This is the eighth in a series of posts about my adventures during 2005, leading up to the performance of Paul Green’s play Babalon. The story is full of cloak and dagger, initiatory strangeness, chaos, and hysteria. It shows what can happen on the Magical path if one is not careful…(as if one has choice…)
Directed by occultist, Alison Rockbrand, Babalon was performed on December 5, 2005, at the John Gielgud Theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to a sold out audience of London’s finest occultists and magicians. If you want to listen to it, click Radio QBSaul: Archives: Babalon. I played Marjorie Cameron/Babalon. I am called Angela Murrow because I had to hide my identity.
Babalon Dairy 8. Search for Babalon
Research is an important part of creating a character, especially if it is an historical figure. I was embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Marjorie Cameron, but then again, I was never a Thelemite. I had heard of Jack Parsons a long time ago, in some distant connection with the Manson murders, perhaps to do with the Hollywood location, and through this, I knew he was known for performing rites of black magic with L.Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. I later found a reference to Parsons in a book by Kenneth Grant, a magician who seems to combine Crowely’s teachings with the Cuthulu mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft. In discussing Crowley, and the atom bomb, Grant mentions the rocket scientist, Jack Parsons, as an early American devotee of the Great Beast.
But Cameron was completely new to me, and it was she I had to become…
I was also not very familiar with the internet in those days. I had to be tutored by Sara, the graphics designer for the play, on how to find images on google. She also told me about wikipedia. What I read there was so astounding that I will just reprint it here because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! (I had to edit some of it, I found to my chagrin, after this post was published…)
Marjorie Elizabeth Cameron (23 April 1922 – 24 July 1995) was an American writer, painter, actor, and occultist
Cameron was born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, the eldest of four children. Her father, Hill Leslie Cameron, was a Scot from Illinois who worked with the railroad. Her mother, Carrie V. Ridenour, of German and Dutch decent, was a native of Iowa. The night of Cameron’s birth was surrounded by chaos; there was a terrible thunderstorm and her father got drunk and attempted suicide because he thought his wife was dying. Her grandmother, a staunch churchwoman, believed Cameron to be a child of the devil because of her fiery red hair.
As a child, Cameron began to have strange and powerful visions that were so vivid, she could not be sure if they were real or imaginary. One night from her bedroom, she saw a ghostly procession of four white horses float by her window. Later she would recall these dreams in detail and was able to capture this in her artwork and poetry. In a letter to magician and Aleister Crowley associate Jane Wolfe, she mentions finding a “hole to hell” in her grandmother’s backyard:
“I remember always a tree on my grandmother’s property from which hung an old, old swing where my mother had played as a little girl. Near this spot I recall a well which I always believed was the hole to hell – also the blue Bachelor Button flower grew near this spot. Herein I find again a new concept of the 4 elements and the name of god – the tree, the well, the swing (water’s life) and the flower – which is seed.”
When she was 17, the Great Depression was underway and Cameron moved with her family to Davenport, Iowa, a considerably larger town than Belle Plaine. Having trouble adjusting after the suicide of a close friend, Cameron tried to take her own life several times by overdosing on sleeping pills. She claims that these near brushes with death further enhanced her psychic abilities, reportedly giving her a glimpse into the realm of the dead.
In 1943, in the midst of World War II, the 21 year-old Cameron turned down several scholarships to join the Navy. She was sent along with 3000 other women to boot camp in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Soon she was selected for a high-level job in Washington, DC, where she applied her artistic skills by drawing maps for the war efforts. She was then sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff where she once met Winston Churchill. She had a drafting table at the head of their conference room. Later, she felt that many men died in the South Pacific as a result of her drawings, Cameron considered all of her drawings to be magical talismans that had a very real effect on the world, she always felt a karmic connection to these men and believed that later tragic events in her life were the result of her participation in their deaths.
By the late 1950s, Cameron was living in Malibu and hanging out with a crowd of artists that included the likes of Dennis Hopper, Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, and others. Wallace Berman’s show at the Ferus Gallery was closed in 1957 after displaying one of Cameron’s drawings which depicted a woman, possibly Cameron, being taken from behind by an alien creature.
Cameron also played the role of a ‘sea witch’ in experimental avant-garde film directed by Curtis Harrington. This 1960 black and white supernatural thriller, Night Tide, starred actor Dennis Hopper and Linda Lawson. This film was shown at the Venice Film Festival in 1961, and released in the U.S. in 1963.
Hmmm. With all the visions I was having, I felt an sense of coincidence to be playing Cameron. But my visions were not so dark, but sublime, and beautiful. I was not a dark person, but a nature loving witch, and healer. The sense of foreboding returned as I wondered how deep I was going to have to go into this whole Babalon thing….where was it going to take me?
The Scarlet Woman
When rocket propulsion researcher and occultist Jack Parsons met Marjorie Cameron, he regarded her as the fulfillment of magical rituals he had been performing as the beginning of the Babalon Working, roughly, an attempt to incarnate, in a physical body a divine entity, a living Goddess, that would usher in the Aeon of Horus ,and change the course of history.
Parsons wrote of Cameron in a letter to his mentor Aleister Crowley in 1946:
“The feeling of tension and unease continued for four days. Then on January 18  at sunset, whilst the Scribe and I were on the Mojave Desert, the feeling of tension suddenly stopped. I turned to him and said ‘it is done’, in absolute certainty that the Operation was accomplished. I returned home, and found a young woman [Marjorie Cameron] answering the requirements waiting for me. She is describable as an air of fire type with bronze red hair, fiery and subtle, determined and obstinate, sincere and perverse, with extraordinary personality, talent and intelligence. During the period of January 19 to February 27, I invoked the Goddess Babalon [a particular aspect of the Egyptian goddess Nuit] with the aid of magical partner (Ron Hubbard), as was proper to one of my grade.”
They termed this incarnation the Moonchild. Writes Aleister Crowley on the subject:
“The Aeon of Horus is of the nature of a child. To perceive this, we must conceive of the nature of a child without the veil of sentimentality – beyond good and evil, perfectly gentle, perfectly ruthless, containing all possibilities within the limits of heredity, and highly susceptible to training and environment. But the nature of Horus is also the nature of force – blind, terrible, unlimited force.”
The Babalon Working was allegedly successful.
After her husband Jack Parsons’ death, Cameron starred in Kenneth Anger’s 1954 cult-film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, which also featured Anais Nin. Both Cameron and Anger believed that this film was proof to the world that she had manifested the force of the Goddess. “She was doing art for the sake of magick and her soul. She never sold her paintings.”
Cameron burned most of her paintings in the late 1950s in a symbolic suicide performed with her second husband Sherif Kimmil. They had been up for several days on speed and had formed what Cameron called a “suicide club”. Kimmil slit his wrists in the bathroom while the paintings were burning.
Cameron’s two brothers, her sister, and her father worked at JPL, the company co-founded by her husband, Jack Parsons. She was a protege of mythologist Joseph Campbell.
Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel died of cancer on July 24, 1995.
Alison Rockbrand is also a highly creative person who fuses her art with occult workings. I am still not sure exactly what was going on behind the scenes, but there was an enormous energy at rehearsals. It was unsettling for me, destabilizing at times, and yet created a wonderful spell of bright darkness that is very hard to describe to someone who has not experienced it. Alison and I both resonanate with Cameron/Babalon. She more consciously than I.
To listen to the Radio Show, Babalon, click here:
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Below, I have posted some books and DVD’s from Amazon that I used to study these incredible people. Among them Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome from which most photos of Marjorie Cameron are pulled.
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