International Journal for the Study of New Religions, Vol 2, No 1 (2011)

Discordian Magic: Paganism, the Chaos Paradigm and the Power of Imagination

Carole M. Cusack
Issued Date: 14 Aug 2011


Discordianism, founded in 1957 and generally regarded as a “parody religion,” has only recently received scholarly consideration as a valid religious expression within modern Paganism (Cusack 2010). Yet ritual practice within Discordianism remains largely unexamined; Hugh Urban’s brief discussion of Discordian magical workings as a sub-category of Chaos Magic is the extent of academic discussion of the subject to date (Urban 2006). This article elaborates on Urban’s tantalising classification of Discordian magic. A brief history of Discordianism is sketched; then ritual and magic in the Discordian tradition is explored through an examination of key texts, including Malaclypse the Younger’s Principia Discordia (1965), and Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975). Similarities between Chaos Magic and Discordianism are noted, and an analysis of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY), a magical order founded by British performance artist Genesis P-Orridge and others in 1981, elucidates the relationship between Chaos Magic and Discordian magic. It is argued that the essentially unorganised nature of Chaos Magic and Discordianism, and the trenchant resistance of both to any form of “orthodoxy,” justifies classifying Discordian magic as a form of Chaos Magic. Chaos magicians and Discordians both have a deconstructive and monistic worldview, in which binary oppositions collapse into undifferentiated oneness, and neither conformity of belief nor unity of practice is required to be an “authentic” Discordian or Chaote.

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DOI: 10.1558/ijsnr.v2i1.125

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