Oh dear, I am so stressed from my friend Earthbeam stressing out my friend Uberwurm that I think I need some stress relief. And it occurred to me that others may be in the same boat (to be specific, that is the S.S. Stress, which sails out of Shit Happens Harbour) (in fact, 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?). So for those of you who are very stressed because your best friend stressed out your other best friend and they are both stressing you out about it, I offer this ancient yet timely ritual to propitiate that God of modern life, Stress.

The History

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". Dr.'s 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 the  divinity within ourselves. The Sunkurians conducted special weekly and bi-annual 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 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 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 Calipso, or with Circe, or even just been a happy little piggy chomping on her garbage.

Of course the Hermetic Magicians and Alchemists of the 12th and 13th centuries regularly made sacrifice and propitiation to the great power Inhibitus Obsessus. It is in their rituals that the forms we know today can first be seen coming 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!

Now this century has witnessed both the rise of Stress, as well as the rediscovery of these ancient ways of appeasing it. It starts with Dr. Poodle in Helsinki in the twenties, a long time member of the Hatred Is Love Society, founded by Arthur Scaminski. Dr. Poodle, disillusioned with the vague and culturally elitist concoctions of the Society, emigrated to Britain, where he met the charismatic and thoroughly repressed Madame Tourniquette. Together they founded a new 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 reasearch agenda, their original findings and work were made public in 1952 under the magickal names Sphincter (Tourniquette) and Retention Od Anus (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 (and seen herein to be so debilitating to them ultimately).

In the self-published "Gnasherbitnail", Poodle and Tourniquette first revealed the ritual presented in this article. At the time the 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 premiere occult minds of the Meadowbrook neighborhood, as well as sparing no trouble to re-translate the ritual from the language in which it was first published. I have no doubt that you will be enthralled and edified by this timeless rite! So from the ancient Sunkurians to you, my readers, here presented to the public for the first time, behold the AUTHENTIC  Secret Rites of Stress. "Stress Stress almighty Stress, we'll do anything under duress!" (disclaimer: this translation of the original Sunkurian has not been evaluated by any individual attached to an accredited scholastic institution.)

The Ritual

First you need some salt. Wait! You are not to waste it by scattering it in a circle, dropping it into water, or throwing it over your shoulder. No, those 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 then what are you even doing reading this article???). So eat the salt, and lots of it, to increase your blood pressure and get a nasty taste in your mouth. This will help you to purse up your lips, which is part of the Stress Mudra (more about that later on). Now for those of you who already like a fair amount of salt in your diet, well, the objective remains the same, so you will probably have to chow down on a LOT of salt. But never fear, for the ritual, as always, involves water.

Yes, there is water in the ritual, and you even get to drink some to alleviate your parched throat and cracking lips after all that salt. But do not spill a drop on the floor or on your robes. Robes? what robes? This is a stress ritual! It is to be conducted in a suit and tie or a corset and three inch heals. Notice I made no indication of what criteria you ought to employ to choose which of those outfits to wear, so if you bridled at my sexism then you have only your own straitjacketing and chauvinistic presumptions to blame. All are equal in the eyes of the Great Deity Stress. And if you aren't equal then so much the better, you have that much more to bring to the ritual!

Returning to the water, you are allowed to use 1.2 oz of it. 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 oz of water with great care and deliberation. Keep those emotions in check! The Stress Propitiation Affirmations revealed later will help with this.

Well, 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 hippy dippy earthy crunchy touchy feelie. Suck it in and push on! That is the way to the Stress Deity's heart.

Now we get to cast the circle. This is where that 9 foot cord really comes in handy. Get a pencil or pen and tie it to the end of the cord. Warning: do not use up too much of the cord tieing it to the pencil. You can make up for some of the 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 a little 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 have the center, pound a nail into the floor. Yep, floor. No outdoors Stress rituals allowed. That is definitely a no-no and 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 the cord to the nail. Watch out now, you are really starting to lose some length here. You may wish to use an extra piece of twine to make up the difference if you have been inadequately thrify in your knot tieing. 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, go back, and redraw that bit that you missed. If you foul up you should again wait until you have sufficient, er, incentive  to get it right.

As you are drawing the circle, you must be visualizing a red-ish black line of energy exactly corresponding to your pencil line. You should be channeling 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."

And you had better end a verse as you are completing the circle. Anything less shows a slapdash attitude that simply will not do. You clearly don't want it badly enough yet. Also, if at the end you do not meet up with your starting line, well... 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:

use 35.732 milliliters of water
use a 274.32 centimeter cord for drawing the circle
use 7.62 centimeter heels, if that is your chosen footwear

Your residence in another country in no fashion alters the degree of perfection that should be striven for throughout the performance of this important ritual. If anything, the national baseline of general meticulousness should be consulted for any indication that you need to exert yourself additionally in propitiation of Stress.

Now take your 11.6 inch (29.464 cm) lacquered blackthorn wand and stand facing 3 degrees north of East, as derived from true north (your local longitude and lattitude will indicate a correction you can use to arrive at true north from magnetic north). It is time to assume the Stress Mudra!

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 taking too long in the Stress Mudra). Tuck your butt, straighten your back (and I mean ultra-posture! Obey every posture nag you have ever received!), shoulders down and back, arms reach behind you as far as you can, wrinkle your brow, purse your lips, clench your teeth, press your tongue against the bottom of your mouth. Now tighten every muscle in your body, and bring to mind the most humiliating scolding of your life (and if you can realistically imagine a worse one, use that).

Facing 3 degrees north of true east in your Stress Mudra, groan once with full energic vibration from your 5th chakra. Simultaneously bring your wand in front of you with your projecting hand (for those that don't know, that is the hand you flip people off with). While slowly correcting your facing to true east, draw in the air, using same the red-ish black stress energy as before, 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 which were probably just a leaky pen, but got passed off as qabalistic truths). While you are doing all that, recite with full energic vibration from the 4th 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 4th chakra must fall exactly on the center of your circle (don't forget to remove the nail before doing these Elemental Stress Affirmations).

Get back up, face 2 1/2 degress west of true South. Assume the Stress Mudra as before. This time when you bring the wand before you, 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 3rd chakra on the center of the circle.

Repeat at the remaining directions, with these details:

West = 5 degrees south of true West.
Draw a map of the world's oceans.
Recite "I must never allow my feelings to influence me or by Inhibitus I SUCK!"
Vibrate from your 2nd chakra and land with it on the circle's center.

North = true north!
Draw your house.
Recite "If my health and wealth are not better than anyone I know then by Nekhurt I SUCK!"
Vibrate from your 1st 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 force of Stress in your life on each of those levels. Otherwise, the ritual is completely useless, and you should have known you would fail at it and never started in the first place!

Now assume the Stress Mudra at the center of the circle, facing the dirction which corresponds best to your personal stress (this would be the one with the Stress Affirmation that you hated saying the most!)

Recite 19 times:


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 whom you broke up with bitterly, and cause all the people you hate to get raises or even better jobs.

Once Stress is released, the ritual is basically over, but you must ensure that Stress will not return. Therefore perform all the 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. And 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, well 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.

I thank you for reading and hope that all your lives will soon be PERFECT.