An Introduction to Discordianism

Golden Delicious Apples

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Discordianism was founded in the late 1950s with the publication of the "Principia Discordia." It hails Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, as the central mythological figure. Discordians are often also known as Erisians. 

The religion stresses the value of randomness, chaos, and disagreement. Among other things, the first rule of Discordianism is that there are no rules. 

Parody Religion

Many consider Discordianism to be a parody religion (one that mocks the beliefs of others). After all, two fellows calling themselves "Malaclype the Younger" and "Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst" authored the "Principia Discordia" after being inspired—so they claim—by hallucinations in a bowling alley.

However, Discordians can argue that the act of labeling Discordianism a parody merely reinforces the message of Discordianism. Just because something is untrue and absurd does not make it without meaning. Also, even if a religion is humorous and its scriptures full of ludicrousness, that does not mean its followers are not serious about it.

Discordians themselves do not agree on the matter. Some embrace it largely as a joke, while others embrace Discordianism as a philosophy. Some literally worship Eris as a goddess, while others consider her merely a symbol of the messages of the religion.

The Sacred Chao, or the Hodge-Podge

The symbol of Discordianism is the Sacred Chao, also known as the Hodge-Podge. It resembles a Taoist yin-yang symbol, which represents the union of polar opposites to make a whole; a trace of each element exists within the other. Instead of small circles existing within the two curves of the yin-yang, there is a pentagon and a golden apple, representing order and chaos.

The golden apple is inscribed with Greek letters spelling "kallisti," meaning "to the most beautiful." This is the apple that started a feud between three goddesses which was settled by Paris, who was awarded Helen of Troy for his trouble. The Trojan War unfolded from that incident.

According to Discordians, Eris tossed the apple into the fray as payback against Zeus for not inviting her to a party.

Order and Chaos

Religions (and culture in general) commonly focus on bringing order to the world. Chaos—and by extension disagreement and other causes of chaos—is generally seen as something dangerous and best to be avoided.

Discordians embrace the value of chaos and dissent. They consider it an integral part of existence and thus not something to be discounted.

Non-dogmatic Religion

Because Discordianism is a religion of chaos—the opposite of order—Discordianism is a completely non-dogmatic religion. While the "​o​Principia Discordia" provides a wide variety of stories, interpretation and value of those stories are completely up to the Discordian. A Discordian is free to draw from as many other influences as desired as well as follow any other religion in addition to Discordianism.

In addition, no Discordian holds authority over another Discordian. Some carry cards announcing their status as a pope, meaning one who has no authority over him. Discordians often hand out such cards freely, as the term is not limited to Discordians.

Discordian Sayings

Discordians often use the phrase "Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!" particularly in printed and electronic documents.

Discordians also have a particular love of the word "fnord," which is largely used randomly. On the internet, it has often come to mean something nonsensical.

In the "Illuminatus! " trilogy of novels, which borrow various Discordian ideas, the masses have been conditioned to react to the word "fnord" with fear. Thus, the word sometimes is used jokingly to refer to conspiracy theories.

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Your Citation
Beyer, Catherine. "An Introduction to Discordianism." Learn Religions, Oct. 29, 2020, Beyer, Catherine. (2020, October 29). An Introduction to Discordianism. Retrieved from Beyer, Catherine. "An Introduction to Discordianism." Learn Religions. (accessed June 8, 2023).