Babalon Diary 666
This is the sixth 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.
Pharaon was the constant companion of a gentleman who will henceforth be referred to as the Wizard, or the Wiz if I get lazy. When I first saw the Wizard, and he saw me, we were attending a talk by Gareth Knight at Treadwells. Gareth Knight is one of the great Western Mystery magicians of Britain, author of many books on Arthurian material and the Goddess. This was the second time I heard him speak, the first being shortly after I arrived in London in 1998 when I went to Wales for a Holy Grail Conference starring most of my favorite teachers and authors. Gareth Knight is a shy, quiet man, so to have seen him speak twice is a privilege.
Anyway, Pharaon and the Wiz were sitting together, as always. The Wiz was looking at me, and I had the strange sensation of energy bouncing back, or reflecting back as in a mirror. I didn’t like this feeling. Perhaps he had psychic protection up, but I sensed the vibe had a manipulative undercurrent that was being blocked by me. It is still a mystery…He put me on red alert anyway.
After I gave the Grimoire to Kallistratus, we all met up at the famous Goth Pub, the Devonshire Arms, (now the Hobgoblin) in Camden Town. (This pub used to scare me before I found my Dark Side. It is full of Vampires. The owner, Robin, painted all these Tarot images along the walls that are very cool. He shows the most amazing old films and has the best music I heard in London where James Blunt had taken over the airwaves as an alternative to constant HipHop. I have outlined a Vampire novel that begins in the Devonshire Arms if I ever get to it…)
My friend/ Tarot client, Katy, came along as well. Pharaon took a fancy to Katy and decided she was a natural Sorceress. Kallistratus, expecting the author of such a powerful little book to look like Anton LeVay, decide Pharaon looked like a milkman. I mention these people because they all have their parts to play in my near demise…
Cutting to the chase!
I had arranged a meeting newteen Pharaon and Kallistratus at the Dev because he was looking for actors to audition for a play called ‘Babalon’ to be directed by Alison Rockbrand. I thought Kallistratus might make a good Aleister Crowley. If not, the Goth scene in general, would be a good place to find someone to play Crowley — the most difficult role to cast. Pharaon came with a few fliers calling for auditions. As he was putting one up on the wall, he mentioned that they needed someone with an American accent to play Marjorie Cameron. I told him I had a lot of theater experience, but I was uneasy about getting involved.
“Magic has a very disruptive effect on me. I am writing a novel. I don’t need any horrible upheaval just now.”
“Well, just come read for it. It will be fun. Jack Parsons is my favorite magician of all time.”
“I bought a Grimoire from a milkman…I can’t believe I bought a Grimoire from a milkman…” moans Kallistratus to himself.
“I don’t know…”
“Please, just come an read for it so we can get a sense of it. You can say ‘no’ later.”
“OK.” I didn’t want to admit I had no idea who Marjorie Cameron was, though I had heard of Jack Parsons in passing as someone who was a follower of Crowley and done Black Magic with L.Ron Hubbard.
Later that week:
That evening at Treadwells, I was sitting in a circle with other hopefuls clutching a script handed to me by Alison. This was the second time I had met her. This time she was dressed in office clothing having come straight from work, looking very professional and capable. As we read the through the script, I played Marjorie Cameron, called Cameron, with my usual sense of irony, for laughs.
I did not want to to be in this play! At that point the kind of Magick these folks were into scared me. But I am fearless and a fool sometimes, so I let Alison talk me into taking the script home and at least giving it a good once over.
This was the first page of the script I got. It has a little information about these characters.
SYNOPSIS -CONCEPT & BACKGROUND
Jack Parsons (1914-1952) pioneered the rocket-fuel technology that culminated in NASA’s Apollo missions and Space Shuttle flights. He was also the Californian head of the Order of Oriental Templars, an esoteric group founded by the occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)
who was his mentor and inspiration.
By 1946 Crowley, prophet of the turbulent Aeon of Horus, was slowly dying in an English seaside boarding house. With the assistance of the writer L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) and the artist Marjorie Cameron (1922-1995), Parsons performed the notorious “Babalon Working”, a magical experiment allegedly intended to invoke a new entity who would re-focus the energies of the Aeon.
The Babalon Working transformed the lives of the main participants -notably Parsons himself, who suffered a series of personal and career crises, ending with his death in a mysterious explosion -another episode which has been the focus of much speculation.
I’ve done extensive research into the source materials -which are often obscure or contradictory, particularly for the period 1947-52. So BABALON is not a definitive “drama-biog” of Parsons’ life. It is rather a dramatic exploration of the Parsons myth, in all its mysterious paradoxes. The story time covers the years 1938-52.
VOICES & CHARACTERSJACK : John Whiteside Parsons -educated Californian. Frater 210 of the OTO.
ED: Ed Forman – technician at CIT -Californian. Life-long friend of Jack.
CROWLEY: Aleister Crowley, Baphomet, Frater Perdurabo 666, Master Therion, the Great Beast, Supreme Caliph of the Order of Oriental Templars etc etc. In this last phase of his life, Crowley suffered from severe asthma. A 1920s recording of his inimitable voice survives.
FRIEDA: Lady Frieda Harris -artist, wife of Sir Percy Harris, Bart. Crowley’s loyal pupil and patron. In her sixties. Patrician English.. .
SMITH: Wilfred T. Smith. In his fifties. suave Anglo-American. Frater 132. Crowley’s original OTO representative in California.
HELEN: Helen Northrup Parsons, Jack’s first wife. Californian
BETTY: Sara Elizabeth Northrup, Helen’s sister. Later Jack’s mistress.
RON: Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, author, explorer and religious teacher. Mid-West
CAMERON : Marjorie Cameron Parsons, aka Candida or Candy, artist and vessel of BABALON.
POLICE OFFICER/FBI OFFICER/RADIO ANNOUNCER
and YOUNG CROWLEY
666: Number of the Beast
In those years I was living in Highgate in a wonderful flat ten minutes walk from Highgate Cemetery and about two minutes from the Highgate Tube Station (a very important consideration when renting a flat in London.)
I went home on the tube and read the script, full of inner conflict. The script was really good. So good in fact that I felt I would miss out if I didn’t participate. But I had determined NOT to engage in other peoples’ magic. It just wasn’t safe. I rolled the script up and put it in my bag.
I had to pick up a few things at the corner shop. Squeezing in between the loaded shelves in the tiny store owned by very nice brothers from Sri Lanka, I picked up a few bits and headed for the checkout. Imagine my surprise — NO! Total shock at the amount of my purchases. Up on the face of the old fashioned cash register, big white and shiny, were the numbers 666!
BABALON – A Fable of Rocketry, Sex and High Magick Mystery Theatre of the Aether and 93 Fm present Travesty Theatre’s production of BABALON – A Fable of Rocketry, Sex and High Magick on FRIDAY DECEMBER 16 at 8.00
in the Gielgud Studio Theatre at RADA, Malet Street, London WC1
On Friday December 16th at 8.00 in the Gielgud Studio Theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art , Mystery Theatre of the Aether presents Travesty Theatre’s production of Babalon.
Paul Green’s play, originally written for radio, explores the enigmatic life and mysterious death of Jack Parsons (1914-52), pioneering American rocket scientist, disciple of the magus Aleister Crowley, and passionate devotee of Lady Babalon, the Scarlet Woman of the New Aeon. Alison Rockbrand’s highly stylised production reinforces the resonance of the text with soundscape and visual projections to create unique moments of ritual theatre. There are also elements of dark farce and tragedy as Parsons’ apocalyptic vision is subverted by hostile forces.
Paul Green’s plays include: The Dream Laboratory, The Aleph (CBC Radio Canada); Ritual of the Stifling Air (BBC Radio 3); Powerplay, (Capital Radio); The Mouthpiece (Resonance FM); Terminal Poet (New Theatre Works)
Alison Rockbrand founded Travesty Theatre and the Dead Dolls Cabaret in Montreal. Her productions include the collective creation Mumbo Jumbo: King Leopold’s Opus and a rendition of Macbeth including stylised dance gestures based upon the Kathakali dance tradition in India. In February 2006 she is directing Stuart Draper’s Departure Lounge in the Prompt Corner at the South London Theatre Company.
Tickets for Babalon can now be reserved via the RADA Box Office on 020 7908 4800.
To listen to the Radio Show, Babalon, click here:
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