It has been reported that Helen was born in Chicago, the daughter of Olga and Burton Northrup, and the family moved to southern California early in her life. After meeting the infamous Jack Parsons at a church social, they were married in early 1935 E.V., their marriage lasting for seven years. In 1939 E.V. she was drawn to Thelema by the works of Aleister Crowley and in early 1941 E.V. Helen and Jack were initiated into the "O.T.O." by Wilfred Smith. It is said by the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o. that on the same day she was accepted for membership in the A.·.A.·.
The marriage came to an end, Helen became pregnant with Wilfred Smith’s child, there were allegations of theft of O.T.O. property, Smith was “retired” from the order and Helen went into exile with him, while Jack continued to live at the Pasadena lodge with Sara Elizabeth Northrup, Helen’s younger sister. It all sounds rather sordid, especially the more you get into the details of the whole affair. Helen married Smith after her divorce from Jack, and in Malibu she created “The Church of Thelema”. Upon Smith’s death she remarried and worked with one Gabriel Montenegro on projects in behalf of Thelema. Helen created Thelema Publications and produced several excellent volumes of Aleister Crowley’s literary and magical works, most of which I myself own, some of them being gifts from Soror Grimaud herself.
After many years away from California and the "O.T.O.", she worked with Grady McMurtry when he and his cohorts resurrected the dead order to create a zombie-like entity to serve with supreme hypocrisy their own petty personal desires. I, however, am fairly certain that Helen's intentions at least were far purer and more devoted to Thelema. After a while Helen found it difficult to stomach much of what was going on in the so-called "fraternity" and she restricted her involvement with the Caliphate pseudo-o.t.o. It was around this time that Helen and I began corresponding. She found herself conflicted, wanting to see Thelema prosper in the world, the only means of making this happen apparently being the new group created around McMurtry, but thoroughly dissatisfied with her "fraternal brothers and sisters" and the man who had assumed the role of O.H.O. under the obscure title of “Caliph”. Helen became somewhat desperate to find another means of serving and promoting Thelema in society. She reached out to me several times, coaxing me to join the Caliphate and sometimes encouraging me to start my own Thelemic group. Finally she retired from her involvement with the Caliphate and she seems to have pretty much turned her back on the group in her latter years. The Caliphate would, of course, word all this quite differently.
Whatever Soror Grimaud’s mistakes in life, and certainly we all make more than a few, she seems to have been sincerely devoted to Thelema and the works by the Master Therion that she published were a testament to that devotion.
During that period of time that she was most conflicted, when we were in constant communication primarily by way of the postal service, I told her of my plans to publish The Newaeon Newsletter. I asked her if I could have or purchase a mailing list from her and in a friendly and polite letter Helen informed me that she could never do such a thing. However, accompanying that letter was another envelope from her without explanation, filled with mailing labels upon which were printed the names and addresses of individuals who had purchased books from Thelema Publications and whom had otherwise contacted her with an interest in Crowley and Thelema. It was an amusing illustration of her conflicted state at the time and of great assistance to me. From that list many loyal subscribers to the newsletter were found, a few fascinating crackpots, as well as a few good, lifetime friends and associates. For her friendship and assistance, as well as her publication efforts, I will always be grateful to Helen, and I have long thought it remiss of me not have on this site some mention of her passing and contribution to the creation of The Newaeon Newsletter and thus the Castle of the Silver Star.
It has been reported by the Caliphate that Helen Parsons Smith died on Sunday the 27th of July in 2003 E.V., shortly after her 93rd birthday, leaving behind her son Kwen Smith, his wife, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The Caliphate reported that “according to her wishes no funeral services were held”, and I suspect that this was at least in part because she did not want to taint the proceedings with Caliphate hypocrisy and probably inane Caliphate behaviour.
Some day, perhaps, the time will be right for me to make at least one of her wishes come true.
22nd of September 2008 E.V.
The Autumnal Equinox