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"Sacred Chao" redirects here. For the German thrash metal band by that name, see Living Death.
Eris, the Greek goddess of discord

Discordianism is a religion and subsequent philosophy based on the veneration or worship of Eris, a.k.a. Discordia, the Goddess of chaos, or archetypes or ideals associated with her. It was founded after the 1963 publication of its holy book, the Principia Discordia,[1] written by Greg Hill with Kerry Wendell Thornley, the two working under the pseudonyms Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst.

The religion has been likened to Zen based on similarities with absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school, as well as Taoist philosophy. Discordianism is centered on the idea that both order and disorder are illusions imposed on the universe by the human nervous system, and that neither of these illusions of apparent order and disorder is any more accurate or objectively true than the other.

There is some division as to whether it should be regarded as a parody religion, and if so, to what degree.[2] It is difficult to estimate the number of Discordians because they are not required to hold Discordianism as their only belief system,[3] and because there is an encouragement to form schisms and cabals.[4][5]


The foundational document of Discordianism is the Principia Discordia, fourth edition, written by Malaclypse the Younger, an alias of Greg Hill. This book contains many references to an earlier source, The Honest Book of Truth (HBT). From the quotations, the HBT seems to be arranged like the Bible, consisting of verses grouped into chapters grouped into books grouped into the HBT itself. The Principia includes a large portion (or possibly all) of a chapter of "The Book of Explanations" which recounts how the HBT was revealed to Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst.[6] The tale of the discovery of the HBT contains many similarities to the tale of the discovery of the Book of Mormon, and Ravenhurst had been a Mormon. It also includes part of the next chapter, telling how the HBT was taken by a garbage collector, who refused to return it.[7]

The Principia Discordia often hints that Discordianism was founded as a dialectic antithesis to more popular religions based on order, although the rhetoric throughout the book describes chaos as a much more underlying impulse of the universe. This may have been done with the intention of merely "balancing out" the creative forces of order and disorder, but the focus is on the more disorderly aspects of the world — at times the forces of order are even vilified. There are other religions that revere the principles of harmony and order in the Universe, but few that show a respect for the disorder which we all face.[8][9]


The very idea of a Discordian organization is something of a paradox. Nevertheless, some structure is indicated in Principia Discordia. The most general group, presumably including all Discordians (and potentially others), is The Discordian Society, whose definition is “The Discordian Society has no definition”. Within the society are sects of Discordianism, each under the direction of an “Episkopos” (overseer or bishop in Koine Greek, the same word used in the New Testament for Christian Bishops.)[10]


The Original Snub[edit]

The Original Snub is the Discordian name for the events preceding the Judgement of Paris, although more focus is put on the actions of Eris. Zeus believes that Eris is a troublemaker, so he does not invite her to Peleus and Thetis's wedding. This is “The Doctrine of the Original Snub”.[11]

Having been snubbed, Eris creates a golden apple with the word kallisti (Ancient Greek: καλλίστῃ, to the prettiest one) inscribed in it. This, the Apple of Discord, is a notable symbol in Discordianism for its inclusion in the Holy Chao. The apple is traditionally described as being made of gold,[12] but the Principia Discordia notes a debate over whether the “gold” described was “metallic gold or Acapulco.” Because of the original snub "a Discordian is to partake of No Hot Dog Buns". (Buns being snub backwards.)[13]

When the female wedding guests disagree about who the apple is meant for, Zeus decides to leave the decision to Paris of Troy. Aphrodite bribes Paris, leading to the Trojan War, which “is said to be The First War among men.”[13]

Some recent interpretations of the Original Snub place Eris as being not at all mischievous with her delivery of the apple, but instead suggest that Eris was simply bringing the apple as a wedding present for Thetis. This interpretation would see Eris as innocent and her causing of chaos as a by-product of the other wedding guests' reaction upon seeing her at the wedding.[14][15] However, other interpretations consider this to be a fundamental misinterpretation of Discordian doctrine, which focuses, per the name, on the intentional promotion of discord.[16] Which is meaningless in some sense since the Chao Te Ching states that the escalation of disorder, and the imposition of order each adds to the other.[17]

Curse of Greyface[edit]

A historical figure noted in the Principia is a man by the name of Greyface who existed in the year 1166 BC, or 1 YOLD. Greyface believed the universe to be humorless and began teaching that anything besides seriousness was sinful. Deluding society's view of reality away from the happy romance they once knew it to be, Greyface's followers increased. Lost in the history of the Discordian society is understanding of the reason why people began following Greyface and the destruction of other cultures whose societies differed from their own, rather than continuing to look toward the humorful romance of disorder.[18]


The Pentabarf[edit]

The Pentabarf are 5 rules of Discordianism.[19] As venerators of Eris, Discordian views vary from one person to the next as neither order or disorder, nor chaos are requisites of falling into the Discordian category. The fifth rule is representative of that.

  1. There is no Goddess but Goddess and She is Your Goddess. There is no Erisian Movement but The Erisian Movement and it is The Erisian Movement. And every Golden Apple Corps is the beloved home of a Golden Worm.
  2. A Discordian Shall Always use the Official Discordian Document Numbering System.
  3. 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).
  4. A Discordian shall Partake of No Hot Dog Buns, for Such was the Solace of Our Goddess when She was Confronted with The Original Snub.
  5. A Discordian is Prohibited of Believing What he Reads.

Order and Disorder[edit]

Discordians hold three core principles. The Aneristic Principle is that of apparent order, the Eristic Principle is that of apparent disorder, and the notion that both are mere illusions. Order and disorder are man-made concepts and are artificial divisions of "pure chaos" may be compared to the noumenon described by Plato and Kant.

With our concept-making apparatus called "mind" we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us. The ideas-about- reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see "reality" differently. It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper that is the level of concept.[20]

Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other...Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered. Reality is the original Rorschach"[21]

Sri Syadasti[edit]

The third "apostle of Eris & who they be's" name, commonly called just Sri Syadasti, is Sanskrit, and means: 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.[22]

The Sacred Chao[edit]

The Sacred Chao

A unique symbol created in Discordianism, the Sacred Chao was devised by the Apostle Hung Mung in ancient China. It is a modified version of the Yin-Yang, a common symbol in Taoism. The Sacred Chao is not the Yin-Yang of the Taoists. On one side of the Sacred Chao is a pentagon and on the other depicts the golden Apple of Discord. The Sacred Chao symbolizes absolutely everything anyone would need to ever know about absolutely anything, and more. It even symbolizes everything not worth knowing, depicted by the internal empty space surrounding.[23]

It should be noted that Discordians pronounce "chao" as "cow",[24] thus making the terms "Sacred Chao", "Holy Chao", and "Chao Te Ching" into puns and inside jokes. A Chao represents one unit of Chaos.

Discordian calendar[edit]

Main article: Discordian calendar

The Discordian or Erisian calendar is an alternative calendar used by some Discordians. It is specified on page 00034 of the Principia Discordia.[25] The Discordian year 1 YOLD is 1166 BC. Elsewhere in the Principia Discordia, it is mentioned that the Curse of Greyface occurred in 1166 BC, so this is presumably the start date of the calendar.[26] As a reference, 2016 AD is 3182 YOLD (Year of Our Lady of Discord). Of note is that the abbreviation "YOLD" isn't used in the Principia, and the phrase "Year of Our Lady of Discord" is only mentioned once.[27]

Discordian-inspired works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, Robert Anton (1992). Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati. Scottsdale, AZ: New Falcon Publications. p. 65. ISBN 978-1561840038. 
  2. ^ "...It should on no account be taken seriously but is far more serious than most jokes" and "See ... [also] ha ha only serious" The Jargon File v4.4.7 but present at least as far back as v4.0.0, (1996, July 24); The entry for discordianism begins, "Somewhere between parody, social commentary, and religion..." Rabinovitch, Shelly & Lewis, James R. The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism, pp 75–76. Citadel Press. 2002. ISBN 0-8065-2406-5; "These organisations [Discordianism & The Church of the Subgenius] are just two of a whole raft of mock religions..." Phillips, M. (2004, Sept. 14). Wizards of ID cook up divine pile of spaghetti bolognese. The West Australian, p. Metro 18; "The explosion of the American counter-culture and the revival of surrealism met Discordianism (1960's and 70's) and the result was a Neo-Pagan parody religion of mirth and laughter." (p. 3) E. K. Discorida. (2005). The Book of Eris. Synaptyclypse Generator
  3. ^ Rabinovitch, Shelly & Lewis, James. The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism". Pp 75–76. Citadel Press. 2002. ISBN 0-8065-2406-5.
  4. ^ "WitchVox Traditions Discordianism Article". Witchvox.com. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  5. ^ "Discordian Cabals – S23Wiki". S23.org. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  6. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00041
  7. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00030
  8. ^ "World Religions". Worldreligions.psu.edu. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  9. ^ "Design Arguments for the Existence of God [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]". Iep.utm.edu. 2009-04-12. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  10. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00032
  11. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00017-00018
  12. ^ The Judgement of Paris
  13. ^ a b Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Pages 00017–00018
  14. ^ Scullion, Sean (Nov 26, 2007). Liber Malorum - Children of the Apple. PagAnarchy Press. p. 375. ISBN 978-0955798405. 
  15. ^ Swiss, Tom (2009). Tom Swiss: Eris and the so-called "Apple of Discord". 
  16. ^ [citation needed]
  17. ^ Chao-te-Ching (2011) by Cramulus and LMNO, Third Eye Patch Press, Page 21
  18. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00042
  19. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00004
  20. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00049
  21. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00050
  22. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00039
  23. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00049
  24. ^ Ancient Symbols: "Sacred Chao"
  25. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00034
  26. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00042
  27. ^ Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00053

External links[edit]