1 - The
It was like any other day for Edgar Cayce.
He went to sleep, by
merely lying down and closing his eyes, and then he started to talk
in his sleep. But when he awakened a half-hour or so later, he
realized from the faces of those around him that he must have said
something very extraordinary. And he had. In trance, on that hot,
sultry day of August 1941, in the same voice that he would have
prescribed an innocent herb for somebody with the sniffles, he had
predicted the destruction of most of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and
The greatest mystic America had ever known reacted philosophically
to his Cassandra-like prophecy. In the past, he had foreseen great
wars and holocausts, and they had come to pass. From his own
“readings,” which had helped thousands, he had come to believe in an
endless cycle of life, and though he could consciously grieve for
those who knew sorrow or pain in this lifetime, he felt it was all
part of God’s plan. And so it was with a shake of the head and a
shrug that he dismissed the forecast.
“What do you make of that?” he
said, scratching his head, “I hope it’s wrong, but it’s never been
“It” was the subconscious information, apparently the
product of a Universal Mind, which had been streaming through him
for forty years, and which were rather incongruously known as
Cayce’s forecast had come quite inadvertently, out of the same blue
that produced his amazingly accurate diagnoses of ailing people whom
he had never seen, and their consequent cures. As with other Cayce
predictions, many of them already startlingly confirmed, the
forecast was in response to a question that had little or nothing to
do with the original request for the reading.
A New York
businessman, concerned not only by the continuing strain of big city
life, but the threat of wartime bombing, had said to Cayce,
for many months felt that I should move out of New York.”
well, as indicated,” the slumbering Cayce observed.
“There is too
much unrest; there will continue to be the character of vibrations
that to the body will be disturbing, and eventually those
destructive forces, though these will be in the next generation.”
The businessman asked:
“Will Los Angeles be safe?”
The answer came clearly, directly, without equivocation,
Angeles, San Francisco, most all of these will be among those that
will be destroyed before New York even.”
The mechanics of this
destruction was neither asked, nor given. However, in keeping with
other prognostications of Cayce’s, it would appear that the
destruction—if it comes—will be through the agency of Nature, and
not the Bomb, unless, of course, it would be the Bomb that touched
off a natural catastrophe.
The predicted destruction in this country, part of the general Cayce
forecast of sweeping upheavals around the world, has been tabbed for
the period beginning in 1958, and extending to the end of the
century, when a new millennium will hopefully begin.
Some of these
preliminary changes, in the Mediterranean and the South Pacific, and
in Alaska, have apparently already taken place, with Connecticut,
New England, Alabama, Georgia, Japan, and northern Europe, among
others still to be sharply affected. But it may be a comfort to
many, as more than one geologist has noted, that the many
cataclysmic events predicted by Cayce are out of harmony with the
standard geological concept of uniformitarianism or gradual change.
On the other hand, at least one leading geologist, erstwhile head of
a college geology department, has checked out the Cayce readings,
and sees as eminently possible the drastic earth changes merging out
of Cayce’s stated cause—the tilting of the earth’s rotational axis,
beginning far below the crust of the earth in 1936.
Cayce had a flair for prophecy and some even interpret a reading in
1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II in Europe, as
foreshadowing the current war in Vietnam.
“Before that we find the
entity [the complex of body, soul and spirit] was in the land now
known as or called Indochina. ... There we find the entity was one
in authority, one in power, in that city that must be unfolded to
the minds, if there is not the greater war over same.”
It was a
disjointed excerpt from a past life reading, a Cayce specialty, and
could be applied, if the French-Indochina war, which took the French
out of Vietnam, was the lesser war. But one usually didn’t have to
look this hard for signs of Cayce predictions come true. He had
foreseen, correctly, virtually every major world crisis, from before
World War I, through the uneasy years of the League of Nations, and
beyond through World War II, whose end he had predicted for 1945,
the year of his own death.
In the intervals, casually, while reading psychically for
individuals, he picked off earthquakes, storms, volcanic eruptions.
He not only saw far a field, but close at home, where his
predictions making Norfolk-Newport News a preeminent port, greater
even than New York, have rather remarkably materialized, along with
his pinpointing of a local realty boom to the very year, nearly
fifteen years after his own death.
Through the clear channel of his subconscious he peered down the
corridors of time into the troubled international scene, describing
the future of Russia, China, Japan, England, the United States. He
foresaw England losing India, when nobody else did; he saw a free
India unloved, because it was unloving, and he tied in the end of
Communism with another and more astonishing prediction of a free God
fearing Russia. What he saw for China, eventual democratization, is
certainly not being predicted, logically, anywhere else, and for an
America, unconquerable, except through internal strife, he saw
eventual world leadership, shared with another power, as the center
of civilization gradually gravitated westward.
To me, Cayce was no new phenomenon. I had “discovered” him
originally, five years before, in preparing my book, The Door to the
Future. I had become familiar with many of his prophecies, his
remarkable way of apparently traveling in time and space to treat
the ill; his concept of reincarnation, with its concept of many
lives for the same soul spirit. Cayce seemed gifted with a Universal
Mind, which seemingly drew on a subconscious register of everything
that had ever happened or was going to happen.
It seemed an incredible quality, but as one studied Cayce, as he
would any other individual, work or phenomenon, checking as he could
with the evidence on hand, it became apparent that Cayce somehow,
some way, was able to look inside of everything that fell into the
realm of his unconscious the human body and soul, the earth, the
Universe itself. He was the man with the X-ray eyes. In my current
research, I soon became aware that the Cayce influence was stronger
now than in his lifetime.
It was almost as though a self-limiting
world, softened up by flights to the moon, laser rays and
television, was catching up posthumously to the sage who had
sleep-talked of a forgotten civilization, technologically comparable
with our own—the
Lost Continent of Atlantis, a visionary experience
shared with that great figure of antiquity, the philosopher Plato.
Twenty years after his death, the mystic’s life work was thriving,
slowly and painfully collected from thousands of readings and left
as bis legacy in the files of the Association for Research and
Enlightenment in Virginia Beach.
Scorned, generally, by the medical
profession while alive, the dead Cayce, and his readings on disease,
was now a magnet for the inquiring minds of distinguished medical
“Cayce,” one medical authority reported, “was one
hundred years ahead of his tune, medically, and one day we may
rewrite the textbooks on physiology and anatomy to conform with his
concept of health flowing out of a perfect harmony of blood, lymph,
glands and nerves.”
Years before psychosomatic medicine, Cayce
stressed that tensions and strains were responsible for stomach
In a benign Nature, he saw the remedy for any health deviation or
illness man was heir to, though, at the same time, he realized that
not everyone could be helped when their time was at hand. Thirty
years before the revelation of a rabbit serum “cure” for cancer
blazoned across the country’s front pages in 1966, Cayce had
prescribed such a serum for cancer cases, and described how it
should be prepared. However, as he recommended it in only five cases
of the seventy-eight he diagnosed as cancer, in his schemata it was
obviously only helpful for certain cancers.
In the years since his death, five hundred healers of every
description—MDs, osteopaths, chiropractors, physiotherapists have
familiarized themselves with his methods, and in such diverse areas
as Virginia, New York, Michigan, Arizona, Connecticut, and
California, people who could get no help elsewhere are being
successfully treated out of his readings. One woman was cured of a
vaginal tumor by a therapist who had studied his Cayce well; again,
dramatically, I learned of a man cured of incurable psoriasis, by a
voice from the dead, so to speak. I sat and marveled, watching a
distinguished American composer, a semi-invalid only a short time
before, rolling around on the floor, doing the Cayce-inspired
exercises that had magically loosened the arthritic joints of his
shoulders, arms, and fingers. He was a new man, he told me
gratefully, thanks to the dead Cayce.
There was little question of Cayce’s healing force, for I was able
to check this out with the hopelessly ill who had been helped. I
spoke to therapists, principally osteopaths, whom he did not
consciously know, to whom in his lifetime he directed patients. He
had told one Staten Island mother, with an ailing child, “Find
Dobbins,” and her steps finally took her to a young osteopath, Dr.
Frank Dobbins, so newly arrived to Staten Island that his name was
not yet in the New York City telephone directory. And just as Cayce
had not consciously known of him, so Dobbins had never heard of
Cayce. The prescriptions he recommended were often as
Some had a dozen different ingredients, many of
which the average pharmacist had never heard of, and yet Cayce
himself was completely unschooled, never having gone beyond the
sixth grade in his native Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Often the
preparations were completely unknown.
Once, for instance, he had recommended clary water for a man
troubled with rheumatism. No druggist had heard of it. So the
subject took an advertisement in a trade paper, asking how it might
be obtained or compounded. From Paris, seeing the ad, a man wrote
that his father had developed the product, but that production had
been discontinued nearly fifty years before.
He enclosed a copy of
the original prescription. "You may have it duplicated if you wish.”
Meanwhile, Cayce had made a check reading, asking himself in trance
how clary water could be made. His new information tallied exactly
with the prescription from Paris.
How did he do it?
Dr. Wesley H. Ketchum, an MD with an orthodox
background, but an eclectic approach, used Cayce as an adjunct to
his practice for several years, styling him a Psychic Diagnostician,
and he told an intrigued medical audience how Cayce functioned,
according to Cayce’s own description of his powers.
“Edgar Cayce’s mind,” Ketchum told a skeptical Boston medical group,
“is amenable to suggestion, as are all other subconscious minds, but
in addition it has the power to interpret what it acquires from the
subconscious mind of other individuals. The subconscious mind
forgets nothing. The conscious mind receives the impression from
without and transfers all thoughts to the subconscious, where it
remains even though the conscious be destroyed.”
Long before the
humanist Jung advanced his concept of the collective unconscious,
Cayce was apparently practicing what Jung only postulate.
subconscious,” Ketchum elaborated, “is in direct communication with
all other subconscious minds, and is capable of interpreting through
his objective mind and imparting impressions received to other
objective minds, gathering in this way all knowledge possessed by
endless millions of other subconscious minds.”
Ketchum, who is still alive, and living in California, was
particularly impressed because Cayce correctly told him he didn’t
have appendicitis, when seven doctors insisted he did advising
surgery. Cayce attributed the attacks to a wrenched spine, which had
caused nerve impingements and peripheral pains, and recommended
osteopathic adjustments. With Cayce’s treatment, the condition
cleared, and Ketchum was never troubled with “appendicitis” again.
He had no quarrel with the doctors, for he had diagnosed his own
case similarly—appendicitis. As one examined his work, Cayce
appeared to be not only healer but counselor and philosopher.
before his time, he was aware that most bodily illness was born of
the mine, of emotional frustrations, resentments, anger. He advised
one woman to cleanse herself physically and mentally.
mental in the attitude of constructive forces. See in every
individual that which is hopeful, helpful. Do not look for others’
faults, but rather for their virtues, and the virtues in self will
become magnified. For what we think upon, that we become.” He told
another woman bothered with chronic colds; “Instead of resentments,
love; instead of snuffing, blow.”
It worked. She didn’t have another
cold for years, and her disposition today is sunny, her complexion
the schoolgirl pink of a teenager, though she is in her sixties.
He applied the same philosophy to nations, stressing that as the
body warred on itself, so did countries, feeding on jealousy malice,
hate. Once asked what could be done by the American people to bring
about a lasting peace, he replied:
"We haven’t the American people
[here at the reading]. The thing is to start with yourself. Unless
you can bring about within yourself that which you would have in the
nation or in any particular land, don’t offer it to others.”
As sound as he may have been medically, this was evidence of but one
phase of his powers.
There were those who thought that if Cayce was
subconsciously infallible in this one respect, he was right in all
respects, since the source was necessarily the same.
“Why,” said a
grizzled old sea captain, whom Cayce had correctly diagnosed at a
distance of a thousand miles, “why should he be so right about the
cure for my aching back, and be wrong about anything else?”
It was a question that I had to ask myself many times, as I looked
into many of the other marvels he talked about in sleep: his truly
earth-shaking prophecies and forecasts of world affairs, Atlantis,
reincarnation, his detailed description of past geological changes
that had caused entire continents to disappear. There was another
intriguing point. Why, too, if he had unlimited powers of
divination, had he not made himself wealthy, exploring for oil or
gold, playing the races or the market, instead of being wretchedly
poor most of his life?
Ironically, others did make fortunes out of his stock market
readings; others did find oil, where he said it would be, and
others, reportedly, won on the horses. But Cayce himself had never
profited. Perhaps the answer lay in his own readings, which stressed
repeatedly, that they were not to be used for material gain. In the
end nobody gained, it seemed, when motivated only by gain.
A stockbroker lost his fortune, achieved through Cayce, when he
persisted in playing the market,
contrary to Cayce’s advice; a man who had won on the horses,
misusing the Cayce gift, wound up in an asylum. Yet Cayce was
uncannily accurate, predicting the 1929 stock market crash almost to
the month, and saying there was oil in Bade County, Florida, when
all anybody was thinking of was oranges and grapefruits, and
pinpointing the end of the Depression. As he considered his own
performance, Cayce felt that the stress on materiality was a
negative force, defeating what he thought a God-given purpose.
Whenever he read subconsciously for gain, his own or somebody
else’s, he suffered severe headaches, or in extreme cases, lapsed
into aphonia, loss of voice. There was a notable instance of this.
After the turn of the century, he had given a test demonstration,
describing to doctors in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the precise
movements of a real estate operator in New York, as he climbed up to
his office, smoking a cigar and whistling “Annie Laurie.” Since the
report tallied precisely with his actual movements, the realtor
immediately saw the possibilities. He took the next train for
His proposition was a simple one.
“I’ll take you back
with me,” he said, “and we’ll make a fortune on Wall Street.”
The newly married Cayce discussed it with his wife, Gertrude, a
moving force in his life, and she felt it would be an abuse of his
power, for which he would suffer.
“Once you get away from helping
people,” she said significantly, “it always makes you ill.”
When Cayce refused him, the New Yorker asked for a test reading. As
the man had traveled a considerable distance, Cayce agreed. He fell
into a trance, and when he awakened the man .had already left, with
an armful of notes. That night, Cayce tossed and turned, unable to
sleep. His head ached horribly. Later, that week, the explanation
materialized. The real estate operator, taking advantage of Cayce’s
unconsciousness, had picked his subconscious mind. On in formation
from the unsuspecting Cayce, he gleefully confided to friends, he
had cleaned up twenty thousand dollars on the market in one quick
After another demonstration, in which experimenting doctors thrust
needles in him to test whether he was actually in trance, Cayce
decided he would never give another reading, without somebody
present whom he could implicitly trust. That person was his wife,
Gertrude, who supervised thousands of readings thereafter.
With all his vaunted powers, Cayce was a humble man, religious,
God-fearing, who read the Bible every day of his life. He would see
anybody, at any time, if left to his own devices, though it was a
strain to do more than two readings a day.
He was twice arrested,
once for practicing medicine without a license, another time for
fortune-telling. Yet, he never gave a health reading, without an
express request, nor did he turn anybody away because they couldn’t
pay. When he was most hard-pressed pressed for money, during the
Depression, with unpaid bills piling up, his sponsoring group, the
Cayce Foundation, felt that clients who could afford it were
chiseling in not contributing to the A. R. E. treasury, a usual
requirement for a reading. This contribution was normally twenty
So a beleaguered finance committee, wishing to cut off the
chiselers put a leading question to the sleeping Cayce:
who cannot pay, free help shall be given. To those who may well
afford to pay and refuse to donate anything, either in services or
money, shall further aid be denied? In this policy shall we be
following the correct path?”
The answer must have been rather a disappointment to his chancellors
of the vanishing exchequer, but it was typical of Cayce:
falls on the just and unjust alike. Do not make such [denial to
anyone, for any reason] an ironclad rule.”
Awake or sleeping, Cayce was no ordinary man. He had a way of
putting people at their ease immediately, and strangers, otherwise
shy and retiring, would walk up to this slim, stoop-shouldered man,
with the kindly gaze, and shake his hand. Frequently, they would
talk to him across his desk, discussing the most ultimate problems,
or they would write from every corner of the globe, and he would
always write back, in a precise hand, which showed a clarity of
thought, even when the spelling wasn’t
He had a lively humor,
enjoying a joke on himself.
“Would you like to talk things over?” he
once asked a woman visitor. “Yes,” she answered, “but I want to hear
what you say when asleep, Mr. Cayce, not when you’re awake.”
The shyest children approached him, and Cayce thought nothing of
their friendliest overtures. It could very well be, he told himself
with a smile, that he had known them before. One day, for instance,
as he dropped into a Virginia Beach barber shop, a small boy
casually climbed onto his lap.
The father looked up from his haircut,
“You mustn’t bother that man,” he said. “He isn’t anybody you know.”
The boy’s arm tightened around Cayce’s neck. “But I do know him,” he
said. “We were hungry together at the river.”
This gave even Cayce a start. For a reading, that only his family
knew about, he had seen himself in a previous life on a raft on the
Ohio River, fleeing from a band of marauding Indians. The Indians
finally caught up to their quarry and massacred them, which was
probably just as well, for the were slowly starving to death anyway.
In the year 1923, Cayce’s direction took a startlingly new turn.
Until then he had only given the physical or health readings. But in
that year, prodded by the sharp questioning of Arthur Lammers, a
Dayton, Ohio, printer interested in religious philosophy, Cayce
began the life readings which traced man’s experience in past lives.
This was Cayce’s introduction to reincarnation, the soul’s return to
earth in a different body—a concept, ironically, he was not yet
ready to accept Lammers, preoccupied with man’s purpose in the
universe, had thrown all sorts of questions at the psychic with an
apparently endless fund of knowledge.
Lammers asked what every
sensitive man had been asking since the beginning of time:
“What is the human soul?
“Where does it come from, and where does it go?
“Is man but another of Nature’s creatures, put on earth for a brief
cycle, then turned to dust like the fallen trees?”
At these questions, the conscious Cayce could only shrug.
Bible,” he said, “the answer for everything lies there.”
Lammers grimaced. “I’ve read the Bible, and I’m still asking you.”
It had never occurred to Cayce to delve into the areas of life after
death, and as a fundamentalist born, he balked at a philosophy not
accepted by orthodox Christianity.
“Reincarnation,” Lammers argued,
“is simply a belief that the soul is eternal, at intervals appearing
again in other physical bodies, so that it can continue as an
instrument of its own development.”
He pointed out several Biblical
references that apparently showed acceptance of reincarnation.
“Those Jews who didn’t recognize Jesus as the
observed, “asked if he were Elias, here to herald the coming and the
Messiah and he replied that Elias bad already come and they knew him
He quoted from the Bible:
“’Then the disciples understood that
He spake unto them of John the Baptist’”
Cayce was not convinced,
but under the gentle prodding of Lammers and his friends, his
subconscious began invoking past life experiences. These took the
subjects back to not only such exotic known lands as ancient India,
China, Persia, and Egypt, but to such legendary places as Lost
Atlantis and sunken Lemuria in the Pacific. As these life readings
progressed, they became at times more interpretative than narrative.
Cayce outlined how past life experience had influenced the present,
and what fee individual must overcome to fulfill this life.
many reincarnationists, indulging In flights of fancy about
glamorous former incarnations, Cayce insisted that only one life
could be lived at a time.
“Life,” he said many tunes, “is for the
As he got deeper into life readings, he frequently spoke alien
languages in trance, chiefly the familiar Romance tongues. But once
asked to speak Greek, by a Greek scholar, he broke into Homeric
Greek, as though living in that period. Atlantis, of course, was
born of his flights into reincarnation, since so many had “lived”
there once before. In his discourses on Atlantis, describing its
progress and collapse, he said the last surviving islands had
disappeared in the area of the Caribbean about ten thousand years
ago. He predicted that land would rise again one day soon in this
area. However, the rise would be gradual, and freshly emerging land
might not evidence itself for a while.
The Atlantis story was
esoteric but fascinating. With the age-old Atlantean breakup, Cayce
had seen a dispersal of its superior culture to the Mediterranean,
Central and South America, and even some parts of the United States.
Archaeologists, digging behind Cayce, are now turning up records of
“homegrown” civilizations in Peru, Mexico, New Mexico, where man had
a culture going back some ten to twelve thousand years ago—dispersal
tune in crumbling Atlantis.
In time, examining his own readings, believing in The Information,
Cayce came to believe in reincarnation—and Atlantis. The first
appeared to put rhyme and reason in a fundamentally orderly
universe, even in its seeming disorder, and the last was plausible,
considering the catastrophes foreseen in the past and visualized for
the future. Besides, there was the Bible.
Had not Joshua, in the
name of the Lord God, said to the people of Israel:
dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the
father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor, and they served other
Gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the
flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan.”
As a doubter, it was rather intriguing at times to see how Cayce
subconsciously applied the past experience of a subject to an
understanding of very tangible problems in this experience.
Consulted by a twenty-five-year-old woman, with a karma—or debit—of
letting down others, Cayce advised,
“That sown must one day be
reaped. Ye disappointed others. Today from thine own disappointments
ye may learn patience, the most beautiful of all virtues and the
Impatiently, the woman asked how she could marry
the man she wanted.
“What may I do to help the problem?”
“As the experience indicates,” the sleeping Cayce said, “do not do
too much. Rather be in that position to be the helper when needed.
Do not push or advise, but listen.”
“S—and I quarrel and are unhappy
with each other much of the time ...”
(Cayce interrupting) “Would it not be expected, considering the
“Are we mated? Should we continue our relationship as
lovers with the purpose of marrying, or would it be better to break
off our relationship?”
Again, after counseling patience, Cayce delivered a piece of advice,
apparently paraphrased from Frances Anne Kemble’s Faith.
better to trust one heart, and that deceiving, than doubt one heart
which if believing, would bless thy life with true understanding.”
The young woman persisted.
“Is it indicated that I should marry
during this incarnation? If so, when and where will I meet the
“Not until near the thirtieth birthday.”
She had five years to wait.
Undaunted, she adopted another tack:
“What is my purpose and am I
living a Godlike life so that I may reflect God and bring happiness
The answer hardly required a mystic.
“Read what we have given. There
has been much accomplished, and there is much to be accomplished. Be
not hasty in thy choices, but know that it is not by might, but by
the trusting wholly in Him.”
It was plain, solid advice, and in keeping with the man. Nobody
would have taken Cayce for a mystic at sight As he grew older, his
brown hair thinned out in the middle years. He had a sharp,
quizzical face, a receding chin, and twinkling blue-gray eyes behind
rimless glasses. He could have been a teacher, a country doctor, a
store clerk, anything but an esoteric or occultist. When people came
to see him for their readings, instead of sitting in their own
parlors as he “found” their bodies, he greeted them humbly, and
promised only that he would do his best.
Sometimes The Information
wouldn’t come. “It isn’t anything I can control,” he would say
apologetically. He observed a regular ritual. Avoiding strictures of
circulation, he would remove his jacket and tie, open his collar and
loosen his cuffs, unlace his shoes. Then he would lie back on the
couch in his study, placing his hands on his forehead. Often as not,
he would smile pleasantly, before responding to the suggestion that
he put himself to sleep.
As a signal, Gertrude would lean over and touch his cheek. He would
close his eyes, fold his hands over his chest, and begin to breathe
deeply. Mrs. Cayce, and Cayce’s secretary and trusted aide, Gladys
Davis, would close their own eyes in prayer.
As Cayce sighed,
breathing evenly, as anyone would in a nap, Gertrude would speak
softly, making the suggestion that induced the reading.
the body of M.L. before you, who is in Chicago [street and address
were given]. You will go over this body carefully, examine it
thoroughly, and tell me the conditions you find at the present time,
giving the cause of the existing conditions, also the treatment for
the cure and relief of this body. You will speak distinctly at a
normal rate of speech, answering the questions as I ask them.”
apparently not only visualized the health of the subject, wherever
he was, but his surroundings as well.
His subconscious would
sometimes pick out streets as he groped about, naming them even when
they weren’t marked by street signs. Occasionally, he would
hesitate, saying the subject had left the house. Once he broke off a
reading completely, and the next day, it was learned the patient had
died at that precise moment.
Another time, tested by a medical committee headed by Dr. John
Blackburn of Bowling Green, he described the distant room in which
his subject lay. He pictured wallpaper, decorations, furnishings,
even to a corner night table; described the bed and bedding, naming
the manufacturer. The next day, it all checked out.
On still another
occasion, an ailing sea captain, forgetting his appointment, had
left his ship at the time of the readings, but Cayce caught up to
“You see,” the skipper explained, “Cayce had read for me
before, and knew my habits.”
Health wise, Cayce had a virtually
infallible record, when his recommendations were followed.
Nevertheless, his advice was often disregarded, either because the
treatment required so much time or effort, or the patient could find
no therapist to implement the instructions. At times, impatience
turned even Cayce’s dearest admirers to therapy promising faster
relief. Cayce’s friend and biographer, Thomas Sugrue, trying Cayce’s
tedious cure of an apparent arthritic condition, began to bridle at
his slow recovery.
Cayce, stressing improvement would be slow, had
recommended a cumbersome wet cell appliance with a gold chloride
solution. Instead, Sugrue impetuously turned to the miracle drugs,
which adversely affected his system, and a few months later he was
dead, following an operation. There was scarcely any activity,
terrestrial or celestial, that Cayce’s universal consciousness
didn’t explore. Longevity, or the absence of it, intrigued the
He synchronized long life with selflessness,
pointing out that in time the age span would increase most in those
nations practicing the greatest altruism.
“Look to the nation where
the span of life has been extended from sixty to eighty-four years,
and you will judge who is serving God.”
In Russia, surprisingly,
after his predicted fall of Communism, he saw a sharp age increase.
As it is, Russia’s life expectancy, reputedly second only to
England’s, stands at sixty-eight, provided only natural death is
considered, not sudden demises brought about by political factors.
Cayce often intruded in the areas of science. Once he provocatively
spoke of a death ray the Atlanteans had devised to eliminate deadly
beasts. In the reading, given in 1933, he predicted a similar ray
would be discovered here by 1958, as he described how it once
“And this [method of handling the environment] was
administered in much the same way or manner as sending out from
various central plants that which is at present termed the death
ray—or the super cosmic ray—that which many are seeking, which will
give their lives much, from the stratosphere—or cosmic rays—that
will be found in the next twenty-five years.”
What hogwash this must have seemed at the time, and what hogwash it
would still appear, if not for passing press reports, such as this,
out of Denver in December of 1961:
“Scientists are developing a
death ray weapon designed to turn anything it is focused on into a
wisp of gaseous vapor. Dr. Carl L. Kober of the Martin Company plant
disclosed the weapon would be partially nuclear-powered. It would
accomplish its destructive work by throwing a fantastically hot beam
on the subject ... the disintegration ray, sounding like something
from science fiction, would be designed for use in terrestrial
As science refines its methods of exploring the pre-historic past,
new opportunities will constantly present themselves to test Cayce’s
unconscious. With the United States and Russia engaged in a little
publicized race in “Inner space,” American ocean survey ships, a
virtually unknown Little Navy, are coursing the globe, trying to
explore the mysterious two-thirds of the world covered by the seas.
Already, in a vast corridor between Hawaii and Alaska, they have
discovered a thousand-mile-long mountain range, with peaks some six
thousand feet from the ocean floor—and still two miles below the
surface. Other oceanographers have turned up a river in the Pacific,
flowing some thirty-five hundred miles along the Equator. Perhaps,
as Cayce’s unconscious insisted, great continents did crowd the
North Atlantic and South Pacific at one time, eventually swallowed
up by cataclysms, as other land masses may be one day if Cayce’s a
Nevertheless, despite all this foreshadowing of death and
destruction, Cayce’s message was fundamentally one of hope and
“Know and realize that the earth is the Lord’s, with all its
turmoil’s and strife’s, with all its hates and jealousies, with all
its political and economic disturbances. And His ways are not past
finding out By living them in the little things, day by day, may
that surety in self, that sureness in Him be thine. For His promises
have been and are sure. ‘Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe
in God.’ Believe also in tide Christ, who gave, ‘If ye love me, ye
will keep my commandments, and I and the Father will come and abide
with thee day by day.’”
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2 - Cayce The Man
Although he many times warned of World War II, predicting its
beginning and end, Edgar Cayce was as stunned as anybody else when
the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor. He brooded over the war, not only
for the two sons called to the service, nor the young men fighting
and dying on the seven seas, but for the passionate feeling he had
that man had not learned to live with himself or his God.
after America’s entry into the war, he wrote a sister he loved
“I do hope I won’t bore you with all the burdens of my heart
just now, but this war business about has the best of me. Have felt
of course that it was coming about, but hoped against hope that it
would not But we are reminded continuously that ‘God is not mocked,
and whatsoever a man sows, that must he reap.’ “
candor, he acknowledged that he had no inkling, psychically, of the
“Yes, we have much data that we are seeing coming
about, but nothing was ever given as to what happened on the 7th.”
At the same time he expressed his concern for the Navy personnel,
who had shipped out from the neighboring naval base at Norfolk.
“Had, and hope have yet, some very good friends in Hawaii, haven’t
heard from them since, though had letters mailed just day or two
before it happened. Some of them are in the Navy, but not on any of
the ships reported lost, boys who seem to have gotten much from
their contact with the Work; address me as Dad, even as my own
boys—and have told me I was the sort of a father they would like to
have had. So you may know about how anxious I am at this time.”
Though surrounded by people who loved him, he was a lonely man. Like
Lincoln and Lee, whom he admired, he carried his cause close to his
heart, a cause even more universal than theirs, man’s understanding
of God’s purpose for him on earth. Everything he said or did in his
mature years was subsidiary to this. In his own work, he felt that
he was fulfilling this purpose. It was the only thing that made
endurable the years of doubt, of ignominy, of privation for the ones
he loved most.
“If I thought for one minute it wasn’t helping, I’d
give it up this instant.”
At one of the low points of his life, after his arrest as a
fortune-teller in New York City, he returned in black despair to his
home in Virginia Beach, wondering why, if his work was worthwhile,
he and his family should suffer one reversal after another. In his
depression the lesson of the longsuffering Job appeared lost on this
fervid student of the Bible. And so he gave himself a reading, his
wife, Gertrude, asking why his power, if he had any, had not warned
of the trap set by police. The answer was not what he was looking
On his awakening, his wife, and his aide,
Gladys Davis, told
him what his message was:
“A certain amount of scouring was
essential for the better development of the soul.”
The much tried
psychic shook his head and sighed heavily.
“I seem to be able to
help everybody but myself.”
It had been that way with the search for oil, with investments, with
simple real estate transactions, until Cayce got the feeling that he
and materiality were never meant to join hands. At the same time,
Cayce seldom fretted about money. His attitude toward it was almost
child-like. Like an earlier mystic, Bronson Alcott, the Concord
transcendentalist, he felt the Lord would provide. And he appeared
to be right, though it was not unusual for his children to have
patches in their clothes and Cayce to have holes in his shoes.
One harsh winter, the family was without fuel. The children, huddled
in their overcoats, looked up from a meager meal, to hear their
father calmly asking the good Lord for firewood. A couple of hours
later, there was a knock at the door. It was a road foreman for the
power and light company. His crew was ready to cut down an old light
pole in front of the house, and for the necessary permission they
were willing to saw the pole into firewood and stack it on the lawn.
On another occasion, a local grocery store had cut the Cayce family
off the credit list—until a bill for $87.50 was paid. The harried
Mrs. Cayce fretfully asked her husband to think of raising the money
somehow. “Don’t worry about it, Mother,” he said calmly, “the money
will turn up.” And he calmly went fishing.
That morning, the postman arrived with a letter. Inside was a check
just large enough to cover the bill.
Mrs. Cayce heaved a grateful sigh.
“Now take it over to the grocery!
store, Edgar,” she enjoined.
“All right, Mother,” he said good-naturedly.
An hour later he was back with a new fishing pole and an armful of
tackle. Mrs. Cayce looked at him with despair in her heart.
she said, “you couldn’t ...?”
“Don’t worry about it, Mother,” he said imperturbably “The money
will turn up somehow.”
At one time, without money to buy family
necessities pay his secretary, he was asked to explain why he wasn’t
doing better. The question was put by his wife.
“In consideration of
the fact that Edgar Cayce is devoting his entire to the Work, give
the reason for his not being able to obtain sufficient financial
support for his and his family’s mate sustenance, and how may he,
Edgar Cayce, correct this condition?”
Mrs. Cayce looked up expectantly as Edgar’s lips began move:
closer to ‘Him, who giveth all good and perfect gifts, and ask and
ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you. Give and it
shall be returned fourfold. There has never been the lack of
necessities, neither will there be, so long as adhering to the
Lord’s way is kept first and foremost”
The seer’s family would have
been less than human had they not thrown up their arms. But, as the
future was to show, Cayce was again prophetic. In every low spot, a
door opened and the Lord provided.
Contrary to prevailing impression, Cayce was psychic, waking, as
well as sleeping. He constantly saw fields of lights around people’s
heads—auras telling him about the state of their emotions and
health. Once, a woman, fresh from a quarrel with a neighbor, came
marching into his study. He kicked up mildly from his Bible.
a red aura all around you. Come back next week when you’re not angry
Again he was concerned about a woman, who had no aura. Two days
later, she was dead. Since he was so acutely sensitive to everything
about him, it was difficult to relax like the ordinary person. He
had to make a continuous effort to close himself off. There were few
ways he could detach himself. He liked to play cards, but once,
without even glancing at the deck, he correctly read off fifty-two
cards in succession to demonstrate that bridge would be a bore.
Aside from the Bible, his only relaxers were fishing and gardening.
He loved to sit for hours on the pier back of his house, casting
into a fresh-water lake. Children would come and talk to him as he
fished, and he would tell them stories, remembered from his own
fanciful childhood. He fished when it rained, and when it blowed or
snowed, for here he found refuge from himself.
On the gloomiest days he would work in his garden, talking
soothingly to the plants. He could make flowers grow where they had
never grown before, caressing them tenderly, as though they were
people. He was keenly aware of every aspect of the outdoors,
observing all life with an appreciative eye.
On a particularly
exhilarating spring morning he noted:
“Lovely day—new bird songs
today—appears to be an unusual number of birds, or am I just aware
of their presence? The early morning song of the tomtit, the
bluebird, lark, cat bird, robin, the mockingbird, and the new ones
sound like canaries, but are red, with brown, and the female yellow
and black, but lovely bird—used to call them weaver bird, but
haven’t seen any before in years and years. Oh, let’s not forget the
redwing, he is lovely.”
There was an artless boyishness about Cayce that belied the mystic.
As a young man, it kept bartenders from serving him, and poolroom
operators from renting him their tables. Looking for a job once, he
walked into a shoe store, and began waiting on a customer. The
manager, seeing him at work, absentmindedly sent the young stranger
to the bank for change, and Cayce worked on for the rest of the day.
That night, the puzzled manager asked how it all happened. “Somebody
asked me for something and I just gave it them,” Cayce replied
simply. He stayed on for eights months.
He was constantly described as an illiterate by writers he never
saw, but this was clearly a misnomer. For as the years went by, the
sixth-grade dropout learned much from the outside world. Statesmen,
financiers, professors, and scientists discussed their problems with
him. He visited their homes, rubbing elbows with the great and
near-great, and they visited Him, drawn by curiosity and need. He
read the newspapers, but rarely opened a book, except the Bible,
which he read through each year, constantly finding it a new source
As it did Lincoln, it influenced his conscious writing, making it
precise and pointed, though his unconscious speech always remained
florid and involved. He had been a failure in school, leaving at
fifteen, because he could not harness his mind, already showing
signs of subconscious development, to a relatively primitive
learning process, patently absurd in the face of his own pipeline to
the Universal Mind. Later in life, he scanned his own readings
carefully, dispassionately regarding them as The Information, and he
imbibed much from them, in such varied areas as health,
homosexuality, astrology, and politics.
The universality of his faith crossed all religious lines, He was
equally at home with Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist. All
reacted equally to the interest he felt in every body. He had
frequent soul-searching conversations with Father Brennan, the
pastor of the Catholic Star of the Sea Church, across the way. The
good Father never ventured upstairs in the Cayce home, but paid his
ecumenical respects in other ways. One day when Cayce was out of
town, a hurricane ripped through Virginia Beach, flooding streets
Returning the next day, Cayce went down into his cellar
to investigate. There, he saw the Catholic priest and a Presbyterian
minister from down the street, ankle-deep in water, bailing out the
basement as though their souls depended upon it. For many with far
more education and worldly distinction, he was an authority figure.
Some respectfully called him Judge, others Captain, many called nun
“Doctor.” His first biographer, Sugrue, knew him simply as Boss.
Like the mystic Lincoln, Cayce made friends easily, and had the same
homespun way of spinning out a story. But again like Lincoln,
because of the hypersensitive side of his nature, there were corners
of his mind he could share with nobody. Everybody became an outsider
when terrible visions flooded in on him, as they often did.
bright, sunny day in June of 1936, for instance, he was hoeing in
his garden, when he heard a noise like a swarming of bees.
He looked up, startled, and there in the sky saw a chariot, drawn by
four white horses. He tried to persuade himself that it was pure
imagination, when he heard a voice saying, “Look behind you.”
turned and beheld a man, with a shield and helmet, knee-guards and a
cape, but no weapon of any kind. His countenance was like the light,
his armor of burnished silver. He raised his hand in salute, and
“The chariot of the Lord and thy horsemen thereof.”
disappeared. Shaken by this daytime nightmare, Cayce dropped his hoe
and rushed into the house. He brushed past his son, Hugh Lynn, and
locked himself in his study. When he finally emerged hours later, he
explained that he had seen the approach of World War II, with its
millions of dead. It had been a jolt to his conscious mind.
In forming some friendships at sight, Cayce believed he had known
the friend before. His belief in reincarnation, with its corollary
of a karmic past, made him more tolerant of others, and devoid of
vanity. Still, he had a rising regard for his own mission, and with
reason. Once he was surprised in his study by a minister, who had
come to question his powers.
As the minister walked in unnoticed,
Cayce was murmuring under his breath,
“Thank you, thank you, oh
Lord, for another life.”
Only & few moments before a grateful mother
had phoned to thank him for saving her baby. He tried to find time
for everybody with a problem. Though his own readings said that he
should read but twice a day, or risk disintegration, he stretched
this to seven or eight readings a day during World War II because of
demands not only from the ill, but from parents like himself
concerned by sons away at war. However he pushed himself, the mail
piled up. His own clairvoyance was some help.
Once, as his aides
helplessly eyed a huge sack of mail, not knowing where to start, he
“Take the telegram, there is the greater need there.”
near the bottom of the bag, a telegrammed request for a reading had
been mistakenly placed.
Cayce had the ordinary instincts. He liked the companionship of
pretty ladies, as he did that of intelligent men. He took a drink
occasionally, making his own wine. He considered the grape a food.
Ironically, he as a chain smoker.
When admirers wondered about this,
he would laugh genially and point to the heavens,
“Where I am going
there are no cigarettes.”
He rarely fretted about his own health. At
the dinner table one day an admirer noted with dismay that Cayce,
tabooing pork in his readings, was consuming it with evident
“But Mister Cayce,” she said, “pork is bad for you.”
The mystic smiled brightly.
“If I couldn’t raise the vibration of
this poor little hunk of meat, I sure wouldn’t amount to much.”
was like the doctor who prescribed for everybody but himself. His
was a volatile temperament; he could be easily hurt or disturbed,
but then his sense of balance would assert itself. Although he
relied implicitly on the ubiquitous Gladys Davis, he would sometimes
get annoyed, feeling she had assumed too much in interpreting a
reading. He fired her a dozen times in waves of mercurial wrath. An
hour or two later, he would look her up, smile and give her a
friendly pat on the back They were in business again—till the next
Gertrude was the partner who kept him on the track in moments of
wavering, Gladys Davis the outlet for the petty frustrations that
plagued his day. As a man has no secret from his valet, Cayce had
none from his secretary. She went to work for him at eighteen, lived
in the house, and tool down almost every reading from September 1923
until his death in January 1945. Despite close contact, under
mundane circumstances, he always remained a hero to her.
The Work, as they called it, dominated her life, and she never
married until after his death, knowing that she couldn’t serve two
masters. Yet, she never considered it a sacrifice, sublimating her
own maternal instinct to his family and that of her relatives. Cayce
allowed her to keep her small nephew in the house treating both as
family. Typically, he kept an eye out for the nephew even when his
own eyes were closed.
One day, during a reading, Gladys looked out the study window, and
saw the boy teetering precariously at the edge of the lake. Knowing
he couldn’t swim, she still couldn’t bring herself to leave the
reading uncovered. Cayce was on the couch, talking in trance, but he
suddenly broke off, without batting an eye, to say peremptorily, “Go
out and get the child.” In a flash. Gladys dropped her
stenographer’s pad and raced out to the water, returning with the
chastened boy. The reading continued, as though there was no
Cayce was not unlike the old family doctor with an anxious patient,
“He had the ability,” Gladys Davis recalled, “to make you feel that
you were the most important person in the world. He gave his full
attention to you, whatever else may have been on his mind before.”
Early in their relationship, Gladys had a dramatic revelation of
Cayce’s remarkable gift It changed her whole attitude toward her
job. Before, it had been a pleasant chore working for an unusually
kindly man. After that, it became a lifetime’s devotion. She had
been with Cayce for about two months, and was hampered by dull
headaches off and on. While she wore glasses for close work, they
didn’t seem to relieve the strain. Desperate, she asked for a
reading one day.
The reading attributed the headaches to eyestrain resulting from
deflected circulation due to bad posture. Simple neck exercises were
recommended—stretching the neck up and down, sidewise three or four
times, then rolling the head slowly in each direction a few tunes.
This was a traditional Yoga exercise, though Cayce was not aware of
this. He also advised a hand-machine violet ray three times weekly,
and told her to discard her glasses.
The effect was instantaneous.
“Thirty years later I finally went back to glasses,” she recalled,
“when I couldn’t find a number in the telephone book. But I never
had another moment’s eyestrain or headache.”
Cayce was literally a dreamer, and he felt people could learn about
themselves and the world about them by studying their own dreams.
“Consciousness is sought by man for his own diversion. In sleep, the
soul seeks the real diversion or the real activity of self.” If he
didn’t understand a dream, he would lie down and interpret it in
In one dream, he saw himself climbing to a heavenly chapel to pray.
A celestial custodian showed him a large room crammed with packages,
beautifully wrapped and addressed to different people. They had not
been delivered, and the custodian sorrowfully explained why.
are gifts for which people have been praying, but they lost their
faith just before the date of delivery.”
These gifts were latent
talents and abilities, so seldom drawn upon by the owners. Was this
a message for Cayce to get on with his work? He took it as such.
There was a period in Cayce’s life when nothing appeared to work out.
Through Morton Blumenthal, a New York stockbroker whom he had helped
market-wise, he had been able to finally realize two lifelong
dreams, the Cayce Hospital, and Atlantic University, both launched
at Virginia Beach The college, chartered by the Commonwealth of
Virginia was to stress research into parapsychology and the occult
while providing a general education and a Bachelor of Arts degree.
The hospital, headed by an MD, Thomas B. House, a remote relative,
was to treat patients from the readings. How ever, the collapsing
stock market, which Cayce had ticked off for 1929, broke Blumenthal,
who had inexplicably ignored Cayce’s advice. Deprived of
Blumenthal’s backing, the hospital was subsequently closed. The
college never really got started.
On February 28, 1931, the last
patients were moved out of the hospital, and Cayce sadly handed over
the keys to the sheriff. Soon thereafter he lost his house, but the
worst blow was in the offing. A few months later, in New York,
looking for help to reinstate his hospital, Cayce gave a few
readings for New Yorkers who had requested them, including a Mrs.
When he came out of the Gorman reading his subject was watching him
grimly. Mrs. Cayce and Gladys were sobbing softly. Cayce sat up
abruptly. “Did I say anything to upset you, Mrs. Gorman?” he asked.
She nipped out a shield, with a number on it.
“My name is Conwell,
Bertha Conwell. I’m a policewoman and you’re all under arrest.”
The tabloids had a field day, with snide innuendos about the
fifty-four-year-old Cayce and his twenty six-year-old blonde
secretary. One newspaper ran a photograph of Cayce and his “blonde
secretary,” artfully snipping Mrs. Cayce’s likeness from the
original photo. Some reports were as misleading as the picture. One
reporter said Cayce had demanded seventy dollars for his reading,
paid in marked bills.
Cayce was exonerated, but Arthur Brisbane, the
leading columnist of his day, lashed out at him anyway:
magic in words, much in a name, despite Shakespeare’s saying about
the rose. Edgar Cayce, his wife Gertrude, and their secretary,
arrested for fortune-telling, were told, ‘You must not pretend to
tell fortunes, because you can’t.”
Things looked dark, but Edgar Cayce, who knows language, told the
court, ‘I’m no fortune-teller; I’m a psychic diagnostician."
Instantly, he, his wife Gertrude, and their secretary were set free
to diagnose psychically to their hearts’ content.
When a lady asked,
"Is this the right time to make certain investments,’ the psychic
her the psychic answer. The law couldn’t object to that.”
that way at all. The Judge had heard of Cayce and his work through
friends. In court, substantial citizens vouched for what Cayce had
done for them. And Cayce had done no fortunetelling. The Judge
listened intently to the simple recital of his work by a simple man,
who candidly acknowledged that he wasn’t himself sure how he
functioned or how much good he did.
And the Judge, like Brisbane,
also recalled a line from Shakespeare,
“There are more things in
heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.”
There was no case, the charge was dismissed. But the proceedings
left their scars, Cayce wondering again whether he had been punished
for readings motivated by material gain. Originally, he had
rationalized that his stock market forecasts were purely motivated
because they meant he would get his school and his hospital. Now
both were gone. His name had been dragged through the mud, and he
felt tired and discouraged. Perhaps he was on the wrong road? Maybe
he should go back to work like everybody else?
Several times before,
doubling the high purpose of his gift, he had given up the readings
and turned to photographic work. But Gertrude, believing in him, had
encouraged his return to the work she felt he was intended for.
Again she comforted him, pointing out that the readings had saved
both her and their son, Hugh Lynn.
She had been suffering from lung hemorrhages, and the doctors had
said that she could not survive another spasm.
“If there’s anything
in this monkey business,” one doctor suggested, “you’d better try it
on your wife.”
It was the first reading for his own family. In
trance, he prescribed a preparation to stop the hemorrhaging. A
specialist, who sat in at the reading, was impressed but
“Most wonderful discourse I’ve ever heard on
tuberculosis, but I don’t see how she can be helped.”
wondered whether the prescription would even compound. It did, and
Gertrude showed immediate improvement. There was no more
hemorrhaging. As she was convalescing, he had her inhale from an
empty cask of apple brandy, which additionally soothed and relieved
her. She was months mending, but her lungs never bothered her again.
The story was almost the same with his son, Hugh Lynn. As a child,
while he was Playing with his father’s flashlight kit, some of the
powder flared up into his eyes. The doctors despaired of his sight,
The child, overhearing the consultation propped
himself on an elbow, and cried,
“Don’t take out my eyes, Doctor. My
Daddy, when he’s asleep, is the best doctor in the world. He’ll tell
you what to do.”
The specialists shook their heads.
“One eye is so
damaged that it must be removed at once to save his life.”
Cayce said grimly,
“You will do nothing until I’ve taken a reading.”
Gertrude supervised as Cayce spoke in his sleep.
“Keep the boy in a
completely darkened room for fifteen days, keep dressings soaked in
strong tannic acid solutions on his eyes frequently changing same.
Thus will the sight be saved and restored.”
Though the doctors considered the sight gone in one eye and the
other removable, they protested that the solution would irreparably
damage the delicate tissues of the eye.
“Which eye,” Cayce demanded,
“the eye beyond hope, or the one you want to take out?”
There was an
awkward silence, and then one of the doctors set about preparing the
prescribed application. Twelve days later, the final dressings came
off. The boy’s eyes were clear and bright. “I can see,” he announced
As he looked now at his wife, and his son, Cayce knew that there had
to be something to his gift. These two, dearer than any, were
dramatic testimonials of his work. He felt that he must go on until
the day of the long sleep.
There was little in Cayce’s heritage to justify his strange gift. It
was almost as though he had been plucked out of obscurity to
manifest the unlimited possibilities of man and Creation. The Cayces
were an old conservative Kentucky family. Edgar was born on March
18, 1877, on a farm near Hopkinsville, in Christian County. His
father, Leslie, a justice of the peace, was known locally as the
Squire. His grandfather, a farmer, may have been psychic. He
reputedly could take two forks of a witch hazel tree, and dowse
successfully for water.
Despite his conventional background, Cayce was obviously different
from other boys. He was interested in the Bible, enjoyed going to
the Christian Church, an offshoot of the Presbyterian, and didn’t
care much for games. He was little more than seven or eight, when he
reported a clairvoyant experience which was to eventually shape the
direction of his life.
Off by himself, in a secluded outdoor nook,
he had been reading in the Bible of the vision of Manoah, for he
loved dearly the story of Samson. Suddenly, there was a humming
sound, and a bright light rilled the glade where he usually hid to
read the wonderful stories.
As he looked up, he saw a figure in
white, bright as the noonday light, and heard a voice:
“Your prayers have been heard. What would you ask of me, that I may
give it to you?”
The boy was not startled. Even then it seemed
natural to see visions. “Just that I may be helpful to others,” he
replied, “especially to children who are ill, and that I may love my
fellow man.” It almost seemed as if somebody besides himself were
The figure silently disappeared.
Edgar was not a scholar. The next day, thinking of the vision, he
bungled his classwork, and had to remain after school to write the
word “cabin” five hundred times on the blackboard, as punishment for
That night, even more than usual, he seemed unable to concentrate on
his lessons. There was an invisible barrier between him and his
book. But his father had told him he would have to stay up until he
had his lesson. At eleven o’clock, long past his bedtime, as his
head nodded drowsily, he heard a voice within himself, as in a
dream. It was the voice of the previous afternoon.
“Sleep, and we may help you.”
He fell asleep for a few minutes. And when he awakened, as absurd as
it may seem, he knew every word by rote in that particular spelling
book. He had slept on it. This was Cayce’s own story of how
Universal Consciousness came to him. It was strange, hard to
believe, but no stranger, no more incredible than the feats he was
to perform in the years to come.
The incredible beginnings of an incredible career continue. Shortly
thereafter, accidentally hurt by a thrown baseball, he told his
parents to prepare a special poultice and put it at the base of Ms
brain. Seeing him in a semi-stupor, they complied wonderingly, and
in the morning he was well. It was his first health reading. As time
went on, he gave others spontaneously for friends. They all seemed
to work. But at this time he didn’t know what he had or what to do
with it After leaving school, he worked on a farm, then in a shoe
store, and later a bookstore.
He fell in love with the neighboring Gertrude Evans. She had a knack
of putting him at ease, encouraged his Bible work, and his teaching
Sunday school. He wanted to be a minister, but had neither the money
nor aptitude for higher education. When he confided his ambition to
the touring Dwight Moody, the great evangelist observed “You can
serve God wherever you are, and with whatever you have.” He always
remembered Moody’s advice.
Like Edgar’s mother, who had a tender regard for the son who was
different, Gertrude felt that he should use his burgeoning powers to
help others. Even before their marriage, she discovered that when he
concentrated on making money, instead of using his gift, something
would always go wrong either a blinding headache, an upset stomach,
or loss of voice.
Able to talk only in whispers, he had to give up a
job as a salesman, taking one in the darkroom of a photographic
studio where it didn’t matter much whether he could talk or not.
Because of his condition, he became an early cause celebre.
Professional hypnotists and doctors lined up to cure his baffling
aphonia with hypnosis. But nobody could help until Al Layne came
along. Layne was a frustrated healer. He had wanted to be a doctor,
but instead circumstances had compelled a mail-order course in
osteopathy and hypnosis. Layne varied the traditional hypnotic
He put Cayce to sleep, as the others had, then allowed him
to make the hypnotic suggestion to himself, instead of the hypnotist
making it directly.
“Your unconscious mind is looking into your
body,” he said. “It is looking at your throat. It will tell us what
it sees wrong with your throat, and what can be done to cure the
At the added suggestion that he tell himself to speak
normally, Cayce’s voice came in crystal clear.
“Yes, we can the
body. The trouble we now see is a partial paralysis of the vocal
chords, due to nerve strain. To remove the condition it is necessary
only to suggest that the body increase circulation to the affected
area for a short tune.”
Layne leaned forward,
“Tell the circulation to increase to the
affected area and to remove the condition.”
As young Cayce’s parents looked on incredulously, their son’s throat
began to turn a deep crimson. The blood was rushing to the trouble
spot in response to Cayce’s hypnotic suggestion. It was a truly
amazing feat of self-hypnosis.
Now Cayce took over completely. In the same clear voice he
“Now suggest that the circulation return to normal
and the body awaken.”
This was done, and Cayce sat up in a few
moments, rubbing his eyes. He started to ask what had happened, and
then realized that he was talking normally. He was overjoyed. Layne,
equally jubilant, was struck by the knowledgeable way in which Cayce
had discussed his own ailment.
He turned to the smiling Cayce.
“When you were in trance,” he said, “you talked like a physician
looking down a patient’s throat. Perhaps you could do the same with
somebody else’s body, just as you looked into those closed books
your father told me about”
Cayce regarded him curiously. Was this
what the vision in white had brought him? But he knew nothing about
medicine, nothing about hypnosis, he was, in the last analysis, a
“What would be the purpose of it all, even if I
could tell what was inside somebody’s body?”
“Perhaps,” said Layne, “you could locate ailments, injuries, sources
of infections that regular medical examinations might not turn up.”
He frowned a moment. “I have been sick for years,” he said, “and yet
the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with me. Maybe you could help
people like me.”
He took the young man’s hand.
“It might not work,
Edgar, but if it did, what a wonderful opportunity to heal the
Cayce came to a quick decision.
“All right, I’m willing.”
The next day the great experiment started. After putting Cayce to
sleep, Layne planted the additional suggestion:
“You have in this
room the body of Al Layne. You will go over this body carefully,
noting its condition and especially any parts that are ailing. You
will give the cause of such ailments and suggest treatments to bring
about a cure.”
Cayce seemed to ponder in his sleep. And then suddenly he spoke out.
“Yes, we have the body. We have gone over it carefully. Now, here
are the conditions of that body as we find them ...”
flew across the pages of white paper.
Finally, Cayce opened his eyes.
“Did I get anything?” he asked.
“Did you get anything? You described my symptoms
better than I could myself, and you told me what to eat and what
medicines to take.” He pointed to the pages which had fluttered to
the floor. “It’s all there.”
Cayce blinked at the scrawled pages, and the unfamiliar terms. His
jaw dropped a little.
“How could that have come out of me?” He
repeated some of the medical words, mispronouncing them. “I never
saw these words before, not to mention knowing what they mean.”
the mail-order osteopathic student knew enough medicine to know that
Cayce was on the track.
“The drugs and herbs you recommended are
well known. There’s not a harmful ingredient in any of them.”
Cayce sat silently, thinking, half-frightened at the prospect of
getting into something over his head. He was twenty-four now, and
all he really wanted of life was to marry Gertrude, and make enough
money to bring up a family. He was a comparatively normal young man.
As usual, he talked things over with Gertrude.
“Why should God pick
out somebody like me, and give him this strange power?” he asked.
“Jesus was a carpenter, and the apostles were
ignorant, obscure fishermen and tillers of the soil.”
Cayce wasn’t convinced. Though Layne’s general condition improved
noticeably after a week, he avoided Layne, as though he actually had
the plague. But his mother and Gertrude continued to encourage him.
His mother reminded him of the childhood vision, and Gertrude
allayed fears that he might inadvertently harm someone.
think God would grant such a gift, and permit its misuse.”
responsibility of delving into what he didn’t understand, of
controlling the lives and health of others, was too much for young
Cayce. Despite his mother, Gertrude, and Layne, he decided against
working with Layne at this time.
But as fate would have it, as he was telling the disappointed Layne
of his decision, his voice faded into a thin reedy whisper.
He still wasn’t convinced.
“If God wanted me to be a healer, as you
say,” he whispered to Gertrude, “then why didn’t he permit me to
continue my education and become a doctor?”
Gertrude picked out one
flaw in this reasoning.
“If you were a physician, limited by the
limitations of known medical practice, you would be in no better
position to help than the brilliant doctors who have already failed
with so many ailing people because of these limitations.”
This was a
rather plausible argument. And Cayce’s last misgivings were
dispelled when Layne stressed that he knew enough medicine to know
whether the readings were consistent with established medical
practice, and whether the remedies would at least be innocuous.
Besides, didn’t Edgar ever want to get his full voice back? This was
Cayce preferred at first not to see the first few subjects who
wanted his help, nor did he want to know who they were. This way, it
was an impersonal problem, and he did not become emotionally
involved. Originally he gave two readings a day, at 10 A.M., and
again at 2 P.M. There was no charge for the readings. He awakened
each time feeling refreshed, and hungry. Apparently, he was burning
up lots of energy without depleting himself.
But while subjects were reporting improvements, generally, Cayce
still doubted himself after weeks of readings. Then one day, a woman
burst into Layne’s office, a man staggering after her with a small
girl in his arms. The girl was apparently choking to death. She was
coughing spasmodically and couldn’t catch her breath. Cayce got a
quick rundown on her condition. The doctors thought there was an
obstruction. But X-rays had shown no blockage in the windpipe. For
the first and perhaps only time, Edgar Cayce raced to his couch.
quickly went into trance, at Layne’s suggestion, and when he
awakened, the couple and their child were already gone. But the
father was back within the hour. Tears pouring down his cheeks, he
gratefully wrung Cayce’s hand. The little girl had swallowed a
celluloid collar button, and Cayce had specified exactly where it
would be found in her windpipe.
“It was just where you said it would
be,” the father said.
He thrust his hand into his pocket, but at
this stage, Cayce was adamant about not accepting fees of any kind.
“If God has given me a special gift, it is so that I could help
others, not profit by it myself,” he insisted.
Cayce’s first health
reading occurred in 1901. Meanwhile, Cayce had gone back to work in
Bowling Green, doing readings only occasionally, when he heard from
Layne. In the summer of 1902, however, he received a phone call,
which was to eventually change his life. Over the phone, C.H.
Dietrich, the Hopkinsville school superintendent, pleaded with him
to help his five-year-old daughter, Aime.
She was apparently retarded from a siege of illness three years
before. Cayce did not yet realize he could perform a physical
reading at a distance. He returned to Hopkinsville on a weekend, and
went directly to the Dietrich home. Layne was waiting. Cayce soon
"The trouble is in the spine,” he said. “A few days
before her illness, the child slipped getting out of a carriage and
struck the base of her spine on the carriage step. This injury
weakened the area, and led to the mental condition.”
widened. He didn’t know whether Cayce’s diagnosis was correct, but
he did know that Cayce had picked out an all but forgotten incident,
the fall from the carriage, which had seemed of no consequence at
Some spinal vertebrae were out of alignment, causing pressures on
nerves. Layne adjusted the vertebrae specified by Cayce. There were
three adjustments, and within five days, the child had improved
noticeably. In three months, she was in school with other girls her
age. The cure was complete. The grateful Dietrich could never do
enough for Cayce, and it was through his testimonial that Dr. Wesley
H. Ketchum was to later use Cayce as a psychic diagnostician,
turning him to a career, professionally, that continued until death.
All through life, nonetheless, the modest mystic was to have
self-doubts and misgivings and it was Gertrude’s job to resolve
these qualms. Knowing her husband’s mind, she frequently suggested
introspective readings, which they could study together. For Cayce
had more respect for The Information, subconsciously given, than for
his own fallible conscious.
As she had, since he shied away from
experiment Gertrude put the key question to her husband.
information always correct?” she asked.
“Insofar,” he replied, “as the suggestion is in the proper channel
or in accord with the action of subconscious or soul matter.”
The solicitous wife inserted a question of her own:
“With this work
hurt the body?”
“This body,” Cayce began, “is controlled in its work through the
psychical, or the mystical or spiritual.
It is governed by the life that is led by the person who is guiding
the subconscious when in this state. As the ideas given the
subconscious to obtain its information are good, the body becomes
The reverse was true, if the motivation was base or mean.
“The body should keep in close touch with the spiritual side of life
if he is to be successful mentally, psychically, and financially.”
As he read back what he had said, Cayce could only sigh.
always the problem, how to remain spiritual while trying to cope
with a world of materiality.
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