The Discordianism that can be explained is not the true Discordianism.
Some say it is a joke cleverly disguised as a religion. Others say it is a religion cleverly disguised as a joke. Most agree that it is something special, though what precisely they mean by "special" is open to debate.
Discordianism, ostensibly, is the worship of Chaos, personified by the Greek Goddess Eris (or Discordia, if you're feeling Roman.) As alluded to above, depending on who you ask, it is either a religion, a philosophy, a way of life, or the greatest in-joke ever perpetrated (or all at once.)
Truth (by way of disclaimer)
All affirmations are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense. - translation of the full name of Sri Syadasti, one of the five apostles of Eris1
Discordians are forbidden from believing anything they read.2 Including this.
Documenting anything in relation to Discordianism is exceedingly difficult. One reason is the somewhat lax approach to truth described above. Another is that many (most? all??) Discordians participate in actively spreading misinformation. Some do so as a religious observance, others out of a sense of self-preservation. Many just do so because they find it fun. Some allude to a deeper conspiratorial motive behind all this misinformation, but others claim that these conspiracy theories are themselves examples of misinformation.
Another reason for the difficulty is that every Discordian is, per Discordianism, considered a Pope, and is therefore empowered to make changes to Discordianism as a whole. This results in mass chaos (which was almost certainly the point.) The upshot is that any two Discordians may tell you completely contradictory things about Discordianism - and both be right.
An unsubstantiated rumor, whispered in dark alleys, hints that Discordianism was created at about the same time as Scientology, as part of a bet as to who could create the most popular "fake" religion. Many Discordians vehemently deny this rumor, feeling that it makes their religion look ridiculous. Others fervently embrace it, for precisely the same reason.
Other rumors include:
- The Principia Discordia, the chief holy book of Discordianism, was in fact written by Gregory Hill, a noted time traveler.3
- It has been claimed that the Principia Discordia was actually written in 1812, despite the fact that it was not published until the late 1960's.4 This may lend credence to the above time-travelling rumor. (It should be noted that the trustworthiness of the source for this rumor is extremely suspect. However, to a Discordian's way of thinking, this makes it the ideal place to hide true information.)
Per the Principia Discordia, the birth of the Erisian Movement occurred when Omar Ravenhurst and Malaclypse the Younger received a vision of a chimpanzee while drinking coffee in an all-night bowling alley, followed by a dream of the Goddess Eris Herself a few nights later.5
The beginning of the story of Eris should be familiar to anyone who's studied their Homer. As the Greek myth has it, the gods and goddesses of Olympus had a party. Not wanting too much disorder at this party, they did not invite Eris. (Discordians refer to this as "The Original Snub.") Hurt, she showed up anyway, and threw into the crowd a golden apple with the word "kallisti" (roughly translated as "for the prettiest") upon it. The story of how the scuffle over the apple turned into the Trojan War is well-documented elsewhere; the story of how Eris then partook of a hot dog bun alone to console herself6 is perhaps a bit more apocryphal, but the Discordians seem to consider it true - in some sense.
Discordianism explains the metaphysical reality as a morass of chaos overlaid with varying reality grids, consisting of the illusions of order and disorder. Learning to change grids is the first step towards discarding them altogether and achieving Illumination.
According to Discordians, to believe that order (the Aneristic Principle) is inherently better than disorder (the Eristic Principle) is the Aneristic Illusion. The opposite belief is the Eristic Illusion. The mingling of the Aneristic and Eristic principles is illustrated in the Hodge Podge, or Sacred Chao (a chao being defined as a single unit of chaos.)7
To choose order over disorder, or disorder over order, is to accept a trip composed of both the creative and the destructive. But to choose the creative over the destructive is an all-creative trip composed of both order and disorder. To accomplish this, one need only accept creative disorder along with, and equal to, creative order, and also willing to reject destructive order as an undesirable equal to destructive disorder.8
The Curse of Greyface
In the year 1166 B.C., a malcontented hunchbrain by the name of Greyface, got it into his head that the universe was as humorless as he, and he began to teach that play was sinful because it contradicted the ways of Serious Order. "Look at all the order around you," he said. And from that, he deluded honest men to believe that reality was a straightjacket affair and not the happy romance as men had known it.
It is not presently understood why men were so gullible at that particular time, for absolutely no one thought to observe all the disorder around them and conclude just the opposite. But anyway, Greyface and his followers took the game of playing at life more seriously than they took life itself and were known even to destroy other living beings whose ways of life differed from their own.
The unfortunate result of this is that mankind has since been suffering from a psychological and spiritual imbalance. Imbalance causes frustration, and frustration causes fear. And fear makes for a bad trip. Man has been on a bad trip for a long time now.
It is called THE CURSE OF GREYFACE.9
The Law of Fives
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.10
The Discordian Quotes are 40+ page collection of quotations - some funny, some thought-provoking, some simply random. Some are obviously connected to Discordianism; others function more like a Zen koan. None of the quotes are attributed; tracking down the sources of the more obscure quotes is a popular pasttime amongst Discordians. (hint: try Mystery Science Theater 3000, Calvin and Hobbes, and Moby Dick, for starters.) Others maintain that if you read the entire list from beginning to end without going insane, you will achieve enlightenment.
Discordian rites, rituals and observances differ with the times, the cabal, and even with the Discordian. One common observance, listed in the Pentabarf (The Discordian Five Commandments) goes as follows:
A Discordian is Required during his early Illumination to Go Off Alone & Partake Joyously of a Hot Dog on a Friday; this Devotive Ceremony to Remonstrate against the popular Paganisms of the Day: of Catholic Christendom (no meat on Friday), of Judaism (no meat of Pork), of Hindic Peoples (no meat of Beef), of Buddhists (no meat of animal), and of Discordians (no Hot Dog Buns).
Other popular Discordian practices include The Turkey Curse, The Baptismal Rite, Tarot, The Sacred Erisian High Mass of the Krispy Kreme Kabal, Gourdfest, and many others.
Ironically, Discordian groups, or Cabals, tend to be extremely hierarchical, with members having elaborate titles and degrees, similar to the Masons or the Catholic Church. Typical] titles include things like "The Omnibenevolent Polyfather of Virginity in Gold", "Archbeacon of the Blind", or "Keeper of the Notary Sojak". The commonest rank among Discordians is Pope.
Do You Believe That?
Relations with Outsiders
Discordianism is about as anti-establishment as they come. It is cheerfully disrespectful of authority, organized religion, the mainstream, and really just about everything and everyone else, including itself. It is accordingly quite popular with Hippies (and their modern-day equivalent) and other members of the counterculture.