Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword (Oriflamme) Paperback – 30 Apr 1990
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He was also deeply involved in magick through Crowley's O.T.O. lodge in Pasadena. ("Magick" is Crowley's spelling used to differentiate between mystical/spiritual pursuit and stage entertainment trickery.)
This collection of essays is a sample of his writings before his untimely death in an explosion at his home workshop in 1952. It is not a complete work in the sense of being a book conceived by him, but rather pieces of writings that his widow, Cameron, and others involved in his magickal work collected into a reasonably coherent volume.
He speaks of freedom, of spirituality, of equality, of magickal ritual, and much more. His words are sometimes profound and moving, other times merely thoughtful. Much of his work has the same sort of feel as that of people like Voltaire, Mill, Paine, and Franklin. He speaks to basic concepts of freedom, social responsibility, standing up for one's principles, and defending the rights of others. He also speaks of women's rights, sexual freedom, governmental responsibilities, censorship, truth, and dogma. He was way ahead of his time. His vision and insight in many areas are called prophetic, and rightly so. His discussions of the attacks on human rights are as relevant today as they were in the late 1940s when these works were written.
I discovered this book by chance in the late 1980s, and was deeply moved. His words drive right to the heart of issues that are important to me. In fact, some of my writings in my late teens (20 some years before seeing his work) are extremely similar to his, some nearly verbatim. That, combined with other unusual parallels and the proximity in time of my birth to his death, prompted me to seriously consider (for a short time) the possibility of my being his reincarnation.
If you like the subjects of Western mysticism, Hermetic magick, freedom in general, or interesting characters, give this book a read. There is another book, "Sex and Rockets," that is a biography of Parsons and gives more details about his life and contribution to the aerospace industry. It is also an interesting read.
When this material was written, it was not only blasphemous, but dangerous Politically. This man was certainly ahead of his time....a Harbinger of a Thinking Age of Reason and Common Sense.
There is more Truth in this thin collection of Essays, than can be found in numerous stacks of books. I highly recommend this work to anyone and everyone. Any person who has ever thought for themselves, should read this book and add it to their philosophical library.
Freedom certainly is a "Two Edged Sword," that must be fought with and for, with zeal and courage. Parsons explains, rationally, why the False Morality predominant in America doesn't make a lick of sense and never has. He explains with poetic, scientific Reason, Logic and Mysticism why our society is dysfunctional and self-destructive.
This book is also a Wonderful addition to any Feminist's library, or Witch's book shelf. Parsons was obviously well-ahead of his time on issues of Women's Rights, and the Rights of Minorities.
It's no wonder he had an "accident" in his laboratory, considering the lack of "Freedom of Speech" in America and the lack of intellectual thought in our country.
Basically, this book is a collection of Common sense.... However, he was viewed as a radical, by predominantly Patriarchal Society.
If I could, I would give a copy of this book to everyone I met, or communicated with. Parsons was, without question, a Genius and a Martyr for Freedom of Speech, Religion, Sexuality and Common Sense.
Decades ahead of its time in distilling the essence of authoritarianism and the tools it uses to gain power.
Some may find his views on religion to be particularly provoking, but it is still jaw-dropping to read an author from 1950 advocate things such as equality of civil rights and sex education in such a lucid and well-written manner.
Consider the following passage, and how it presages the debate over Constitutional interpretation which continues to this very day:
"It has been said, with justification, that the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means. A document so fundamental as a Bill of Rights cannot be jeopardized by arbitrary interpretations. It should need no interpretations. It must apply equally to the national state, the federated states, counties, municipalities, official agencies and the private citizen within their province. It must apply in such a way that the individual or minority needs no recourse to elaborate, lengthy and costly proceedings in order to protect these rights. It is the duty of the state to provide this recourse to all alike."
There are plenty of other similar passages which resonate fully today on a wide variety of subjects that touch on human freedom.
Anyone interested in the history of literature examining the nature of freedom and liberty (from Plato to Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Ayn Rand, Martin Luther King, etc.) owes it to themselves to add this short and very readable book to the canon of such great works.