C.M. Mayo talks about Madero at the first PEN lecture of 2015

On Jan 13th, C.M. Mayo inaugurated this year’s series of lectures organised by PEN International San Miguel Center. You can listen to the full talk here.

C.M. Mayo

C.M. Mayo talked about her new book called Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual (Dancing Chiva, 2014).

The book includes Mayo’s translation of Madero’s Manual espírita, and is also available in Spanish, translated by noted Mexican novelist and poet Agustín Cadena as Odisea metafísica hacia la revolución Mexicana, (Literal Publishing, 2014), together with a transcript of the original Manual espírita.

 C.M. Mayo is also the author of several other works on Mexico, including The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, a novel based on the true story and named a Library Journal Best Book of 2009; Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico; and editor of a collection of 24 Mexican works in translation, Mexico: A Traveler’s Literary Companion

 MADERO’S SECRET BOOK – an extract: 

When Halley’s comet, that star with the quetzal’s tail, flared across 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 Mexican historians agrees. And yet, almost unknown and curious as it may sound, a vital taproot of this revolution lies in the Burned-Over District of New York state.

So opens my book about Francisco I. Madero’s secret book, Manual espírita, which he wrote during the Revolution of 1910 and brought into circulation in 1911 when President-Elect— but under a pen name, “Bhima,” taken from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad-Gita. When I happened upon the Manual espírita in Madero’s archive in the National Palace, I knew at once I should translate it. A literal translation was an easy task, but understanding its metaphysics, origins, and rich esoteric context, required years more of reading and archival research—  including multiple visits to the remains of Madero’s personal library. That little-known library, housed in Mexico City’s Centro de Estudios de la Historia de México, turns out to be one the most outstanding collections of 19th century and early 20th century esoterica in the Americas, comprising many extremely rare volumes from authors such as Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky, Maestro Huiracocha (Dr Arnold Krumm-Heller), Camille Flammarion, Dr. Peebles, and Swami Vivekananda.

My book about Madero’s secret book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, is an odyssey in three senses: Madero’s own, from norteño merchant prince to Spiritist medium, gun-slinging revolutionary, President of the Republic and, ultimately, martyr; my own; and the reader’s— for I assume most know little or nothing of Madero’s life and political career, nor of the Spiritism Madero encountered as a student in late 19th century France, and less of that religion’s roots in Upstate New York.

As Mexican historian Enrique Krauze writes in his seminal 1987 biography, Francisco I. Madero: Místico de la libertad, “Politics does not displace Spiritism: it is born of it.” In other words, we cannot understand Madero and the 1910 Revolution without taking into account his Spiritist beliefs and his mediumship. Neither can we understand his beliefs without reference to his own statement, which is his ardent and thoroughly astonishing Spiritist Manual.

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