“Now it came to pass even as BABALON told me, for after receiving Her Book / fell away from Magick, and put away Her Book and all pertaining thereto. And / was stripped of my fortune (the sum of about $50, 000) and my house, and all / Possessed.
Then for a period of two years / worked in the world, recouping
my fortune somewhat. But that was also taken from me, and my reputation, and my good name in my worldly work, that was in science.”
In 1948, Cameron separated from Jack and went to study art in Mexico on the Gl Bill. She did not see Jack for almost two years, and they corresponded solely by mail. However, it was during this period that she received the most serious instruction in practical magick from him. These letters still exist and are available on the Internet.
While in Mexico, Cameron quickly fell in with the famous artist colony in San Miguel—a group that included the painter David Siqueiros and the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Cameron felt a deep connection to Mexico and later said that San Miguel replaced in her heart her childhood home. She had met a kindred spirit in Carrington. She also met Renate Druks and Paul Matheson who would later co-star with her in Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.” She had a brief romance with a bullfighter named Armando, but when he fell ill and died, Cameron was accused of witchcraft and run out of town.
We dance a geometry of wizardry and wind the threads about our prey .. 14
Cameron returned to America around 1950 and lived with Jack once again as his wife in Manhattan Beach. Jack was then working for Hughes Aircraft and negotiating a deal with Israel to create an explosives plant as well as providing research for “rockets and other armaments.” In September 1950, plainclothes men raided the Parsons’ home and confiscated Jack’s papers. Jack was accused of removing confidential documents from Hughes and was fired. An FBI investigation began, one that would last for over a year. An informant assessed the Parsons as follows:
“…the PARSONS are an odd and unusual pair in that they do not live by the commonly accepted code of married life and are both very fascinated by anything unusual or morbid such as voodooism, cults, homosexuality, and religious practices that are “different.” Subject seems very much in love with his wife but she is not at all affectionate and does not appear to return his affection, [deleted] She is the dominating personality of the two and controls the activities and thinking of subject to very
considerable degree. It is the opinion [name withheld] if subject were to have been in any way willfully involved in any activities of an espionage nature, it would probably have been on the instigation of his Wife. ”15
Jack resigned from Crowley’s occult order in favor of his own system-“The Witchcraft”
Although Parsons was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, on January 17, 1952, he lost his security clearance. This seriously reduced his chances for employment, so Cameron and Jack began to make plans to leave the country. They were first headed for Mexico and from there to either Spain or Israel. Jack ultimately wanted to form a magical school in Israel. Jack and Cameron moved to a carriage house on Orange Grove—a few houses down from the Parsonage.16
On June 17, 1952, the evening before they planned to leave for Mexico, Jack was killed in an explosion when he dropped a vial of mercury fulmate in his private laboratory. Cameron was down the street fueling the car when she heard the blast. Jack’s death was ruled an accident by authorities but Cameron always believed that Howard Hughes was somehow behind it.
We traveled Stellar webs to darker Worlds within the Lunar mirrors of Suicide.17
After Jack’s death, Cameron moved into friend Renate Druks’s Malibu home for six months. Druks could not withstand the heavy vibe that was Cameron and relates strange tales of Black Magic and astral attacks. Shortly after ejecting Cameron from her household, Druks claims to have been woken by a strange astral figure floating over her bed.
Druks claims to have been woken by a strange astral figure floating over her bed. Described as a sort of alien creature that appeared as bright neon-colored brain with a tail that resembled a spinal column, it increased in size as it came at her and then suddenly disappeared.
Described as a sort of alien creature that appeared as a bright neon-colored brain with a tail that resembled a spinal column, it increased in size as it came at her and then suddenly disappeared. Overcome with terror, she consulted with their mutual friend, Jane Wolfe. Wolfe stated “That was Cameron——
how naughty of her!” and instructed Druks in the banishing ritual of the pentagram to protect herself.
Exiled from Druks’s home and still deeply affected by Jack’s death, Cameron withdrew into complete isolation in the desert of Beaumont, California. There she lived in a house in an abandoned canyon that had no water or power,.
During this period Cameron found a new magical teacher in Jane Wolfe and their correspondence remains as a sort of magical diary. Cameron began to see her life increasingly from a magical point of view, analyzing her experiences in terms of a life-long magical ritual or initiation. This was also her darkest period, she writes to Jane:
“/ am approaching the darkest hour of the abysmal night furthest from the sun. This is the fateful hour in which / drink the cup of poison to its dregs—eat the tainted apple—feel the sting of the terrible dart in the core of me. Know the fang of the deadly serpent in my heart. And thereafter / shall plunge down into the abysmal horror of madness and death—or / shall walk upon the dawn—golden with the golden kiss upon me. This hour is far beyond the return. The turning back point was Sunset of year. My farewells were made long ago. No—this is the hour when / approach the terrible rendezvous when all my gods shall declare themselves—when / shall call upon the secret name—open the final door.”18
Cameron realized that she must face this ordeal alone:
“If you have tried to contact me you have no doubt found the going hazardous—/ seem to be pyramiding a mountain of fear that is closing all doors to me—now Renee’s.19
It amounts to this—in the case of each they reach a barrier of fear over which they cannot pass to follow me. And since / can show no pity—since to do so is to pity myself—/ am rapidly eliminating my companions on the journey to completion. / had not expected this—as you know—the only comfort left me—is the knowledge that / have the courage to do that which no one else seems to have. This is indeed the luxury of Kings—but / had tried to bring joy and not fear into the hearts of others. What happens from now
on—/ do not know. / can only remind myself constantly in this period of aloneness and dryness that which / have known from the beginning.20
It is in these letters to Jane that Cameron fully divulges her feelings and candidly describes her own rituals. Most interesting is a magical working which she began shortly after Jack’s death in 1952. This ritual included some of the same people who later appeared in Kenneth Anger’s film of an occult ritual, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. According to Cameron, this working was to bear fruit in the summer of 1953. By this operation, some say that Cameron intended to create a “magical child” or “wormwood star” sired by Jack from beyond the grave.
“This is the star which was calculated for me to give it birth. Jane
—Jane—This is the star by which / shall behold him and in that union shall he be born—he whose name shall be wonder. His magnificence cannot be foretold and this is my star the Wormwood Star which will be born this summer Solstice of the year 1953.”21
Cameron goes on to explain the technical details of the operation based on the seven pointed star of BABALON:
“The points of the star are seven but it produces eight. It consists of the quadrupled union of four pairs of opposites. The eighth of this is not apparent until the four unions are completed. Now when each union is made the word of god must be uttered. Do you know this word? / asked for this word of Jack in March of 1949. It was given to me with no account of the cost. / carried it with me in great secrecy, not ever daring to dream of the miracle it concealed. This word / will only give to you in great secrecy.22 With the right combination—which is my star [Star of Babalon drawn here] this great word creates—and since there is death in all birth there are four opposites destroyed—but their destruction is absorption and here again another face of the four square miracle!”23
She further elaborates on the formula of the operation:
“This opposite must always be the sublime whole of the opposite
of the invoked. Such as in this invocation the opposites all destroyed will be pure aspects. Here is the meaning of debauchery as sacrament—the sublime follows between the six and eight of the Tarot.24 This is the sacrament. The exquisite edge of growth and decay and this is absorbed like the fruit, the wine of the season on the dying cycle of the year. This destruction or absorption will be done each time to the union of the 8 opposites occur.”25
She then describes the function of the unknowing participants or “elementals” in this strange working:
“Each male in this invocation is an Elemental god and these five gods will be the five fathers of the god. Each is a perfect revelation of the four represented in the Universe card of the Tarot—the Dance of the Star and the Snake. The holy 22. The kether, the Crown, the god. These four are represented as the Bull, the Lion, the Hawk and man sublime angelic—man revealed as god. I plan to write these into four commentaries—or songs— for each of the Elemental gods in a miraculous revelation. When the star is completed and the god born, these elemental gods will be known to their voices and the whole damned union will be complete and magnificent.”26
Cameron states that she is pregnant but not with a human child.
Cameron states that she is pregnant but not with a human child:
“The pregnancy, as you understand—was not the actual growth of a human child—but the spiritual child of a psychic union—and in the case of Cupid and Psyche—this child—was a female— called Pleasure—or the birth of Babylon—which is a symbolical
—but most real birth of the age of the Goddess of Pleasure— being the union of the mind and body.”27
After her extraordinary experiences in the desert, Cameron moved back in with her parents in Pasadena and was considered catatonic for a time. Still in isolation and confusion, she painted a series of works that she called “the parchments.” These pieces received a lot of attention, including an offer from
a psychiatrist to publish them with a commentary (which she refused). She believed that through these works of art, she literally “painted herself out” of her situation. Renewed, she emerged as a “real force” in the artistic and occult communities.
Death has been thy lover. Is there else to fear?28
In December of 1953, Cameron walked into another situation that was to alter both her destiny and that of those around her. This time it was the home of the eccentric warlock, Samson Debreir, on Barton Avenue in Hollywood, California. Underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger had begun casting for his occult film, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome and the stage was once again set for the Scarlet Woman. The famous erotic writer Anais Nin was to the star until Cameron appeared, upstaging her by the mere power of her presence. The rivalry between the two became a driving force behind the film.
When Anger met Cameron, she introduced herself as “the Scarlet Woman,.” And Anger replied “That’s obvious… I have been waiting to meet you for a thousand years.” By this time, she had developed a very powerful countenance, and it was this that struck Anger. He vividly recalls, “[She had] Flaming Scot red hair…real emerald green eyes that could also turn into sea mist grey according to her mood…and suddenly Anais Nin shrunk…in front of the majesty that is Cameron because Cameron wiped her out.” Cameron had a profound effect on Kenneth Anger and was a sort of mentor to him. Soon, they were living together. Anger relates many strange stories of UFOs, levitation and astral visions, and he still considers Cameron one of the most important women of his life.
The film, in which Cameron plays herself “The Scarlet Woman,” was well received among both magical initiates and the art world. Cameron believed that this film was proof to the world that she had manifested the force of Babalon on earth.
Up the suvirling scarf of smoke rise our invocations.29
By the late 1950s, Cameron was living in Malibu and hanging out with a crowd of Beat artists that included the likes of Dennis Hopper, Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner and assemblage artist George Herms. In 1957, Wallace Berman’s show at the Ferus Gallery was closed by the vice squad for pornography after he displayed one of Cameron’s drawings. This drawing
depicted a woman, possibly Cameron, being taken from behind by an alien creature.
That same year, experimental filmmaker and her Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome co-star Curtis Harrington directed a film that featured Cameron and her artwork called The Wormwood Star. The film opens with titles drawn by Paul Matheson over an extreme close-up of the Seal of Solomon. “Concerning the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel as revealed to: Cameron.” Introduced through a series of composed still frames, rather surreal in juxtaposition and symbolic props, Cameron is then shown seated, looking into a mirror as if in a trance. After a few minutes of this rather abstract portraiture, the film then shifts to a study of Cameron’s paintings that illustrate a desert procession of angels. In the background Cameron recites a solemn invocation to her Holy Guardian Angel:
Dark Star, I seek you in all the endless rooms of the universe
I have entered the maze of chaos and searched the promise of no end and no fulfillment
But I have seen your helmeted head flashing gold from the bloody triumphs and sunsets of the world
I have heard your voice singing lovely songs of desire in the world womb
I remember the artistry of fingers that held the rose in wonder