by Tostito Tramp
I am so stressed from my friend Earthbeam stressing out my friend Uberwurm that I think I need some relief. It occurred to me that others may be in the same boat — to be specific, the S.S. Stress, which sails out of Shit Happens Harbor. There is new research that points strongly to this being the very boat that carried Amun Re through the underworld — and why not? What could be more stressful than that whole Egyptian afterlife fooferah? For those of you experiencing stress, I offer this ancient yet timely ritual to propitiate that god of modern life, Stress.
I would like to take a moment to stress (ha, ha) the utmost antiquity and lineage of the occult methods that you are about to read. The ancient Sunkurians knew the unpleasant tension of their lives by the name Nekhurt. Nekhurt Nekhurt Bibastos Nekatut translates to “shit that fucking shit deity screwed me again.” Doctors Pesty and Moreseau question this and have suggested the alternative “damn me, damn him, we screw it up,” which contains intriguing hints at modern philosophy concerning responsibility for one’s own circumstances, as well as divinity lying within ourselves. The Sunkurians conducted special weekly and biannual ceremonies to appease Nekhurt, so that he might take pity upon them and make their lives a little less miserable.
We find a less well-known ritual influence among the Vikings, who despite being a freewheeling and uninhibited people still offered up votive gold goat figurines to the great goat GnashJaw, sometimes referred to as Toothgrinder, the infamous third goat who always pulled Odin’s cart the other way. Even today, we find the expression “third wheel” to designate someone as a source of stress for those around them.
For etymologists, it is interesting to consider the similarity between GnashJaw (originally spelled Gnashja) and the name of the Indian god Ganesha, known as the Lord of Obstacles! Many insights can be gleaned by dwelling upon the mystical truths embodied in Ganesha’s characteristic creature, the elephant. Consider the notoriously long memory of the elephant (hint: what more stress relieving phrase is there than “just forget about it”?). Consider the deep wrinkles covering elephants, demonstrating in the very flesh a lifetime of anxiety. This secret stressful characteristic of memory is also expressed by the Greeks in the story of Odysseus. What an easy time of it he could have had if he had just stayed with Calypso, or with Circe, or even just been a happy little piggy chomping on Circe’s garbage!
Of course the Hermetic magicians and alchemists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries regularly made sacrifice and propitiation to the great power Inhibitus Obsessus. It is in their rituals that the forms we know today first come into focus. According to Goutish Cornish of the Flemish Museum of the Scottish Gnomish, stress (in other words the inexorable workings of Inhibitus Obsessus) is credited as the object of over 86.3 different traditional sayings, rituals and superstitions among the Scottish Gnomish people of the Middle Ages. And why not, eh? Middle age is extremely stressful. At least we in modern times only spend a brief time in middle age. Imagine generations of people living there for their entire lives! Going to the dentist before anesthesia!
This century has witnessed both the rise of stress and the rediscovery of these ancient ways of appeasing it. It starts in Britain during the twenties, where Dr. Poodle from Helsinki met the charismatic and thoroughly repressed Madame Tourniquette. Together, they founded a secret society dedicated to research into the occult causes of stress and perspiration. Although they eventually had a falling out over the inclusion of perspiration in their research agenda, their original findings and work were made public in 1952 under the magickal names Sphincter (Tourniquette) and Retention Od Avicus (Poodle). Note the interesting connections implicit in the second name, dealing as it does with the modern concept of anal retentiveness (also echoed in Touniquette’s own magickal sobriquet), as well as the traditional mental retention of Ganesha’s elephants, seen herein to be so debilitating to them.
In the self-published Gnasherbitnail, Poodle and Tourniquette first revealed the ritual presented in this article. At the time, its readership consisted of a small occult splinter group hungry for enlightenment. Now I bring it to a broader readership no less in need. I have consulted some of the premier occult minds of the Meadowbrook neighborhood as well as sparing no trouble to retranslate the ritual from the language in which it was first published. So, from the ancient Sunkurians to you, my readers, behold the authentic Secret Rites of Stress. (Disclaimer: This translation of the original Sunkurian has not been evaluated by any individual attached to an accredited scholastic institution.)
First you need some salt. Don’t waste it by scattering it in a circle, dropping it into water or throwing it over your shoulder. These actions are far too cavalier and messy. To appease Stress, we must pile it all into a small perfectly proportioned pyramid and then eat it. Don’t forget to align the corner of your pyramid with Sirius — and if you don’t know which corner to align, what are you even doing reading this article?
Eat the salt, and lots of it, to increase your blood pressure, get a nasty taste in your mouth and cause you to purse your lips, which is part of the Stress Mudra (more about that later on).
Water is also involved. You may drink some to alleviate your parched throat and cracking lips after the salt. But do not spill a drop on the floor or on your ritual attire. Robes, you say? What robes? This is a stress ritual! It is to be conducted in a suit and tie or a corset and three-inch heels. (Notice I made no indication of criteria to choose which outfit to wear, so if you bridled at my sexism, then you have only your own straitjacketing and chauvinistic presumptions to blame.)
You are allowed 1.2 ounces of water. It must be perfectly pure. Read those labels carefully; contact the bottler if necessary; you may even have to distill it further a few times yourself. If you use too much, then Stress will be displeased, because by association and correspondence and all that uptight magickal twaddle you are allocating your emotions more than their acceptable time and energy. So drink your 1.2 ounces of water with great care and deliberation. Keep those emotions in check!
I can see that you traditional ritualists are just itching to light up some incense about now. Yes, the rolling eyes and urgent, furtive glances toward the altar give you away. Well, you know what? No. N-O. There will be no incense in the Stress ritual. It is just far too hippie dippy earthy crunchy touchy feelie. Suck it in and push on! That is the way to the Stress Deity’s heart.
Now we cast the circle. This is where that 9-foot cord comes in handy. Get a pencil or pen and tie it to the end of the cord. Do not use up too much of the cord tying it to the pencil. You can make up for some lost length by angling the pencil out as you draw the circle, but it will only make up for a little. Next, find the center of your ritual area. This will require some measurement and possibly mathematics. If you can’t cope with that, then your best bet is to postpone the ritual until you feel sufficiently stressed to be motivated to find the center of your ritual area properly. `Nuff said!
Once you find the center, pound a nail into the floor. No outdoors Stress rituals allowed. If you attempt it, the godhead will smite you with agonizing inner accusations of “cheater, cheater” for a very long time. Tie the other end of your cord to the nail. Watch out now! You are really starting to lose some length here. Then slowly and carefully draw the circle on your floor using your cord like a compass. Do not let the cord go slack! Do not change the angle of the pencil! Do not stop and redraw that bit that you missed! If you foul up, you should again wait until you have sufficient incentive to get it right.
As you draw the circle, you must visualize a reddish black line of energy exactly corresponding to your pencil line. You should channel your personal stress into this line. While casting the circle, the following should be sung in the key of D minor (remember it is the saddest of all keys):
With this pencil I describe
The perimeter of my Stress bribe.
The perfect accomplishment of this task
Reflects the worth of my sorry ass.
You had better end a verse as you are completing the circle. Anything less shows a slapdash attitude that simply will not do. If at the end you do not meet up with your starting line… you guessed it. Try again some other time.
I must pause briefly to assure my international readers that I in no way wish to make it impossible to conduct these important mysteries accurately and correctly. So after consultation with my in-house magicians, witches, linguists and historians, we recommend the following substitutions: 35.732 milliliters of water, a 274.32-centimeter cord and 7.62-centimeter heels if that is your chosen footwear. The national baseline of meticulousness should be consulted to indicate whether you need to exert yourself additionally to propitiate Stress.
Now take your 11.6 inch (29.464 centimeter) lacquered blackthorn wand and stand facing 3 degrees north of east, as derived from true north. Your local longitude and latitude will indicate the correction to use to arrive at true north from magnetic north. It is time to assume the Stress Mudra!
Stand with your feet together, weight evenly distributed. Your knees should be locked (disclaimer: the author assumes no responsibility for any fainting resulting from spending too long in the Stress Mudra). Tuck your butt, straighten your back, pull your shoulders down and back, reach your arms behind you as far as you can, wrinkle your brow, purse your lips, clench your teeth and press your tongue against the bottom of your mouth. Now tighten every muscle in your body and bring to mind the most humiliating scolding you ever received.
Facing 3 degrees north of true east in your Stress Mudra, groan once with full energetic vibration from your fifth chakra. Simultaneously bring your wand in front of you with your projecting hand (for those who don’t know, this is the hand with which you flip people off). While slowly correcting your facing to true east, using the same reddish black stress energy as before, draw in the air the Rider-Waite Ace of Swords Tarot card. Don’t forget the border and the little yods (those are the two-ended flamy-spermy things that were probably just a leaky pen but got passed off as kabalistic truths). While you are doing all that, recite with full energetic vibration from the fourth chakra the first Stress Affirmation:
I must perfectly recall everything I ever learned, or by Obsessus I suck!
As you say suck, release all the tension in your body and fall backwards into a limp heap on the floor. Your fourth chakra must fall exactly on the center of your circle. Don’t forget to remove the nail first!
Get back up and face 2&fraq12; degrees west of true south. Assume the Stress Mudra as before. This time, draw in the air a group of hydrogen molecules fusing into a helium molecule. Simultaneously correct your facing to true south and recite the second Stress Affirmation:
If everything I want does not manifest instantly, then by Gnashja I suck!
Again, fall completely relaxed on the floor, but this time land with your third chakra on the center of the circle.
Repeat at the remaining directions, with these details: West should be 5 degrees south of true west; draw a map of the world’s oceans and recite “I must never allow my feelings to influence me or by Inhibitus I suck!” Vibrate from your second chakra and land with it on the circle’s center.
North is true north; draw your house. Recite “If I am not healthier and wealthier than anyone I know, then by Nekhurt I suck!” Vibrate from your first chakra and land with it on the circle’s center. Be careful not to injure your tailbone.
By now, you should be feeling the immense tension of your life building in your body, mind, and spirit. If you don’t, pause here to make sure that you are fully aware of the Stress in your life. Otherwise, the ritual is completely useless, and you should have known you would fail at it and never have started it in the first place!
Now assume the Stress Mudra at the center of the circle, facing the direction that corresponds best to your personal stress (this would be the one with the Stress Affirmation that you hated saying the most). Recite 19 times:
“It is all my fault!”
Now release all the stress. If the ritual has been correctly done up to this point, you will know how to do that. Otherwise, do not attempt this Great Mystery, for you may injure yourself, betray everyone you care about, anger the Stress Deity, summon by mistake the ex-lover with whom you broke up bitterly and cause all the people you hate to get raises or even better jobs.
Once Stress is released, you must ensure Stress will not return. Therefore, perform all the steps that lead up to the Great Mystery backwards. It may take you a while to practice saying the affirmations backwards, as well as springing smoothly up from the floor into the Stress Mudra. Don’t forget to include any extraneous actions you took during the course of the ritual.
Did you get through it? If you did, congratulations! Your life will now be perfect.
If you didn’t, Stress will eventually forget this botched attempt at propitiation and go back to only heaping upon you your normal daily allotment of frustration, pain, anxiety, ignominy, humiliation, boredom and illness. Better luck next time.