Discordianism is a modern religion centered on the idea that chaos is as important as order. It was founded in 1959 with the publication of its principal text, the Principia Discordia. There is some division as to whether it should be regarded as a parody religion, and if so to what degree. It has been called Zen for roundeyes, based on similarities with absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school.
Discordianism recognizes chaos, discord, and dissent as valid and desirable qualities, in contrast with most religions which idealize harmony and order. Eris, the Greek mythological goddess of discord, has become the matron deity of the religion.
It is difficult to estimate the number of followers and correctly identify Discordian groups. There is an encouragement to form schisms and cabals. Additionally, few adherents hold Discordianism as their only or primary faith.
Many practicing Discordians believe that humanity suffers from the curse of taking itself too seriously and thus needs to be saved from this grave outlook on life. Thus the Discordians seek to reverse the curse by teaching people to laugh at themselves and their problems and lives. This, the Discordians believe, would solve most of the problems of the world.
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 certainly on the more disorderly aspects of the world. At times the forces of order are even vilified.
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 has no meaning. Within the society are sects of Discordianism, each under the direction of an Episkopos, translated as overseer from Greek, and source of the English bishop and episcopal.
Discordians who do not form their own sects, whether they belong to someone else’s sect or not, make up the Legion of Dynamic Discord, and may be referred to as Legionnaires. Would be Discordians are told in the Principia Discordia that it is hard to describe Discordianism as a religion because Discordians do not have any specific beliefs or dogma that would set them apart from the practitioners of other religions.
The Principia Discordia was written by Malaclypse The Younger, an alias of Greg Hill. This book contains many references to an earlier source, The Honest Book of Truth. From the quotations, it seems to be arranged like the Bible, consisting of verses grouped into chapters grouped into books grouped into the Honest Book of Truth itself.
The Principia Discordia includes a large portion of a chapter of The Book of Explanations which recounts how the Honest Book of Truth was revealed to Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst. It may be worth noting that the tale of the discovery of the Honest Book of Truth contains many similarities to the tale of the discovery of the Book of Mormon, and that Thornley had been a Mormon. It also includes part of the next chapter, telling how the Honest Book of Truth was acquired by a garbage collector, who refused to return it.
In April 2006, the first edition of the Principia Discordia was recovered from the John F. Kennedy archives. This contains Malaclypse the Younger’s long sought for Myth of Ichabod, more commonly known as The Myth of Starbuck. According to the first edition, this originally appeared in Summa Universalia.
While Discordianism is separate from modern neopaganism, a number of neopagans have incorporated elements of Discordianism into their beliefs. In addition, Neopagan author Margot Adler discussed Discordianism in her book, Drawing Down the Moon, while religious authority J. Gordon Melton lists Discordianism among various Neopagan groups in his Encyclopedia Of American Religions. Melton claims to have excommunicated all other Discordians, based on the fact that he is a Discordian Pope. Since every man, woman and child is considered a Discordian Pope, they then de-excommunicated themselves and each other.