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

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In what ways did Francisco I. Madero's philosophy shape modern Mexico?

Madero was the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution and the democratically elected President from 1911-1913. His commitment to democracy and the law have stood as an inspiring example for generations of Mexicans indeed, his remains are enshrined in Mexico's Monument to the Revolution and his personal archives are in the National Palace.

How did you come upon Madero's Manual espírita, and what prompted you to translate it?

You can read about my first encounter with the Manual espírita in this excerpt from my book-length introduction to the translation. I immediately recognized, as have others, that the Manual espirita is a fundamental document for understanding the personal philosophy of the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution. I felt this book deserved to be brought to those who are interested in Mexican history but unable to read in Spanish.

And as a long-time translator of Mexican poetry and literary prose, I also knew how little Mexican writing appears in English so I figured, if I did not offer to do it, another century might go by with the book left untranslated. (Yes, you chickadees who inevitably ask, one could run it through some translation software, I suppose, but that would be rather like trying to, say, cut your hair with a lawnmower. Pretty crude, and as far as understanding goes, dangerous.)

Why do you think, for all that has been written about the Mexican Revolution in English, Madero's Manual Espírita has never before been translated?

First, until 2010, when the Manual espírita appeared on-line, it was no small feat to find a copy without a visit to a Mexican library or archive. Second, a translation takes time, the going rate is not cheap, and I was willing to do it for free. Third, and most importantly, most historians—with a few notable exceptions— have steered far clear of Madero's Spiritism because, I venture, les da ñañaras, as they say in Mexico. In other words, it gives them the creeps. The fancy term for the source of this discomfort is "cognitive dissonance." Here they are, studying an educated man who, in the name of justice and democracy, successfully overthrew a dictatorship, was elected President of Mexico, and yet... who, of sound mind, dares to admit they believe in invisible beings, tables tipping without human agency, and that they can hear messages from the Beyond? These days, most people who hear voices telling them they have "a great destiny" end up in a hospital, where they are dosed with, say, Clorazil and Ziprasidone. In short, tackling such a translation takes an open mind and a significant investment in reading about the various concepts and vocabulary which many of those who were otherwise interested in Madero apparently found too disagreeable or otherwise daunting. Or maybe I was just meant to do it. It is, after all, a bit of a mystery.

UPDATE: More to say about this in my remarks at the 2016 Center for Big Bend Studies Conference.

What is the origin of Spiritism and how did it come to Mexico? (Is Spiritism the same as Spiritualism?)

In English-speaking countries we are more familiar with "Spiritualism," while in France and Latin America, it is Spiritism that has had more of an influence. Though they differ in important respects, Spiritism and Spiritualism are closely related and indeed, the former was inspired by the latter.

American Spiritualism has its roots in myriad traditions, but if it has a beginning, it is with Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910), a seer who was born in Bloomingrove, New York. As a youth, taken under wing by a local tailor and mesmerist, Davis was soon was well known in the area for his clairaudience and clairvoyance, which he used for making medical diagnoses. One day in 1844, he fell into a trance and woke up in the Catskill Mountains, some 40 miles distant from his home in Poughkeepsie. He claimed to have encountered there the spirits of Galen, the Roman physician and philopher, and the Swedish mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg. Subsequently, Davis went many times to a mountain near Poughkeepsie to receive from the spirits information for his book, Principles of Nature: Her Divine Revelations and a Voice to Mankind, which was published in 1847, and which foresaw the emergence of Spiritualism in the following year.

Most histories recount that
Spiritualism first emerged near Buffalo, in Hydesville, New York in 1848, when a Methodist farm family heard strange raps and knocks, the source of which they were unable to identify. Two of the young daughters, Kate and Maggie Fox, found that they could communicate with whatever was causing the noises by clapping and calling out questions; soon the source was determined to be the spirit of a murdered peddler.[1]

This phenomenon, as well as others such as tipping tables, pencils writing by themselves, or on a planchette, levitation, clairvoyance, the appearance of strange lights, levitation, "spirit photography," and more, spread quickly throughout the region, and into Canada, England, and Europe, as scores of mediums emerged, claiming to communicate with spirits, and legions of curiosity-seekers as well as not a few intellectuals (among them, Victor Hugo, W. Crookes, and Alfred Russell Wallace), who, after attending séances, joined the ranks of the converted. Apart from the Fox sisters, who went on to spectacular fame, among the several outstanding mediums in this period were the Eddy Brothers from Vermont, William Stainton Moses in England, Eusalia Palladino in Europe, and the Scottish-born American
Daniel Dunglas Home, who toured England and the continent, where he performed séances for the Emperor Louis Napoleon.

In 1871, a group of Spiritualists began to meet during the summers on the shore of Cassadaga Lake in upstate New York; eventually they formed the
Lily Dale Assembly, which remains today the leading American Spiritualist community. Summer home to some forty registered mediums, the town of Lily Dale still attracts streams of visitors seeking to communicate with their departed loved ones.[2]

Over the years, Spiritualism has been defined differently by various individuals, circles, and churches, but most amply by the Lily Dale Assembly as the belief in the continuity of life and in individual responsability. According to their
website, "Some, but not all, Spiritualists are Mediums and/or Healers. Spiritualists endeavor to find the truth in all things and to live their lives in accordance therewith."

In Paris, by the 1850s, attending séances with the so-called tables tournantes had become a fashion, and it was in this context that Spiritism first emerged.

The doctrine of Spiritism was formulated by Hippolyte Léon Dénizard Rivail, aka Allan Kardec (1804-1869), a French educator, in his several books, among them, Le Livre des Esprits, 1857 (The Book of the Spirits) and Le Livre des Médiums, 1861 (The Mediums' Book). Inspired by American Spiritualism, Kardec's works are based on his own extensive interviews with spirits who purportedly communicated with him through French mediums. These interviews led him to conclude, in an important departure from the American Spiritualists, that spirits reincarnate as, in life after life, they evolve into ever greater states of consciousness.

Though he quickly developed a following of millions, and even today, his tomb in Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery, in the style of a Druidic temple, attracts heaps of flowers, Kardec was an unlikely guru for, according to his translator, Anna Blackwell, Kardec was "grave, slow of speech, unassuming in manner, yet not without a certain quiet dignity." Further, "he was never known to laugh."

According to its adherents, Spiritism is at once a science, a philosophy, and a religion. The science examines the nature of spirits and the invisible world, while the philosophy, among other things, holds that humanity evolves through multiple reincarnations; and the religion, presented in Christian terms
Jesus Christ as, to quote Kardec, "the epitome of the moral perfection to which humanity can aspire on Earth" that the universe is a creation of a loving God.

A minority, certainly, but an important one, of intellectuals and scientists viewed these purported communications from the Beyond as not only spiritually momentous, but at one with ongoing discoveries in astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and more. As historian John Warne Monroe emphasizes, "These believers...considered their approach utterly rational, and, in elaborating their views, they drew self-consciously on their knowledge of scientific discourse and method. Indeed, the multifarious visions of 'factual' metaphysics that heterodox thinkers advanced during this period were as much a part of the emerging landscape of modernity as the railway or the telegraph."[3]

In the late 19th century, t
hough elite Mexicans more often traveled to, studied in and had business dealings in the Unted States, they tended to feel more comfortable with French language and culture. Unsurprisingly then, it was Kardecian Spiritism, rather than American Spiritualism, that first made inroads in Mexico. This was in 1872, thanks to Refugio González's translations of Kardec's books, among other Spiritist works.

Also of note, Federico Gamboa (1864 - 1939), the novelist and diplomat, translated Kardec's follower, Gabriel Delanne; and Ignacio Mariscal, in 1892, when he was serving as Mexico's Minister of Foreign Relations, albeit identified only as "un mexicano," translated Après la mort (After Death) by another leading Spiritist, León Denís.

While educated Mexicans, such as Madero's father, could subscribe to Kardec's Revue spirite, soon Spanish-speaking Mexicans had their own Ilustración Espírita and they could join various informal Spiritist circles, as well as the Sociedad Espírita Central de la República Mexicana in Mexico City and other cities including Guadalajara, San Luís Potosí, and Monterrey.

Madero's circle in San Pedro, Coahuila was "Estudios Psicológicos."

Kardec's philosophy found fertile ground among those intellectuals who considered the positivist científicos, unbalanced in their overly rigorous materialism. The consoling idea of eternal life and the Spiritist morality based on love and charity also had their appeal; and finally, Spiritism found some adherents among the already well-established Masons who, at their higher levels, by tradition, had been open to esoteric teachings. (Madero himself was a Mason.)

During this same period, the Russian mystic and co-founder of Theosophy, Helena Petrovna Blavatksy (1831-1891) published her seminal works, Isis Unveiled (1878) and the Secret Doctrine (1888), which were almost immediately translated into French and which infused Western esoteric thinking, including that of some of the Spiritists, with new strains of Eastern and neopagan thought.

The Mexican Catholic Church strenuously condemned Spiritism. The leading intellectuals of the time, the so-called científicos, for the most part, considered Spiritism absurd and superstitious. Under attack, Mexican Spiritism receded somewhat in the 1890s, but after the turn of the century, it reemerged with vigor, and in large part because of the efforts of Francisco I. Madero, who was a leading organizer of the first and second Latin American Spiritist Congresses, both held in Mexico City in 1906 and 1908, respectively.

What is the attitude of the Catholic Church towards Spiritism? Is Spiritism important in Mexico today? (And are Teresita Urrea "La Santa de Cabora," El Niño Fidencio, and Doña Pachita part of this tradition?)

While many adherents to Spiritism consider themselves Catholic, the Church (Pope Pius IX's benevolent countenance notwithstanding) does not approve of Spiritism.

Unlike Protestants, who forthrightly reject the authority of the Vatican, as well as various aspects of Catholic doctrine, Kardec and other Spiritists, including Madero in his
Spiritist Manual, take pains to appeal to Catholics, positioning Spiritism not as a new religion, per se, but a more like modern, scientifically-advanced, complement. (That said, Madero does directly attack the Church's understanding of divinity, sin, and natural law.)

To the Catholic Church, however, séances are dangerous if not diabolical, reincarnation is not accepted, and Jesus was more than one of the several "divine missionaries"; he was the Savior. As early as 1864, Pope Pius IX slapped all of Allen Kardec's works on the Index, the Vatican's list of prohibited books.

As for Spiritism in Mexico today, because of their webpage, I am aware of the
Centro de Enseñanza Espírita Allen Kardec in Mexico City; apart from that, I can only offer my impressions and they are that Spiritism, as formalized by Allen Kardec, has a relatively more important following in Brazil, while in Mexico, it has interlaced and/or dissolved into a melange of traditions, both indigenous and of European and American and even African and of course, Caribbean origin. (I suppose I should include Reiki, a Japanese healing modality, popular especially in Tepoztlan, Morelos, wherein the healer, his hands hovering above the client's body, draws in energy from the universe and sends it into the client's body; meanwhile, he may receive advice about the healing process from "spirit guides" who show up to assist.) There are also some Mexican traditions of more modern origin, such as the worship of Juan Soldado or, La Santa Muerte, but I know little about these. Mexico has such astoundingly diverse regions and so many ethnic groups that I would hesitate to make, or take seriously, any generalizations about anything (and this a point I make in my anthology Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion).

As for Teresa Urrea "La Santa de Cabora" (1873-1906), she was born in the north of Mexico, the illegitimate daughter of a well-to-do rancher named Tomás Urrea and one of his workers, a teenager named Cayetana Chávez. After being abandoned by her mother, Teresa's father brought her into his household where, it so happened, she was trained in the healing arts by an indigenous servant and curandera named Huila.When Teresa's psychic and healing powers became known, some members of a Spiritist circle visited her in 1889, first declaring her insane, and again in 1890, after which they made her their honorary president. She was also associated with a confirmed Spiritist named Lauro Aguirre (b.1857), a surveyor trained in Mexico City's Colegio Militar. Though soon known to Spiritists throughout Mexico and as far as Europe and Puerto Rico, Teresa cannot properly be considered one of their ranks for, according to historian Paul Vanderwood, "she could not adhere wholly to [Spiritism's] tenets," which "denied the 'celestial court,' the divinity of Jesus and the concept of the Trinity." Teresa attracted a massive following, some of whom began to call her "La Santa de Cabora" (the Saint of Cabora), raising the ire of the Catholic authorities. She always lived very simply and never took money for her services. After she and her father were involved in a revolt against the dictator Porifio Díaz, they had to leave Mexico for Arizona, where she died of consumption at the age of 33 in 1906. Teresa's fame was rekindled when her great-nephew, Luis Alberto Urrea, wrote a best-selling novel, The Hummingbird's Daughter, based on her life.

Apart from Madero himselfand also in a distinctly more rustic veinEl Niño Fidencio is considered Mexico's best known Spiritist, though it would more accurate to say that he was associated with Spiritism. Born José Fidencio Sintora Constantino in 1898 in a village in the state of Guanjuato, he was orphaned as a child and later moved moved north to the state Nuevo Léon, where he workered on a ranch in remote Espinazo. Known as El Niño or "child," because of his high-pitched voice and sweet, playful nature, Fidencio was taken under wing by a German-born Spiritist named Teodoro von Wernich, who recognized and encouraged his development as a healer. As news of El Niño Fidencio's healing powers spread, and in particular, his abilties to remove tumors, increasing numbers of people arrived in Espinazo, so many that the place became a vertitable camp city. The apogee of Fidencio's career came in 1928, President Plutarco Elías Calles, who sought a healing for a skin ailment, pulled into Espinazo on his private train. Although El Niño Fidencio died in 1938, his following, both of white-robed materias or mediums who serve as cajitas, little boxes, for Fidencio's spirit's healing powers, and of those who seek healing from them; from a dip in the mud pool at Espinazo; and/or by praying to El Niño Fidencio, has grown to prodigious proportions. Though officially the Church does not approve of Spiritism, nor of Fidencismo, in practice, many Mexican Catholic clergy show tolerance, that the sheep may not leave the corral altogether. Many Fidencistas consider themselves Catholics and for them, with the Vatican's seal of approval or not, Niño Fidencio is a saint. Throughout the north of Mexico and in U.S. Chicano communities, it is not uncommon to see candles, pictures, and even elaborate altars to El Niño Fidencio, right alongside those to Jesus, San Judas Tadeo (St. Jude Thaddeus), and, of course, Mexico's patron saint, the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Was Madero's Spiritism a factor in the downfall of his government?

It is important to take into account that not everyone in Mexico knew that Madero was a Spiritist, or, if they saw the cartoons or heard the gossip, believed Madero was a Spiritist, and in any event, some who did nonetheless did not understand what Spiritism was, while others wholeheartedly agreed with his Spiritism. Also, Madero's government, like any post-revolutionary government, had to contend with divided loyalties in the Army, among many other pressing and dangerous issues. But yes, his Spiritism was a factor, I believe, and in part because for many people, anyone who claims to communicate with spirits to "hear voices," as Spiritist mediums do must be mad, no discussion. We know from his correspondence that Madero was aware that the Spiritist Manual, published when he was president elect in 1911, could cause him damage his reputation; he was very discreet about his authorship; only a few knew that he was the author, "Bhima." We do know that, in an attempt to discredit him, his political enemies, the Reyistas, published some of the Spiritist Manual; many newspaper cartoons pictured him as a medium communing with ghosts and/or "tipping tables"; and after taking Madero prisoner in the coup d'etat, General Victoriano Huerta wrote to US Ambassador Wilson asking if he thought he should send Madero to the lunatic asylum. That in itself speaks volumes.

What is your personal opinion of Spiritism? Do you believe (or not) that Madero was really channeling spirits?

First of all, my intention in translating and writing about this work is not to convince anyone of the validity or invalidity of Spiritism but rather, to simply provide an English translation and an context for understanding Francisco I. Madero and, therefore, the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and Madero's Presidency, including its brutally abrupt end in 1913.

I have never been a member of nor in any way involved with any Spiritist or Spiritualist church or organization. I was born in the U.S. in the early 1960s; when I first heard of them in my reading about Madero, Monsieur Kardec and his 19th century world of séances seemed to me ultra-strange. I was baptized Catholic (my father's religion), raised Presbyterian (my mother's), and, as a teenager, decided to take a lifelong vacation from the whole church thing.

I believe in treating others, as much as humanly possible, and measured to the circumstances, with kindness. Other than that? I'm working it out and, in the meantime, I don't appreciate anyone else telling me what to believe and where to go on Sundays. But perhaps because I grew up in multicultural California, I have a very tolerant attitude— if you're Baptist or Jewish or Mormon or Buddhist, bless y'all; if you want to believe, as Mormons do, that the Angel Moroni appeared at a farmhouse near Palmyra, New York in 1823, or as Catholics do, that the Virgin Mary appeared at Lourdes, France in 1858, OK. Was I standing there with a camera? Who am I to say what really happened or didn't happen? I don't go through life with the need to wave around the cudgel of an answer for everything.

I was fortunate to get a good education, which included courses in various sciences at the University of Chicago; I could get all puffed up about that but now, on the other side of 50, I'll own this much: compared to the football field of what we don't know, what we know about the universe could, perhaps, fill a nano-thimble. This is why I think it's a healthy thing to stay curious and open-minded, but, at the same time, learn to live with ambiguity. Many things might be true; or, they might not be true. We just don't know.

On that note, to those who discard these phenomena as "having been totally rejected by science," I would say that this not only betrays an ignorance of the existing scientific literature but a misunderstanding of what science is. Science is not a doctrine but a method of inquiry, a system of practical logic.

In other words, all too often critics conflate scientism with science.

That said, I believe the best stance is the one Mexican historian Enrique Krauze adopts in his Francisco I. Madero: Místico de la libertad, (my translation):

"As to whether these spirits did or did not appear before Madero, the historian—skeptical, by principle— cannot say, but neither does he need to. Whether these revelations were really of astral origin or merely psychological, that is to say, projections of the medium's unconscious, the result is the same: a scaffolding of beliefs Madero constructed around himself which regulated his life."

Nonetheless, whatever one believes about channeling spirits or about people who believe they channel spirits who tell them they have "a great destiny," the fact is—and it is a very provocative one— Madero was a charistmatic leader who effected monumental political change in Mexico, and the consequences of his bold and brilliantly organized fight against tyranny continue to reverberate in the Mexican polity and beyond more than a century later.

My own understanding of reality is quite close to that expressed in Michael Talbot's The Holographic Universe, a work that has strongly influenced my fiction writing. Following physicist David Bohm's concept of the implicate order, Talbot conjectures that the world as we experience it is a kind of hologram, and that this may explain psychic phenomena., including, possibly, communication from disembodied consciousnesses.

I expect that over the next decade, with more scientific evidence, as we are seeing from physicists, as well as near-death and consciousness researchers such as Raymond Moody, Dean Radin, Lynn Taggart, Gary E. Schwartz, and so many others, the reigning "orthodox" paradigm will shift, and for most educated people, the idea that human consciousness can separate from the body and survive death and that it has a vastly complex and magnificent nature, indeed, in some instances, is capable of interacting with the living, will no longer seem "fringy," nor a question of faith or superstition, but rather, a simple scientifically demonstrated fact, and in this, the Spiritists will be vindicated. Nonetheless, this has been a hope for a small but dogged group of scientists and other intellectuals for more than a century and, try though they might, they have made little headway in convincing the broad community of their peers to take them seriously. Even today, the scientific establishment's resistance to anything that smacks of "psychic" or "paranormal" research, as it has been called, ranges from the barest of tolerance to snarky disdain to ferocious, Torquemada-like hostility (witness Harvard University's unprecedented investigation into the work of tenured Professor John Mack for his writing about people who claimed to have been abducted by aliens.)

As the Catholic mystic Carolyn Myss so elegantly put it, "Somehow, through the centuries of our adoration of the mind, we've evolved in a way that has made our capacity to perceive through the eyes of the soul not only difficult to access, but also threatening to the stability of our physical and mental life" —and I doubt this can change in a day. In science as in politics, we need leaders, people of vision and courage, but we don't always have, or have the wherewithal to follow, the ones who can best serve us. But then, sometimes we do.

From the time I was very young, I have always been intensely curious about psychic phenomena and yet—like most people, if not to the same degree— I have felt that inner nudge of caution. Some mediums and psychics have been shown to be hoaxers, but not all, and there is too much evidence over too many years to throw a blanket rejection over the entire field. If the spirit or astral world is real, then what, really, are we dealing with? When a Ouija board summons a message, is it from one's own unconscious, from an all-wise and loving guardian angel, or the equivalent of a punk with a spiritual can of spray paint? (And you are the wall.) As for mediums, psychics, remote viewers and others, though I have seen some remarkably talented ones, even the most advanced cannot perceive everything and, in any event, if I cannot see what they see, why should I should accept as gospel whatever they tell me? And of course, the imagination can be a vividly powerful force, allowing completely fictional characters to take on a life of their own, appearing in dreams, even "whispering," like a memory, into one's ear, as any novelist knows. What is real (the voice of an angel, of one's spirit guide or departed grandmother, say) and what is just one's own imagination? As psychologist Gary E. Schwartz points out in The Sacred Promise: How Science is Discovering Spirit's Collaboration with Us in Our Daily Lives, "Some intuitives and psychics may become ungrounded and flaky as they lose their ability to distinguish between their own thoughts and those which purportedly come from elsewhere." And, assuming there is a world beyond the veil, might not there be a protective purpose for that veil? Sometimes I think so. But I don't know.

Bottom line: As the translator, I have not taken any position for or against, but have only tried, as all translators should, to render the author's words in the way he intended. The Spiritism Madero expresses I understand to be derivative of a European Gnostic Christian (with touches of Hermetic, Hindu, and Buddhist influences) late-19th century interpretation of some phenomena and concepts about reality and consciousness that, quaint as they sound to modern ears, may, in some part, be valid. The Spiritists's emphasis on researching consciousness seems to me a worthy endeavor, though certainly, one need not be a Spiritist to be interested in or engage in such research. The morality the Spiritists preach, of trying to be and do good, seems to me a mighty fine idea. The same can be said for every major religion on the planet. Amen.

What were some of the issues and challenges you encountered in translating this book?

There were five challenges. First, in reading it— and, simultaneously, works on the Mexican Revolution, Madero, and Spiritism— my own opinions about Madero and his Spiritism underwent so many jolts and swings that it felt like riding a rollercoaster. It was difficult at times to maintain an objective, respectful stance towards the material and its author but, always, I felt that this was important.

Second, in order accurately translate the various esoteric and Spiritist terms, I needed to do far more reading than I had anticipated. (See the Bibliography of Metaphysical History and Literature.)

A third, and more prosaic challenge, was ferreting out all the many verses from the Bible. Because most English speaking Catholics of the time would have used the Douay Rheims version of the Bible, I did not translate these verses directly, but took them from that. Fortunately, there is a free on-line and searchable edition at http://www.drbo.org

Fourth: Finding the sources for quotes from the Bhagavad-Gita. I could not, in fact, find these. I hope to correct this in an updated edition before the end of this year.

Fifth: Well, apart from whatever literary talent Madero may or may not have enjoyed, his Spiritist Manual is aimed at readers with limited education. I am used to translating literary works, with all their arabesque leaps and twirls, so translating this book sometimes felt like a clomp through tall grass in clogs. But certainly, it was always very interesting.

Why is there a flower with an eye on the cover?

The cover incorporates the image from the painting "Gerbara and Eye" by the American San Miguel de Allende-based artist Kelley Vandiver, who very kindly gave his permission. I chose it because it is an arresting image (always an advantage in the modern sea of distractions); furthermore, it echoes the Masonic Eye of Providence or all-seeing eye of God, which is usually shown with rays of lights within a triangle, and Madero was a Mason. When I asked Vandiver why he had painted an eye in the flower, he told me it was because he wanted to show that the flower, like everything, was conscious. I believe this is true. (See, for example Dean Radin's The Conscious Universe.) Madero's Spiritist Manual is, precisely, a profession of beliefs about consciousness, so, as a cover image, Vandiver's "Gerbara and Eye" cover image seemed to me very apt.

Where can I read the book in Spanish?

My book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, has been translated by Mexican poet and novelist Agustín Cadena as Odisea metafísica hacia la Revolución Mexicana, Francisco I. Madero y su libro secreto, Manual espírita, and all editions also contain a transcript of the complete original 1911 Manual espírita.

Click here for the Spanish site.

If you only want the Manual espírita, a quick search should bring it up on the Internet. At the time of this writing, Manual espírita is available as a free PDF download on a Mexican government website featuring historical documents. Worldcat also lists the libraries that have copies.

Where can I write to you?

Always delighted to hear from readers. Click on the planchette to send a message.


C.M. Mayo Talks About Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution and Four Exceedingly Rare Books


Biographers International Newsletter January 2017
Q & A with C.M. Mayo
Read here.

"The Secret Book by Francisco I. Madero, Leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution"
Transcript of C.M. Mayo's remarks for the panel on the Mexican Revolution, Center for Big Bend Studies Conference, Sul Ross State University, 2016
Download the PDF

C.M. Mayo at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD: Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual
Recorded on January 29, 2015 in La Jolla, CA, at the University of California San Diego Center for US-Mexican Studies: C.M. Mayo discusses her new book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual.
Listen to the podcast

Jeffrey Mishlove interviews C.M. Mayo about her book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual for "New Thinking Allowed"

Part One

Part Two

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Occult of Personality

Greg Kaminsky interviews C.M. Mayo about Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual.

Listen to the podcast here.

"I found C.M. Mayo’s book to be very engaging and well-written. This is not your typical history, or even esoteric history book. Mayo is a profoundly creative and insightful artist who is able to bring her own perspective into the frame while enhancing our understanding of her subjects. This is a masterful introduction to a topic that hasn’t been explored in this accessible way before, and may never be again. If you enjoy esotericism, history, politics, and the way that they sometimes intersect, I highly recommend you read C.M. Mayo’s Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution."
Greg Kaminsky, host of Occult of Personality

"University of Chicago Alumna Explores Secret Book by Leader of the Mexican Revolution"
By Greg Borzo, Division of the Social Sciences University of Chicago, on-line newsletter, April 2014
Touring archives at Mexico’s Ministry of Finance in 2008, Catherine Mansell, who goes by her penname, C.M. Mayo, came across a little book called Manual espírita by Bhima.
aaa“Who’s Bhima?” she asked. None other than Francisco Madero, the Mexican statesman who kicked off the Mexican Revolution and served as president of Mexico from 1911 to 1913, before he was assassinated.
...At that moment, Mayo, an accomplished novelist, memoirist, poet and translator, knew “instantly and absolutely” that she would translate this secret, never-before-translated work.... READ MORE

El Financiero (in Spanish)
Alberto Baude Barrientos interviews C.M. Mayo about books, publishing, and the latest, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution and the novel, El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano.

"How the Talking Dead Helped Forge Modern Mexico"
Guadalajara-based journalist Stephen Woodman interviews C.M. Mayo.
"It is an inconvenient fact for Mexican historians that the “Father of the Revolution” Francisco I. Madero, kept in regular contact with spirits of the dead. Yet Madero, who served as president from 1911 until his assassination less than two years later, was a deeply committed spiritist and believed he spoke to departed relatives and possibly even former Mexican leaders. Through his practice of mechanical writing, Madero put pen to paper and let invisible beings guide his hand, shakily transcribing words of wisdom from beyond the grave. With a Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, U.S. novelist and translator C.M. Mayo has written one of the only books to focus on this key aspect of his life.

Shattered Reality Podcast: C.M. Mayo, Spiritism, and the Mexican Revolution

Listen to the podcast here.

"Historia en Vivo" (in Spanish) programa de radio con la maestra Bertha Hernández. Mexico City. March 14, 2015 (in Spanish)

"Los espíritus de Francisco I. Madero"
En Odisea metafísica hacia la Revolución Mexicana, Catherine Mansell Mayo recupera el viejo Manual Espírita escrito con seudónimo por quien derroca a Porfirio Díaz.
Vainey Fernández. Milenio March 8, 2015

Spotlight on C.M. Mayo over at Lisa Carter's Intralingo Blog, on getting started in literary translation, translating Mexican writers Agustín Cadena and Mónica Lavín, and tackling the translation of Francisco I. Madero's secret book of 1911. February 13, 2013.

C.M. Mayo Interviews Rev. Stephen Hermann, author of Mediumship Mastery, on Spiritism, the Bhagavad-Gita, and Francisco I. Madero as Medium
July 15, 2015

Just Energy Radio with Dr. Rita Louise
C.M. Mayo: The Secret Book of Francisco I. Madero

Rose Mary Salum, editor of Literal, interviews C.M. Mayo about translating Madero's Spiritist Manual, for the Literal Magazine blog January 30, 2012

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The original Manual espírita is in the public domain.
However, this translation is © Copyright C.M. Mayo

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