Discordian Theology and a Short Guide to Divination

“I don’t want words that other people have invented”.

Essays for The Discordian Occultist, Part 5.

Discordian occultism is a system which has only rules which you’ve chosen or invented. Discordians are almost supernaturally bound to be contrary to “dogmas”, wherever or whenever they notice them[1]. This also includes the dogmas inherent in the previous sentence. This essay, the final part of our series, will not be for everyone as we inevitably get drawn into the highly subjective world of Discordian occult theory. This means that, in a sense, much of it should be treated as a work of fiction alike to a poem, crude painting or pleasant song. However we will wrap the discussion up with a look at one of the most useful of all skills: divination. If you want to skip the theory and move to that, be my guest. There’s a quick three step guide at the bottom which comes after the sacred Discordian words of initiation.

I have kept away from theory until the final part of this series because all such pronouncements are deeply subjective and irrelevant to most. Why these techniques appear to work is entirely your call. However as all these essays have been written from a Discordian’s perspective do remember that what we’ve been talking about here is a joke religion and best described as a chance to play with funny ideas. Some people assume therefore that because Discordianism is a “joke” this means it should be almost incomprehensibly, self-consciously, wacky. That’s upto them but personally speaking I think the joke bit should be an annoying diffuse to overly self-important theories. Once you’ve gotten the hang of all this it will make you a f–k of a lot cooler than your Thelemite / Pagan friends when waxing lyrical at a party.

So, for those with time to indulge, it’s worth noting that as your occult experiments go further you will see these five essays have been laid out in a very deliberate sequence. You started at the shallow end with lucid dreaming, then we had a little induction into the world of magickal thinking. Lastly, after making sure we all wiped our souls clean, we dumped a big act of enchantment into our future with a basic sigil. This last act of magick is unlikely to have concluded by the time you read this essay and it’s perfectly acceptable for you to print it out, leave it in a drawer somewhere, and return to it once you notice the sigil has started to come into effect[2].

If you decide to press on without waiting for results from your sigil please assume it worked and provided exactly what you needed. Also assume that it was the power of your mind, and its assumptions, which in some measure made this the case. We’ve left divination to last because, although it’s fairly easy to do, it will generally benefit you more if you have an understanding of the previous four chapters and the basic mechanics of magick. That’s why we can’t really avoid theory in this final piece.

Firstly, there is a danger that your divination experiments will accidentally become enchantments, like your sigil. This is avoided by understanding how you think an enchantment works. From my own point of view I don’t care how you think your little magick spell worked and have no firm idea why mine appear to either. I do have several very useful theories but even though this essay deals with theory I’m going to keep them to myself for now. Mainly this is because they’re not very magickal and involve things like confirmation bias, good goal setting and applied focus. Perhaps yours involves a magick fairy or something, that’s certainly a lot cooler and more magickal. If we use this as an example, when you do your divination and don’t let ‘the magick fairy’ leave convinced the picture you’ve revealed IS the future. Make sure you tell her it’s just a possible future.

Secondly, most forms of effective and easily explained divination encapsulate a complete spiritual system. In my opinion this is the real danger for a Discordian[4]. My personal favourite technique is tarot cards, specifically the the Rider Waite pack. They use the symbology of Christian mysticism from the London based occult organisation, The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn. There’s certainly plenty of value in their ideas but I suggest you always remember to take steps to ensure their belief system itself does not enchant you.

Discordians work with a broad toolkit but they do not need to go believing the ideas that made those tools. Many of the methods within these essays have been openly “borrowed” from other practices, with minor changes made after a process of trial and error from my own experiments. However the perspective I’ve adopted has always been my particular version of Discordianism and this is unique, to me. It’s the best version of Discordianism available, for me, at this present time.

True Discordians will hopefully disagree with parts of these essays and profess that in fact their version is the best and that I am wrong about some of the details. In other religions this would undermine a central authority causing an almighty and damaging row but with Discordianism it is this disagreement which is used to fuel progress. In my opinion it must always be understood that each Discordian is always right about what is right, for them.

Some greyfaced fools get very upset about this and believe it means Discordians are therefore not authentic. I believe criticism will often tell you more about the critic than the criticised and point out that such people, who hate The Goddess, reveal their own insecurities about their own authenticity. All of them are striving to copy, as precisely as possible, another person’s spiritual system and go on to proudly advocate dogmas and “truths” which have been handed down to them by others over the ages. Their intent is to be as close to a carbon copy of the authority to which they bow. This idea is popularly articulated with the “what would Jesus do?” slogan attributed to Charles Sheldon but you can see it expressed in most organised religions.

That’s their choice but I’m offering an alternative perspective here. Perhaps a truly authentic identity comes from within, not without. Perhaps picking and choosing the ideas you like from the local new age store, like kids mixing candy in a sweet shop, is actually more true, honest and authentic for an individual in that moment. Maybe such “New Age” practices have arisen because the calcified and rigid spiritual systems we have had handed down to us are like polaroid snapshots of a time, place and person, who is no longer relevant to us in this moment:

“You know why our institutions are failing us, the church, the state, everything’s failing? It’s because, um – they’re no longer relevant. We’re supposed to keep evolving. Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs. You do know that, right?”

- Bill Hicks.

Any system which promises one single specific well articulated answer for all is by its very nature fascistic and forgets that people are not all the same and even if they were, over time their needs might change. Furthermore, no matter how hard the loud mouthed dogmatists and alpha communicators of each age try, people never leave with the same message anyway:

“I have never experienced another human being. I have experienced my impressions of them.”

– Pope Bob

“Praise Bob.”

- Church of The SubGenius

For every reader of a spiritual text or message there is a different impression of that text produced in the mind of each reader. For example we do not and cannot know the Bible, instead we know our impressions of the Bible.

There is no one central understanding of even a single word, let alone a large combination of them. If I shout “ice cream” from the roof tops, some people will imagine strawberry flavour, others will think of chocolate. Some will mishear me and come away with the impression I was shouting “I scream”. To believe that huge multiple combinations of words and ideas can convey meaningfully specific messages to a wide audience is blatantly absurd.

Thus, from my Discordian perspective, the truth of the matter is this: the debate is not, is there any such thing as a God, the debate is in fact are there any such things as religions? My answer to that question is, not really no. Not unless perhaps you understand the whole idea as a curious joke and laugh away all the silly bits…

If you’ve followed me so far you’ll see that the desire to make yourself fit someone else’s spiritual system will ultimately place you under the control of others. As a Discordian your beliefs might make sense to you but there’s no requirement for them to make sense to other people. Adjusting yourself otherwise will only make you an instrument in someone else’s hands, and not a very effective one either because you’ll lack your own vital internal logic becoming as a hollow hammer which cracks with excessive use. On the other hand being guided by your own internal voice is like being a car on the midnight highway. You’re able to navigate far better if there are headlights shining out from you, not directly at you. Treat the advice of others as lamp posts and so forth and we’re all set for the journey.

It’s for this reason that I believe many of the best Discordian texts aspire to make as little sense as possible. The reader is the one who applies meaning to them, unlike most other Western religious texts which are clearly what is currently known in occult terms as a “hyper sigil”. Massive constructions of prophecy and magick designed to codify and control the reader’s existence and bring about occasionally very specific events in our collective future. Meanwhile, to the uninitiated, they dazzle and mystify, ruling people by projecting chaos and discord into them. The Goddess works the other way round leaving you to order yourself internally as the external world pulls patterns beyond your comprehension [4].

Discordia has no personal agendas to pursue because she’s not real. The pamphlet upon which her “religion” is founded is willfully nonsensical. It made sense to its writer and that was the main thing. The point of it therefore becomes entirely up to you but from my perspective it is a clear invitation to build your own church on its deliberately barren theological foundations. Over time this is what you will learn to do and these essays will ultimately become an irrelevant memory seen only as a trigger to the dawning of your own personal mythology.

According to some you couldn’t have picked a better time to start this process, as the age is apparently shifting from an authoritarian Piscean era into the new Aquarian age [5]. It’s all a bit mystical but even without such ideas I strongly suspect authoritarian forces are about to have serious problems regarding some of the “riches” granted to them by compromising the will of others. If any of this “New Age” stuff is true it’s best that as a Discordian you do not get too involved. The Age of Aquarius is in many ways said to be a more mellow and peaceful time but there are no spiritual systems which think it will be one of universal forgiveness, alike to the Piscean age. All of the main religions speak of punishment or adjustment for those who have committed crimes in earlier times.

Furthermore, unlike a more orthodox religion, we should categorically not be concerned with doing the Goddesses’ work for her. It looks to me as though she has already casually rolled the apple towards the current dominant male Gods and enchanted her famous curse: who amongst you is the most beautiful? The resulting religious conflicts will, if the patterns of history hold true, be very nasty. My advice is to keep out of it and, as I said before, make sure you’ve got as clean a soul as possible.

We digress, the key point is this: you’re right and everyone else is wrong. So, do not be led by other people who are necessarily in the wrong from your perspective but also do not seek to correct their path either, as it might be right for them but wrong for you. A good Discordian does not seek to have a large number of people who precisely agree with him or her. This is a cult in the traditional and old world sense. Pope Bob would frequently cut such nonsense off at the path with his famous saying “a follower is just an asshole looking for a body to attach itself to”. Ultimately followers or fans who agree with everything you say will in the end either seek to  hold you to a particular point of view or blame you when your ideas don’t work for out for them. If the ideas of the new age are to be indulged such arrangements will become increasingly unwieldy in the future. What you require is a group of people who may seek to understand you and you them.

Finally the Aquarian era is supposed to be one of communication:

“True communication is only possible between equals” – Principa Discordia

It’s this quote which drew me to Discordianism. Like all the best lines it has layers of meaning for one who rolls it over in their mind without relent. Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but none of us are equal to the other. We’re all different, our only common trait is that we’re all unique. Therefore, if you agree with the above quote, we cannot communicate meaningfully. It’s only the fact we’re all human that causes us to continue to try. Our words are fired out into the void as an act of faith in the very idea of humanity, caught in the chaos of misunderstanding, only to land in other people’s minds and be finally represented back to us in a form we often don’t recognise. In the new age, groups of Discordians will be able to accept the contradictions of disagreement both from within and without. They will know that although they have formed alliances of sorts there is no one “leader” other than themselves and none of us knows what is right for each other.

Thus, Discordianism, a joke religion, has no one central set of beliefs. Each version of it should be unique to the user. It can be composed of ideas from other religions, political systems, cultures and so forth but never in such a way that the end user becomes a vessel for the ideas and dreams of strangers, dead people, demagogues and Gods. We do not submit to the will of others and always remember the main aim is: be you.

In conclusion to this irritating but necessary bit of theory the above tirade is important because divination and prophecy are probably the only effective methods of thought control. If these essays have one central purpose it is to start to break us out of the various forms of control which have been put upon us by numerous cultural, social and religious ideologies using the laughable idea of an obviously silly parody religion made up by some friends at a bowling alley. Prophecy as a form of thought control can be seen with money, which acts as a gift in the future, or a threat which is a prediction of pain and so on. However all the recipent of a joke can predict is a possible new interpretation of the world.

Furthermore, now you’ve begun your quest into the world of occultism with these essays I like to think you might be a bit safer from the would-be demagogues who exist in, Paganism, Thelema, fringe mysticism and most obviously within the other mainstream spiritual systems[5]. As I said earlier, most Discordians are inanely self conscious and wacky so it’s unlikely they’ll deliberately lead you into their belief systems and this will leave you free to build your own.

Congratulations!

You are now a Discordian Pope.

Spectacles, testicles, brandy and cigars.

Divination:

Step 1 Get something you can rearrange into a random pattern.

But some tarot cards from a new age shop. You need to pick some that look nice but also manage to pull on your intuition when you’re holding them in your hands.

Step 2 Decide the rules you are going to use to interpret this pattern.

Buy some books about the tarot. Get a couple at the very least, the more perspectives you have the less chance of being enchanted by the author’s belief system. Then, read the f—king books! There’s nothing more annoying to me than someone who can’t be bothered to do that. Seriously, it’s rewarding to learn what people think these cards mean. I’ve lost count of the number of tarot readers who just make stuff up and pass it off as divine intuition. Why do that? Why bother with cards if you’re going to do that? Just make stuff up without the cards if that’s your game.

Step 3

While doing the reading assume it’s absolutely spot on and any failings are down to your lack of interpretative ability. Write it all down in your magick book in as much detail as possible.

Step 4

When coming away from the reading allow for the fact that you have just witnessed a useful perspective on your life. You can always go back for another one but treat it as a useful conversation with a wise friend.

Nick Margerrison.

These essays are dedicated to the memory of Robert Anton Wilson, few of us would have escaped the rabbit hole without him, praise Bob!

[1] The Discordians have long advocated Catmas instead. It’s fitting that groups who clearly have their roots in Discordianism pay unknowing tribute to this with the popular lolcat meme. The more people move towards behaving more like cats and less like cattle the better in my opinion. The saying ‘like herding cats’ will hopefully be appropriate for the new age.

[2] Years ago a pagan witch friend of mine explained magick thus: it’s the sort of thing you hear about, dismiss and then one day return to because you’re old enough to realise it might actually make sense.

[3] I’m not aware of any good Discordian tarot card decks. If you do please pop a link in the comments section. What I mean by this is, if you actually use one that you think is good. Obviously google throws up results on this I’m just not sure about them. I have time to kill at the moment so if you’re an artist who wants to split the (unlikely to be huge) profits maybe there’s a gap in the market here…

[4] The “hyper sigil” religious texts of the old world have obviously been cast using the psychic energy of other people, usually by inducing very traumatic events in their shadow. For example the blood and torture implicit upon the symbol of a cross is thought by many to empower it. Anger and rage directed at a sacred text is also believed to give it more power. This is perhaps true of the bloody flags of nation states but it could, in a more positive light, also be the case with codified philosophical concepts, venerated as religious texts, like the bill of rights.

[5] OK, now I’m really on a roll here. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how much of this I buy into. Remember, treat this piece as part truth part fiction and you’ll be fine. On one hand it seems like a useful meme to help crack a few reality tunnels. On the other it’s possible there’s some truth in it and maybe I’m just getting a bit long it the tooth these days. See, I remember exactly the same stuff being preached in relation to the 1989 “harmonic convergence,” the year 2000AD and something in the 90’s.

Ideas and Gods are hard to distinguish and if telling people it’s the age of Aquarius helps inject a bit of positivity into the gloomy world we’re looking at towards the end of 2012, I’m all for it.  Why not let an idea like that roam free? As for the academic texts that plant such a change on a particular day or date, that’s outside my area. Terrence McKenna, used to declare that the fact so many of these various memes have landed in our lifetimes is worth thinking about. I think that’s fair, if a huge shift in consciousness can be predicted with prophecy what makes you think it’d be any more accurate than the stuff revealed to you by tarot? You’ll only ever get a thumbnail sketch of the future.

Furthermore such shifts would likely be an organic process and anyone who has ever waited for a baby’s due date will know people don’t function like clockwork. Perhaps the lights won’t come on as an electric on at the flick of a switch but instead people’s heads and minds will open at different times like flowers in the summer sun.

[6] Obviously not all of them, there’s lots of nice people involved in all these large groups. The real danger in my opinion is The Gods themselves and it’s for that reason we’ve skipped direct communication with The Goddess. Talking to Gods and Goddesses is way outside of the realms of these short essays. In my experience it’s more trouble than it’s worth and I have no intention of explaining how to go about it here.

In short, Gods are ideas. They exist as multi-cellular beings within the collective consciousness. A “cell” of their being incubates inside the mind of all who regard them. The more you support them with love or hate, the more presence they have and the larger their aspect within you. Thus “Thor” is made up collectively by all the impressions of him which exist in the minds of the living beings of this planet. His ability to take action in the physical world comes through those who act on his behalf. This is why some Gods have an issue with you drawing them or speaking about them. It means you are in a sense making them act out your good or bad fantasies.

It’s crucial to remember that people control Gods, while alive, not the other way around. Furthermore do not go thinking of The Goddess, Eris Discordia, is some nice being who loves and cares about you. Transplanting old Jesus archetypes onto her will not work out too well. Like most women she’s, ahem, complex.

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  • denverover

    Yeah, wherever I go there I am.

    Please help me I’m lost,
    I’ve gone out to look for myself,
    if I should return before I get back,
    Please, ask me to wait.

  • SoruhFrake

    And just today I received my tarot deck in the mail, now in the evening I turn on my pc and check disinfo just to find this article. Not only did I need to hear what was written here, despite knowing it, but it was enough of a coincident to boost the motivation. Well it’s a small world, could also be an accident :P

    Thanks for the Articles Nick, it’s not that easy to squish this much valuable information so well into just 5 essays, well done mate!

  • alizardx

    Nice to see Discordian concepts presented again.

  • lazy_friend

    I read cards at several times daily.

  • NathanSpeller

    This is really excellent. Thanks, this Discord scored with me. The metaphor of driving on the midnight highway is perfect. I think that’s the main mistake of mainstream Christianity, thinking the light is out there and not in here.

  • NathanSpeller

    There is a really great Rider Waite app for android. I know some may feel attached to the feel of the cards but I’m finding the symbols work just as well. Plus there is a built in reference :D

  • Blindjimmypats

    Bah, it’s all hog wash and lame sauce!

  • Jon Swabey

    Re a “Discordian Tarot”, FYI: http://www.sleepbot.com/morgan/index_h.html

  • WoodGas1

    It’s been said that if you flip a coin to make a choice, you will discover what it is you really want before the coin lands. Prayer, chanting, meditating, making the beast of two backs, it all works, and it’s all bullshit.

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