Aleister Crowley is perhaps the 20th century’s most famous occultist, whose influence, unusually for a magician, has spread outside of the occult subculture. One of his many followers was Jack Parsons, rocket scientist and ceremonial magician. In the 1940s, Parsons decided to invoke Babalon, a figure described by Crowley based on the Whore of Babylon in the Book of Revelation combined with Babylonian goddess figures.

The summoning of this figure took the form of ritual sex magick between Parsons and his Scarlet Lady, Marjorie Cameron, with none other than L Ron Hubbard acting as magickal scribe. Parsons would later write a report of the Babalon Working, known as Liber 49: The Book of Babalon.

You can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. Imagine trying to have sex with this staring at you from across the room:

Crowley, for his part, considered Hubbard to be nothing more than a con man out to take advantage of Parsons.

The Church of Scientology’s official position on the incident is that Hubbard had been sent by US intelligence to infiltrate and ultimately successfully destroy the largest black magick lodge in the US. Which does raise the question of why he would later refer to Crowley as “my good friend” and enthusiastically encourage his followers to look into his material.

Arnie Lerma has an interesting page detailing the Babalon Working and Hubbard’s other occult influences; it was also investigated by Jon Atack for his book A Piece of Blue Sky, with more detail in the essay Hubbard and the Occult.