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Edgar Cayce
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Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce (March 18, 1877 - 1945) was born near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, raised on a farm, and as a young man became a photographer in Selma, Alabama. Cayce is best known for his claimed psychic abilities. He would tell people that, as a young boy, he stunned his parents by being able to sleep on any book and then know the complete contents. This story has no evidence.

Cayce was called "the sleeping prophet" as he closed his eyes, seemingly in a trance, as he did his "readings."

Table of contents
1 Readings
2 Illiterate?
3 His presumed abilities
4 More on Readings, Former Lives and Conflict with Christian Doctrine
5 A Reading About the Readings Themselves and Religion
6 Skeptics respond
7 Final words
8 External Links
9 References


Although there were many innacuracies and predictions that did'nt occur, Edgar Cayce is primarily known for the thousands of readings that were given under an unconscious guided hypnotic state.

In the beginning the readings were medical, describing the nature of a sickness or diagnosis and a cure. He would be put under hypnosis, be given the name of the afflicted and ask to describe the sickness and a cure. Seekers sought Cayce's help only as a last resort. As the readings progressed, there were hints of controversial concepts of Karma and Reincarnation, until there were direct questions on these matters.

In the latter stages of the readings, there were mentions of life in Atlantis, former lives, life in Ancient Rome, future predictions, etc.. Adherents claim historical accuracy. Skeptics claim otherwise. For many thousands, the readings had a powerful impact on attitudes, beliefs , health practices, outlook on life, matters of faith, etc. and the readings provided an effective working concept of the principles of Karma and reincarnation with references to biblical quotes and principles.


In 1910 Dr. Wesley Ketchum submitted an article to the American Society of Clinical Research mentioning Cayce's abilities. With the publication of an October 9, 1910 New York Times article entitled "Illiterate Man Becomes A Doctor When Hypnotized," Cayce's career as a psychic and healer began in earnest. People began to visit him at his house in Kentucky.

The story about Cayce's illiteracy happens to be an urban legend — while having no formal schooling much past grammar school, he was quite well read, and was a smart man; the Skeptic's Dictionary (references) calls him a "voracious reader," though much of what he read was "occult and osteopathic literature." In fact, he worked at a bookstore which specialized in texts on osteopathy and natural medicine. He was also an avid Bible reader.

His presumed abilities

Some of the abilities Cayce is reported to have had include:

More on Readings, Former Lives and Conflict with Christian Doctrine

To achieve what he said was the proper state of mind for his abilities, Cayce rested daily on a couch with his eyes closed, where he would sleep, as if in a trance. Once in that state he could reply calmly to questions asked by those present in the room. This daily sleep session was called a "reading". Over a period of 43 years 14,000 of his readings were recorded on paper by an assistant (at first his wife).

Whilst the great bulk of the early readings concerned medical diagnoses and associated treatments (where his approach was holistic), Cayce's handlers soon decided that Cayce apparently had wide and deep abilities (during trance). Later readings range through many issues, including the structure of reality, reincarnation, etc.

Cayce had difficulty adjusting to and believing some of the views that he was reported to have expressed during trance. For example, having been raised a devout Christian (who read the Bible from start to finish each year of his life), for a long time he was reluctant to accept the opinion (expressed in trance) that reincarnation was a reality. To some extent the circle was squared for him when he expressed the view (again in trance) that the Essenes (an early Christian group) had believed in reincarnation but that that view was expunged from the Bible following a papal council decision in around 500 AD.

Essene belief in reincarnation is debatable; as with ancient Egyptian religion, New Agers may be confusing these cultures' beliefs in an immortal soul and an afterlife with belief in reincarnation.

During a hypnosis session, Cayce claimed a former life as Ra Ta, an Egyptian healer-priest who was the product of an immaculate conception. He said he'd worked with Jesus Christ, then incarnated as Hermes-Thoth Hermes Trismegistus, and together they'd designed the Great Pyramid. Cayce may also have "seen" former incarnations of Jesus Christ in the following:

His son, Evans Cayce published a book in 1968, Edgar Cayce On Atlantis, a collection of his readings made in the 1920s.

A Reading About the Readings Themselves and Religion

One of Cayce's trance statements implies that knowledge about about all Cayce readings is not needed if a person is well grounded in one's faith: "Does it make one a better husband, a better bussinessman, a better neighbour, a better artist, a better churchman, if so cleave to it, if not reject it." Despite teachings of one's faith, people still engage in revenge, bitterness, violence, etc.. "Karmically, wonderful things can happen if one follows the teaching 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'". The Inquisition, the Inca genocide, etc. were executed in the name of religion, but are incompatible with the concept of a God of infinite love or brotherhood and, according to the readings, these incidents incurred severe Karmic retributions. The readings also warn against the misuse of religion for personal gain. 'God is not mocked' is an often quoted verse in the readings.

Skeptics respond

Many doubt Cayce's claims, noting times when his predictions proved inaccurate. He predicted that 1933 would be a good year, when in fact it was the very year that the Great Depression got under way in earnest, and that China convert to Christianity by 1968. He and a dowser once went searching buried treasure on the seashore, finding nothing. Psychic believers defended him, saying treasure had been buried there before and dug up, or it would be buried there in the future.

Cayce's monumental failure to help locate the kidnapped son of aviator Charles Lindbergh was never publicised by the metaphysical or New Age communities, but it was well known to police investigators. Many of his healing recipes included ingredients that didn't exist. Others were folk remedies, some well known to today's herbalists and naturopaths, but many others based on superstition rather than nutrient value. For example, "oil of smoke" turns out to be an old-time name for beechwood creosote, a popular remedy for psoriasis, but "the raw side of a freshly skinned rabbit, still warm with blood, fur side out, placed on the breast for cancer of that area" is not only gross but totally ineffective.

His sessions were transcribed by a stenographer, but no record was ever made distinguishing what Cayce himself independently said, what was the information provided in the letters, and what his handlers -- physicians, osteopaths and hypnotists -- told him. So we cannot say that Cayce ever made an accurate diagnosis without knowing anything about the person at the other end. What we do know is that by the time he got some of the letters, the person had died, and instead of reporting this, he went right on diagnosing and prescribing as though the person were still alive.

While some of his diagnoses seemed to be accurate, more often than not they were worthless. He failed to heal his own wife and infant son; both died.

Cayce was also the father of the "Earth Changes" predictions. Another failed prophecy, the "Earth Changes" involved massive earthquakes, flood-ins and other catastrophic natural phenomena which were to affect the eastern US and Japan in particular. There would supposedly be a "polar shift" in which the North and South Poles would trade places. By the year 2000, Cayce predicted, the ocean would invade North America as far as Idaho and Kansas, leaving a trail of islands to the west, just in time for the return of Jesus Christ. By 2001, we should have discovered the Atlantean library preserved in a secret chamber in the Great Pyramid, and we should now be living in an era of unparalleled peace and harmony.

He also said US scientists would discover a death ray from Atlantis in 1958. George Pal's 1961 film Atlantis, the Lost Continent seems to be at least partly based on Cayce's story of how Atlantis fell through misuse of "The Great Crystal".

Skeptics also cite the supposed vagueness in his language while using his psychic abilities. Martin Gardner cites an example of a Cayce reading from when Cayce's wife had tuberculosis:

.... from the head, pains along through the body from the second, fifth and sixth dorsals, and from the first and second lumbar...tie-ups here, floating lesions, or lateral lesions, in the muscular and nerve fibers which supply the lower end of the lung and the diaphragm...in conjunction with the sympathetic nerve of the solar plexus, coming in conjunction with the solar plexus at the end of the stomach....

Cayce used the word lung, and this his followers take as a correct diagnosis; i.e., a psychic "hit." But what of all the words he used that were not "hits?"

Cayce was also the first medical "authority" to recommend laetrile as a cure for cancer. Laetrile contains highly toxic cyanide and has been proven inffective as a cancer cure.

In fairness to Cayce, he was likely not a conscious fraud such as Uri Geller, and honestly believed he had a gift, but he is considered a fraud, if a well-meaning one.

Final words

The subject matter of many Cayce readings would later become commonly known practices of some elements of the New Age movement.

In 1931 Edgar Cayce founded the Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. (A.R.E.) headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Today there are Edgar Cayce Centers in 18 other countries thoughout the world.

Believers think it unfair to judge Cayce a well-intentioned fraud based on the analysis of this article. There have been many thousands of people who have found Cayce's predictions, prognostications, and experiences as valid in their lives.

External Links