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Metaphysical Odyssey Into the Mexican Revolution:
Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual

In a blend of personal essay and a rendition of deeply researched metaphysical and Mexican history that reads like a novel, award-winning writer and noted literary translator C.M. Mayo provides a rich introduction and the first English translation of Spiritist Manual, the secret book by Francisco I. Madero, leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution and President of Mexico, 1911-1913.

"Mayo does brilliant job combining the known facts of the Mexican Revolution and Madero's role within it, and creates an intellectual bridge to the president's spiritist belief structure...With her translation of the Spiritist Manual, C.M. Mayo opened this incredible window into the metaphysical side of the Mexican Revolution"
Heribert von Feilitzsch, author of In Plain Sight: Felix Sommerfeld, Spymaster in Mexico

"Ever astonishing are the greats whose inner tracks wholly diverge from their renown. Such a case is Francisco I. Madero, first president of Mexico after the 1910 revolution, whose political genius was immersed in mysticism, and equally extraordinary is C. M. Mayo's account of this paradox in Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution. Threading the tortuous path of Madero from birth to assassination, and culminating in the first translation into English of the little-known Spiritist Manual of this master of statecraft, Mayo's account brings to life the duality of the singular founder of Mexican democracy."
Bruce Berger, author of The Telling Distance: Conversations with the American Desert

For the Spanish edition,
Odisea metafísica hacia la Revolución Mexicana,
Francisco I. Madero y su libro secreto, Manual espírita,
click here.

 













 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Halley's Comet, that star with a quetzal's tail, appeared in Mexican skies in 1910, it heralded not only the centennial of Independence, but a deeply transformative episode, the Revolution launched by Francisco I. Madero on November 20, what Javier Garciadiego calls "the true beginning of a process, the birth of the modern Mexican State." The great chorus of historians of Mexico agrees. Yet the deeply held spiritual beliefs that prompted Madero, a kind-hearted Coahuilan businessman, onto the battlefield are little known and when discussed at all, it is more often as titillating gossip than with any attempt at understanding.

What were those beliefs? Some, such as the ideas from the Hermetica, go back beyond the Renaissance into blurriest antiquity, but in the main, it was Spiritism, the French offshoot of American Spiritualism, fused with other late 19th century Anglo-American and European metaphysics and psychical research, a touch of occult Freemasonry, and the wisdom imparted by Lord Krishna in the Baghavad-Gita, an ancient Hindu poem that also enthralled Madame Blavatsky, Henry David Thoreau, José Vasconcelos, and the leader of India's Independence movement, Mohandas Gandhi.

In fact, Madero stated his beliefs clearly and in detail in his Manual espírita, which, astonishingly, he managed to write in 1910. When he published it in early 1911 as "Bhima," and later that year, once elected President of Republic, attempted to promote it from behind the scenes,
it earned him more enemies than converts, for it was at sharp odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church, on the one hand, and on the other, the Positivism of the so-called científicos, the intellectual elite who denied the relevance or even existence of supernatural phenomena. Indeed, his book may have contributed to the visceral contempt of those behind the overthrow of his government and his murder.

When C.M. Mayo, a noted novelist, essayist and literary translator encountered the Manual espírita in his archive in Mexico's Ministry Finance, she recognized at once that it was a vital document for understanding Madero and, therefore, the Revolution itself. As a lark, she offered to translate it into English, but as she herself admits, "not three pages in, I was dumbfounded. I had no context for it."

But rather abandon the proyect, she began trying to find that context, a rollicking odyssey of several years-worth of reading and "armchair" travel, from the Burned-Over District of New York to Paris, Barcelona, Brazil, and of course, Mexico, where she consulted the remains of Madero's personal library— perhaps one of the finest collections of 19th century esoterica in Latin America— and as far as examining photos of Australia, his guayule ranch in the desert where the spirits, so they said, found it much easier to communicate with Madero.He was a writing medium.

Whatever one's personal beliefs may be, it would be both unfair and intellectually naïve to discard Madero's Spiritism as "mere superstition." His Manual espírita, published at the behest of the Second Mexican Spiritist Congress of 1908, is, unabashedly, a religious manifesto and, as such, has its place alongside the literature of other religions that emerged at the same time, among them, Christian Science and Mormonism.

In a blend of personal essay and a rendition of deeply researched metaphysical and Mexican history that reads like a novel, Mayo provides a rich introduction to what is undoubtedly one of the strangest, most thought-provoking, and utterly fascinating books ever written in Mexico.