Manon Hedenborg White: From Chorazin to Carcosa? The Black Pilgrimage of Jack Parsons and Cameron
Zeit & Ort
Über die Veranstaltung
Rocketeer, poet, and polyamorous proto-feminist, John “Jack” Whiteside Parsons (1914–1952) was one of Aleister Crowley’s earliest and most legendary American followers. In 1946 Parsons performed the “Babalon Working” — a series of magical operations aimed at materializing the goddess Babalon on earth. He was aided in his efforts by L. Ron Hubbard, the future founder of Scientology, and the illustrator and artist Marjorie Cameron (1922–1995), whom Parsons would marry shortly thereafter. As part of these rituals, Parsons penned an inspired text — “Liber 49” — which makes ominous references a mystical journey entitled the “black pilgrimage”. In 1948, Parsons embarked on this dangerous quest, which culminated in his assumption of the title of Antichrist. Though initially unconcerned with the meaning of the Babalon Working, Cameron’s interest in esotericism, astrology, and comparative mythology grew over time. After Parsons’ premature death in an explosion, Cameron’s deepened explorations of magical ritual and visionary states came increasingly to shape her artwork and writings. 1964 witnessed the publication of Cameron’s The Black Pilgrimage, a small book comprising a single, illustrated poem, hinting at a strange, otherworldly journey haunted by grief. This lecture will explore the black pilgrimage in the context of Parsons’ and Cameron’s magical partnership, involvement in Thelema, and Cameron’s later life; the inspirations of the black pilgrimage in gothic horror and weird fiction; and its possible meaning as an initiatory encounter with the terrifying yet awe-inspiring power of the numinous.
Presented by: Manon Hedenborg White holds a PhD in the History of Religions from Uppsala University. She is the author of The Eloquent Blood: The Goddess Babalon and the Construction of Femininities in Western Esotericism (Oxford University Press, 2019). Her postdoctoral research project, funded by the Swedish Research Council, explores the lives and roles of some of the key women of 20th century Thelema, including Leah Hirsig, Jane Wolfe, and Marjorie Cameron. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Södertörn University and a guest researcher at the University of Amsterdam.
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