A religion of chaos and whimsy centered around the worship of Eris, the Greek goddess of discord.
Discordianism is a complex belief system that marries elements of religion, philosophy, satire, and chaos theory, centered around the veneration of Eris, the Greek goddess of discord. Emerging in the late 1950s through the publication of its foundational text, the Principia Discordia, this movement has been variously interpreted as a serious faith, a philosophical framework, and an elaborate joke. Its followers, known as Discordians, are encouraged to worship Eris and embrace discord and chaos as fundamental aspects of existence.
Origins and Beliefs
The Principia Discordia, the central text of Discordianism, was first published in 1963 by Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Younger) and Kerry Wendell Thornley (Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst), introducing the world to the chaotic and enigmatic teachings of Discordianism. This text lays the groundwork for a belief system that opposes conventional order and celebrates the unpredictable and the paradoxical. Discordianism draws heavily on absurdist and surrealist influences, mixing serious philosophical inquiries with blatant humor and satire.
The Pantheon and Mythology
At the heart of Discordian mythology is the goddess Eris, known for her role in precipitating the Trojan War over a golden apple marked “To the Prettiest.” Discordians celebrate this act of divine mischief, interpreting it not as malice but as a fundamental challenge to the established order and a prompt to embrace the creative potential of chaos. Eris’s counterpart, Aneris, represents order and non-being, serving as a foil to Eris’s doctrine of discord and existence.
The Principia Discordia outlines several core principles, notably the Aneristic (order) and Eristic (disorder) Principles, along with the notion that these concepts are illusions—mere human attempts to categorize the inherent chaos of the universe. Discordianism argues that both order and disorder are constructs that overlay the true nature of reality, which is chaos. This perspective encourages followers to question societal norms and to recognize the subjective nature of belief systems.
Practice and Ritual
Discordianism lacks a formal structure or dogma, instead offering its adherents the freedom to interpret and practice its teachings as they see fit. One of its most famous tenets is that every person is a Pope of Discordianism, equipped with the authority to canonize saints and perform other religious acts. This democratization of religious authority underscores the movement’s commitment to individualism and the rejection of hierarchical structures.
An integral part of Discordian practice is Operation Mindfuck, a campaign aimed at undermining authoritarian institutions and spreading a healthy dose of skepticism and paranoia, particularly regarding the existence and influence of the Bavarian Illuminati. This operation encapsulates the Discordian approach to social and political activism, using humor and absurdity as tools to challenge the status quo.
Saints and Popes
Discordianism recognizes various classes of saints, with the second class being the only one that includes real people, such as Emperor Norton, a 19th-century San Francisco resident known for his eccentric claim to the imperial throne of the United States. These saints embody the Discordian virtues of living according to one’s own truth and challenging societal perceptions of reality.