on the "Madam
Mayo" blog, July 15, 2015
ON FRANCISCO I. MADERO AS
MEDIUM AND HIS "SPIRITIST MANUAL":
An Interview with Stephen A. Hermann, author of Mediumship
The astonishing thing
about Francisco I. Madero's
Manual espírita of 1911 is that it lays out his
philosophy so passionately and precisely, and yet, with counted
exceptions (among them, Mexican historians Tortolero,
de Luna, and Rosas), apart from cursory mentions, historians
have told us nearly nothing about this text, its origins, broader
esoteric cultural context, and profound implications for understanding
Madero's actions as leader of the 1910 Revolution and as President
of Mexico. My translation of Madero's Manual espírita
the first into English and, as far as I have been able to ascertain,
into any language is included in my book, Metaphysical
Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and
His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual.
Madero was a medium in the Spiritist
tradition of the late 19th and early 20th centuries of France
and Mexico. In Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution
I write about Madero and his book not as an academic historian,
but as his translator and as a creative writer who has lived
in and written about Mexico for many
years. I presumed that most of my readers would encounter
Madero's ideas about communicating with the dead extremely peculiar,
even disturbing. This has been the case for the most part. To
give one of several (to me, amusing) examples, one prominent
Mexico expert who shall remain unnamed felt moved to inform me
that, though he very much enjoyed my book, he would not
be reading Madero's Spiritist Manual.
That said, I am grateful to have been invited to speak about
it at the Centro de Estudios de la Historia de México
CARSO, Mexico City's National Palace, Rice University, Stanford
Center for US-Mexican Studies, and elsewhere, and to date,
historians of Mexico and other scholars in these audiences have
been both thoughtful and generous in their comments.
To my surprise, however, the Internet
has brought my and Madero's books another, very different audience,
one that encounters Spiritist Manual as, shall we say,
a vintage text out of a well-known and warmly embraced tradition.
In his review for the National
Stephen A. Hermann writes, "Anyone interested in the
history of international Spiritualism as well as as mediumnistic
unfoldment will find this manual invaluable."
With the aim of providing further
context for Francisco I. Madero and his Spiritist Manual,
I asked Rev. Hermann if, from the perspective of a practicing
medium and teacher of mediumship and author of the just-published
Mastery: The Mechanics of Receiving Spirit Communications
he would be so kind as to answer some of my questions about Madero
as medium and about his philosophy.
ON MADERO AS MEDIUM
C.M. MAYO: In your book, Mediumship
Mastery, you distinguish between two broad types of mediumship,
mental and physical. "Automatic writing" you categorize
as both. Francisco I. Madero was a writing medium, that is, a
medium who channeled messages from the spirit world through his
hand and pen onto paper. Can you explain this?
And, is this type of mediumship still common today?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: Madero practiced automatic writing in
which spirit personalities would control the movements of his
arm and hand to write messages. It is common for many people,
not knowing the difference, to confuse automatic writing with
the phase of mediumship known as inspirational writing.
With inspirational writing the medium's conscious and unconscious
mind are very much involved with the process.
Genuine automatic writing occurs typically quite rapidly with
the medium unable to control the movements taking place. The
conscious mind of the medium is not involved in the process and
the medium could even be engaged in a conversation with others
while the writing is produced.
In the period
that Madero developed his mediumship the practice of automatic
writing, the use of planchette and table for spirit communication
was quite common for many mediums. Madero was heavily influenced
by the writings of the French Spiritualist Kardec,
whose classic Medium's Book was widely used by students
of spirit communication as a standard for mediumistic unfoldment.
As a phase of mediumship automatic writing is not commonly practiced
the way it would have been a century ago. In most countries around
the world most mediums practice mental phases of mediumship such
as clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience (psychic seeing,
hearing and sensing). There are also many mediums who practice
controlled speaking or trance channeling.
would you, as a medium, evaluate Madero's mediumnistic notebooks?
(These are preserved in his archive in Mexico's Ministry of Finance;
in my book, I quoted from some of them, communications in Madero's
handwriting signed by "Raúl," "José"
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: I was impressed by Madero's dedication
to God, the spirit world and his mission to help Mexico. He certainly
appears to have lived by higher spiritual principles. The communications
that he received I feel were genuine and indicate the great effort
of teachers in the spirit world to use him as a positive influence
in the material world. I would love to see all his notebooks
published and your book distributed even more as Madero's work
is an excellent example of a politician motivated selflessly
out of love and duty.
The mediumnistic notebooks have been transcribed and published
in volume VI. of Obras completas de Francisco Ignacio Madero,
edited by Alejandro Rosas Robles, Editorial Clío, Mexico,
2000. For more about the work of Alejandro Rosas Robles and other
Mexican historians on Madero and esoteric philosophy, see my
the (Very Heavy) Curtain on the Leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution"].
C.M. MAYO: It
seems that by the time Madero became president he was no longer
channeling written messages but instead relied on "inspiration"
or telepathic communication from spirits. My understanding is
that Madero considered this an advance in his mediumnistic abilities.
Would you agree?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: A student of mediumship is always progressing
and as such the manner that his or her mediumship functions will
evolve accordingly. I assume that Madero would have put considerable
effort into growing as an individual as well as enhancing his
own mediumistic skills. It is not that one phase of mediumship
is better than another. All spiritual gifts are ways for the
spirit personalities to bring love and healing to people in the
material world. It is very common for mediums to develop new
phases of mediumship as they gain experience and are ready. Madero
was very progressive in all aspects of his life.
the questions I invariably hear in any presentation or conference
about Madero and his Spiritism is that, if he really were hearing
from spirits, why did they not warn him about the coup d'etat,
so that he could save himself? (Perhaps because as President
coping with the challenges of governing, he no longer had the
peace of mind to listen?)
In Mediumship Mastery (p. 154-155) you write, "While
warnings might be given in order to prevent a mishap, telling
the recipient negative information such as he or she is going
to die next week or be involved in a serious accident, generally
would not come through with controlled regulated mediumship."
Can you explain and/or elaborate?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: Madero would have been under great stress
so it is very possible that his own mind would not have been
receptive to warnings given by his guardians in the spirit world.
On the other hand, we do not know the full picture in terms of
his karma or lessons in this lifetime. Madero performed great
works when he was physically present. I am sure that these great
works would have continued in other realms after his physical
C.M. MAYO: In the introduction
to your book, Mediumship Mastery, you mention that you
trained as a hypnotherapist. From his personal library we know
that Madero was intensely interested in hypnotism. Would this
knowledge have enhanced his abilities as a medium and as a political
leader? And if so, how?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: Kardec and many of the pioneers of the
Spiritualist movement studied Mesmerism and altered-states-of-consciousness.
The awareness of inducing trance states is crucial for the development
of mediumistic ability.
For example, with clairvoyance the more the medium is able to
place his or her mind into a receptive state and get the analytical
mind out of the way, the easier it will be to receive as well
as accurately interpret spirit messages given in this manner.
Mediumship mastery requires considerable discipline on the part
of the medium. Hypnosis is an effective tool for helping student
mediums train their minds and open up as instruments for the
spirit personalities to work through.
ON SPIRITISM, SPIRITUALISM,
THE PHILIPPINES, AND PSYCHIC SURGERY
C.M. MAYO: Spiritism
developed in France from the root of Anglo-American Spiritualism.
As a medium who has practiced and taught in various countries
from the U.S. to New Zealand and including in the Philippines,
do you see important differences in these traditions, Spiritualism
and Spiritism, today?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: Spiritism and Spiritualism are branches
of the same tree. A Spiritist is a Spiritualist who follows primarily
the doctrine found within Kardec's writings. Anglo-American Spiritualists
do not limit themselves to Kardec's writings and as a whole have
not officially embraced the concept of reincarnation. The Spiritist
approach generally places more emphasis on higher philosophy
and less on phenomena or providing evidence of survival as the
Spiritualist approach emphasizes. I think as a whole the Spiritist
approach tends to be more progressive than what is found in many
Spiritualist churches. However, Spiritists can be a bit dogmatic
in adhering to Kardec's writings.
C.M. MAYO: In
your chapter "Spiritiual Healing" you discuss psychic
surgery in the Philippines. Though Madero does not discuss psychic
surgery in the Spiritist Manual, in my book, Metaphysical
Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, I mention the Filipino
and Brazilian psychic surgeons as well as some Mexicans including
and Doña Pachita because they are well-known in Mexico
and I felt they represented traditions that could claim at least
some tangly bit of roots in the early 20th century Spiritism
of Madero. Would you agree?
Also, have you practiced and/or witnessed any psychic surgery
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: There have always been mediums or healers
in all cultures. The Philippines were a Spanish colony for almost
three hundred years. Many of the leaders of the revolution against
Spanish rule were involved in the practice of Spiritualism. Kardec's
writings were again a major influence in this part of the world.
I teach mediumship and healing worldwide and the Philippines
is one of the countries I regularly visit. Over the years I have
witnessed and experienced many remarkable physical and emotional
healings with my own mediumship as well as the mediumship of
others. With healing God is the healer and we are only vehicles
for God's unconditional love to work through.
Yes, I practice psychic surgery with the help of spirit doctors.
However, I do not pull blood and guts out of people and drop
it in a tin can as many Filipino healers do.
is that Spiritism arrived in the Philippines with Spanish translations
of Kardec's works. Presumably many of these came out Barcelona,
an important center for esoteric publishing (and indeed, many
of the books in Madero's personal library were from Barcelona).
When I discovered that Madero's 1911 Manual espírita
had been reprinted by Casa Editorial Maucci in Barcelona in 1924, I immediately wondered
whether any copies had made their way to the Philippines and
so played some role in the spread of Spiritism there. Do you
know anything about this?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: I do not know anything about this. Don
Juan Alvear in 1901 founded the first Spiritist center in San
Fabrian, Pangasinan. I have worked at this center many times
and the energy is amazing. Alvear was a great political leader,
educator and prominent intellectual. Like Madero, Alvear authored
a book on mediumship and was a hero of the revolution. His statue
is outside the government building and across the street from
the Spiritist center he founded.
See Hermann's blog post about some history of Spiritism in the
Philippines here. And for more about
Spiritism in the Philippines, a subject on which I am admittedly
very foggy, one place to start is Harvey Martin's The
Secret Teachings of the Espiritistas.]
ON THE BHAGAVAD-GITA AND REINCARNATION
C.M. MAYO: In many places in your
book, Mediumship Mastery, you quote from the Bhagavad-Gita.This was a work that
fascinated Madero; he not only mentions it in his Spiritist
Manual, but under the pseudonym "Arjuna"
the name of the warrior in the Bhagavad-Gita he wrote articles
about it and was planning a book about its wisdom for the modern
world. The Bhagavad-Gita also had an important influence on Gandhi,
Emerson, the Theosophists, and many others. One of its many teachings
is about reincarnation. In your book's chapter "Past Life
Readings," you mention that you have recollections of some
of your past lives and also have received communications from
spirits about others' past lives.
Would you elaborate on reincarnation as explained in the Gita?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: The Bhagavad Gita is a conversation
between the Supreme Personality and Arjuna. I try to read it
as much as possible. Life is eternal as the personality continues
into the world of spirit. The Bhagavad Gita explains the science
of connecting with the Godhead and how to cultivate devotion
or love of God. Every seven years pretty much all the molecules
in our physical bodies change. So we are always changing physical
bodies. Based on our consciousness at the end of this physical
life we will end up having to take another physical birth. The
Gita explains the process of transmigration and how we can ascend
to higher levels.
C.M. MAYO: Like
Madero in his Spiritist
in your book, Mediumship
you advocate a vegetarian diet. Is this an idea that came to
Spiritualism / Spiritism from Hindu philosophy?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: Higher teachers on both the physical
and spiritual worlds always advocate vegetarianism as it is very
bad to hurt animals and cause suffering to others. A true follower
of Jesus would not want to hurt others as would a true follower
of Buddha. There is only one God and we are all God's children.
I am sure Madero was influenced by Vedic teachings which is why
he loved the Bhagavad Gita.
MORE ABOUT MADERO'S SPIRITIST MANUAL
surprised you the most about Madero's Spiritist Manual?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: I really loved reading the Spiritist
Manual. It didn't really surprise me as I am familiar with
everything he wrote already. However, I especially loved reading
the extra sections about your research and his notes, etc. I
think you did a fantastic job.
of his understanding of mediumnistic unfoldmentor anything
elseare there any points where you would disagree with
Madero's Spiritist Manual?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: Madero approaches mediumship heavily
influenced by Kardec's Medium's Book. Nothing wrong with
that as Kardec's work was way ahead of it's time when it was
published in 1861. However, the methods and approaches used by
the spirit personalities to communicate, train and interact with
mediums have greatly improved.
Back in the early years of Spiritualism there were no teachers
of mediumship. Mediums learned through trial and error and with
the assistance and input of teachers in the spirit world overtime
created structured approaches to the unfoldment of the various
phases of mediumship.
Madero was brilliant and had he not have been murdered his mediumship
would have expanded even more. Love, harmony, enthusiasm, and
higher purpose are the qualities needed to create the best conditions
for successful mediumistic communications. Madero possessed all
these qualities and more.
In the early years of Spiritualism there was much physical phenomena
or manifestations of spirit power that could be directly experienced
through the five physical senses. Nowadays, people are much more
intellectually oriented and as such the mediumship practiced
is mainly mental or telepathic in nature. It is not that one
method is better but just better suited for the age. The methods
for training mediums have greatly improved and expanded in the
last 168 years.
C.M. MAYO: As
you were reading Madero's Spiritist Manual, or before
or afterwards, did you ever sense that you were in communication
with / sensing Madero's spirit? Is there anything you would like
to say about that?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: I would think that Madero most likely
would have been around you a lot when you were researching and
writing the book. I do not know if he was around me when I was
reading the book, but I do feel that he and I would have a lot
in common if we were to meet. I think we would get along pretty
well as I can relate to where he was at in terms of his mediumship
and his spirituality in general.
C.M. MAYO: In
your book, Mediumship Mastery (p. 9) you introduce the
subtle bodies that interpenetrate the physical body. As I read
it, this is a somewhat different explanation from given by Madero
where he, following Kardec, talks about the "perispirit."
Can you explain?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: The perispirit is the subtle or astral
covering. Madero uses Kardec's terminology. We have a physical
body with subtle bodies interpenetrating it. After physical death
the soul continues to function through the astral body and travels
into the spirit world.
ON MEDIUMSHIP AND ENERGIES
C.M. MAYO: My experience has been
that not all but most people either dismiss mediumship as impossible
or, believing it possible, are frightened that, in calling on
the spirit world, they might encounter negative entities. In
particular, the Catholic and many other churches sternly warn
against dabbling in conjuring spirits, especially with Ouija
In the introduction to your book, Mediumship Mastery,
you write, "In all my years of working as a medium, I have
never experienced anything negative or that made me feel uncomfortable.
My experience of mediumship has always been genuinely positive,
loving, and comfortable."
It would seem, from my reading of the Spiritist Manual,
that Madero would have agreed. But has this been the case for
others you know?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: Mediumship is all about love and healing.
However, training is important as is proper motivation. Someone
could have a bad experience with mediumship if they dabble in
it or go about doing it in a superficial way. Spiritual mediumship
is completely orchestrated by higher spirit personalities. Mediumship
is not a board game for drunk teenagers to play at 2 AM. Like
In your book's final chapter,
"Dealing with Skeptics," you write, "People who
are closed off and negative for any reason, which would include
hardcore skeptics, are exceptionally
more difficult to work with as the energies are not as strong,
the links to the spirit world weaker, and the connections more
incomplete and vague."
It seems to me that U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, who disdained
Madero as mentally unbalanced and who, for his support for the
coup d'etat that ended with Madero's murder in 1913, has gone
down as one of the archvillians of Mexican history, had much
in common with the rigidmindedness of celebrity skeptics such
as the Amazing Randi. Would you agree?
STEPHEN A. HERMANN: I
don't know Randi personally nor do I know the US Ambassador of
that period. Who knows what motivates people on a deeper level?
However, Randi does seem very closed off to higher consciousness
and intuitive ability. I suspect that Ambassador Wilson was motivated
completely by lower, selfish interests and as a result would
have cut himself off from higher spiritual influences.
Skeptics are not necessarily immoral or callous individuals.
They just do not often believe in the mystical and are highly
suspect of claims that do not fit their rationalist view of the
world. I appreciate skepticism as many people are completely
gullible and easily misled. It is important to not throw out
your intelligence when dealing with mediumship as there is a
fine line with genuine psychic impressions and your own imagination.
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