dimanche 5 avril 2015

À propos des liens supposés entre L. Ron Hubbard et Aleister Crowley

La rubrique Aleister Crowley de la page Actualités Google personnalisée de la Jérusalem des Terres Froides rapporte qu'une série de trois articles est parue en anglais sur l'hébergeur de blogs religieux Patheos les 30, 31 mars et 1 avril 2015. Elle a été écrite par Brandy Williams et elle concerne liens supposés entre L. Ron Hubbard et Aleister Crowley, suite à la parution d'un documentaire qui d'une part, est excellent dans la déconstruction scientologique mais absolument merdique dans sa réduction de l'Ordo Templi Orientis à un « culte de magie noire » (« black magic cult »).

On sait bien que d'associer le fondateur de la scientologie à Crowley est une marotte particulièrement apprécié des zozotériques soraliens, ces grands érudits de la magie, du « saTÂNisme » et du « luciférisme ». Laurent Glauzy, le golem de Salim Laïbi, nous la rappelle à chaque fois que l'occasion se présente, comme lorsque Égalité et Réconciliation avait rapporté la rumeur que Yatseniourk l'ukrainien serait scientologue (commentaire 776099). C'est dans ce même commentaire que Glauzy affirma que Crowley sacrifiait 150 enfants par année entre 1912 et 1928, ce qui est quand même incroyable que de penser que le mec aurait réussi à tuer 2400 enfants sans jamais s'être fait prendre par la police ou les habitants de l'endroit. Et pour justifier ce 2400, Glauzy n'a rien d'autre qu'une affirmation tronquée provenant d'un livre de Crowley. À ce nombre gargantuesque, il aurait pu avoir davantage de preuves et des plus valides car 2400 meurtres, dans des pays comme l'Angleterre, les USA, la France, ça laisse des traces bien plus évidentes. La simple application du rasoir d'Ockham nous amène à penser qu'il est bien plus logique que Crowley ait fait référence à l'éjaculation lors d'un acte sexuel ritualisé, nommé « sacrifice de l'enfant mâle » dans un de ses habituels jeux de mots d'humour noir (ou encore, une expression reprise d'un traité tantrique indien signifiant la même chose). Mais qu'importe pour Glauzy, l'important, c'est de faire susciter l'émotion d'horreur chez les gogos zozotériques pour se garder un fan-club qui va acheter ses livres, payer pour ses conférences et le regarder sur Méta TV. Rien à foutre de la réalité historique ! Dans sa réponse à Salim Laïbi qui se cachait sous le pseudonyme de « prphl65 », Christian Bouchet lui répondait fort à propos que « sauf à vouloir se ridiculiser, personne ne peut citer comme source Glauzy ou Livernette ».

Ceci dit, la Jérusalem des Terres Froides reprend cette série d'articles car elle lui semble pertinente mais votre serviteur se garde une réserve par rapport à la dernière partie où l'auteur tente un peu de réhabiliter la scientologie de l'accusation de « cult ». On sent bien ici l'influence de J. Gordon Melton pour qui la notion de destructive cult n'existe pas et qu'elle n'est que la réaction d'ex-membres déçus. Comme à l'habitude, ce n'est pas parce qu'un article est reproduit ici que cela signifie que la JTF est 100% d'accord avec lui.

Les trois textes de Brandy Williams sont ramenés sur cette seule page et pour voir les originaux, l'hyperlien est installé sur le titre de l'article. Au second article a été conservé un commentaire qui semble pertinent. Les bibliographies ont été réduite à une seule comprenant le tout et située à la toute fin de cette page.




Le 30 mars 2015



Last night was thrilling for Scientology watchers with the first broadcast screening of Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief on HBO. I’ve long been a fan of Tony Ortega’s blog The Underground Bunker and have read many accounts by ex-members. The documentary did not disappoint, it was a great opportunity to listen to the stories first hand and hear the emotion behind them.

The documentary is based on Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. Wright was interviewed on camera and touched on the early connection between Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons. Wright mentioned Parsons’ career as a rocket scientist, then added, “but he was also the head honcho in this black magic cult.” Parsons, he said, was looking for a goddess-like figure he could impregnate with the anti-Christ. This characterization has been picked up by Huffington Post ( “Hubbard spent time in a black magic cult”) and I am sure will continue to spread.

The group he is talking about is my fraternity, Ordo Templi Orientis. Some of us now have to go to work facing people who want to know what the heck we’re involved with anyway. I’m going to set aside the “black magic cult” characterization and come back to it later. First I want to detail what happened between Parsons and Hubbard. The story has been recounted by Aleister Crowley’s biographer Richard Kaczynski, Jack Parsons’ biographer John Carter, and in Hugh Urban’s study of Scientology. It’s a juicy Hollywood story involving sex, magick, love and betrayal.

Hubbard drifted into Parsons’ life in 1945. At that time Aleister Crowley was still alive and was the “head honcho” of the order. Parsons led Agape Lodge in Los Angeles, the only lodge continuing to function during the second world war.

Hubbard, Parsons, and Parsons’ sex magick partner Sara (Betty) Northrup founded a company together, buying yachts on the east coast and sailing them to the West Coast where they could be sold at a profit. When Northrup transferred her affections to Hubbard, Parsons engaged in a magical invocation designed to attract an “elemental” to be his sex magick partner. Parsons felt the working had succeeded when he met the actress Marjorie Cameron; he wrote triumphantly to Crowley, “I have my elemental!”

This working was part of Parsons’ Babalon Working, a series of invocations conducted both at Parsons’ Pasadena mansion and in the Mojave desert. Still a trusted friend, Hubbard joined Parsons for some of these invocations. Parsons described him as Scribe and magician and also noted when the Scribe had visions of his own. Aside from the appearance of Marjorie Cameron, the result of this working was the Book of Babalon.

Babalon is a complex figure, appearing among other places in Crowley’s scrying of the Aethyrs recorded in The Vision and the Voice. She is inspired by the Babylon of the biblical book of Revelations; Crowley identified himself as the Beast upon whom Babalon rides. In Thelemic theology Babalon’s consort is Chaos, and she herself is the earth and the mother of all men. The card “Lust” from the Thoth deck depicts her. For Parsons, Babalon among other things was the Gnostic Sophia.

 2015_0330_Lust

Parsons and Cameron did become lovers. The end result of the working was to be a physical incarnation of Babalon, although what form that incarnation was to take is not clear. Carter notes that Cameron had an abortion with Parsons’ approval, so it is not certain he intended to father that incarnation. He may have been looking for another adult woman to fill that role, as Cameron had responded to his call for an “elemental”. Crowley himself was uncertain what Parsons was proposing and was unimpressed with the workings. He wrote to Karl Germer, “Apparently he, or Hubbard, or somebody is producing a Moonchild. I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts” (some versions quoting this letter give “goats” instead of “louts”).

Although the imagery of Babalon owes something to the imagery of Revelations, whatever it was that Parsons was doing, he wasn’t working to impregnate a woman with the anti-Christ.

Hubbard’s involvement with the O.T.O. ended when he and Northrup left California together. Parsons chased them to a Miami port where they were attempting to sail away with the profits of their joint business. Parsons called out an “invocation to Bartzabel” and the ship was forced to return to port. Aleister Crowley summed up the episode: “from our brother’s account, he has given away both his girl and his money, apparently it is an ordinary confidence trick.”

Urban reports that Scientology puts its own spin on the story, claiming that Hubbard infiltrated Agape Lodge to investigate “black magic” rites, rescued the girl, and broke up the group! In fact Agape Lodge and Ordo Templi Orientis survived this escapade. Kaczynski reports that the affair contributed to Crowley’s decision to issue Grady McMurtry the document authorizing him to take control of the Order in case of emergency. It was this document which would permit McMurtry to reboot the O.T.O. after Crowley’s death. So rather than breaking up the Order, Hubbard indirectly contributed to its continuation.

That’s the summary of Hubbard’s involvement with the O.T.O. Next we’ll discuss what he learned from it, and explore the idea of a “black magic cult”. 




Le 31 mars 2015


We are examining the relationship between L. Ron Hubbard and the Ordo Templi Orientis. Alex Gibney spotlighted the connection in the documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. L. Ron Hubbard and the O.T.O. retold the juicy Hollywood story of Hubbard’s relationship with Jack Parsons, involving sex, magick and betrayal.

The question remains, what did Hubbard take from Parsons besides money and a working partner? How did Hubbard stack up as a magician? Did anything he learned have a subsequent impact on the development of Scientology ?

Hugh Urban points out that Hubbard at least read Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice, although that may have been the extent of his magical studies. Parson’s biographer John Carter reproduces parts of a letter from Parsons to Aleister Crowley describing Hubbard’s skill level. Parsons states that Hubbard had no prior training but did have “extraordinary” experience and understanding, and was guided by an entity Hubbard called “the Empress”. Parsons speculated the Empress might be his Holy Guardian Angel.

 20150331sexandrockets

Did Hubbard receive an O.T.O. initiation? Carter notes that Hubbard himself later claimed to hold a high grade but he notoriously exaggerated his experiences. Apparently Parsons was so impressed by Hubbard that he revealed high degree secrets to him with or without initiation.

Urban meticulously sources a document Hubbard wrote in 1946 or 1947. Titled “Affirmations”, it contains phrases such as “You are an adept and have a wonderful and brilliant mind” and “You have the Wisdom of all and never doubt your wisdom.” The document also invokes a female Guardian: “Nothing can intervene between you and your Guardian. She cannot be displaced because she is too powerful.” Urban draws a connection between this Guardian and Crowley’s discussion of the Holy Guardian Angel in Magick in Theory and Practice. Urban also notes the existence of an additional document, “The Blood Ritual”, which seems to have been an invocation to the Goddess Hathor.

It seems that Hubbard did not study deeply or practice long. His accomplishments are limited to some material he received as a seer while working with Parsons, some affirmations, and possibly one ritual. Did any of this experience carry over to influence the formation of Scientology ?

Urban believes that Hubbard used pieces of Crowley’s thought in what Urban calls the bricolage which became the religion of Scientology. Urban argues that Hubbard’s technique of exteriorizing the thetan, or spiritual self, directly mimics Crowley’s instruction to project the body of light. Urban also connects the Scientology cross with its eight-pointed center to the Golden Dawn cross printed on the back of the Thoth deck.

In an interview on Tony Ortega’s blog, author Jon Atack describes the conclusion he came to after being “guided through” O.T.O. material by John Symonds. “I realised that the Babalon Working rituals Hubbard performed after the war with Pasadena rocket scientist Jack Parsons had continued to become Scientology — Scientology is a magical ‘working,’ where Hubbard elevated himself by enslaving others.” This conclusion seems like a big leap after a perfunctory glance at a complex subject, and would require significantly more depth and more specific examples. (Thelemites and experienced magicians will dismiss out of hand the implication that magick intends to “enslave”.)

It would be interesting to hear from a person who had both Scientology experience and O.T.O. initiations on the similarities and differences between the two systems. As an O.T.O. insider and Scientology outsider, being versed in Thelemic thought has given me no entrance into Scientology language or worldview.

As he has studied both Crowley’s and Hubbard’s works, Urban’s assessment strikes me as the best informed – pieces of Crowley’s thought seem to have drifted into Hubbard’s work and were layered in with material from many other sources. The quotes from “Affirmations” appear to me to be a groping attempt to integrate some of what he learned; they frankly read as simplistic and a garbled understanding of the magickal work. Hubbard did not have the training or experience to do much more than pen some positive thoughts, and his enthusiasms seem to have turned in a different direction after this episode. He did not leave much of a mark on magick, and magick didn’t seem to leave much of a mark on him.

Atack’s characterization brings us back to the accusation made by Lawrence Wright in Gibney’s documentary that the O.T.O. “was” a “black magic cult”. Next we will unpack some of the layers of meaning in that term.

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Commentaire de Michelle Klein-Hass :

I don't know if anyone has noticed that the practice of auditing owes much to Liber ThIShARB. But it really leaped out at me when I read that piece of Crowley's. However, ThIShARB was intended as a solo procedure, and a high-level procedure at that. Hubbard took ThIShARB and perverted it: turned it into a facilitated procedure with extensive note taking by the auditor. This, of course, enabled dossier building, the "Pre-Clear Folder."



Le 1 avril 2015


We are discussing Lawrence Gibney’s documentary Going Clear, Scientology and the Prison of Belief. In L. Ron Hubbard and the O.T.O. we examined Hubbard’s involvement with the Ordo Templi Orientis and his role in Jack Parson’s Babalon Working. In L. Ron Hubbard the Magician we evaluated Hubbard’s (meager) accomplishments in that field.

In the documentary, author Lawrence Wright called Parsons “the head honcho in this black magic cult.” That cult, he said, “was” the O.T.O., Ordo Templi Orientis. Of course the O.T.O. is very much extant and I am a member. I don’t identify as a member of a cult or as a practitioner of black magic. So what does “black magic cult” actually mean?


Let’s take a look at the documentary. The discussion of Ordo Templi Orientis is illustrated by an inverted pentagram with a goat’s head, the famous photo of Crowley making horns on his head, and some footage from Kenneth Anger’s film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome featuring Marjorie Cameron. Wright stated that Parsons was trying to impregnate a goddess like woman with “the anti-Christ.” (Parsons was working toward a physical manifestation of Babalon.)

The Cameron footage, while lurid, is appropriate to the discussion as she was involved in the Babalon Working. However the inverted pentagram and discussion of the “anti-Christ” don’t describe the O.T.O. but are Hollywood shorthand. This is spooky window dressing for the documentary and serves the same function as the spooky theremin music score. I suppose the intent is to indict Hubbard by association. However it’s clear that Wright and Gibney didn’t take the time to investigate the O.T.O. We’re not hard to find and we’re not hard to talk to – scholars routinely consult our archives, and knowledgeable O.T.O. members consult on documentaries and other films. For my money the segment is sloppy and inaccurate.

Cult is a loaded word. Hugh Urban comments, “the term ‘cult’ has long been used to delegitimate, dismiss, and in some cases attack groups that do not fit the mainstream ideal of religion.” Gibney’s documentary uses this term rather than the term “religion” to define Scientology. Urban points out that Scientology has been labeled as a cult since the 1970s. He discusses the impact of the term, noting that most American scholars of religions have vehemently rejected it as bigoted and dehumanizing, and that cult members are seen as brainwashed and duped by their leader. This general narrative played out in Gibney’s documentary, which described the church’s methodology as brainwashing and questioned the sanity and motives of its founder.

Historically the word magic has been used in a similar way as the word cult, contrasting primitive and supersitious practices, “magic”, with sophisticated spirituality, “religion”. Similarly “black” is shorthand for evil, often paired with “magic” to indicate dangerous and distasteful beliefs and practices. “Black magic cult” is a true weapon of a phrase, branding the group so described as evil, dangerous, and deluded. Using the phrase is in and of itself sensationalist and suspect.

How does the O.T.O. compare with Scientology? Critics of Scientology point to the tremendous financial investment members make, a pay as you go operation which requires many thousands of dollars to gain access to the church’s teachings. The church’s billions fund a full time clergy and major real estate holdings around the world. Those who venture beyond general membership into the clergy level of the church report exploitive labor practices and abusive punishments. Some report physically fleeing incarceration. Those who leave the church say they are cut off from their families, and clergy report being physically chased by security who attempt to bring them back into the fold. Children raised within the clergy organization describe being separated from their parents and also report spending long hours in physical labor. Finally, the church notoriously attacks journalists who attempt to report on these practices.

The O.T.O. is a fraternity which incorporates the religious organization Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. Its member groups rent space for events. Some events are open to the public, including the Gnostic Mass, while others are open to members only. The fraternity offers initiations in a system similar to that of Freemasonry. The yearly dues for each initiatory level of membership are publically published on the O.T.O.’s web site. National and local group dues together are modest and commensurate with those of many similar organizations. Members and officers of the O.T.O. are volunteers, hold day jobs, and have many other interests in addition to the organization. Members engaging in violent or abusive behavior can be expelled, which means that they are prohibited from attending Order events, but current members are not prohibited from contact with expelled members.

So the O.T.O. does not make money from its members, offers spiritual experiences to the public, polices membership for unsafe behavior but not orthodoxy, and maintains its activities on a moderate level of volunteer labor. Why are we a black magic cult again?

Oh yes, the Gnostic Mass. In our creed we profess belief (among other things) in Chaos, the sole viceregent of the sun upon the earth; Babalon, the mother of us all; and Baphomet, the serpent and the lion, mystery of mysteries. This is a non-Christian belief system but that does not make it anti-Christian. It may seem distasteful, but again, that does not make it dangerous; if it seems evil, that evil is in the eye of the beholder.

There’s also the sex. Aleister Crowley was a sex magician, I am a sex magician, many Thelemites I know are sex magicians, and the Mass celebrates sexuality in a symbolic way. Thelema does not approach sexuality as inherently evil or distasteful and does not impose morality on sexual behavior per se. We do insist on respectful behavior and condemn coercive behavior. That said, each of us, women and men alike, own our bodies and make our own choices about who we will touch and who we will love. This too can seem evil and dangerous to those who distrust and seek to restrict sexuality.

Most importantly the O.T.O. promulgates the law of freedom, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” and “Love is the law, love under will.” Thelema does not seek to enslave others and enjoins us not to permit ourselves to be enslaved. It’s difficult to imagine a Thelemite tolerating the kinds of treatment ex-Scientologists report they have endured.

People both inside and outside the Order are asking whether the rest of Gibney’s documentary is as badly researched as the O.T.O. segment. I have read many of accounts from ex-members and ex-clergy which dovetail with the experiences reported by the people interviewed for the documentary. I deeply sympathize with the emotions of those who feel they have been defrauded of money, separated from family, imprisoned and abused. However labeling the church as a cult and describing its practices as brainwashing seems at best sensationalist and polarizing; at worst, it discredits the effort to bring these practices to light. It is possible to criticize a religion without demonizing it, and the fact that a religion engages in these practices should not excuse them.

Branding Scientology as a brainwashing cult reflects not only on current membership but ex members. Some of those ex members continue to practice the religion, saying that their problem is with the governance of the current leadership, not the beliefs or practices themselves. They report that the church subjects them to particular harassment and that the church claims trade secret status for their teachings, presumably because alternative channels for the information cuts into the church’s income stream. Are these ex-members also participating in a cult? Are they brainwashing each other? The terminology does not extend respect to these people for their practices or beliefs.

Surely abusive and explotive practices are alarming enough in and of themselves without the need to resort to non-credible terminology. Or theremin music. Or labeling another organization a “black magic cult” without bothering to dialogue with it.


Brandy Williams


---Bibliographie---


Carter, John (2005). Sex and Rockets, the Occult World of Jack Parsons. Port Townsend, WA: Feral House.

Kaczynski, Richard (2010). Perdurabo, Expanded and Revised Edition: The Life of Aleister Crowley. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Ortega, Tony (2013). “Blood Relation, Blood Ritual: A Hubbard Family Occult Mystery”. Web site: http://tonyortega.org/2013/09/28/10468/.

Parsons, Jack (1946). The Book of Babalon.

Urban, Hugh (2012). “The Occult Roots of Scientology?: L. Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley, and the Origins of a Controversial New Religion. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Vol. 15, No. 3(February 2012), pp. 91-116. University of California Press. Web site: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/nr.2012.15.3.91

Urban, Hugh (2011). The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Wright, Lawrence (2013). Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. New York: Random House.

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