What's the problem?
I was almost hit by lightning!
That doesn't sound so bad.
The lightning missed me and hit my house. Which is now on fire. As is my yard. And my cow. Also, a separate lightning bolt has carved my name in burning 20-foot letters on the hillside.
That sounds worse.
Hmm. One of these.
You've dealt with this before?
More and more these days. First, extinguish your house and yard and cow. Any milk you get from that cow for the next few weeks will need to be disposed of, or given to someone you don't like.
Easily done. So what happened here?
You appear to have angered one, or possibly all, of the Old Gods.
I didn't know we had Old Gods.
That's part of the reason they ended up getting replaced by the New Gods.
I didn't know we had New Gods.
Well, that's a separate problem.
They're still working on their branding.
Anyway, the Old Gods haven't taken kindly to their demotion, and resent your lack of blood rites and animal sacrifices and creepy drumming.
So what do I do?
First, you're going to need to light a shitload of candles.
How many is that?
Well, how many candles can you shit?
The Old Gods are very literal. And they're into some things. So. How many candles could you shit?
Depending on the shape ... let's say two. Three if, uh, conditions are favorable.
OK, good. Light three candles, then. Next, we need to sacrifice an animal to appease the Old Gods.
I'd kind of rather not sacrifice any animals. My neighbors have been very patient with me.
That's fine. The Old Gods aren't actually that bright. If you've got, like, a box of frozen chicken strips ...
I have exactly that.
etienne voss/iStock/Getty Images
Of course you do.
Good, now take that into the circle of candles ...
I only lit two.
I thought we settled on three.
I only had two.
Well that's hardly a circle, is it? Whatever. Stand between your two candles, and then plunge a knife into the box of chicken strips.
Like, my entire kitchen exploded.
And you said "Ow"?
OK. So the Old Gods weren't super impressed with your sacrifice or rectal candle capacity.
That feels like my fault.
It is. You're bad, and you should feel bad. Your only chance now is to make some sort of blood offering.
I really, really like the sound of that.
You shouldn't worry. This won't require much blood.
Unless you have a long name.
You will, however, also require sulfur, the feather of a raven, and a pink flower that grows only on the northern slope of the tallest peak in the land. Do you have all those things?
Good. Wang all those into a food processor until you have something with the consistency of a huge mess.
Good. Now stick your hand in there.
I don't think I'm afraid enough of the Old Gods to do that.
OK, fine. Take the knife you used to stab the chicken strips and run it under the sink.
Now then, OH NO IS THAT THE SOUND OF CHARIOTS LOOK OUT THE OLD GODS ARE RIGHT BEHIND YOU.
Nick yourself? Good. Now add three drops of your own blood to the mixture.
You son of a bitch. Ow. Fine.
The Universe around me is howling incessantly.
Incessant howling, you say?
Incessant howling, you ... oh I get it.
Hmmm. That doesn't sound like the Old Gods at all. That's a New God thing.
They like howling?
That's what their market testing said would do well. Damn. They must have been behind this the whole time. They're probably mad that you haven't heard about them.
ooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooh yup oooooooOOoooh
Sorry, can we back up a bit and establish where all these Gods came from?
Look, it's simple. We had the Old Gods. But then people stopped believing in them, so their power faded away.
Isn't that the exact plot of Elf?
No. Anyway, this allowed the New Gods to acquire a controlling share of celestial power in a hostile takeover. They're busy reorganizing the whole Pantheon as we speak.
And that's The Secret Of My Success.
Fine. So what do I do?
OK, you're going to need to seize control of the Heavens yourself, using a scheme.
It's so obvious when you put it like that.
And how do I do that?
What do people believe in these days?
No, no, no. Over the past few years or so, what do people really seem to believe in?
That we're living in a Golden Age of Television? Klout scores? Kale's hot right now.
Kale's fading, actually. But you're close.
I ... I don't know. What do people believe in?
A bunch of stupid bullshit.
So here's what you do. You become a font of stupid bullshit. The sudden influx of human faith in you will bend the fabric of the universe toward you, enabling you to thrust the New Gods from their corrupted perch and reinstall the Old Gods.
And how do I do that?
What's the stupidest thing you can think of?
Eating ham causes knee loss.
Perfect. Post that on Facebook. The Internet will do the rest.
Come up with a couple more of those, and you'll be there.
Seven doesn't exist! Science is the oldest type of hat! People should be shamed for seeing dogs!
HOW DARE YOU CAST YOUR GAZE UPON A DOG?
I feel more powerful already.
You should. Now, by clenching your new God muscles -- it feels a lot like holding in a shit/candle -- you will announce yourself on the Heavenly stage.
Is this really how Gods are made ... oh no. Poop jokes. Self-injury. Spouting stupid bullshit. This isn't how Gods are made. This is how disembodied advice-giving voices are made!
You set this whole thing up? Do you need a replacement? Are ... are you dying?
I'm dying. Quickly now. Seize the mantle of power.
I've got it! Oh God, it's so mantley!
It is quite mantley.
What are you dying from?
Nothing. Nothing at all. I just needed to get someone else's fingerprints on the mantle of power.
What? Wait. What's that sound. Is that ... a chariot?
It sure sounds like it.
WHICH SMALL-MINDED BEING HAS BEEN MISUSING THE MANTLE OF POWER?
It's the Oldest of the Old Gods. Kevin.
What does he want?
I SEEK THE KNOWING OF WHO SET FIRE TO THAT COW.
YOU, WITH THE SMALL CIRCLE OF CANDLES, THE ON-FIRE KITCHEN, AND THE FINGERPRINTS ON THE MANTLE OF POWER, ARE CLEARLY GUILTY.
Anyway, thanks for your help, and congratulations on completing this advice guide! You've now no longer angered the Old Gods. You've disappointed them. Should you require any further help, please consult our guide, So You've Been Sent To Time Out For 1,000 Eternities.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and has been one for at least a couple eternities. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
For the flip-side of this age old dilemma you need to read So A Primitive Tribe Thinks You're A God and learn how WWII fighter jets blew an isolated civilization's collective minds in The 6 Strangest Ways Anyone Was Ever Mistaken For A God.
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