This is Part Two of The Illuminati Files by Brenton Clutterbuck. If you missed Part One, here you will find A Conspiracy is Born.
Suddenly, nothing happened!
Or at least not much. While the Illuminati had copped the blame for trying to challenge the power of church and state in Germany (a fair cop), instigating the French Revolution, and interfering with the founding years of the United States (both substantially less likely), for most of the late 1800s, concern about the Illuminati died down, only to return mutated and with a vengeance in the 1900s. Conspiracy author Nesta Webster brings them back in 1919, characterising them as a Jewish conspiracy dating back to the days of Jesus. She produced several works across her lifetime about the Illuminati. In 1965, the rightwing monthly The Cross and the Flag published by Gerald L. K. Smith featured an article that named the Illuminati as the second most important enemy in the world (pipped to the post by those dastardly world bankers!) Around the same time, a man named Robert Welch was beginning his own crusade against the Illuminati, via the organisation he founded — the highly influential rightwing organisation, the John Birch Society, which characterised the Illuminati as the precursor to Communism.
We find ourselves in the United States of the 1950s and 1960s, in a society being rocked by social change and in an environment where conspiracy theory (some of which would ultimately be proved correct!) was running wild. Campaigns of propaganda helped to overload the bullshit detectors of many, and very quickly, large numbers of people developed the firm suspicion that somewhere, someone was doing something, and whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
Into this paranoid stew of confusion and confoundment, came a new religious movement. It was called ‘Discordianism’, and perhaps unsurprisingly it was obsessed with chaos, disorder, and the impossibility of reaching out to grasp objective truth. Truly, this was a movement of its time.
With such fixations of the nature of truth, confusion, and the great unknown, it is no wonder that many Discordians were themselves entranced by ideas of conspiracy. The Principia Discordia, among other Discordian materials, satirised this re-emergence of Illuminati fever. Riffing on the Illuminati led to the ‘Illuminati letter’ appearing in the Principia Discordia. As with much of the PD, it is influenced by a mixture of sources.
Episkopos Mordecai, Keeper of the Notary Sojac, informs me that you are welcome to reveal that our oldest extant records show us to have been fully established in Atlantis, circa 18,000 B.C., under Kull, the galley slave who ascended to the Throne of Valusia. Revived by Pelias of Koth, circa 10,000 B.C. Possibly it was he who taught the inner-teachings to Conan of Cimmeria after Conan became King of Aquilonia. First brought to the western hemisphere by Conan and taught to Mayan priesthood (Conan is Quetzlcoatl). That was 4 Ahua, 8 Cumhu, Mayan date. Revived by Abdul Alhazred in his infamous Al Azif, circa 800 A.D. (Al Azif translated into Latin by Olaus Wormius, 1132 A.D., as The Necronomicon.) In 1090 A.D. was the founding of The Ismaelian Sect Hashishim) by Hassan i Sabbah, with secret teachings based on Alhazred, Pelias and Kull. Founding of the Illuminated Ones of Bavaria, by Adam Weishaupt, on May 1, 1776. He based it on the others. Weishaupt brought it to the United States during the period that he was impersonating George Washington; and it was he who was the Man in Black who gave the design for The Great Seal to Jefferson in the garden that night. The Illuminated tradition is now, of course, in the hands of The Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria (A.I.S.B.), headquartered here in the United States.
Our teachings are not, need I remind you, available for publication. No harm, though, in admitting that some of them can be found disguised in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, Burroughs Nova Express, the King James translation of the Holy Bible (though not the Latin or Hebrew), and The Blue Book. Not to speak of Ben Franklin’s private papers (!), but we are still suppressing those.
The letter goes on for quite some time, but luckily for the human race, the Discordian articulation of the Illuminati quest turned out to be actually, pretty wholesome!
Look, if you people out there can keep from blowing yourselves up for only two more generations, then we will finally have it. After 20,000 years, Kull’s dream will be realized! We can hardly believe it. But the outcome is certain, given the time. Our grandchildren, Mal! If civilization makes it through this crises, our grandchildren will live in a world of authentic freedom and authentic harmony and authentic satisfaction. I hope I’m alive to see it, Mal, success is in our grasp. Twenty thousand years….!
Ah, I get spaced just thinking about it. Good luck on the Principia.
Also included in the preceding pages are an advertisement for the Bavarian Illuminati, and a telegraph, apparently from the illuminati to the Discordians, with a comically unbreakable cypher that could be used to permanently render incoherence to any sensitive messages (let’s just hope nobody —ever— needs to decode them!).
Discordian elder Robert Anton Wilson got on board the Illuminati train in a major way. He had been drafted into the Discordians in ’67, but they wouldn’t provide his first exposure to the Illuminati conspiracy. By the time the Discordians drafted him into their weirdness, he’d already been working at PLAYBOY‘s letters section for two years, alongside co-conspirator Robert Shea. PLAYBOY — being a magazine dedicated to all kinds of sexual and moral freedoms — attracted the attention of those who felt their freedoms were being infringed on in the most bizarre and unbelievable ways. This ‘nut mail’ from some of the more paranoid PLAYBOY patrons inspired Wilson and Shea to write a series in which all of the conspiratorial fantasies of their readers were 100% true. The resulting novel The Illuminatus! Trilogy returned to the more sinister power-hungry characterisation of the Illuminati.
The work was already invested in exploring the most deranged and bizarre (though not, of course, impossible) theories about who controlled the world. Wilson and Shea further muddied these illuminated waters of truth by sneaking articles into publications under assumed identities years before, then quoting those sources in their fictional trilogy to develop a strange and unreliable synthesis of truth and fiction. The book was about conspiracy, was produced as the result of conspiracy, and was a satirical exploration of a phenomenon that was far from just a light-hearted joke.
Illuminatus! of course then became another significant popularizer of the modern Illuminati mythos into popular culture. It also popularised the new foundation myth alluded to in the Illuminati letter from the Principia — that the Illuminati originated from the Islamic Assassin cult led by Hassan-I-Sabbah — though they attributed this idea to the John Birch Society.
Illuminatus! as a work, seems to have had a wide influence, although its authors would surely have liked to see more of that influence translate into royalties! It’s been speculated that the work influenced Umberto Eco, whose work Foucault’s Pendulum shares a number of similarities with the Illuminatus! Trilogy. More recently Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons also portrayed the Illuminati within the substance of its plot.
Steve Jackson Games, whose forays into the fringe frequently step into Discordian territory, loosely adapted the Trilogy into a board game (if it had been a ‘tighter’ adaptation they would have had to pay!).
The KLF, music weirdos who burned a million pounds, were also influenced by Illuminatus! Both members were exposed to the Trilogy through Ken Campbell’s epic 10 hour theatre adaptation of Illuminatus!, and this influence can be seen explicitly through the first name they took; The JAMS, a reference to the Illuminatus! Trilogy.
From here, the flow of influence for both the Illuminatus! Trilogy and the Illuminati mythology get pretty hard to track. You can see the source of a trickle, but how do you point to the home of a wave? With the hippie movement as a powerful vector, the Illuminati entered the public consciousness, permeating vast swathes of public life and awareness.
When I was doing my interviews for Chasing Eris, I spoke with Ben Graham who gave one example of how awareness of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, and the associated conspiracy consciousness passed from hippies to members of the electronic scene.
Because of the ravers that had been having free festivals out in fields, [members of the electronic scene] ended up teaming up with guys who’d been having hippy rock festivals in fields forever. Those guys ended up getting into a lot of techno music, but they would have been guys who were reading the Illuminatus! books in the early 70s. It had the whole kind of esoteric hippy knowledge and stuff behind it… You had the club rave kids meeting the hippy travelers, one side being electronic techno music and ecstasy, and the other bringing this kind of like hippy philosophy and ethos and knowledge and it all kind of crossing over. And certainly I think a lot of the kind of Illuminati ideas. Suddenly it became cliché to be referencing the number 23 for one thing.
As for the Illuminati itself, well, today it is Well Known enough that the very term has become a euphemism for any vaguely shadowy institution. When some say ‘the Illuminati’ control the world, they perhaps don’t mean Weishaupt’s group, but instead ‘the Deep State’ ‘the Ruling Class’, ‘the Bourgeoisie’, or maybe ‘the Shadow Government.’ Maybe, in some sense, they are all absolutely right.
The Illuminati perhaps remains so powerful in the public consciousness today because it speaks to the need to fill in the gaps — the dark shadowy gaps — in our knowledge of the world. Every trove of top secret documents that spills out from a Wikileaks page or a pastebin, every release of unclassified documents, every whistle-blower and truth-teller betrays the existence of a murky world of conspiracy that lives beneath the surface of our otherwise normal and logically consistent existence. Voltaire once said that if God didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him. Perhaps the same is true of a Godlike conspiracy. Fortunately, Adam Weishaupt did us that favor many years ago, and things have only been getting stranger ever since.
The handful of veiled (or perhaps not-so-veiled) drug references in the Principia Discordia include the ritual of Blessed St. Gulik the Stoned (pages 00027 and 00040), an allusion to a Discordian pot smoking ritual. (St. Gulik is a cockroach.)
Page 00068 of Principia Discordia featured “Plant Your Seeds,” a covert campaign to plant marijuana seeds throughout the cities of America to turn on the squares. “Lick Here” on page 00023 encourages the reader to stick their tongue on the dot for a special dose of you know what!
Principia Discordia (4th edition) evolved out of what were known as Groovy Kits, manila envelopes packed full of groovy goodies that were circulated by Greg Hill to a snail mail network of popes and momes during the Discordian Society’s halcyon days. Although Discordians have never been big on rules, it was encouraged that—upon receipt of said Groovy Kit—the recipient partook in the Ritual of St. Gulik to suitably prepare their heads before diving into the Groovy Kit goods and creating something likewise groovy to add to the package and then pass it along to the next Discordian on the list. (Rules is rules.) And so, in time, these Groovy Kits grew like some weird fungi, spreading their spores via the U.S. Postal System through the collective brains of those who elected to play the game; an art project made up of a communal Discordian stew of collages, counterculture memes, conspiracy theories, word games, irreverent humor, all of which contributed to the evolution of Principia Discordia which, in turn, provided inspiration for Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus!
Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) provided some of the earliest reports of Discordian psychedelic experimentation in Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati. In 1963, RAW lived in “an old slave-cabin in the woods outside Yellow Springs, Ohio. With my wife, Arlen, and our four small children, I had rented the cabin from Antioch College for $30 per month and had an acre of cleared land to grow food on, 30 acres of woods to seek Mystery in…” It was there, with the aid of peyote, that RAW was able to tap into those ancient nature spirits, this at a time when you could still legally purchase peyote buttons via mail order.
“By mid-1963 [RAW] had logged 40 trips to inner space” and “frequently had the hallucination of telepathic communication with plants, both when flying on the wings of peyote and when [I] was straight… The strangest entity I contacted in those twenty-odd months of psychedelic explorations appeared one day after the end of a peyote trip, when I was weeding in the garden and a movement in the adjoining cornfield caught my eye. I looked over that way and saw a man with warty green skin and pointy ears, dancing.” RAW “watched for nearly a minute, entranced, and then Greenskin faded away ‘just a hallucination…’ But I could not forget him. Unlike the rapid metaprogramming during a peyote trip, in which you are never sure what is real and what is just the metaprogrammer playing games, this experience had all the qualities of waking reality, and differed only in intensity. The entity in the cornfield had been more beautiful, more charismatic, more divine than anything I could consciously imagine when using my literary talents to try to portray a deity. As the mystics of all traditions say so aggravatingly, ‘Those who have seen, know.’ Well, I had seen, but I didn’t know. I was more annoyed than enlightened. But that was not to be my last encounter with that particular critter. Five years later, in 1968, [RAW] read Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan, dealing with traditional Mexican shamanism and its use of the sacred cactus. Castaneda, an anthropologist, saw the same green man several times, and Don Juan Matus, the shaman, said his name was Mescalito. He was the spirit of the peyote plant…”00001
RAW’s enthusiasm for psychedelics led to his 1964 article for Paul Krassner’s The Realist, “Timothy Leary and his Psychological H-Bomb” the result of an interview he conducted with Timothy Leary in 1964 at the Millbrook Ashram. As RAW noted:
“Later [Leary] asked me if I had majored in psychology, and was surprised to find most of my college years had been in the physical sciences. My knowledge of psychology comes entirely from omnivorous reading and several friendships with people in the field, but it may partially explain why Timothy Leary and I had a different sort of relationship than Tim usually has with writers and journalists.”00002
RAW became an ardent Leary advocate, and in the years to follow the two would forge a close personal and professional bond, co-authoring a number of articles together, as well as developing “The Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness” concept.
RAW continued his psychedelic explorations into the 1970s, incorporating consciousness expansion techniques, wicca, magick, tantra, yoga and in particular a Crowleyean ritual known as the “Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel.” On July 23rd, 1973—coming down off an acaid trip—RAW was performing this Crowleyean ritual when he came into contact with what he perceived to be entities from the Sirius star system. RAW later discovered that July 23 is the very day when Sirius rises behind the sun, the fabled “Dog Days” as they are called. During this same period, RAW was in correspondence with Leary. As RAW recalled:
“In January 1974, Dr. Leary published Terra II, in which he reported his experiments during July-August 1973, attempting to achieve telepathic communication with higher Intelligences elsewhere in the galaxy. Dr. Leary “received” 19 transmissions—the so-called Starseed Transmissions—which he cheerfully admits may be hallucinations. He presents evidence and arguments that they may also be not-hallucinations.
“As soon as I read Terra II, it was obvious to me that I had somehow, during my yoga [magick] sessions, tuned in on Dr. Leary’s brain-waves. My July 23 communication from Sirius was either part of the Transmissions from the higher minds of the galaxy or was part of Dr. Leary’s hallucination, telepathically shared with me. Dr. Leary, however, did not mention Sirius…”00003
Greg Hill chronicled his psychedelic experiments in a number of journal entries, including a three page account from April 1965 entitled “An Experience with Mescaline.” (Download here.)
Body becomes helpless with laughter
As whirly-gig bugs return,
Chills are back too
And the room is
Save one single point
Of life and warmth:
Far below on the floor.
As a Holy Guru
The Omniscient flame
Radiates its serenity
To all who
And body is once again granted
In the mid 1960s, Kerry Thornley joined Kerista, “a sexually swinging psychedelic tribe” into mate swapping, dope smoking and acid tripping. Renowned for their “beautiful weekend orgies,” Kerista was established in New York the late 1950s by John Presmont (aka Brother Jud). After running afoul of the law in NYC, Brother Jud and his crew moved to Southern California, where they joined forces with Kerry. During this period, Kerry’s income was a total of $50 a week, which he earned from writing “case histories,” most of them factual, for Monogram Publications—a southern California erotica publisher—based on his experiences with the Keristas.00004
In 1966, the group’s newspaper changed its name from Kerista to Kerista Swinger, presumably to generate greater appeal with a new generation of hip sexual experimenters. Kerry—calling himself “Young Omar”—wrote several articles for Kerista Swinger, including the group’s mission statement:
Kerista is a religion and the mood of Kerista is one of holiness. Do not, however, look for a profusion of rituals, dogmas, doctrines, and scriptures. Kerista is too sacred for that. It is more akin to the religions of the East and, also, the so-called pagan religions of the pre-Christian West. Its fount of being is the religious experience and that action or word or thought which is not infused with ecstasy is not Kerista. And Kerista, like those religions of olden times, is life-affirming.
By 1967—the so-called “Summer of Love”—Kerry’s politics had gone through a radical shift. His rallying cry was now “sex, drugs, and treason”—everything that flew in the face of a conservative agenda he’d previously embraced with his enthusiasm for Ayn Rand styled Libertarianism. As Kerry later wrote:
When the conservatives began complaining that radical students were interested in nothing but “sex, drugs, and treason” I realized that, instinctually, they had hit the nail on the head. Sex, drugs, and treason were the three things I stood for…. Regarding sex, I became firmly convinced that unless there were trends established in our culture in the direction of uncompromising sexual honesty, tolerance for minority sexual preferences, equal treatment of the sexes, rational openness concerning VD and birth control, and saner attitudes regarding sex and child-rearing, particularly with reference to masturbation—further meaningful social change would not be possible…
Regarding drugs, I gained a great deal of respect for psychedelic substances as powerful tools for restructuring portions of one’s personality which could not be reached by intellectual effort alone, for expanding one’s sense of identification and compassion, and for opening the narrow and dry Western ego to mystical possibilities. Zen and similar styles of meditation, along with the yoga disciplines, I came to see as methods for maintaining psychedelic levels of awareness, once the chemicals had demonstrated the nature of such modes of consciousness…
Regarding treason, I came gradually to a position of supporting nearly all factions on the radical left, except in their quarreling with each other and the dogmatic insistence of some of these groups on the insistence of political violence (or, in other cases, the immorality of violence under all circumstances). I came to this position without ever abandoning some of the more libertarian elements on the extreme right. Meanwhile, I continued to refine my own political philosophy of anarchism—not because I favored “violence and chaos” with which anarchism is nearly always falsely equated, but because of my opposition to violence and chaos, for which government military machines and bureaucratic structures are largely responsible in today’s world…00005
Kerry Thornley helped organize the Griffith Park Human Be-Ins, which were the perfect set and setting to display his irreverent brand of humor. At the first Be-In, Kerry cut a singular swath, equipped with a sign that read: “Stamp out quicksand. Ban LSD.” Fellow Discordian Louise Lacey (Lady L., F.A.B.) recalled the first Griffith Park Be-In thusly:
The weather was perfect. We were all stoned. A single engine plane came and circled, and I thought it was the media, keeping track of us, but then a man all in white dropped down with a parachute and the crowd roared with approval. Later I learned that an old friend of mine from Marin County was the pilot. He got that plane out fast, because it was illegal to parachute within the city limits.
The Be-In was fascinating because I had never seen such a large collection of freaks. I couldn’t keep from grinning. I was particularly interested because some hard assed sociologist had said that when you were on LSD you were extremely susceptible to being led. I was watching for people being led.
I saw a group of people organized into a crack-the-whip game. Twenty or twenty-five people formed and a man with a megaphone was giving them instructions. (Definitely planned.)
“Move up the hill, move down. Hang on tight. Join with more people.” I couldn’t tell if anyone was listening or just all having fun. The people at the end of the line were moving so fast they kept being thrown off, tumbling down the hill in the grass, laughing hysterically. Then some of the crack-the-whip people let go of the hands of the people around them and drifted off. The megaphone man yelled more loudly. “Hang on, don’t let go.” More people drifted away. He was screaming now. The group all dropped hands and disappeared in the crowds and the megaphone man was screaming at the top of his amplified voice, “Come back! We are playing a game here!” But the people were gone.
I didn’t worry any more about what that sociologist had said.
Many groups of people were gathered as “families of friends.” It was the first time I had seen this form of organization. So there were tents, and lean-to’s and lots of signs pounded into the dirt, describing one thing or another to identify who the friends were. (This is where Kerry’s sign fit in.) As I didn’t live in L.A., I didn’t recognize anyone other than Kerry’s friends, who didn’t stay around his sign, but it didn’t matter. I “knew” the strangers as friends, and we laughed and hugged and shared doobies, and listened to music and I moved on. Nobody got hurt, everyone had a good time (except, I imagine, the man with the megaphone). As the day progressed, I gravitated back to Kerry’s sign and others did, too, and we shared what we had experienced, eventually gathered our stuff and drove home to Kerry’s. A most successful day.00006
At the time, Kerry had moved into a house in the Watts section of Los Angeles that became a sort of psychedelic social center. One frequent visitor to this scene was Kerry’s friend, Bud Simco, who recalled:
“Kerry was charismatic and had the ability to attract diverse personalities, people who would normally not be associated with each other, except by the force of Kerry’s personality. For example, there were so-called hippie types tripping under the dining room table, holding burning candles in their hands, while right-wing types were holding forth in the kitchen. One such character I recall had never been to Watts before, and showed up wearing a bullet-proof vest and armed with a .45. He seemed reasonable enough, in conversation, but he was taking no chances [having never been around hippies before]. There were people from all walks of life… including a pilot for the Flying Tiger Airlines, a student from MIT, some swingers, a fashion model, some writers, some SDS student types, and various and sundry others whom I did not know. One of my guests at one particular gathering was a former motorcycle gang member who lost his foot in a motorcycle accident, and his beautiful American Indian wife, who was at the time a co-worker of mine. He had never seen such an assorted group of people in his life, for example, but with his tambourine, magic mushrooms and a Donovan LP loudly playing, asserted his presence along with all the diverse others in one righteous happening. The thing is, everyone was tolerant of the other, regardless of individual inclinations and/or politics. At such an event, many people would never even interact with other groups, in other rooms, although many did. That was the one universal factor re: being present at one of Kerry’s gatherings, either at his home in Watts, or perhaps at one of the original “Be-Ins” at Griffith Park…”00007
A frequent visitor to Kerry’s house in Watts was John Overton who after his first acid trip changed his name to Camden Benares, the idea of which was to bring the teachings of the East into the West: “Camden” for Camden, New Jersey, and “Benares” after Benares, India, the city where the Buddha delivered his first sermon. Benares went on to write the classic Zen Without Zen Masters and was a contributor to the Principia Discordia with “A Zen Story” on page 00005. Camden’s Discordian name was Felix Pendragon. Felix—according to Discordian legend—always carried a pen, and in said pen was a joint. So, when somebody asked Camden who Felix Pendragon was, he’d take out the pen, remove the joint, and “drag on” it.
While this scene was happening at Kerry’s Watts house, Greg Hill was finishing up his military service. After his discharge in early ‘68, he relocated to San Francisco, and ramped up his Discordian activities while immersing himself in the burgeoning counterculture. Among these endeavors included the “Plant Seeds” chain letter he anonymously forwarded to underground papers and news outlets courtesy of “The Discordian Society.”
In addition to disseminating Groovy Kits to his circle of Discordian co-conspirators, Hill interacted with many of the psychedelic luminaries (and trouble makers) of the era, including Tim Leary, Art Kleps of the Neo American Church (author of the Boo Hoo Bible) and Jefferson Poland (aka ‘Jefferson Fuck Poland’) of the Psychedelic Venus Church, among others, often joining their respective psychedelic churches and receiving certain sacraments through the mail. One batch of illuminating correspondence that Hill received from Kleps included a curious index card:
Dr. Robert Newport was another long time friend of both Hill and Thornley as well as contributor to the Principia Discordia with “The Parable of the Bitter Tea” (page 00037) In Brenton Clutterbuck’s book Chasing Eris, Newport recalled his introduction to LSD:
“I was in this psychiatric residency in California in the late 1960s, and the world was in turmoil…. I had been struggling to keep up with all of it, then Greg [Hill] showed up with LSD, and that was goodnight… I had taken LSD months before I left for Okinawa [drafted into the military]… my head was just completely blown apart. And the hostility and violence of the military—I was not obeying too much. I became a revolutionary; I was doing all kinds of things that could have gotten me court-martialed. I didn’t because I tended to be smart enough to stay ahead of whomever… But eventually I was totally stupid and got myself kicked out, which was OK. I didn’t belong there anyway.” 00008
Greg Hill addressed Newport’s troubled military service in his Discordian newsletter The Greater Poop:
The Rev. Dr. Hypocrates, [Newport], has returned from his Okinawa Mission and is presently at Norton Cabal awaiting developments. Brother Hypoc, as you may or may not know, is a POEE psychiatrist who completed his residency in Berkeley a year ago and then promptly got his ass drafted into the United States Air Farce. Poop readers may recall a Xerox of Hypoc’s dog tag which started “Erisian” for religion (issue #6)…
Brother Hypoc [Newport], narrowly escaping legal prosecution, for some LSD antics, because of his professional status as an MD and his privileged status as an Officer, is presently trying to discharge the Pentagon from his life. Human beings in comparable situations but without Privilege Status, of course, are routinely crucified, caged, or psychosmashed by the pig machine, but they couldn’t send Hypoc to the Base Psychiatrist because Hypoc was the Base Psychiatrist, and he advocates that military psychology be in the service of mental health. Due to the awkwardness of the Military’s position, a discharge seems realistic—as soon as Big Uncle finally understands that Rev. Dr. Magoun has sworn the Hippocratic oath as a healer and finds it his moral obligation to RELEASE every person he can from the destructive and corruptive state of being in which the government confines US Citizens for the purpose of turning human beings into soldiers…
This loose-knit Discordian network in which Greg Hill found himself front-and-center was similar to the scene that revolved around Kerry Thornley’s pad in Watts; a colorful coterie of personalities moving from one end of the political spectrum to the other; a melting pot of freaks interested in alternative religions, sexual experimentation, psychedelics, political activism, the civil rights and the back-to-nature movements—with a dash of whimsy and irreverence added in—all of these cultural currents were part of this Discordian letter writing circle that Hill orchestrated.
While some of the Early Discordians have been associated with Libertarianism, it should be noted that their brand of Libertarianism had more to do with hippies and Yippies and freaks of all stripes than it did with current Libertarian strains. The Discordian Society’s involvement in these earlier Libertarian strains concerned their opposition to government overreach into our bedrooms and brains; whereas, nowadays, those who identify themselves as Libertarianism are, in many instances, focused on gutting environmental regulations, which runs counter to where many of the Early Discordians heads were at, such as Louise Lacey, who was more of the Anarcho-Libertarian persuasion: pro-environment and at the same time anti-privatization of land. Louise was one of the founders of the Earth People’s Park.
How can one man own another man?
How can one man own another’s time?
How can he own another’s energy?
How can he OWN a piece of the sky, or the sea, or the earth?
“And who shall command the skylark not to sing?”
—Earth People’s Park brochure (2/70)
A couple other Early Discordians, Tim Wheeler (Harold Randomfactor) and his wife Mary Wheeler (Hope Springs) were about as conservative (politically) as you could get, although with an abiding enthusiasm for the Ritual of St. Gulik. To this end, Wheeler cultivated a marijuana crop on his farm in Indiana to help supplement his income as a humor writer for the National Review. As Mary Wheeler reminisced:
“When we moved to Indiana, we had 25 acres of land, and three acres surrounding the house; that is, not under cultivation. Yes, we grew a lot of pot—it kept us afloat through those years. It was an income for us, though it simply horrifies me now to think how reckless we were. I don’t know about the others [Discordians], but we smoked just for the feel good. No thoughtful insights, no magical apparitions. We smoked with a couple of our conservative friends, but I don’t know about the others. My guess is that everybody smoked, but most people didn’t gab about it…”00009
In the early-70s, Bob Newport relocated to the Russian River area, north of San Francisco. At the time, land was dirt cheap there and he was able to acquire a couple of properties, one of which was a five-hundred seat movie theatre—located in a converted military Quonset hut—named The Rio Theatre.
Newport enlisted Greg Hill and his wife Jeanetta to co-manage the theatre, and over time Cinema Rio became a community effort, a theatre by and for the local freaks, who had fled city life to live among the redwoods along the river in a back-to-nature setting. Cinema Rio was unique in the sense that it was a community effort, a theater by and for the local freaks. In this spirit, artists helped decorate the building, which included a marquee with a free-flowing Mayan theme painted by Wilfred dePaola. Once a month, all the locals who worked at the theatre would gather for a party/meeting and select the films for the following month, usually titles that reflected the counterculture, like Easy Rider or Woodstock.
During this period, Newport operated a psychiatry practice at a property he acquired in nearby Guerneville with a sign at the entrance that read: “Trespassers Welcome.” The property consisted of an acre and a half, with several cabins scattered throughout the redwoods. Newport was also heavily involved with the psych department at nearby Sonoma State; his “office” was located in a tree house on the property, in the center of a circle of redwoods, in addition to a fifteen-foot hot tub where Newport conducted group therapy sessions.
Newport became dissatisfied with the local public school system and decided to home school his children:
“I put together a small school on my property,” Newport recalled, “because I didn’t want to send my kids to the public school, which was horrendous; it was a redneck school and the teachers hated hippies and tortured kids—I mean they were just terrible to the kids who were going there—so I started a school for my kids and hired a governess out of San Francisco… a licensed, credentialed teacher who was also dropping out, and she came up, and that lasted about three days before word got out, and suddenly I had 20 kids in school, and that then started a home schooling movement and we had eight different schools. In all the satellite communities we had close to 300 kids from K to 12, all with teachers who were dropping out, but credentialed… we started a school board and my wife and I administered all of the schools on a budget of 50,000 bucks, which was like charging parents who could afford it 20 bucks a month to put their kids in school, and parents who couldn’t afford it put their kids in school for nothing because we were not in anything to make money…”00010
RAW—who had relocated just north of Guerneville, in Rio Nido—was a frequent visitor to the Russian River scene, and his son, Graham received psychological counseling from Newport, which in turn led to interactions with Tim Leary. As Newport recalled:
“[Leary] and I had an interchange one day. He wanted to talk to me about Bob [Wilson’s] son, shortly when he was breaking and coming apart. So I talked to him about it, and [Leary] had, as far as I could see as a psychologist, as little empathy, real empathy, and as little understanding of schizophrenia as anybody I’d ever met. And it just pissed me off. I was really hoping I was going to get something… So he and I never interfaced really well after that. And Bob sort of rescued Leary, over the objections of a lot of the hip community who felt that Leary had really sold out a lot of people to enumerate his own problems with the law. And there were a lot of people who were pissed off at Bob, too, for doing that. I would do anything to get anybody out of prison, but I don’t think I’d sell out my friends to get myself out of prison and he basically did that. So I basically didn’t have much regard for him after that. I like the stuff he wrote but I didn’t think much of him as a human being.”00011
Not long after opening The Rio Theatre, an old redwood dance hall across the street from the theatre came up for sale, which Newport and Hill purchased and started a community center there that included a restaurant called Stone Soup, in addition to a food co-op, a health clinic (ran by a doctor who had dropped out), as well as an office for the community newspaper.
“A few rock musicians would come through… and all summer long we had these concerts which we organized, and as part of the concert we fed people. A lot of kids would drop through with nothing and were on the road and hungry and on weekends they could sleep on the beach and count on getting fed…”00012
Meanwhile, Camden Benares had his own scene going on a few miles south of Monte Rio at Camp Meeker, which consisted of a cluster of summer cabins that had been overrun by hippies. Kerry Thornley joined Camden there in a lifestyle dedicated to hedonism and assorted forms of Discordian debauchery. At the time, Camden was married to his second wife, Melissa, and mate swapping was a common theme at Camp Meeker, as both Camden and Kerry had been into swinging going back to his days with Kerista in the mid-60s. Kerry and Melissa were an item for awhile; Kerry referred to her as “his ambassador to the world.” Another member of the party was a six-foot-two tall lady named Jerry.
During this period, Benares was writing erotica for The San Francisco Ball. Kerry was also a frequent contributor to The Ball, chronicling his opinions in a column called “Erotic Minority Liberation,” a 13-part series where he defended nearly every taboo under the sun, including exhibitionists, voyeurs, fetishists, transvestites, nymphomaniacs, obscene phone callers, animal lovers, and sadomasochists.
Benares was also working on a book project, Zen Without Zen Masters, which was subsequently published in 1977 and, like Illuminatus!, dedicated to the dynamic duo of Thornley and Hill.
Cinema Rio and the Monte Rio Community Center eventually folded in the spring of 1973, largely because Newport and Hill were over-extended financially. But there were other factors, as well, which caused the scene to run its course, namely the dissolution of Greg’s marriage to his wife, Jeanetta. As Newport recalled:
“It would have been a miracle if the marriage had survived. Life at the River was incredibly difficult. I mean it was wild, it was high and it was fun, it was creative… and there was no money, which meant that just trying to scrimp by with a living was hard to do… It was hard for me, too. I mean I had a little income because I had a practice going. But the theatre made no money—that cost us money. All these other activities we had going—none of them made money… So things were incredibly stressful. And when the marriage broke up, Greg became very depressed. And basically about that time, my mentor who lived next door to me, who had been a very interesting old man, who had dropped out as a President of Union Bank, and had come to the River, and had a very interesting Libertarian philosophy… ah, anyhow, he died, Jeanetta left, and pretty much everything collapsed…”00013
Psychedelic experimentation continued coursing through the Discordian bloodstream well into the 1970s. In a December 1974 letter, Newport reported to Greg Hill that “There’s a new psychedelic out – Legal, too, still – Ketamine HCL. Dosage 100mg. By I.M. injection – Cosmic consciousness in 4 min. Lasts 1 hour – 2 additional hours to come back down – Brand names Ketaject & Ketalar – Ask a long-haired doctor for a prescription.”
On November 23, 1976—which just so happens to be a holy Discordian Holiday, both due to the mystical manifestation of the number 23 and because it’s Harpo Marx’s birthday—an Englishman named Kenneth Campbell premiered a ten-hour stage production of Wilson and Shea’s Illuminatus! novel at the Science-Fiction Theatre in Liverpool. In true Discordian fashion, the production consisted of five plays of five acts (according with the Discordian Law of Fives) with each act 23 minutes in duration. As RAW wrote in Cosmic Trigger:
Campbell’s adaptation was totally faithful to this nihilistic spirit and contained long unexpurgated speeches from the novel explaining at sometimes tedious length just why everything the government does is always done wrong. The audiences didn’t mind this pedantic lecturing because it was well integrated into a kaleidoscope of humor, suspense, and plenty of sex (more simulated blow jobs than any drama in history, I believe.)00014
RAW and his co-author Robert Shea traveled to London to attend the production of Illuminatus! According to some accounts, RAW came bearing LSD tabs which he passed out to the cast members before the play commenced. As he recalled:
“The cast dared me to do a walk-on role during the National Theatre run. I agreed and became an extra in the Black Mass, where I was upstaged by the goat, who kept sneezing. Nonetheless, there I was, bare-ass naked, chanting ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’… and I will never stop wondering how much of that was programmed by [Aleister] Crowley before I was even born.”00015
The following year, a Discordian reunion took place that included RAW and his wife Arlen, Bob Newport and his wife Rita, Louise Lacey and Greg Hill who traveled to Seattle to attend the U.S. performance of the Illuminatus! stage play.
‘Twas a chilly night in Seattle, so someone (who shall remain nameless) produced enough MDMA for one and all (ingested between the second and third acts) which in due time took the chill from the bones of the assembled Discordians—and cranked up the glow surrounding their collective auras—as they sat enraptured, entranced by the spectacle. Louise Lacey recalls the Illuminatus! stage production as a “sublime experience.” As usual, laughter was a common theme. On the plane to Seattle, the group laughed all the way there, and in Seattle they laughed all through the stage play, laughed the rest of the night, and laughed all the way back home….00016
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, although the command staff here at Historia Discordia has no reason to doubt the central thesis presented herein, based–as it is–on evidentiary documentation referenced by Mr. Clutterbuck, not to mention his own personal journey down the sock-puppet filled Rev. Loveshade rabbit hole. – The MGT.
I am writing this article not just as a Discordian, but as an Award Winning Discordian, having been granted the Order of the Pineapple, an award that has been bestowed (dare I say, imposed) on other Discordians including Professor Cramulus, Adam Gorightly, Sondra London, Miley Spears, Pope Hilde, Gypsie Skripto and Princess Unicornia.
The order of the Pineapple was first presented in 1982 by the Ek-Sen-Trik-Uh Cluborguild. Except it wasn’t – which is the problem. It wasn’t invented in ’82, more likely it was invented in 2015. And many of the recipients – Spears, Hilde, Skripto, Unicornia etc – are entirely fictional.
This is just one symptom of the problem that lives very, very deep in current day Discordianism. It is the problem of Reverend Loveshade.
The Loveshade Family Tree
How do you write the history of a serial liar? It doesn’t make sense to simply assemble their lies and present them. Loveshade is a difficult liar because he is a Discordian liar – he is always winking at the camera. Many of the claims he makes are tongue in cheek and ridiculous, but there are certain ‘facts’ that are presented repeatedly. For instance, Loveshade’s involvement in adult film when younger, or his commune, or his persecution by the government—all are consistent moments referenced both seriously and playfully in different places. But why bother? If we can trust anything about Loveshade, it’s that we can rely on him to be a liar.
Loveshade appears to be a member of a large and eclectic community of Discordians, whose brand of Discordianism is liberty driven, owing much to the free love movements of the hippie scene. The community involves a number of young, often related young girls, including some of the above recipients of the Order of the Pineapple. There’s the Spears clan, the Black family, and the Loveshades, and a sprinkling of outsiders. Interactions between what we might call ‘the Loveshade family’ and others tend to be fraught with tension; some on philosophical grounds, some because I can tell you from experience that Loveshade’s adventures in forums and comment sections can be a tad antagonistic, and some because he likes to namedrop.
We can trace Loveshade’s internet history back to somewhere between 1998 and 2000. Loveshade’s mythology often references a bygone figure called Bloodstar/Alien Loveshade. Bloodstar appears real (in some sense), a figure on Geocities around the turn of the millennium. Bloodstar had some interactions with another Geocities user, A.D. Lea.
Between the two, the evolution of the Loveshade family can be seen. Both websites (Bloodstar and Alien Loveshade) have a fixation on copyright and image use that resembles current Loveshade family pages. Both pages pay tribute (including photos) to a model skull referred to as Binky the Wonderskull. Both pages link to the five key beliefs and other writings of Loveshade. A.D. Lea writes about gender in a passage called Gender Genesis – this is now on ‘Alden Loveshade’s’ page, attributed to him.
A.D. Lea also has photos of a Halloween party, some of which appear now on pages run by Alden Loveshade. This involved a kind of spooky tour, with pictures of wizards, wackos and wolfmen. The aforementioned ‘wacko’ is a bearded cleaver wielding maniac named Dr Sinister Craven. The man in that picture will come up again soon. The ‘Wizard’ is also later referenced as ‘The Wizard Lea’. It is a picture many will recognise as the self-portrait of Alden Loveshade. Most pictures are copyright A.D. Lea, but this one is attributed to another person called Dan, who will also come up again.
Bloodstar has another classic Loveshade attribute; he puts forward an interest in nudism, linking to several pages. Those pages often have a focus on selling images of ‘family nudity’. He also shares a ‘self-portrait’–a photoshopped floating head with exaggerated facial hair. The unedited image is commonly used as a self-portrait by Alden Loveshade.
Both A.D. Lea and Bloodstar link to Loveshade’s page at different times, often with the suggestion that it is coming soon – both linked to the Loveshade page as a work in progress. In fact, Bloodstar may even have alluded to creating Reverend Loveshade in his 1998 end of year letter (a tradition Alden Loveshade continues) – I established a Secret Earth Identity this year. I can’t talk about that too much, either.
We can assume A.D Lea and Bloodstar/Alien Loveshade are the same, and that they’re both Reverend Loveshade.
It wouldn’t quite be a Discordian story without dramatic jumps through space and time, but I feel this is a good time to talk about ‘The Biography of Alden Loveshade’ because I will be making references to it from here on, and I want to give credit where due.
The current Loveshade preoccupation of Wiki editing has not made Loveshade (or his ostensible community members ‘Pope Hilde’ and ‘Miley Spears’) many friends. In the SubGenius community in particular, there has been push-back against Miley Spears’ hostile takeover of the Subgenius Fandom Wikia. I’m unclear of the specific details, but around two years ago some members did some digging into Loveshade, and made a host of accusations, and were told to come back with proof.
They did. This PDF documents Loveshade’s court records from 2002 and identifies a few things about those early Geocities pages that I hadn’t spotted — in particular, his use of meta descriptions that seem designed to attract a… questionable community of fans.
“…closer inspection of the HTML shows a trend that becomes all too frequent in Loveshade-related online materials. Meta Descriptions, such as those seen in the screenshot below, containing tags like, ‘pregnant, pics, children, preteens, teenagers,’ and so on.”
I stumbled across this PDF through a series of leads, each more tenuous than the last. This lead—a guy I’d seen fall out with Loveshade on Facebook—was deeply paranoid of me when I introduced myself. Even after I sent a video of myself, clearly stating my name, it didn’t stop his suspicions that I was–or was affiliated with–Loveshade. I have to say, I don’t blame him.
In the end though, he was kind enough to decide to trust me. His name was M. Otis Beard, and he was himself an internet celebrity of a kind, a member of the Ur-Internet Troll association of ‘Kibologists’, and in particular had become a kind of unofficial spokesperson for faking your own death on the internet, something he did in 1999. Beard mentioned ‘the PDF’ offhand, assuming I knew of it, before directing me to a Subgenius group where I could find it.
Around this same time, I received an email from another individual, stating simply:
Heard your asking about Loveshade. I can tell you shit.
This was followed by a completely different document with an aesthetically similar cover. However the title was ‘The Biography of Reverend Loveshade’, and the content was wildly different. Without going into full details, there’s a simple reason for this; the person who sent it to me is Reverend Loveshade and he’s trying to muddy the waters, so that the reaction to the Subgenius document is the same as the current reaction to the whole of the Loveshade saga– ‘this is a weird mess, so I’m just not going to think too hard about it.’ In total, the moral of this second document is as follows – the man you think is Loveshade is framed, the real Loveshade is another person, and all his sock-puppets are real, too.
Like I said, I don’t blame Beard for his paranoia.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
The first notable instances of Loveshade interacting with other Discordians is on a Yahoo group called Illuminatusinnersanctum. His first post is in July of 2001, and he speaks of being invited by user ‘Chezire_Katt’, who seems to have performed several membership runs to gather new users. His last is in 2012, by which point the forum was basically a wasteland of spambots.
This puts Loveshade as a participating member of Illuminatusinnersanctum forum at the time of his reported 2002 arrest by Texas Law Enforecement officials, which allows us to put together a timeline. Further details can be found in the PDF.
On March 19, 2002, Loveshade posts his last message on the Illuminatusinnersanctum forum, after being an incredibly active poster.
‘The Biography of Alden Loveshade’ lists March 29, 2002 as Loveshade’s arrest.
On May 13, 2002, Chezire_Katt mentions that they wonder where Loveshade is.
On Feb 14, 2003, George_W._Bust (could be Loveshade out on bail, or a friend) writes the following message:
Somebody brought up an old message of Reverend Loveshades so I thought I’d better comment.
For those who dont remember him, he used to be a frequent poster here. That was until he was investigated by the FBI and the Secret
Service and arrested on an imaginary charge. He’s currently being held in solitary confinement.
He’s been threatened many times with arrest because of his fights for freedom. Now that fundamental American freedoms are being
threatened in the name of security, we are all vulnerable.
His writings can be found on many web sites. Please read the first one below at least. It has suggestions for what you can do. Don’t bother emailing him now. He has no way to respond.
We are hopeful that the Rev will soon be released. Remember his words when he said:
“Don’t wait for your grandchildren to ask you why you watched fundamental American freedoms being stripped away and did nothing.”
Loveshade’s sentencing date is April 12, 2003.
Suddenly, on October the 18th, 2005, Loveshade reappears:
As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m back!
I’d like to clarify several things, but I won’t because other people are involved and everything is yet to be resolved. And frankly, I’m still a little scared myself (for a while, I was scared as hell). A lot of what I write is B.S., but the rest of this is as true as I can make it.
I and some of my associates were a part of a national investigation in the U.S.A. which may have extended internationally, we aren’t sure. This began not too long after Sept. 11, 2001. Part of that investigation, and perhaps only a small part, was an attempt to learn the true identity of the Discordian “BloodStar,” who still remains in “hiding,” and of “Reverend Loveshade.”
As I have no reason to want to pin down my “true” identity, I’ll leave it at this:
* we were investigated for a number of “crimes,” many having to do with freedom of speech. As one of our group is on the edge of having the last charge dismissed, I don’t want to go into details
* there were almost certainly bugs planted, and informants for government agencies planted as well (some of this was well done, and some was so clumsily handled as to be almost laughable)
* one of us was held for months in solitary confinement
* several of us were threatened by citizens/government agencies/police officers
* there were several searches conducted in various parts of the U.S.A.
* the work (writings, photos, etc.) of many of us were seized (including writings of some people who posted to this site, some of whom are likely still unaware of the investigations)
* at least two people who posted to this site were questioned in person by the authorities (we suspect more)
* at least a dozen agencies in the U.S.A. were involved in the investigation, including the FBI (we don’t have official documentation that the Secret Service was involved, and at this point their involvement seems doubtful. But an attorney said it appeared quite probable that a then-prominent person in the federal
government was our “enemy”)
* not a single agency found a single thing that agency identified as being illegal–except for a small-town police department. (Note that the “evidence” from this local cop was turned over to various agencies including the FBI, which had it for almost a year–after that cop held it for two years–before admitting they found nothing illegal).
As to posting “jokes” about Sept. 11, some of the postings almost certainly were a part of the investigation. Fortunately, some investigators had enough brains to realize the postings were jokes before more people who posted here were questioned.
Be careful what you kid about in a public forum; be careful what you take photos of (you never know what contemporary community standards are out there); be careful what you write in fiction that someone might think is true; and be careful claiming that the government is a bigger threat to freedom than terrorists–especially if they are.
So the timeline is consistent. Loveshade was investigated, arrested, found guilty, went to jail, and came out again, to resume his online Discordian career where he left off.
Co-opting Wikis For Fun and Profit
One oft repeated piece of mythology is a variation of this: ‘Loveshade married a 15 year old girl to three grooms and everyone was naked.’ The truth of that matter is that a bunch of people had a goofy conversation in chat in November 2001. Loveshade has tendency to exaggerate the innocuous and downplay the serious. But there’s some things to note. One is that one of the three grooms, Danacasso, is known to Alden in the real world. Remember the Wizard photo? On his website, Alden attributes it to the photographer’s real name; on Facebook he attributes it to Danacasso. I contacted Danacasso, but received no reply.
Not so notable, but interesting to see, are Loveshade’s interactions with Shereed Volva on Illuminatusinnersanctum. There’s no speculation here – Shereed Volva, the editor of an edition of Discordian Open Source periodical ‘Intermittens’ outed himself as Loveshade, and gleefully pointed out that his name was an anagram for Reverend Loveshade. So when you see Volva and Loveshade interact remember – this is a man conversing with his own sockpuppet account.
One of Loveshade’s goals, in both Discordianism and Church of the Subgenius, is to rewrite the history of both to his liking. There’s a few tools he’s used to achieve these ends. The absolute control of basically all Discordian and SubGenius wikis is one. (The simplicity of this is almost admirable. Disused wikis lie around everywhere, waiting to be infiltrated with a sock army.) Another is presenting things as rumour from a sockpuppet, followed by a kind of smirking not-quite-denial from Loveshade. This is the method he’s used to suggest that he may be the child of Robert Anton Wilson’s murdered child Luna Wilson (it goes without saying, but no). And the final, most ambitious, is the wholesale construction of historical figures.
Richard Marshall. Gypsie Skripto. Mike Quinn ‘The MGT’. All historical figures. All bullshit.
Here’s the rule for working out if it’s a Loveshade sockpuppet. Can you draw lines between one verified human and another? If not, it’s a puppet. And the same is true of these ‘historical figures.’ There’s no evidence for Gypsie’s existence, outside of being a construction of Greg Hill in the 4th Edition afterword of the Principia Discordia. There’s no evidence of Mike Quinn/The MGT existing outside of the character created by Robert Anton Wilson. And the proof of Richard Marshall is that an obituary exists for a James Richard Marshall… but the links to Discordians? Nada.
One strategy Loveshade used to create these characters is through the purchase of the website kerrythornley.com, run under the pseudonym ‘Johnny Shellburn’ (the protagonist from Kerry Thornley’s Idle Warriors). Apart from all of the other painfully obvious clues I managed to avoid seeing at the time, I realised this connection when interviewing Shellburn for my book Chasing Eris, and my email bounced, delivering this message:
Your mail message to the following address(es) could not be delivered. This is a permanent error. Please verify the addresses and try again. If you are still having difficulty sending mail to these addresses, please contact
Customer Support at 480-624-2500.
188.8.131.52 failed after I sent the message.
Remote host said: 554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons. Please visit http://postmaster.yahoo.com/errors/postmaster-27.html 
The site exists to put ‘Shellburn’ in contact with seekers who he can baffle with bullshit. It also exists to muddy the waters of fact and fiction. Sondra London’s entirely credible interview with Kerry Thornley sits beside Richard Marshall’s fake interview with ‘Pope Hilde’. Possibly credible letters from Thornley sit alongside Thornley’s ‘Order of the Pineapple award.’
A Sea of Sock-Puppets
A few years ago, in a moment of astonishingly bad judgement, I agreed to do an interview with ‘Alden Loveshade’ for Yahoo News. (At the time, I regarded Reverend Loveshade as simply a troll, and Alden Loveshade as a separate person.) That news story never happened, and Alden instead, under the name ‘Johnny Shellburn,’ used my interview in his history-rewriting edition of Intermittens. In particular, he contrasted my entirely true allegations that ‘Gypsie Skripto’ and ‘Richard Marshall’ are bullshit, against his own evidence that they existed. It’s not enough for Loveshade to be able to make his own sandcastles in the sandpit – anyone who points out that the castles are made from sand must be punished.
Here’s another one: Reverend Loveshade developed a strong disagreement with a latter day Discordian who I refer to in my book Chasing Eris by the name ‘Smith’. Loveshade chased Smith around with a series of sock-puppets, and when Smith insulted Miley Spears, Loveshade looked up Smith’s address and mailed him cease and desist letter to demand a retraction for Smith’s supposedly defamatory statements. Then, in another scheme using sock-puppets, Loveshade tried to further entangle Smith into his web by posting in multiple places a lengthy conspiracy theory that he and Smith were the same person.
While googling Chasing Eris one day (vanity, darling), I discovered a website I hadn’t created called chasingeris.com. It had a decidedly Loveshadian look to it. Panicking, I contacted the webmaster to request they state clearly that they had no official connection to me, and to my great surprise they offered to transfer me the site. Phew! The owner then made a massive song and dance about how their name was a secret.
Now we’ll ask you a big favor. For me to do the transfer and for you to pay $30 into my paypal account, I’ll have to give you my real name. PLEASE don’t give this out. When you see my name, you may understand why. Or not.
Who am I.
Their first name was one that Loveshade commonly claims is his real name. Their surname was Smith’s real-life surname. I believe Loveshade was leaving breadcrumbs towards the theory that he and Smith were somehow connected. In fact, many of his schemes seem based on leaving little clues for internet detectives, surnames, anagrams, numbers, etc. It must be hard to be a big-brain genius that nobody appreciates.
Remember the trick to telling a human from a sock-puppet? A line between one flesh and blood human to another? I’ve only seen this twice – One between Alden and Daniel/Danacasso. The other is Alden and Doctor Sinister Craven.
Remember that Halloween party where many of Loveshade’s pictures come from? There’s a man with an evil grin and a meat-cleaver. He is the only person on that page that I’ve seen reappear over and over. He uses his real name, not Craven, however I won’t repeat it here. You’ve seen it though if you’ve viewed Loveshades’ blog – one clueless real human making comments in a sea of sock-puppets.
I bring up Craven because of what I’ve seen on his Facebook page. He writes a lot of poetry for Melissa Spears who is perhaps catfishing him, and has had disagreements online with members of the Loveshade clan. Craven posts online to say that his psychologist is telling him there is no such person as Melissa Spears, and Loveshade alts rush to contradict him. Alden warns Craven that MU Spears, who is defending Melissa’s honour, is a trained killer from the military. Bob Black scoffs at Craven, saying MU Spears could break his arm with his little finger. Of course, the Blacks, the Spears, the Loveshades; they’re all Alden.
Craven is not well, and Loveshade is using his army of sock-puppets to harass, threaten, gas-light and perhaps cat-fish him all at the same time.
It Gets Darker
By far the most creeped out I felt in the great Loveshade atrocity exhibition was in perusing the diary of Lorien Loveshade aka Princess Unicornia (but really, again, who cares – they’re all one person). Lorien’s diary, incidentally, is where scepticism about Loveshade’s sock-puppet army goes to die. Forget the ice-bucket challenge, forget the bird-box challenge, it’s time for the Loveshade challenge.
1. Spend 5 – 10 minutes perusing Lorien Loveshade’s page.
2. Look somebody in the eyes.
3. Repeat these words; “It’s totally plausible that this is the website of a 30 year old woman with a career in education.”
You just can’t do it.
The ‘Biography of Alden Loveshade’ covers this page quite well:
Lorien Loveshade is a webpage which began in 2005, presenting itself as that of an 18-year-old girl’s online diary, sharing intimate details of her life from pre pubescences forward, while simultaneously being heavily steeped in discussions of a sexual nature–Essentially erotic fiction geared towards pedophiles.
But this only gives a rough outline of the whole thing, and while I don’t want to be grotesque for the sake of it, I do want to give a sense of what’s there.
The diary entries are divided into three sections – preteen, teen and adult.
These diary entries include two preteen stories that are deeply uncomfortable to read. One is of a ten year old Lorien having her first tongue kiss while having her bottom fondled. Another is of a young Lorien having a fun day on the internet playing on chat with a stranger encouraging her and her friend to strip and touch each other (fortunately, that is not what happens).
There’s a narrative at play here. Compare to the story behind Miley Spears, or some of Lorien’s more vivacious friends. Lorien has been fondled, tongue kissed, exposed to internet perverts, visited the set of a porn shoot, and as a result? Has remained pure and virginal well past the legal age of consent. Miley Spears however was protected by her parents from sex, and as a result, had sex very early. Not only does exposure to sex apparently not harm a child, it actually is really good for them!
We don’t need to guess at this worldview – ‘Lorien’ spells it out for us in an article tastefully titled ‘Teen Sex.’
“One of my best friends was raised extremely strictly. Her father wouldn’t let her have email because he thought the Internet was a bad influence. She couldn’t even use it at school. He spied on her, searched her bedroom, called to check on her wherever she went, and wouldn’t let her go to parties unless it was all girls or there were a lot of adults there.
One day when she was 14, school was cancelled because of a teacher’s conference. She didn’t tell her parents school was closed that day. She left just like she always did. But she met her secret boyfriend near her school, then he took her somewhere and they had sex. All her father’s spying and trying to protect her meant nothing.”
We could get more examples from Alden’s various ‘community members’, but why bother? It’s there in black and white, for all to see, again, and again, and again.
It’s weird because, in case you forgot, NONE OF THESE PEOPLE EXIST. They are the creations of a 62 year old man who is writing the great American weirdo novel for people who aren’t allowed within 500 metres of schools or public parks.
But I’m sorry to say, dear reader, it gets darker. In 2013 Lorien’s diary went private. Alas, that doesn’t mean that ‘she’ took it offline like a normal person. If you access her diary in the conventional way, you’ll see mostly normal text titles, with a few hyperlinks that take you to stories, and a few hyperlinks that ask you to log in. Diary entry My and Beckys 14th b-day slumber party! Mar 15 2002 asks you to log in. So does the opinion piece I’M A VIRGIN AT A PORN SHOOT.
At http://lorien.loveshade.org/diary_public/special.html, the story is different. Every single diary entry is a hyperlink, and most invite the reader to log in. I’ve spent hours upon hours on Loveshade’s pages this week, and honestly don’t even remember how I found that this separate page existed, and was just fortunate to find it in again in my Internet history. My guess is that there’s some secret path in one of the many pages of utter crap. [My friends > Becky > Becky’s Mom’s Dog > Diary] or something. But the links on Lorien’s main page do not direct you to this page. It is hidden.
Who gets to log in? What do you think is on the other side of that login page? How do you get the login? Probably by sending a message to Lorien via the email ‘she’ puts on the front of her website. As stated on ‘her’ opinions page: “IF YOU WANT TO PRIVATE FILES, SEE SOME OF MY SEND ME A REQUEST EMAIL! MY ADDY IS ON MY HOMEPAGE”.
When a man who sees a diary filled with a young girl’s sexually charged experiences emails another man who fantasizes about young girls what happens? What do they talk about? What do they send each other? What plans do they make?
When All Else Fails Go Look At Goats
Very soon I will offer you a link to a funny goat compilation to shake off some of the worst vibes of this utterly horrible mess. But let’s go over it again.
Reverend Loveshade was arrested in 2002 for Obscene Wholesale Promotion. (Source: ‘The Biography of Alden Loveshade’)
Runs a massive sock-puppet army which essentially have full control over the SubGenius and Discordian wikis.
Actively constructs historical figures out of whole cloth and develops elaborate schemes to try to have them accepted as historical fact.
Runs ‘Lorien Loveshade’s Diary’ which contains a hidden page where all entries are accessible to persons who have obtained log-in credentials.
In 2015, a somewhat amusing bio of yours truly was posted at Discordia Wikia that is almost 23 percent accurate and presumably written by someone identified as Miley Spears, who in reality is a sock puppet of a self-styled Discordian named Reverend Loveshade who—it appears—has not only created this Miley Spears persona, but also a number of other phony Discordian characters such as Pope Hilde, Gypsie Skripto, not to mention a certain Johnny Shellburn (the same name of the protagonist in Kerry Thornley’s Idle Warriors) who operates KerryThornley.com where you can find an imaginary interview conducted by the aforementioned Pope Hilde with a supposed early Discordian named Richard Marshall who also probably never existed—or at least never existed in the sense that the interview suggests.
Richard Marshall—it so happens—also has a Discordia Wikia page which is also probably 23 percent accurate (at best!) although there actually was a real Richard Marshall who lived in San Francisco during the same period as Discordian Society co-founder Greg Hill, although none of the real Early Discordians I’ve talked to have ever heard of the guy.
According to Richard Marshall’s Discordia Wikia page (written by Miley Spears), Marshall contributed to Principia Discordia and The Illuminatus! Trilogy although I’ve never come across anything in the Discordian Archives to even remotely suggest that these claims have the slightest relation to reality or that Marshall ever knew Greg Hill or Robert Anton Wilson or Kerry Thornley—let alone Michael Arthur Quinn (aka The Midget) who is another imaginary character (based on an Illuminatus! character) apparently cooked up (once again) by Rev. Loveshade, who—it should be noted—also has a Discordia Wikia page submitted by (you guessed it!) Miley Spears, who—as previously noted—is actually the one and only Rev. Loveshade. In other words, the whole thing is a giant sock puppet circle jerk perpetrated by somebody with a lot of spare time on their hands.
In 1970s—according to Loveshade— his mother was purportedly friends with Robert Anton Wilson’s daughter and because of this Loveshade and his hippie mom became acquainted with Wilson, who he affectionately referred to as ‘Grandbob’ and along the way Loveshade “became obsessed with meeting the original Discordians” and that inspired him to (supposedly) track down Greg Hill in the 1990s at a San Francisco watering hole, an account of which appeared in Loveshade’s Ek-sen-trik-kuh Discordia: The Tales of Shamlicht.
Some might suggest that a shaggy dog story about meeting Greg Hill is perfectly acceptable from an Operation Mindfuck standpoint, as a form of pranking and modern myth making. On the one hand—being a card carrying Discordian—I can appreciate this type of culture jamming. On the other hand—with Historia Discordia and related projects — I’ve taken seriously the task of chronicling, as accurately as possible, the early days of the Discordian Society and its influence on the 1960s counterculture and onward. So when imaginary sources create imaginary history, it certainly leads us down a slippery slope.
In 2012, I was contacted by an enterprising Australian lad named Brenton Clutterbuck (which totally sounds like another made up name, but no he’s an actual dude) who informed me that he was working on a book project about modern day Discordianism entitled Chasing Eris.
While discussing with Clutterbuck different latter-day Discordians during a 2012 midnight Skype session, he informed me that as part of his Chasing Eris project he was planning a tour of the U.S. to interview prominent Discordians, including someone going by the name of Gypsie Skripto who had been introduced to him by Johnny Shellburn of KerryThornley.com, who—as previously noted—is another one of Loveshade’s alter egos.
Using the email address given to him by “Johnny Shellburn,” Brenton started a correspondence with Gypsie Skripto, who claimed that she had been friends with Greg Hill and part of the early Discordian scene in San Fran in the 1970s. In response, I told Brenton that I thought someone was yanking his chain, that the Gypsie Skripto in Greg Hill’s Principia Discordia afterword was an obvious literary construct, and that this person posing as Gypsie Skripto had basically co-opted Hill’s imaginary character as a way to troll the internet and create phony Discordian street cred.
Ultimately, Brenton’s planned meeting with Gypsie Skripto in Austin, Texas failed to materialize when she stood him up, using the pretext that she had to attend some last minute political activist hippie rally fundraiser (or some-such) and Brenton soon came to the realization that I was correct in my assumption that “Gypsie Skripto” was just one among a host of other spurious Discordian sock puppets courtesy of Rev. Loveshade.
With all this in mind, we’ll soon have a post up from Mr. Brenton Clutterbuck himself regarding his take on adventures with the Rev. Loveshade and his various sock puppets.
As we recently celebrated this past March, it has been FIVE years since Historia Discordia contributor Brenton Clutterbuck visited the Discordian Archives (both West and East Archive locations!) on his world-wide quest to document Modern Day Manifestations of Discordianism and meet the Discordian Popes around the world who keep Eris fnording.
And now his crazy idea has come to perfect Golden Apple fermentation on the auspicious Erisian date of May 5, 2018 (on the Kalendae Discordium date known as Setting Orange Discord 52nd, YOLD 3184), also coincidancing on Early Discordian Camden Benares‘ Discordian Holiday known as St. Gulik’s Day, with the publication of his years-long efforts now known as his newly released book Chasing Eris!
Go grab your very own copy via Lulu.com immediately.
I asked Clutterbuck for a few of his thoughts on the occasion of the release of Chasing Eris:
After years of horrifying experiments and strongly-worded letters from the Ethics Committee, my secret laboratory has finally produced the most significant marvel of International Chaos Science—my book Chasing Eris.
A note that I am totally wiped-out, weirded-out, and bedazzled by how willing people have been to get excited about this release—it’s very sweet and overwhelming to have my excitement and joy shared by so many of you weirdos, and I hope you know how simply humbled and delighted I am.
I have an e-book and some other tasty treats on the way, and if you’d like notification of when they arrive, you can sign up to my mailing list.
Keep the Lasagna Flying!
Congratulations, Clutterbuck! Eris abides on Chaos well done.
Check out a recent interview with Clutterbuck about writing Chasing Eris, some great deep-mind RAW stuff here:
Discordianism is the most influential parody religion you’ve never heard of. However, the half-century old “joke disguised as a religion” is experiencing something of a resurgence, with events such as Daisy Eris Campbell’s Cosmic Trigger play and the ‘Find the Others Festival’ organized by a team of chaotic pranksters including Ben Graham.
Now that chaos is returning to the UK (in style!), I talk to Ben Graham to look back on the long strange journey it’s taken to get here. From the pop sensation that burned a million pounds, to the reclaim the streets movement, Graham tracks chaos from comics to the Cosmic Trigger play.
Chaos culture is coming to you;
here’s where it’s coming from.
In 2015 trend forecaster K-Hole made a bold prediction; the next big thing would be Chaos Magic. To their credit, they seemed to have their finger firmly on the pulse of the zeitgeist—bit by bit, Chaos seemed to start waking up. A sudden resurgence of interest in Discordianism—a chaos worshipping ‘joke religion’—saw multiple book releases from names such as Adam Gorightly and John Higgs. John Higgs also began to do a tour to promote the legacy of famous Discordian author Robert Anton Wilson. Robert Anton Wilson’s family regained copyright to his works and began publishing under the name Hilaritas press. Meanwhile his book Cosmic Trigger (Amazon) was adapted into a play by Daisy Eris Campbell, and a Discordian festival was announced in ‘a south Yorkshire woodland’.
Suddenly, Chaos seemed to be creeping out from nowhere. But of course it hasn’t come from nowhere—in fact, while Anarchy may get all the attention, Chaos in the UK has a long and appropriately complicated history.
On a cold evening in London, I spoke to writer Ben Graham, an organizer of Festival 23 and author of A Gathering of Promises: The Battle for Texas’s Psychedelic Music From the 13th Floor Elevators to the Black Angels and Beyond (Amazon), who agreed to guide me through the strange trajectory of British Chaos.
I meet him at a pub up the top of Paddington Station. He has a kind of geeky manner to him, and that delightful British politeness that we see in Hugh Grant movies, shaggy sandy hair framing a friendly face well speckled with rough stubble.
From Magic Manual to Comic Book
Ben starts his tour of the chaotic in his childhood; his first forays into these concepts of chaos came as a child reading comic books. Specifically, a hugely popular series called 2000AD—the series that spawned the character Judge Dredd.
“Basically 2000AD was a British kids comic starting 1977,” he says. “It’s still going today. It started as a fairly kind of violent high-end kids comic with science-fiction themes off the back of Star Wars… it was also a primer in Chaos Magic for a few years there because the guys who were writing it were slipping all this stuff in. Alan Moore, you had Grant Morrison very into it. You also had people who never really got out—like Pat Mills did a comic strip called Slaine which had a lot of Celtic mythology—very into magic ideas. I would have been reading it as a kind of 15/16 year old.”
Grant Morrison, would go on in the late-80s to publish a strip named Zenith, notable for its themes of Chaos Magic. Here, he took influence from Chaos Magician Peter Carroll, the founder of the Chaos Magic organization Illuminates of Thanateros. The inspiration was quite overt—too overt perhaps—at one point Carroll threatened legal action against Morrison.
“You had a kind of a mainstream kids comic where three out of five strips in it would be kind of Chaos Magic primers for kids,” Ben tells me. This early transferal of Chaos Magic ideas from Carrol’s somewhat obscure special interest publications, into mainstream youth popular culture was perhaps one of the first big steps that Chaos took into the mainstream of the British public’s imagination.
Chaos Magic has another notable influence; the ostensibly jocular religion of Discordianism. In his work Oven-Ready Chaos Phil Hine describes this influence:
An important influence on the development of Chaos magic was the writing of Robert Anton Wilson & co, particularly the Discordian Society who revered Eris, the Greek goddess of Chaos. The Discordians pointed out that humor, clowning about and general light-heartedness was conspicuously absent from magic, which had a tendency to become very ‘serious and self-important’. There was (and to a certain extent remains) a tendency for occultists to think of themselves as an initiated ‘elite’ as opposed to the rest of humanity.
Unlike the variety of magical systems which are all based in some mythical or historically-derived past (such as Atlantis, Lemuria, Albion, etc), Chaos magic borrowed freely from Science Fiction, Quantum Physics, and anything else its practitioners chose to. Rather than trying to recover and maintain a tradition that links back to the past (and former glories), Chaos magic is an approach that enables the individual to use anything that s/he thinks is suitable as a temporary belief or symbol system. What matters is the results you get, not the ‘authenticity’ of the system used. So Chaos magic then, is not a system—it utilizes systems and encourages adherents to devise their own, giving magic a truly Postmodernist flavor.
Robert Anton Wilson was himself one of the original Discordians, and is probably single-handedly the person most responsible for the spread of Discordian ideas through the series of books he wrote with his friend Robert Shea—The Illuminatus! Trilogy (Amazon). This strange trilogy featured Discordians fighting against the evil plans of the Illuminati, and proposed that nearly every conspiracy theory popular at the time of writing was simultaneously true.
Epic Productions: Illuminatus! on Stage and the KLF
The event that bought Wilson’s ideas across the pond from the USA was the adaption of his Illuminatus! Trilogy into a play in 1977. Such a feat seemed impossible to do; luckily the discovery of the trilogy came to Ken Campbell; a man who regarded nothing as worth doing unless it was impossible. He was also the father Daisy Eris Campbell, who recently produced the play of Wilson’s book Cosmic Trigger.
Campbell was a theatre legend. His production of Illuminatus! into a play was a testament to his drive and creativity—the final presentation was performed as five acts across five nights, followed by an epic 10 hour presentation of all acts together. The opening date—November 23, 1976—took advantage of the Discordian obsession with the number 23.
As part of Ben’s writing career, he had the opportunity to interview one of the participants in this epic scale caper—Bill Drummond, who had developed the visionary set design of the play, creating surreal sequences with sets out of proportion to the actors, and using innovative techniques to position audiences in surprising ways, such as presenting actors horizontally to allow for a birds eye view of a tarot reading.
“So when I interviewed him, it wasn’t long after Ken Campbell had died,” Ben tells me. “So I wanted to ask him about that. And he was very effusive about the influence Ken Campbell had had on him when he worked on the 1977 production of Illuminatus! at the Liverpool Theatre and how he introduced him to those book and those ideas. Also I didn’t realize that Ken Campbell had been a lifelong friend. He would go to his house, keep in touch, for dinner, stayed like a friend with his family, more or less up to the point where he died. He said he was like a friend, not just a mentor from way back. He’d lost somebody who was an important guiding light.”
“He was always working in the now, he wasn’t thinking in terms of making films, writing books; it was always like, the event, what’s actually happening in the room,” Graham’s 2010 Quietus interview quotes Drummond as saying. “That was one of the big things I learnt from Ken Campbell. And taking risks, and just making things happen. That continued to inspire me about what he does, what he did do, right up until he died. And so I always got a lot out of getting together with Ken Campbell, or going to see a Ken Campbell production.”
Drummond is actually more famous for his role in music than for his role in the Illuminatus! play. He, together with Jimmy Cauty, founded The KLF, a sample based pop outfit. Their original name was The JAMS, a name alluding explicitly to a group in Wilson and Shea’s Illuminatus! Trilogy.
By the time Ben had had his interview, the band had been long broken up. They ended their career in an extraordinary way—by announcing their retirement, shutting down their record catalogue and traveling out to a small island on Jura to burn the money they made—an entire million pounds. (For those interested, aforementioned author John Higgs has brought this strange tale back into the spotlight with his book, The KLF: Chaos, magic and the band who burned a million pounds (Amazon.)
When the band first burned the money, they followed up with a tour where they invited audiences to ‘tell them’ why they burned the money. Ben was in attendance at one of these nights in 1995, and detailed it for his fanzine News From Nowhere.
“They came to Bradford where I was staying and did a showing, a Q&A. I took part in the Q&A, so I had some interaction with the guys but it wasn’t an interview. I did write up the piece. I kind of tied it in with a lot of Discordian Illuminati type thing to sort of put my spin on why they’d done that. It did kind of get back to the KLF chaps, and I gathered that they thought that that was kind of the best piece on it at the time.”
Ben later sends me a copy of it. It is a good piece. The mood of the gathering is palpable, an audience frustrated at being asked questions rather than being given answers, in parts angry, congratulatory and indifferent.
“It was at the One in Twelve Club, Bradford, which was the kind of Anarchist underground club there, so the quotes from the people watching it were that these were kind of rich pop-stars that were burning money that could have gone to a good cause—that it was kind of an indulgent, decadent act. The guys, when they were talking, they weren’t really trying to defend themselves. Their approach was that they were trying to say, ‘we’re trying to find out why we did it, you tell us why we did it, we want to hear your stories,’ so they were being a bit of a kind of blank canvas.”
At one point Graham describes some of the outbursts of the crowd, describing the reaction of a group of punks unhappy that no explanation would be forthcoming.
“How do you get rid of piles,” they demand, amidst assorted jeers and heckles.
“Grab ‘em in your hand, right, and shove ‘em back up yer arse and hold ‘em there,” demonstrates Bill.
“It was a hostile night for them I think at the One in Twelve. My take on it; I suppose I kind of thought that one thing—it was their money. People have wasted that amount of money, music people have made that amount of money and wasted it on far more frivolous things, not many people give it to a charitable cause—they spend it on cars, houses, drugs, whatever with that money. They chose to make an art project by burning it. And I think it was quite a good reaction, they did make people think about the notion of money, money is the relationship between the paper and whatever it is you value in the world.”
His article also quotes the following passage from The Illuminatus! Trilogy:
“And you know what they do with Federal Reserve notes. Every time they get one, they burn it. Instant demurrage, they call it.”
“I doubt that it’s literal that they kind of saw this reference in the book and either it gave them the idea or said that it justifies that. You know, it’s not like the Bible where you’re looking for quotes to justify or base your actions on. But I think the action of doing that was sort of in line with the ideas that came from Discordia and the Illuminatus!…”
“And the burning of the money—it is a random act in the sense that they—they sort of knew why they were doing it I think, but you don’t really know what the consequences are going to be. You know you’re taking this money and you’re burning it and it’s a big—it’s sort of a magical ritual. In that way I think it’s very much a Discordian thing to do. And they deleted their back catalogue. Seemed sort of very much, let’s destroy the idea of the KLF but also you’re sort of creating more of a myth you know, beyond the sort of money making, the actuality of the music business, actuality of the KLF—you’re actually furthering its mythical life.”
At one point in the article Graham quotes one of the pair saying they weren’t trying to make a big statement like “chopping off our hands or something.” The joke would have been lost on the audience—Bill publicly admitted seriously considering that mad idea in his book 45, released in 2000.
One interesting point made towards the end of the article is Graham quoting Bill talking about a gender divide; men were more likely than women to support the burning.
Temporary Autonomous Zones and Radical Rave Culture
“After the KLF, some of the Illuminati stuff did spread into more general rave culture for a few years when it was in its peak,” Graham tells me. He pronounces it Illumin-ar-tai. “Kind of in the early-90s people kind of talked on—sort of around ’87, ’88 but then it went more widespread. It was also in that period when you had in the UK, the kind of club, the rave sort of techno clubs crossed over with the older traveling free festival scene that sort of came with the guy in the 60s and 70s, Hawkwind, that had been traveling hippy dreadlocked guys, because of the ravers that had been having free festivals out in fields, they ended up teaming up with guys who’d been having hippy rock festivals in fields forever. Those guys ended up getting into a lot of techno music, but they would have been guys who were reading the Illuminatus! books in the early 70s. It had the whole kind of esoteric hippy knowledge and stuff behind it, and guys who’d been living outside society for like a decade or so, going around in buses and all sorts of stuff.”
“I don’t know how much you know about this stuff; the whole peace bus in the UK, the battle of the Beanfield at Stonehenge where police smashed up, destroyed buses and a whole community, then you had the Castlemorton Festival which led to the Criminal Justice Bill which is a law in the UK outlawing repetitive beats in public places which basically killed the outdoor bass scene. But when you had that whole scene going in the 90s, you had the club rave kids meeting the hippy travelers, one side being electronic techno music and ecstasy, and the other bringing this kind of like hippy philosophy and ethos and knowledge and it all kind of crossing over. And certainly I think a lot of the kind of Illuminati ideas. Suddenly it became cliché to be referencing the number 23 and something, for one thing.”
I mention to Ben the prevalence of the concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone, in the rave scene. This idea came from Hakim Bey, a philosopher, who described this concept of a space in which the usual laws did not apply in his 1991 book of the same name.
“Yeah,” says Ben. “And in practical terms that sort of crossed over into the reclaim the streets movement doesn’t it. What they were doing certainly kind of early on, there was a lot of theory behind it and the notion of Temporary Autonomous Zone was very much to do with what they were doing, going into the business area of London and having a big party and stopping the traffic. It wasn’t really a protest. Maybe a protest against business or car culture or whatever but at the same time it was the notion of the Temporary Autonomous Zone. It’s like the Situationist idea of beneath the pavements, the beach and in the heart of the city we can have a party, we can bring flowers, we can have a fete in the middle of the road, and that came out of that sort of politicized and radicalized rave culture. You know, they became the reclaim the streets movement and the anti-road protesters, it’s really the same people who’ve moved on from music just into protesting. They’re outdoors and they’re reclaiming their environment, on a kind of Utopian Situationist principle.”
He describes the recent Occupy as a natural outgrowth of reclaim the streets movement.
“It’s like William Burroughs says,” he tells me. “Artists legislate the world, they’re more powerful than politicians because artists create ideas and politicians just put things into action; good artists come up with something new and put it into the world and that kind of changes things.”
Ben Graham has joined forces with a number of other co-conspirators to be part of a contemporary Discordian celebration—Festival 23—that in part formed itself through the energies of the motley crew that came together for the ‘Conferestival’ that marked Daisy Eris Campbell’s opening of Cosmic Trigger. Festival 23 hosted a giant artwork by Jimmy Cauty—an industrial container filled with an epic post-riot miniature landscape. Ben Graham provided the writing on a leaflet that accompanied the artwork:
Both festivals and riots aspire towards freedom; both ultimately are only temporary negations of a stultifying status quo, but may lead to more long-term solutions catalysed by their unfettered expression of energy, anger, love and/or ecstasy. There is freedom in the heart of a riot; a wild abandon and a sense that suddenly anything is possible. Do what thou wilt is quite literally the whole of the law, for the law as defined by policemen, judges and politicians is shown to have no empirical natural authority. It is an assumed condition imposed by those temporarily in power, and can be overthrown both within and without by the will of the people, if only for a limited time and space. But if it can be done once, even for a few seconds, can such glorious lawlessness not be achieved again?
* * *
So did chaos jump from magic manual to comic book, find itself in fiction, transferred to stage before implanting itself in the minds of future pop superstars, whose rave hits implanted it into the culture of rave, and ultimately protest and party culture?
Well, of course not—such a story is far too clean for the messy madness that is chaos. But if there’s a lesson here, it’s that every strange step of history sets off another twenty-three steps in all sorts of directions. With so many chaotic steps bouncing off each other, how long do you think it will be before you too have the pleasure of being plunged into chaos?
My forthcoming book Chasing Eris will be released next month. The book documents my worldwide adventure to experience modern Discordian culture, meet its personalities, and the discovery of many elusive Erisian mysteries. —Brenton Clutterbuck
After leaving the Left Coast, Clutterbuck found himself in the most conservative Republican county in the United States, Cobb County, Georgia, where he got a good, hard look at the Discordian Archives East. Here are a few pics of his visit:
In our meeting we talk about what it was like to live with Kerry in Little Five Points, Atlanta. It seems important to mention that at the time they met, Kerry was, according to some, veering off into paranoia. I myself remain agnostic on some of his claims and skeptical of some others, especially his theory that his “real father” was a Nazi Admiral.
Tantra greets me at the entrance of her house, near a garden filled with gigantic cacti. She is smiley and excitable, and her passion for life is contagious.
She grew up in Indiana, in an area where very few people were around, few enough that one didn’t need to put clothes on to collect the mail on a hot day. She would go to Alabama, now and then, to see relatives. It was the kind of town where you couldn’t really admit to not being religious. She would attend Straight Creek Holiness Church, where people would yell and run around the congregation when the spirit seized them. When the spirit seized preachers, they would handle the snakes; a sign on the church quoted Mark 16:18, They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. The spirit never seemed to seize them in her presence. When she was in Alabama, she missed the people she could engage with in California, and when she was away she missed the nature.
Tantra has a special relationship with nature. She spent years traveling the country in her van, sometimes driving out to a natural place, and finding a spot to sleep out in the open. It was during this period of travel that she began to develop her skills in Tantric yoga, healing, and her own construction of a form of effortless movement, called ‘Lucid Play.’
Tantra was in Little Five Points when she met someone who connected her with Kerry Thornley, who was to take a significant place in her life.
“I had been in Atlanta in Little Five Points and I met this guy who was the figurehead of Little Five Points. He would stand there and he would ring his bell and he would burn his sage and he would figure out who should meet whom. So he was telling me about Kerry Thornley and showing these broadsheets that he had put up and they were great political activism mixed with absurd, wild craziness. And so I wanted to meet him, and I thought, I want to come back to Atlanta to spend time with Kerry Thornley. And he was, I guess, 60 or something like that.
“And so then later I was going to Atlanta. I thought it was going to be just for a weekend but then my van broke down so I had to find a place to live. I was reading The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It was dedicated to Kerry. I stayed with that guy that I mentioned. His friend Wilson Leary, Timothy Leary’s cousin, came by, he and I started dating. So I’ve got all these things in the world of Kerry Thornley like…” she waves her arms and makes sounds to imitate the ineffable presence of Thornleyness that was entering her sphere.
“So I was trying to figure out where I was going to live and this guy just came up to me in Little Five Points and said, ‘If you’re looking for a place to live, you can live with me, I’ve got a porch.’ I checked out this house and they’ve got a big porch and so I moved in. It was a really wild artistic kind of place. I found out that Kerry Thornley lived there in this little mother-in-law right out the back. So I went there looking for Kerry Thornley, and moved in next to him without even knowing it.”
“Do you remember the first time you actually met him?” I ask.
“Uh-huh. Coming out of my room it was like, ‘There’s Kerry Thornley!’ Or, Omar Khyaam Ravenhurst.”
“What did you two talk about the first time you met?”
“Oh, I probably was just kind of squealing and telling him how glad I was, and him just doing this great laugh. I love his laugh. It was unlike anyone else’s. I wouldn’t even try to imitate it. He had thirteen cats or something like that, some huge number of cats so you’d always hear him calling them. He was just this really sweet little cat man, and son of a Nazi, such an odd combination, he claimed. In my life I always run into these MK-ULTRA kind of people, which was a little scary sometimes, that that happens, and that’s what he was, he said.
“I was also was a little bit uneasy about how much, living with him, was that going to involve me? How much was I being watched because of it? So it became like The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Black helicopters were going over all the time, and just becoming more and more like those books.”
Kerry said there were flying helicopters over his house,” I say. I was thinking of what a friend of Kerry, Louise Lacey, had told me of Kerry’s time in Florida when I said this, though I’d forgotten the details of what I’d heard. She had told me that Jim Garrison had sent helicopters over his house.
“They were, they were,” Bensko says. “They were doing it a lot. They would even follow me around. He seemed to know what he’s talking about. People always think that he was making up these stories in his head about the mind controllers and stuff, but I don’t know. He might have been.”
It was once while they lived in this close proximity that Tantra decided to perform a Discordian ritual, after a comment Kerry made.
“He said that the beauty of Discordianism was that he didn’t have to see any other Discordian-ists. And so there were no rituals. So to fly in the face of that then and give it a little chaotic shuffle, I told him, ‘we’ve got to do a ritual then.’ He thought that was a great idea.
“So I got a stick of butter and I molded it into the shape of Eris the Goddess and I put it on the floor. We said something over it you know, and his thirteen cats came and positioned themselves around the butter so there was no space in between them. They were all just jammed into where their tongues were right in there in the butter and they all started spinning around in a circle all at the same time, so you had this circling cat-thing around Eris, licking it until it was gone while Kerry and I were just laughing.”
“So that was the core moment that I remember about that ritual. His cats after that walked off but kind of continuing to circle and just ‘woah hey’ and wobble off to the edges.”
“Did you spend much time with Kerry after that?” I ask.
“Oh yeah, I spent a lot of time with him when I lived in Atlanta because I was there a couple of years, and so we were really good friends. I think I spent as much time with him over those years as everyone else did altogether. He didn’t really have a lot of people come by. And the other people in the house didn’t go to see him that much. But we were buddies. We hung out. I just deeply love Kerry.
“I don’t agree with some of his politics like, ‘Kill Kennedy.’ But yeah, I really liked Kerry a lot. I felt like his writing with Eris might have had something to do with his feeling like he did inadvertently kill Kennedy by suggesting someone like Oswald could be a patsy. But who knows; it’s one layer after another it’s so complex at the time.”
When I first talked to Bensko over the Internet she pointed out that she wasn’t a Discordian and wasn’t any kind of expert, but when I spoke to her in person, she said she was identifying sometimes with the title. I asked her to tell me what about the ideology meant to her.
“It’s postmodernist,” she says. “There’s many angles, and none of them are true.” She likes that Discordia is essentially difficult to take too seriously, and finds the attitude of believing without believing useful to her work. “There’s lots of Gods in Tantra Yoga too, and I see them as physics principles,” she tells me.
We chat for a long time; Tantra is someone who it is immensely easy to be around. She carries an effortless friendliness that invites you in and asks you to engage, without needing to say the words. She talks about many things, including her time in Little Five Points, her Yoga experience and her book, Collapsible Horizon.
I walk home. The air is warm and still. I arrive back to the marijuana-scented hostel doors, and make my way up the winding stairs to my room.