Discordian Atheology

“It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order – and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order.”—Douglas Hofstadter


“Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.”—Steve Landesberg


The Sacred Chao
The Sacred Chao

Whenever people ask me about my religion and I don’t have to care what they think, I tell them the truth, more or less. I’m a Discordian. More specifically, I’m the Episkopos of the Disenchanted Disorder of the Carnivorous Chicken (DDOTCC), Keeper of the Sacred Chao, Worm of the Golden Apple Corps, and a Centicenturian in the Legion of Dynamic Discord. That really doesn’t cover the full spectrum of my spiritual hunches, but it raises enough questions all by itself that I tend to leave it at far less than that in most cases. A more complete answer might cause a brain aneurism in the less sophisticated, i.e., sane people.

Most people who know anything about Discordianism (approximately 0.0001% of the population) mistakenly assume that it is merely a joke disguised as a religion. In reality, it is a religion disguised as a joke – enlightenment through absurdity, guerilla ontology in action, insanity as an art form, Zenarchy made manifest. Am I rambling? Sorry.

“Ye have locked yourselves up in cages of fear – and, behold, do ye now complain that ye lack FREEDOM!”—Eris Discordia

Discordianism is an ancient religion dating all the way back to 1959 when the Sacred Chao was divinely revealed by a messenger of Eris, Greek goddess of chaos and confusion, to Lord Omar and Malaclypse the Younger at an all-night bowling alley in Whittier, California. Five nights later, after much getting nowhere trying to decipher the cryptic symbol, each had a dream of Goddess in which it was revealed that humanity had become enslaved by the rigidity of embracing order while shunning the creative beauty of disorder. From this was born the Society of Discordia, and its influence on the social and political renaissance of the 1960s is still largely unknown, even to many of the participants.

Some of the above is actually true. The rest is merely accurate. Fnord.

“My dogma got hit by a karma.”—Cardinal Sin

I originally discovered Discordianism by accident, a thing which doesn’t exist, back in 1992 while reading an enigmatic tome penned by Mordecai Malignatius, Episkopos of the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria sect (aka Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger). Wilson had stumbled upon Discordianism because he hung out with a lot of weirdos in the 1960s, which I’m sure was a lot of fun. At that time, Discordianism was very much a word of mouth movement, meaning that the only people who had heard of it were people who knew Malaclypse or Omar and whoever those people passed it along to. Finally, sometime in the late ’60s, Mal-2 got it together long enough to assemble a Discordian bible entitled Principia Discordia, and it quickly became an underground classic. Trying to explain a literary masterpiece like this would be an exercise in stupidity, which I normally can’t resist, but it would also be pointless. Besides, you can download a copy of the Principia for free on a number of websites and just read it for yourself. There has never been a copyright on it. (Anyone who has ever tried to make a buck off of Discordianism has completely missed the point anyway. They might not exactly be guilty of simony, but at the very least they’ve committed garfunkely.) It is one of the most brilliant and enlightening pieces of philosophy that you will ever have the privilege of reading. The fact that it’s also immensely entertaining and hilarious should not blind you to this fact.

Principia Title Page

“Laughter is the music of Goddess. So what if she’s tone deaf?”—Alexander the Cluless.

Things really took off in 1975 when Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus! Trilogy was published. It featured the Bavarian Illuminati as the evil bad guys and the Discordians as the heroes. They also included quotes from the Principia on many chapter heads (I hate it when people do that), and this led to some non-hippies and other relatively normal people becoming curious about the disorganization and whether or not it really existed. Most conspiracy-minded people were already convinced that the Illuminati was real, but they weren’t so sure about Discordians. It is an ironic twist that likely brought a smile to the face of Goddess herself that it may well be that the complete opposite is true.

I’m assuming that you stopped reading this after the last paragraph at the very latest, went and found a copy of the Principia in your favorite format, have now read it cover to cover, and have only come back here to see what I think that I could possibly have to add to that. Fair enough. So I’ll give you a few things that aren’t in the book.

“I find the Law of Fives to be more and more manifest the harder I look.”—Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst

Principia Title PageJust in case, wonder of wonders, you have not yet obtained and read the Principia, the Law of Five simply states that all things happen in fives, or multiples of five, or are somehow, directly or indirectly, connected to the number five. Most Discordian sects, including Omar’s Hidden Temple of the Happy Jesus and Mal-2’s Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric, also accept Mordecai’s Hidden Law of 23 (2 + 3 = 5). What the Principia does not tell you is where he got it from.

In 1966, Mordecai met William Burroughs, the brilliant surrealist author. Burroughs told him about the time when he was living in Tangier and was friends with a man named Clark, who was the captain of a ferry than ran between Tangier and Spain. One day, Clark told him that he had been running the ferry for 23 years without an accident. Later that day, the ferry sank, killing everyone on board. As Burroughs was pondering the cruel irony of this later that night, he heard a report on the radio of a plane crash in Florida. The plane’s captain was also named Clark, and the flight number was 23. Burroughs began keeping notes about odd coincidences and found that the number 23 pops up fairly often in them. Wilson started doing the same thing and he noticed this as well.

When I was reading about all of this back in December of ’92, I was living in Texas, which had just recently approved and begun holding a state lottery. One night I was watching the news and saw a story about how one number kept coming up in the drawings against all reasonable odds. Naturally, I immediately knew what it was going to be, but even I was a little stunned when I turned out to be right. It was, of course, 23. It came up five times (!) in three weeks. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

In working out Dedotcacy, the philosophy of the DDOTCC, I decided that there must be five sacred numbers (in accordance with the Law of Fives) and concluded that they were 5, 8, 17, 23 and 40. Seventeen was easy because Wilson and Shea mentioned that it was a Discordian holy number in Illuminatus! I’ve never seen any mention of 17 in any Discordian writings, but they were two of the first Discordians, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides, it works. I deduced that eight was the fourth number based on the fact that 2³= 8, and then 40 just fell into place: 5 х 8 = 40 and 23 + 17 = 40, so 40 is connected to all four of the other numbers. In addition (pun only slightly intended), all five numbers added together equal 93, and our old friend Aleister Crowley found that most important words had a numerological value of 93 and began referring to his magickal workings as “the 93 current.”

Of course, this is all just playing silly mind games with numbers. You could take any group of numbers and screw around with them until they start to appear to have some significance. That’s the whole idea of the Law of Fives: to show how creative we can be in finding apparent meaning and order in places where there is none. Still, I must admit that when I discovered that my five “sacred numbers” added up to 93, the whole thing did start to seem a bit contrived.

Crazy Man“And though Omar did bid the Collector of Garbage, in words that were both sweet and bitter, to surrender back to him the cigar box containing the cards designated by the Angel as the Honest Book of Truth, the Collector was to him as one who might be smitten deaf, saying only: ’Gainst the rules, y’ know.—HBT; The Book of Explanations, Chap. 2

Yet another example of how we invent order is The Myth of Ichabod, later changed to The Myth of Starbuck. It was included in the extremely hard to find first edition of the Principia, but was omitted from later editions, an omission that Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Younger) later said that he regretted. As far as I’m concerned, if you haven’t read this, then you haven’t read the whole Principia. So here it is.


The Myth of Ichabod (aka The Myth of Starbuck)

There once was a huge boulder, perched precariously, on the edge of a cliff.  For hundreds of years this boulder was there, rocking and swaying, but always keeping its balance just perfectly. But one year, there happened to be a severe windstorm; severe enough it was to topple the boulder from its majestic height and dash it to the bottom of the cliff, far, far below.  Needless to say, the boulder was smashed into many pieces.  Where it hit, the ground was covered with a carpet of pebbles – some small and some large – but pebbles and pebbles and more pebbles for as far as you could walk in an hour.

One day, after all this, a young man by the name of Ichabod happened on the area. Being a fellow of keen mind and observational powers, naturally he was quite astounded to see so many stones scattered so closely on the ground. Now Ichabod was very much interested in the nature of things, and he spent the whole afternoon looking at pebbles, and measuring the size of pebbles, and feeling the weight of pebbles, and just pondering about pebbles in general.

He spent the night there, not wanting to lose this miraculous find, and awoke the next morning full of enthusiasm. He spent many days on his carpet of stones.

Eventually he noticed a very strange thing. There were three rather large stones on the carpet and they formed a triangle – almost (but not quite) equilateral. He was amazed. Looking further he found four very white stones that were arranged in a lopsided square. Then he saw that by disregarding one white stone and thinking of that grey stone a foot over instead, it was a perfect square! And if you chose this stone, and that stone, and that one, and that one and that one you have a pentagon as large as the triangle. And here a small hexagon. And there a square partially inside of the hexagon. And a decagon. And two triangles inter-locked. And a circle. And a smaller circle within the circle. And a triangle within that which has a red stone, a grey stone and a white stone.

Ichabod spent many hours finding many designs that became more and more complicated as his powers of observation grew with practice. Then he began to log his designs in a large leather book; and as he counted designs and described them, the pages began to fill as the sun continued to return.

He had begun his second ledger when a friend came by. His friend was a poet and also interested in the nature of things.

“My friend,” cried Ichabod, “come quickly!  I have discovered the most wondrous thing in the universe.” The poet hurried over to him, quite anxious to see what it was.

Ichabod showed him the carpet of stones…but the poet only laughed and said “It’s nothing but scattered rocks!”

“But look,” said Ichabod, ‘see this triangle and that square and that and that.” And he proceeded to show his friend the harvest of his many days study. When the poet saw the designs he turned to the ledgers and by the time he was finished with these, he too was overwhelmed.

He began to write poetry about the marvelous designs. And as he wrote and contemplated he became sure that the designs must mean something. Such order and beauty is too monumental to be senseless. And the designs were there, Ichabod had showed him that.

The poet went back to the village and read his new poetry. And all who heard him went to the cliff to see firsthand the carpet of designs. And all returned to the village to spread the word. Then as the enthusiasm grew there developed a group of those who love beauty and nature, all of whom went to live right at the Designs themselves. Together they wanted to see every design that was there.

Some wrote ledgers about just triangles. Others described the circles. Others concentrated on red colored stones – and they happened to be the first to see designs springing from outside the carpet. They, and some others, saw designs everywhere they went.

“How blind we have been,” they said.

The movement grew and grew and grew. And all who could see the designs knew that they had to have been put there by a Great Force. “Nothing but a Great Force,” said the philosophers, “could create this immense beauty!”

“Yes,” said the world, “nothing but a god could create such magnificent order. Nothing but a God.”

And that was the day that God was born. And ever since then, all men have known Him for His infinite power and all men have loved Him for His infinite wisdom.

The Beginning


“Reality is the original Rorschach”—Malaclypse the Younger

And finally, allow me to accost you with one last old Erisian tradition also not mentioned in the Principia: Project Jake, originally initiated by Harold Lord Randomfactor. Whenever some public figure truly distinguishes his or herself by doing or saying something supremely idiotic above and beyond the call of the usual level of expected stupidity, they may be selected to receive a Jake. All known Discordian sects are contacted and made aware of who is to receive the honor, and on the designated Jake Day, all send this individual a letter using their official Discordian letterhead (which are all pretty weird, as you might imagine) congratulating them on their idiocy and welcoming them into one of the Five Orders of Discordia. Membership in one of these orders is reserved for those who are blinded by the Aneristic Illusion and are, therefore, hostile toward the Principle of Disorder. These orders are:

  1. The Military Order of the Knights of the Five Sided Castle.
  2. The Political Order of the Party for the War on Evil.
  3. The Academic Order of the Hemlock Fellowship.
  4. The Social Order of the Citizens Committee for Concerned Citizens.
  5. The Sacred Order of the Defamation League

Shea and Wilson included a sample Jake letter in Appendix Yod of Illuminatus! And look, here it is now! Probably in violation of copyright law!



House of the Apostles of Eris

(X)  Safeguard this letter; it is an important historical document.

(   )  Burn after reading – subversive literature.

(   )  Ignore and continue what you were doing before opening this

Dear  (X) Sir     (   ) Madam     (   ) Fido

     It has recently come to Our ears that you, in your official capacity as principal of Aaron Burr High School, said in a public meeting, with your bare face hanging out, that death by napalm is “really no more painful than a bad cold” and that Orientals have “tougher epidermi than whites and feel less acutely.”

     In Our official capacity as High Priest of the Head Temple of the House of the Apostles of Eris, We congratulate you for helping to restore American education to its rightful position as the envy and despair of all other (and hence lesser) educational systems.

     You are hereby appointed a five-star General in the Bureau of the Division of the Department of the Order of the Knights of the Five Sided Castle, Quixote Cabal, with full authority to shrapnel your friends and bomb your neighbors.

     If you have any answers, We will be glad to provide full and detailed questions.

In the Name of La Mancha

Theophobia the Elder, M.C.P.

High Priest, Head Temple

Hail Eris – All Hail Discordia – Kallisti

For maximum effect, copies of these letters might also be sent to those hostile to or sympathetic toward the target, whichever would most effectively drive home to them the magnitude of their colossal stupidity and make sure that they would hear more about it later. Also, it was hoped that by receiving letters from people all over the country that the recipient would not be able to dismiss this honor as being merely the work of a few lunatics, which of course is precisely what it was, but they didn’t need to know that. Besides, just because we’re a bunch of lunatics doesn’t mean that we’re wrong. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Discordian Pope Card

“When not in doubt, get in doubt…Convictions cause convicts. What you believe imprisons you.”—Lord Omar 

So that’s a ridiculously brief introduction into the mysteries of Discordianism, the world’s only really true religion. I hope that I enjoyed bringing it to you as much as you enjoyed having it brought. At the very least, if you’ve read any of my other posts, this might help you to better understand just what in the hell is wrong with me. Fnord. That will put you at least five steps ahead of the shrink that my mother sent me to when I was a teenager. Poor guy.


and all the devils are here


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