Occult Guerrilla: The Invisible War for Maine’s Mental Health
“Nothing short of a Morrison-esque Invisible Insurrection raged in Maine and under the blessing of the Darkest of Mothers in the Hindu pantheon.
And it worked.”
From Dr. Bones
“It is important therefore, to think, to feel and attack against anything which glorifies the empire of authority, against anything which preserves the religion of economy, anything which carries the death of silence and immobility. And if sometimes we seem like lone crazy people, the sure thing is that we are not alone. We live in a home full of voices, dreams, desires, laughter, melancholies, actions… Our home has no hosts and guests; it belongs to all of us. In our home we do not speak just one language but many and we always communicate with our eyes.” – Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, “Lone Wolves are Not Alone”
Far away cities seem aglow in revolutionary activity, names like Berkeley, Charlottesville, and Philadelphia looming in my mind like a hurricane about to make landfall. For the first time in many years Anarchism is on the upswing, and everywhere the pictures of black flags and shields inspire hearts to hunger for the same.
For those of us too far away to join them there is a fear that an insurrection might break out and leave us all behind, that we are missing what could be the pivotal moments of our generation and our century.
But this need not be so, because the Insurrection is everywhere. It’s about you breaking forth from the established and destroying that which destroys you. I know this because I’ve been in contact with occult guerrillas engaged in a secret war, an informal network of spellslingers and abuse victims working with the goddess Kali deep in the forests of Maine. It’s the kind of story so strange it has to be true, and going through the transcripts it seems like something ripped from the pages of The Invisibles. After weeks of speaking over skype and facebook, waiting for all the pieces to come together, now the tale can be told.
The Anarchists I’m describing aren’t full-time sorcerers or amazing magicians. They could be anyone really, and that’s why what they’ve done is so important: witches and wizards far away from the big cities and bright lights are itching for a change they just can’t scratch. They think they’re stuck waiting for something to happen, for a protest to be called, and many have quietly resigned themselves to the idea they’ll be stuck waiting forever.
Our comrades in Maine took a different approach, one each of us can apply right where we are.
Taking It Personally
(Source: Bangor Daily)
Castle, as we may call him, is an anarchist and occult practitioner living in the frozen wastelands of Maine. I came to know him through my writing and our shared love of cheap hallucinogens. He’s a young kid whose voice has a notable bounce to it, a verbal indication of his ever wandering mind and eclectic tastes in magic.
His passion for mental health comes less from a theoretical misgiving about a for-profit industry and more from a deep, burning personal hatred.
“The state [psychiatric] hospital, Riverview, was really bad,” he would tell me over a skype call. “Back in 2014 there was a woman stripped completely naked, she wasn’t hurting anybody, and she was peppersprayed by a security guard.” The incident happened in full view of nurses supposed to care for the woman but, rather than report it as they are required to do by law, they ignored it. When someone finally did speak up – Jeanne Carroll, Riverview’s nursing director at the time of the incident – she was fired by the hospital. The man who approved the pepperspraying, the same one nurses went to bat for, would later end up throwing his 3-month-old son down a flight of stairs.
This kind of behavior is nothing new, and Maine’s mental health system has a long history of such abuse. Prior to Riverview, the Augusta Mental Health Institute served as the state’s central psychiatric hospital. 11,647 people died at AMHI during its 165-year history, many under suspicious circumstances, and were simply dumped in unmarked graves. In 2003 the hospital was shut down after horrifying reports of abuse and Riverview was opened in its place the following year, on the same campus, and touted as an improvement.
Castle knew the abuse never ended and was indeed rife throughout the entire system, having seen it first hand at Eastern Maine Medical Center.
“They have women in crises, they’re suicidal, th-they’re having mental breakdowns, they’re terrified, anxiety, stuff like that, go in to get help and their immediate answer ‘let’s have a bunch of men tackle them and forcibly strip search them, and if they try to fight back or if they try to make it stop because, you know they’re reliving all this trauma, then they turn around and press charges on them.” He pauses, with pure bitterness and hatred pouring from his voice. “They call the police and try to have them thrown in jail and laugh at them. It’s fucking disgusting. I saw this shit. I saw this shit happen.”
Castle could have marched, could have petitioned his lawmaker. He could have railed against an immaterial “system” and wrote an essay on what Anarchist mental health might look like.
Instead he turned his focus, and his magic, on the brick-and-mortar institutions directly responsible. But he would need comrades.
Building a Union of Egoists
Darien, a black haired witch with lip piercings and breathtaking eyes, had been casting spells with Castle for over a year. The shift to occult operations for political purposes came easily. “We had both been working with Kali,” Darien would tell me, “so her war and destruction-galactic wisdom energy was pretty integrated with us.” The ritual was perceived as hooking “green vampiric tendrils to anyone involved of criminal behavior” and to “uncover and zero in on perpetrators.” Once given names by the goddess they’d use a combination of sigils and playing cards to launch hexes in a fairy circle they’d found in the woods behind Castle’s house. The results were never anything definite, as such things tend to go, though Castle noticed it was “one bad thing after another” happening to the hospital.
This was only the beginning and things would get much more powerful.
“We were building our own network and using magic to try to get victims in, trying to get as many people who were abused, fucked over, stuff like that” Castle said. Darien remembers rituals using “a mixture of tarot cards and playing cards. I think it was eight of wands and ace of spades and six of clubs to attract attention. In the process I visualized information becoming viral.” After a series of rituals victims began flocking to the magicians “within a week or two and continuously becoming more intense there after.”
The network was informal, and centered around personal relationships rather than political ones, having much more in common with criminal street gangs than revolutionary parties. The goal was to combine power to influence and disrupt the environment they despised. Actions started small and were primarily based online.
“Not all twenty, maybe six… we’d go onto the EMMC page, its wall and just post a victim’s story or what’s happening there and uh, each one had ‘I don’t feel safe’ in the description, or like #IDontFeelSafe” Castle explained. The victims identities were protected by “running on burner accounts and VPN.” Small potatoes but enough to be noticed by EMMC, who quickly disabled the rating system on their page, furthering emboldening the pair of mages.
The network quickly began working above ground with a state agency, and an investigator assigned to the case told the victims they’d be facing an uphill battle with little chance of success. Castle and Darien felt they were being blown off and with a few other comrades decided to enchant the investigator without his knowledge.
“We took a King of Spades card out of a normal playing card deck, drew some sigils on it,” said Castle, noting one specifically had been given to him by Kali Ma to connect the rite to the larger hexes. “It was a hand with a tongue coming out of the palm holding an hourglass.” Carving the image on a card and visualizing exposure and triumph, the informal occult guerrillas burnt the card and threw it into the woods where previous rituals had taken place. After the ritual, and a continuation of the social media campaign, the investigator the network had been courting completely changed his tune. Where once there was doubt and little chance for victory, now the network had a committed fighter above ground and totally devoted to the cause. Some walked away beleiving that the strong hand of justice, though slow, would eventually sweep in and set things right.
Castle, like any good occultist, had little faith in things he himself didn’t have a hand in. Either that or perhaps Kali herself wasn’t finished.
Hexing the Digital Poppet
Up till now our occult guerrillas had been at war with very real institutions but hadn’t had a concrete human target for the brunt of their magical attacks. As if by the work of unseen hands Mary Mayhew, former head of the State department in charge of investigating hospital abuses, announced she was running for governor. A friend of the establishment she quickly earned the endorsement of Le Page, Maine’s current governor most widely known for his nakedly racist beliefs:
Mr LePage was asked about a statement he made in January, in which he blamed the state’s heroin problem on ‘guys by the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty’ who ‘come from Connecticut and New York.’
‘They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave,’ he said…
‘Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that.’
At first Castle and another comrade referred to as “Keldor” decided they’d simply try to troll her out of nothing more than sheer spite. “I had a problem with Mayhew already since, as you know, I am into radical mental health advocacy,” said Castle, “She was head of DHHS [Department of Health and Human Services], she was supposed to be, ya know, be looking over this shit, she’s supposed to be making sure the most vulnerable people in our society are protected and getting the treatment that they need.” After noticing Mayhew had no official facebook page for her campaign Castle quickly made one, touting itself as “a community of like-minded individuals supporting Mayhew for Governor.”
He described the page to me as a “digital poppet.”
“The use of witchcraft in this operation was much more subtle then EMMC operations,” he said, describing the idea as “using memes as sigil magick.”
“It’s just a form of chaos magick essentially,” he went on, “instead of a voodoo doll you stab with needles….instead of writing on a piece of paper, you make a facebook page.” Castle is loathe to go into specifics, a combination of high-potency dabs and cheap beer muddying what might have been one of the most successful operations of his occult jihad. He’d start to describe specific occult aspects and then wildly oscillate between memories and descriptions of previous events, only giving up a loose description and the hint that he kept a certain symbolic “feeling” about Mayhew in his mind as he built and designed the page.
Perhaps, like any good sigil working, the specifics have been lost to time, thrust into whatever dimension Grant Morrison himself used to boost his comic book sales. Whatever spiritual muscle was behind it, the page was a massive success. Comrade Keldor took the helm, and gleefully set about stirring up as much trouble as he could manage.
“All these people did not like Mayhew, but they didn’t have a platform to hate on her. So we make this page pretending to be her supporters and we’d say something like ‘lets re-criminalize recreational marijuana’ a-and people were trying to have arguments with us. We’d use it to make things even worse. Like, somebody was complaining about how she’s screwing over the logging industry because she’s investing in other things and we’d respond with things like ‘well, the logging industry is DEAD. 200,000 Mainers either need to get new skills or GET OUT.”
Castle says at its height the page was reaching 30,000 people on its posts, and for a project with almost no cost and utilizing tech available to any one-armed baby this is extremely impressive. Even the second version of the poppet, newer and with less “likes” then the official Mayhew page, far out-numbers the actual candidate’s posts in comments and reactions.
(Castle’s Digital Poppet)
(Mayhew’s actual page)
The reach and response was so high Mayhew had to release a disclaimer saying she had no connection with Castle’s poppet but the damage was already done. Some voters only even learned of the “official” Mayhew page after Castle linked to its denunciation of his own, and when Mayhew began deleting comments on the “real” page many saw it as a confirmation of the gross caricature they’d been presented.
The poppet, in the mind of many, became the real thing. And this connection was about to reach its crescendo.
Kali’s Wrath Comes to Maine
Can a facebook page be a ritual object? Hundreds of people who wouldn’t piss on Mayhew if she was on fire spent parts of their day commenting, responding, and directing their rage at a virtual symbol that was supposed to represent the real thing. Mayhew herself even drew attention to it. The sheer amount of hate being directed towards one focus point online, one ritually built to influence and affect its target, is an entire field of magic so far unexplored.
Combined with their unique approach of underground organizing, invocations, hexes, and above-ground enchantments, a rag-tag group of occult guerrillas waged a secret war against one of the state’s largest employers not for any high-minded ideals but because of a personal vendetta; they fought against an entire system without forming a non-profit, joining a political party, or waiting for a larger movement to come to them. Nothing short of a Morrison-esque Invisible Insurrection raged in Maine and under the blessing of the Darkest of Mothers in the Hindu pantheon.
And it worked.
A few weeks after the digital poppet was made the federal Office of the Inspector General released the results of their audit of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services for a two-year period.
Not only did DHHS completely fail at a systemic level to refer cases of alleged abuse and neglect to the proper authorities, but they even failed to adequately review 133 deaths – including nine that were deemed “unexplained, suspicious, or untimely” – that occurred within the years audited. Even in cases of alleged sexual abuse or exploitation, only five percent of the nearly 300 reported incidents were ever referred to law enforcement. The audit proved what Castle and the victim network had alleged all along.
And who ran the DHHS during those two years that were audited, the same two years now being discussed across televisions and in newspapers across the state of Maine?
None other than Mary Mayhew.
The Maine Beacon, echoing other periodicals, wrote “We can say with certainty that thousands of cases of possible injury or misconduct weren’t properly investigated. We can also see clearly that during this period under Mayhew that DHHS never made even any meaningful attempt to learn from its mistakes or correct the core, systemic problems that caused these failures.
Thousands of people slipped through the widening cracks of the system she broke apart and Mayhew was seemingly content watch them fall.”
Were the mages of Maine responsible? As with any occult operation the “physical” traces are twisting in the realms of quantum entanglement and mathematical probability. Successful spellwork isn’t about shooting fireballs out of your hand but having the pieces fall in place exactly as you hoped they would. Still, Castle sees the occult guerrillas themselves as part of a larger working rather than heroes bending time and space. “I got the sense that our work became the piece of a bigger puzzle, and in many aspects helped lasso these issues into the mainstream,” he said. “The best feeling is knowing that we created a platform in which the disillusioned and abandoned could strike back in their own way, and expose these issues. I don’t care to fill myself with such hubris as to take credit for the damage done, but certainly I had my place in the storm, and the synchronicities seem endless.”
Regardless of who deserves credit the fight is far from over. As the race for Maine’s highest office drags on Mayhew will be forced to answer for the abuse committed under her regime and the DHHS is set to potentially lose millions in federal funding. Whether by the hand of a goddess or sheer bad luck Castle, Damien, and Keldor have gotten their revenge. There is no doubt in this reporter’s mind the laughter of Kali and her worshipers will echo out from the Big Reed Forest for many nights to come.
As happens in any good occult operation, nobody left unchanged.
For Darien, the witch whose hand permanently bears the mandala of the Goddesses so crucial to her victory, it was both a reckoning and a revival. “My family had dealt with DHHS for years. They harassed us and put my siblings and I in homes or juvenile detention for being poor. My knowledge of singular power was blown wide open.” She says the experience “shattered a thousand layers of self-doubt and vulnerability” and gave her “a head above barbed wire to gaze into the false control.”
For Castle the disgust at the state of the world “never quite goes away, just keeps burning within.” For the moment he’s enjoying a lull in activity and tending to his marijuana plants, fully prepared to answer whatever strange stirrings will reignite the invisible insurrection. “A time will come soon, again, when I know where my next operation lies. The key to me is in the small battles, attaching myself to an issue or corporation, then building from there. People fantasize this glorious end battle, that’s never how it has been nor ever will it be. We must always fight and listen to the fire in our hearts.”
Maine’s magical war has much to offer, both to the mystically minded and the secular skeptic. Castle’s informal network and guerrilla tactics prove any far flung region of the Empire can be a battleground in the Insurrection. Vulnerable enemies abound if we but have the eyes to see them, real enemies with names and addresses instead of vague concepts it takes a book to explain. Anarchists need not wait for heroes or martyrs, or content ourselves with reaction, when all around us systems of control are ripe for demolition. Where political parties and protest movements fail close accomplices and a sheer thirst for revenge can often times carry the day.
“Even social protests for better wages, social security, more rights, are mobilizations with an expire date, that lead back to passivity.
We believe that every person individually must become conscious, must realize the crime of the existence of authority, abolish it from their life style and at the same time find comrades to strike the spread out authority of the state. This is why we believe in the anarchist minority struggle and the new anarchist urban guerrilla.”
Castle, Darien, and the informal members of their network refused to wait for a revolution to come to them. They fought an abusive system with a fistful of magic and no hope in new institutions. The gods walk where they are called, and as I type these words hungry spirits with a desire for destruction long to devour our oppressors.
Maine was only the beginning. May a million cults and a million new guerrillas follow in their footsteps, and may you and I be among them.
Dr. Bones is a Hoodoo-slingin’ Florida native and Egoist-Communist spitting pure vitriol and sorcerous wisdom at a world gone mad. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.
His poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism can be found at Gods & Radicals and The Conjure House. He can be reached by email, twitter, or facebook. Want to do him a favor? Help keep him alive for as little as $4.99 a month.
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