7 - The
Doctors And Cayce
The shingle said Wesley H. Ketchum, M.D. But it might as well have
said “Dr. Ketchum—and Cayce.” Wesley Ketchum, still hale and hearty,
was the first of the accredited physicians with a medical degree to
use Edgar Cayce as an adjunct to his professional career. He
employed him quietly, not letting most patients know who was
actually diagnosing and treating their cases, and then one day,
before a group of doctors, he discussed his most unusual case—Cayce.
Instead of a degree of acceptance, he found only criticism.
spend years studying medicine,” an outraged doctor said, “if some
illiterate lying on a couch with his eyes closed can diagnose and
prescribe better than any physician?”
Even when they viewed Cayce’s wonders, and saw what appeared to be
miracles, conventionally oriented doctors of medicine blinked
unbelievingly and turned their heads. There were exceptions, of
course, and Ketchum was one, using Cayce in more than a hundred
cases, to the consternation of his colleagues.
Perhaps because of this general non-acceptance by the medical
profession, in these early days, the slumbering Cayce turned
subconsciously to osteopaths, physiotherapists, and chiropractors
who had more open minds about his treatments.
Cayce was an
empiricist, dealing with anything that worked, and in his waking
state, soliloquizing about his own cures, he often mentioned that in
a providential nature lay the cure for every disorder, including
cancer, if treatment could be invoked in time. With the youthful of
any age, Cayce had a better chance of a favorable reception, since
the young, congenitally, weren’t rooted in tradition. Shortly after
the turn of the century, when he settled in Hopkinsville, Ketchum
was in his mid-twenties, and eager to make his way.
As a damyankee
from the wrong side of the Ohio River, in a community still fighting
the Civil War, he had little to lose with Cayce, since he was an
“out,” anyway, in a place where one could only be bom “in.” He heard
of Cayce through another Ohioan, the local school superintendent, C.
H. Dietrich, whose daughter Cayce had miraculously helped. Ketchum
was impressed that a man of Dietrich’s substance so implicitly
accepted the unacceptable.
Even so, he did not look up Cayce for
another year. And then it was an extreme case, a chance to crack the
Hopkinsville “carriage trade,” hitherto monopolized by the “his.”
The patient was a college student, from a wealthy, aristocratic
family. During a football scrimmage, he had suddenly keeled over,
When he came to, he seemed completely out of his mind. He could only
mumble a few inarticulate words. His eyes wandered. He had violent
seizures, and sat in a chair for hours, staring speechlessly in
front of nun. The family consulted specialists all over the country.
It was put down as a hopeless case of dementia praecox. They had
tried every doctor in Hopkinsville, and Ketchum was ail that was
left. Ketchum spent two hours examining the young man.
He was normal
physically, but was as responsive as a slab of cheese.
capable of answering the simplest questions,” Ketchum recalled. “If
you looked at him, he would say yes or no, indiscriminately, and
then clam up.”
He was in constant custody of two attendants. But he
usually sat around like a vegetable, showing no interest in
anything. Ketchum didn’t have the slightest idea what was wrong, but
agreed to take the case if the family gave him a free hand for a
Having no alternative, they complied. Money was no object. At this
point, Ketchum was still sticking to orthodox treatment. He took his
patient to New York and let the brain specialists take a look at
him. They put him in a hospital, locking him up in a padded room for
fourteen days, while they gave him tests and kept him under
observation. In the end, they shook their heads sagely, and
concurred with the prevailing diagnoses: “A hopeless case of
dementia praecox.” Next, a trip to Cleveland and a consultation with
a top neurologist, one of Ketchum’s former teachers. Again, dementia
praecox, but this tune an added bit of advice, “Seat him in front of
you on the tram; he’s a powerful young man.”
On that train back to
Hopkinsville, the thought suddenly came to Ketchum:
Dietrich’s friend, the freak, Edgar Cayce?”
Instead of phoning Cayce
directly, Ketchum put in a call to another physician, Dr. T. B.
House, whom he knew to be vaguely related to the Cayce family. House
not only was not encouraging, but warned against calling in Cayce.
“The less you have to do with him, the better for you. You’ve almost
lived down being a damyankee, but if you get mixed up with Cayce
you’ll be in trouble.”
But Ketchum, remembering Dietrich, and
thinking of the vegetable that was his patient, wasn’t easily
dissuaded. In the end, House agreed to introduce him to Cayce, and
took him to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where Cayce had a photographic
studio. He introduced Ketchum as a friend of Dietrich’s, and said
Ketchum had a case for him. Cayce promptly took off his stiff
starched white collar, and lay down on a couch. Rather dubiously,
Ketchum wrote down his patient’s name and address on a slip of
paper, and handed it to House.
The impression of that first reading has remained with Ketchum for
sixty years, even with retirement, in southern California, where he
is now verging on ninety years of age. As Cayce lay in shallow
trance, breathing gently, House said in a casual voice,
before you the body of M ... of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Go over this
body and tell us what you find.”
Cayce lay there a while, and then
said, as though just stumbling onto something, “Oh, yes, yes, we
have him here.” He hesitated a moment, and then, though not given
any indication of the patient’s condition, raced on,
“His brain is
on fire. The convolutions in his brain are all red, as red as fire.
His mind is distorted. In a very short time, unless something is
done for him, he’s going to be a raving maniac. It all dates ‘way
Ketchum was impressed not only by the diagnosis, a mental
disturbance, but the prognosis, rapid deterioration, which was what
the specialists in Rochester, Minnesota; New York, and Cleveland had
House indicated that Ketchum could question the slumbering figure.
“What treatment do you suggest?” Ketchum asked.
The answer came back clear and bold.
“Specific treatment, put to the
He mentioned a littleknown drug.
And it was, for Ketchum knew exactly what the procedure was.
Still, he watched fascinated, as House, with the reading over, put a
waking suggestion to the reclining man, not only to get him out of
trance but to disassociate him from the youth he had just read for.
“You will no longer see the subject,” House suggested. “You’ll wake
up feeling perfectly all right.”
In a couple of minutes, Cayce was sitting up, rubbing his eyes.
Ketchum was bursting with questions.
“You used some very interesting language,” he said, “now what do you
know about convolutions?”
Cayce smiled ruefully, “Nothing at all.”
Ketchum looked sharply at the slim figure with a slight stoop.
“You’re either the most interesting man in Kentucky or the biggest
liar,” he said.
Cayce smiled good-naturedly. He had heard it all before.
“I make no
claims,” he said mildly.
The two men shook hands.
“You’ll hear from me one way or the other,”
Ketchum had not mentioned his visit to Cayce to
anybody, the youth’s family included. And he didn’t have to worry
about House telling anybody. Cayce was a medical man’s pariah.
Directly from the train, Ketchum went to a Hopkinsville drugstore
and got the recommended remedy. He started his patient on it
Ten drops in the morning, eleven at noon, twelve at
night, with the dosage gradually increased until it ranged up to
twenty drops. He went through the first bottle without any
noticeable patient improvement With the second bottle, he stepped up
dosage to forty drops. Normally, heavy doses brought on cold
symptoms, swelling the delicate membrane of eyes and nose. In this
instance, the patient showed no reaction.
Ketchum started buying
bigger bottles, tripling the amounts, beyond the ordinarily safe
level. He then dropped back to the original starting point, and
began all over again. Still no reaction, not even the slightest
inflammation of the eyes. Three or four weeks had now elapsed, with
the patient treated at home or in Ketch-urn’s office. And then one
morning the telephone rang. It was the boy’s mother, a new urgency
in her voice.
Ketchum held his breath.
And then her voice floated over the wire. “Good morning, miracle
man,” she said. Just a few minutes before, her son had come down the
stairs and spoken intelligibly for the first time in a year. It was
as though a veil had been lifted from his mind.
“Good morning, Mom,
what are we having for breakfast?”
That was all he said, but that
was all he had to say. He was back where he had been before his
collapse on the football field.
Ketchum took all the credit, since he didn’t dare mention Cayce at
the time, and of course, he did deserve credit for daring to consult
Cayce and persisting with his treatment Thereafter, when Ketchum
couldn’t diagnose a case promptly, or it seemed out of the ordinary,
he would contact Cayce in Bowling Green and ask if he would “sleep”
One day a laborer named Homer Jenkins, shoveling in a local brick
works, tumbled over in a faint He was piled on some straw in a road
wagon and carted off to his home. Ketchum had no idea what was
wrong. Cayce said it was a severe case of malnutrition. “Too much
hominy and grits.” He suggested a well-balanced diet with plenty of
It was the first case of pellagra Ketchum had ever seen, and it
helped him diagnose and treat other cases which local doctors had
been wrestling with for a year without being able to diagnose.
“Prior to this,” Ketchum recalled, “the only pellagra I had ever
heard of was in Italy. But now they began picking up cases of
pellagra from all over, where the people had been eating nothing but
hog and hominy.”
Again Cayce didn’t get credit One of the Hopkinsville doctors, whose
patients had been helped, read a paper on his diagnosis of pellagra
to the Kentucky Medical Society, but he didn’t mention Cayce, or
Ketchum, for that matter.
Nevertheless, Cayce was quietly but surely enhancing Ketchum’s
reputation. Five Southern doctors, all seasoned veterans, and the
neophyte Ketchum were called in for consultation when wealthy
contractor, George Dalton, shattered a leg in a fall. As the doctors
wisely communed, Mrs. Dalton came out of the sick room and
“Mr. Dalton is willing to trust his case to the Yankee
It was a heavy responsibility for Ketchum—and Cayce. There was
no hospital, and patients were treated at home or in the doctor’s
office. And Ketchum had never treated a compound fracture before.
There was a hurried consultation with Cayce. And Cayce suggested
rather radical treatment for that time: boring a hole in the
kneecap, nailing the bones together, then putting the leg in
Ketchum had some misgivings. He had never heard of
anything like this.
“They used splints then,” he recalled, “but
metal screws were still in the future. However, I went down to the
nearest blacksmith, and he made up an iron nail like a large roofing
nail, with a big head on it”
Then with another doctor and two nurses
helping, Ketchum bored a hole in the patient’s knee and nailed it,
and then put the leg in traction, with a pulley at the foot of the
As the story got around that the Yankee doctor was hammering nails
into Dalton’s leg, Ketchum became uncomfortably aware of spiteful
side glances, and of wagging tongues saying,
“That damyankee. He’ll
kill old Dalton before he’s through.”
He went to Cayce for
reassurance, and got it. Meanwhile, he carried a double-barreled
shotgun in his buggy with him. He realized that his survival, as a
local doctor, anyway, hinged on Dalton’s recovery. It took months,
but he was vindicated. The leg was as solid as ever, and the iron
nail stayed in, Dalton taking it to the grave with him thirty years
Still nobody knew that he was using Cayce. And Ketchum himself
couldn’t get used to the idea that this slumbering illiterate, who
had not gone beyond the sixth grade, knew more about medicine,
anatomy, and chemistry than an honor medical graduate like himself,
and any of his distinguished colleagues or professors. Even seeing
it happen, it seemed incredible. He kept testing. Once he asked the
sleeping Cayce what the shortest muscle in the body was.
Without hesitating, the unlettered youth replied. “Levator labii
superioris alaeque nasi—in the upper lip.” He asked Cayce to name
the longest muscle, and with equal accuracy the sleeping phenomenon
replied, “Sartorius”—the muscle flexing the hip and knee joints.
Sometimes the words spilled out of Cayce, with all their intricate
technical terminology, other times he seemed to be groping, like a
bloodhound off the scent, and then would quickly recover as though
he had picked up a fresh trail. At such times, Ketchum recalled, he
appeared to be peering inside the subject, and it all seemed very
clear to him.
Cayce seldom recommended operations, indicating that his
subconscious considered surgery overworked. Any and every method
that appeared favorable to the particular situation came out of him
“He was an advocate of the new treatment of
osteopathy that had just come in at that time,” Ketchum noted.
recommended it for cases that chiefly had to do with spinal
adjustment or manipulation. Often we would ask if an operation was
necessary, and he’d say, ‘No operation needed.’ Instead, he’d refer
the patient to the nearest osteopathic doctor.”
There weren’t many
osteopaths around in those days, and Cayce would sometimes supply
the therapist’s name and address, and then describe the treatment in
Yet, he was as partial to drugs when they suited the purpose.
Ketchum was an often startled witness to Cayce’s singular facility
for picking out drugs that were not generally known, not yet on the
market, or out of use.
“One day,” Ketchum recalled, “there were a
couple of doctors and druggists in Cayce’s studio on a complicated
case, for which Cayce prescribed balsam of sulphur. They began
scratching their heads. Nobody had ever heard of it One of the
druggists, an elderly man named Gaither, was convinced there was no
such thing. They pored over a copy of the dispensatory, listing all
available therapeutic drugs. There was no balsam of sulphur. Then,
in an attic, they stumbled across an old defunct catalog, put out
fifty years before. They dusted it off, opened it, and there found
balsam of sulphur.”
Almost every aspect of the Cayce phenomenon was observed by Ketchum
in their years together. But each new wonder left him as surprised
as the last. After a while he was convinced that Cayce’s mind
traveled in space, settling in the immediate vicinity of the person
he was reading for. The clincher came one night when Cayce was
reading in Hopkinsville for a patient in Cleveland.
Suddenly, in the
middle of the reading, Cayce broke off. “He’s gone,” was all he
could say. He seemed to be groping about aimlessly.
Ketchum awakened him.
Later, Ketchum received a letter from a doctor friend in Cleveland.
His patient had died at 8:20 P.M., the very moment that Cayce missed
Ketchum was a self-assured young man with a strong sense of balance.
It stood him in good stead. Gradually, though he didn’t talk about
it himself, at this time, word had gotten around that he was
associated with a clairvoyant possessing remarkable healing powers.
Even so, people resorting to Cayce had usually exhausted all other
remedial sources. There were all kinds of phone calls, from the
rich, poor, trusting, cynical. Ketchum felt a little like Sherlock
Holmes of Baker Street, able to pick and choose the most interesting
cases that came his way. One day the phone rang, and a man announced
that he’d like the services of Wonder Boy Cayce. He was a
millionaire, living in a Midwestern city, and he was ready to pay
handsomely, throwing in a princely bonus if Cayce was effective.
It seemed the usual, last-ditch case, as Ketchum mulled it over, but
it was to reflect Cayce’s apparent omniscience in such a way that
even Ketchum was left shaking his head weakly. As with Holmes’ best
cases, the beginning was rather ordinary. The patient, the wife, was
apparently suffering from paralysis agitans, shaking palsy. The
devoted husband had taken her to clinics, hospitals, baths all over
the world, and had finally brought her home, hoping that care and
rest would at least make her comfortable.
When he heard somehow of
Cayce, he thought it worth a chance.
“All I ask,” he said over the
phone “is that you bring Cayce to our city to give her a diagnosis.”
Ketchum didn’t give him an answer right off.
“Give me your wife’s
name and address,” he said, “and I’ll let you know.”
As often as
Cayce had been successful, Ketchum still had to reassure himself
each time that the performance was genuine—and repeatable. So with
the man’s request, and the wife’s whereabouts, he asked Cayce for a
preliminary reading, presented to the mystic like any other request.
As a stenographer sat by, taking notes, Cayce raced on with a
complete history of the woman’s problem, induced largely by nerves.
Ketchum studied the report, then called the man to tell him he was
on his way. He had decided against taking Cayce, as he was still
playing down the association publicly. On his arrival, he checked
into a hotel and phoned the husband.
“Did you bring the boy with you?” the man asked.
“No,” Ketchum said.
The man’s voice fell. “Well, what are you going to do?”
“I have with me a typewritten description of your case.”
explained that it was from Cayce. There was an awkward pause on the
other end of the line.
“Very well,” the man said finally. “As long
as you’re here, you may as well come over.”
Hundreds of miles away, in trance, Cayce had described the unknown
patient as being in a wheelchair and said of her condition,
as rigid as a piece of marble. She can look neither to the right nor
the left. She had two trained nurses with white caps.”
As used as he
was to Cayce, Ketchum’s jaw dropped when he drew up to the patient’s
“There was the wife sitting on the front porch, at the top of
the steps, in a wheelchair. On either side stood a trained nurse in
a white cap.”
Because of the nature of the report in his pocket,
Ketchum needed the reassurance he had just received to proceed
confidently. The party moved into the living room, the nurses
withdrew, and the husband eyed Ketchum darkly.
“How can you proceed
without the Wonder Boy?” he asked. Ketchum permitted himself a
smile. “I have the Wonder Boy right here with me,” he said, taking
out the typewritten report.
He was not about to go into a
description of how Cayce functioned when he didn’t understand it
The woman sat stoically, hands trembling, eyes staring ahead. Her
husband was at her side, never lifting his gaze from the visitor.
Ketchum sat close to the woman, as he read from Cayce. The patient
had a nervous disorder, but not what was diagnosed. As Ketchum read
on, he appeared to grow embarrassed, rare for him.
“As a young
woman,” he said, “the patient had a secret sin.” She moved her head
a bit, showing her first sign of interest. Ketchum forged ahead.
“This secret sin was masturbation.”
The patient flushed from forehead to throat. Her husband looked
bored. He had never heard of anything so ridiculous. But Ketchum had
caught the woman’s startled look. He went on bravely. Because of
this sin, riddling her with guilt, the woman had delayed marriage
until she was thirty-nine. She had then married happily, it seemed,
had two children, and then fallen ill. The husband’s interest perked
up a little at this, since Cayce had hit the broad outline of their
As Ketchum finished the Cayce report, the woman
turned to her husband.
“Would you please go into the other room? I
want to talk to the doctor alone.”
As the door closed, she fixed her gaze on the youthful physician.
“Dr. Ketchum,” she said, “what kind of man is this Cayce? I did have
a secret sin, from the age of eighteen until I was thirty-nine. But
only I and my God have even known of it. How in the name of God
could this man have told you this?”
They chatted for a while,
Ketchum explaining that Cayce was a clairvoyant, who somehow tuned
into the subconscious. Apparently he had hit upon the suppressed
guilt which had built up inside the woman all these years, gradually
reflecting itself in her physical condition. As Cayce had so often
indicated, mind and body were unified, and the one could not suffer
without the other following suit. Cayce had recommended certain
drugs to help with the condition; talking it out seemed to do the
rest. Recovering gradually, the woman lived normally for several
The husband, nevertheless, was not overly impressed. He
couldn’t get out of his mind all that hogwash about a secret sin.
Ketchum never ceased marveling at Cayce’s apparent universal
knowledge. It was an arsenal, which he frequently drew on for his
own curiosity, as well as to help others. With Cayce in his corner,
it was difficult for patients to keep secrets from the doctor.
the same time, with his omniscient backdrop, it gave the young
physician a sense of authority, broadening his jurisdiction over
patients, even when he knew them only scantily. Whatever it was, he
felt that Cayce knew best. And so he counseled. One time, around the
Christmas holidays, a mother had made an appointment for her
daughter, who had arrived home on college vacation in a state of
depression. The appointment was for nine the next morning.
That evening, Ketchum consulted Cayce, giving him the girl’s name
and address. Cayce was very quiet for a few minutes, as though
trying in trance to appraise what he was receiving, and then said
with almost a sigh, “The trouble with this body is right here, right
here. There is a new life developing here in this pelvis. As a
result we have nausea, vomiting, otherwise known as morning
sickness.” Ketchum’s face fell. “What a case,” he thought wryly.
But since he was testing Cayce, he felt he might as well do a
thorough job. “What treatment do you suggest?” That question could
very well be a poser, since the girl was certainly not married.
“No treatment at all,” Cayce replied. “It’s perfectly physiological.
Nature takes care of those things.”
Before waking Cayce, Ketchum
washed the girl out of the sleeping mystic’s conscious mind.
well,” he said, “you will not see her any more.”
Mother and daughter arrived promptly at nine. The girl was pale and
wan but beautiful, with fine features, and a refined way about her.
If she had given herself to anyone, Ketchum sensed, it would only
have been out of love. He turned to the mother, “May I talk to your
daughter alone?” In the privacy of his office, he said gently, “Now
tell me all about yourself.”
She flushed and swallowed a few times,
then said in a tight little voice, “Nobody knows about it, but I’ve
missed two months.” It was by no means an unusual story, even for
that day and age. She had been dating a young man at a college
nearby for a year and a half, and they had fallen in love. Now she
Ketchum was only a few years older than the girl, but he had Cayce
to borrow from. And Cayce had proposed that Nature take care of the
Ketchum thought he would help Nature.
“The first thing we must do is
tell your mother,” he said.
The girl was horrified. “Please, not that.”
“Of course, your mother will know exactly what is best.”
The mother was surprisingly calm. She turned to her daughter, asking
how she felt about the young man. The girl sobbed that she loved
him, but was too ashamed to let him know what had happened.
want him to have to marry me.”
The mother looked questioningly at the young doctor who seemed to
have such easy command of a difficult situation.
Ketchum was still pushing Nature.
“Take my advice, contact this
young man right away, and have him come here for a talk.”
one sop to her female pride.
“I wouldn’t ask any man to marry a girl
unless she is the one for him. If you feel the same, then slip off
to another state, get married, and spread it across every paper in
town. If you keep it under cover, you’ll only make people curious.”
In forty-eight hours, it was all settled. The pair eloped, and then
went back to their classes, graduating in June, the baby arriving
almost with the Commencement Exercises. As Ketchum kept using Cayce,
other doctors in Christian County began to take an increasingly dim
view of him and “The Freak.”
On his part, the bumptious Ketchum was
feeling a growing annoyance with a medical fraternity that looked on
him suspiciously. He was also quietly aware that some who had been
quick to denounce him to the local medical societies had
clandestinely used Cayce themselves.
Cayce’s own attitude toward M.D.s was sharply edged with reserve.
His distant kin, Thomas House, later to head up the Cayce Hospital,
had used him, without understanding how the power worked. But at
least he conceded what did work, without the customary medical
observation, that it would have cured itself anyway. Long before
Ketchum arrived, the M.D.s had stopped the unlicensed Al Layne from
practicing medicine. Cayce had keenly felt their ending Layne’s work
with him, when they seemed to be helping people.
He had agreed, nevertheless, to work with a committee of youthful
physicians headed by Dr. John Blackburn, who had been impressed by
his work with the Dietrich child, among others. Blackburn,
superseding Layne, had even helped Cayce once, when his aphonia, or
voice lapse, had suddenly recurred, having Cayce suggest to himself
that his blood circulate properly. His voice promptly came back.
But even so, the committee of doctors, constantly testing, put a
strain on the brooding mystic, since at this indecisive stage, he
was looking for assurance, not misgivings or doubts, to justify
going on with the work. Some doctors had stuck him with pins when he
was sleeping to make sure he wasn’t faking, others had exerted
themselves to show his treatments utterly false. Once, the committee
thought they had him. It seemed an open-and-shut case.
Specialists had urged an immediate operation for a woman with
abdominal pains, bleeding internally. She went to Cayce. Cayce told
her that all she had was an abrasion of the stomach wall. He advised
long walks every day and a raw lemon sprinkled with salt It was so
patently absurd that the doctors decided to use this case to show up
Cayce as a fraud. They held off the operation, though they
considered surgery imperative. Three weeks later, the woman was
hiking ten miles a day and the abdominal pains had disappeared. She
was completely cured.
Shortly before he met Ketchum, Cayce decided that his gift, if it
was that, would have to stand on its own. There would be no more
experiments, with him as the guinea pig. While he and Ketchum were
worlds apart temperamentally, he recognized in Ketchum a pragmatic
acceptance of what worked, and it gave him a chance to help people
under competent supervision. Ketchum of course had profited. In
three or four years of backstopping by Cayce he had achieved an
enviable reputation as the doctor who could help when nobody else
could. But he had no objection to Cayce as a partner, if Cayce was
willing, for he realized that the only objections would come from
doctors, not patients interested only in being helped.
So he tossed a trial balloon in the air, choosing with his flair for
the dramatic a most suitable stage—a convention of doctors. The
occasion was a meeting of the National Society of Homeopathic
Physicians, at Pasadena, California. As he listened to his fellow
physicians discuss their most unusual cases, Ketchum rose leisurely
one day and told them of his most unusual case.
This was in July
1910. Most of his listeners were incredulous, of course. But one, a
Dr. Krauss, from Boston, approached Ketchum and asked if he would
prepare a paper on Cayce for the American Association for Clinical
Research meeting in Boston that September. Without much more ado,
Ketchum sat down and dashed off his description of Cayce with a lead
pencil, and handed it to the doctor. He thought no more of it, until
he got a copy of the program later, and saw himself down for “My
He had not bothered to go himself, or try to bring
Cayce, because he felt the medical profession—and the lay public—was
not prepared to accept what he had to say. And could he have had
second thoughts, he would probably have withdrawn his paper. As it
was, it was read by Henry E. Harrower, M.D., of Chicago, a frequent
contributor to the Journal of the American Medical Association, and
fully reported in a subsequent issue of the New York Times.
The Times considered it pertinent to mention Dr. Ketchum’s own
“It is well enough to add that Dr. Wesley H. Ketchum is
a reputable physician of high standing and successful practice in
the homeopathic school of medicine. He possesses a classical
education, is by nature of a scientific turn, and is a graduate of
one of the leading medical institutions of the country. He is
vouched for by orthodox physicians in both Kentucky and Ohio, in
both of which states he is well known. In Hopkinsville, no physician
of any school, stands higher, though he is still a young man.”
assembly of physicians listened with mingled reactions as Dr.
Harrower read off the paper for the absent Ketchum.
It spelled out
Ketchum, almost as much as it did Cayce.
“About four years ago,” it
went, “I made the acquaintance of a young man twenty-eight years old
who had the reputation of being a ‘freak.’ They said he told
wonderful truths while he was asleep. I, being interested,
immediately began to investigate, and as I was from Missouri, I had
to be shown. And truly, when it comes to anything psychical, every
layman is a disbeliever from the start, and most of our chosen
profession will not accept anything of a psychic nature, hypnotism,
mesmerism, or what not, unless vouched for by some M.D. away up in
the profession and one whose orthodox standing is unquestioned.”
Ketchum then mentioned how he put Cayce into trance.
“While in this
sleep, which to all intents and purposes is a natural sleep, his
objective mind is completely inactive and only his subjective is
working. By suggestion he becomes unconscious to pain of any sort,
and strange to say, his best work is done when he is seemingly ‘dead
to the world.’”
He stressed Cayce’s clinical detail and his accurate terminology.
“His psychological terms and description of the nervous anatomy
would do credit to any professor of nervous, anatomy. There is no
faltering in his speech and all his statements are clear and
concise. He handles the most complex jawbreakers with as much ease
as any Boston physician, which to me is quite wonderful, in view of
the fact that while in his normal state he is an illiterate man,
especially along the line of medicine, surgery or pharmacy, of which
he knows nothing. He is awakened by the suggestion that he will see
this person no more, and in a few minutes will be awake. Upon
questioning him, he knows absolutely nothing that he said, or whose
case he was talking about.”
He had never known Cayce to err in diagnosis, though he did once
describe the wrong person living in the same house as the one
“The cases I have used him in have, in the main, been the
rounds before coming to my attention, and in six important cases
which had been diagnosed as strictly surgical he stated that no such
condition existed, and outlined treatment which was followed with
gratifying results in every case.”
Conventionally schooled himself, Ketchum boldly anticipated the
reaction to his remarks.
“The regular profession scoff at anything
reliable coming from this source, because the majority of them are
in the rut and have never taken to anything not strictly orthodox.
You may ask why has a man with such powers not been before the
public and received the endorsement of the profession, one and all,
without fear or favor? I can truly answer that they are not ready as
yet. Even Christ himself was rejected. ‘Unless they see signs and
wonders they will not believe.’”
Not long after the Boston report,
which brought a descent of curious newspapermen on ordinarily drowsy
Hopkinsville, the organized medical groups in Christian County
decided the time was at hand to take action against an upstart who
seemed to encourage unlicensed quackery at the expense of the
conventionally licensed profession. A special meeting, of which
Ketchum had not been apprised, was held in the Hopkinsville
Practically every licensed M.D. in Christian County was
there, crying for Ketchum’s scalp.
“You and your Freak were both
cussed and discussed,” a friendly doctor advised Ketchum later, “and
the outcome was that they’re sending a committee to the state
capital to have your license revoked, because no physician of
judgment would take up with such a crazy thing.”
In due course,
Ketchum was formally notified of a second meeting, in which charges
were to be made publicly against him. The resourceful Ketchum
considered his course of action carefully. There were forty or
forty-five doctors in the county, and they would be solidly
arraigned against him. He could not expect one supporting word, not
to mention one vote.
On the morning of the meeting—a Tuesday—he went
down to the First National Bank of Hopkinsville, where he kept his
account, and announced to a surprised cashier,
“I want a thousand
dollars in two separate packs, five hundred each. New money.”
Later, that day, he put the two stacks into his pocket, and
sauntered off to the courthouse, picking out a seat in the back row
of the trial room. Dr. Frank Steitz, located directly across the
street from Ketchum, called the meeting to order. The minutes from
the last meeting rehashed the complaint, and named the committee
chosen to go to Frankfort, the state capital, to strike Ketchum from
the list of licensed practitioners. It was pointed out that he was
dealing openly with the freak Cayce, a wellknown faker, and thus
reflected discredit on the entire medical community. The sooner he
was eliminated, the better.
There was no comment on the minutes, and it was Ketchum’s turn to
speak for himself. He stood up, a tall and commanding presence, and
with all eyes on him, strode down to the front of the courtroom,
taking his place next to Steitz. The wily young doctor had his
strategy well planned.
He began evenly enough, placatingly, much as
Mark Antony had done with the conspirators in his memorable address
“Gentlemen,” he said in a conciliatory voice, “I am
very sorry to have brought this on the doctors of Christian County.
You were born and raised here, the majority of you. I was not I was
raised north of the river [the Ohio], and I came here a few years
ago at the encouragement of a number of your leading citizens, and
one of these, Professor Dietrich, the father of your wonderful
school system, told me about this boy Cayce. All I did was to
investigate him, and that’s all I’m still doing now.”
In the same
silky voice, he appealed to them for help in deciding whether Cayce
was a fake or not.
“I have a suggestion,” he said. “I’d like you to
appoint six men, each to choose his most complex case, and then have
Cayce diagnose each of the six cases, with two stenographers taking
it all down verbatim.”
He looked around the room with a face full of nothing but good will.
The doctors were following him raptly. Dramatically, he reached into
his pocket and slapped two stacks of fresh bills on the table before
“Here’s a thousand dollars of good American money,” he said.
“Now after the diagnoses have been made, and the patients have been
examined, if the diagnoses are not absolutely correct, I will turn
this money over to any charity you name in Christian County,
deducting, of course, the money paid out for your examinations.”
There was a stunned silence. Ketchum’s eyes traveled around the
room, relishing every moment of drama, every bit of the
consternation that his bold thrust had engendered. Then as he
surveyed the faces of his accusers, Ketchum’s manner abruptly
changed; all the righteous wrath of the injured lion burst forth.
“Here’s my thousand dollars,” he snapped, smacking the two piles on
“Now either put up or shut up.”
It was so quiet that Ketchum could hear the breathing of the doctors
in the first few rows. And then a voice broke the long silence,
saying with a humor lost on everybody but Ketchum,
I make a motion that the subject be laid on the table.”
Ketchum chuckled to himself. Cayce would have appreciated that
touch. In fact, he might have absentmindedly sidled onto the table
and fallen into trance.
That was the last Ketchum was to hear from organized medicine in
Christian County. However, what the doctors had not dared, the
lawyers did. Months after the abortive medical meeting, Ketchum
produced Cayce for banqueting lawyers from three states—Kentucky,
Tennessee, and Indiana.
The guest of honor was the Attorney General
of Kentucky. It was a simple demonstration of Cayce’s power of
universal knowledge. Several lawyers wrote out questions of a
personal nature, and Cayce answered them, shocking each and every
one with his intimate knowledge of their private affairs. The
incredulous looks on their faces reflected his accuracy.
The State’s highest legal authority had watched with special
interest, knowing of the action against Ketchum that had almost
landed on his desk. Ketchum looked at the Attorney General sharply,
and liked what he saw. “What do you think of it, sir?” he asked,
nodding at Cayce who was now standing around, busily disavowing
knowledge of anything he had said in bis sleep.
The Attorney General
stared at the doctor for a moment, raised his eyes heavenward, and
observed, “It’s not very far, you know, from Here to What’s Over
There, and Cayce falls through somehow.” Ketchum kept repeating the
Attorney General’s phrase to himself. Cayce did fall through, into a
completely different sphere, of which the ordinary mortal could only
speculate at the most. The problem again with Cayce was that just as
Ketchum had to be convinced, so did others, and Cayce, troubled by
his own gift, was a little weary of being a “freak.”
skepticism wore on him, just as it affected one who worked greater
miracles two thousand years before. Even when he performed wonders
of diagnosis and treatment, there were medical men to scoff that
chicanery was obvious. For what he was doing was impossible, even
though Christ had once said that others could heal like himself
given the faith in the Father. And certainly Cayce had that
Ketchum’s faith was also put on trial. But his was a far different
personality than the introverted Biblereader, with his constant
misgivings about himself and his power.
Ketchum was the hyperadrenalin type, an extrovert, who slugged back
And he believed in Cayce.
Cayce had closed his photographic studio in Bowling Green, the year
before Ketchum’s big blast, and was working as a photographer in
Alabama when the doctor persuaded him to return to Hopkinsville,
setting him up in a studio of his own, and arranging for him to give
daily readings, as a Psychic Diagnostician. The enterprise was
co-sponsored by hotel man Albert Noe. And for the first time Cayce
was to work professionally as a psychic, and receive a fee.
The new firm did a flourishing business. Sacks of mail arrived
daily, asking for readings, enclosing various sums of money. Along
with the mail arrived Ketchum’s father, a Pittsburgh horse trader.
He had seen his son’s picture in the paper, next to The Freak’s, and
wondered what he was getting into after all that expensive education
doctoring. Ketchum was his usual dramatic self as he tried to
reassure his father.
He pointed to the daily mailbag of forty or
“Ill show you this boy isn’t a fake,” he said. “Reach
down to the bottom of the sack and pull out a letter, any letter.”
The elder Ketchum brought out an envelope postmarked Cincinnati. He
tore it open. Inside was a twenty-dollar bill, with the note:
Doctor Ketchum: We have read of you and your Wonderful Man in
Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Please find enclosed twenty dollars and send
me a diagnosis.”
The name and address were all that was given. There
was no description of the condition, since the Times article had
said that Cayce required only a written request to diagnose and
Ketchum turned to his father.
“Is there anything in this
letter that would tend to tell you what the trouble is with this
The older man shook his head. “No, not a thing.”
Cayce was in his studio down the street. He quickly responded to a
call. Ketchum senior was not particularly impressed by the gangling,
bespectacled young man, but on the other hand he was pleasantly
surprised that he at least didn’t look the freak. He watched with
some misgivings as Cayce loosened his collar and cuffs, slipped off
his shoes, and stretched out comfortably on the couch in Ketchum’s
office. The doctor simply gave the man’s name and address, and asked
what could be done for him.
After he lay there a while, breathing evenly, Cayce said, with his
“Oh, yes, we have him here. The trouble with this man
is all with his eyes. The central axis cylinder of bis eyes is
blank. He can only see out of the sides of his eyes, through the
filaments around the edges. The optic nerve seems to be only active
around the edges. The central part of his optic nerve is dead.”
then briefly gave the man’s medical history, saying that he had been
to a number of doctors and clinics without getting any help
“Will you suggest treatment?” Ketchum asked.
As a stenographer busily raced over her shorthand pad, the sleeping
seer gave a detailed description of what should be done.
“Very well,” Ketchum said, taking Cayce out of his trance, “you will
wake up and see him no more.”
As the elder Ketchum sat around,
unconvinced, the secretary typed off the reading, and a copy was
sent off to the subject in Cincinnati.
Anxious to demonstrate that he was not in anything shady, Ketchum
invited a local eye specialist, who had just returned from three
years of European study, to join him and his father for lunch. “I
think he’s the right man to review this particular diagnosis.”
After the luncheon dishes were cleared away, Ketchum brought out a
copy of the Cayce diagnosis. Dr.
Edwards read it through carefully, re-read it even more carefully,
and then turned to Ketchum’s father.
“Now listen closely, Mister
Ketchum. Your son has only been here a relatively short time. He has
good ordinary judgment. He’s had thorough training in medicine and
hospital work. So the sooner he forgets about this damn thing, the
better it’s going to be for him! It’s the biggest farce that I ever
heard of. And to think he believes in it, is beyond my
Ketchum pere was convinced, but not the way the son
had planned. When they got back to the office, he blurted out
angrily, “Just as I expected! I don’t believe any of it, either.”
Ketchum junior smiled rather bleakly.
“Wait and see, we haven’t
heard from the patient yet”
On the third day, thereafter, there was
a discreet knock on the Ketchum door. It was a man the doctor had
never seen before. His head was averted, as though he was trying to
see out of the corners of his eyes.
“You’re from Cincinnati, aren’t
you?” Ketchum said.
Ketchum had guessed right again. The man was too excited to write or
phone, he had to express himself in person. He had set out almost as
soon as he had received the reading in the mail.
“This is the most
wonderful thing,” he said. “I have been suffering from eye trouble,
but no one ever diagnosed my case before.”
Dr. Edwards was summoned. He agreed to examine the visitor. Two
hours later his examination was completed. This time he called to
say that lunch would be on him. The group met again, with the
patient present Edwards turned to Ketchum with an apologetic smile.
“I want to take back everything I said. I didn’t know that such a
condition could possibly exist. The central portion of the optic
nerve is dead, as you said.”
Ketchum took his win in stride.
“But he can see out of the sides of
“Of course he can. But not through the center. Every word
Cayce said is absolutely true.”
He held out his hand to the damyankee from across the wide Ohio.
“If any of the doctors raise
any objection to you trying to demonstrate this boy, send them to
me, and I’ll tell them what I think of them.”
There was not much for
the patient, since there wasn’t much that could be done. But one
person was immeasurably helped: that was Ketchum’s father. He went
back to Pittsburgh, convinced that he hadn’t produced a fool, after
During this period, with Ketchum, the fact that Cayce was making
money on his readings for the first time continually bothered him.
But somebody would be helped by a reading, and this again convinced
Cayce they were worth doing. Meanwhile, his fame was spreading. In
October 1911 Ketchum was persuaded to address the American
Association for Clinical Research, in Boston.
The doctors wanted to
bear more about Cayce. Working with Cayce every day, Ketchum had
tried to figure out how The Work worked.
“As fixed laws seem to
govern all phenomena in nature,” he told the assembly, “it is but
natural to infer that this is true of the workings of the psychic.
In the course of my investigations I have discovered only one thing
that seems to be absolute; that is that the patient should in some
way solicit help in his or her particular case. Otherwise results
are meager. In several instances where my Unusual Case tried to help
patients who had no previous knowledge that such was being done for
them, he only gave a rambling talk, hitting the subject only in high
places, so to speak.”
In a sense, Ketchum was years ahead of his
time, not only in accepting a phenomenon that he didn’t understand,
but in comprehending that Cayce somehow represented a principle of
nature, which like electricity, or flying, was part of a broad
universal pattern that people could apply when they were ready.
“After experimenting with my subject for several years,” he said, “I
can compare parapsychology only with aviation, which is just now
commanding the attention of the mechanical experts of the world; and
there can only be one outcome, success eventually.
The same is true
in the psychic. Conditions in nature have always been as now for
aviation, but men said, ‘It is impossible,’ and of course nothing
happened. Heretofore, the medical profession has assumed the same
attitude. They could scarcely reconcile themselves to the teachings
of those who belonged to different schools of medicine; so it
naturally follows, since they did not even believe in each other,
that they surely would place little confidence in anything of a
psychic nature.” In time the relationship with Ketchum and Noe
Cayce, overly concerned perhaps that he was becoming a
money-making machine, temporarily broke off the readings, turning
back to photography. He had suffered recurring headaches during this
period, as when he visited Chicago to demonstrate for a newspaper
there. He had to be his own master, doing things his own way, or not
function at all. Ketchum eventually left Hopkinsville, took a
refresher course at Harvard, and then went out to Hawaii to
practice. He had a long, productive career, before retiring in
Though he sent people to osteopaths, chiropractors, and
physiotherapists, Cayce actually didn’t favor any of these over the
medical men. He just felt that they, too, had a place in the healing
art. He himself was treated by all at various times. In fact, his
favorite therapist was the dean of Virginia Beach medical doctors,
Robert Woodhouse, who is hale and hearty today at eighty-three. He
remembers Cayce as an intelligent patient, who professed to know
little or nothing about medicine in the waking state.
He had enjoyed
their chats together during consultations, and had seen nothing
ironic about the man who went to sleep for others coming to him with
his own personal health problems.
“We have a saying in the
profession,” the wise old doctor observed with a smile, “that a man
who treats himself, has an idiot for a patient, and a fool for a
Back to Contents
8 - Twenty Years Later
In March 1966, as I sat listening to the moving theme music for
“Nehru and India” on CBS television, I could not help thinking that
but for Edgar Cayce millions would have been denied this musical
thrill Dead now more than twenty years, Edgar Cayce was still saving
people, and the prolific, talented American composer-conductor Alan
Hovhaness was gratefully one of them. Half-crippled, disabled,
debilitated, suffering from hemorrhoids, the musical wonder had
about given up. Then, one day on the radio, listening with Ms wife,
he heard the mystic’s son mention to interviewer Long John Nebel
that his father still lived in the healers using his remedies to
“Here in New York,” Hugh Lynn said, “physiotherapist
Harold J. Reilly is using the same kind of treatments my father once
sent people to him for.”
At this Nara Hovhaness’ eyes brightened, and she turned eagerly to
her husband. “Alan,” she said, “maybe he can help you.”
The composer gave her a wan smile. He was considerably older than
his wife—in his mid-fifties—and not as impressionable. He looked at
his hands and shook his head tolerantly. It was an effort just to
make that movement, and he winced. His body was racked with bursitis
and arthritis, and the crippling stiffness was edging down his arms,
foreshadowing an end to his career. He had tried one specialist
after another for years, and had not been helped.
His wife looked at him appealingly.
“Mr. Cayce said there were
special exercises recommended by his father that Reilly had given
for years with great results.”
The composer shrugged. “I don’t have to go to Reilly to exercise,”
So that summer of 1964, Alan Hovhaness compromised, trying
to please his wife by swimming at a midtown Manhattan pool. But it
was a dismal failure.
“He didn’t have enough strength in his arms to
hold on to the edge of the pool and tread water,” she recalled.
Five months later, the composer was desperate. He had to stop his
conducting because he could no longer lift his arms above his waist.
He could lie on only one side at night, and even this was painful.
Even finger movement was restricted, composition was a strain, and
soon an impossibility.
“Alan,” his wife said, “there was a reason
for us to be tuned in that night; let me make an appointment with
By this time, it was apparent there was nothing to lose. The
composer sighed, “As you will.” A few weeks later, Alan Hovhaness
was a new person. He could raise his arms to the ceiling, he could
rest comfortably for the first time in years, and he was beginning
to get an idea of what it meant to feel well.
What miracle had the seventy-year-old Reilly wrought?
Actually, nothing that he hadn’t been doing for some forty years.
“It was all very simple,” the youthful septuagenarian said. “I made
a few adjustments of the vertebrae and limbs, taking the pressure
off nerves; gave him massage to stimulate blood, lymph, and glands;
pine oil fume baths and colonies to eliminate toxics; and a few
It was hard to believe that a cure could have been so easily
effected. Reilly shrugged.
“He had to keep at it for months, but
he’s now functioning all over the lot, and he enjoys the exercises.”
I had dropped by Reilly’s office to discuss the Cayce work,
generally, only to become interested specifically in Hovhaness.
During Cayce’s lifetime, Reilly had treated scores of patients sent
by Cayce, the first arriving in 1931 before Reilly had even heard of
Cayce, and, for that matter, before the waking Cayce had heard of
Reilly. They had arrived with slips in their hands, describing the
treatment, and Reilly had given it. He knew of no case where the
treatment was followed that the patient didn’t improve or get well.
Now with Cayce gone, he gave what was indicated for obvious
disorders, already accurately diagnosed, since he was no
diagnostician, and Cayce was gone. But it wasn’t hard to figure
Hovhaness, a simple case of rack and ruin.
I anticipated meeting the composer whose work I had long admired.
Reilly consulted his watch.
“He should be here any minute, and you
can see for yourself.” In a few moments, the composer bustled
through the door. His step was springy, his eye alert, his arms were
swinging loosely at his sides. He had the look of a man who got a
kick out of life. He shook first Reilly’s hand and then mine. His
grip was strong and firm. “I’m so pleased about the way I feel,” he
said, “that I don’t care who knows about it.” He smiled. “It’s a
miracle, thanks to Mr. Reilly, and Cayce.”
A year had passed since his first visit to Reilly. In that time he
had been to Russia for the State Department, observing the music of
that country, and had traveled extensively as a guest conductor. He
had returned just the day before from leading a symphony orchestra
in Rochester, New York, and was off the next day for Seattle,
Washington, to lead another. He was working ten, twelve hours a day
at the composition that made him the country’s most versatile and
prolific composer. How had Reilly managed it?
The physiotherapist had retired to an inner office to finish with a
patient, and we were alone.
“He manipulated and massaged me,” Hovhaness said, “but apparently what helped most was the bending and
stretching. It brought new life to my arms and legs.”
routine was elementary. He had done the neck rolls, a simple Yoga
exercise, often recommended by Cayce; he had bent forward down,
allowing his arms to swing back and forth like a pendulum, a
specific for bursitis, and he had stretched toward the ceiling,
visualizing the sky. The pendulum and the manipulations, bringing
fresh blood into his arms, had given him the flexibility to get his
arms above his waist—and from there progress was rapid.
He had not been able to do much at first. The manipulations and fume
baths had helped to ease his stiffness, the colonies had detoxified
him. For a few minutes each day, he exercised on a massage table,
bending his arms and legs, reaching behind his head and for his
toes, bringing his legs up to his chin and over his head.
Each day he did a little more, straining to the point of tension but
never fatigue. His muscles and joints began to open up and live
again, the blood coursed to every part of the anatomy. He began to
get over the idea that he was an invalid, becoming imbued with his
body’s capacities, not its limitations. Each exercise became a
revelation of unaccustomed movement. The first gingerish approaches
were replaced by sure, confident thrusts. Everything seemed possible
now. He was on his way.
Though normally shy and retiring, Hovhaness was not at all backward
about discussing his transformation.
“I’m so eternally grateful that
I’m for helping anybody who wants to help himself.” He still
“I wouldn’t miss the exercises for the world. In Rochester the other
day, I had an hour between rehearsal and performance, so I hurried
back to my hotel room and exercised.”
“Which exercises seem to help
the most?” I asked.
He plopped down on the floor, his feet planted firmly against the
floor molding, and straightened out as though about to do pushups.
Instead, supported by his arms, he started rotating his body with
his hips, first one way and then the other.
“That not only makes me
feel better generally, strengthening my shoulders, but got rid of
the hemorrhoids which the doctors have been wanting to operate on
for twenty years.” The composer laughed easily. “The stretching
helped the upper part of me, the torso twist the lower part.”
He scrambled to his feet with the grace and ease of a much younger
“I have new confidence in my powers to get well and stay well.
As Reilly—and Cayce—stress, the body is a self-healing organism. All
it needs is a starter, plus proper stimulation, assimilation, and
He was talking like a Cayce reading.
I saw the composer two or three times thereafter, and was impressed,
above all, by his robust attitude toward life. He was fifty-seven,
but his outlook was that of a boy, eager, expectant, nourishing each
new experience as part of the great adventure.
“I feel as though
Edgar Cayce just reached out and guided me to the man who could help
me, even though it took me a while to listen.”
As a Cayce
practitioner Reilly has been the agency, posthumously, of many Cayce
cures. One of the most remarkable concerned a wealthy Connecticut
woman, who had read about Cayce in my book, The Door to the Future,
and had hunted up doctors who knew anything about the Cayce method.
Her search finally led her to her own Fairfield County, where a
physician, who had once researched the Cayce readings, confirmed
that she was suffering from a vaginal tumor, and recalled that Cayce
had successfully prescribed high-frequency ultraviolet in similar
He sent her to the physiotherapist, Reilly, noting that the
ultraviolet appliance would have to be carefully inserted.
apparently required a pelvic operation and had learned about the
Edgar Cayce material,” the doctor reported. “She wanted some
treatment in accordance with the readings. Apparently, several
physicians refused to do this and this is how she came to me. I
outlined a course of treatment for her, according to the Cayce data,
which she will obtain at the Reilly institute in New York City.”
The patient was of a distinguished family, represented in the
Franklin D. Roosevelt wartime cabinet. She had consulted many
doctors without being helped, and so was in the mood to get help
from a dead psychic. Reilly proceeded as Cayce had indicated. After
a few treatments, the tumor began to noticeably dwindle. And in a
few weeks, it had vanished completely. Gratefully, the patient gave
a grant for medical research into the Cayce readings.
Harold Reilly had studied Cayce well.
“After a while,” he said, “I
got the idea that all a healer had to do was start the body healing
itself. Once blood, lymph, and nerve impulses were flowing through
the system, once circulation, assimilation and elimination were
normal, then the body would counterattack wherever its defenses had
As reflecting the Cayce concepts, I quoted Reilly one day to Mrs.
Louise Ansberry, a former Washington society woman and public
relations counsel. Mrs. Ansberry seemed more than casually
“I wonder,” she said, “if he could help my daughter.”
Ten-year-old Hale Ansberry, it developed, was suffering from a
little-known skin affliction, and had been to three New York
specialists. The dermatologists had heard of only two or three cases
like it. They identified it as lichen sclerosis, and pronounced it
incurable. The disorder was beginning to affect the child’s
personality, as well as health.
She was a pupil at the Spence
School, and she had become acutely sensitive to the stares of
classmates and their innocent references to the infection, which had
cracked the skin of her legs, leaving them scaly and chalk-like. The
child’s body was similarly marked, as were her arms. She was not
exactly a basket-case, but she was a comely girl, on the edge of
puberty, and a chronic infection of this sort could very well
distort her personality. She already was growing morose, and kept to
herself, a distinct change from the laughing extroverted little girl
I had enjoyed.
As the child sidled in, curtsied, and quietly went off to bed, Mrs.
Ansberry’s eyes followed her with a worried frown. “Certainly,” she
said, “Reilly could do no harm.” That weekend we all drove to
Reilly’s place in the country. Reilly gave Hale a friendly smile,
and took her into a treatment room equipped with shortwave
diathermy, steam cabinet, and massage table. They came out together
about forty-five minutes later. The child was ruddy of face and
looked fresh and alive, but a little sheepish. She had never been on
a massage table before.
Reilly turned to the mother,
bring her back for a couple more treatments.”
Five or six weeks passed. Mrs. Ansberry traveled to Japan and India,
and phoned me on her return.
“How is your daughter?” I asked.
Her voice rose in excitement. “Didn’t I tell you,” she said, “her
skin has practically cleared up. There are only a few faint red
marks, and they seem to be vanishing.”
I called Reilly to find out what miracle he had performed.
“I can’t even remember what I did,” he said, “I keep no records in
the country. Why not bring her up again? It’ll refresh my memory.”
I scanned Hale’s legs and arms before we started. The cracks in the
skin, and the chalkiness, had completely disappeared. If she hadn’t
called a few pale pink spots to my attention, I would never have
noticed them. Hale was her “old” self, relaxed, friendly, trading
quips as though I was her age. We had a pleasant ride, the two of
us, and Reilly was waiting. “I remember now,” he said, leading Hale
to the treatment room, “I adjusted her spine.”
He placed the child on the massage table, ran his hands expertly
over her vertebrae, and told her to relax on her stomach.
still a bit out of adjustment,” he said, as his strong hands flexed
her spine tenderly. “There could very easily have been some pressure
or nerve impingement, which threw off the normal vibration of the
His hands moved up and down her spine. There were three
distinct pops in the dorsal (mid-back) and lumbar (lower back) area
Reilly grunted in satisfaction. “That ought to do it,” he said.
Two weeks later, the last signs of the rare skin disorder had
apparently vanished, and we were ready for the post script. Mrs.
Ansberry called to say that she had reported the cure to one of the
dermatologists, mentioning that the condition had cleared completely
after two spinal adjustments. “That’s impossible,” said the learned
M.D., whose office fee had been seventy-five dollars. “The condition
“But it’s gone,” the mother protested.
The specialist’s voice turned cool.
“Then the diagnosis was false.”
“But the other doctors agreed,” she reminded him, “and you removed
patches of the child’s skin and tested them.”
“The condition,” he repeated, with a note of finality, “is
The mother then phoned the original diagnostician. His
reaction was not quite as arbitrary.
“It could have been a
spontaneous remission,” he said, “these things happen.”
Mrs. Ansberry’s conversations with the doctors were conveyed to healer
Reilly. A broad grin brightened his face.
“It’s a curious thing,” he
said, “these spontaneous cures always, happen with somebody else’s
cases, never theirs.”
Although many of his Cayce-patients staged dramatic recoveries,
there was none more remarkable than one reviewed before his very
eyes at a meeting at the old McAlpin Hotel in New York City. Reilly
had shared the speaker’s rostrum with the osteopath, Frank Dobbins
of Staten Island; Cayce’s old friend, David Kahn, and Cayce himself,
when Kahn, a Kentucky-born businessman, whose whole life had been
influenced by the Cayce readings, got up to tell of a miracle Cayce
had performed for a man who had been in a mental institution.
Because of Cayce, Kahn said, that man was now free, and Cayce had
correctly diagnosed and prescribed for him without knowing more than
his name and plight. He had never seen him, nor consulted any of the
diagnoses of his condition. As a matter of fact, the man in question
was still in the institution when Cayce read for him in Virginia
Beach. It was all documented. Through a nurse, who had once worked
for David Kahn, had come the appeal for Cayce aid.
Her sister was
married to the victim, who was forty-seven, the father of three, and
a post office foreman.
“I have a very worthwhile case that I would like you to assist me
with,” Kahn wrote. “This man had a nervous breakdown while in the
postal service, from overwork, or so the doctors stated. They tell
us he will now be dismissed in two weeks from a State Hospital and
will return to New York. The problem of the family is whether he
will be able to assume the new duties, or what they should do under
The troubled wife and children had a number of
Will it be best for the patient to return to work in the Post Office
Department immediately upon his leaving the sanitarium?
Are there any dangers of the pains in his head returning?
Is there any adjustment necessary in the home for his wife and
children to know about so that they can make whatever changes are
necessary upon the father’s return?
In what way can his illness be discussed so that he will not develop
an inferiority complex?
What will enable him to regain his health physically?
How long will it take for him to regain his normal equilibrium?
Can he be entirely cured?
The man had already been in the asylum for three years, and as he
well knew, his return was probationary, since he would be
scrutinized closely for signs of any relapse. With Kahn’s letter
came a written request for a reading from the wife.
“My husband is
in Rockland State Hospital, Orangeburg, New York, in Building X,
Ward Z, which is on the ground floor of the building. He is not
confined to one room, but is around the ward.”
As usual, Gertrude
Cayce put the hypnotic suggestion to her husband and Gladys Davis
was there to take down whatever Cayce said.
The suggestion by
Gertrude was the usual:
“Now you will have before you the body of
... who is at Orangeburg, New York. 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.”
As Cayce fell into the shallow trance that preceded his deeper
slumber, Gertrude repeated the suggestion in a soft undertone. With
his face impassive, and his lips moving precisely, Cayce responded
in clear-cut tones. “Yes, we have the body,” he said, as he had said
so many times before. And now, from what Cayce was to say, it became
apparent that the whole diagnosis of the complex causes of the man’s
condition had been erroneous, either that, or Cayce was wrong.
immediately, warning that there could be a recurrence, unless the
cause was treated, Cayce pointed directly to a physical source as
the cause of the mental disorder.
“Unless there are other
applications to keep this coordination, or to supply the activities
to the nerve energies of the system, we find that with the
realization that there is an improbability of being restored to
active service [at the Post Office] the condition would become very
much disturbed again.”
And now he came to the immediate cause,
though he would only later relate, remarkably, what the instigator
of this immediate cause was.
The trouble had begun in an area at the
base of the spine.
“For through pressures upon nerve energies in the
coccyx area and the ilium plexus, as well as that pressure upon the
lumbar axis, there has been a deflection [derangement] of
coordination between the sympathetic and the cerebrospinal nervous
system. Thus we find impulses for activities become very much
exaggerated. While the hypnotic that has been administered, and the
sedatives have allayed the conditions and created rather a
submissiveness in the impulses through added suggestions to the
body, and the activities in which it had been engaged.”
words, the condition had only been masked. Cayce then recommended
spinal adjustments in the coccyx and lumbar centers, and application
through low electrical vibration of gold to,
“revivify the energies
through the creating in the glandular forces of the body the
elements necessary for the replenishing of the impulses, so there
may be a restoring of the mental forces and a better coordination.”
Cayce was nothing if not specific. The spinal adjustments would be
made each day for ten days, and then every third day. Chloride of
gold would be administered, via a wet cell appliance, three grams to
each ounce of distilled water, a half-hour daily, with the solution
changed at least every fifteen days. He even specified how the
appliance should be attached to the body.
“The small anode or plate
would be attached first to the fourth lumbar, while the larger
plate, through which the gold solution passes, would be attached
last, to the umbilicus and lacteal duct plexus, or four fingers from
the umbilicus center toward the right in a straight line.”
Not even the most formidable pathologist or anatomist could have
more precisely employed this technical terminology. A sympathetic
physician would be required for both the adjustments and the gold
application, which meant some osteopath, since almost any medical
doctor would have laughed the reading away at this tune.
Additional questions were then put to Cayce, which made his reading
all the more incredible.
Q. What was the original cause, or what produced this condition?
A. A fall on the ice, injuring the coccyx end of the spine.
Q. What caused the original pains in head?
A. Reflexes from those injuries to the pressures made upon the
Q. What doctor in New York will be best able to aid this man to get
his mental equilibrium?
A. Anyone in sympathy with the conditions to
be applied. But the adjustments should be made by the same.
Q. How long will it be before he will be able to return to work
after leaving the institution?
A. It would require at least sixty to ninety days.
Q. Should he be told that he has been put on the retired list of the
Post Office Department and will have to apply for reinstatement to
active work, or what should be done considering his mental condition
A. To give the body the impression that it has been entirely left
out, without there being some adjustments and some reconstruction,
will make for a greater derangement through the mental incapacities
of the body, and will cause violence.
As Cayce saw it, it would be necessary to gradually build up the
body to gain the equilibrium needed for active service in Post
He was then asked:
“What kind of body-building exercise would be
“Keep in the open as much as practical, but never alone,
until there is at least the opportunity for better equilibrium to be
gained by the releasing of the pressures and the building up to the
glandular forces and to the activities from the electrical forces
through the gold chloride in the system.”
Thereafter, in accordance
with the Cayce reading, the man was treated by Dr. Dobbins, with the
treatment getting under way on March 26, 1938. By this time, the man
was out of the asylum, and confronted with the task of bringing
together the threads of his life.
Kahn met him at Dobbins’ office,
and I reflected sadly on the man’s institutionalization.
“I wish you
could see what a fine upstanding figure of a man this is,” he wrote
Cayce, who had already seen through him with his X-ray eyes. “He
stands over six feet tall and is as broad and handsome a man as I
have ever seen anywhere, and his mind seems to function even more
normally than mine. Yet, the doctors up here put him in an insane
asylum and he had a terrible time getting out, when, according to
the reading an adjustment in the base of the spine would make him
perfectly normal. It certainly is remarkable, and the pity of it is
that so few people can know the wonder of it.”
Without having been shown the reading the postal foreman was asked
if he had ever suffered a bad fall on the ice. He recalled one such
spill; it bothered his lower spine for a few days, then seemed to go
away. Cayce had seen it all. All this was now eight or nine months
in the past and Kahn was happy to announce to the McAlpin audience
that the man, given the case number 1513 to protect his identity,
was happily rejoined to his family and job.
At this point, as Kahn moved to introduce Cayce, a tall,
square-shouldered man got up from a back seat and began lumbering
down the aisle to the speakers’ platform. His eyes seemed intent not
on Kahn, who was watching him closely, but on Cayce sitting nearby,
ready to take the platform himself. There was a hush, as the
audience sensed the determination in the stride of the man nearing
Finally, he came to the front of the hall, and in a
quiet, choked voice, turned to face the audience, and said,
word Mr. Kahn has spoken is true, and I came tonight to shake the
hand of the man who gave me back my Me.”
It was the postal foreman. With tears in his eyes, he turned and
offered his outstretched hand to the equally affected Cayce. There
was hardly a dry eye in the auditorium, including the normally
phlegmatic Reilly. Awkwardly, Cayce rose to acknowledge the help he
“I feel like exhibit A,” he said, “I myself have done
nothing. I am but a channel of this great gift, and I feel that I am
more helpful to you asleep than when I’m awake.”
Over the years, Reilly had become a portable repository of practical
Cayce therapy. He wasn’t always sure how the Cayce treatment worked,
but was content that it did. During Cayce’s lifetime, everyone
coming to Reilly, even for a simple massage or colonic, had their
treatment spelled out in detail. Massage varied according to the
For epilepsy, for instance, peanut oil and olive
oil were recommended as a rub, with precise particulars:
massage from base of brain to end of spine. Massage in circular
motion either side of spine. Give this regularly, once a week,
during the castor oil packs treatment.”
The massage for the diabetic, with peanut oil exclusively, was
“Massage across small of back, sacral, hips,
even along sciatic area.”
There was a brief reference to the cause.
“Unbalanced circulation by lack of proper reaction through pancreas.
A patient with severe anemia had more rigorous
massage, with peanut oil
“Each morning upon arising, all body will
absorb. Once a week massage into abdomen and over stomach area,
whole spine, across sacral.”
For psoriasis, there were explicit
“Take colonic after the first cabinet sweat. Osteopathic
adjustments. Fume baths [pine oil or wintergreen]. Massage. Diet.”
Again, a reference to cause.
“Poisons in lymph blood arising from
lack of coordination in eliminations. A form of strep that brings
pus-forming activities even to the surface.”
Perhaps the most unusual of Cayce’s purifying baths which included
Epsom salts for stiff, arthritic joints, was one of hot coffee.
“Bathe feet when there is tiredness with hot coffee made from old
coffee grounds to stimulate better circulation and aid eliminations
through entire system. Rub bursae of feet and limbs well and the
acid will aid in circulation.”
Reflecting his own belief in the
essential unity of the body, Cayce advised:
“This will eliminate
heaviness in throat and head disturbances.”
Even the type of massage
was important. A well-known advertising tycoon, for instance, had
come to Reilly with a prescription for a gentle, soothing massage.
“Otherwise,” the reading said, “he will disintegrate.”
was an obvious case of high-blood pressure, and Reilly would not
have permitted a brisk or deep massage in any event. However, the
executive, a millionaire used to his own way, balked at the massage.
“I like the kind of rub I can feel,” he said. Reilly insisted on
following the reading, and the man went elsewhere, getting what he
“Less than a month later,” Reilly recalled, “he was dead. He
As he worked with the various oils that Cayce
recommended, Reilly noticed that some, like peanut and camphorated
oil, seemed to have remarkable healing powers, indicating that they
were being absorbed through the skin, and were not mere emulsions.
After Cayce’s death, Reilly’s study brought him to Virginia Beach to
pore through the readings and discuss Cayce’s therapy with others
who had used it.
In Virginia Beach, as I soon discovered, he was as celebrated for
his rehabilitating work with Cayce remedies, as he was in New York
Still, with it all, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge that Cayce’s
psychic contribution had been lost when he himself passed on. “It’s
too bad so much of this is lost,” I remarked one day to Marjorie
Bonney, a Virginia Beach matron, who was the mother of two.
Mrs. Bonney, an attractive woman in her mid-forties, gave me a
“The important thing,” she said, “is that so much of
I regarded her enquiringly.
“You know Harold Reilly?”
She hesitated. “It’s a rather personal story, but I suppose they all
are, or we wouldn’t be talking about them.”
I waited quietly.
“It concerns my daughter, and it goes back a while, though Cayce was
already dead then, and you could hardly have expected any help from
him. We were in a terrible automobile accident, my daughter and I;
this was back in 1948. Emily was three years old. We were both taken
to the hospital. After weeks of hospitalization, Emily’s face and
body were terribly scarred, and one of her legs seemed to have lost
it development. It became like a stick, and her foot wobbled a she
walked. Even with surgery, the wobbliness persisted. I was apparent
the condition would only persist and grow worse with time.”
At this stage of the girl’s infirmity, Reilly was visiting in
Virginia Beach, and happened to be around near A.R.E headquarters,
watching some children at play. He noticed, particularly, a small
girl limping after a ball. His eyes ran professionally down the
skimpy little leg. Frowning, he turned to an attractive woman
standing nearby. It was Marjorie Bonney, though he did not know her
at the time.
“Do you know whose child that is?” he asked.
Marjorie nodded. “She’s mine.”
“Well, if something isn’t done about that leg pretty soon,” he said,
“the muscles will atrophy completely, and shell be crippled for
Marjorie Bonney felt sick inside. “We’ve been to the best doctors,
and there’s nothing that even the surgeons can do now,” she said.
Reilly regarded her kindly. “Why don’t you talk to Gladys Davis,
Edgar Cayce’s secretary,” he suggested, “she may remember two or
three readings that applied to wasted muscles?”
Familiar with Cayce,
Mrs. Bonney promptly conferred with the secretary. Three or four
readings dealing with apparently similar afflictions of an arm or
leg were dug out They recommended massage with peanut oil and
camphorated oil, applied on alternate days, the muscles to be rubbed
from the toe toward calf, thigh, and groin.
Each night before bed little Emily got her massage. “One night I
would massage her leg for a halfhour, the next night my husband
would.” The two oils had an added purpose. They would rub some on
their daughter’s hands, and then have her rub her scarred face with
it. The readings had said that the peanut oil stimulated the growth
of new tissue.
The massages continued for two years. Improvement was
gradual during the first year. The muscles expanded and developed
until both calves were the same size and shape, the ankle became
firmly attached to the foot, the wobble stopped, and with it the
limp. At the same tune the facial scars began to disappear, both
small and large. Edgar Cayce had again reached out from the dead to
help. His dearest supplicant—a small child.
Marjorie Bonney didn’t
see it quite that way, though her daughter, now Mrs. E.F. Friedrich
of Buffalo, New York, grew up normally and happily.
“I just don’t
think,” Mrs. Bonney said, “that Edgar Cayce ever left us.”
Although he now talks freely about Cayce, there was a time, when
Cayce lived, that Reilly seldom mentioned the work he was doing with
“I felt foolish telling people that a sleeping Yehudi, as I thought of Cayce then was telling me how to run my
business. They would have laughed, and nobody likes being laughed
Today, Reilly no longer cares what anybody thinks, so as the
“I know more about Cayce now for understand the
concept behind his work. You get everything working right, body and
mind, and illness hasn’t got chance.”
Even now as he thinks back on it, Reilly is amazed by the sequence
of strange events that brought Edgar Cayce and his patients into his
life. He had never heard of Cayce, and the waking Cayce, as noted,
had never heard of Reilly. Yet, one day, a middle-aged man, looking
a bit under the weather walked into the Reilly health center, then
located in New York on 63rd Street and Broadway, and handed him a
slip of paper.
The handsome Irishman looked at it curiously. It didn’t seem too
different from a lot of other prescriptions that came his way from
physicians, osteopaths, and naturopaths. On it was a diagnosis of a
gall bladder condition, and recommendation for a certain type of
bath and manipulation As his establishment specialized in
hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, manipulative therapy, Reilly didn’t
give the reading another thought.
He figured Cayce might be an
osteopath that he hadn’t heard of. The number of people coming in
with Cayce readings continued, and Reilly grew even more curious.
This “Dr.” Cayce seemed to know his stuff. Whatever it was he
recommended, whether the patients had bursitis, arthritis, nervous
tension asthma, or whatever—the results were the same. They improved
and got well.
One day, Reilly called one of the patients aside and asked about Dr.
Cayce. The patient shook his head. He had never seen the “doctor.”
Reilly looked at him as though he deranged.
The man explained.
wife sent in a request that he read for me, saying what was wrong.
We had been to all kinds of doctors and they hadn’t helped.”
It was difficult for the reading process to get through Reilly’s
practical mind. But he finally accepted that he wasn’1 being the
butt of any joke. Still, there were other obvious mysteries. How did
Cayce get his, Reilly’s, name? How did he know of the types of
treatment Reilly was giving? Where did he get his understanding of
the therapies for differently ailing individuals?
With all Reilly’s
experience, it was impossible to improve on Cayce’s suggestions. It
seemed incredible that Cayce could merely go into a trance and get
the information he did.
Even after two years, receiving streams of
Cayce patients, Reilly had no clue as to the method of the man who
was throwing all this business his way.
“I can’t understand,” he
told friends, “how a man can go to sleep and give as good, or
better, advice than I can, wide awake, in my own special field.”
Reilly decided to get acquainted with the wizard. He made
arrangements for a meeting on Cayce’s next trip to New York, and had
another surprise in store for him. He had envisioned a person of
commanding appearance with piercing eyes and majestic gestures, with
perhaps a turban draped around his head. But the only mystic he saw
was a tall, slightly-stooped scholarly-looking man with a mild eye,
gentle mien, and soft-spoken drawl. “He reminded me of a minister of
some quiet country church,” Reilly said later.
They chatted and had lunch together, the canny Reilly watching every
move by the mystic. When Cayce ordered his meal, carelessly giving
his request to a waiter, Reilly observed that his guest did not pay
much attention to the rules of diet, for one so stringent with the
diets of others. Noticing the inordinate amount of fattening
starches on the Cayce platter, Reilly mentioned the apparent health
discrepancy. Cayce replied that in his everyday waking life he had
no special knowledge of diet or any other health measures, nor was
he greatly concerned about his health.
Still, in his trancelike
state, as Reilly had already discovered, the wisdom of the ages came
through him. On one hand, he had suggested remedies thousands of
years old; on the other, some so up-to-date they hadn’t been
packaged yet. As the two men sat together, Reilly found himself
reviewing the treatments that Cayce had sent him—all forms of
drugless healing, invoking the use of baths, oils, heat, light,
colonic irrigations, massage and other forms of manipulative
therapy, diet and exercise. To Reilly, it was obvious that the Cayce
health readings not only helped to overcome sickness and disability,
but would as a broad principle tend to prevent illness.
As lunch drew out, Reilly peppering his guest with questions, and
Cayce chain-smoking to Reilly’s consternation, it became evident to
the physiotherapist that Cayce’s physical therapy resolved itself
into four broad patterns: increased circulation, elimination,
assimilation, plus a proper approach to eating.
“It was better not
to eat at all, than to eat when upset,” Reilly learned. “Long before
anybody else suspected it, Cayce was saying that the mind, not the
stomach, induced stomach ulcers.”
The waking Cayce didn’t seem to
know any more about his treatments than Reilly did. And so, after
their meeting, Reilly went back to analyzing the cases that had
walked into his place, and classifying them, so that today, some
thirty years later, he is able to effectively apply Cayce’s physical
therapy approach. Elimination, a la Cayce, was a complete process,
through stepped-up action of kidneys, intestines, skin, lungs.
stimulate kidneys and skin, for toxic people, generally the
rheumatic or arthritic,” Reilly observed, “Cayce recommended warm
pack treatments, chiefly with castor oil.”
A swathe of flannel eight
inches wide was soaked in the warmed oil, and placed over the gall
bladder, liver, or kidneys, wherever the seat of trouble was. Packs
of hot Epsom salts were applied across hips and back, in lumbago.
Packs of Glyco-Thymoline, little known until advocated by Cayce,
were also prescribed in some cases, increased stimulation through
the skin taking the burden off overworked kidneys.
The readings recommended fume baths and occasional friction rubs.
The fume bath, opening the pores, also toned up elimination through
the respiratory tract Reilly used the soothing vapors of the balsam,
eucalyptus, pine, Atomidine (another Cayce nostrum). Formulas varied
for the individual malfunctions but, generally, Reilly used about
one-half to one teaspoonful of the solution or oil, in one to two
quarts of steaming water.
“If the person is not able to go to an
institution for a fume bath, it is quite simple to fix one for
He issued instructions.
“Sew together four blankets, or take a large
piece of canvas and sew it together with an opening for the head,
and an overlap at this opening—flexible, non-flammable plastic might
be better. Next, take a stool and place it over an electric stove
with a steaming pot on it. Fold towels on the seat of the stool and
hang a towel in front of the stool to protect legs from the heat.
The hotter the water, the more quickly the steaming takes effect.
Then sit on the stool, wrap the covering close across shoulders and
fasten it around the neck, after, of course, removing the clothing.
A person with a cold can clear nasal or bronchial congestion, by
leaving a small opening in the front where he can put his head down
to inhale, closing off the opening when the inhalation becomes too
Reilly stressed exercise, having maintained gymnasiums for
forty-five years, and Cayce’s simple therapeutic exercises caught
his interest. He noted that the mystic, while seldom exercising
himself, recommended sitting-up exercises from a vertical position
in the morning, floor exercises later in the day.
“In this way,”
Reilly explained, “Cayce changed the flow of the lymphatic and blood
circulation, getting the person who had been lying down all night on
his feet to start the day.”
He also got him breathing deeply,
preferably before an open window to eliminate stale lung air and
oxygenate the body, giving it a full head of steam to open the day.
“Cayce,” Reilly pointed out, “specifically mentioned a Yoga
breathing exercise, the alternate breathing.”
Mouth closed, the
individual started off by breathing in through the left nostril, the
thumb closing off the right, to the count of four, retaining the
breath to eight, then exhaling through the right nostril to a
similar eight count, closing off the opposite nostril. The breath
was then taken in through right nostril, and the exercise repeated
three or four times.
Demonstrating the Cayce floor exercises, the supple septuagenarian
promptly got down on all fours and started moving his muscular body
forward like a big cat.
“This is the cat crawl,” he announced. “You
take five strides forward, five back, stretching every muscle in the
body and bringing the vital hinge and rotary joints into play.”
As he finished his crawl, Reilly sat up with a smile. His face was
red from the reversal of normal posture, but his blue eyes sparkled.
“Getting back to nature drains the sinuses. It wasn’t so many
millions of years ago that man got around that way normally.”
Next was the Cayce roll-over. Sitting on the floor, knees hunched
up, Reilly began to rock sidewise, from one half-reclining elbow to
“This stretches the side muscles along the ribs, flexes the
hip joints, trims the thighs.” He shook his head. “Amazing that a
man who didn’t know about exercise, consciously, should have hit on
this simple yet effective movement.”
Reilly then slipped into a
Cayce old-timer, the buttocks walk. Sitting up, legs stretched out,
arms toward the ceiling, the septuagenarian started to move forward
by first lifting one buttock and then the other.
“Many a woman’s
hips I’ve slimmed with that one,” he said, negotiating the width of
the room on the seat of his pants.
“I call it the beam-shrinker.”
From pushup position, Reilly then repeated the torso twist that
Hovhaness had earlier demonstrated, his hips forming a circle, in
first one direction and then the other. The bear walk, similar in
posture to the cat crawl, was next. Reilly, again on all fours,
walked flatfooted, his knees stiff, hips high in the air, heels and
palms of hands flat on the floor.
And how was this different from
the cat crawl?
“A stiffer walk,” Reilly explained. “It stretches the leg tendons,
the hamstring muscle, and the area of the sciatic nerve, while also
developing the arms and shoulders.”
Still demonstrating, Reilly slid
into the morning exercise routine. After taking a few deep breaths,
and practicing the alternate breathing, he began swinging one arm
forward five or six times like a sidewheel on a Mississippi
riverboat, and then reversed, repeating with the other arm.
individual,” he stressed, “is better stimulated, vertically, after a
night of horizontal inactivity.”
After the arm swing, Reilly rotated
first the left and then the right foot from the hip, in a brief
circular motion, repeating five or six times in each direction. He
then did a standup stretch, up on toes, arms high over head,
meanwhile tightening the buttocks and then bending the hands to the
floor, keeping the knees stiff.
“That’s the exercise,” he said,
“that helped Hovhaness with his hemorrhoids, that and the torso
The demonstration continued. Arms again stretched overhead, Reilly
lowered his head slowly to his chest, and then slowly pulled it back
over his shoulders. It was the beginning of the head-and-neck
exercise. Still stretching up on his toes, he circled the head
slowly three or four times in each direction, and then, relaxing,
started to rub his head. I suddenly noticed a new fuzzy growth of
silver gray on the front of his scalp, where there had been no hair
before. He noted my surprise.
“I don’t know what’s doing it,” he
smiled, “but I’ve been growing hair on the bald spots for the last
few weeks. It’s either the Cayce head-and-neck exercise, which I’ve
been doing recently, or the castor oil I’ve been rubbing on my
scalp. Nothing else has certainly changed after seventy.”
the Cayce readings providing relief via drugless therapy were given
long before physiotherapy was practiced generally, when there was no
opportunity for Cayce to have become familiar with such
Yet he gave readings advising electrotherapy, short
wave and ultrashort wave.
“Strange as it may seem,” Reilly recalls,
“the machine for this special type of therapy had just been
perfected and the Reilly Health Service had obtained it just three
weeks before it was mentioned in the readings.”
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