Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce was an American mysticist who
allegedly possessed the ability to answerquestions on subjects as varied as healing,
reincarnation, wars, Atlantis and future eventswhile in a trance. These answers came to be
known as “life readings of the entity” andwere usually delivered to individuals while
Cayce was hypnotized. This ability gave himthe nickname “The Sleeping Prophet”. Cayce
founded a nonprofit organization, the Associationfor Research and Enlightenment that included
a hospital and a university. He is credited as being the father of holistic
medicine and the most documented psychic ofthe 20th century. Hundreds of books have been
written about him and his life readings forindividuals. Though Cayce himself was a member
of the Disciples of Christ and lived beforethe emergence of the New Age Movement, some
consider him the true founder and a principalsource of its most characteristic beliefs.
Cayce became a celebrity toward the end ofhis life, and he believed the publicity given
to his prophecies overshadowed the more importantparts of his work, such as healing the sick
and studying religion. Skeptics challengeCayce’s alleged psychic abilities and traditional
Christians also question his unorthodox answerson religious matters such as reincarnation
and the Akashic records. Biography
Early lifeEdgar Cayce was born on March 18, 1877 near
Beverly, Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He was oneof six children of farmers Leslie B. Cayce
and Carrie Cayce. Marriage and family
Cayce became engaged to Gertrude Evans onMarch 14, 1897 and they married on June 17,
1903. They had three children: Hugh Lynn Cayce,Milton Porter Cayce, and Edgar Evans Cayce.
1877 to 1912: Kentucky periodIn December 1893 the Cayce family moved to
Hopkinsville, Kentucky and occupied 705 WestSeventh on the southeast corner of Seventh
and Young Streets. During this time Caycereceived an eighth-grade education, is said
by the Association for Research and Enlightenmentto have developed psychic abilities, and left
the family farm to pursue various forms ofemployment.
Cayce’s education stopped in the ninth gradebecause his family could not afford the costs
involved. A ninth-grade education was oftenconsidered more than sufficient for working-class
children. Much of the remainder of Cayce’syounger years would be characterized by a
search for both employment and money. Throughout his life, Cayce was drawn to church
as a member of the Disciples of Christ. Heread the Bible once a year every year, taught
at Sunday school, and recruited missionaries. He said he could see auras around people,
spoke to angels and heard voices of departedrelatives. In his early years he agonized
over whether these psychic abilities werespiritually delivered from the highest source.
In 1900, Cayce formed a business partnershipwith his father to sell Woodmen of the World
Insurance; however, in March he was struckby severe laryngitis that resulted in a complete
loss of speech. Unable to work, he lived athome with his parents for almost a year. He
then decided to take up the trade of photography,an occupation that would exert less strain
on his voice. He began an apprenticeship atthe photography studio of W. R. Bowles in Hopkinsville
and eventually became quite talented in histrade.
In 1901, a traveling stage hypnotist and entertainernamed Hart, who referred to himself as “The
Laugh Man”, was performing at the HopkinsvilleOpera House. Hart heard about Cayce’s condition
and offered to attempt a cure. Cayce acceptedhis offer and the experiment took place on
stage in front of an audience. Cayce’s voiceallegedly returned while in a hypnotic trance
but disappeared on awakening. Hart tried aposthypnotic suggestion that the voice would
continue to function after the trance, butthis proved unsuccessful.
Since Hart had appointments at other cities,he could not continue his hypnotic treatment
of Cayce. However, a local hypnotist, Al Layne,offered to help Cayce in restoring his voice.
Layne suggested that Cayce describe the natureof his condition and cure while in a hypnotic
trance. Cayce described his own ailment froma first person plural point of view, “we”
instead of the singular “I”. In subsequentsessions when Cayce wanted to indicate that
the connection was made to the “entity” ofthe person that was requesting the reading,
he would generally start off with “We havethe body”. According to the reading for the
entity of Cayce, his voice loss was due topsychological paralysis and could be corrected
by increasing the blood flow to the voicebox. Layne suggested that the blood flow be
increased and Cayce’s face supposedly becameflushed with blood and both his chest and
throat turned bright red. After 20 minutesCayce, still in a trance, declared the treatment
over. On awakening his voice was alleged tohave remained normal. Apparently, relapses
occurred, but were said to have been correctedby Layne in the same way and eventually the
cure was said to be permanent. Layne had read of similar hypnotic cures by
the Marquis de Puységur, a follower of FranzMesmer, and was keen to explore the limits
of the healing knowledge involved with thetrance voice. He asked Cayce to describe Layne’s
own ailments and suggest cures and reportedlyfound the results both accurate and effective.
Layne suggested that Cayce offer his trancehealing to the public. Cayce was reluctant,
but he finally agreed on the condition thatreadings would be free. He began, with Layne’s
help, to offer free treatments to the townspeople. Reports of Cayce’s work appeared in the newspapers,
which inspired many postal inquiries. Caycestated he could work just as effectively using
a letter from the individual as with the personbeing present in the room. Given only the
person’s name and location, Cayce said hecould diagnose the physical and mental conditions
of what he termed “the entity” and then providea remedy. Cayce soon became famous and people
from around the world sought his advice throughcorrespondence.
1912 to 1925: Selma, Alabama periodCayce’s work grew in volume as his fame grew.
He asked for voluntary donations to supporthimself and his family so that he could practice
full-time. To help raise money he invented”Pit”, a card game based on the commodities
trading at the Chicago Board of Trade, andthe game is still sold today. He continued
to work in an apparent trance state with ahypnotist all his life. His wife and eldest
son later replaced Layne in this role. A secretary,Gladys Davis, recorded his readings in shorthand.
The growing fame of Cayce along with the popularityhe received from newspapers attracted several
eager commercially-minded men who wanted toseek a fortune by using Cayce’s clairvoyant
abilities. Even though Cayce was reluctantto help them, he was persuaded to give his
readings, which left him dissatisfied withhimself and unsuccessful. A cotton merchant
offered Cayce a hundred dollars a day forhis readings about the daily outcomes in the
cotton market; however, despite his poor finances,Cayce refused the merchant’s offer. Some wanted
to know where to hunt for treasures whileothers wanted to know the outcome of horse
races. Several times he was persuaded to givesuch readings as an experiment. However, when
he used his ability for such purposes, hedid no better than chance alone would dictate.
These experiments allegedly left him depletedof energy, distraught, and unsatisfied with
himself. Finally, he decided to use his giftonly to help the distressed and sick.
In 1923, Arthur Lammers, a wealthy printerand student of metaphysics, persuaded Cayce
to give readings on philosophical subjects. Cayce was told by Lammers that, while in his
trance state, he spoke of Lammers’ past livesand of reincarnation, something Lammers believed
in. Reincarnation was a popular subject ofthe day but not an accepted part of Christian
doctrine. Because of this, Cayce questionedhis stenographer about what he said in his
trance state and remained unconvinced. Hechallenged Lammers’ charge that he had validated
astrology and reincarnation in the followingdialogue:
Cayce: I said all that?. . . I couldn’t havesaid all that in one reading.
Lammers: No. But you confirmed it. You see,I have been studying metaphysics for years,
and I was able by a few questions, by thefacts you gave, to check what is right and
what is wrong with a whole lot of the stuffI’ve been reading. The important thing is
that the basic system which runs through allthe mystery religions, whether they come from
Tibet or the pyramids of Egypt, is backedup by you. It’s actually the right system.
Cayce’s stenographer recorded the following:In this we see the plan of development of
those individuals set upon this plane, meaningthe ability to enter again into the presence
of the Creator and become a full part of thatcreation.
Insofar as this entity is concerned, thisis the third appearance on this plane, and
before this one, as the monk. We see glimpsesin the life of the entity now as were shown
in the monk, in this mode of living. The bodyis only the vehicle ever of that spirit and
soul that waft through all times and everremain the same.
Cayce was quite unconvinced that he had beenreferring to the doctrine of reincarnation,
and the best Lammers could offer was thatthe reading “opens up the door” and to go
on to share his beliefs and knowledge withCayce. Lammers had come to him with quite
a bit of information of his own to share withCayce and seemed intent upon convincing Cayce
now that he felt the reading had confirmedhis strongly-held beliefs. It should be noted,
however, that 12 years earlier Cayce had brieflyalluded to reincarnation. In reading 4841-1,
given April 22, 1911, Cayce referred to thesoul being “transmigrated”. Because Cayce’s
readings were not systematically recordeduntil 1923, it is possible that he may have
mentioned reincarnation in other earlier readings. Cayce reported that his conscience bothered
him severely over this conflict. His readingsof reincarnations were going against his biblical
teachings and at one point he wanted to ceasehis channeling sessions. Once again Cayce
lost his voice and in a reading for himselfhe was informed if Cayce was no longer going
to be a channel, his mission in this lifewas complete. Ultimately his trance voice,
the “we” of the readings, dialogued with Cayceand finally persuaded him to continue with
these kinds of readings. It was at this timeCayce directed his activities to provide readings
centred around health. The remedies that werechanneled often involved the use of unusual
electrotherapy, ultraviolet light, diet, massage,gemstones, less mental work and more relaxation
in sand on the beach. His remedies were comingunder the scrutiny of the American Medical
Association and Cayce felt that it was timeto legitimize the operations with the aid
of licensed medical practitioners. In 1925Cayce reported while in a trance, “the voice”
had instructed him to move to Virginia Beach,Virginia across the street from the beach.
He was informed that the sand’s crystals wouldhave curative properties to promote rapid
healing. 1925 to 1945: Virginia Beach periodCayce’s mature period, in which he created
the several institutions that would survivehim, can be considered to have started in
1925. By this time he was a professional psychicwith a small staff of employees and volunteers.
The readings increasingly came to involveoccult or esoteric themes.
In 1929 the Cayce hospital was establishedin Virginia Beach, sponsored by a Morton Blumenthall,
a recipient of the trance readings. Blumenthallwas a wealthy New York stockbroker who had
had the most extensive readings with Cayce,some 468. He is said to have made considerable
gains through insights into the stock market’sfutures until it crashed that year. This event
caused Blumenthall to withdraw his fundingand the hospital eventually closed its doors
shorty after. The depression years saw Cayce turn his attention
to spiritual teachings. In 1931, Edgar Cayce’sfriends and family asked him how they could
become psychic like him. Out of this seeminglysimple question came an eleven year discourse
that led to the creation of “Study Groups”. From his altered state, Cayce relayed to this
group that the purpose of life is not to becomepsychic, but to become a more spiritually
aware and loving person. Study Group #1 wastold that they could “bring light to a waiting
world” and that these lessons would stillbe studied a hundred years into the future.
The readings were now about dreams, coincidence,developing intuition, karma, the akashic records,
astrology, past life relationships, soul matesand other esoteric subjects. Hundreds of books
have been published about these readings. Cayce gained national prominence in 1943 after
the publication of a high-profile articlein the magazine Coronet titled “Miracle Man
of Virginia Beach”. World War II was takingits toll on American soldiers and he felt
he could not refuse the families who requestedhelp for their loved ones that were missing
in action. He increased the frequency of hisreadings to eight per day to try to make an
impression on the ever-growing pile of requests. He said this took a toll on his health as
it was emotionally draining and often fatiguedhim. The readings themselves scolded him for
attempting too much and that he should limithis workload to just two life readings a day
or else these good efforts would eventuallykill him.
Edgar Cayce suffered a stroke at the age of67 in 1945 and died on January 3, 1945. He
is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Hopkinsville,Kentucky.
Psychic abilitiesCayce has variously been referred to as a
“prophet”, a “mystic” and a “seer”. Whilegiving a reading for a seeker, he at times
referred to consulting the Akashic Recordof that soul’s experience. The only biography
written during Cayce’s lifetime was Thereis a River, by Thomas Joseph Sugrue.
Cayce’s methods involved lying down and enteringinto a sleep state, usually at the request
of a subject who was seeking help with healthor other personal problems. Subjects would
not normally be present, and their questionswould be given to Cayce, who would then proceed
with a reading. Initial readings dealt primarilywith the physical health of the individual;
later readings might be given on past lives,business advice, dream interpretation, and
mental or spiritual health. Until September 1923, his readings were not
systematically recorded or preserved. However,an article published in the Birmingham Post-Herald
on October 10, 1922, quotes Cayce as sayingthat he had given 8,056 readings as of that
date and it is known that he gave approximately13,000–14,000 readings after that date.
Today, a total of 14,306 are available atA. R. E. Cayce headquarters in Va. Beach and
an online member-only section along with backgroundinformation, correspondence, and follow-up
documentation. When out of the trance, Cayce would not remember
what he had said during the reading. The unconsciousmind, according to Cayce, has access to information
that the conscious mind does not—a commonassumption about hypnosis in Cayce’s time.
After Gladys Davis became Cayce’s secretaryon September 10, 1923, all readings were preserved
and his wife, Gertrude Evans Cayce, generallyguided the readings.
Cayce said that his trance statements shouldbe taken into account only to the extent that
they led to a better life for the recipient. Moreover, he invited his subjects to test
his suggestions rather than accept them onfaith.
Other abilities that have been attributedto Cayce include astral projection, prophesying,
mediumship, viewing the Akashic Records or”Book of Life”, and seeing auras. Cayce said
he became interested in learning more aboutthese subjects after he was informed about
the content of his readings, which he reportedthat he never actually heard himself.
SupportersCayce’s clients included a number of famous
people such as Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison,Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin.
Gina Cerminara published books such as ManyMansions and The World Within. Brian Weiss
published a bestseller regarding clinicalrecollection of past lives, Many Lives, Many
Masters. These books provide broad supportfor spiritualism and reincarnation. Many Mansions
elaborates on Cayce’s work and supports hisstated abilities with real life examples.
This is an example from Gina Cerminara:Cayce once gave a reading on a blind man,
a musician by profession, who regained partof his vision in one eye through following
the physical suggestions given by Cayce. Thisman happened to have a passion for railroads
and a tremendous interest in the Civil War. In the life reading Cayce gave, he said that
the man had been a soldier in the South, inthe army of Lee, and that he had been a railroad
man by profession in that incarnation. Thenhe proceeded to tell him that his name in
that life was Barnett Seay, and that the recordsof Seay could still be found in the state
of Virginia. The man took the trouble to huntfor the records and found them in the state
capitol at Richmond: that is to say he foundthe record of one Barnett Seay, standard-bearer
in Lee’s army who had entered and been dischargedfrom the service in such and such a year. The Dictionary of American Religious Biography
writes about Cayce:As a humble individual full of self-doubts,
Cayce never profited from his mystic gift. He read the Bible every day, taught Sunday
School, and helped others only when asked. Many did ask, and over the years he produced
readings that diagnosed health problems, prescribeddietary regimens, dealt with psychic disorders,
and predicted future events such as wars,earthquakes, and changes in governments. He
spoke, moreover, of reincarnations, the earlyhistory of Israel, and the lost civilization
of Atlantis. Enough of his diagnoses and predictionsproved true to silence many skeptics and to
develop a wide following. Controversy and criticism
ControversyCayce advocated some controversial and eccentric
ideas from his trance readings. In many trancesessions, he reinterpreted the history of
life on Earth. One of Cayce’s controversialclaims was that of polygenism. According to
Cayce, five human races had been created separatelybut simultaneously on different parts of the
Earth. Cayce also accepted the existence ofaliens and Atlantis and claimed that “the
red race developed in Atlantis and its developmentwas rapid”. Another claim by Cayce was that
“soul-entities” on Earth intermingled withanimals to produce “things,” giants that were
as much as twelve feet tall. Olav Hammer wrote that many of Cayce’s readings
discussed race and skin color and that theexplanation for this is that Cayce was not
a racist but was influenced by the occultideas of Madame Blavatsky. Robert Todd Carroll,
in his book The Skeptic’s Dictionary wrote,”Cayce is one of the main people responsible
for some of the sillier notions about Atlantis. “Carroll mentioned some of Cayce’s notions,
which included his belief in a giant solarcrystal, activated by the sun was used to
power energy on Atlantis and his predictionthat in 1958 the United States would rediscover
a death ray that had been used on Atlantis. Cayce said the destruction of Atlantis was
the result of the central power crystal beingtuned too high. It was too unstable to safely
power the remote crafts under the sea, onthe land and in the air. The strong vibrations
of the crystal resonated the earth in a waythat eventually caused earthquakes and this
was hidden from the population. Cayce saidmany of the people that came to him for life
readings were actually in Atlantis at thetime of the destruction, had contributed to
the destruction and have reincarnated at thistime to try to right the wrongs and not allow
a similar event to occur. Cayce foresaw afuture where man’s present technological achievements
could eventually lead the world to a similarfate. Promoters of Cayce’s warnings often
point out that we are now in the early stagesof the diamond age where solar cells can capture
the sun’s rays, power silicon crystals thatresonate microwave frequencies that are amplified
by Tesla’s transformers and are then broadcastvia antennas to recharge devices, power light
aircraft, remotely control drones and evenmodify the weather.
Although Cayce seemed to have acquired theability to correctly diagnose an illness in
the individual, he was often incorrect inhis predictions of a distant future. He stressed
that the future is determined by man’s freewill and our collective actions shape the
destiny of mankind for better or for worse. Criticism
Skeptics say that the evidence for Cayce’spowers comes from contemporaneous newspaper
articles, affidavits, anecdotes, testimonials,and books. Martin Gardner, for example, wrote
that while Cayce’s trances did happen, mostof the information from his trances was derived
from books that Cayce had been reading byauthors such as Carl Jung, Ouspensky, and
Blavatsky. Gardner’s hypothesis was that thetrance readings of Cayce contain “little bits
of information gleaned from here and therein the occult literature, spiced with occasional
novelties from Cayce’s unconscious”. Skeptics are also critical of Cayce’s support
for various forms of alternative medicine,which they regard as quackery. Michael Shermer
writes in Why People Believe Weird Things,”Uneducated beyond the ninth grade, Cayce
acquired his broad knowledge through voraciousreading and from this he wove elaborate tales. “
Shermer wrote that, “Cayce was fantasy-pronefrom his youth, often talking with angels
and receiving visions of his dead grandfather. “Shermer further cites James Randi as saying
“Cayce was fond of expressions like ‘I feelthat’ and ‘perhaps’—qualifying words used
to avoid positive declarations. “Biblical Christians are critical of Cayce’s
views on issues such as reincarnation, onenessand the Akashic records.
See alsoAtlantic University
New Age SpiritualityReferencesFurther reading
Cayce, Edgar Evans. Edgar Cayce on Atlantis,New York: Hawthorn, 1968, ISBN 0-312-96153-7
Cerminara, Gina. Many Mansions: The EdgarCayce Story on Reincarnation. orig. 1950,
Signet Book, reissue edition 1990, ISBN 0-451-16817-8Kirkpatrick, Sidney D. An American Prophet,
Riverhead Books, 2000, ISBN 1-57322-139-2Kittler, Glenn D. Edgar Cayce on the Dead
Sea Scrolls, Warner Books, 1970, ISBN 0-446-90035-4Puryear, Herbert B. The Edgar Cayce Primer:
Discovering The Path to Self-Transformation,Bantam Books, New York, Toronto, Copyright
© September 1982 by Association for Researchand Enlightenment, Inc. ISBN 0-553-25278-X
Stearn, Jess. The Sleeping Prophet, BantamBooks, 1967, ISBN 0-553-26085-5
Sugrue, Thomas. There Is a River, A. R. E. Press,1997, ISBN 0-87604-375-9
Todeschi, Kevin, Edgar Cayce on the Akashic Records, 1998, ISBN 978-0-87604-401-8
External linksEdgar Cayce’s Association for Research and
EnlightenmentEdgar Cayce Canada
An American Prophet from ABC News

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