Peter Pendragon and Louise Laleham, the heroes of Aleister Crowley’s searing novel Diary of a Drug Fiend, hurtle headlong into the pitchblack night and intense love, in the freezing cockpit of Peter’s plane, fantastically high on beautifully pure cocaine. They first met a few hours ago, and neither of them have ever taken drugs before.
Jack Parsons was a very handsome man; a wayward father of modern rocketry, explosives expert, explosion addict, practising sex magician, OTO lodge leader, and mentor to L. Ron Hubbard. A week after he performed the Babalon Working ritual in the Mojave desert (against Crowley’s wishes), the remarkable Marjorie Cameron, a flame-haired visionary artist exactly matching the depiction of the goddess he’d invoked, knocked on his door and became his lover.
In my head there is a brilliant Hollywood biopic of Parsons. One sequence, amidst all the flame and fire and red desert smoke, shows Jack and Marjorie becoming Peter and Louise, flying through the night, lit by pale cold terrifying brilliance, howling wind, and mad passion, from the California desert to Thelema, Crowley’s judgement, and rebirth. The only aeroplane beautiful enough to carry them is the de Havilland Dragon Rapide.
David Piper is Commander of Special Operations for Hendrick’s Gin