude that perhaps there is something wrong.)The first two paragraphs I wrote were:That’s a question I’ve been thinking about for a while, Aunt B. I mean, pretty much every major religion (and certainly all of the so-called ‘minor’ ones) has been (or heck, is) thought of, by some significant fraction of the rest of the world (atheists, members of rival religions, other sects of the same religion) as being a steaming load of diaper contents. In general, however, most of us manage to take most religions as (relatively) serious things – something in which their followers are justifiably invested, regardless of what we may personally think about the substance of their beliefs. (Well, that’s a polite gloss, in some cases, but the *behavior* generally works out that way, even for the people who think that all religious people are screaming lunatics. Yes, this is a US/North American-centric reading, but that’s the context in which I’m set, and I don’t feel qualified to speak for others.) Why? Aside from a legal compulsion to act in a certain manner (that is, neither preventing the expression of someone else’s religious convictions within the law, nor targeting people for harassment, violent or non-violent crime on the basis of their religion or lack thereof), what makes my undead imaginary friend and your Flying Spaghetti Monster okay, but Xenu and the Volcano stupid and cult-ey?

  10. Hunh. That worked immediately. That’s good! Onto the next bits:Seen from the outside (or heck, even from the inside, if one really feels like going there) – Christianity (again, I stay within my context – I can’t speak for the inside of anything else, except possibly agnosticism and militant institutional atheism, which … are a whole different kettle of fish, and not truly mine to speak for either) can (be made to) look just as silly. Some giant force in the sky made a really cool place, did a lot of arbitrary and punitive things that alternately benefited and beset His chosen people, then eventually sent down His son to get killed because He was angry that people suck. So we commemorate that in just about the most gruesome metaphorical fashion – by pretending to drink His blood and eat His flesh. That somewhere in there were some instructions on how to be a good person can be… rather tangential to the story, at times. (For a much sillier, yet strangely accurate at times, depiction, try reading the Holy Bibble: http://www.holybibble.net/index.php?id=1 )Somehow, in all of that, though, Scientology still manages to give me the willies. A lot of it has to do with desensitization, I think… I grew up Christian (United Methodist, specifically), and with a lot of exposure to other religions of varying popularity (Judaism and Islam, of course, as well as Buddhism, Hinduism, ‘fringe’ monotheist groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, a few Pagan traditions, some deists, agnostics and atheists of varying stripes, and ancestor worship, voodoo and animism, for good measure). Making friends with witches and druids in church camp does a lot to broaden your mind about such things, I suppose. I didn’t hear about Scientology until I was in college (or maybe High School, and I just don’t remember it)… so it strikes me as really odd.

  11. Gah! Aunt B, it hates me. It won’t let me do the last two paragraphs, either together or separately (I get the same weird loading error). Aside from line-by-lining it, or e-mailing it to you, I can’t think of any way to post it.

  12. I wonder, too, whether it has to do with whether the religious tradition has a history of self… I don’t quite know what word I want here… self-questioning, maybe. You know, there are many great Christian thinkers who sat down and said, "Is what we’re doing in line with what we should be doing? If so, how can we know for sure? If not, what can we do to get back on track?" Judaism and Islam also have similar intellectual traditions. Pagans are notorious for condemning what they/we see as "fluff bunny" uncritical thinking about their/our beliefs.And I think the line, for me, comes down to whether the belief system has a tradition of self-scrutiny that is open for outsiders to view and comment on. I know it doesn’t always work perfectly, but the religions I take seriously have that bent, even if not every follower is comfortable with it. That’s my bias.I see Mormonism struggling with this open self-scrutiny right now, which I find interesting. But I don’t see it in Scientology at all and that’s what makes it very hard for me to take it seriously as a religion. They don’t take criticism from outsiders well and they have no mechanism for open self-critique (this is, for me, also an important way to differentiate between conservative Christians, who I might disagree with, but deeply respect, and scary fundamentalist Christians, which I don’t).Faith without room for doubt and questioning isn’t faith at all, I don’t think; it’s brainwashing.

  13. Well, shoot. Email them to me and I’ll post them. I’m having trouble, too, with really, really slow posting, so something must be up.

  14. Magni: "what makes my undead imaginary friend and your Flying Spaghetti Monster okay, but Xenu and the Volcano stupid and cult-ey?"In the case of Scientology, it’s a fact that the guy who invented it announced ahead of time that he was going to invent a "religion" as a money-making proposition. Harlan Ellison’s account of the discussion is here: http://www.holysmoke.org/cos/ellison-hubbard.htm . I thought I remembered seeing a version of the same story by Lester Del Rey in the notes to some SF anthology, but I can’t find it on the intertubes so I am likely misremembering.In other cases, of course, one should be accepting of others’ beliefs in marvels and miracles, and (remembering one’s own) be humble about it, too. But in this case, I say "mock away!"

  15. That’s a very interesting reading of "faith," Aunt B. I think I agree with you, but I also wonder how that stands up to "…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1) as a definition. (I just resolved that in my head as ‘religious faith, as often used as a synonym for religion itself or religious thought’ as opposed to ‘faith, the phenomenon of belief,’ but I think it’s true of both, sort of.).I think that’s also a pretty large part of what makes those things stand so differently to me too. It’s a religion if, even if one is born into it and heavily indoctrinated, one can (read: "has the option to," not "is capable of") sit down and think about it, and be in company with others who do so without being completely thrown out. (Yes, of course, in practice this is often not really the case, but if one were to suddenly start questioning one’s particular Christian views, one can generally find that others have had the same questions, and either formed groups/sects/denominations that fit their conclusions, or left entirely, but in both cases have been able to write about what they did and share it with the world; you’re not *alone* if you do that) If the choice is "be with us and sign an NDA" or "be against us and be completely isolated/broke/unable to even know what our practices are," that tips my ‘cult indicator.’I guess I’d frame that as transparency. Not being allowed into someone’s holy place (whether that be a temple or a sacred grove) is understandable and not too weird – what’s weird is if they won’t tell you why it’s holy, what they’re doing there, or what you have to do to gain admission. The inability or unwillingness to even explain basics (hey, this is the guy we worship, and why he’s so cool, and this is how that worship plays out in our daily lives) is a hallmark of sketchiness. I say that to stress that I don’t think ‘not wanting to disclose possibly problematic elements of one’s religious beliefs’ (multiple marriage, gendered sucession to high rank, rituals that may or may not be technically illegal) is enough, on its own, to meet this standard. The problem is when you can’t say *anything,* or much of anything, because that means that either your whole system is deeply problematic/hurtful/illegal (and thus telling people about it will get you in trouble), or that you are being brainwashed (and thus can’t talk about it much, because that might break the conditioning – which is a subset of the first problem, really).

  16. Mag, I bring the world more of your smarts:___________________________________________There’s also the ‘uncanny valley’ effect. That’s originally a robotics term, but I came to it through game design. (see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_Valley for a good start) Basically, as something gets closer to a category (in the case of robots, art, and video game design, closer to "human" or "real"), it gets harder to percieve as belonging in that category. The charactersin the Final Fantasy movie look flat and inhuman, while the characters in Shrek are lovable and relatable (issues in scripting notwithstanding – I realize this is a bad comparison, in that respect), even though in all quantifiable aspects (proportion, complexity, fidelity to human measurement and movement), the formerare far and away closer. That’s because we have this giant wealth of information against which to check it – do the eyes look right, would a person really move like that, speak like that, act like that? When there’s more distance (nonhuman characters, cartoonish design,impressionism), we pick out the things that *are* like us, instead of getting hung up on the little things that are different.Scientology is a bunch of hooey draped over the bones of, well, a lot of religions. It’s like some religion major’s twisted thesis – let’s take a bunch of themes from a bunch of familiar things (creation story, challenge for redemption, magical thinking, higher power), toss in some solid brainiwashey psych aspects (isolation, secrecy, exceptionalist thought), shake it up, add aliens for fun and profit, and bam! You’ve got yourself a profitable, functioning thing. Granted, in this case, the ‘little things’ seem kind of big (replacemy benevolent Father in the sky with some distant alien dude, f’rinstance), but the principle is the same (regardless of what he looks like, you’ve still got a friend in the sky and heavenly hosts) – it’s close enough to be credible (thus, people buy into it and aresincere, betimes), and therefore what is off, is off enough to be scary.

  17. *laughs*Thank you, Aunt B. I was beginning to wonder about Squarespace’s inexplicable bias toward game-design jargon.

  18. Mag, this game design theory is brilliant–that Scientology ultimately fails as a religion because it so closely resembles an approximation of a religion.Vic, damn, that’s a scary article.

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