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

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There are numerous examples from history of prominent world leaders inviting the supernatural into their lives. Whether it’s indulging superstitions, attending seances, or consulting mediums, the historical record reveals more than a few cases of the spirit world crossing with the political realm. But treatises on spiritual phenomena written by prominent world leaders? That’s something else entirely. So when researcher and historian C.M. Mayo discovered that former revolutionary and president of Mexico Francisco Madero had penned a manual on “spiritism,” translating it and tracing its origins became an intriguing mission.

Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution is really two books. The first half serves as an introduction to both the spiritualist movement as a whole and the relevant history of Mexico preceding Madero’s brief tenure as president. The second half presents Madero’s translated text in full, offering context to his explanations of spirit phenomena.

The extended historical preamble reads a bit like the rambling anecdote of an enthusiastic uncle, full of distracting digressions and copious extraneous details. The wealth of research Mayo conducted is obvious, and her dedication and credentials hardly in question, but the casual tone of a personal essay, while charming, robs the piece of some of its potential gravitas. Of course, one could argue that’s intentional, and Mayo is offering a sense of both the chaos of Mexican politics at the time and the serpentine rise to power of Madero himself.

Madero’s Spiritist Manual, on the other hand, is clear, easily parsed, and pleasantly optimistic for a religious tract. Presented as a dialogue between Madero and an inquisitive bystander, not only does the manual take you through Madero’s defense of spiritual phenomena like seances, reincarnation, and automatic writing, but it also covers the responsibilities of a spiritist, including familial and marital duties, child rearing, service to your country, and a thorough analysis of what the Lord’s Prayer represents to spiritists.

Mayo’s footnotes and explanations add crucial context to some of Madero’s less penetrable references and allusions, helping the reader to engage with the former president’s words and judge the Manual from both a contemporary point of view and a well-informed historical context. Granted, some of it suffers in the more socially-enfranchised light of the modern day. Lines like “He should consider his wife the weaker part of himself, but at the same time his equal” detract somewhat from his populist message.

All in all, 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.

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Star Count 3.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 298 pages
Publisher Dancing Chiva
Publish Date 24-Jan-2014
ISBN Buy this Book
Issue February 2015
Category History


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