In 1877, on March 18, Edgar Cayce emerged into the world. Born on a farm in Hopkinsville, Kentucky as a devout Christian, Cayce is considered to be the founder of the Association for Research and Enlightenment. Edgar Cayce was more than just an American psychic. He had a superb gift for obtaining answers to questions while in a deep, hypnotic trance. Many times, the subject of these questions pertained to health related matters, and he provided assistance to those yearning for answers on what ailed them, as well as guidance.
Edgar Cayce was considered to be odd or strange as a child because his uncanny knack for psychic abilities began at a young age. He engaged in activities with imaginary playmates, and held conversations with people who had long since passed. These were attributed to young Cayce as having a very vivid, or overactive imagination by his parents. It was during his childhood years when he developed a pious interest in the Bible, as it became a great source of comfort for him. Reading the Bible in its entirety, on an annual basis, became a goal for the young Edgar Cayce. Because of Cayce's fondness for the Bible, ideations of becoming a minister and/or a doctor came to mind.
Events in Edgar Cayce's life changed dramatically after a bout of laryngitis in 1898, which he developed after taking a sedative to relieve a headache, caused by stresses as a traveling insurance salesman. A friend hypnotized Cayce, and the cure for his condition was discovered while he was deep in a trance state. People heard about this and began asking Cayce for assistance by providing them with “readings”. The first person to do so was the hypnotist, Layne, who had assisted Cayce with correcting his laryngitis via a deep trance. Layne had been suffering from a severe stomach ailment without any beneficial course of treatment. While under hypnosis, Cayce was able to diagnose Layne and offer a combination of exercise, diet, and medication that could be used to treat his stomach condition. After about a month of utilizing his new treatment, Layne began to feel better and determined it was working. At this, Cayce decided he wanted to see if he could assist other people with their medical queries.
While working as a photographer in Alabama in 1909, Edgar Cayce performed a “reading” for a homeopathic physician by the name of Dr. Wesley Ketchum. Cayce evidently diagnosed and cured the physician, and as an expression of gratitude, Dr. Ketchum invited him to provide daily readings for sick and infirm people back in Kentucky. Cayce obliged, and from 1911-1923 Cayce spent his time occasionally providing readings without the assistance of a hypnotist, as he was capable of putting himself into a trance state. According to the resource, Religious Leaders of America, “this ability was not unlike that of a number of other psychics who practiced what was called in the nineteenth century “traveling clairvoyance” (Gale, para. 2). While giving occasional psychic readings, Cayce continued working primarily as a photographer.
For many years Edgar Cayce provided people with medical readings, answering their questions about health issues and providing diagnoses. In 1923, Cayce happened upon a man by the name of Arthur Lammers, a wealthy printer and theosophist from Ohio. Lammers was not inflicted with any medical or health conditions, he was interested in verifying the authenticity of Cayce's readings. Because Lammers was curious about Cayce's clairvoyance, “he began to think that a mind able to perceive realities unavailable to normal sight should be glad to shed light on problems of more universal significance than the functioning of a sick man's liver or the intricacies of his digestive tract” (Cranston and Williams, 292). Inviting Cayce to his home in Dayton, Ohio, Lammers had such a mission for him. This mission would be to test Cayce's skills and expand his horizons to take him out of the boundaries familiar to other psychics at the time. In Ohio, Cayce put himself into a deep trance and was asked by Lammers to provide him with a reading. In addition to a horoscope for Lammers, Cayce was able to provide him with information about him in a past life. After much soul-searching, and self-doubt, Cayce had to come to terms with reincarnation.
Cayce's discovery of reincarnation came after he discovered he could provide more than just medical answers and information. He was able to travel further and provide much more insight to people, in the form of metaphysical readings. His desire to become a preacher at a young age encouraged him to study the Bible again, in which he discovered that his definition of Christianity tended to cohere perfectly with the concept of reincarnation. Edgar Cayce learned that he was able to astral project and he has experienced numerous, documented near-death experiences.
In 1925, Edgar Cayce closed up and sold his photography shop. He, his family, and his secretary, Gladys Davis moved to Virginia Beach. By then he had a large following of people, one of whom was Morton Blumenthal. Cayce was able to open the Cayce Hospital in 1928 and the Atlantic University in 1930 with financial backing from Blumenthal. Most of Cayce's readings now, “closely resembled Theosophy, with an emphasis on karma and reincarnation” (Gale, para. 3). The financial downfall brought by the Great Depression ruined Blumenthal's ability to continue financially backing the hospital and the university. Edgar Cayce's business ventures had thus failed.
The A.R.E. (Association for Research and Enlightenment) was founded in 1932 by Edgar Cayce and a few of his colleagues. A newsletter was formed by the A.R.E. which was distributed by Cayce out of his own home. Extensive records have been kept of all Cayce's readings. An important function of the A.R.E. was to allow further and in depth study of Cayce's readings and trance statements. According to the book Edgar Cayce and the Cosmos, “It still thrives today, more than three-quarters of a century later, to the immense benefit of the entire world. It is without question one of the leading lights in the transformation of human health and consciousness on this planet-a fitting memorial and lasting legacy to the man who simply wanted to help others” (Mullaney, 118).
Over time Edgar Cayce developed a reputation as a renowned psychic, be it awake, or in a trance. People occasionally tried to expose him as being fraudulent as they were skeptical of the metaphysical science. Upon having their own readings done by Cayce these skeptics became believers in the art of the psychic, as he provided accurate and in-depth information. Many people approached Cayce for readings to the point he was booked solid for a couple of years. By 1944 he had grown weary and exhausted as he felt a deep obligation to assist as many people as he could. In January of 1945 Edgar Cayce, a beloved seer, psychic, and new-age “prophet” passed away at the age of 68.
Edgar Cayce revolutionized the psychic phenomenon. He provided a scientific and religious basis for the metaphysical science. Today, “his reputation and popularity have grown steadily and a number of popular texts have been generated from the extensive collection of reading now housed at the Association for Research and enlightenment headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Over the years, there have been scattered academic interest which finally has come together in the Journal of Cayce Studies, an electronic publication” (Gale, para.5).
Cerminara, Gina, and Cayce, Hugh Lynn. Many Mansions: The Edgar Cayce Story on Reincarnation. New York: Penguin, 1978.
Cranston, Sylvia, and Williams, Carey. Reincarnation: A New Horizon in Science, Religion, and Society. New York: Crown, 1984.
Gale Group. Gale Biography in Context. Edgar Cayce. Religious Leaders of America. 1999. 1 May 2012. http://ic.galegroup.com
Gale Group. Gale Biography in Context. Edgar Cayce. Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Detroit, 2001. 1 May 2012. http://ic.galegroup.com
Hartzell Bro, PH. D., Harmon. A Seer Out of Season: The Life of Edgar Cayce. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989.
Mullaney, James. Edgar Cayce and the Cosmos. Virginia Beach: A.R.E. Press, 2007.