For forty-three years of his adult life, Edgar Cayce demonstrated the uncanny ability to put himself into some kind of self-induced sleep state by lying down on a couch, closing his eyes, and folding his hands over his stomach. This state of relaxation and meditation enabled him to place his mind in contact with all time and space. From this state he could respond to questions as diverse as, "What are the secrets of the universe?" to "How can I remove a wart?" His responses to these questions came to be called "readings" and contain insights so valuable that even to this day individuals have found practical help for everything from maintaining a well-balanced diet and improving human relationships to overcoming life-threatening illnesses and experiencing a closer walk with God.
Though Cayce died more than half a century ago, the timeliness of the material in the readings is evidenced by approximately one dozen biographies and more than 300 titles that discuss various aspects of this man's life and work. These books contain a corpus of information so valuable that even Edgar Cayce himself might have hesitated to predict their impact on the latter part of the twentieth century. Sixty years ago who could have known that terms such as "meditation," "akashic records," "spiritual growth," "auras," "soul mates," and "holism" would become household words to hundreds of thousands? Further details about his life and work are explored in such classic works as There Is a River (1942) by Thomas Sugrue, The Sleeping Prophet (1967) by Jess Stearn, Many Mansions (1950) by Gina Cerminara, and Edgar Cayce-An American Prophet (2000) by Sidney Kirkpatrick.
Daily for over forty years of his adult life, Cayce would lie down on a couch with his hands folded over his stomach and allow himself to enter a self-induced sleep state. Then, provided with the name and location of an individual anywhere in the world he would speak in a normal voice and give answers to any questions about that person that he was asked. These answers, which came to be called "readings" were written down by a stenographer, who kept one copy on file and sent another to the person who had requested the information.
Today on file at the Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. (A.R.E.), in Virginia Beach, Virginia, are copies of more than 14,000 of Edgar Cayce's readings. These are available to the public and have been filed along with any follow-up reports received from the individuals who had asked for the readings. This material represents the most massive collection of psychic information ever obtained from a single source. The organization founded by Cayce in 1931 to document, research and disseminate his information has grown from a few hundred supporters at the time of Cayce's death in 1945 to one which is worldwide. Countless individuals have been touched by the life work of this man who was raised a simple farm boy and yet became one of the most versatile and credible psychics the world has ever known. In addition to the Cayce readings, the organization makes available a large collection of Edgar Cayce books, New Age books, Self Help books and Metaphysical Books.
Since 1901, the information in the Cayce readings has been explored by individuals from every imaginable background and discipline. In addition to individuals from all walks and stations of life, this vast scope of materials has come to the attention of educators, historians, theologians, medical professionals, and scientists. No doubt, part of the attraction has been that regardless of the field of study, Cayce has continually proven himself years ahead of his time. Decades ago, he was emphasizing the importance of diet, attitudes, emotions, exercise, and the patient's role - physically, mentally, and spiritually - in the treatment of illness. As a result, he has been called "the father of holistic medicine" and has been recognized for describing the workings of the human body and foreseeing the direction of health care.
In the field of psychology, he has often been compared to Carl Jung. In the realm of education, he stands with Rudlolf Steiner. Dr. Richard H. Drummond, one of the world's most renowned theological scholars, called the Cayce information on spirituality "the finest devotional material of the 20th century."
In history, the Cayce readings gave insights into Judaism that were verified a decade after his death. In world affairs, he saw the collapse of communism nearly fifty years before it happened. Even in the field of physics, a professor and fellow of the American Physical Society theorized a connection between the elementary-particle theory and the way in which Edgar Cayce received his information. Repeatedly, science and history have validated concepts and ideas explored in Cayce's psychic information. The wealth of these insights has resulted in hundreds of books that explore various aspects of this man's life and work, not to mention foreign translations around the globe.
As fascinating as the breadth of the material and its accuracy is the activity level of Cayce's mind while he was in the reading state. It was not unusual for Edgar Cayce to be giving a reading, laying on his couch, somehow mentally in touch with another individual and his or her surroundings, activities, and relationships, providing answers to any question imaginable or any time-frame in history, and at the same time have a personal dream that Cayce could recall upon awakening. Occasionally, it was found that at the same time all this was going on, if an individual in the room with Cayce thought of something, he could respond to their query without even being asked! Even a casual perusal of the Cayce information makes it quite evident that the capacity of this man's mind was not limited to what we might call the conventional parameters of time and space.
Perhaps we can gain insights into this amazing talent from one of Edgar Cayce's own dreams. In 1932, while giving a reading to another individual, Cayce had a dream in which he saw himself as a tiny dot that began to be elevated as if in a whirlwind. As the dot rose, the rings of the whirlwind became larger and larger, each one encompassing a greater span of space than the one that had gone before it. There were also spaces between each ring that the sleeping Cayce recognized as the various levels of consciousness development. A reading was given (294-131 ) confirming that this experience had provided a visual representation of the very thing that transpired as Cayce entered the trance state. The information went on to say, "As indicated, the entity is - in the affairs of the world - a tiny speck, as it were, a mere grain of sand; yet when raised in the atmosphere or realm of the spiritual forces it becomes all inclusive..." In other words, as he entered the readings state, he was no longer limited to the confines of space or time and was able to make available to himself higher levels of consciousness. It was a talent which would enable him to access insights into virtually anything imaginable.
Once this ability was underway, Edgar Cayce stated that his information was derived from essentially two sources: 1) the subconscious mind of the individual for whom he was giving the reading; and, 2) an etheric source of information, called the "Akashic Records," which is apparently some kind of universal database for every thought, word, or deed that has ever transpired in the earth. In the language of the readings, these sources are further described as follows:
(Q) From what source does this body Edgar Cayce derive its information?
(A) The information as given or obtained from this body is gathered from the sources from which the suggestion may derive its information. In this state the conscious mind becomes subjugated to the subconscious, superconscious or soul mind; and may and does communicate with like minds, and the subconscious or soul force becomes universal. From any subconscious mind information may be obtained, either from this plane or from the impressions as left by the individuals that have gone on before, as we see a mirror reflecting direct that which is before it...Through the forces of the soul, through the mind of others as presented, or that have gone on before; through the subjugation of the physical forces in this manner, the body obtains the information. 3744-3 and,
In giving an interpretation of the records as we find them, it is well - especially for this entity - that there be given a premise from which the reasoning is drawn. Upon time and space is written the thoughts, the deeds, the activities of an entity - as in relationships to its environs, its hereditary influence; as directed - or judgment drawn by or according to what the entity's ideal is. Hence, as it has been oft called, the record is God's book of remembrance; and each entity, each soul - as the activities of a single day of an entity in the material world - either makes same good or bad or indifferent, depending upon the entity's application of self towards that which is the ideal manner for the use of time, opportunity and the EXPRESSION of that for which each soul enters a material manifestation. The interpretation then as drawn here is with the desire and hope that, in opening this for the entity, the experience may be one of helpfulness and hopefulness. 1650-1
The ability to gather information in this manner may sound unusual, but even today much of the workings of the human mind remain a mystery. Some contemporary research has estimated that the brain filters out as much as ninety-nine percent of the information available to it. Although this may seem high, how often do we become aware of the sounds made by our heating and air conditioning systems, our own breath, or the car driving next to us in traffic? How frequently are we cognizant of the seat upon which we are sitting, the weight of our glasses upon our nose or the feeling of clothing against our skin? Do we generally let ourselves notice the intensity of colors around us, or even the slight variation in smells within the rooms of our own home? How many times have we driven to a location and then not recalled any portion of the trip that actually got us there? All this information resides just beyond the bounds of conscious awareness and yet we are not cognizant of it. Without our brain filters, we probably could not survive all the stresses, distractions, and stimuli that are simply a part of everyday life. Perhaps one component of Cayce's psychic talent was an ability to set aside the very filters that prevent our own sensory system from being overloaded. ESP is simply an extended sense perception. With this in mind, perhaps as amazing as Cayce's extraordinary psychic ability is the fact that he was somehow able to survive and live some semblance of normalcy even while being exposed to such a vast array of incoming data.
Edgar Cayce was born near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on March 18, 1877 and had a normal childhood in most respects, one rich with the heritage of nineteenth-century farm life. The only boy in a family of five children, he grew up surrounded by grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins living nearby. Like many children, he had imaginary playmates, but they vanished as he grew older. He was raised at a time when much of the country was experiencing the excitement of religious revival meetings. This atmosphere may have in part accounted for his lifelong interest in the Bible, and even as a child his dream was to become a medical missionary. At that early age no one might have ever guessed the unusual manner in which his dream would become a reality.
At the age of six or seven, he told his parents that he could sometimes see visions, occasionally talking to relatives who had recently died. For the most part, his family attributed these experiences to an overactive imagination and paid little attention to them. He found comfort in reading the Bible and decided to read it through from cover to cover, once for every year of his life. Its stories and characters became familiar and very real to him. At the age of thirteen, he had a vision that would influence him for the rest of his life: a beautiful woman appeared to him and asked him what he most wanted in life. He told her that, more than anything, he wanted to help others - especially children when they were sick.
Shortly after the experience, Edgar displayed a talent that could no longer be explained by his family in terms of the boy's imagination: he could sleep on his school books and acquire a photographic memory of their entire contents! It was found that he could sleep on any book, paper or document, and upon awakening, be able to repeat back, word for word, any length of material - even if it contained words far beyond his limited education. To be sure the gift helped him in school, but it gradually faded. In order to help out his family financially, Edgar left school as a teenager and started working with an uncle on his grandmother's farm.
The following year, when his family moved to the city in Hopkinsville, Edgar got a job at the bookstore on Main Street. A few months later, he met, and fell in love with Gertrude Evans. They became engaged on March 14, 1897, four days before Edgar's twentieth birthday, and decided to marry when he was able to support a family. In June of 1898, Edgar lost his job and worked for a while in a dry goods firm before moving to Louisville, Kentucky, in order to obtain a better paying job. His goal was to raise enough money so that he and Gertrude could begin their life together. During the Christmas season of 1899, he went back to Hopkinsville and formed a partnership with his father, Leslie Cayce, who was then an insurance agent. As a result, Edgar became a traveling salesman. It was the turn of the century, he was almost twenty-three-years-old, and seemed to be doing quite well. In addition to insurance, he sold books and stationery and he became quite confident that it would not be long before he could afford to get married.
Unfortunately, one day after taking a sedative in order to alleviate a headache, Edgar Cayce developed a severe case of laryngitis. At first he was not really concerned. After all, many people lose their voice for a day or two, but the condition persisted. Doctors were called in and later on specialists, but still Edgar was unable to speak above a whisper. As the days turned into weeks, he was forced to give up his job as a salesman and he began looking for something else he could do that did not require much speaking. The laryngitis persisted for months and for a time Edgar gave up the idea of ever speaking normally again.
Eventually, he found the perfect job in Hopkinsville as a photographer's assistant. There he could be close to Gertrude and his family, and with those closest to him nearby it would not bother him so much that his condition was incurable. Sometimes he regretted the fact that he had never been able to finish school, becoming the doctor and preacher he had dreamed of, but he found comfort in his loved one and in the Bible and he became content with the idea of settling down with a wife and children.
During the first decade of the 1900's hypnotism and stage shows were experiencing a renewed revival in this country. One showman, who called himself "Hart, the Laugh King," brought his comedy and hypnotism act to the Hopkinsville Opera House. Although not a therapist, Hart had witnessed some interesting experiences with hypnosis. Somehow he heard about Edgar's laryngitis and offered to try an experiment in an attempt to help the young man. In the first session, Hart hypnotized Cayce and told him that he would be able to regain his voice. To the amazement of everyone present, Edgar responded to any question asked of him in a normal voice. However, he would not take a post-hypnotic suggestion, and the laryngitis returned when Hart awakened him. The experiment was repeated several times; each time, Edgar was able to speak normally in his sleep state. Nevertheless, when the young man was awakened, his soft-spoken whisper returned. Even when Hart had to leave Hopkinsville because of other commitments, Edgar's predicament was not forgotten. The local papers became excited about the case. Many people became convinced that somehow hypnotism was the cure to Cayce's problem.
Knowing that some patients under hypnosis showed powers of clairvoyance, a New York specialist interested in the case advised the Cayce's to repeat the experiment but this time instead of suggesting that the young man's voice return, to ask Edgar himself to talk about his condition. His parents were against the idea. Ever since the first experiment with Hart, their son had lost weight. It appeared as though the sessions were a drain on his physical body. Gertrude let her fiancΘ make the decision, for with or without his voice they could have a life together - and besides, Edgar rather liked working with photography. In the end, Edgar consented to one further test.
A local man, Al Layne, was found who could give the hypnotic suggestions. Layne had educated himself. Not only had he worked with hypnotism, but he was familiar with osteopathy as well. Edgar offered to put himself to sleep - much as he had done when he had slept on his schoolbooks. Once he was asleep on the couch, Layne asked him to explain what was wrong with him and how he could be cured. And Cayce spoke back! While asleep, Edgar Cayce described his problem as a "psychological condition producing a physical effect." He went on to explain that the condition could be removed by suggesting to him while in the unconscious state that the blood circulation increase to the affected areas. After Layne made the suggestion, he and Cayce's family watched in amazement as the upper part of Edgar's chest and his throat turned a bright crimson red and the skin became warm to the touch. Twenty minutes passed before Edgar spoke again, stating that before Layne awakened him the suggestion should be made that the blood circulation return to normal. Layne followed the instructions. When Cayce finally awakened, he was able to speak normally for the first time in almost a year. The date, March 31, 1901, marked the first time Edgar Cayce would give a psychic reading. Edgar, his parents, and Gertrude were overjoyed that he could finally talk. The young man's plan was to continue being a photographer, getting married as soon as possible. He would never have given another thought to putting himself into the sleep state, except that Al Layne had witnessed something truly extraordinary and was beginning to have other ideas. For years, Layne had been bothered by a stomach difficulty that doctors had been unable to cure. Because he knew enough about medicine to realize what therapeutic suggestions could be harmful, he asked Edgar to try giving a reading on the stomach problem. Although skeptical, Edgar agreed. He felt obligated to Layne for having helped him regain his voice. The reading was given to satisfy Layne's curiosity. Asleep on the couch, Cayce spoke in a normal voice and described the problem exactly; he recommended herbal medicines, foods, and exercises for improvement. After one week of following the sleeping Cayce's suggestions, Layne felt so much better that he became even more excited about Edgar's ability and he strongly encouraged the young man to try other tests.
With this turn in events, Edgar Cayce felt as if he had been placed in a precarious position. On the one hand, this business of readings was very strange to him. He knew nothing about medicine or the diagnosing of illness or even the workings of psychic ability. He only wanted to live a normal life in Hopkinsville with a wife and a family. On the other hand, Layne argued that Cayce had a moral obligation if his talent could be helpful to people. Finally, after a great deal of prayer, after talking it over with his family, and after looking to his Bible for guidance, Edgar agreed to continue the experiments under two conditions: the first was that if he ever suggested anything in the sleep state that could be at all harmful to people, they would stop the readings, and the second was Layne had to always remember that Edgar Cayce was first, and foremost, a photographer.
One of the earliest readings was for a five-year-old girl, named Aime Dietrich, who had been seriously ill for three years. At the age of two, after an attack of influenza, which doctors then called the grippe, her mind had stopped developing. Since that time her tiny body had been racked with convulsions. Her mind was nearly a blank and, though doctors and specialists had been consulted, she had only gotten worse instead of better. In order to see if he could be of assistance, Cayce put himself to sleep while Layne conducted the reading and wrote down everything that was said. While in the sleep state Cayce stated that Aime's real problem had actually begun a few days before catching the grippe. Apparently, she had fallen and injured her spine while getting down from a carriage. According to the reading, because of the trauma the influenza germs had settled in her spine and the convulsions had begun. Aime's mother verified the accident.
To cure the condition, Edgar Cayce recommended some osteopathic adjustments that were to be carried out by Layne. Layne made the adjustments on the little girl's spine and got a check reading. The sleeping Cayce told Layne he had made the adjustments incorrectly and provided further instructions. After several attempts, Layne was able to carry out the suggestions to the exact specifications of the sleeping photographer. Several days later, Aime recognized a doll she had played with before getting sick and called it by name. As the weeks passed, her mind recognized other things as well, she suddenly knew her parents, and finally the convulsions stopped completely. Within three months, Aime's mind was able to catch up where it had left off, and she became a normal, healthy, five-year-old girl.
Cayce was truly happy that he had been able to help, but still he only wanted to live a normal life. However, Layne's enthusiasm, along with the enthusiasm of Cayce's own father and people like Mr. and Mrs. Dietrich, made it all the more difficult to leave the "psychic business" behind. Cayce continued giving readings without charge, while Layne conducted. It was soon discovered that Cayce only needed the name and location of an individual to be able to give a reading, diagnose the person's condition, and outline a regimen of treatment. The readings puzzled him, many times he did not even understand what he had said after he had awakened and Layne showed him was had been written down, but Edgar vowed to continue if somehow his unusual gift could be helpful to people.
In addition to his job and his work with the readings, Edgar decided the time had come to get married. On June 17, 1903, after an engagement of more than six years, Gertrude Evans and Edgar Cayce finally became husband and wife. They made a home together in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Although still somewhat uncomfortable with the readings, his life was fulfilling. He had a loving wife, a home, a Sunday school class at the local church, and a good job. A year later he formed his own photographic partnership and was able to open a studio.
Eventually, Layne decided to become a fully accredited osteopath. The number of patients coming to him had continued to increase as he and Cayce had become well known. To continue his studies, Layne left Hopkinsville and entered the Southern School of Osteopathy. In the end, Cayce's belief that the readings might be put to rest for a time was short-lived.
Edgar spent most of his time working as a photographer. The studio was prosperous. Unfortunately, disaster occurred when a studio fire destroyed a large collection of prints and reproductions that Cayce had borrowed on consignment. Suddenly he was deeply in debt. Nine months later, a second fire destroyed the studio. Edgar stayed in Bowling Green to pay off his debts. Gertrude returned to Hopkinsville with Hugh Lynn, their son born on March 16, 1907. Eventually Edgar looked for work in Alabama, where photographers were scarce.
During a return visit to Hopkinsville, Leslie Cayce introduced his son to Dr. Wesley Ketchum, a homeopath who had just moved to town. Dr. Ketchum had heard of Cayce through some of Layne's former patients and had decided to get a reading for himself. Unbeknownst to Cayce, Ketchum had recently diagnosed himself as having early problems with appendicitis. The doctor wanted to see if Cayce could pick up on the problem. However, while asleep, Cayce gave an entirely different diagnosis and outlined a simple treatment. In order to humor the young man, Dr. Ketchum went to another doctor for a third opinion and was surprised to discover that Cayce's diagnosis had been correct!
As a result, Dr. Ketchum started using Cayce's psychic talent in some of his most difficult cases. In 1910, Wesley Ketchum submitted a paper to the American Society of Clinical Research, calling Cayce a medical wonder. As a result, the October 9th issue of the New York Times featured a long article on Cayce's ability. The headline read: "Illiterate man becomes a doctor when hypnotized." Requests for readings began coming to Hopkinsville. In order to meet these requests, Dr. Wesley Ketchum, Edgar Cayce, Leslie Cayce and Albert Noe, a hotel owner formed the Psychic Reading Corporation. Edgar moved back to Hopkinsville, where he opened a photographic studio, the "Cayce Art Studio." He began to give readings in his spare time and became known as a "psychic diagnostician," although he was much happier as a photographer. It would not be until the following year that his attitude about the readings finally changed.
In one of the medical cases, a construction supervisor named Dalton severely fractured his leg and kneecap in an accident. He was told by several doctors in town that they could set the leg but because of the seriousness of the injury he would never be able to walk normally again. Apparently, Dalton's kneecap was damaged beyond repair. Not satisfied with their reports, Dalton consulted Dr. Wesley Ketchum. Cayce gave a reading and recommended what was an extremely radical treatment for 1905: Ketchum was to drive several nails into the kneecap to hold it in place while it healed. The procedure was unheard of at the time but Ketchum, trusting in Cayce's ability, carried it out. The surgery was performed, and several months later Dalton was up and walking around as though the accident had never occurred. Edgar Cayce's fame continued to spread.
A second son was born to Gertrude and Edgar in 1911. They named him Milton Porter. Soon after his birth, however, the baby developed whooping cough and later on colitis. Several doctors were called in, but the baby continued to get worse. For some reason, Edgar Cayce never really thought about consulting his own readings until the doctors had given up all hope. As a last resort, Cayce gave a reading for his second son. When he woke up, he was shattered to learn that the condition was too serious. The readings offered no hope for the child and the baby died before being two months old. Afterwards, Cayce and his wife went into a state of depression. He blamed himself for not getting a reading sooner - perhaps it might have helped; now he would never know. Gertrude's health took a turn for the worse. She became weak after the baby's death, causing the doctor to think she had contracted pleurisy. As the months continued to pass, the illness hung on, and she showed no signs of improvement. In fact, she was getting worse and was eventually confined to bed.
By late summer, Gertrude's doctor had changed his diagnosis. He called Cayce aside and spoke the awful truth: Gertrude had tuberculosis and was dying. A TB specialist confirmed that nothing further could be done. Everyone expected her to die by the end of the year except for her husband. Not knowing what else to do, Edgar gave a reading. While in the sleep state, he recommended a combination of prescription drugs as well as filling a charred oak keg with apple brandy. Gertrude was to inhale the fumes to clear up the congestion. Although the doctors claimed that the combination of drugs would be useless, Dr. Ketchum wrote the prescription anyway. After following this treatment for only two days, Gertrude was feeling better and her fever had fallen. By September she was better still, and by November even her doctors decided that she was going to get well. By the first of January, 1912, Gertrude Cayce was fully recovered.
That same year, a delegate from Harvard University, Dr. Hugo Mⁿnsterberg, investigated Edgar Cayce. The visit had been to determine whether or not Cayce's work was fraudulent but when Mⁿnsterberg left Hopkinsville, the professor had become convinced of the legitimacy and the effectiveness of the readings. Still, Edgar was happiest being a photographer and he decided to dissolve his partnership with Ketchum, his father and Noe and he obtained a job as a photographer in Selma, Alabama. The following year, he bought for himself the studio where he had been employed.
In Selma Cayce was able to escape from the readings' notoriety and live out a quiet life. The quiet normalcy of life did not last long. One day his son, Hugh Lynn, was playing with flash powder in the studio and severely burned his eyes. The local doctors gave no hope that the boy would ever see again. In fact, they recommended removing one of the eyes due to the extent of the damage. Cayce decided to give a reading instead. During the course of the reading he gave assurance that sight was not gone. He recommended an additional compound to be added to the solution that had been prescribed by the doctors and stated that Hugh Lynn should remain in a darkened room for two weeks with his eyes bandaged. No eye surgery was performed and when the bandages were removed, the boy could see. Local newspapers picked up the story and again, Edgar Cayce's fame grew. In addition to his job and his work as a Sunday school teacher, he began giving readings. On February 9, 1918, Gertrude gave birth to another son, Edgar Evans.
As his psychic reputation grew the request for readings continued and Edgar Cayce was faced with a problem. Although people were being helped by the readings, many were having difficulty finding doctors to carry out the treatments that were being recommended. Doctors seemed hesitant to follow the guidance of a sleeping psychic who, in many instances, had never even seen the people he was diagnosing. This situation led to Cayce's dream of a establishing a hospital, staffed with fully qualified doctors, nurses, and therapists, who would carry out the treatments recommended in the readings.
This pursuit of a hospital caused Edgar Cayce to form an ill-fated partnership with others who were seeking oil. He went to Texas to give readings on possible oil sites but was repeatedly disappointed. The readings made it quite clear that the information was never to be used for financial gain and that some of his partners did not share his dream of a hospital. Some of his partners wanted money only for themselves. After many failures, Cayce returned to Selma and picked up where he had left off. He had his wife, his two sons, his business, and the church. His Sunday school classes became the most popular in the county because Cayce had the ability to make the Bible come alive. In the fall of 1923, he hired a secretary, Gladys Davis, to take down the information in the readings while Gertrude conducted and asked her sleeping husband the questions.
Until 1923 most of Cayce's readings were limited to medical and physical conditions. However, that year a printer from Dayton, Ohio, who had obtained successful readings for two of his nieces, asked Cayce for a horoscope reading. Toward the end of the reading [5717-1] the sleeping Cayce spoke the curious sentence: "he was once a monk." That statement opened up the door to a whole new area of research - the possibility of reincarnation - and Edgar was faced with a new dilemma.
There was no doubt that the information was helpful and accurate when dealing with health, but the readings matter-of-fact reference to reincarnation seemed foreign to his fundamental Christianity. He prayed about it, did much soul searching, and obtained a few readings. He was advised to read the Bible once through from cover to cover while keeping the idea of reincarnation in mind. The underlying philosophy that emerged was one that focused upon the oneness and the purposefulness of life. In time, Edgar Cayce found that the concept of reincarnation was not incompatible with any religion and actually merged perfectly with his own beliefs of what it meant to be a Christian.
Soon afterwards, the "Life readings" were developed, dealing with an individual's previous lifetimes, as well as the person's potential and purpose in the present. In time, the topics in the readings were further expanded to include mental and spiritual counsel, philosophy and contemporary spirituality, meditation, dream interpretation, intuition, history and ancient civilizations and even advice for improving personal relationships.
Because the requests for readings continued to grow, Cayce gave up his photography studio and began looking for financial backing for his hospital. He also began to accept donations for the readings, but he never refused to help those who were unable to pay. Over the years, several backers were found to make Cayce's dream of the hospital a reality. One group wanted to locate the facility in Chicago, another wanted it to be in Dayton. However, time and again, the readings advised that the hospital needed to be located in or near Virginia Beach, Virginia. Finally, a New York businessman named Morton Blumenthal agreed to finance the hospital project.
In September of 1925, the Cayce family moved with Gladys Davis to Virginia Beach and in 1927, the Association of National Investigators was formed. Its purpose was to research and experiment the information contained in the readings. Its motto was: "That We May Make Manifest Our Love for God and Man." The following year, on November 11, 1928, the Edgar Cayce hospital opened its doors. Patients came from all over the country to obtain readings and to be treated by a qualified staff composed of doctors, nurses, and therapists. The sleeping Cayce gave each patient a reading, diagnosed the ailment, and recommended everything from a change of diet to surgery. Cayce's approach was that healing worked best when all the schools of medicine worked together in cooperation, finding what was best for the patient.
In spite of the stock market crash in October 1929, a university, "Atlantic University," was also underwritten by the hospital backers and opened in the fall of 1930. Until 1931 the hospital operated successfully. In the midst of the Depression, however, financial backing was lost and the hospital had to close its doors in February. The University survived until Christmas.
In June of 1931, the Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. (A.R.E.), was formed as a research body whose goal was to investigate and disseminate the information contained in Cayce's readings. This organization became interested in such things as holistic health care, the workings of ESP, meditation, spiritual healing, the importance of dreams, and the study of life after death. When individuals asked Edgar Cayce how they could become more psychic themselves he responded by saying that the goal should be to become more spiritual, "for psychic is of the soul." From Cayce's perspective as individuals became more spiritual, psychic ability would develop naturally. Rather than trying to find converts to the readings' philosophy, people were told that if they could incorporate information into their own religious and belief systems, enabling them to become better people, it could be a useful and positive experience; otherwise they were advised to leave the information alone.
As the years passed, Cayce became more and more psychic in the waking state as well. He once fled from a room in sorrow because he knew that three young men would not be returning from the war. He also had developed the ability to see auras, which are fields of light that surround all living things. From these auras Cayce could perceive people's moods as well as their overall physical condition.
As his fame as a psychic grew, so did the number of skeptics. Many people came to Virginia Beach to expose him as a fraud, but in time all were convinced of the legitimacy of what he was doing. A number stayed in Virginia Beach and received readings for themselves. One staunch Catholic writer, named Thomas Sugrue, came to Virginia Beach to investigate what he thought had to be trickery and ended up writing There is a River, Cayce's biography published in 1943 while he was still alive. Coronet magazine, one of the most popular of the era, sent a reporter to investigate. The article, written by Marguerite Harmon Bro, "Miracle Man of Virginia Beach," drew widespread attention, and Edgar Cayce became more famous than he had ever been before.
During the height of World War II, sacks of mail were delivered to Cayce with ever-growing requests for readings. Despite the readings' warning that he should give no more than two a day, Cayce began giving eight in an effort to keep up. Gladys Davis' appointment book had readings scheduled two years in advance!
In the spring of 1944, Edgar began to grow weak. His own readings advised him to rest, but he felt a tremendous obligation to those who were asking for his help. Finally, he collapsed from sheer exhaustion, and just as he gave his first reading for himself, he gave his last reading for himself in September of 1944. The reading told him he had to rest. When Gertrude asked "How long?" the response was "until he is well or dead." Shortly afterwards, he had a stroke and became partially paralyzed. By the end of the year his friends feared the worst. Although Edgar told them he would be healed after the first of the year, they understood what he meant and he died on January 3, 1945. At the time, no one really understood how ill Gertrude was, yet within three months, on Easter Sunday, she died as well.
Gladys Davis took it upon herself to preserve the information she had taken such great pains to write down, until Edgar's sons returned from the war. Eventually, she took charge of the project of cataloguing and indexing the more than 14,000 readings. Because of the number of readings as well as the follow-up reports and documentation the project was not even finished until 1971, more than a quarter of century after Cayce had died! Once indexed, it was discovered that the readings covered as astonishing 10,000 different subjects - nearly every question imaginable had been asked. Gladys continued working as secretary for the Board of Trustees of the Cayce organizations and chaired the computerization of the readings until her death in 1986 at the age of eighty-one. Today, the complete set of Cayce readings is available on CD-Rom.
Hugh Lynn took over the organization his father had started and was able to encourage interest all over the world. When Hugh Lynn died, in 1982, the Association had grown from a few hundred members into one composed of ten of thousands.
Today, several organizations work with the information contained in the Edgar Cayce readings. The Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. (A.R.E.) continues to make the material more readily available through practical presentations and publications, and members throughout the world are kept up-to-date on activities and developments concerning the Cayce work. The Edgar Cayce Foundation is a separate organization that is legally responsible for the readings. It spends time and resources sponsoring comparative studies between the Cayce information and other schools of thought. Atlantic University, which closed in 1931, was reactivated in 1985 and offers a master's degree in Transpersonal Studies. The Health and Rejuvenation Center provides individuals with a variety of ways in which they can personally utilize the medical information contained in the readings, and the Cayce/Reilly Massage School trains therapists from around the world in the therapeutic benefits of massage. Together, these organizations have found that the psychic information of a photographer from Kentucky has stood the test of intensive research for years.
Throughout his life, Edgar Cayce claimed no special abilities nor did he ever consider himself to be some kind of twentieth-century prophet. The readings never offered a set of beliefs that had to be embraced, but instead focused on the fact that each person should test in his or her own life the principles presented. Though Cayce himself was a Christian and read the Bible from cover to cover every year of his life, his work was one that stressed the importance of comparative study among belief systems all over the world. The underlying principle of the readings is the oneness of all life, tolerance for all people, and a compassion and understanding for every major religion in the world.
[This article is taken from Edgar Cayce's ESP: Who He Was, What He Said, and How it Came True, by Kevin J. Todeschi.]
Visit the official site of the A.R.E. at www.edgarcayce.org