Discordian Babel – a collection of different interpretations on discordianism
The Discordian Mindset
Does not exist!
“My chaos, your chaos, The Chaos, all of the chaos all of the time, and then they point out that from the right and proper perspective its just in your head anyway.
Well, my chaos is my head and your chaos is in your head, and sometimes the chaos of others gets on my nerves unless I remember that Doctor Van Van Mojo is an impostor and his Turkey Curse is only a Mindfuck if I grant it that special ability.
The Mindfuck could be true even if you proclaim it to be false and the koans are but different paths for consciousness to follow. Some make music and some dance.”
by John Higgs
– Foreword on Chasing Eris by Brenton Clutterbuck
A common analogy which Discordians use to describe themselves is that they are like mycelium.
Mycelium are fine white fungal strands which spread unseen underground, through soil and sometimes even rock. Mycelium is a word that is both singular and plural. A single mycelium colony may be too small to see with the naked eye, or it may spread like a web underneath thousands of acres and live for thousands of years. It can act as a communication network, and it can exert an invisible influence on the visible ecosystem above ground.
By themselves, mycelium remain hidden. But when two compatible mycelium colonies encounter each other, they can trigger a mushroom to burst forth in the eco-culture above – a plant that is strange, alien, comical and often psychedelic.
That was certainly my experience. In 2012, I wrote a book about the money-burning British rave duo The KLF. Well, I say the book was about The KLF – it was equally about Robert Anton Wilson, Alan Moore, Ken Campbell, Doctor Who and Discordianism. Or to put it another way; all the good stuff. But when I was writing it, I could find no evidence of anyone other than me caring about these things. The golden rule of writing is write something that people will give a shit about. As I was writing the book, it appeared that I was failing at this most fundamental of objectives.
Then I met the theatre director Daisy Eris Campbell. Our lives ran in strange parallels, we discovered, and we both held the conviction that if only more people would read the works of the great American agnostic Robert Anton Wilson then the world would be a much happier place. (Daisy claims that we are cosmic twins. I’m not saying she is wrong, but I don’t understand why she got the cheekbones and I didn’t.)
It was when our paths crossed that things changed – and our two mycelium strands caused visible mushrooms to awkwardly bud in the above-ground culture. She had been writing a stage adaptation of Wilson’s autobiography Cosmic Trigger, but could see no evidence that there was an audience for it. We took it upon ourselves to go and Find The Others, as Timothy Leary advised. We went out in public and did a series of talks, up and down the country, about Wilson and his legacy. The first was at the Horse Hospital in London, and after that everything changed. To our delight, Discordians and Wilson-heads began pouring out of the woodwork. This was the evening when our story crossed paths with the intrepid subcultural anthropologist whose adventures you are about to read.
In my talk, I worried about the seeming lack of interest in Wilson after his death. I explained how I had set up a number of Google Alerts, primed to inform me when anyone online was talking about The KLF or Robert Anton Wilson or the like. They remained largely silent, except for the occasional eBay auction, and this gave me the troubling impression that Wilson was being forgotten. This wasn’t entirely true – Tom Jackson’s invaluable blog RAWillumination.net had been reliably keeping the flame alive, as did the Maybe Logic gang, and BoingBoing would also celebrate Wilson. But beyond these fine torch bearers, there seemed nothing but silence. I was of course once again entirely wrong. I was just pig-ignorant of the global mycelium strands lurking underground, below my radar, preparing their surprises.
I’m writing this four years later, and the world is very different. There has been a wide-ranging and frankly glorious neo-Discordian revival, here in Britain at least. It has produced mixtapes, festivals, fanzines, podcasts, theatre, talks, websites, books, happenings, VR, rituals, memes, friendships, hope and a great deal of tribal fun. It has been created by writers, actors, designers, money burners, magicians, musicians, t shirt designers, comedians, directors, artists, promoters, dancers, scholars, psychedelic Dalek builders, DJs, tattooists, puppeteers, strippers, punters, hecklers and many entirely uncategorizable but utterly necessary oddballs. In America, the origins of Discordianism have been thoroughly documented in works such as Adam Gorightly’s Historia Discordia, and Wilson’s books are being lovingly polished and re-released as ebooks as well as physical copies. It has been – and I can’t stress this enough – fucking great. I no longer worry that Robert Anton Wilson will be forgotten.
All this is what makes this book so valuable. Here is a record of the global Discordian mycelium network just before the neo-Discordian revival distorted the picture and put the focus on what was visible. Here is the influence of Eris in perhaps her purest form, a record of creativity and inspiration evolving underground across many noisy decades. It is a story that was close to being lost, had one far-sighted man not realised its importance while the rest of us were still waking up.
To travel the world in search of a culture that may not exist is heroic. To come back with such a rich and funny report is a remarkable achievement. For the rest of us, to suddenly realise that you have been part of a tribe that you could not see, which you did not even dare hope existed, is a warm feeling indeed. This makes Brenton Clutterbuck’s Chasing Eris an unexpected gift. His particular strand of mycelium has caused the countless mycelium colonies encountered here to burst up into the light, binding Discordians into a global tribe, regardless of how hard they attempt to follow the adage that We Discordians must stick apart.
Gifts like this tell us that, being mycelium ourselves, we just need to cross paths with the right mycelium colony to cause an unexpected mushroom to manifest in the world above. That is a pleasing thing to remember. But it is also a reminder that, for all we might focus on the mushrooms, the mycelium is the heart of it all.
John Higgs, Brighton UK, summer solstice 2017.
Discordianism by Lucius Haydn, K.N.S. (aka. Jaidyn Casey Saunders)
(The following is taken from my website:
The Discordian Online Library of the M’.’M’.’M’.’
Discordianism is one of those awesome “belief systems” that lends itself well to other ideologies… somewhat.
Admittedly, it tends to be more fitting for someone who is pagan, agnostic, atheist, Buddhist or Taoist. And that is how I started out. I have actually been a Discordian since the age of 17 and being almost 36 now, that is quite a long time. At that point of my life I was very philosophically inclined towards Taoism but in practice I was leaning towards Zen Buddhism as that is what my mother had introduced me to.
However when I was introduced to Discordianism, I had figured it was simply a joke religion and that is how I had treated it for most of that time. It was full of “fnord” and the “Law of Fives”. “Goddess forbid I eat hot-dog buns!” It was fun and at that time I took on the holy name of Rev. Judas IMOK, KSC, KNS. The letters of the last name “should” be pronounced individually but I let people figure that out on their own. Meanwhile most people pronounce it as “ihmuk” or “eye-mock” which I prefer the latter.
For most of my life as a Discordian, I had figured the joke was all there was to it. I mean I had heard the saying “is it a joke that is a religion or a religion that is a joke?” Well I just figured that was a smart-ass way of just not admitting it really is a joke. Over time I have dipped my finger into many different philosophies, religions, etc. and have lastly explored Buddhism. However I have never abandoned my Discordianism. I only recently have learned that while to many Discordianism really is only just a joke, to others it is something else. To some it is a serious religion. How… I am not certain. Now however, to me it is even more impressive. I guess you could say Eris gave me a revelation. She exposed me to what I believe Discordianism to be and I will admit, my experience dabbling in various philosophical traditions and my Buddhism have helped prepare my mind for it but Eris revealed to me the concept of “militant subjectivism”. No, I don’t plan to explain the term. Just try to wrap your mind around that as you read on and study Discordianism. You may get it.
I frequent a web-forum at principiadiscordia.com and they have actually produced a good number of Discordian books and there are many excellent discussions there concerning this issue. And I have found another group of Discordians which in many ways agree with my perspective. Not perfectly perhaps, but to a good degree. One person there made a comment about how they view Discordianism and I agree with their sentiment. Basically, “in my view” (not everyone will or should share this view) this really is like a Mystery School. The humor and religious trappings of it are like the outer or exoteric aspect of this “irreligion”. However the inner or “esoteric” aspect is the philosophy that it espouses. One example is the “Law of Fives”. For anyone unfamiliar with this law:
”The Law of Fives states simply that: All things happen in fives, or are divisible by or are multiples of five, or are somehow directly or indirectly appropriate to 5. The Law of Fives is never wrong.” Lord Omar is quoted later on the same page as having written, “I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look.”
— Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00016
On the surface, this seems like a mind game. It reminds younger people about such things as the movie “23” or whatever. People go around, find an address or something which using simple or complicated math/numerology, and find fives everywhere. It is a fun game and I enjoy doing it, but many people think that is all there is to it. They miss the most important hint to the truth of the matter. Look at the last sentence…
”I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look.”
What this whole thing is supposed to teach us it that of confirmation bias in our everyday lives and that we can change or “reprogram” our minds to avoid that or to have a different bias if we so choose. To people who are racist against African-Americans. They may see gang members, or some other negative stereo-type. If you expect to see that, you have chosen to view the world in this way, that is what you will see. Men are cheaters or abusers? That is what you will experience. Not because of some magical property but because you are filtering what your brain registers. Most of us do this everyday. But it can be changed. You are largely in control of the reality you subject yourself to daily.
This I feel is what the Law of Fives is teaching us… or something along those lines.
There are other lessons that Discordianism shows but I will let you figure that out. Now yes, there is allot of nonsense, humor and just plain silliness in Discordianism. I believe that is there to help people become open to the philosophical teachings it presents. Kind of like the classic “a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down”. Some however don’t need that humor.
In fact there are some Discordians who accept some humor to go along with our philosophy, but many of the classic and old jokes have worn us out. Having people come along to act random, silly and yell out “FNORD!” randomly will only tend to receive unamused and likely irate looks. Of course many of those people acting random like that often accuse us of being “Bad Discordians” and taking things too seriously. Being a “Greyface”. C’est-La-Vie. We know how to have a good time. One of the few “serious” texts in the Principia Discordia is a piece called “Nonsense as Salvation” near the end of the book. “Doesn’t that mean non-stop silliness instead of seriousness is what’s called for?” I and many others don’t think so. Not all nonsense is funny ha-ha. There is allot of things in this world that is nonsense that is not necessarily funny. Much is sad, ironic, even depressing.
One such example is a Discordian Booklet entitled the Black Iron Prison (not the one from 2013, but earlier). This is very controversial because while in a couple places there is some humor like an interview with the Queen of England who is really a robot, much of the book has a bit of a dark undertone. Many critics has accused it of being depressing. I will agree it is dark, but hardly depressing. It does contain the concept of nonsense as salvation, but it isn’t through random crap or joke telling that brings out the nonsense.
The metaphor, the situation that is described… the problems that the book reveals are the nonsense. Not because it is wrong or intentionally spreading inaccuracies but because of the “truth” (a subjective term) of the matter. And the book gives no answers either. Another common criticism. It doesn’t give you any answers but it does explain your situation, and it gets you to get off your ass and do something about it. It says you can change your situation. You will just have to read it to understand but understand I am confident you will.
Perhaps I am a “Bad Discordian” and against the “REALLY Real DiscordiansTM” However I am confident that St. Oreo… my patron Saint who oversees Ovulating Penguins and the League of Anti Tea-Drinking Chinese will be understanding. After all… Chaos is NOT the same thing as disorder. Order and Disorder emanate from Chaos and sometimes you will experience apparent order among disorder and vice-versa.
Do I take my Discordia seriously? I seriously hope not. To quote the fifth rule of the Pentabarf… the only five “rules” of Discordianism:
”A Discordian is Prohibited from Believing What he reads.”
Hail Eris! —><— All Hail Discordia!
In late 2002, our own John Fenderson was interviewed for a novel print magazine in Australia. It was called “Sheek”, and aimed at young women who happen to have brains. For those of you who are not young, female, smart, Australian, or any combination of those, we reprint the interview here.
John Fenderson, LDD, BBC, ULC, GWHA, is one of Discordia’s most aneristic eristics, and the most important Pope in his house. He is not a cabbage.
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.
You asked for it. I’d like to preface this with a disclaimer: I do not speak for all Discordians. No one does, particularly not anyone who claims that they do. Even the Principia isn’t the Final Word. Eris speaks to each of us in the privacy of our pineal glands, and the message she has for you may deviate wildly from the message she has for me. Such is the nature of chaos. So, to save time and effort, just pretend that I’m prefacing each of my comments with “In my opinion” and we’ll understand each other just fine.
Discordianism seems to be the perfect theological outlet for Monty Pyton-esque humour. Is there any more to it than shits and giggles?
Hmmm. Is there anything more to ANYTHING than shits and giggles? That’s part of the point. Monty Python, by the way (as well as the other Greats such as The Firesign Theatre) were some of the truest Discordians there ever were. I hereby declare them Discordian Saints. Here’s some things Eris told me at various times:
“Nobody understands anything that isn’t funny”
“Mankind will begin to solve it’s problems when it ceases to take itself so seriously”
“Is Discordianism a joke disguised as a religion, or a religion disguised as a joke?” (The truest answer to this is “mu”, but an almost-as-true answer is “yes”.)
The Principia spends a couple of pages on this, and it’s at the very core of the disbelief system, so I’ll just summarize: Everyone looks at the True Reality, but through their own filters. Some filters are shared amongst groups of people — this is what religions, cultures, or other variants on belief systems are: shared reality filters. But these filters themselves are not actually True Reality, they are a mere tool we use to make some kind of sense of things. This means that no filter — no belief system, no religion, none of that — can be True (or False). Discordianism is proof that, so long as certain human psychological needs are met, a religion can be based on any damned-fool thing you can think up.
Discordians believe that ALL religions are equal in every important sense. Some Discordians state this as “all religions are bullshit”, and some as “all religions are true” — both of those statements are equal. When people think that one way is “better” or “truer” than another, they are falling for the Aneristic Illusion — what the Buddhists call “Dharma”. In other words, they are comparing filters as if they were Reality, which they aren’t. Now, there are some ways that certain filters can be “better” than others — some are more profitable, some are more pleasant, etc., but none of that speaks to Reality, it only speaks to the usefulness of the tool, and how useful a tool is depends entirely on the context in which it is used.
Now, is it all shits and giggles when it comes to the window-dressing, like all that Eris jazz, or the Pentabarf, and etc.? Kindof. We don’t actually worship the Greco-Roman Eris/Discordia as if she were a living god in some external sense. We worship Eris/Discordia as a symbol of the true nature of reality: All is chaos, upon which we impress (or imagine) order to our own ends.
Are there rituals a Discordian must abide by?
Yes. A Discordian must abide by any and all rituals that help them to become enlightened. Everyday life is a ritual. Brushing your teeth every night before you go to bed is a ritual. Cleaning your house is a ritual. All rituals, whether mundane or mind-blowing, are important. Rituals are part of the whole filter-on-reality thing, and our brains need them, or we become psychotic due to exposure to raw Reality.
There are, however, rituals that Discordians take great joy in disregarding! Take the “no hot-dog buns” thing. We are forbidden to eat hot-dog buns, for such was the solace of Our Lady after the Original Snub. We are also commanded to eat hot dogs on Fridays, as a remonstration, in part, against Discordianism.
How does one attain Popedom? Are we all free to create our own Sects willy nilly?
Every man, woman and child on Earth is a Discordian Pope already. This is critically important to understand, actually. The obvious side-effect is that everyone is ALREADY Discordian, most just haven’t realized it yet because they suffer from the Curse of the Greyface. YOU are Discordian, even though you might not believe this. Yet.
But, more importantly, it also means that every human being deserves to be treated as the Extremely Important Religious Personage that they are. I actually keep a pocket full of Pope Cards, and hand them out all the time to remind people that they are, in fact, Holy Men & Women. They resonate with people deeply.
I can put this in more traditional terms: We are all, literally, an inseparable part of All That Is (or “The Cosmic Muffin”, if you prefer). When you mistreat another human being, it is no different than spitting in the eye of God, or shitting on the Catholic Pope, or calling your mom a dirty whore after you realize that your existence is proof that she balled your old man.
And yes, every Discordian can create his or her own sect. Or join an existing one. Or just be Discordian without having anything to do with this whole Cabal nonsense. Eris speaks to each in her own way.
Can a vegetarian become a Discordian? Do Vegetarian Hot Dogs comply with the commandments?
Well, since I’ve already plainly stated that everyone is already a Discordian, the answer to this becomes obvious. No one is excluded from Discordia. It’s funny you bring up vegetarianism, because my personal favorite Discordian quote (not from the Principia) is on that very subject:
“When a Discordian espouses vegetarian macrobiotics whilst chomping down on a bloody steak, he isn’t being hypocritical — he’s making a point”
I have been asked many variants of this question: “Can I be _______ and still be Discordian?” In short, the fact that you are _____ is proof that you can indeed be that, and still be Discordian. Since you are Discordian already.
What is a Discordian to expect in the afterlife?
After life, there is, of course, death. If the body dies and we end up living on in some spiritual realm, then we haven’t died at all — so the “afterlife” has yet to be attained. Based on this way of thinking, I can state without fear of contradiction that there is no afterlife. If you ever die, you’re dead. It just seems obvious.
You might find this answer a cop-out (although I honestly don’t think it is), so I’ll blabber on a little more. What you mean is, “What is the Discordian perspective as to what happens when your body dies?” The answer is: I don’t know, since no Discordian ghosts have stopped by to explain the matter. I’ll find out for myself in due time. If the death of the body = the death of ME, then I really won’t care too much, will I?
Can you sum up the Discordian religion for the people at home?
Discordianism is like Taoism, but funnier. And don’t forget, chaos and randomness are not the same thing.
Many of your questions are really trying to get a handle on what the Discordian Dogma is. Since dogma is stuff you are supposed to believe just because someone said so, Discordians have no dogma. That is our only dogma.
Discordianism does not hand out any answers, but merely poses an alternative way to think about things like reality, belief, and the like. Any answers must come from within yourself. Discordianism is about freedom, and part of the gift of freedom is the responsibility to think for yourself. If the framework of Discordianism helps you to organize your thoughts, then that’s great! If not, then that’s great, too! It doesn’t matter how you think, just so that you do.
What is the flavor of Discordian discourse?
It tastes like chicken. Ok – it’s largely irreverent and iconoclastic, with a strong dada component. There are a lot of mystical and/or paranoid references and a conspicuous amount of Unnecessary Capitalization.
How seriously should we take all of this?
Of course, we don’t recommend taking anything very seriously. People usually ask me this question, though, because they’re trying to figure out if I think there really is an Eris somewhere who is a Goddess and does Goddess-type things. This is especially complicated by contemporary Christianity, which teaches us that there is a God who is paying attention to you every moment of every day and who responds pretty much like a person – you can make him mad, if you get lippy he’ll probably do something bad to you to put you in your place, etc.
God as a magnification of the Self.
So, the answer to this question needs to combine the following aspects:
• The only answer one can give to “Do you believe in God” is mu – anything else is an over-simplification.
• There is a strong “Ha Ha, Only Serious” flavor to Discordianism.
• Of course, we don’t recommend taking anything very seriously.
The final answer is left as an exercise for the student.
– Discordianism by Pope ThatUsernameWasTaken
To me Discordianism is both a dissection of and celebration of cognitive dissonance.
It is a joke, a religion, a religion disguised as a joke, and a joke disguised as a religion. It is all of these exclusively and simultaneously. It is unabashed recognition that life, the most serious thing that will ever happen to any of us, is completely meaningless.
Discordianism is the acknowledgement that reality may be made of physics, but life is made of perception. Or, rather, perceptions; one for each person.
It is the endeavor of perceiving perception, altering perception, and causing others to perceive other’s perception.
One of the main philosophies of Discordianism is that there are two primary forces. Order (Stasis/tradition) and Chaos (Change/possibility). Either of these forces may be creative or destructive. In some senses the purpose of Discordianism, and this discordians, is to play the role of True Neutral, the balancing force. If the world imposes destructive order, we are to impose creative chaos. If the world imposes destructive chaos, we are to impose creative order.
If none of that helps, then perhaps a joke. This joke was said to have been told by Aleister Crowley. Supposedly, to understand the joke is to understand all magic. I believe the joke and the sentiment apply to understanding the discordian mindset as well.
Two passengers were sharing a railway carriage. They were not previously acquainted, simply strangers who happened to be sharing a train car. One of them had in her lap a cardboard box with holes punched in the top.
The ride had gone on for a while, the second passenger growing more curious, when finally she decided to ask. “Excuse me,” she said, “I couldn’t help but notice the box. Do you have an animal in there?”
The first passenger, briefly startled from her reveries, smiled and replied, “Yes, I do. A mongoose, in fact.”
The second passenger seemed surprised by this news. “A mongoose? That’s quite exotic. I thought it might be a cat, or a rabbit. Might I ask where you’re going, alone with a mongoose?”
The first passenger shifted the box and shrugged, “That’s a story in itself. You see, it’s my elder brother. He’s always been somewhat of a black sheep of the family. For years he’s been a drunk and a letcher. His drinking has even caused him to develop delirium tremens, DT.” She paused to sigh before continuing with a sad look, “It’s gotten so bad that my brother now sees snakes everywhere, which is why I’m bringing him this mongoose, so that he can be rid of them.”
“Wait a minute…” The second passenger exclaimed. “These snakes your brother sees, aren’t they imaginary?”
“Indeed,” the first passenger said. “But this,” she said, as he gestured meaningfully to the perforated box set on his lap, “is an imaginary mongoose.”
I hope that helps. And I invoke the first and second powers of any true =POPE= if anyone disagrees.
– Cramulus • My Discordia
My Discordia is practiced at the Main Way Monastery & Waffle House in Tarrytown, New York.
We waffle monks follow two paths, that of the Sun and the Moon.
The Sun’s path is about winding up. It’s about living electric, staying kinetic. It’s about working hard and reaping the benefits. When something needs to change, you change it yourself. It’s about not fracturing your psyche into a “work self” and a “real self” — but being the same cool person no matter the context.
The Moon’s path is about winding down.
It’s about being chill, relaxed, going with the flow. It’s about remaining untwisted, unconflicted, and accepting the world for what it is. It’s about sleeping and cuddling and celebrating Moosemas.
They say the essence of Zen living is “When you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, sleep.“ At my monastery, it goes “When you’re hungry, FEAST. When you’re tired, PASS OUT FOREVER.”
That’s my Discordia
Science and religion aren’t in conflict. Science discusses: “Here’s how the physical world works.” Religion discusses: “Here’s how to live a good life.” They pass like ships in the night.
Most religions get it all wrong though. When you put a nametag like God on the universe, it doesn’t seem so big. Even a word like “the universe” diminishes the cosmic mystery into something that seems quantifiable and tangible. It’s a big fat lie.
But if those are the rules of the game, let’s play! We live in a wonderful time when you are allowed to believe whatever you want, even if it’s wrong. Religious thought is protected and privileged. So accepting that this is a load of bullshit from whence beautiful flowers grow, I call the universe Chaos, and play games of order and disorder.
I follow a Goddess named Eris even though that’s wrong, because faith is a ticket to ride the carousel of Religious Experience. It’s a fun ride. And the fact that Eris isn’t real doesn’t matter in the slightest. It’s a wild circus.
And faith in Eris, for me, is an assertion that humor and creativity are transformative tools: they transform the self, and thereby the world. Yes, Eris is a goddess of strife and conflict too, but laughter and good ideas are a way of challenging the imperfect world that exists and building a better foundation for the world to be, the self to be. Eris be the queen be.
In many ways, Religion is kinda stupid, right?
but instead of leaning away from it
let’s dive in
Let’s exercise our right to be wrong
Let’s juice the religious experience for everything it’s got.
Because IF beliefs are sacred, even the stupid ones,
BOOM, a bunch of really stupid shit is now sacred.
A lot of atheists come into Discordianism because it’s this great joke on religion.
when you feel where this headspace is,
you can see there’s something else
and you don’t need to go to church for it,
you don’t even need to really believe in a god to tap into it,
it’s this chaos inside
which can become anything
and listen–if there are things in this universe
that are irrational
then our rational minds deceive us
into thinking that whole Enlightenment routine
can bust down any wall
but hey, you try reasoning with the clouds
I’m sure they’ll come around.
some stuff in this world is sacred
and I don’t know what sacred means except
a connection between
heaven and earth,
the conceptual and the material,
the body and the spirit
and some stupid shit is sacred now
finally the bibles are molding on the shelves
finally the traditions have worn out
finally the parade is over
finally god is off the pedestal
finally we are in the driver’s seat
finally a roach will save me
finally, flying baby shit
That’s My Discordia
Reasons To Go Discordian
Freedom of religion means you can believe anything you want and people have to treat it seriously. But there’s a limit to that, right? At a certain point somebody’s going to say, “No, that HAS to be bullshit.” Discordians gleefully hop that fence and run naked into the wild. It’s a blast, you should try it.
Seriously, if religious freedom protects your the right to, say, oppress homosexuals, it can probably be used for some awesome things too. Awesome things nobody’s thought of yet. Get to work!
Discordianism was founded by two stoned teenagers in a bowling alley. Normally, “Hey let’s start our own religion dooood” conversations become stupid after about 25 minutes, but this one actually worked and has been going on for over 50 goddamn years. (If you think about it, this is actually much less silly than how Mormonism began.)
Listen, truth isn’t a contact-high you get by hanging out with wise people. We’ve been brainwashed by millennia of cultural conditioning to think that holy men are an elite group we don’t belong to. But you don’t need a designated driver to talk to God (or the Higher Self or whatever you call it) Jesus, Buddha, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster are within all of us. You can be the pope if you want. The fucking pope! Anybody can.
Seriously, we have a cultural bias towards “the wisdom of the ages”. People are living their lives based on some rules written by some ancient spags in a desert who didn’t even have text messaging on their phones. People treat them as a moral authority even though that culture would have been totally awful to live in. (Unless you like public stonings and dying at 35) We live in a world the ancients couldn’t have even imagined. Instead of living in their model, it’s often better to think for yourself, or at least use advice from this century.
The original Trickster Goddess is back. She’s been sleeping for a long time, but the discovery of the Planet Eris marks her full force return. Eris isn’t the kind of God who rules the world from a mountain like a king. She changes the world by rolling a golden apple into the midst of a party. People’s true colors come out when they dive for it. Our culture can’t stop squabbling for those golden apples. Turn on the news, it’s most of what you see. Somewhere, Eris is snickering to herself.
There’s a little western Zen parable there. The Buddha says that suffering comes from desire. But if you can enjoy things without being attached to them (and avoid things without fearing them), you won’t be as likely to enter batshit feral grabass territory when you see the golden apple. Eris is like a trickster Buddha, rolling apples and watching the show (BTW, I know firsthand that Eris rides bikes with Lao Tzu). And I like that because Buddha isn’t a god, he’s a symbol that even us shitty mortals can find Nirvana. And Eris is a symbol too. For what, that’s up to you.
by Dave Lee
Years ago, in New York City, my love and I were hanging out with magical friends in Eris’s Big Apple, so we thought we’d do an Eris pilgrimage. We went to 23rd Street, to the corner by the Flatiron Building, where the wind gusted and lifted the skirts of the girls, and police would roust the layabouts who were ogling them, giving them the 23 Skidoo. We knew the magic was warming up when we discovered a place on 23rd St neither of us had heard of – the Lawrence and Eris Field Building, one asset of a private educational foundation. I mean, it’s not every day you come across a human called Eris, is it? And on 23rd Street!! We walked around some more. We drank cider and ate apples. It was a fun pilgrimage.
My last little Eris pilgrimage happened by… chance? Chaos? This pilgrimage was also fun, but acquired additional depths. I booked in for a meditation retreat (with https://wiserbydesign.com/) in Greece. It was on the Pelion Peninsula, a gorgeous bit of Macedonia. I looked up which myths were associated with the area and, lo and behold, Pelion, or more precisely, outside Chiron’s Cave, was where the golden apple incident was actually said to have happened. I imagine if you are reading this that only the briefest recap of the story will be required.
The occasion is the wedding of sea-nymph Thetis and hero Peleus. The Olympian deities are invited. The wedding is a forced one – Thetis is not a willing trophy-bride of the arrogant hero, more the victim of rape, so there is cause for trouble from the start. Eris is not invited, so of course she turns up anyway, and to sow strife, the meaning of her name, tosses into the party a golden apple inscribed with the phrase te kalliste, to the prettiest.
So we decided to go on a little pilgrimage while we were in the area. I got a nice apple and painted it gold and wrote te kalliste on it, as my offering. Planning was subject to chaotic influences – not only did we have some problems which led to serious delays before we even left England, but when we were there and planning the pilgrimage, we nearly went to the wrong place, due to a mis-transliteration of the local town Milina as Milies, which place is also on Pelion, but miles away.
It was worth the journey, for a number of reasons. For a start, it’s easy to see why demigods would pick this area for a wedding – a dramatic Palaeolithic cave on a steep forested hillside which runs down to the sea, headlands plunging down to a semi-enclosed bay dotted with tiny islands.
We invoked Our Lady of Chaos. I left my golden apple sacrifice, then I turned back and photographed it. Immediately I knew that was not a good idea; this is when it became a bit more serious. This had to be a ritual from which I took nothing home with me, including any images of what I was leaving behind. I deleted the shot and felt better immediately.
The fact that deleting the shot seemed so important I take as a good sign: I was engaging more seriously with Eris. That working, and then returning home and getting together with Discordian friends made me ask: What is it we are we doing with Eris? Why do we honour Her?
Eris is not a friend of sensible planning, the kind of thinking that is based on the assumption that things are always going to be as they were. Of course, we humans need to live in that kind of world, it makes us feel secure, lowers our stress and conserves our energy. This planning kind of thinking is our bread and butter mentation, and we identify with it, so that it becomes our dominant selfhood, our ego. Which is why we get annoyed when our plans go tits up.
But we are not always in control, not always living in a predictable world. We also need to be able to deal with confusing, complex situations, and quickly. This is a different kind of intelligence to that which assumes things and plans accordingly – this is the intelligence required to steer a speeding vehicle on a dangerous road, or to confront and be effective in situations where predicted and comfortable structures break down.
The Greeks had two words for time: kronos, which is the predictable, calendrical idea of time, and kairos, which is the moment of opportunity that requires an instant response. They also had a word for the cunning, fast intelligence that has the flexibility and lightness of touch to be able to seize the kairos when it presents itself – metis.
So when we honour Eris, not only are we honouring life’s chaos and unpredictability but we are also invoking metis, the cunning that will enable us to make the best out of the chaos that’s going to happen at some stage whether we like it or not.
It seems this kind of approach to magic is not for all magicians. A few years ago, senior Chaos writer Pete Carroll opined in conversation that working with Eris had led to conflict in the ranks of the chaos magic world, so we should shift our allegiance to other deities. Not long after that, when Pete Carroll and Math Kaybrin’s work EPOCH, with its beautifully-drawn deity and elemental cards came out, the authors gifted our chaos group with a copy. We decided we would have to select a deity chaotically, to honour through the new deck. A guest member suggested we remove the Eris and Loki cards from the deck before doing so. Nobody else agreed – surely not inviting Eris (let alone Loki) is precisely what leads to trouble in the first place? So we went ahead with our random selection and, guess what, Eris’s card came up, and we invoked Her.
This rejection of involvement with Eris seems to me to be a strange thought process for a magician: surely we honour Eris because we know that life is full of surprises, conflict and turnarounds? And surely such an attitude of stopping pretending that we are always in control can only be healthy. Honouring the chaos and unpredictability of the world is also more likely to lead to experiences of higher consciousness, in which we learn to see the world as it is, not as our expectations paint it. Someone who rejects Eris is resisting incursions of higher consciousness, is resisting the recognition of chaos that is a necessary preliminary to any experience of consciousness beyond the time-bounded (in the kronos sense) ego. An attitude to magic in which one always has to be in control is bound to lead to disappointment, reduction in general pleasure in life and, if pushed to its extreme, some sort of breakdown in which the world proves to us that we cannot always be in the driving seat.
Eris might not always be a friendly face, but what deity is invariably friendly, if you look closely enough? Eris’s face is beautiful, frightening, awe-inspiring, humbling. Her frightening face is the face of the world when we have to acknowledge that we can no longer control it. Her joyous face is the world that opens up when we stop pretending we’re in control because we are fed up with holding on so tight, and instead let go into what is happening.
Behind the face of every deity is a facet of the cosmos as Other. If you engage with any deity deeply enough, your reward will be to see that totality gazing back at you. Maybe you will even recognize that gaze as a feature of your own divine nature.
What’s a Reformed Discordian?
Spiritual Knick-Knacks Pulled from the Philosophical Laundry Hamper of
~Pope~ Norm IV
A great question from St. Brian has prompted me to respond long form. We’ll be linking to this on Twitter @EnlightenedChao. You can also find St. Brian @AWorldOutOfMind.
So… what the hell Is a Reformed Discordian?
Knowing that I’m a Discordian, one could set even odds that being “Reformed” is either gibbering nonsense or an essential insight. It’s beautifully subversive how Discordians can wrap one inside the other. It’s also a little known secret that We often do not know which is which, even as it’s coming out of our own mouths.
But being Reformed is how we in the Brotherhood of the Sacred Chao Enlightened circumscribe our practices and philosophy from traditional and mainstream Discordianism. We are schism.
The orthodoxy of Erisians is to be unorthodox, however the Principia Discordia and the writings of St Robert Anton Wilson (StRAW), have provided Discordianism with a type of loose liturgy. Most (un)orthodox Discordians prefer to remain in this cloud of mind-warping revelation; and that’s perfectly OK. However, I find that any limited mental or spiritual territory is a confining and worrying experience.
I was raised in a fundamentalist/evangelical church and community. The only spiritual education I received was that narrow and stifling indoctrination. However I didn’t know it was stifling. You see, such churches are cunning.
I never thought to question or explore other philosophies and religions because THEY made sure I honestly didn’t know such things existed. Once I found my way out of that shackled awareness, I vowed never to be bound by any prescribed spiritual limit again.
So, when I finally found my way to Discordianism and had my mind blown apart into that beautiful roiling chaos of epiphany, I knew that I simply couldn’t stop there. Nor could I bar myself from incorporating other great discordant ideas into my philosophy and practice.
Therefore I named myself a Reformed Discordian, established the Brotherhood of the Sacred Chao Enlightened, and started a search for any and all radical, subversive, chaotic, humorous, and generally neat ideas that I could find.
We in RDBUSCE begin with Erisian Discordianism, but we also incorporate ideas from non-grecco-paganism, physics, world folklore, modern music, humanism, buddhism, taoism, schismism, and even pastafarianism. So long as it is liberating, chaotic, and makes us laugh, it is welcome in our Reformed Discordian sect.
~Pope~ Norm IV, the Mad and Mischievous, CoC, KSC, MISM, 3°MM
“I used to think that discordianism was about promoting chaos but now i get it. It’s about un-learning bad patterns, and likewise, un-teaching others. Like dissolving a terrible picture in noise. like un-solving a rubik’s cube. Like tilling soil so it can be seeded.”
A Historical Perspective
from Intermittens Deux
It is often said that laughter is the best medicine. Indeed, during times of epic fail such as the one we are currently about to embark on, scarcely anything besides The Giggles provides a reason to keep breathing. As empires collapse, liberties vanish, and cruel new realities arise, the ensuing chaos can reach levels of absurdity and discomfort that are hard for even the most experienced and lulz-hardened soul to weather. These periods of civil uncertainty or unrest, when the cycle of human events rolls through the darker and more unsightly neighborhoods of history, are by necessity the most fertile breeding ground for Discordianism. Obviously, it is easier for more people to be disgruntled and disgusted by the Way Things Are, when things are actually bad. But more than that, a descent into collective madness is like a gigantic pot of soup, in that it boils cabbages. In both good times and bad times, Discordians are irreverent, subversive, and unsettled. But aside from a few exceptional cases, it is really only during the bad times that these traits find themselves in agreement. A society experiencing a widespread period of mourning is one which is looking wildly for distraction and consolation: it is only the introspective, depressed and dimly lit society which can be illuminated. If people are laughing anyway, telling them a joke will not make much of an impression. If people are crying, it will break the monotony of gloom and distress. Discordianism, of course, is more than a well-timed joke. Sometimes it is a badly timed joke, and sometimes it isn’t funny at all. It is many things; it is almost impossible to define, in fact, but I would say that the idea of Discordianism is first a rejection of the status quo, but more directly,it is a concerted, conscious, and successful effort to remain disconnected from the status quo. The initial disconnection from the status quo is far more achievable when it takes the form of giving people something to look forward to, rather than giving them reason to doubt some already satisfying bliss. Question Everything. When you are down, question the part of your brain that insists that things cannot get better. That is the duty of a fully functioning Discordian Society operating in a society full of people deranged by worry and stressed to their limits by attempting to meet impossible standards that make no sense in the first place. It was never the intention of Discordianism to make no sense, but rather to show how the Status Quo is crazy; how it is the daily grind that makes no sense; and how much easier it is to do that when the insanity of the Status Quo is tangibly resulting in the misery of billions.
Meta-Discordianism?! has no eyes, no nose, no ears, no mouth, no legs, no arms, no sex, no heart, no liver, no blood, no body. However, in spite of all, Meta-Discordianism?! can fuck you up, Meta-Discordianism?! is watching you, Meta-Discordianism?! is your friend and enemy, Meta-Discordianism?! is alive, Meta-Discordianism?! is dancing and singing, Meta-Discordianism?! exists. Meta-Discordianism?! is you or me or anyone.
Here we are, the whole lot of us, the people of Meta-Discordianism?! . Confused, vaguely restless, feeling superfluous to one another. Superfluity is the only relationship we can establish between us. I feel it, and I understand it, and I feel comfortable because I am not afraid of feeling superfluous. I want to be superfluous to all eternity. My death must be superfluous as well.
Meta-Discordianism?! is, at bottom, the experience of contingency and of the absurdity which attaches to existence as such.
Demons of Meta-Discordianism?! always seem to turn me against myself and my personal demons always seem to turn me against Meta-Discordianism?!. I communicate by means of what I cannot define. I am born into a society that has the right to manipulate me.
Meta-Discordianism?! is not only an idea in my head nor the sound of blood, it is a long, dead, scrapmetal worm at my feet, or maybe it is dogshit, and I’m going to step in it.
Without formulating anything I know that I have at last found the clue to my existence, to my confusion.
Meta-Discordianism?! represents the most powerful forces shaping our culture in recent decades.
Unless you’ve been locked in a museum the past few years, you’ve heard the term Meta-Discordianism?! from the mouths of bandits and conspirator types. If you are like many folks, you may have wondered what the heck Meta-Discordianism?! is.
What is it good for? What does it mean to crocodiles?
A Customer Testimonial:
“One pitfall of discordianism i did not foresee is the risk of attractors in the space of metabeliefs and metabeliefs about metabeliefs. Ordinary religions are attractors in the space of beliefs, and discordianism helps navigate that, but you seem to run into the same problem, when considering metabeliefs. So now i should probably convert to meta-discordianism to navigate that pitfall, and repeat infinity times.”
“Post-Neoism is Neoism with Discordian characteristics, which is different from Meta-Discordianism, which it’s Discordianism with Neoist characteristics” – The Fixer
“Discordianism can not be explained, or understood for that matter, from a standard issue perspective, it makes no sense at all if you try. It takes a special mind to see the value of Discordian thought. It takes the mind of a Discordian.”
“Yeah, but what can Discordianism do for me?
Discordianism can do nothing for you.
Discordianism just lies there.
You have to do all the work.”
- ~Zed Satelite,
Northern California Cabal
of Disconcerted Discordians
Philosophy begins & ends with the realization (that everyone has at least once) that perfection would be boring. So yeah, you better believe we self sabotage. Now if after reading that you become nihilistic, realize it’s only because you paradoxically think the goal of humanity is to attain some state of perfection.
But we can have a high functioning society while still acknowledging we are agents of chaos who need constant drama to feel alive. The theory is we’d be less prone to self sabotage if we weren’t obsessed with the idea of perfection.
Only focusing on positive thinking creates imbalanced thinking which can be counterproductive at best, and toxic at worst. Which is to say the positive / negative thinking paradigm can be counterproductive at best, toxic at worst. But reframing thoughts as either creative / destructive is more useful because we understand creation & destruction are part of natural cycles, so we don’t need to disregard one kind of thought over another.
If you are overwhelmed by “negative” thoughts, don’t try to suppress them—really meditate on them and figure out what they’re trying to tell you. It’s *your brain* so you have the ability to figure out what your anxiety is telling you.
Add another layer. Transcend the broken /fixed paradigm. Turn it Gold.
Hodge & Podge DisEquilibrium DisCohesion
By Bruces Vain