Monday, February 20, 2017

Heribert von Feilitzsch on Dr. Arnold Krumm-Heller and the Mexican Revolution, Plus a Note on "El Tatwametro"

One hundred years and counting since the explosion of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, treasures are still being pulled out of the dust of various archives, and narratives refashioned accordingly. The latest contribution should spark the interest of anyone who ponders the whys, wherefores and eye-crossing chaos of that tumult-- and the history of German-Mexican relations and of metaphysical religion: The essay by Heribert von Feiltzsch entitled "Medical Doctor, Occultist, Revolutionary, Spy: Arnold Krumm-Heller and the Mexican Revolution," which is included in the anthology edited by Roberto Cantú, Equestrian Rebels: Critical Perspectives on Mariano Azuela and the Novel of the Mexican Revolution (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016).

Little known as he may be at present, Dr. Krumm-Heller was a key figure in the Mexican Revolution, and in particular, for his role in the defeat of Pancho Villa. Why then have historians, with counted few exceptions, tended to overlook him? I would wager that it could be for one or more of three reasons: (1) lack of archival resources about Krumm-Heller and/or lack of access to those in German; (2) resistance to reconsidering enduring paradigms of the revolution; (3) resistance to considering the occult / metaphysical religion and

anyone connected with it. Indeed, Dr. Krumm-Heller, aka "Maestro Huiracocha," was a flamboyant enthusiast and a prolific author of esoterica, a Spiritist, a Mason, a Theosophist, and a leading figure in 20th century Rosicrucianism and the Ordo Templi Orientis.

For many historians, alas, it has been easier to dismiss such ideas and movements than to dig in and attempt to come to a broader understanding of their nature and context. I know from first-hand experience how challenging this can be: for my book on Manual espírita of 1911, the secret book by the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution, Francisco I. Madero, I had to read through a Himalaya of works that were at times for me--as I surmise they would be for most researchers of the Mexican Revolution-- discomfiting in the extreme. (I discuss this challenge at some length in my review of Strieber and Kripal's Super Natural.)

In his detailed and well documented article, von Feilitzsch has made a vital contribution not only to the literature on the Mexican Revolution but also to German-Mexican relations and the history of metaphysical religion. Those interested in the latter subject will recognize names of Dr. Krumm-Heller's teachers and mentors, among them, Madame Blavatsky, Papus, Franz Hartmann, and Rudolph Steiner. 

I am honored that von Feilitzsch cited my work on Madero's Spiritism, as well as some of my correspondence speculating about Madero's attitude towards Theosophy and the nature of Madero's relationship with Dr. Krumm-Heller. 

One thing that jumped out as new to me was von Feilitzsch's mention that Krumm-Heller "had his first training in esotericism through the French spiritist León Denis." Denis was one of the leaders of the Spiritist movement after Allan Kardec. Francisco I. Madero and his father, Francisco Madero, were the sponsors of the Spanish translation of Denis's book, Après la Mort (After Death). Since some historians erroneously claim that that translation was never published, I made this little video showing my copy of that title, Después de la muerte, which was indeed published in 1906. 

Related posts of interest:

>> Professor Roberto Cantú

>> Heribert von Feilitzsch's webpage and Mexican Revolution blog.

>> von Feilitzsch: "A Decision with Grave Consequences: Arnold Krumm-Heller and the Demise of Pancho Villa"

>> My review for Literal of von Feilitzsch's In Plain Sight: Felix A. Sommerfeld, Spymaster in Mexico, 1908-1914 (which mentions Dr Krumm-Heller)

>> Some of my blog posts on Dr Krumm-Heller:

More About the Mysterious Dr. Krumm-Heller and His Book Fur Freiheit und Recht (For Freedom and Justice)
Del Incienso a la Osmoterapia (From Incense to Osmoptherapy) by Arnoldo Krumm-Heller
Arnold Krumm-Heller (1876-1949) and Francisco I. Madero (1873-1913): Some Notes on Sources


Dr. Krumm-Heller prepared the draft of El Tatwametro in 1911-- when he was in Mexico with Madero-- although he did not publish it until 1926. The photos shown here are of my copy, a first edition from Barcelona. 

Here is my translation of the opening page:

By Dr. Krumm-Heller

Upon receiving my initiation, my guru gave me detailed instructions about the tatwas and the tatwameter, but I was never able to find a way to publish them. Around the year 1912 in Mexico I read an article about this matter, by my friend Brandler-Pracht* of Berlin, and then I wrote a 
pamphlet about the practical application of the tatwas.

Five years later in Berlin we had some occult experiences together and Brandler-Pracht told me that he had published a larger work on this same subject. 

I have not been able to find a copy of of the latest edition, but it is likely that my book and Brandler-Pracht's are very similar, since they are based on material from the same source. At the end of this work there is something by that author.

But, what is tatwa?

It is the name the Hindus give to powers that are as mysterious as they are powerful.

For us westerners tatwas is the vibration of the ether.

*Karl Brandler-Pracht was the author of several works on the occult. The German National Library (Deutsche National Bibliotek) has a catalog of his books here. The book he wrote on the tatwas is Tattwische und astrale Einflüsse: ein Schlüssel zur prakischen Verwendung der it dem menschlichen Leben enverbundenen kosmischen Schwingungen, wodurch jedermann sein Geschick günstig beeinflussen kannHere's my rough go at translating that mouthful: The Tatwas and Astral Influences: A Key to the Practical Use of the Cosmic Vibrations that are Intimately Connected to Human Life, Whereby Everone Can Influence Their Fate Favorably. As far as I can ascertain it was originally published in 1924.

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For those of you wondering what's up with my Far West Texas book and Marfa Mondays Podcasts, bless y'all, and stay tuned. Meanwhile, I invite you to listen in anytime to the 20 podcasts posted to date. The 21st podcast, an essay, has required a heap more background reading than I bargained for... To give you an idea of the complexity, should that be your cup of buffalo blood, check out my review of Hamalainen's The Comanche Empire.