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The Illuminati Files, Part One: A Conspiracy is Born by Brenton Clutterbuck

Eternal Flower Power!: Anti-Illuminati Discordian business card created by Arthur Hlavarty. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

Brenton Clutterbuck in front of the Adam Weishaupt house. Courtesy of Brenton Clutterbuck.
The Adam Weishaupt house. Courtesy of Brenton Clutterbuck.
Theresienstraße 23 Illuminati Skidoo! Courtesy of Brenton Clutterbuck.

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.

The Original Paste-Up Discordia (PUD), Page 00023. Discordian Application for Membership. Note 2.c selection option: Bavarian Illuminati. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

Portrait of Adam Weishaupt

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.

Vernon Stauffer's The Bavarian Illuminati In America.

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.

The original Sacred Chao image of Discordianism created by Greg Hill circa 1964 incorporating the Pentagon (Aneristic) and Golden Apple (Eristic) in a yin-yang/hodge-podge counter push pull of opposing chaotic forces. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.


———————–
SOURCES:
———————–
Part One

Part Two

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RAW vs. the Acidheads for… ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

Recently I stumbled upon this artifact in the Discordian Archives, a clipping from the May 1976 edition of National Weed entitled: “Author Sues Acidheads For Saying Leary Wrote His Book!”

May 1976 National Weed article about Robert Anton Wilson suing the Neo-American Church for claiming Timothy Leary wrote The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

In essence, this article appears to have been a PR prank Robert Anton Wilson pulled as a pretext to promote Illuminatus! while at the same time taking a pot-shot (pun intended) at members of the Neo-American Church, who—on occasion—RAW was known to tussle with.

This article also mentions a Timothy Leary interview RAW was working on that had yet to be published at the time due to what he referred to as “perfectionist” editors at PLAYBOY. This “Lost Leary Interview” —which has yet to see the literary light of day—was among content included in the RVP-never-to-be-version of Starseed Signals, although I’ve been informed that our friends at Hilaritas Press may include it in their forthcoming iteration of the book.

Art Kleps with a trespassing captive named Wendy underfoot who tried to storm the Millbrook compound. Photo lifted from http://www.okneoac.org.

As for the “acidheads” mentioned in the article, RAW was referring to members of the Neo-American Church, founded by former Leary acolyte Arthur Kleps. It should be noted that if RAW was sincerely interested in suing the Neo-American Church, then said lawsuit would have included his friend, and Discordian Society founder, Greg Hill, who was an affiliate member of that august acidhead outfit as documented in this membership card below. Oh, what a tangled web we acidheads weave!

Greg Hill’s Neo-American Church membership card, courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

Kleps was fond of penning polemics to counterculture publications, one of which appeared in the November 14, 1975 edition of The Berkeley Barb with Kleps going on about how the “energy crisis” was a hoax that “fits in with the apocalyptic ideas so popular among the moron supernaturalists and occultists of the Robert Anton Wilson type…”

November 14, 1975 letter from Art Klebs to The Berkeley Barb.

In response, RAW fired back with the following letter published in the November 21, 1975 edition of The Berkeley Barb:

November 17, 1975 letter from Robert Anton Wilson to The Berkeley Barb, page 00001.
November 17, 1975 letter from Robert Anton Wilson to The Berkeley Barb, page 00002.
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June Eris of the Month 2020 – Eris by The Eriskopalian Kirk

June Eris of the Month 2020 - Eris by The Eriskopalian Kirk

An awesome Eris as seen on The Eriskopalian Kirk’s Twitter.


Send us your Eris of the Month Club submissions (more info here) by using the form at the bottom of The MGT. page.

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Not Invited to Discordian Parties?

The Judgement of Paris Ca. 1638. Oil on canvas. Peter Paul Rubens, Museo Del Prado.
The Early Discordians enjoyed a damn good party, dating back of course to that earliest of them all, on Mount Olympus, where the whole ball (or the Original Snub produced The Golden Apple) first got rolling when Eris was not invited to a little marriage party hosted by Zeus.

Scattered throughout the Discordian Archives are flyers and invites to such chaotically-inspired soirées. In a recent post, we featured correspondence from Greg Hill about one such meet-up that occurred in Chicago during the early-70s that included Hill, Robert Anton Wilson (RAW), Robert Shea and Tim and Mary Wheeler.

Tim Wheeler at his farm in Shelbyville. Courtesy of Mary Wheeler.

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.

Grand National Founding Convention of Young Americans For Real Freedom.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Proposed planks for the 'Shelbyville Statement.'
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives
Flyer for the Second Annual YARF Convention.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

For further info on YARF, click here.

Louise Lacey, late 1960s. Courtesy of Louise Lacey.

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.

A note from Greg Hill to Louise Lacey composed on genuine Illuminati stationary!

Next in chronological (dis)order is a party described in RAW’s Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati that occurred on Crowleymas – October 12, 1974 . According to RAW, this gathering was

“…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…”

Grady McMurtry and RAW some time in the 1970s.

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.

Crowleymass invite sent out by Greg Hill (aka Malaclypse the Younger).
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
RAW’s write-up about Crowleymass.
Camden in the role of his Discordian persona, The Count of Fives.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

Letter from Camden Benares to Greg Hill dated March 3, 1981.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Reverse side of March 3, 1981 letter from Benares to Hill
announcing the Fort Chaotic Discordian party.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

June and Camden Benares. Photo courtesy of John F. Carr.
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March 30: This Day in Discordian History

I recently stumbled upon this oddity in the Discordian Archives, an obscure publication called The National Informer dated March 30, 1969. And no, this wasn’t a Discordian gag as far as I can tell, but an actual magazine or newsletter (published by an apparent crackpot named Hazel Mullins) featuring the conspiratorial meme that JFK was still alive. That’s right, he never died!

The March 30, 1969 edition of The National Informer.

The JFK-never-died school of assassinationology is among my all time favs, right up there with the-secret-service-driver-shot-JFK-with-a-poison-dart-filled-with-deadly-shell-fish-toxin. There have been variations on this JFK never died theme throughout years, such as the rumor that he was still alive though withering away in a secret room at the Mayo Clinic. Let’s look at a couple more variations of this theory now, because apparently I have nothing better to do with my time…

George C. Thomson’s The Quest for Truth

A rare copy of George C. Thomson’s The Quest for Truth.

My first whiff of this JFK-never-actually-died doo-dah came courtesy of a Southern California swimming pool engineer named George C. Thomson. The gist of Thomson’s theory was that Kennedy narrowly escaped with his life from Dealey Plaza and inserted in his place (in the Presidential limousine) was J.D. Tippit, the Dallas Police officer who had been allegedly shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald in the aftermath of the assassination (in front of Oswald’s apartment in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas). Some suggest that Tippit strongly resembled JFK; photos of the two men do reveal some similarities, although Tippit wasn’t a “dead ringer” by any stretch of the imagination.

J.D. Tippit
As noted, part of Thomson’s theory included this body swap switcheroo of Tippit for JFK—and get this: the assassin, according to Thomson, was none other than soon to be President Lyndon Baines Johnson who used “a drum-fed, fully automatic weapon, two of them…” Approximately 22 bullets were fired (although 23 would have been ideal) and in the crossfire five (Hail Eris!) people were killed, all of which is documented in Thomson’s “Dallas Murder Map,” a fold-out included as part of his magnum opus, The Quest for Truth.

George C. Thomson’s 'Dallas Murder Map'

Thomson never really explained why JFK’s assassination was faked, and specifically what became of our supposedly dead President. However, Thomson alleged that JFK had been seen (wearing a mask) at the famous Truman Capote “black and white ball” that occurred in November of 1966.

The Bane In Kennedy’s Existence

Bernard M. Bane

Even farther out on a conspiratorial limb was a fellow named Bernard Bane, who authored such obscure JFK assassination classics as The Bane in Kennedy’s Existence (1967) and Is President John F, Kennedy Alive… And Well? (1973).

Adam Gorightly’s precious copy of The Bane in Kennedy’s Existence.

By and large, The Bane in Kennedy’s Existence is a ponderously inscrutable read, but the basic gist is that in October 1963, Bane was taken into custody and committed to a mental health facility where MK-Ultra like “spychiatrists”—or those he refers to as the “Social Engineers”—injected him with massive doses of LSD, all part of an insidious plot to drive Bane bananas.

Why Mr. Bane was treated in such an unseemly manner is never made entirely clear, although part of the reason, apparently, was due to a book he authored in 1962 entitled The Grand Model of the Mind that presented a psychological theory that appears to have made even less sense than his JFK assassination theory, which is saying quite a lot. I’ll let Bane tell the story in his own words:

“So, I got out [of the psych ward] October 15. And according to expectations, something was going to happen on my birthday. My birthday’s on November 21st. President Kennedy was supposed to be assassinated as a birthday present to me. So, on November 22, he was assassinated. So that’s how I got involved. I figured, there’s something going on here. There was a definite connection. So then, when I read an article in the Boston Globe that said, ‘HOAX IN DALLAS’ — somebody did something that had nothing to do with the Kennedy assassination—but to me, it meant something: “HOAX IN DALLAS” —it means the assassination’s a hoax. And I always felt there was something bizarre about the whole thing. So I concluded, OK. He never got killed. And I realize after concluding that, a lot of people around me knew that all along… but they didn’t admit it. So slowly I leaked out my belief that he wasn’t even killed…”
(Donny Kossy’s 1991 interview with Bernard Bane, Kooks Magazine)

This was today in Discordian history.

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Happy Sol.Day RAW!

Robert Anton Wilson

Learn more about Robert Anton Wilson and his antics and beliefs.

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The Epistles of Thomas the Gnostic

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.

Bavarian Illuminati letter courtesy of Thomas the Gnostic
sent to The Rag on the 26th of Discord 3136 (April 9, 1970).
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

Papish Pastoral Letter to the Provincials of the
Provinces of Patareal Paratheo Providence
, Page 00001.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Papish Pastoral Letter to the Provincials of the
Provinces of Patareal Paratheo Providence
, Page 00002.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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!

Download the March 22, 1971 letter in its entirety here.

Tim Wheeler with Mr. Potato Head sometime in the late 1980s.

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.

Correspondence between Thomas the Gnostic and
the right Reverend Dean Cleveland from May 1971.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.’

February 1972 letter from McNamara to Hill.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.

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.

Morris Kaminsky’s The Hoaxers published in 1970.

McNamara’s visit to the funny farm notwithstanding, by the mid 1970s he apparently had his life together enough to author this stellar review of the Illuminatus! trilogy for the Berkeley Barb.

Tom McNamara's review of Illuminatus!
from the Oct. 10-16, 1975 edition of the Berkeley Barb.

Hat tip to Prop Anon for the heads-up on this Berkeley Barb/Tom McNamara review of Illuminatus!

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KERRY XMAS!

Have a Kerry Christmas!

Discordianism is well-known to tolerate the traditional holidays and holydays of other delusional systems of belief and Christmas is no exception.

To demonstrate, here are some festive reason-for-the-season articles from the Discordian Archives about the pasts of Discordian Christmas.

Eris bless us, every other!

Fa La La La La, La La La fnord La!



From Camden Benares’ List of Discordian Holidays

12-25, Jay See Fitzdragon’s Birthday

The ideal celebration for this holiday is listening to bootleg recordings of the first Discordian rock band, Jay See and the Disciples of Eris. The rarity of these recordings causes most Discordians to celebrate in some other manner befitting the occasion.



RAW 1975 Xmas Card

1975 Christmas Card from Robert Anton Wilson, front.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.




Cinema Rio Christmas Card

Cinema Rio Christmas Card, Front.




A Christmas Story: Excerpt from Kerry Thornley’s THE IDLE WARRIORS

Marine Oswald Xmas




A Very Merry Manson Christmas To All

A Kerry Thornley Flyer: A Letter From Charles Manson.
Courtesy the Discordian Archives.




Have a Merry Kerry Xmas All!

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The Sordid Saga of Sam’s Cafe

A mailercollage created by Greg Hill concerning the Sam's Cafe caper.
Perhaps the most notorious Discordian Jake ever perpetrated—or at least the one that received the most national media attention—was cooked up by a Discordian cabal called “Sam’s Cafe,” a three person art collective consisting of the husband and wife team of Mark and Terri Keyser, and their conspiratorial cohort, David Shire. Sam’s Cafe operated out of a former greasy spoon of the same name located on University Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.

Starting around 1970, Sam’s Cafe orchestrated several Discordian flavored capers, a sort of cross between performance art meets culture jamming. In 1971, the group reached the pinnacle of prankdom with an op dubbed “Sam’s Collection Agency” that entailed mailing “false collection notices to twenty thousand people, demanding that they each send $76.40 to the return address (which was the San Francisco Chronicle’s TV station). The notice listed the phone numbers of news papers, TV stations, and the Bank of America, which were flooded with more than ten thousand angry calls. The artists made front page news in both local newspapers. Two days later, when Sam’s Café revealed themselves at a press conference—at which they handed out press kits that included vials of human excrement—they were arrested and indicted…” 00001

According to a March 20, 1971 article in the Cincinnati Enquirer entitled “Hippies Admit 20,000 Fake Bills In Attempt To Create Mass Chaos,” Sam’s Cafe was charged with mailing a “vile and filthy substance” in “small plastic jars of what appeared to be excretion. These were sent to news media Wednesday along with the announcement of the hoax…”

Ultimately, Discordian justice prevailed and Sam’s Cafe was acquitted of all charges following a two-day trial, an acquittal based largely on the testimony of the expert witness in the case, San Francisco Chronicle art critic Thomas Albright, who stated “that the act was in fact conceptual art.” 00002

“In the end, the judge shook his head and proclaimed, ‘Well, if the expert says it’s art, it’s art, but don’t do it again.’ Sam’s Cafe believed that by using print media, the postal service, and other ordinary means of communication, artists outside the system could reach a broad public audience. At the same time, they showed how easy it was to sabotage the U.S. Postal Service…” 00003

According to this note found in the Discordian Archives, Sam’s Cafe put out feelers to Greg Hill to see if he was interested in testifying, although it’s unknown how extensively Hill became involved in the case.

June 1971 note from Sam’s Cafe to Greg Hill.
Note from Sam's Cafe to Greg Hill concerning a magazine article entitled 'Art as Crime.'
A mailer/collage created by Greg Hill concerning the Sam's Cafe caper.

 


Notes


00001 Lewallen, Constance M., and Moss, Karen. 2011. State of Mind: New California Art, Circa 1970. University of California Press.

00002 https://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/11/pst-a-to-z-state-of-mind-at-ocma.html

00003 State of Mind: New California Art, Circa 1970. University of California Press.

Categories
book jfk jim garrison letters photo ufos video writings

Fred Crisman and the Servants of Awareness

Trigger Warning: The following article is at least two degrees removed from Discordianism… but it is confusing as hell, so there’s that.


For those who’ve dipped their toes into conspiratorial lore, Fred Crisman turns up all over the place; first with the Maury Island UFO incident, and then later his alleged role in the JFK assassination, rumored to have been one of the three mystery tramps picked up in Dealey Plaza after the dirty deed went down. You can take a deeper dive into Crisman and the Maury UFO incident at this previous link, part of our startling six-part Raymond Broshears’ series.

As it turns out, Maury Island wasn’t Fred Crisman’s first and only UFO rodeo. Recent sleuthing by intrepid researchers Jeff Suwak and Kirk Nelson (with a little assistance from yours truly) have uncovered Crisman’s possible ties to a UFO channeling group identified as “Service Awareness” that were mentioned in Crisman’s testimony before the Orleans Parish grand jury during the Jim Garrison investigation.

As noted in part two of our Rev. Broshears extravaganza, Garrison suspected (or believed, or pretended to believe) that an assortment of fringe religious groups—or “odd sects” as he called them—had been used as fronts for a sprawling JFK assassination conspiracy; political assassins running around in clerical garb with instruments of death concealed within the flowing folds of their robes!

A snippet from Fred Crisman’s November 21, 1968, New Orleans Parish grand jury testimony.

As stated in the passage above, when a Garrison staffer quizzed him about “Service Awareness,” Crisman claimed he had no involvement with the group. However, “Service Awareness” was a transcription error; it should have read: “Servants of Awareness.” So who the heck were they?

According to The Sound, a newsletter published by Cosmic Awareness Communications:

“On Thanksgiving day, 1962 a voice expressing itself as Cosmic Awareness began speaking through a university lecturer and ex-army officer who had been in the Bataan Death March.” 00001

The “university lecturer and ex-army officer” was a fellow named Frank Duby, thereafter referred to as the “Interpreter.” According to Cosmic Awareness newsletter: “…[Duby] began studies in depth psychology at [a] Seattle church through funding given by the CIA…” 00002 and it was this “depth psychology” research that led to the formation of a Servants of Awareness forerunner, the Organization of Awareness.

The 'Interpreter,' Frank Duby.

According to “Awareness” history:

“After several severe heart attacks, the interpreter, Ralph [Duby], finally transitioned in January 1967… After the passing of their interpreter the Organization of Awareness experienced much upheaval. Financial stress and disagreements over what information should be released led to a splintering of the organization and its eventual collapse.

Organization of Awareness ended shortly thereafter and Servants of Awareness was founded, with David Worcester as its Interpreter. This incarnation continued for 3 years…David hosted an ‘August Affair’ and at this function the future founders of CAC [Cosmic Awareness Communications] were approached by Paul Shockley, a man who would change their lives. Paul was doing Awareness readings but had no idea how to make them available for the good of all people, so they put their heads together and began to go down a path that would become a powerful force for good in so many lives…”

In 1970, as noted above, Paul Shockley became the lead channeler—or “Interpreter”—for CAC. Around this time, the channelings took on a distinctly darker and more conspiratorial tone, as documented in this channeled message dated December 9, 1976.

When I came across these supposed CIA connections to the Servants of Awareness, I immediately flashed on Fred Crisman, who was never bashful about fostering the legend that he was some sort of super spook involved with UFOs and all manner of paranormal intrigue. So I could totally see Crisman pushing the idea he was a CIA mastermind to impress Servants of Awareness members or gain some standing in the group.

In A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History author Joan Mellen states: “By 1968 Crisman would be investigated for narcotics activity in connection with… [the] Servants of Awareness.” Mellen, by and large, is fairly good at providing sources, which doesn’t necessarily suggest her sources are all that great, although for some reason Mellen didn’t provide a source for this curious claim.

As it turns out, Mellen lifted these Crisman/Servants of Awareness allegations from an article published in the November 1975 issue of Crawdaddy magazine that was attributed to the Assassination Information Bureau (AIB), a clearinghouse for JFK assassination info founded in 1972 by Carl Oglesby, author of The Yankee and Cowboy War.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, AIB played a pivotal role in petitioning congress to launch the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1976. None of this, however, answers the question of where this provocative information concerning Crisman and the Servants of Awareness originated, but my guess is that it circles back to Garrison and a handful of “Dealey Plaza Irregulars” who were feeding Big Jim leads, which he then threw against the wall to see what would stick.

Article on Fred Crisman ripped from the pages
of the November 1975 issue of Crawdaddy magazine.

Aside from those two tantalizing tidbits (the snippet from Crisman’s grand jury testimony and the Crawdaddy article) I’ve thus far been unable to find any other evidence linking Crisman with the Servants of Awareness.

To recap, the first iteration of the Servants of Awareness was known as the “Organization of Awareness,” which was an outgrowth of a “church” in Seattle involved in “depth psychology.” The church, in this instance, was the Center of Integration, founded in 1953 by a fellow named Bob Carr, who carved out a niche for himself as a trance channeler along the lines of Edgar Cayce. In this regard, Carr conducted trance readings for individuals to help cure them of sicknesses, both physical and mental, and provided personal counseling, a sort of psychic life coach. Over time, Carr gained a somewhat sizable following which you can learn more about in God Men Con Men: Pursuit of Truth.

A key figure in the Center of Integration scene was the aforementioned Ralph Duby, who later became the first “Interpreter” of the Organization of Awareness (a forerunner to the Servants of Awareness). Another Center of Integration alumnus, David Worcester, took over the “Interpreter” role after Duby’s death in 1967, and at that time the group splintered into a number of factions, one of which was Servants of Awareness. (If you’ve been able to follow along thus far, I commend you, because it only becomes more confusing from here, Hail Eris!)

Back in 1958, the lead channeler at the Center of Integration, Bob Carr, discovered that—due to the church’s non-profit status—they could obtain free quantities of d-lysergic acid 25 for “research purposes” direct from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland. This resulted in the acquisition of 100 milligrams of the mighty molecule, which the group then used to great effect during channeling sessions. In the video below, Bob Carr, discusses this period.

LSD channeling sessions appeared to have reached a peak during the Servants of Awareness era (1967-1970), as things got pretty loosey-goosey with David Worcester filling the role as lead “Interpreter.” According to Revelations of Awareness, the Cosmic Awareness newsletter, 10th anniversary edition:

[Worcester] was a very interesting person. He was a good conductor of LSD sessions for many entities, guiding them through the Bardos and death experience ala the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He [would]…switch on the TV news with Walter Cronkite, pull up a stool, light up, and sit before the TV and talk back to Walter Cronkite. David swore the words were being heard by the newscaster as he read the controlled news from his script and that this routine was changing consciousness. As a magician, David took a lot of credit for certain events that occurred on the world scene. He implied, for example that an earthquake in India was the direct result of a fart he let in Olympia while watching the evening news.”

Fred Crisman

Now, back to Fred Crisman, and what if any interactions he actually had with the Servants of Awareness. Let’s first examine the drug angle. We do know that, according to a police reports, Crisman was arrested on March 19, 1957 for drunk driving and disorderly conduct, at which time it was discovered he was also under the influence of barbiturates. According to his arrest report, Crisman pulled a gun on the arresting officer. Not smart!

Due to this incident, Crisman was fired from his job as the Superintendent of Schools in Elgin, Oregon. 00003 A second arrest occurred in October 1968, when he was arrested for reckless driving and carrying a concealed weapon.

Fred Crisman's rap sheet courtesy of the fine men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

By 1963, Crisman was employed as a substitute teacher at Mount Rainer High School, a time period that would later become the focus of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, who examined Crisman’s alleged role as one of the three mystery tramps apparently up to no good in Dealey Plaza. The HSCA ultimately determined that Crisman had an iron clad alibi for that infamous day, November 22, 1963, when JFK was blown away.

Crisman’s alibi courtesy of the Honorable Stanley W. Peerboom.

In 1964, Crisman landed a full-time teaching gig at Cascade Union High School in Salem, Oregon, a position that lasted a mere two years before he was fired for “forming a secret student organization… Crisman formed the organization and conducted meetings on school premises without authority.” A subsequent school board ruling stated that the “organization is of such a nature that it should not be condoned or authorized to exist in this district.”

The above news article begs the question: Was Crisman recruiting students at Cascade Union into a secret psychedelic saucer cult otherwise known as The Servants of Awareness? Seems like a stretch, perhaps, but Crisman was evidently up to something shady. But wasn’t he always?

Another possibility is that Crisman was recruiting students into some sort of shadowy conservative-minded cabal, as he was active as a right-wing operative during this period, as documented in his mighty tome Murder of a City, written under the non-de-plume of Jon Gold, a pseudonym Crisman also employed for the talk radio show he hosted on station KAYE in Puyallup, just a stone’s throw from Tacoma.

Murder of a City is a good place to sniff for clues about what Crisman was up to during the Servants of Awareness period (1967-1970). I recently acquired a copy of this oh, so rare book, which I soon discovered was self-published by Crisman and his buddy Harold Dahl of Maury Island saucer fame (or infamy). Or at least that appears to have been the case according to a note I discovered in said book.

Mysterious note found in my copy of Murder of a City.

Murder of a City is a prism to gain insight into Crisman’s strange universe, covering the timeframe he *might* have interacted with the Servants of Awareness, who were located in Olympia, 30 miles from Tacoma. The basic story presented in Murder of a City is that Crisman returned to his hometown of Tacoma in ‘66 or ‘67ish and was horrified at what had become of his formerly fair city that’d been overtaken by the dreaded “City Manager” system that—according to Crisman—was a racket for local politicians to line their pockets under the guise of “urban renewal.”

Back cover of Murder of a City.

Murder of a City comes across as an extended bitch session in grievance politics, reading like spin and projection (i.e. Crisman blaming others for himself being a shady sort of character); an alternative history Crisman most likely concocted to muddy the waters about several seemingly sketchy schemes he’d been involved in with Thomas Beckham.

The spin I’m referring can be detected early on in Murder of a City when Crisman suggests that the fellow who ran the local Tacoma branch of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), was in cahoots with the very same corrupt city officials who—according to Crisman—had made his life a living hell by pushing a “Far Left” agenda that was quickly turning his beloved Tacoma into a Socialist shithole. Crisman, however, fails to mention that the Tacoma BBB had uncovered a slew of fraudulent businesses he had started with his young oddball associate, Tom Beckman. In Murder of a City, Crisman also badmouths a Tacoma News-Times reporter named Edd Jeffers who in the November 1, 1968 edition wrote that:

“In late 1968, Crisman and Thomas Edward Beckham incorporated seven businesses in Olympia according to the police department there.

Among the companies were the Northwest Relief Society, Associated Discount Services, TAB Productions, Inc., Professional Research Bureau and the National Institute of Criminology.”

Murder of a City includes a chapter called “The Big Frame” that may provide a clue as to these claims that Crisman (possibly in cahoots the Servants of Awareness) had been involved in some sort of drug ring.

This “Big Frame” chapter deals with a supposed plot by Crisman’s perceived adversaries: City Manager of Tacoma, David Rowlands, and his cadre of commie confederates that included reporters for the Tacoma News-Times, local law enforcement, and almost all of city government (not to mention the Tacoma Better Business Bureau!) in a scam to set up Crisman and his right wing allies, chief among them a fellow named Marshall Riconosciuto.

Riconosciuto ran a PR firm and had his hand in a number of fly-by-night businesses, one of which entailed the acquisition of a pharmaceutical company (or at least that was Crisman’s account of the story). After acquiring this company—which he renamed Drug Sales West—Riconosciuto mothballed some of the lab equipment that came along with the deal at a warehouse in Tacoma that was subsequently broken into and the lab equipment stolen. This lab equipment—once again according to Crisman—later turned up at a major drug bust, an incident recounted in Murder of a City in which Crisman quotes an article from the Tacoma News-Times concerning a police raid of the “largest amount of LSD that had ever been found on the West Coast.” Unfortunately, Crisman failed to give a date for the drug raid, which makes confirming his claim/article problematic (I haven’t had any luck as of yet), but whatever the case, his position was that this drug raid was part of the “Big Frame,” and that the lab equipment in question had supposedly been used to cook-up this record-breaking haul of LSD.

Crisman, quite naturally, blamed the “Big Frame” on his enemies in city government who were comprised of a contingent of left wingers aided in their efforts by a long-haired hopped-up hippie menace in tandem with the Tacoma chapter of the Black Panthers waging war against a proud faction of Crisman-led right wing zealots whose mission in life was to save Tacoma from the ravages of Socialism, interracial marriage and rampant drug use then sweeping the country!

Below is a photo ripped from the pages of Murder of a City depicting a notorious alleyway where apparently a high volume of drug dealing went on that Crisman (at least according to Crisman) was attempting to expose. What’s peculiar about the photo is that I could find no other mention about this perfidious pool-hall/alleyway mentioned elsewhere in Murder of a City.

Fred Crisman's perfidious pool-hall alleyway from Murder of a City.

Elsewhere in Murder of a City, Crisman claimed that a number of death-threats were made against him by Dave Rowland’s band of thugs, and that on one occasion he was shot at and ran off the road. What’s more, Crisman claimed that the radio station he broadcasted from under his Jon Gold persona had been wiretapped and, in retaliation, Crisman and his cohorts bugged the offices of the City Manager Rowlands as part of an all out war for the soul of the city! That gives you an idea of the tenor and tone of Murder of a City, which can best be described by this observer as a literary “hot mess.”

Photographic 'evidence' provided by Fred Crisman in Murder of a City.

At the end of the day, I still don’t know what to make of this allegation that Crisman was involved in peddling dope with the Servants of Awareness, and all of these tenuous connections I’ve laid out here ultimately leave us with more questions to ponder than any actual answers.

The search continues…

 


Notes


00001 The Sound, the official publication of Cosmic Awareness Communications. Date unknown.

00002 “Revelations of Awareness,” the Cosmic Awareness newsletter, January 1977.
https://www.slideshare.net/cosmicchannelings/cosmic-awareness-197701-psychic-storms-the-intensities-occurring

00003 Larry Hancock, The Crisman-Beckham Archives (JFK Lancer)