The second of a two part series on Eris, Greek goddess of chaos and disorder. Here we explore Her divine nature as portrayed in Discordianism.
Discordianism is a rather new religion, begun in the late 1950s, which can best be described as a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion disguised as a joke…ad nauseum. Its founding text is the Principia Discordia, a mad collection of both typed and handwritten text, cut and paste quotes, images, drawings, rubber stamps, and genuine insight, the authors of which are Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst. Omar Ravenhurst was an alias of Kerry Thornley, but while Malaclypse’s identity remains under speculation, he is widely believed to be Greg Hill.
Its matron goddess is Eris, goddess of chaos and disorder. She’s portrayed rather malevolently in some Greco-Roman myths, but Discordians see Her in a softer light, while still revelling in the mischief and disharmony She brings.
Discordianism’s underlying doctrines resemble Catholicism turned on its head, with a healthy dose of Paganism infused with an absurd amount of drugs. To quote Kerry Thornley in his introduction to the fifth edition: “If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe.”
There are a few core concepts in Discordianism, such as the existence of Discordian Popes. The Principia gives a template for Pope Cards, which explain that “Every man, woman and child on this Earth is a genuine and authorized Pope”, and recommend the bearer be treated right.
POEE, the Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric, is a non-prophet irreligious disorganization described as “a tribe of philosophers, theologians, magicians, scientists, artists, clowns, and similar maniacs who are intrigued by Eris, goddess of confusion, and her doings”.
The Sacred Chao one of the more popular symbols of Discordianism resembling the yin and yang symbol of Taoism, but as the Principia explains, “The Sacred Chao is not the Yin-Yang of the Taoists. It is the HODGE-PODGE of the Erisians.” It further elucidates “…instead of a Podge spot on the Hodge side, it has a PENTAGON which symbolizes the ANERISTIC PRINCIPLE, and instead of a Hodge spot on the Podge side, it depicts the GOLDEN APPLE OF DISCORDIA to symbolize the ERISTIC PRINCIPLE. The Sacred Chao symbolizes absolutely everything anyone need ever know about absolutely anything, and more! It even symbolizes everything not worth knowing, depicted by the empty space surrounding the Hodge-Podge.”
The Law of Fives states that “ALL THINGS HAPPEN IN FIVES, OR ARE DIVISIBLE BY OR ARE MULTIPLES OF FIVE, OR ARE SOMEHOW DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY APPROPRIATE TO 5.” Five being a number of chaos, the disruption of four, traditionally seen as a stable number representing order. This, coupled with William Burroughs’ obsession with the number twenty-three, which many Discordians discover through the works of Robert Anton Wilson, a well known Discordian author, has given rise to Discordia Day, on the twenty-third of May, the fifth month. Discordia Day is recognized as a day to celebrate Eris and Discordianism, getting into mischief and having a laugh.
Eris is worked with in a lighthearted manner, Her penchant for disrupting the norm is celebrated with mischievous glee, and all works of chaos are Her works.
Rejoice in the sight of a messy room, laugh in a traffic jam, and celebrate divine disruption with joy. Hail Eris!
- Malaclypse the Younger and Ravenhurst, Omar Khayyam. Principia Discordia. IllumiNet Press: Lilburn, 1991.
For more, you can check out the entire Principia Discordia online at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~tilt/principia/. Also recommended: The Illuminatus! Trilogy, a novel by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.
First published on Suite101.com on 29 May 2006. (Unfortunately.)