November 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
“And behold, thusly was the law formulated: Imposition of Order = escalation of Disorder!” HBT The Gospel of Fred 1:6
As someone with an interest in chaos magick and in disorder in general, I was naturally drawn to Discordianism and have known about it for a while now. Admittedly, I don’t think I stumbled upon it through any kind of intellectual means – I’m pretty sure I had found one of those ubiquitous lists of Discordian quotes and found it hilarious, and decided to look into what exactly Discordianism was. At the time, I don’t think I really understood it, and probably didn’t get much further than the above quote.
More recently, I came back to Discordianism after reading up on Robert Anton Wilson, who I can now surely proclaim as one of my heroes. Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007) was a prolific writer, great thinker, philosopher and libertarian. Robert Anton Wilson popularized Discordianism through his books, most notably the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
To learn more about Robert Anton Wilson, I highly recommend watching the documentary on him, called Maybe Logic
The core beliefs and practices of Discordianism are well laid out in its primary text, the Principia Discordia, which I (full disclosure) read this afternoon. The Principia Discordia was written in 1968, and was authored (supposedly) by a person known as “Malaclypse the Younger”. There are a few conspiracies/rumors claiming that Robert Anton Wilson actually wrote the book, or Richard Nixon, or Timothy Leary. Who knows. Robert Anton Wilson, in his introduction to the version of the book I read, claims the author is actually a time travelling man named Gregory Hill.
Regardless of who authored it or where it came from, the book outlines a few main concepts I wanted to share:
The True Nature of Chaos
Discordianism postulates that chaos is good, not evil, as many traditions would have it. The principle of disorder is considered as important as the principle of order, and this society’s insistence on imposing order is what is causing all of its problems.
The Myth of Eris
As the story goes, Eris, Goddess of Discordianism, interrupted a party Zeus was throwing (she wasn’t invited). She rolled a Golden Apple into the room with “KALLISTI” written on it, which means “To the Prettiest One” in Greek. This, naturally, caused a bit of a fight among the Goddesses at the party, who all claimed the apple belonged to them. Zeus saw fit to settle the score by allowing Paris, a young shepherd, to judge. Paris was then bribed by the three Goddesses – Athena offered victory in war, Hera offered wealth, and Aphrodite offered the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris, as we know, picked the latter – who happened to be Helen, and (to make a long story short) thus began the Trojan War.
Discordians add to this story that after Eris rolled the Apple into the banquet hall, she ran off to partake of a hot dog. Therefore, it is said that Discordians must, on a Friday, go off and partake of a hot dog. But no hot dog buns.
The Sacred Chao
The Eris myth gives way to the symbol of the Sacred Chao – which is not, as the Principia Discordia says, the Yin-Yang of the Taoists, but rather it is the Hodge-Podge of the Erisians. It represents the Aneristic (order) principle and the Erisistic (disorder) principle, represented by the pentagon and the golden apple respectively. The pentagon is a reference to the law of fives (see below) and also the Pentagon in the U.S., a real life representation of the order principle.
The Law of Fives
The Law of Fives is this: All things happen in fives, or are divisible by or are multiples of five, or are somehow directly or indirectly appropriate to 5. Can’t argue with that logic, can you? I think it’s a rather humorous snub at the numerology which is so prevalent in occultism. I get a kick out of that, and also that it connects to the 23 enigma (in a nutshell, it’s the belief that the number 23 is everywhere, and is connected to a worldwide conspiracy). Because 2 +3 =5.
Of all the amusing and wise concepts within the Principia Discordia, my favorite is the page on which the POEE (Paratheo-Anametamystikhood Of Eris Esoteric) claims to be responsible for the first breakthrough in occultism since Solomon. The PD says that while occultism works to assimilate and destory apparent dualities, it misses a key pair: order/disorder and serious/humor
I don’t necessarily believe that occultism has completely overlooked these, but I do think the scene in general could stand to take itself a little less seriously. That’s probably why I admire Lon Milo DuQuette so much – I actually laughed out loud reading the Chicken Qabala, and you can’t say that about many occult texts. In fact, you probably can’t say that about any, unless they were written by R.A.W. or Lon. Humor is important though, and it gives perspective, and I really don’t think that should be overlooked. That applies to Discordianism as a whole – it’s largely viewed as a parody religion because it’s so funny, but I don’t think it should be taken as such. Religions and philosophies can be funny and serious at the same time and still be studied as legitimate. Discordianism offers a lot of hidden wisdom, and veils it cleverly under pseudonyms and nonsense – and I respect that. Fnord!
Ipsa scientia potestas est,