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Edgar Cayce Biography

Hide not skeletons in your own closet, for they will rattle when you least expect them. [Edgar Cayce (3246-1)]

Edgar Cayce (1877–1945) Edgar Cayce was born into a farming family seven miles south of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and claimed to channel answers to questions on subjects such as astrology and reincarnation while in a self-induced trance.

1877–1920: Kentucky years

Throughout his life Cayce was a member of the Disciples of Christ. He read the Bible once for every year, taught at Sunday school and was agonsed over the things he told, whether they were spiritually legitimate.

A local hypnotist, Al Layne, suggested that Cayce should go into a hypnotic trance and describe the nature of his condition and cure while in it. Cayce did. When he described his own ailment he said "we" and not "I". In the following series of readings he would generally start off with "We have the body."

Cayces sleep suggestions were so keen that Layne suggested that Cayce should offer his trance performance to the public. Cayce was reluctant. He finally agreed to take on such readings, but only for free - first to the townspeople. His fame spread. Reports appeared in newspapers, inspiring many mail inquiries. It was said that Cayce was able to work just as effectively using a letter from the individual as when he had the person present. Cayce's accuracy in diagnosing the problems and providing effective cures was less than by chance (less than 50 percent), but people from around the world sought his sleep advice through correspondence.

Cayce's work grew. He asked for voluntary donations to support himself and his family so that he could practice full time. He continued to work in a sort of trance state with a hypnotist all his life. His wife and eldest son later came tp replace Layne in this role. A secretary, Gladys Davis, recorded his readings in shorthand.

The trance reading were straining on Cayce.

Cayce claimed to be scrupulous about giving refunds to unsatisfied clients, but some were already dead when Cayce gave readings.

1920–1923: Texas years

Commercially minded men wanted to make a fortune by using Cayce. Although he was reluctant to help them, he was persuaded to give such readings, but they left him dissatisfied with himself and unsuccessful. A cotton merchant offered Cayce a hundred dollars a day for Cayce readings about the daily outcomes in the cotton market, but Cayce refused the offer. Others wanted to know where to hunt for treasures, and some wanted to know the outcome of horse races.

Several times he was persuaded to give the readings as experiments, but he was not successful when he used his ability for such purposes, doing no better than by chance. Then he claimed that he would use his gift only to help the distressed and sick.

He was persuaded to give readings on philosophical subjects in 1923 by Arthur Lammers, a wealthy printer. While in his sleep state, Cayce spoke clearly of past lives. Cayce reported that his conscience bothered him severely over that topic, since the church did not like idea of going through many lives. However, Lammers reassured Cayce, and Cayce's "trance voice", the "we" of the readings, persuaded him to continue with these kinds of readings.

1925–1945: the Virginia Beach years

In 1925 Cayce reported his "voice" had instructed him to move to Virginia Beach, Virginia. By this time he was a professional psychic with a small staff of employees and volunteers. The "readings" increasingly came to involve occultic or esoteric themes. During the years in Virginia Beach he created institutions that would survive him. In 1929 the Cayce hospital was established in Virginia Beach sponsored by a wealthy recipient of the trance readings. In 1931 Cayce founded A.R.E. (Association for Research and Enlightenment) in Virginia Beach. It is non-profit. A.R.E. preserves Cayce readings and explores spirituality, spiritual development, holistic health, intuition, dream interpretations, psychic development, ESP, reincarnation, ancient mysteries, philosophy, life's purposes and astrology - subjects that often came up in the more than 14,000 documented readings given by Cayce. A.R.E. Press has published books since 1931.

With growing fame he increased his readings to 8 per day. He said this took a toll on his health, that it was emotionally draining and often fatiguing. He even said that the readings themselves scolded him for taking on too much, and that more than two readings a day would kill him. He disregarded it, and suffered a stroke on January 2, 1945. He died a day later on January 3.


Sceptics tell that the body of evidence that Cayce hit the nail on the head by accurately diagnosing and prescribing, ws in the form of anecdotes and testimonials, and anedotal evidence is hardly scientifically rigorous. Sceptics are also critical of Cayce's support to various forms of alternative medicine, also called quackery.

Cayce's followers accept that he was sometimes inaccurate. Cayce's sons, Hugh Lynn Cayce and Edgar Evans Cayce, even co-authored a book that details some of their father's mistakes. They think that Cayce's accuracy depended on many things (variables), but sceptics identify these theories as excuses.

Cayce prophecies is a mixed bag. Examples:

Cayce prophecies include him stating that 1933 would be a "good year", when in fact it was one of the worst in the Great Depression, and stating that US scientists would discover a "death ray" from Atlantis in 1958. Other predictions that have not as yet occurred include massive earth changes and that China would one day be "the cradle of Christianity as applied in the lives of men". Furthermore, many of the predictions claimed as successes are little more than vague statements that can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, and hence can be upheld as "true" simply because of their inherent vagueness.

Another fine point to bring up apart from "A fool may ask more questions than the wise may answer", is: If there are two different Cayce foretellings on a subject - or related subjects - and one is a miss and the other a hit, what then? In such a scenario one might halfway suspect that his followers focus on the hit foretelling, while sceptics focus on "one hit and one miss".

There is, for example, a reading that foretells the US stock market crash of 1929, which started the period called the Great Depression, which was an economic depression during the 1930s. Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. The "good Depression year" in one foretelling and the foretelling of the bank crash that initiated the Great Depresson are intertwined somehow.

But further problems que here, such as: "What is a good year, by which standards, to whom, and compared to what?" Are problems opportunities, as Cayce tells, and are your recent problems flowers in an old flowerbed from past lives, much as Cayce also tells about? In other words: Are our daily fight for survival due to old and past-life problems, and are all problems opportunities? Some are, and others not. Some may be wholly, and others partly. It depends also on how you look at it! Besides, opinions differ among people.

Further, sources of erroneous dealings that result from many prophesies may include figurative language, metaphors, and inexactness. All of it leaves room for many different interpretations as the foretellings are singled out, and perhaps twisted in the light of happening that comes later.

It is also a thing to deal with that a good hit outweighs a lot of misses if the hit is extraordinary, unusual, with specific details and dating also. "One moon [hit] gives more light than many stars [vague foretellings, for example]. It is a proverb. And you should consider: "What are the chances to hit a thing like that at random?"

Reflection: Yes, it should be good [good for whom, how, when, etc. - and what does 'good' and 'etc.' cover in this case?] to be made aware of various sources of error in estimating these things, and of further delicacies into it.

Cayce's method, training and dealings

Cayce's methods involved lying down and entering into what appeared to be a sleep state bordering on deep sleep. He usually did it at the request of someone who was seeking help with health or other personal problems (and usually such persons were not physically present, but had written to him). The subject's questions would then be given to Cayce, and Cayce would proceed with a reading. At first these readings dealt primarily with the physical health of the individual (physical readings); later readings on past lives, business advice, dream interpretation, and mental or spiritual health were also given.

Cayce gave an estimated 22,000 readings during a period of 43 years (1901 to 1944), but until September 1923 they were not systematically preserved. Accordingly, only about 14,000 Cayce readings are currently available. Gladys Davis became Cayce's secretary on September 10, 1923. From then on, all readings were preserved and Cayce's wife Gertrude conducted (guided) the readings for many years.

[A source of this page: WP, "Edgar Cayce"]


Edgar Cayce - A Biography, Literature  

Bro, Harmon Hartzell. Edgar Cayce: A Seer out of Season. Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press, 1989.

Bro, Harmon Hartzell. Edgar Cayce on Dreams. Reissued ed. New York. Warner Books, 1988 (1968).

Cayce, Edgar. Auras: An Essay on the Meaning of Colors. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press, 1973.

Cayce, Edgar. Edgar Cayce on Past Lives. Edgar Cayce reading # 5753-1 of 16 June 1933. Online.

Cayce, Edgar. The Children of The Law of One and The Lost Teachings of Atlantis. Alamosa, CO: Network, 1987.

Cayce, Edgar. The Essenes: A Compilation of Extracts from the Edgar Cayce Readings. Virginia Beach, VA: Edgar Cayce Foundation, 2006.

Cayce, Hugh Lynn, general editor: The Edgar Cayce Collection: Four Volumes in One. Wings Books, New York, 1986. —— Hugh Lynn (1907-82) was the son of Edgar. The four books included here are: Edgar Cayce on Dreams (1968); Edgar Cayce on Healing (1969); Edgar Cayce on Diet and Health (1969), and Edgar Cayce on ESP (1969)

Cayce, Hugh L., ed. Edgar Cayce on Atlantis. Reissue ed. New York: Warner Books, 1999.

Edgar Cayce Foundation. Humor: A Compilation of Extracts from the Edgar Cayce Readings. Virginia Beach, VA: Edgar Cayce Foundation, 1971, 1993-2015.

Cerminara, Gina. Many Mansions. Introduction by Hugh Cayce. New York: Signet, 1950.

Hobson, J. Allan. Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction. Paperback. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Horne, Jim. Sleepfaring: A Journey Through the Science of Sleep. Chap 16. Paperback. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Johnson, K. Paul. Edgar Cayce in Context: The Readings, Truth and Fiction. Ill ed. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1998.

Karp, Reba Ann. Edgar Cayce Encyclopedia of Healing. New York: Warner Books, 1986.

Langley, Noel. Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation. New York: Warner Books, 1967.

Little, Gregory L., Lora Little, and John Van Auken. Edgar Cayce's Atlantis. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E Press, 2006.

McGarey, William A. Edgar Cayce on Healing Foods for Body, Mind, and Spirit. Rev. ed. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E Press, 2002.

McGarey, William. Edgar Cayce on Healing Foods for Body, Mind and Soul. Rev. ed. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press, 2002.

Melton, John Gordon. Edgar Cayce and Reincarnation: Past Life Readings as Religious Symbology. Syzygy: Journal of Alternative Religion and Culture 3 (1-2): 1994. Online.

Morgana's Observatory's "Edgar Cayce's Prophesies" - - The page draws on chapter four in the Australian Armageddon: Doomsday in Our Lifetime? by Bob Leaman, originally published in 1986 by Greenhouse Publications, and no longer in print.]

Stearn, Jess. Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet. New York: Doubleday, 1967.

Sugrue, Thomas. There Is a River: The Story of Edgar Cayce. Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press, 1973.

Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.

Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.

Willner, John. The Perfect Horoscope: Following the Astrological Guidelines Established by Edgar Cayce. New York, NY: Paraview Press, 2001.


[1] A. R. E. Edgar Cayce on Dreams. 2002.

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