Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution:
Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual
Dr. Rita Louise Just Energy Radio
C.M. Mayo on Francisco Madero's Secret Book
August 6, 2015
Dr. Rita Louise: Hello, and welcome to Just Energy Radio. I'm your host, Dr. Rita Louise, and thank you all for tuning into the show tonight. Well, we're going to be talking, you know, you put the shows together, and sometimes you just don't know how they fit. But tonight we're going to be speaking about spirituality, and Spiritualism, and occultism, and magic, and all those secret things that no one wants to talk to you about because they're blasphemous. And to do that we're going to be speaking with C.M. Mayo about the secret book of Francisco Madero, and in the second hour with Lon Milo DuQuette about magic and the occult.
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Well, we're just going to do the brief bio here. Award-winning writer and noted literary translator C.M. Mayo provides 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. The book, again, is Metaphysical Odyssey Into the Mexican Revolution. Her webpage is cmmayo.com. So please welcome to the show, C.M. Mayo. Hey girl, how are you?
C.M. Mayo: Oh, I'm great. And Dr. Rita, I'm just thrilled to be on your show.
Dr. Rita Louise: Well, I'm excited to talk to you about this. Even though at first it seemed a little weird, like, why am I going to be talking about the Mexican Revolution? But there's always a plan, and I think it's all going to come together. Because I don't know, it was really interesting. So let's just kind of start here. I think this will be the best place to start.
Because we're going to be speaking about Francisco Madero, but I don't think anybody listening, well, I don't want to say anybody, but the vast majority of people listening don't have a clue who he is. So maybe we could start with an introduction to him. We'll get a little more in detail obviously as we move forward, to let people know who he is, what his deal was.
C.M. Mayo: The 1910 Revolution was the first major revolution of the 20th century. It is a formative episode in modern Mexico, and he was the leader. He proclaimed the 1910 Revolution on November 20th with the Plan de San Luis Potosí. The Revolution went on for several years and had many other well-known figures. Probably most listeners have heard of Pancho Villa, and Emiliano Zapata, and figures like that. But the leader was Francisco Madero, and he launched the Revolution, won the Revolution.
The, I guess you could call him the dictator, Porfirio Díaz, who had been continuously or almost continuously well, it's complicated, but basically, he had been in power or managing things from behind the scenes in power for thirty years. He was into his eighties, and it looked like it was time for a real, open election. And when Francisco Madero called for the open election, the dictator threw him in jail. And the response of Francisco Madero was to declare the Revolution.
Long story short, after winning the Revolution, he held open and free elections, was elected President, and held that office until he was overthrown in a coup d'etat. So just the super-basics are: the Revolution is important not just for Mexico but in the world. The Russian Revolution came shortly thereafter, there were revolutions in China, and so on and so forth. So this is really a formative 20th century event. It's a formative event for Mexico and for Mexico's identity.
the schoolchildren learn this story. Just as in the U.S. you
learn about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, well, in Mexico
you have figures who had similar roles, and Francisco Madero
is at that level of importance in Mexico. And so he's a very,
very important figure for Mexicans and Mexican history.
I should leap to explain that I'm not the first person to talk about this. There are other Mexican historians of importance who have written about this. Enrique Krauze is one. Anyone who knows Mexican history will immediately recognize that name. He wrote a very important book that came out in the '80s. So, many decades after the Revolution there was a book that came out that was Francisco Madero, Mistico de la Libertad, or Mystic of Liberty, where Krauze talked about the mediumnistic notebooks, and the channelings, and so on and so forth.
And there are some other academics and historians, Yolia Tortolero and Manuel Guerra de Luna, and Alejandro Rosas Robles, and a very important novelist in Mexico, Ignacio Solares, wrote about this. But it's still something most people including historians of the Revolution, and including people who teach and write about Mexican history just don't know about or don't want to talk about. It makes them extremely uncomfortable, and their reaction to his Spiritism is to either ignore it or just laugh at it and kind of shove it under the carpet.
And so when I encountered the Spiritist Manual I very soon realized that [Madero] really did write this book in 1911. So he led the Revolution in 1910 and published the Spiritist Manual, which is an evangelical book about spiritism and about communicating with spirits, written as a Spiritist, as a medium. I thought, wow, wait a minute, 1911. That was the year he was elected President! This is the leader of the Revolution! So whatever's in that book, whether you believe it or not, it's important.
And I'm a translator, so long story short, I offered to translate it, and I got a Xerox copy of the book, which a few years ago was very difficult to find. I encountered it in his archive, which is in the Mexican Ministry of Finance, which holds the Francisco Madero personal archive with the mediumnistic notebooks. Now, if you Google you'll get a PDF of [the book]. Anyone can look at it now, but a few years ago that wasn't possible. So I got a Xerox copy of it from the archive and I translated it. But at that time [the subject matter] was new to me, so I needed to do quite a bit of work to make sense out of it.
Dr. Rita Louise: Okay. So I'm going to ask a question, and you can laugh, but I know zero about Mexican history. And when we talk about this Revolution that happened in 1910, that's not where like Cinco de Mayo came from, is it?
C.M. Mayo: No. Cinco de Mayo, a lot of people are confused about Cinco de Mayo, which means May fifth. That actually is the commemoration of the Army of the Mexican Republic defeating the French in Puebla during the French Intervention. It's not Mexico's Independence Day. It's the commemoration of a battle, a very important battle, a very meaningful battle, but just a battle back in the 19th century.
Dr. Rita Louise: So it's not even part of the same conflict or
No, no. It's from the 1860s, and we're talking about the early
20th century here.
Dr. Rita Louise: And it sounds like it was a revolution of thought, kind of like the Russian Revolution was a revolution of thought. I mean, obviously the players change, but the whole philosophy behind society changed.
C.M. Mayo: Very much so. Mexico was originally a colony of Spain, and before that it was indigenous, with various different groups, the most famous of which are the Aztecs. What's now Mexico City was their capital, Tenochtitlán. And that was a very large and important empire in the Americas, and the Spaniards came and conquered Tenochtitlán and made Mexico City, which is still the capital today. And the other group that's probably well-known to many Americans are the Maya in the Mayan Peninsula, which is a different group.
There are many, many different groups of indigenous peoples. And Mexico's regions, ethnic groups, it's incredibly rich, incredibly diverse. I'll give a plug for one of my other books. As a translator I edited a book of 24 Mexican writers in translation, through selections of their work, giving a sense of a portrait of Mexico. So it's not saying, these are like the greatest Mexican writersalthough some of them are. But it's 24 Mexican writers writing about Mexico to just give you a sense of the incredible diversity of the regions, and the ethnic groups, and the sensibilities. And that book is Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. So I must plug that [laughs]. But I think Mexico's far more interesting and complex, and far more connected to the United States than we realize.
And so coming back to the story of Madero, what is to me really outstanding, I mean, it's the first thing I talk about in the book, is I say the Mexican Revolution actually has some roots in Upstate New York, which I think most people who have spent their lives reading about the Mexican Revolution would just kind of slap their foreheads or something, or say, "Excuse me? That sounds really strange."
But the truth is, Francisco Madero, as a Spiritist, really believed that he was performing his duty instructed by, guided by, and aided by the spirits. And his whole understanding of what it meant to be a Spiritist has its roots in Spiritualism, which has its roots in Upstate New York.
Dr. Rita Louise: Well, and I saw the whole thing about Poughkeepsie, which is
C.M. Mayo: Oh yes, it was Poughkeepsie.
Dr. Rita Louise: Okay. So if I didn't grow up near there I would never be able to pronounce it, because I surely cannot spell it. Well, I mean, I have family that lives there, and I have to look up their address. I'm like, something, there's too many letters. How would you even pronounce that with a Spanish accent?
C.M. Mayo: I think Spanish-speakers might have a little trouble pronouncing that. It's one of those things that's just spelled completely... it has a [silent] g in it... P-o-u-g-h, Poughkeepsie. Yeah, Andrew Jackson Davis, the Seer of Poughkeepsie, prophesized the coming of Spiritualism. This is in the 19th century. And in my retelling of it I pretty much followed the standard history that you'll find in most histories of metaphysical religion and the history of Spiritualism, that it really began with the Fox sisters in Upstate New York... that their house was haunted.... And just right after that there began this huge fashion or fad, an interest in summoning spirits, communicating with spirits. And one of the things was table tipping, where people would sit around a table and join hands so that they could raise their energy and know that nobody was cheating, and the spirits would raise the tables, or make the tables dance around, and other type of phenomena. That really became very popular in the 19th century, and came to Europe, and there were many very famous mediums that probably many of your listeners have heard of, D.D. Home, and later Madame Blavatsky, and the Eddy brothers, and the whole constellation of well-known mediums of the 19th century.
Dr. Rita Louise: Wasn't that group the people that Harry Houdini was trying to debunk? Weren't they all right at the same time in our history?
C.M. Mayo: That's right. [Harry Houdini was born 1874 and died in 1926]. And the connection with Madero is that all of this intense interest, which let's remember, this was also when people were discovering radio waves and using microscopes, and scientists were realizing that there were things that they couldn't hear with their ears or see with their eyes, but their instruments could tell them were real. So investigating psychic phenomena was something that many people began to take seriously at that time. [For example] William James, the father of psychology, and Charles Richet, the French Nobel Prize winner, William Crooke, who was a famous chemist at Oxford University, there were... let's say a minority, definitely a minority. Just like today, there was a lot of skepticism and even hostility towards the investigation of psychic phenomena, but even then... I don't think things have changed that much in that regard. But there were important leading scientists who did take it seriously.
And when some of these studies and some of the things that had been going on in Upstate New York and elsewhere came to France, there was a educator who called himself Allan Kardec who began to find this very interesting and to investigate it himself. And he sort of codified what we call Spiritism in a number of books. And so Spiritism as it developed in France and then came to Latin America, Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines, and other parts of the world, really has its roots in Spiritualism in Upstate New York.
So in that way Madero as a committed Spiritist... well, there's some roots to these ideas in the not very distant past for him. He encountered Spiritism as a student in France. He got his high school and college education in Versailles and in Paris, and that was where he discovered Spiritism and Kardec's works. And he was very quickly convinced, and he joined a group to develop his mediumnistic powers. And he really was a very ardent, evangelical Spiritist.
Dr. Rita Louise: Well, it sounds like he was a very well-educated man, too. I mean, my concept of Mexico is that there are a lot of people that are farmers or ranchers and just living a very basic life. And so to be able to bring that kind of spirituality in you need to have kind of the space to do that.
C.M. Mayo: He was a very well-off person. His grandfather was one of the wealthiest men in Mexico, and he had many, many different businesses, ranches, everything from soap factory to guayule plantation, which was a kind of plant that they used in making tires. They had kind of every sort of business you could think of, so they were very wealthy people, and all the younger generation was educated in Paris and the United States. After he finished up there, he came to California and studied for a little while at UC Berkeley. They were from the north of Mexico, in Coahuila, so for them the closest place to go was San Antonio [Texas], so they often went there and traveled in many places. So yeah, he was a very well-off man. And one of the things that was...
Coming back to how these things connect and how trends that were in the United States also came to Mexico and back and forth, was... it was just so interesting for me in doing the research for this book to go through his personal library. That is in another archive here in Mexico City. It's called the Center of the Estudios de la Historia de México, the Center for the Study of Mexican History. But his whole library, or most of what we know of was his library, is there, and it contains many books in English, many in French, and a good number that were translated by various people in Barcelona. A lot of the works of well-known people at that time, like Madame Blavatsky, were translated and sent in various editions throughout Latin America and to the Philippines. So it was really interesting to see how he had books by Dr. Peebles, who was a very well-known really celebrity speaker on the Spiritualist circuit, people like that.
Dr. Rita Louise: While all of this is going on, what was going on in Mexico at the time?
C.M. Mayo: What was going on in Mexico? Well, that's something for two hours. But basically
Dr. Rita Louise: Okay. Maybe not two hours.
C.M. Mayo: The basic problem, I think the way most historians would put it, at that time was that the President of Mexico, who had been continuously reelected for, with a brief interruption, for about 30 years, he had had a policy of inviting foreign investors. So many people in Mexico felt that too many foreigners owned too much land, they owned too much of the means of production, and the workers were getting the short end of the deal. So there were a lot of strikes, some of them were very violent. There were problems about land, peasant uprisings, and that was what you saw in the State of Morales with Emiliano Zapata, the guy with the big hat, and the big mustache, and the bandoliers. These were people who were wanting land, that they felt that they were being crowded out by the large plantation sugar producers. So there was
Dr. Rita Louise: It doesn't sound like anything has changed, I don't mean in Mexico, I mean in general in the world.
C.M. Mayo: Well, these kinds of historical forces, they do repeat again and again throughout the world, that's certainly true. There was definitely I would say unrest in the countryside, unrest in the cities among workers, among peasants. And also many of the younger generation and well-educated people really wanted to have open elections, and that was the call that Madero put forward.
He said, in 1910, there's an election, let's have it be a real election, not just the dictator wins again with stuffed ballots. Let's have a real election. And that was what his call was for. And there were many, many people throughout the country, through all classes of society, who supported that call and who supported him for that reason. There were different factions in the Revolution over the following years until things kind of settled down, but that's basically what was going on. I think
Dr. Rita Louise: So Go ahead. Go ahead.
C.M. Mayo: No, no, no. Ask, please.
Dr. Rita Louise: Okay. Let me pull my question together. What kind of concepts did Francisco put forward? I mean, you're saying he's a Spiritualist.
C.M. Mayo: Yeah. Politically the main one was democracy, representative democracy. Respect for the law and representative democracy. And he saw that as his duty as a Spiritist. Now, what did he believe, Spiritism? Well, I'll give you two super-quick answers to that.
is my understanding of what I picked up from translating him
and reading about him, and that is that, to quote:
his words in the Spiritist Manual, which is meant to be
an evangelical document to convert people but also serve as reading
for believers, he answers the question, what is understood
Dr. Rita Louise: And you brought this up in a couple of words. But how well was it received? I mean, what's going on with the Church? But then we know that Mexico is a pretty Catholic Christian country by itself.
C.M. Mayo: That's right. The Catholic Church prohibits communicating with spirits. It is definitely not approved of by the Catholic Church, definitely not. At the time that he was President it was an open rumor that he was a Spiritist, and a lot of cartoons made fun of him as a medium summoning spirits. But I think most people didn't believe it. They just thought, oh, it's just a political attack. And after the Revolution he's held up as a hero in all the textbooks. So they just kind of don't mention that he was a Spiritist. It's just something most people didn't want to talk about. They just shoved it under the carpet. So
Dr. Rita Louise: Do you think when he was doing this political stuff he, I'll use a contemporary term, came out of the closet about it?
C.M. Mayo: No, he published the book under another name. The Spiritist Manual he published under the name Bhima, B-h-i-m-a, which is a warrior in the Bhagavad Gita, which is a Hindu holy book popularized by the Theosophists. And though he was not a Theosophist himself, Madero was very influenced by the Theosophists. And many of his fellow Spiritists were also Theosophists. And for listeners who don't know about Theosophy, if you've heard of Madame Blavatsky, she was the big figure of Theosophy of the 19th century.
But I think his Spiritism not only really informed what he did and why he did it, but I propose that it had a lot to do with his death. He was murdered, he was overthrown in a coup d'etat. This is a fact. The general who overthrew him, the first communication that he made was to the US Ambassador in Mexico. And he asked the Ambassador, "Should I send him to the lunatic asylum?" Because for many people then, just like today, if you say, "I'm talking to spirits," no discussion, you're a nut. There's no concept that that might be a real communication, or the person who is a medium may be perfectly sane.
was absolutely no understanding or acceptance of that. They knew
that he had published the Spiritist Manual. It was kind
of a rumored thing. But his political enemies did know about
it, and in fact they had published part of it to say, "Look,
he's crazy. This is what he published." And it's got chapters
about table tipping, and astral travel, and reincarnation, and
they were just, "the guy's nuts." And I don't
think that's necessarily nuts.
Dr. Rita Louise: I found that some of the things that he said were very well-grounded, very well based in spirituality and came from a kind and sincere heart, well, except for all the Jesus part in it, which I had a little bit of issue with. But considering the time it came from, it was appropriate.
C.M. Mayo: Well, and I think that the intended reader of this book was presumably Catholic, and presumably, say, a young student, someone maybe a teenager or a young adult who was in a predominantly Catholic society at the early 20th century, so that's the language.
But it's very interesting to me to hear you say that, because one of the great I'm not sure if "surprise" is the right word... Also what has really struck me now that the book is out is that people who are mediums, people who are Spiritists or Spiritualists, or who know a lot about metaphysics, have all said that to me, that his book, the Spiritist Manualhe's clearly a person who really was a good person and who really understood the mysteries, And that's very interesting to hear.
Dr. Rita Louise: I mean, actually I'm working on this new project, and part of it has to do with law and morals. And I was like, hey, because there's one section where he's talking about morality, and I doubt I'll be able to just look up the page where I found it, because that would be too easy. Here it is. "What is the objective of morality?"
And then the answer is, "So you can understand from what I have just explained, morality is meant to give man the rules by which he may be happy." I like that, "by which he may be happy whether in his life or in space according to his respected beliefs." And I thought that was just a very interesting twist on it. Not the rules by which he should live, but the rules that he can be happy. I was like, that might make my book, little quote.
C.M. Mayo: Oh, that would be wonderful.
Dr. Rita Louise: And people can and do have and live a very spiritual life, but work regular day jobs and exist in the three-dimensional world.
C.M. Mayo: Well, one of the things about Madero was that he originally had an education as a businessman, but he studied hypnosis, and he studied hands-on healing through his mediumnistic development, and homeopathy. And I think that he viewed his activity as a politician, and as a revolutionary, and as President as a healer. I think he viewed himself as, his mission was to heal the body politic.
one of the things that I wanted to be sure to touch on, because
I know you've got another interview after me, that might relate
with this, and possibly add something to this, is that one of
the really interesting things that I discovered in researching
Madero and going through his personal library was a book by Maestro
Huiracocha. And I just kind of scratched my head at that. I didn't
know who the heck it was. And I finally figured out that that
was Arnold Krumm-Heller.
And it turns out that he wrote a lot of books that I was able to track down some first editions through sellers on the Internet that were really kind of fun. And some of them were published when he was in Mexico, but some of them afterwards. They were mostly in German or in Spanish. But he's actually a very well-known figure to many Germans and many people in Latin America.
so I thought it might be fun to ask your next guest about Dr.
Krumm-Heller, because I only got so far with him. When we got
to World War II, I just kind of lost track, and I thought, well,
I got to finish my book. I'm going to get back to the Mexican
Revolution. But I think there's more to say about him.
Dr. Rita Louise: Now see, I have read one of Steiner's books, which I found fascinating, just fascinating. But I like reading old books, because there's just a very different mentality at that period of time in history that I just appreciate even if they are totally, totally not politically correct. They were like the most not politically correct people on the planet.
C.M. Mayo: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I don't think Krumm-Heller was too politically correct, no. But what I find super-interesting here is that we get interconnections. Oftentimescoming back to Mexico per se oftentimes when we hear about Mexican history, or U.S. history, or Texas history, or German history, or whatever it may be, it's almost like someone took a bell jar in time and just put it on top of the thing, when actually the borders, it's far more fluid, and interconnected, and interwoven, and tangled up.
So here we have a case where an important German figure in the German esoteric world is right there, being the personal physician of the President of Mexico, and [he is] a fellow Mason, and a fellow Rosicrucian, and a fellow Spiritist. I think that's interesting. And again, the connections with some of the ideas coming out of New York in the second half of the 19th century.
Dr. Rita Louise: One of the things that I found interesting not just in your book, but it just kind of brought this notion up, was the fascination that they had with mediumship during that period. Any thoughts on why that kind of just really came to the forefront?
C.M. Mayo: I think it was part of, as I said, when they started developing things like the telephone, there was something called the théâtrophone, where in Paris you could go to a hotel and for a coin you could listen to the opera live, elsewhere in the city. So it was kind of like an early kind of step towards the telephone. And I think that many people really felt that things like the telephone and radio waves, and the fact that you could x-ray things, and see things in microscopes, I think many people felt, well, there's something here.
And I think also people have always wanted to communicate with their loved ones who have passed on, and I think that's always been something that's pulled at the human heart and pulled at our curiosity as well. But I have to say, when I was reading about many of the mediums and things going on at that time, they seemed to me very different than what you come across with most mediums today, more things like ectoplasm and floating trumpets.
Another one of the things that I discovered when I was researching this book that just stopped me in my tracks for about a month, I mean, it literally left me speechless, I found a book called Una ventana al mundo invisible, which means A Window to the Invisible World. And it was published in the early '60s, so I just didn't pay it much mind until I really looked at it.
But what it is, is all the records of the Mexican Institute for Psychic Research conducted with one of the presidents who came after Madero, Plutarco Elías Calles, who was also a Spiritist. And the records of these séances are very similar to what you would find with some of the séances going on in the late 19th century in the US, and in France, and in Englandjust really wild, extremely wild.
Dr. Rita Louise: Oh, but it sounds like they have funner politicians and funner news people in Mexico. I mean, I don't think, other than Ronald Reagan had an astrologer, which was scandalous, I don't think we had presidents that were mediums or did stuff like that. And now Mexico, they're having all those UFO sightings and stuff, so there's something going on there, probably because they must be cooler people than the United States.
C.M. Mayo: Well, maybe. It may be!
Dr. Rita Louise: Well, I mean, at least they're acknowledging them on the news instead of going, " not so much. You're just looney."
What I see here is that it's similar to the US, that there are
people who are very open to discussing it and talking about it,
but then there are many people who are not, and they're very
hostile to it. And I think that's true on both sides of the border.
Dr. Rita Louise: We had him on the show. We had him on the show. He was pretty fun. [Just Energy Radio with Uri Geller]
C.M. Mayo: Uri Geller. Okay. Now I know. Now I know, yeah. A lot of people in Mexico know about him. Yeah. That's one of the reasons I like your show. I've listened to a lot of your shows over the years, by the way, and I like how the announcer would say at the beginning, I don't know if you still run this, but he would say, "Consider the possibilities." You know, just consider, just consider. You know, open your mind and just consider. And that's the stance I take with my book. I'm not trying to say, "You must believe in Spiritism," or "Spiritism is nutty." I'm not trying to say either one. I just want to say, "Well, Madero was a Spiritist, and what is that? And where did it come from?"
Dr. Rita Louise: On this show it's kind of like, "He was? Okay, moving on."
C.M. Mayo: Yeah. Well, I think for many of the subjects you consider on your show, this stuff really fits in. I mean, the table tipping, psychokinetic phenomena, astral travel, communicating with the dead, it's all in there. Reincarnation, alternative history of the world.
Dr. Rita Louise: There's so much material that either isn't written in English and has not been translated, as you've found, or if they are books from the turn of the century, late 1800s or early 1900s they don't get put into like archive.org. And so if you're not familiar with the title, I mean, you've rattled off several titles and authors I've never heard of, and they were just kind of lost. And so you've given them life again.
C.M. Mayo: They were new to me, and I went through the material on the Revolution, and it wasn't in that, or it was in a very obscure footnote. It wasn't known. And I think, coming back to what I was saying about Mexico, very little is translated. And we, really in English, many people have heard about Octavio Paz because he won the Nobel Prize, or Carlos Fuentes because he published many novels and was very prominent, but most English-speakers have not heard of or are not even aware that there is this very large and very distinguished centuries-long tradition of literary production in Mexico.
fact, the first printing press was in Mexico a hundred years
before it showed up in Boston. I mean, there is a big tradition
of writing and publishing in Mexico. And this is really off the
radar for most people in the United States, and because they
don't know that, it colors how they think of Mexico.
And when I saw that book, Manual espírita, I just realized, I'm sure nobody's translated that! And like I said, no matter what's in it, just because he led the Revolution and he was President, it's important. And I mean, it could be recipes for corn muffins and it would be important, because he was important. And so I said, "I'll translate it."
And one of the reasons I said that was, well, it wasn't that long, and I didn't think it would be that difficult, ironic laugh! Because technically it's not difficult to translate, but the concepts took a lot of work. But the thing was, I knew if I didn't do it, probably a hundred years would go by before somebody would do it. Or maybe they would run it through the Google translator robot, which would just be a horror show. So
Dr. Rita Louise: No kidding.
So I thought, well, if I don't do it, it isn't going to happen.
And I'm a translator, I've translated a lot of Mexican writers,
and so I thought, well, okay, I'll do it. It was just a way of
saying thank you for the tour of the archive and also thank you
just to Mexico, that I know this is an important document, and
I'll add value by just doing this. And it was just... I just
volunteered to do it. And then I realized I had a book. I mean,
my plan was to just publish the translation with a couple pages
of introduction, but I realized that was completely inadequate.
I really needed to explain the context of who he was, and the
history of Spiritism, and how it connects with all these ideas.
And knowing where they come from, and who first proposed them, and who influenced them to bring these ideas forth, I think really enriches one's understanding and reflection on many of these ideas.
Dr. Rita Louise: So why do you think we haven't heard of him particularly? I mean, you're right, we've all heard of Pancho Villa, he's in every Mexican restaurant.
C.M. Mayo: Well, I think Pancho Villa's far more cinematic. I mean, if you were going to make a movie you'd put Pancho Villa in it before you'd put Francisco Madero. Francisco Madero was a gentleman. He was an entrepreneur. He had many businesses, he wore a top hat. He was educated in France, he was very wealthy. He's not a romantic figure of the Revolution the way someone like Zapata or Villa is, and I think that's one reason.
Dr. Rita Louise: But he doesn't even have like a supporting role.
C.M. Mayo: Well, he does. If you come to Mexico and you go to the National Palace I assure you, you will see his portrait many times. It's painted into all the important murals. I mean, if you come through any museum of Mexican history or you get any textbook on Mexico he's a very prominent figure.
Dr. Rita Louise: Okay. Okay.
C.M. Mayo: Yeah, very prominent. I mean, really, he's a different role in a different period, but I think he's one of the figures of Mexican history that is comparable for us to George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.
Dr. Rita Louise: Really? Really?
C.M. Mayo: Yeah, really. Yeah, really, or FDR. He's a major figure. Every Mexican schoolchild has heard of him.
Dr. Rita Louise: But did he cut down a cherry
tree? I mean, come on.
C.M. Mayo: What I took from it is something another historian has pointed out so I'm not original in saying this but it was something I kind of figured out on my own, is that his political career is modeled on his career I guess, if you could call it that, as a Spiritist. In other words, the way that they organized Spiritism was, they would put together groups of people, circles, that would meet usually in private homes. A group of people around a table would practice their mediumship, or have a séance, or evaluate each other's ability to do things, and it was very private. And of course because the Catholic Church did not approve of it, it was very under the radar. And this was also true in other countries. I don't think Mexico's unique in that regard, that Spiritualists like Spiritists would often meet in private in small circles. But then what they would do is, they would have publications like La Cruz Astral, or Helios, different things like that. And Madero with his own money often sponsored these kinds of publications. And then they would have a congress, they would have a national congress, or they would have a Latin American congress.
Well, the way he went about his political career was identical. He put together different groups of people, circles of people in different places. He went all around the republic organizing people to come together in small groups. He published a book which is also something that comes up in all the Mexican textbooks. It's his most famous book, and he published it right before the Spiritist Manual. It's called La Sucesión Presidencial en 1910, in other words, The Presidential Succession of 1910. So that was where he was calling for free elections in 1910, and that book was his political platform.
he self-published it, he didn't try to sell it. It of course
would have been confiscated. He just gave it away to all these
people so the secret police couldn't confiscate it. It was too
late, it was already in the hands of all these journalists and
all these people. And that was his platform. And people started
organizing in little groups just like the Spiritist groups, and
then coming together in a national party congress. So then that
party when they had its congress chose him as their candidate
Dr. Rita Louise: Do you think his beliefs are what got him killed, or do you think there were other things going on that led to it?
C.M. Mayo: I think that they played a more important part than most people recognize. And people who were close to him like General Huerta, who is the general who overthrew him, and other people, I think it fed the flames of their resentment and disgust with him. They really didn't like him. But there were reasons that I think they didn't like him apart from his Spiritism. One was that he was from the north, so he was really an outsider, and the people that he brought with him were really outsiders.
And another thing that I think is also very important to take into account is that after any revolution pretty much anywhere in the world at any time in history, when the new government comes in, it's weak, because it's new. And the state apparatus is weakened, because it's hard to fight a revolution, and if [the previous regime weren't weak] it wouldn't have fallen. So just by its nature a new government after a revolution is going to be weak, and there will probably be a counterrevolution. So that counterrevolution is something that... it's kind of Political Science 101. Someone in the army could have, would have gotten up an attempt to overthrow him. So there's that, too.
I think that many people when they talk about why Madero fell, they'll say, "Oh, he was a dreamer. You know, he was off translating the Bhagavad Gita." And you know, like he was just this really flaky guy, and I don't think that's fair. I think if you really understand the context of and the history of his ideas, I don't think that's really fair. And I think if you look at how he organized his political campaign and organized the Revolution, I think you really have to conclude that he was a very capable leader and manager. But he was in a very weak position as the post-Revolutionary President. By its nature, that was a very weak position to be in, if that makes sense.
Dr. Rita Louise: Yeah, that does make sense. It's just sad. I mean, politics is just sad.
C.M. Mayo: Well, it was
Dr. Rita Louise: In all its aspects, it's sad.
C.M. Mayo: It was a sad end, it really was. He was arrested in the National Palace and held prisoner for several days while they basically destroyed the city, the downtown of the city. And then he was just shot in the back of the head. It was really a pretty horrible story.
Dr. Rita Louise: Okay. And so then they arrest the President, and then shoot him in the back of the head. Wasn't there any kind of an outcry from the people?
C.M. Mayo: There certainly was. I love doing archival research, if you didn't notice. I love going into archives and libraries. And one of the most interesting things was going to the one in Washington, DC, the House of the Temple Library in Washington, DC. It's a really extraordinary place, and if any of you listening haven't been there, you can come in and have a tour. It's just like going into a movie set. It is just so fun and interesting. It's on 14th Street, if I remember correctly, in Washington, DC. And it looks like just a thing out of the ancient world. It's just the most extraordinary building. And you come in, and it's like an Egyptian temple.
Well, they have in there a special section on Mexican Masonry. And the librarian, Larissa Watkins, bless her heart, I call her my library angel, she helped me so much. She took me down to the basement and opened with the key the little cabinet with all the special books on Mexican Masonry. And she also brought to me the magazines in English of the Masons that were absolutely outraged at the murder of Brother Madero. So that was very interesting also, to see that. There really was an outrage in the U.S.
And the U.S. Ambassador at the time, his name was Henry Lane Wilson same name as the President, Woodrow Wilson, who came in shortly thereafter, but they're not related that I know ofhe was very friendly to the previous regime. He knew that Madero was a Spiritist, and he considered Madero crazy, just because according to him anyone who communicated with spirits was crazy, period.
So he was very happy to have Madero go. And Huerta, the general who overthrew Madero, was also communicating with him. And so in Mexican history Ambassador Wilson is a big villain, unfortunately. But when President Woodrow Wilson came into office shortly thereafter, he immediately recalled the Ambassador, and sent down someone else. And so the U.S. government did not approve of any of this.
Dr. Rita Louise: Hey, C.M? I just looked at the clock, and actually I just got a little heads-up.
C.M. Mayo: We're out of time.
Dr. Rita Louise: We are out of time.
C.M. Mayo: Well, it is a true pleasure to talk about this with you, Dr. Rita. Thank you so much.
Dr. Rita Louise: Oh, you are so welcome. And I'm sure I will talk to you again soon.
C.M. Mayo: Well, thank you.
Dr. Rita Louise: Okay. Thank you. Bye.
C.M. Mayo: Bye.
Dr. Rita Louise: That's C.M. Mayo. Her book is Metaphysical Odyssey Into the Mexican Revolution. Her webpage is cmmayo.com. Her book is available at all major book publishers, and I'm sure Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com. And I'm Dr. Rita Louise, and we'll be back after these words from our sponsors.