Compassion – the final secret of magic

In 1977 my favourite author, St Bob Anton Wilson completed his autobiographical work, Cosmic Trigger: final secret of the Illuminati with what must have been the most difficult chapter he has ever written. The book recounted how he had delved for many years into several weird and wonderful esoteric byways looking for the hidden wisdom of the ‘Illuminati’. Now Wilson finished on an intensely personal note, the text suddenly changing into an account of how his youngest daughter, Luna, was murdered in the course of a robbery.

Describing his shock, grief and pain, even amongst tragedy, Wilson reaffirms his commitment to life over death, rejecting the concept of the death penalty and writing:

The police caught the killer in a few days. He was a Sioux Indian, well-known around Berkeley, given to threats of suicide, constant alcoholism and grandiose claims that he would do something “great” for his people some day. I suppose, in his mind, he was getting even for Wounded Knee when he beat my daughter to death. The guys who dropped the napalm on the Vietnamese children thought they were protecting their homes from the barbarian hordes of “gooks.”

Such, to use an eastern phrase, is the Wheel of Samsara – we are attacked, attack in response which leads to further attacks in return. Human history on a personal and social level is often like some ghastly Sicilian Vendetta, when generations later we no longer know why we attacking each other, only that the attacks must continue.

Wilson also praises his close friend Dr Timothy Leary for his support during the crisis. He quotes Leary responding to how he copes with all the negative energy being directed at him: “Come back with all the positive energy you have”.

And so, Wilson finishes, “I learned the final secret of the Illuminati”.

It is only by responding to negative energy with positive energy, loving when we are attacked, that we escape the wheel and transcend to another state of existence. This is graphically shown elsewhere by Wilson in his Illuminatus Trilogy when he has the teenage Miss Portinari, named after Dante’s muse, give the most high and secret sign of the Illuminati – a clenched fist, slowly changing into an open palm.

Sometimes I think we all, magicians, pagans, esoteric folk in general need to meditate daily on this high and deep sign. I know I do. I harbour no illusions about my pettiness and egocity. Every day I try to be deeply compassionate, and every day I fail.

This of course is an “open secret”, taught each and every day at the Mass, in countless other venues and by thousands of teachers. Compassion, the art of transforming the negative energy directed to us into positive life affirming energy, is the hidden stone of the wise. Without it we are doomed to simply repeat the ego patterns of our regular lives and change nothing. And yet, this is the hardest, the most difficult thing we can do. To stop ourselves from Yesodic reaction and consciously transform all negativity, to avoid reaction even when attacked, to love when we are hated and give life in the face of death. No easy thing. Which is why, in Christian myth, it takes God (the One, the ultimate All and Nothing) to become fully human to show us through action – ridicule, torture, death and unconquerable love – the truth of this mystery.

You say Osama, I say Obama

I have of course been thinking about these things intensely recently, both because of recent GD blogs and the formation of the Facebook Group, Pray for Osama bin Laden’s Soul. I formed this group, as the blurb says, because I deeply believe that hate breeds hate and the glorification of any killing diminishes humanity as whole. Only love is stronger than death, only compassion greater than hate.

I am about half way through the seven week spiritual process and prayers for the deceased which are focused on the being the world knew as Osama. I continue to pray and work for him to be redeemed in the infinite love of the One. Our prayers for him are also a symbol and focal point of prayers for all who are twisted with hate and violence.

Of course many people are not impressed by these prayers and this group. The peppering of abusive emails has lessened recently, but I still get the occasional one. Interestingly the majority seem to come from white, young, male Americans who often finish their messages with “God bless America”. I respond to most of them with Matthew 5:44 (“love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”) pointing out that Jesus didn’t give a special clause saying, “except Osama”. Many return responses then question my sanity, spiritual purity and especially my sexuality. I find the latter weird, but affirming; I quite like to be mistaken as a member of a marginalised social group in contrast to my white, male, straight privileged existence. One day I hope to be mistaken as being a lesbian, Hispanic, paraplegic Witch with mental health problems 🙂

Seriously though, I find it sad and strange that people who profess to be Christians are capable of such vitriolic hate towards people who are praying and loving as Christ instructs. I mean, you’d think I’d raped their grandmothers or something. Ho hum.

Whereas, realistically I expected such a response from those of exoteric and fundamentalist Christian faith, I did not expect the response I have seen from my esoteric buddies. Basically, in public it is very muted. Privately, through email and Facebook it is fifty-fifty, supportive and negative. It is almost as if no one really knows what they should be saying in public about this issue – to support the group and prayers for Osama or reject them? So they say it in private. Not that there’s anything wrong with that on a individual basis, I guess, though it does remind me of another Seinfeld episode where Elaine thinks she is dating a coloured guy but does not know for sure. “I really, don’t think we should be talking about this” moans George, constrained by political correctness.

I however, think we esoteric folk should be talking about this – about compassion towards our enemies as well as our loved ones, our neighbours and ourselves. It seems to me that all too often we magicians skip over the hard exoteric work for the esoteric. We forgo the injunction to love our neighbours as ourselves for the latest initiatory ordeal or process. We learn to change our astral bodies, our consciousness and our inner selves. We learn to master the elements, the art of transformation, the ascension on the planes and evocation of demonic spirits. Yet, of all these things are actually easier than simple, everyday,compassion for everyone, even those who attack us.

This may explain the number of magical blog posts that display little compassion or forgiveness but are authored by high magical adepts.

Please be clear I am not being self righteous or critical here, merely descriptive. As I said earlier, I am a miserable failure when it comes to daily compassion and have so far to go. I just wish it was a more commonly valorized trait in the magical community, a more required quality and a more pushed for state of consciousness within our magical curricula.

Ultimately, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama constantly explains, compassion is also our best friend and benefits us deeply. It makes us calmer, happier and extends our circle of friendship. Without basic compassion our deepest most profound magical goals, be they service, spiritual development, higher rebirth or the creation of an immortal solar body, will come to naught. Compassion can and does help all our magic and all our life. St Bob in Cosmic Trigger II discovers this after working with his Holy Guardian Angel and hearing a interior melodic voice give the sage advice:

Those who forgive most, live best.



  1. Karma Dorje · May 30, 2011

    Anyone who considers themselves a “high magical adept” but lacks compassion is nothing but a conceited fool. One cannot part the veil of Paroketh without the compassion which sacrifices one’s limited self on the cross of service to others.

    That there are adepts that say privately or publicly that praying for Osama is wrong speaks to how much of an armchair pursuit their occult practice has been. It’s amazing to me how many so-called adepts fail Human Decency 101.

  2. Arcad · May 30, 2011

    Care Fra Peregrin,

    this is actually a very good post right to the point. Regarding the recent but also older blog posts I am totally with you. Without pointing fingers at anyone specific I was always surprised about the sensitiviti magicians seem to have or develop. Book reviews and or “counter book reviews” are taken as attacks or being difamatory same counts for hard discussions. Questions regarding an expressed opinion or development are seen as initiating fmale wars against not only the person addressed, but entire communities etc. The differences some people had to go through during real defamations and fights in the past may have had quite an influence on such reactions. Sometimes I believe waiting a day or two before sitting down and “reply” would cool down some emotion. However, I have quite some temper myself and I know how difficult it is to keep that calm specifically when I believe someone insulted my reputation. But just as you said, sometimes I do not see the attack wjhere it is supposed to be and am wondering about what is going on. I like your approach to this (as also described on FB). Again, I am not trying to blame anyone, just wish for some second thinking before shooting sometimes.

    As for your FB group. Also here I fully support your idea. I do believe that celebrating the death of anyone is wrong. I do have to admit that one can be satisfied because of teh ending of the threat. I also understand an individual feeling of satisfaction as such for people personally involved. HOwever that still is no reason to celebrate the brutal killing of a human being. As far as m,y supporting for th group goes, well, althoguh I locked my FB account as far as I could, I am not trusting this thing. Since I am still looking for jobs, I do not want to take any risks. I believe you understand what I mean. However, I am not surprised by the reactions you get there. People who pray for the death of their own president or salute the death of their own soldiers or even civil casulties following natural desasters like Catharina as righteous punishment of “The Lord” simply have no understanding of what Christianity is about. I call thesye people self labeled Christians. Interestingly these folks only quote the old Testament for their weird expression of opinions. They seem to totally black out the Change by teh sacrifice they otherwise hold high. HOwever getting such reactions from fellow magicians is odd.

    Thanks for this post Peregrin,

    in L.V.X.

  3. MvdV · May 30, 2011

    The part of Compassion in understanding and seeing the other side to a story is a true pinnacle of self management. Being able to visualise and understand other people’s point of view is a difficult thing and involves humbling your own worldview and self to get to the other persons place in space. A difficult and true mystic art which the world needs more training in.

    I have been shocked at the lack of compassion lately in the world, I have a great deal of concern around disregard for human life. Do I think all life is sacred? Yes. Do I believe that humanity can live together without conflict? Sadly no; not until some real understanding and compassion is injected into the world (or the aliens enslave us and we become a homogenous slave race, forever cursed for our lack of unity).

    I am very disappointed with the role that the internet plays in the posturing, grandstanding and expressions of intolerance for other peoples point of view but if many of us could look at what other people feel, we could project it into ourselves and gain greater understanding of their world view. (Greater understanding does not necessarily equal like or agree with).



  4. John Porter · June 1, 2011

    Certainly anyone who professes to be a healer or to be interested in getting to the truth of what healing is MUST take on the hard, and often difficult truth, that forgiveness and acceptance are a major key to the healing process. We know instinctively that such things as the South African ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ and Tutu’s attempt to bring this to Northern Ireland are ‘right’ even though they are very tough to accept and work with.

    To step into the Greater Mysteries includes the acceptance of transformation through sacrifice and compassion.

  5. Pingback: Traditional Reconstruction and the Golden Dawn « Magic of the Ordinary
  6. Pallas Renatus · June 9, 2011

    This is one of the most desperately-needed messages of our time, and yet sadly, one least-often heard.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post, brother.

  7. missportinari · March 29, 2014

    I’m not exactly in a position to gives lectures about it and I don’t have a copy of the work nearby, but…

    I was really under the impression the final secret of the Illuminati was Work.

    You can go have tea with Nazis, now. God bless America.

  8. Peregrin · March 31, 2014

    Hello Miss Portinari 🙂

    At the end of the original Cosmic Trigger, RAW is describing Tim Leary’s legal problems and persecution. Someone asks Tim what to do when someone keeps giving one negative energy. Tim responds, “Come back with all the positive energy you’ve got”. RAW comments, “And so I learned the final secret of the Illuminati.” Love, not work 🙂

    I believe also in the Illuminatus Triology, you yourself reveal this secret to Hagbard by changing your fist into an open palm 🙂 Thanks.

  9. Bill Nemo Trommer · January 1, 2015

    Hi, Peregrin.

    I’ve been doing a lot of writing about this very subject and stumbled across your post while looking for more Wilson quotes on the subject of compassion and forgiveness. Those last few paragraphs of Cosmic Trigger have stayed near to my heart over the years. It was wonderful to see other magicians grokking the message.

  10. Peregrin · January 1, 2015

    Hi Bill – so lovely to see another person moved by those paragraphs from Cosmic Trigger!

  11. Sally North · August 12, 2016

    Love the idea of praying for the souls of those who normally are reviled and execrated. My only question is – in Islam, intercessionary prayers for the dead are considered useless and actively disapproved of in many quarters – is it not culturally insensitive to intercede to God on behalf of a devout muslim?

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