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


In a blend of biography, 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 translation of the secret book by Francisco I. Madero, leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution and President of Mexico from 1911 to 1913.

"In my fifteen years of researching the life of President Francisco I. Madero, I have never read a more complete book as the one just written by C.M. Mayo. It will simply surprise any reader. The research is impeccable and the narrative well-rounded."
Manuel Guerra de Luna,
author of Los Madero: La Saga Liberal

"C.M. Mayo offers another dazzling work in her own fluid, poetic and highly visual prose... By the time I finished I wished for a Don Francisco Madero to guide us today, a politican who is also a mystic and intellect.
Sophy Burnham, author of A Book of Angels and The President's Angel

"Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution paints a complex picture of a curious crossroads in history, where the rise and fall of a regime coincided with a spiritual and social awakening with the potential to rewrite a country's future. Kudos to Mayo for introducing us to both the man and his message."
San Francisco Book Review

"Mayo... provides not only an English translation of Madero's Spiritist Manual, but also a lively intoduction... The author argues effectively that Madero's manual is essential to understanding his revolutionary zeal."
Kirkus Reviews

"In this delightfully engaging book, C.M. Mayo brings to vivid light an aspect of Mexican history astonishingly neglected by most historians: the Spiritist beliefs and practices of Francisco Madero, instigator and first leader of the world-historical event that was the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Fruit of considerable research, this volume includes the first translation into English of Madero's Spiritist Manual, itself an invaluable contribution to the historical record."
José Skinner, University of Texas-Pan American

"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

"Absolutely fascinating... the well-crafted outcome of a sharp mind and meticulous research, combined with serendipity."
Tony Burton, author of West Mexico and Geo-Mexico

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


A Library Journal Best Book, 2009

"Once upon a time, there was a little half-American boy who briefly became heir to the Mexican throne—until his distraught parents sued the doomed Emperor Maximilian for his return. As in the best historical fiction, Mayo's sparkling first novel transforms a forgotten historical footnote into a spellbinding, heartbreaking tale filled with drama and fascinating characters."
Library Journal

"It is a hefty, sprawling work, more than 400 pages long, but at no point does it begin to sag under its own weight. Perhaps because its spread is solidly supported by facts, Mayo's intricate plot trips along at a natural, inexorable pace, easily traveling the sweeping map she has laid out for it, from Washington to Mexico City and all the way to the imperial halls of Europe... a swashbuckling, riotous good time, befitting the fairy-tale promise of the opening sentence."
Austin American-Statesman


"With elegant prose and an artist's eye for detail, Mayo may just have written one of the best books ever about Baja California. Highly recommended"
Library Journal

"Ay, if only I had been at C.M. Mayo's side in her rendezvous through Baja California... My recourse is her joyful, intellectually sparkling chronicle"
Ilan Stavans,
author of The Hispanic Condition

"A breathtaking vision of the past, present, and future of [Baja California]... Meticulously researched... a valuable combination of historical and social study"
El Paso Times

"A luminous exploration of Baja California, from its southern tip at Cabo San Lucas to its 'lost city' of Tijuana... [Mayo] takes the fiction writer's impulse and blends it with the instincts of a journalist to create a work of nonfiction that elides into modern myth"
Los Angeles Times Book Review


"one of the outstanding contemporary works on this country"
David Huerta, El Universal, Mexico City

"This is a book to throw in a suitcase or mochila (backpack) on the way to Mexico or just settling into a favorite patio chair. It will open your eyes, fill you with pleasure and render our perennial vecinos a little less distante."
Los Angeles Times Book Review

"This delightful anthology . . . allows readers who do not have roots in Mexico or who have never traveled there a glimpse into the rich diversity of people and landscape. For travelers, these selections enhance exploration and offer vistas beyond the scope of the usual tourist guide. For other readers, they provide a clearer understanding of the cultural and social forces that shape today's Mexico. Highly recommended."
Library Journal

"Discovering it was like opening a door and walking into a brightly lit room filled with all kinds of literary treasures"
Mexico Connect


"A remarkable literary debut... tautly fashioned prose, alive with myriad turns of phrase as on-target as they are idiosyncratic."
Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"C.M. Mayo writes some of the most exquisitely fashioned, perfectly measured prose alive in the world today. Her stories glitter with delicious odd details. They feel electrically charged, richly mysterious, and rhythmic. I love her layering of cultures, her offbeat humor, her potent instinct for voices. Bravo! Captivating! Yes, yes, yes!"
Naomi Shihab Nye

"The haywire circuits of our whole electrically but not ethically connected global village stand exposed in Mayo's work. Sky Over El Nido won the 1995 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. I am not surprised."
David Toolan, S.J., Commonweal

"Sky Over El Nido is a breath-taking first collection... These stories are vibrant, strange, loaded with off-beat humor, exquisite detail, and delivered with near-perfect pitch. Sky Over El Nido shimmers with life."
The Virginia Quarterly Review

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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.