Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati

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Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati
First edition
AuthorRobert Anton Wilson
CountryUnited States
SubjectPhilosophy of language, consciousness
New Falcon Publications
Hilaritas Press
Publication date
TextCosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati at Internet Archive

Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of The Illuminati is the first book in the Cosmic Trigger series, first published in 1977 and the first of a three-volume autobiographical and philosophical work by Robert Anton Wilson.[1] It has a foreword by Timothy Leary, which he wrote in the summer of 1977.[2]

The first volume was published without numbering, as the second volume did not appear for nearly 15 years.

Wilson is perhaps best known as the co-author of the award-winning science fiction work The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Cosmic Trigger revisits many of the themes from that earlier work in a more autobiographical fashion. After publishing the first volume of Cosmic Trigger, Wilson wrote two sequels, Cosmic Trigger II: Down to Earth (1991) and Cosmic Trigger III: My Life After Death (1995), the title of the first book retroactively changing to reflect the series.


Cosmic Trigger I deals with Wilson's experiences during a time in which he put himself through a process of "self-induced brain change" as well as vignettes of his earlier life. The main discovery of this process—which, he tells us, is known in certain traditions as Chapel perilous—is that "reality" (although a noun in most Indo-European language systems, and therefore commonly conceptualized as being a definite, unchanging "'thing") is mutable and subjective to the observer.

Wilson employs several models for his experiences, such as the interstellar ESP connection, during which time Wilson enters what he refers to as a 'reality tunnel', in which he claims to communicate telepathically with extraterrestrials residing in the Sirius star system. Wilson states[citation needed] however, that this belief system does not necessarily have any objective truth, which highlights his main point: that all such models—whether spiritual or scientific—are just that: models, or maps, of the world, and they should not be confused with an objective, permanent reality. Throughout the book, he makes references to specific paranormal personal and group experiences, yet he does not allow himself to become convinced of their reality apart from his perception of them. He calls this approach "model agnosticism".

The book also deals with the Bavarian Illuminati conspiracy (which Wilson neither rejects as utterly false nor embraces as true, in keeping with his theme) and other related intrigues. The work also touches on a wide range of other subjects, from Timothy Leary's thoughts on brain circuits and JFK's assassination, through to Sufism and numerous occult practises.

Publication history[edit]

Cosmic Trigger I was originally published by And/Or with Simon and Schuster in 1977 with an introduction by Timothy Leary.[2] It was later republished by New Falcon Publications.

A new edition, edited and with a new introduction by John Higgs, was published by Hilaritas Press on February 23, 2016. Hilaritas Press is the new publishing house created by the Robert Anton Wilson Trust.

Stage adaptation[edit]

Cosmic Trigger
Written byDaisy Eris Campbell
Based onCosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati
by Robert Anton Wilson
Date premiered22 November 2014
Place premieredCamp and Furnace, Liverpool
Original languageEnglish
Official site

Cosmic Trigger has been adapted as a theatrical stage play by Daisy Eris Campbell,[3] daughter of Ken Campbell the British theatre maverick who staged Illuminatus! at the Royal National Theatre in 1977. The new play opened on 23 November 2014 in Liverpool before transferring to London and Brighton.[4] Some of the costs were met through crowdfunding.[5] Wilson's book is itself dedicated to "Ken Campbell and the Science-Fiction Theatre of Liverpool, England."[6]

The play's script was published in 2021 by Hilaritas Press as a paperback and ebook, under the title of Cosmic Trigger the Play. Along with the play-text, the book features an introduction by Ben Graham as well as colour photographs from the stage show.[7][8]

The trilogy[edit]


  1. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Robert Anton Wilson, 74, Who Wrote Mind-Twisting Novels, Dies." (obituary). New York Times (January 13, 2007)]
  2. ^ a b Leary, Timothy. Foreword to Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of The Illuminati, by Robert Anton Wilson. New York: And/or (1977), pp. ix-xiii.
  3. ^ "The Cosmic Trigger driving Miss Daisy". Liverpool Confidential. 23 January 2014. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  4. ^ "The Play - What is it About?". Cosmic Trigger Play website. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  5. ^ "Cosmic Trigger Play crowdfunding campaign". Indiegogo. 23 May 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  6. ^ Cosmic Trigger I: The Final Secret of the Illuminati (First Edition, Twenty-fourth Printing ed.). New Falcon Publications. 2013. p. dedication. ISBN 978-1-56184-003-8.
  7. ^ Campbell, Daisy Eris (2021). Cosmic Trigger the Play. Colorado, USA: Hilaritas Press. ISBN 978-1952746093.
  8. ^ Cosmic Trigger The Play page on the Hilaritas Press website

External links[edit]