Edgar Cayce (March 18, 1877 – January 3, 1945) was an American mystic who allegedly possessed the ability to answer questions on subjects as varied as healing, reincarnation, wars, Atlantis and future events while in a trance. These answers came to be known as “life readings of the entity” and were usually delivered to individuals while Cayce was hypnotized. This ability gave him the nickname “The Sleeping Prophet”. Cayce founded a nonprofit organization, the Association for Research and Enlightenment that included a hospital and a university.
Edgar Cayce was a man who, over the span of his lifetime, had more near-death experiences than anyone ever documented. Cayce learned that when he was hypnotized, he could leave his body and journey into the afterlife realms. Cayce made over 14,000 otherworldly journeys in his life and the information he gained from these journeys has astounded people all over the world. In 1910, the New York Times carried two pages of headlines and pictures in which he was declared the “World’s Most Mysterious Man” A national magazine ran an article titled, “Miracle Man of Virginia Beach”, and Cayce was swamped with an avalanche of 25,000 requests for medical help. President Woodrow Wilson sought the services of Edgar Cayce for healing and guidance while he was President and conceiving the idea of the League of Nations.
Cayce is also considered to be the father of holistic medicine by JAMA, the prestigious medical journal. Cayce was a wonder to the medical community because of his ability to diagnose and specify a treatment for gravely ill people often hundreds of miles away through his out-of-body journeys. Cayce was able to gain a tremendous amount of information through his frequent NDEs. Much of this information solved some of the greatest mysteries of humanity. Hundreds of books have been written about him and his life readings for individuals. Though Cayce himself was a member of the Disciples of Christ and lived before the emergence of the New Age Movement, some consider him the true founder and a principal source of its most characteristic beliefs. Cayce became a celebrity toward the end of his life, and he believed the publicity given to his prophecies overshadowed the more important parts of his work, such as healing the sick and studying religion.
Throughout his life, Cayce was drawn to church as a member of the Disciples of Christ. He read 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 departed relatives. In his early years he agonized over whether these psychic abilities were spiritually delivered from the highest source.
In 1900, Cayce formed a business partnership with his father to sell Woodmen of the World Insurance; however, in March he was struck by severe laryngitis that resulted in a complete loss of speech. Unable to work, he lived at home 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 at the photography studio of W.R. Bowles in Hopkinsville and eventually became quite talented in his trade.
In 1901, a traveling stage hypnotist and entertainer named Hart, who referred to himself as “The Laugh Man”, was performing at the Hopkinsville Opera House. Hart heard about Cayce’s condition and offered to attempt a cure. Cayce accepted his offer and the experiment took place on stage in front of an audience. Cayce’s voice allegedly returned while in a hypnotic trance but disappeared on awakening. Hart tried a posthypnotic suggestion that the voice would continue to function after the trance, but this 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 nature of his condition and cure while in a hypnotic trance. Cayce described his own ailment from a first person plural point of view, “we” instead of the singular “I”. In subsequent sessions when Cayce wanted to indicate that the connection was made to the “entity” of the person that was requesting the reading, he would generally start off with “We have the body”. According to the reading for the entity of Cayce, his voice loss was due to psychological paralysis and could be corrected by increasing the blood flow to the voice box. Layne suggested that the blood flow be increased and Cayce’s face supposedly became flushed with blood and both his chest and throat turned bright red. After 20 minutes Cayce, still in a trance, declared the treatment over. On awakening his voice was alleged to have remained normal. Apparently, relapses occurred, but were said to have been corrected by 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 Franz Mesmer, and was keen to explore the limits of the healing knowledge involved with the trance voice. He asked Cayce to describe Layne’s own ailments and suggest cures and reportedly found the results both accurate and effective. Layne suggested that Cayce offer his trance healing to the public. Cayce was reluctant, but he finally agreed on the condition that readings 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. Cayce stated he could work just as effectively using a letter from the individual as with the person being present in the room. Given only the person’s name and location, Cayce said he could diagnose the physical and mental conditions of what he termed “the entity” and then provide a remedy. Cayce soon became famous and people from around the world sought his advice through correspondence.
Cayce’s work grew in volume as his fame grew. He asked for voluntary donations to support himself 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, and the game is still sold today. He continued to work in an apparent trance state with a hypnotist 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 popularity he received from newspapers attracted several eager commercially-minded men who wanted to seek a fortune by using Cayce’s clairvoyant abilities. Even though Cayce was reluctant to help them, he was persuaded to give his readings, which left him dissatisfied with himself and unsuccessful. A cotton merchant offered Cayce a hundred dollars a day for his 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 while others wanted to know the outcome of horse races. Several times he was persuaded to give such readings as an experiment. However, when he used his ability for such purposes, he did no better than chance alone would dictate. These experiments allegedly left him depleted of energy, distraught, and unsatisfied with himself. Finally, he decided to use his gift only to help the distressed and sick.
In 1923, Arthur Lammers, a wealthy printer and 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 lives and of reincarnation, something Lammers believed in. Reincarnation was a popular subject of the day but not an accepted part of Christian doctrine. Because of this, Cayce questioned his stenographer about what he said in his trance state and remained unconvinced. He challenged Lammers’ charge that he had validated astrology and reincarnation in the following dialogue:
Cayce: I said all that?… I couldn’t have said 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 the facts you gave, to check what is right and what is wrong with a whole lot of the stuff I’ve been reading. The important thing is that the basic system which runs through all the mystery religions, whether they come from Tibet or the pyramids of Egypt, is backed up 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, meaning the ability to enter again into the presence of the Creator and become a full part of that creation.
Insofar as this entity is concerned, this is the third appearance on this plane, and before this one, as the monk. We see glimpses in the life of the entity now as were shown in the monk, in this mode of living. The body is only the vehicle ever of that spirit and soul that waft through all times and ever remain the same.
Cayce was quite unconvinced that he had been referring to the doctrine of reincarnation, and the best Lammers could offer was that the reading “opens up the door” and to go on to share his beliefs and knowledge with Cayce. Lammers had come to him with quite a bit of information of his own to share with Cayce and seemed intent upon convincing Cayce now that he felt the reading had confirmed his strongly-held beliefs. It should be noted, however, that 12 years earlier Cayce had briefly alluded to reincarnation. In reading 4841-1, given April 22, 1911, Cayce referred to the soul being “transmigrated”. Because Cayce’s readings were not systematically recorded until 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 readings of reincarnations were going against his biblical teachings and at one point he wanted to cease his channeling sessions. Once again Cayce lost his voice and in a reading for himself he was informed if Cayce was no longer going to be a channel, his mission in this life was complete. Ultimately his trance voice, the “we” of the readings, dialogued with Cayce and finally persuaded him to continue with these kinds of readings. It was at this time Cayce directed his activities to provide readings centred around health. The remedies that were channeled 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 coming under the scrutiny of the American Medical Association and Cayce felt that it was time to legitimize the operations with the aid of licensed medical practitioners. In 1925 Cayce 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 would have curative properties to promote rapid healing.
Cayce’s mature period, in which he created the several institutions that would survive him, can be considered to have started in 1925. By this time he was a professional psychic with a small staff of employees and volunteers. The readings increasingly came to involve occult or esoteric themes.
In 1929 the Cayce hospital was established in Virginia Beach, sponsored by a Morton Blumenthall, a recipient of the trance readings. Blumenthall was a wealthy New York stockbroker who had the most extensive readings with Cayce, some 468. He is said to have made considerable gains through insights into the stock market’s futures until it crashed that year. This event caused Blumenthall to withdraw his funding and the hospital eventually closed its doors shortly after.
The depression years saw Cayce turn his attention to spiritual teachings. In 1931, Edgar Cayce’s friends and family asked him how they could become psychic like him. Out of this seemingly simple 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 become psychic, but to become a more spiritually aware and loving person. Study Group #1 was told that they could “bring light to a waiting world” and that these lessons would still be studied a hundred years into the future. The readings were now about dreams, coincidence (synchronicity), developing intuition, karma, the akashic records, astrology, past-life relationships, soul mates and 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 article in the magazine Coronet titled “Miracle Man of Virginia Beach”. World War II was taking its toll on American soldiers and he felt he could not refuse the families who requested help for their loved ones that were missing in action. He increased the frequency of his readings 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 fatigued him. The readings themselves scolded him for attempting too much and that he should limit his workload to just two life readings a day or else these good efforts would eventually kill him.
Edgar Cayce suffered a stroke at the age of 67, in September 1944, and died on January 3, 1945. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
Cayce has variously been referred to as a “prophet” (cf. Jess Stearn’s book, The Sleeping Prophet), a “mystic” and a “seer”. While giving a reading for a seeker, he at times referred to consulting the Akashic Record (the etheric imprint) of that soul’s experience. The only biography written during Cayce’s lifetime was There is a River, by Thomas Joseph Sugrue.
Cayce’s methods involved lying down and entering into a sleep state, usually at the request of a subject who was seeking help with health or other personal problems. Subjects would not normally be present, and their questions would be given to Cayce, who would then proceed with a reading. Initial readings dealt primarily with 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 saying that he had given 8,056 readings as of that date and it is known that he gave approximately 13,000–14,000 readings after that date. Today, a total of 14,306 are available at A.R.E. Cayce headquarters in Va. Beach and an online member-only section along with background information, correspondence, and follow-up documentation.
When out of the trance, Cayce would not remember what he had said during the reading. The unconscious mind, according to Cayce, has access to information that the conscious mind does not—a common assumption about hypnosis in Cayce’s time. After Gladys Davis became Cayce’s secretary on September 10, 1923, all readings were preserved and his wife, Gertrude Evans Cayce, generally guided the readings. Cayce said that his trance statements should be 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 on faith.
Other abilities that have been attributed to 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 about these subjects after he was informed about the content of his readings, which he reported that he never actually heard himself. Although Cayce seemed to have acquired the ability to correctly diagnose an illness in the individual, he was often incorrect in his predictions of a distant future. He stressed that the future is determined by man’s free will and our collective actions shape the destiny of mankind for better or for worse. For a summary of some of his future predictions that did materialize, see here:
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, prescribed dietary regimens, dealt with psychic disorders, and predicted future events such as wars, earthquakes, and changes in governments. He spoke, moreover, of reincarnations, the early history of Israel, and the lost civilization of Atlantis. Enough of his diagnoses and predictions proved true to silence many skeptics and to develop a wide following.”
A YouTube channel is dedicated to Edgar Cayce:
Some Quotes from Edgar Cayce:
“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.”
“There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, it doesn’t behoove any of us to speak evil of the rest of us.”
“Great numbers of children will be born who understand electronics and atomic power as well as other forms of energy. They will grow into scientists and engineers of a new age which has the power to destroy civilization unless we learn to live by spiritual laws.”
“A soulmate is an ongoing connection with another individual that the soul picks up again in various times and places over lifetimes. We are attracted to another person at a soul level not because that person is our unique complement, but because by being with that individual, we are somehow provided with an impetus to become whole ourselves.”
“If you learn music you’ll learn most all there is to know.”
“In every person of whatever station look not for things to criticize, but for something you adore in your Creator.”
“Birth in the physical is death in the spiritual. Death in the physical is birth in the spiritual.”
“Mind is indeed the Builder . . . what is held in the act of mental vision becomes a reality in the material experience. We are gradually builded to that image created within our own mental being.”
“Individuals do not meet by chance. They are necessary in the experiences of others, though they may not always use their opportunities in a spiritual way or manner.”
“First, know thine own ideal – spiritual, mental and material; not as to what ye would have others do, but what ye would do for others.”
“For resentments of any nature bring their fruit in the physical.”
“The entity should attempt, – seriously, prayerfully, spiritually, – to see even that as might be called the ridiculous side of every question, – the humor in same. Remember that a good laugh, an arousing even to what might in some be called hilariousness, is good for the body, physically, mentally, and gives the opportunity for greater mental and spiritual awakening.”
“For all that ye may ever keep is just what you give away, and that you give away is advice, counsel, manner of life you live yourself.” The manner in which you treat your fellow man, your patience, your brotherly love, your kindness, your gentleness. That you give away, that is all that ye may possess in those other realms of consciousness.”
“For as we forgive, we are forgiven; as we condemn others, we are ourselves condemned. Thus in patience condemn not, neither find fault; not condoning, not agreeing, but let thine own life so shine that others, seeing thy patience, knowing thy understanding, comprehending thy peace, may take hope.”
“Keep the body – or keep the mind, and it will keep the body! – in a constructive manner. That is, think the pleasant things, even when the outlook may be the darkest. Do not allow the little things that are hindrances make for irritating, or to hurt the feelings. For naturally the body is sensitive to feelings of others, through the overflow of those activities in the sympathetic system. But know that God is! Know that He protects those who put their trust in Him; that what is necessary will be supplied thee if ye will keep joyous, keep happy, keep in that way of constructive forces throughout!”
“For all prayer is answered. Don’t tell God how to answer it. Make thy wants known to Him. Live as if ye expected them to be answered. For He has given, “What ye ask in my name, believing, that will my Father in heaven give to thee.”
“For, none may tell another how to be beautiful. It must be the reflection of that entertained in the heart and mind of the individual. And as He is beauty, He is friendship, He is love, the more and the nearer individuals reflect that in their conversation, in their dealings with their fellow man, the greater the glory to Him.”
“As there has been given, dreams are of different natures, and have their inception from influences either in the body, in the mind, or from the realm of activity without the body through the desires and purposes of the soul itself.”
“Each one who has a soul has a psychic power–but remember, brother, there are no shortcuts to God!”
“This is harder than it first appears: Try in thine own experience, each; that ye speak not for one whole day unkindly of any; that ye say not a harsh word to any, about any; and see what [such] a day would bring to you . . .”
“Be happy–be in the attitude of ever being helpful to others. This will bring that peace within that is the promise from Him.”
“As the soul seeks, then, for that which is the sustenance of the body—as what the food is to a developing, a growing body, so are the words of truth (which are life, which are love, which are God) sought that make for growth, even as the digesting of the material things in a body make for a growth. This growth may not be felt in the consciousness of materialization. It is experienced by the consciousness of the soul… Feed, then, upon the fruits of the spirit. Love, hope, joy, mercy, long-suffering, brotherly love, and the contact, the growth, will be seen; and within the consciousness of the soul will the awareness come of the personality of the God in thee!”
“To express love in thine activities to thy neighbor is the greater service that a soul may give in this mundane sphere.”
“But the less one thinks of self’s opinions, and the better listener one becomes, greater may be the opportunities for being of help or benefit to those about the entity.”
“Anyone can find fault. It is the wise person who finds that which encourages another in the turmoils and strifes of the day.”
“Don’t put the material first, for you have to live with yourself a long, long while! Become acquainted with yourself. Know yourself and the relationship to the Creative Forces.”
“For, know that each soul constantly meets its own self. No problem may be run away from. Meet it now!”
“In the beginning all souls were as a unity to the God-Force. As self added or subtracted that which was in keeping with God’s purpose, ye added or subtracted from the blessings ye might be conscious of in materiality. Thus karma is builded. And the law is perfect – what ye sow, ye reap.”
“Know in self that in giving a helpful influence, the magnifying of virtues in others and the minimizing of faults is the beginning of wisdom in dealing with others.”
“There is today, every day, set before thee good and evil, life and death–choose thou. For only self can separate you from the love of the Father. For it should be manifested to thee that thou art conscious in a living world, aware of suffering, of sorrow, of joy, of pleasure. These, to be sure, are the price one pays for having will, knowledge. But let that knowledge be spent in a way and manner to help others. For as ye do to thy fellow man ye do to thy Maker.”
“For a man is a little lower than the angels, yet was made that he might become the companion of the Creative Forces; and thus was given–in the breath of life–the individual soul, the stamp of approval as it were of the Creator; with the ability to know itself to be itself, and to make itself, as one with the Creative Forces–irrespective of other influences.”
“Know that whatever experience ye have in the material sojourns for a purpose. Know that it is not by chance that ye are in a material or earthly consciousness in the present. For know that all activities of the mind, of the body, must be based upon spiritual things.”
“Thus the purpose of each experience is that the entity may magnify and glorify that which is good. For, good is of the one source, God, and is eternal.Then as an individual entity magnifies that which is good, and minimizes that which is false, it grows in grace, in knowledge, in understanding.”
“Then, to be able to remember the sunset, to be able to remember a beautiful conversation, a beautiful deed done where hope and faith were created, to remember the smile of a babe, the blush of a rose, the harmony of a song–a bird’s call; these are creative. For if they are a part of thyself, they bring you closer and closer to God.”
“For until ye are willing to lose thyself in service, ye may not indeed know that peace which He has promised to give–to all.”
“You get to heaven on the arms of people you have helped.”
“Know that the fault ye find in others is a reflection of a fault in thyself. Be to others just as you would have others be to thee, and ye will remove much of that.”
“How can we discriminate between selfish and unselfish desires? As to what has motivated and does motivate the desire. If it is for the self, or for the glorification of the Christ Consciousness in thine experience. That this or that may appear to self as being well, if such and such an experience were thine own. But, as has been given, each soul may find in self an answer to that it seeks or desires to know from what source it(the desire) has originated, or is in its impelling force. First ask self in the physical consciousness, and answer – and find an answer – yes or no. Then enter into the inner self through meditation and prayer, and seek the answer there.”
“Meditate, oft. Separate thyself for a season from the cares of the world. Get close to nature and learn from the lowliest of that which manifests in nature, in the earth; in the birds, in the trees, in the grass, in the flowers, in the bees; that the life of each is a manifesting, is a song of glory to its Maker. And do thou likewise!”
“What one thinks continually, they become; what one cherishes in their heart and mind they make a part of the pulsation of their heart, through their own blood cells, and build in their own physical, that which its spirit and soul must feed upon, and that with which it will be possessed, when it passes into the realm for which the other experiences of what it has gained here in the physical plane, must be used.”
“For as is indicated in the law that changes not, the manner in which ye treat thy fellowman, ye are treating thy Maker. Thus each individual soul-entity meets its ownself and must give an account for the deeds done in the body and in the body-mind. For that ye thinketh in thy heart, so are ye.”