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reputation as a master of sci-fi pulp. Captivated by Hubbard’s ‘charm’ and expressed desire to become a practitioner of Magick, Parsons welcomed him as house guest and sorcerer’s apprentice. Hubbard reciprocated by sleeping with Parsons’s mistress. Perturbed by this development, but not wishing to show open jealousy, Parsons instead embarked on a vast diabolical experiment, under Crowley’s reluctant supervision, to call up a true ‘whore of Babylon’ so that she and Parsons might procreate a literal Antichrist in Pasadena. ‘With Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto playing in the background’, Hubbard joined Parsons in the ‘unspeakable’ rites necessary to summon the ‘scarlet woman’, who, after many mysterious happenings (inexplicable power failures, occult lights, and so on), was found walking down South Orange Grove Avenue in broad daylight. After Parsons seduced the young woman in ques­ tion, Hubbard and Parsons’s previous mistress ran off with the rocket scien­ tist’s money to Florida. There is no need to relate the ensuing complex chain of events, except to say that Parsons - the renowned explosives expert managed to blow himself and his Orange Grove mansion skyhigh in June 1952. Debate still rages as to whether it was an accident, suicide or murder.108 Hubbard, meanwhile, was ready to employ the occult dramaturgy and incantatory skills that he had imbibed in Parsons’s OTO temple to more lucrative uses. Frustrated with the small-change earnings of a pulp sci-fi writer, he founded a pseudo-science, Dianetics, which he eventually trans­ formed into a full-fledged religion, Scientology, with a cosmology derived from the pages of Astounding Science Fiction. Russell Miller, in his fascinating biographical debunking of the Hubbard myth, described the notorious Shrine Auditorium rally, at the height of the original Dianetics craze in 1950, when Hubbard introduced the world to his own equivalent of Parsons’s ‘scarlet woman’:
As the highlight of the evening approached, there was a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation in the packed hall. A hush descended on the audience when at last Hubbard stepped up to the microphone to introduce the ‘world’s first clear’. She was, he said, a young woman by the name of Sonya Bianca, a physics major and pianist from Boston. Among her many newly acquired attributes, he claimed she had ‘full and perfect recall of every moment of her life’, which she would be happy to demonstrate.

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