I recently received a very generous care package (that synchronistically weighed in at exactly 23lbs) from the fine folks at Illuminated Brew Works, that included some cool swag along with a selection of their top-notch beer adorned with some of the coolest artwork/labels you’ll find on this or any other planet.
My fav among this trove of tasty of whistle-wetter’s was “Your Soul, A UFO” which includes these illuminating words featured below from the renowned academic psychonaut, Dr. Jeffrey Kripal.
Not only does Illuminated Brew Works offer a rotating selection of great beers with ingenious packaging, but they also have their very own Lodge (in the Windy City) where you can be initiated as a club member if you pass through all the required rituals/degrees, which will then earn you a set of wings and a Passport to Magonia. Having already earned a 33rd degree grandmaster rating at several magical orders, the Illuminated Ascended Masters (ASM) at Illuminated Brew Works (IBW) went ahead and awarded yours truly my very own set of wings without ever having to actually cross the Abyss and travel to Chicago and down a pint of Adrenochrome in under 23 seconds.
Whatever the case, I definitely hope to travel to the windy city at some point in the near future to meet up with my illuminated beer enthusiast brethren and sistern.
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 above photo of Robert Anton Wilson, on the fabled Grassy Knoll, popped up on the Twitter a while back courtesy of Mustafa_al_Laylah, taken during a visit to Dallas circa 1998. In said photo, RAW is situated behind the picket fence separating the Grassy Knoll from the adjacent rail-yard bordering Dealey Plaza.
According to one assassination conspiracy theory (examined in the BBC series The Men Who Killed Kennedy), it was from this vantage point that the so-called Badge Man presumably fired the baleful bullet(s) that catapulted President Kennedy’s cranium into the great beyond, a theory based in part on photographic enhancement of the picket fence area at the time the fatal projectile(s) met their mark. Of course, the enhancement and enlargement of an old grainy photo (in this case the Mary Moorman photo) is like peering into a Rorschach Blot, and the longer you do so, the more figures your imagination brings to life, and thus fills in the blanks depending on what you expect to see, or desire to see, a la ‘Who Is The Master That Makes The Grassy Knoll Green?’.
During this tumultuous period, Garrison was viewed as a new darling of the “Radical Left,” presenting himself as a maverick prosecutor taking on corrupt authority in the form of the CIA and the military industrial complex, whom Garrison suggested (at one time or another) were part of the sinister plot that engineered Kennedy’s awful offing.
Due to this view of Garrison as some new hero of the Left, Thornley now found himself in a somewhat peculiar position, as he had long been involved with the burgeoning counterculture, having written for any number of underground magazines and newsletters, but now it appeared he was the odd man out. As RAW recalled in my book The Prankster and the Conspiracy:
“In ’67 or ’68, most of the underground press was publishing a lot of stuff pro-Jim Garrison, and this included Kerry’s role in the assassination. And I had lots of contacts in the underground press, so I starting sending out articles defending Kerry, which nobody would print, because the underground press was behind Garrison and the official corporate media was totally anti-Garrison—I was trying to send the message to the wrong place…”
Among those (in Thornley’s opinion) that had jumped aboard the Garrison bandwagon, was L.A. Free Press publisher/editor Art Kunkin, who, among other pro-Garrison articles, ran the following:
In response, Thornley sent the following letter to Art Kunkin, presenting his side of the story and requesting equal time:
In their efforts to provide counter-programming, Thornley, RAW, and their fellow Discordians launched what became known as Operation Mindfuck, a concerted effort to bombard Garrison and his enthusiasts with a steady diet of zany disinformation under the banner of the Bavarian Illuminati. To further illuminate (or confuse) Art Kunkin, RAW sent the letter below, under the auspices of the Order of the Peacock Angel, signed by his Discordian alter ego, Mordecai Malignatus.
In order to further expand their network of potential Illuminati collaborators, RAW sent the following missive to a select group of underground movers and shakers.
How the Discordian Society became synonymous with the Bavarian Illuminati can be attributed, to a certain extent, to a John Birch Society member named Allan Chapman, who also doubled as a JFK assassination researcher and “Grassy Knoll Irregular,” as they were dubbed; a legion of amateur sleuths who shared their investigative “fruits” with Jim Garrison, which then Garrison regurgitated to greater glory. RAW name-dropped Chapman in his infamous letter & answer in the April 1969 PLAYBOY Advisor.
As Thornley recalled:
“Wilson and I founded the Anarchist Bavarian Illuminati to give Jim Garrison a hard time, one of whose supporters believed that the Illuminati owned all the major TV networks, the Conspiring Bavarian Seers (CBS), the Ancient Bavarian Conspiracy (ABC) and the Nefarious Bavarian Conspirators (NBC).” (The Dreadlock Recollections, Kerry Thornley)
Chapman subscribed to the theory that the Illuminati (who he claimed controlled the Big Three TV networks) masterminded the assassination, and that one of the alleged assassins hid inside a storm drain in the picket fence area of the Grassy Knoll and then popped out of a manhole cover like some diabolical jack-in-the-box and peppered poor JFK with a barrage of bullets before returning to his underground lair there.
It should then come as no surprise that The Grassy Knoll played a part in the Illuminatus! Trilogy, embodied in the character of the Dealey Lama, a robed and bearded holy mad man who lived in the sewers below Dealey Plaza. In retrospect, the Dealey Lama sounds a lot like Kerry Thornley by the mid-1970s, when Kerry lived the life of a homeless holy man of sorts, sporting long hair and a biblical beard, and at one time or another actually lived in a storm drain for a spell.
One legacy of the Discordian Society has been its part solidifying the place of the Illuminati in contemporary pop culture. Once an obscure and poorly understood quirk of European history, the Illuminati is now sincerely regarded by some to be responsible for 9/11, global economic collapse, the entire pop music industry, and are claimed to include such high ranking members as Jay-Z, Beyonce and George W. Bush.
While on my Chasing Eris journey, I was able to pay a visit to some historic Illuminati sites. I had taken a train to visit Ingolstadt, the historical birthplace of the Illuminati. Some part of me expected to see signs of the Illuminati everywhere; poorly made Eye-in-the-Pyramid shirts with INGOLSTADT BAVARIA written on them and ‘take our Angels and Demons Illuminati tour…’ but there was nothing. I realised how nothing there is when I try to buy a friend a gift—an owl. While triangles and the Eye in the Pyramid (more properly known as the Eye of God) are recognised in popular culture as the sign of the Illuminati, the original symbol of the Illuminati was an owl. This is the symbol of Minerva, and implies wisdom. Despite this, it took a few hours of solid searching before I found a cute glass owl at the markets. I suspect this scant acknowledgement of Barvaria’s conspiratorial past is a mostly conscious effort to avoid attracting conspiracy freaks.
The first location I successfully tracked down was the Adam Weishaupt house at Theresienstraße 23. It wasn’t anything stunning; today it is a bank (which should be a delight to the tin-foil crowd). I did note the curvy stylistic 23 with some satisfaction however; a good number for a conspiracy.
It was here, apparently, that Weishaupt began the meetings that would lead to the development of the Illuminati.
Adam Weishaupt was born in 1748. Accounts suggest his father died when he was only seven years old, leaving him in the care of his liberal grandfather. He had two educations; one by the Jesuits, and another self-delivered amongst the considerable tomes of his grandfather’s bookshelf (potentially one of the largest personal collections in Europe), and it was this second education that was to most fully impact young Weishaupt.
Every teenager is rebellious, and in Bavaria where the Jesuits essentially had total control of the education system since around 1549, there was a lot to rebel against. This was a particularly extraordinary situation when one considers that throughout the rest of Europe, the enlightenment was taking place, and the power of the Catholic Church was slipping.
I continued through the Bavarian streets. There was a thick fog, and the day was crisp and grey. Eventually as I walked, I came to a large building; the University of Ingolstadt.
While the location may have changed, it was at this institution that in 1772, with his grandfather’s help, Weishaupt was given the position of Professor of civil law. He climbed that ladder relatively quickly, earning the ire of the Jesuits. The feeling was mutual.
On the first of May, 1776, Adam Weishaupt founded the first historically supported instance of the Illuminati. Weishaupt’s most profound prejudice was against the Jesuits whose education he had obviously not appreciated, and whose continued objections to his activities within the University he resented. His organisation was also opposed to all forms of modern occult, was closed to Jews, and actively persecuted the Rosicrucians. They reserved their support for rationalist philosophy, science, and a doctrine of equality, though as translator and poet Jeva Singh-Anand comments, they were a little too early for feminism (one of the few proposals of women in the Illuminati suggests them as providing ‘voluptuous pleasures’ to the male members). Instead they promoted a type of patriarchal tribal society, free from inequitable concentrations of power or goods. They also expressed admiration for the liberalizing effect of high populations and promoted the improvement of society through moral education. Singh-Anand also states that they promoted Hermetic and Esoteric philosophy, to a degree:
“There’s an operative part of the esotericism and then there’s metaphysics and esotericism as a branch of philosophy. That’s where you get people like Stoics. That’s where you get people like Idealists, Platonists. All these things. If we define it this narrowly; metaphysics and esoteric ideology, yes they were very much into that. But when it comes to stuff like astrology, redesigning the tarot, Goetic Invocations, things like that, they had a very, very dim view on it.”
Despite their disdain for contemporary occulture, the Illuminati adopted a number of ancient practices, at least aesthetically, using an hierarchical ordering system and calendar adopted from ancient Persia. As initiates moved through the order, they were revealed new ‘secrets.’ Superstitious notions were conveyed in the “Lesser Mysteries,” while in the “Greater Mysteries” the veil of superstition was torn away and those deemed worthy were initiated into the truths of rational understanding of God, writes German Illuminati expert Monika Neugebauer-Wölk.
The aims of the Illuminati were to abolish both religion and the monarchic powers of the state, through all peaceful means. Every violent reform is to be blamed, wrote Weishaupt, because it will not ameliorate things as long as men remain as they are, a prey to their passions; and because wisdom needeth not the arm of violence. However, evidence exists that at least at some point the Illuminati had considered the poisoning of political rivals, and it’s impossible to know what might have been revealed by documents the Illuminati burned when the tide turned against them.
Weishaupt’s formation of the Illuminati predated his membership in the Freemasons, which took place a year later. Once in though, he set about trying to discover Masonic secrets and link the Illuminati to the Masons in advantageous ways. In effect, the Illuminati became a secret society hidden inside a secret society.
Weishaupt quickly found a great friend in writer Adolf Freiherr Knigge. Knigge contributed much to the Illuminati, publicising it and adding to the ritual and mythology of the organisation. He and Weishaupt often disagreed; Weishaupt considered the best structure of the Illuminati as Monarchic, Knigge thought it should be a Republic. Knigge also worried that the structure was open to abuse. In the end, like Simon and Garfunkel, their creative partnership ended through creative differences. Before their separation though, Knigge represented the Illuminati at the Masonic Congress of Wilhelmsbad, an event that sealed the association between the Freemasons and the Illuminati.
The earlier (pre-1776) origins of the Illuminati are the result of much embellishment, mostly on the part of Weishaupt and Knigge. Weishaupt drew a fictional genealogy back to the King of Persia, Yadzegerd III. Knigge created a separate origin, bringing the birth of the Illuminati back to Biblical Noah. Funnily enough, none of these claims related to the the Knights Templar, an organisation continually included in many conspiratorial genealogies, and today strongly associated with the Illuminati. Like other aspects of modern Illuminati mythos, the Templar’s connection is to Freemasonry—they were claimed by some Masons to be the origin for German Freemasonry—a claim that seems akin to Knigge or Weishaupt’s in terms of credibility.
Working towards abolishing the institutional power of both church and monarchy, the Illuminati couldn’t remain enough of a secret to avoid making powerful enemies. By 1785 it was all over. Weishaupt was on the run, the Illuminati was outlawed and disbanded by the King of Bavaria. The Illuminati was finished.
OR WAS IT? Several sources following this point make the claim that the Illuminiati continued to exist beyond their supposed end.
The squishing of the Illuminati took place quickly—for some, too quickly to be believed. The continued paranoia of enemies of the Illuminati, including European kings and the mysterious Rosicrucians, led to a continued hyper-vigilance for signs of their re-emergence. When, in 1789, the French Revolution left Parisian streets awash with blood of the ruling class and their own revolutionaries, some considered this the work of the dreaded Illuminati.
This claim was made in Vienna Magazine, various pamphlets, and the 1797 work Proofs of a Conspiracy by John Robison. Much of Robison’s historical information about the Illuminati seems well sourced, until it approaches his discussion of the French Revolution.
Almost immediately, this Illuminati paranoia spread across the pond, to the USA. According to Vernon Stauffer’s work New England and the Bavarian Illuminati, only a year after Proofs of a Conspiracy was released, clergyman Jedediah Morse (the father of the single-wire telegraph inventor Samuel Morse) gave a speech claiming that the Illuminati had begun operations in America:
On the morning of May 9, 1798, in the pulpit of the New North Church in Boston, and on the afternoon of the same day in his own pulpit at Charlestown, the occasion being that of the national fast, the Reverend Jedediah Morse made a sensational pronouncement. He first discussed with his hearers “the awful events” which the European Illuminati had precipitated upon an already distracted world, and then proceeded solemnly to affirm that the secret European association had extended its operations to this side of the Atlantic and was now actively engaged among the people of the United States, with a view to the overthrow of their civil and religious institutions.
Other sources in this period, continue along the same theme, that of a continuing tradition of Illuminism, perhaps involving or influenced by the very earliest participants in the Illuminati, that had passed through Paris and into the United States, remaining hidden in Masonic lodges. Various works make claims of conspiracies in or around New England. The 1802 work Proofs of the Real Existence, and Dangerous Tendency, of Illuminism by Samuel Etheridge claims the existence of documents supporting the presence of 1700 Illuminati scoundrels in the USA. One possible reason for this seems to be political opportunism—many of these conspiracies were directed towards defaming Alexander Hamilton’s Federalists. (Perhaps it was an effort to stop them singing!) The conception of the Illuminati began to move away from any ideological goals, and became instead characterised as a group who desired ‘power for power’s sake’.
This massive twist in the characterisation of the Illuminati complete, the stage was set for the next chapter in Illuminati history: its complete transformation into a contemporary conspiracy theory, egged on by yet another institution that was to be born out of the strange chaos of the United States post-WWII period.
As you’ll soon see documented in Part Two of the Illuminati Files, that “institution” would be the Discordian Society promoting a parody religion known as Discordianism.
In this vein, I thought I’d share further examples of Discordian parties starting with a shindig thrown by Tim Wheeler (aka Harold Lord Randomfactor) at his farm in Shelbyville, Indiana, billed as the “Grand National Founding Convention of Young Americans For Real Freedom.” The intent of this gathering was to draft “The Shelbyville Statement,” which would be the guiding document of the Young Americans for Real Freedom (YARF). Of course, all of this was merely an elaborate joke-parody riffing on a real organization called the Young Americans for Freedom that was prominent in conservative political circles during this period.
Moving on to other Discordian parties, here’s a note from Greg Hill (aka Mal 2) to Louise Lacey (aka Lady L., F.A.B. – Fucking Anarchist Bitch) composed on genuine Illuminati stationary created by the aforementioned Harold Randomfactor.
“…celebrated at our apartment house with weird and eldritch festivities. Arlen and I, representing the Discordian Society, together with Stephen upstairs (Reformed Druids of North America), Claire and Carol in another apartment (witches, connected with the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn), and the Great Wild Beast Furtherment Society (which is really Stephen and me and another neighbor named Charles), opened all our rooms to a Crowleymas Party and invited nearly 100 local wizards and mystics…”
In attendance were such illuminaries as ufological visionary Jacques Vallee, along with a flock of other furry freaks from a hodge-podge of mystical and religious (dis)orders, including Grady McMurtry, then head of the Ordo Templi Orientis in the USA.
Apparently, such Discordian frivolities carried on well into the early 1980s as demonstrated in a letter below to Greg Hill from Camden Benares (aka The Count of Fives aka Felix Pendragon) announcing a duel sponsored event orchestrated in cahoots with renowned pornographer, and sometime Discordian, Ron Matthies under the banner of “Fort Chaotic.” In said letter, Camden mentions a Discordian novel he was working on at the time called Another Howling Eighties Conspiracy that unfortunately never saw the light of day, although we know he finished at least five chapters, Hail Eris.
As revealed in my Thornley bio The Prankster and the Conspiracy, Camden and his wife June often attended parties dressed as a priest and nun. After one such party, Camden and June—still bedecked in their holy garbed—visited a Denny’s in West Los Angeles where they spent considerable time making out in their booth. As would be expected, people began freaking out upon witnessing this ungodly spectacle, as in between sacrilegious smooches Camden gave blessings and benedictions to the stunned Denny’s patrons.
Among the more obscure Early Discordians was Tom McNamara aka Thomas the Gnostic, who was not only of the Erisian persuasion, but also a member of the Bavarian Illuminati, and a participant in Operation Mindfuck as demonstrated in the letter below published in The Rag, a counterculture mag based out of Austin, Texas, during the 1960s and early-70s.
During the Discordian Society halcyon days, McNamara distributed an Erisian newsletter, the alliterative Papish Pastoral Letter to the Provincials of the Provinces of Patareal Paratheo Providence, a sample of which is presented below.
Included in the Discordian Archives are scattered correspondence between Greg Hill and McNamara. In a letter dated March 22, 1971, Hill related recent Discordian developments, including a Chicago meet-up with Bob Shea, Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) and Tim and Mary Wheeler (aka Harold Randomfactor and Hope Springs). Of this Chicago meet-up, Hill wrote:
“Most sorry missed you at the Chicago Meet, but I supposed goddess knows what she is doing. I genuinely hope that the day will come when we can rap some face to face. This correspondence business, it only goes in some directions and it is hard to anchor sometimes. I’ll buy the beer should the opportunity arise….
“The Chicago Meet, incidentally, was no big thing excepting a retouch in the flesh. Met RF [Randomfactor] & Hope for the first time and was not surprised in any way. Wilson kept engaging in political arguments with them and it bummered kind of, it gets difficult to remember that substantial differences are in accord with the Erisian concept—it gets difficult indeed in personal issues. O Were We All Saints. That bit in diatribe about me slipping into the curse of greyface—that was from the soul my friend. Wilson and Tim had a touch of greyface then (at Chi) too. Doubt if Tim feels much a part of us much anymore.
“Mostly we just sat around and rapped on petty incidentals. It was a pleasant time, which is want I wanted actually. Wilson & I played around with literature some—that kind of thing. Very therapeutic. Got stoned and giggled a lot…”
While RAW occasionally described himself as a Libertarian, he was definitely on the anti-war/pacifist end of the spectrum, most notably taking to the Chi-town streets with all the hairy freaks during the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests. Wheeler—conversely—was a William F. Buckley conservative and, as noted in this exclusive Historia Discordia interview, worked as a humor editor for Buckley’s National Review. One issue that might have led to a “political argument” between Wheeler and Wilson would have been the Vietnam War. While there was plenty to be critical about Buckley’s worldview, one important contribution he made to the conservative movement was calling out John Birch Society (JBS) propaganda and its influence on the GOP. To this end, Wheeler produced a satirical piece on the JBS, which took the form of a hoax/gag issue of the National Review, kind of a play on Illuminati conspiracies ala the Trilateral Commission, Bilderbergers, etc. Check it out here.
Wheeler’s irreverent nature is what enamored him to his fellow Discordians, who for the most part were politically aligned with anarcho-libertarianism, which included a fondness for pot, another interest they shared with Wheeler, who was a notorious dope-smoking Republican.
While RAW and Wheeler disagreed on certain political issues, they both concurred that it was a fine and righteous thing to poke fun at Illuminati conspiracies of the John Birch Society variety, and then co-opt said JBS-Illuminati mythology for their own nefarious ends, Hail Eris!
Next we find an exchange between Thomas the Gnostic and Reverend Dean Cleveland of the St. Procopius Rectory, wherein Thomas was evidently yanking the good rector’s chain.
Next in the chronology was a letter dated February 1972 from McNamara to Hill (aka Iggy):
“You know the phantasies you’ve had that the FBI might be after us? Well, you’ll be happy to know that they are at least after me. This is not just paranoia. It seems that recently I wuz incarcerated in the state mental prison here, no shit! How I got there is a long stupid story. How I got out is even simpler. I hired a lawyer to rescue me from the mad doctors. But in the course of all this madness I learned one thing. The F.B.I. is really keeping tabs on me. They made indiscreet ‘inquiries’ to both my lawyer and the keepers. I ain’t going to let this stop me from whatever it is that I am doing that is subversive’. I just wish I could figure out what it is that I am doing. Oh well. As for the mental prison: ‘God save us from those who would save us from ourselves.’
Also in the letter, McNamara mentions an Illuminati-mythology-then-in-the-making ala Morris Kaminsky’s The Hoaxers, which expounded upon a claim that the real brains behind that dreaded secret society was some dude named Sidney Weinberg.
During our recent Raymond Broshears spectacular we featured a post on Rev. Billy Hargis and the Christian Crusade, a commie bashing evangelical outfit pretty much dead set against anything those dirty rotten liberals wanted to teach in school, particularly sex education and other “radical” ideas pushed by the Reds, who had apparently infiltrated not only the halls of congress, but your local PTA.
In 1968, around the same time the Discordians launched Operation Mindfuck, Rev. Hargis and his Christian Crusade propaganda mill pooped out a pamphlet called “Is the School House the Proper Place to Teach Raw Sex?” authored by the honorable Gordon V. Drake. According to our good friends at Wikipedia:
The 40-page document, described by Time magazine as, “an angry little pamphlet,” was originally distributed as part of a direct-mail fundraising campaign for the Christian Crusade, so that the organization could lobby against sex education in schools. It became a source of unfounded anecdotes about the supposed horrors of sex education for groups such as Mothers Organized for Moral Stability.
School House targeted the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), and in particular its director Dr. Mary Calderone. It described her as the “SIECUS Sexpot”, and said that the group sought to “toss[…] God aside” and “to teach American youth a new sexual morality independent of church and state.” Besides arguing that sex education undermined Christian morality and promoted promiscuity, the document said it is part of a “giant Communist conspiracy.” It said, “[If] the new morality is affirmed, our children will become easy targets for Marxism and other amoral, nihilistic philosophies—as well as V.D.!” The pamphlet also identified the National Education Association as an enemy.
The pamphlet was the most widely circulated attack on sex education in the 1960s. Drake estimated that it sold over 90,000 copies in the three months after it was published, while Hargis claimed one million overall. A more conservative estimate is 250,000 copies…
In response to “Is the School House the Proper Place to Teach Raw Sex?”, Greg Hill issued a Discordian dispatch entitled “Is The Schoolhouse the Proper Place to Teach Raw Math?”
Hill distributed the above dispatch to his network of Illuminati conspirators, who likewise propagated this polemic-parody under different names and Discordian disguises, one of which appeared in Playboy in October 1969 under the moniker of Arnold K. Ravenhurst of Chicago, Illinois, that was mostly likely planted by Robert Anton Wilson, then editing the Playboy Forum.
The above letter was pointed out to me by Martin Wagner who maintains a growing archive of RAW rarities at the Robert Anton Wilson Fans website. Not only did Martin point out the Ravenhurst letter, but also a follow-up response by James O’Malley of Brooklyn, New York, who was also most likely a Bob Wilson bot.
At the end of Greg Hill’s “Raw Math” dispatch he mentioned “the broken cross peace symbol,” a controversy that seems to have gathered a head of steam during this period, as documented in a New York Times article which you can view here—assuming you’re not thwarted by the dreaded pay wall effect.
In regards to the “broken cross peace symbol,” apparently Greg Hill (using the Mad Malik persona) considered it his patriotic duty to warn the GOP of a similar menace relating to the secret symbolism of “3 inverted pentagrams on your elephant’s riot helmet… specifically used to conjure evil spirits…”
I just received a beautiful new Brazilian version of Principia Discordia (a translation of the Loompanics edition plus some extra goodies tagged on at the end) courtesy of Penumbra Livros.
Of all the Principia Discordia knock-offs I’ve seen over the years, I would submit that this version stands out above all the rest, and if you’re a Principia Discordia aficionado this version is certainly a gem to add to one’s collection—whether you understand a lick of Portuguese or not.
I asked the Penumbra Livros publisher—a fellow named Vinicius—to tell story of how this PD came to be:
“It all started with a stolen Steve Jackson Principia Discordia. My wife stole it years ago from a former boyfriend and kept it in the bottom of a dusty old box. I have heard about PD before, but for me it was sort of like the Necronomicon—one of those books you hear a lot about, but possibly never existed, and there are some copies around, but none of them is the real thing. I decided to give it a read anyway. I decided that, real or not, it was profoundly disturbing, which is a good thing. So I went to look for a Portuguese edition, and discovered there were only some PDFs hanging around on the Internet. I took a look at them, and was deeply impressed by the effort the Discordian community (which, until that time, I assumed did not exist) took to translate it. But, having read the original version, I knew many jokes, word plays and puns in general were lost in translations. The idea to produce an “ultimate Brazilian version” clung to my head for a while, but I had other things to do. I did not work with books back then.
“Some time (years?) later, I was working with books about magic, occult, and stuff. I needed to publish some book about alternate religions, and considered The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But the thought of PD came back to my mind. It was going to be a lot of work, with all the images, and lack of high quality sources, and word plays, and it being a sacred text, and all. But I did not give up. My wife was studying Photoshop and all those graphic software packages, and needed to work on a series of fictitious assignments. So she made a King Kong saint image, a fake book cover, a fake flyer for a fake book launch, all that kind of thing for a Brazilian PD that did not exist. I made a little marketing research and found out there are some very active Discordian clusters in Brazil, and quite a few people who are generally curious about it. Which makes a lot of sense, because everyday life in Brazil is quite surreal at times, and some degree of Discordianism seems to be in everyone’s blood, regardless of people knowing or not about it. That got me excited about making it happen. So I gave the PD a ‘go.’
“Since every major edition of the PD adds some new pages to it (Loompanics/SJ/etc), and there are many active Discordians here, we decided to add some pages of original content. We opened up for public submissions. We got some shitty material, but in the end managed to filter out about 10 very good pages. We also made an effort to guarantee those new pages were not exactly in the spirit of the older PDs, but were representative of the current zeitgeist and the life we live in our country.
“The art adaptations were complicated, but feasible. But some translations were really tough. We looked a lot to other sources of information, such as Historia Discordia (and, of course, the Goddess) to find enlightenment. It came in most cases. In some cases, in which things were completely untranslatable, such as the thinking cow on p. 00028, we just threw a similar joke, which would make sense for the reader. The songs and rhymes were tricky too but I guess we made it without major casualties. The whole process, nevertheless, took a few months longer than originally predicted.
“When the book was sent to the printers, we had trouble making them understand page numbers were inverted (odd pages on the left, even pages on the right). We had to sign a document telling them they were not screwing up. The launch event was funny too. We picked a cool bar to do the event, and the owner of the place, knowing what the book was about, did not believe many people would come. In the end, the place was crowded, and the owner had to work in the kitchen, and had to call his father to help him (none of the employees were willing to show up on such a short notice on a Sunday). That was a good sign. And there were hot dogs for everyone.
“We received some curious orders via our e-commerce. One of them asked for a side order of a hot dog, a singing Rabbi and five tons of flax. Other asked for a ‘no thanks.’ Many orders contained cryptic messages about the Illuminati and Pelé (the soccer player).
“Before the book hit the bookstores, we carefully hid some PDs on major bookstores and instructed our Facebook followers that the books were gifts for the first ones who could locate them and gather the courage to leave a bookstore with a new book out of the front door. Technically that is not stealing—we, the publishers, are giving the book away—but it certainly did mix people’s feelings. All hidden books were found after about two days.
“Now PD is on all main Brazilian bookstores, and there is yet another funny thing about it. Shelf placement. Some bookstores place it on the Greek mythology shelf, some on comics, some on biographies, some on young adults, some on self-improvement, some on political sciences. And honestly, I have no idea where they should place it. Maybe it should be close to the Bible, the Quran, or the Torah. But on a higher shelf, closer to eye height. Who knows?”
One of the crazier rabbit holes to emerge from the 2016 Presidential campaign was the viral meme of a frowning frog named Pepe, who in the election’s aftermath all of the sudden got this shit eating grin on his face (his frown turned upside down) and MAGA cap planted on his head.
For those unfamiliar with Pepe the Frog (aka Kek), there’s a whole mythology around this meme that’s indeed quite mind warping. Long story short, Pepe became a sigil for 4chan trolls to focus on; a sort of mental image for a magickal working. It’s a story filled with more sordid synchronicities than you can shake a magick stick at, all of which ostensibly got Trump elected.
Pepe also had a hand (“some people are saying”) in creating—or giving some oomph to—the movement now identified as the Alt-right, which pretty much appeared out of nowhere not so long ago. And a faction of the Alt-right are those who frequent Reddit, 4chan and the deeper regions of the dark web doing whatever it is they do in dim-lit basements, their 400 pound fat guy faces illuminated by the eerie glow of computer screens. This, theoretically, included birthing Pepe into pop culture like some kind of right wing Rosemary’s Baby.
Just the same, these Pepe/Discordian comparisons could be considered valid in a limited sense, or as its writ in Principia Discordia:
“All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.”
Discordianism (such as it is) has greatly morphed over the years. Some who nowadays identify themselves as Discordians bring all sorts of divergent political baggage to the party—left, right, or off the map—hence the old adage: “We Discordians must stick apart!” In other words, there’s no formal agreement as to what a Discordian is—let alone what the meaning of “is” is— other than Discordians often agree to disagree—or agree on some things, but not so much on others. Hence what might be true for one is false for another. Much of what presents itself these days as Discordianism (ala social media) comes in the form of the sort of shitposting that Discordian founder Greg Hill would have no doubt recoiled from in horror.
Some have also compared Pepe-ism to Chaos Magick, which itself is tangentially linked to Discordianism. The Early Discordians, for the most part, were never all that much involved in ritual magick—chaotic or otherwise—except of course for Robert Anton Wilson (RAW), easily the most famous Discordian of all who dabbled in various forms of ritual magick.
There was a network of chaos magicians that emerged in the 1970s (many of them influenced in part by RAW) who were likewise into Quantum Physics theories in terms of influencing physical reality and consciousness using memes akin to sigils; for instance, the Discordian practice of focusing on the number 23, and the more you concentrated on it, the more it would manifest, the same sort of mindfuck more recently observed with the whole 11:11 phenomenon. Seek and ye shall find…
Back in the day, it was word-of-mouth-high-weirdness; the memes spread gradually over time in contrast to the Internet age information overload where a simple meme (posted to social media) can spread like wildfire over the course of a few hours.
To this end, the Cult of Pepe is, in essence, a sort of chaos magick working that took some elements from all of the above and projected them across a cyber landscape gone wild, making The Illuminatus! Trilogy look comparatively like a Sunday stroll through the park.
Another Pepe/Discordian connecting point concerns elements of the hacker community (aligned with Pepe) pushing Operation Mindfuck “fake news” memes as a magickal working ostensibly designed to alter physical reality or create a new paradigm; in essence planting a weird seed to see how it will sprout throughout culture and grow tentacles.
With the early Discordians such OM endeavors took the form of injecting into pop culture a fake or alternative Illuminati mythos that was partly true and partly false, fact mixed with fiction which—in turn—created a viral mutation of how we now, as a culture, collectively view the Illuminati.
When Hill, Kerry Thornley, Wilson et al. first launched their OM Illuminati conspiracy, it was uncertain (at least to those of us now on the outside looking back) whether they had any sort of end game in mind—or if OM was all just good fun.
Conversely, the Cult of Kek’s modern and—some might say—twisted form of OM took stories that were partly true—like John Podesta’s real emails—and OM’d them into such beasties as Pizzagate, which is—in essence—a mash up of several pre-Internet conspiratorial yarns, including the Hillary-satanic-lesbian story that was first rolled out in one of the weirder mind control/conspiracy books of the early 1990’s, Cathy O’ Brian’s Trance: Formation of America (archive.org TXT file / Amazon).
Add to that secret tunnels below Comet Pizza—a throwback to the alleged McMartin Pre-School tunnels where children were purportedly transported and used as sex slaves during the height of the Satanic Panic craze—all of which has been recycled into this lurid story of a modern day pizza parlor gone bad!
So the modus operandi was similar (re: Cult of Kek vs. the Discordian Society’s OM) where you take factual elements and conflate them with misinformation/disinformation thus turning these stories into viral Molotov cocktail’s launched into the body politic, the end design to burn it all to the ground—or at least deliver a fully loaded monkey wrench into the works and gum the fuck out of The System.
Perhaps the foremost Pepe chronicler these days is a fellow named A.T.L. Carter who maintains a twitter page called—appropriately enough—“The Pepe Report” where I recently posited that perhaps this whole Pepe craze was on its last (frog) legs. In response, one agitated pro-Pepe commenter suggested I was nothing more than a worthless sack of you know what (ouch, that hurt!) and that if we sorry lot of Discordian losers were as adept as the Cult of Kek in the art of doxing, trolling, and shit posting, we would have elected our very own Discordian President by now instead of talking smack about poor little Pepe.
The agitated tweeter in question also posted a mash-up of Eris meets Pepe—green skin and all—which I must admit is pretty cool and sort of reminded me of an Orion slave girl, and for these reasons we have selected her our Eris of the Month!
In any case, I immediately screen-capped this Eris/Pepe mash-up because you know how these things have a tendency to disappear. This turned out to be a wise move because shortly afterwards our Green Skinned Lady of the Golden Apple was deleted for some reason—by the agitated tweeter in question, I presume—or maybe A.T.L. 86’d it because he didn’t want his Pepe Report devolving into a flame war about who is the superior agent of chaos: Pepe or Eris?
Just the same, A.T.L. referred to me as a “cuck” for my crack about Pepe’s possible demise, which I guess suggests that being called a cuck isn’t quite as bad as being called a worthless sack of stuff.
Whatever the case, A.T.L. seems like an alright (A.L.T. right?) guy, the cuck comment notwithstanding. Of course, I wasn’t entirely clear what “cuck” meant at the time, aside from being a popular Pepe enthusiast putdown.
‘Cuck’, it turns out—after some master class googling—has multiple meanings related to ‘cuckold.’ However, the more recent Breitbartian application (often employed by that creepy Milo guy) seems to describe your average limp-wristed liberal types who get their jollies letting black men do it to their wives while voyeuristically watching from the sidelines. (For further information on the meaning of “cuck” consult your pineal gland and/or Roger Stone.)
Discordian social media forums have been infiltrated—to a certain extent—by this Cult of Pepe crew with the sort of shitposting that some consider hip cutting edge political incorrectness. This type of political incorrectness—it could be argued—eventually led to Milo’s (whatever his last name is) fall from grace due to remarks made on the Joe Rogan Show implying he was cool with underage gay sex—comments that turned out to be a bit much for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) organizers who had scheduled our favorite Alt-right rock star for a speaking gig at their shindig, but thought better of it once his creepy comments made the rounds of social media. Soon after, CPAC withdrew their invite to Milo, who in short order got the boot from Breitbart, as well, probably because it’s kind of hard to promote cheesy Pizzagate stories when your fair-haired Aryan boy is endorsing the very same illicit activities that John Podesta was supposedly party to at Comet Pizza!
Speaking of CPAC, one of the more Discordian acts I’ve seen of late was perpetrated by a couple young pranksters who had a bunch of Russian flags made up with “Trump” printed on them, and then passed them out to clueless CPAC participants entering the event who either weren’t smart enough to know better—or just plain didn’t care that they were waving around Trump/Russia flags. When CPAC organizers caught wind of this gag, they sent their goons into the crowd to retrieve them, but even then some of the recipients refused to hand-over their prized blue, white, and (commie) red banners, the treasonous bastards.
Afterwards, the two pranksters who pulled off this jake were interviewed outside the event, employing mock Russian accents.