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Cayce and the Essenes

Tips. Get facts before you get hearsay and found a life on it. Facts can be tricky things, and sorting them out too - and all scholars may not agree on them either, or how evidence is to be best understood.

When you get wrong information, it can be hard to get rid of it, so why not try to get a footing based on research, scholarship and findings first? Then we may be better equipped to handle some things in life, generally speaking.

Now for Essenes:

Essenes were of Judaism. They flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. Many separate but related religious groups shared similar beliefs, and are collectively referred to by various scholars as "Essenes."

The first reference to Essenes is by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (died c.?79 CE) in his Natural History. Pliny relates in a few lines that the Essenes do not marry, possess no money, and Pliny places them in Ein Gedi in the desert near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.

A few years later, Josephus gave a detailed account of the Essenes in The Jewish War (c.?75 CE), with a shorter description in Antiquities of the Jews (c.?94 CE) and The Life of Flavius Josephus (c.?97 CE). Josephus claims first hand knowledge, and lists the Essenes as one of the three sects of Judaism alongside the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He tells of a strict observance of Sabbath and that they used to keep some things secrets.

Pliny's Latin text has Esseni (for Essenes). Josephus uses the name Essenes in his two main accounts, but in several places he uses Essaios, which is usually assumed to mean Essene.

It was proposed before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found that the name came into several Greek spellings from the Hebrew 'osey hatorah, "observers of torah". This etymology was confirmed by Qumran text references, and is recognized as the etymology of the form Ossaioi (Philo also offered an O spelling). Essaioi and Esseni would be spelling variations. There are other terms and word explanations too.

Josephus writes the Essenes had settled "not in one city" but "in large numbers in every town". Philo speaks of "more than four thousand" Essaioi living in "Palestine and Syria" more precisely, "in many cities of Judaea and in many villages and grouped in great societies of many members".

The accounts by Josephus and Philo show that the Essenes led a strictly communal life. Many of the Essene groups appear to have been celibate, but Josephus speaks also of another "order of Essenes" that observed the practice of being engaged for three years and then getting married. According to Josephus, they had customs and observances such as collective ownership. They were forbidden from swearing oaths and from sacrificing animals. They carried weapons only for protection against robbers. The Essenes did not have slaves but served each other. They did not engage in trading. Josephus and Philo tell at length of their communal meetings, meals and religious celebrations.

After a total of three years' probation, newly joining members would take an oath of commitment to practice "righteousness" towards humanity, abstaining from criminal and immoral activities, to preserve the books of the Essenes. They believed in the immortality of the soul and that they would receive their souls back after death.

Cleanliness was important to the Essenes. For that reason they would not evacuate their bowels on the Sabbath, but keep a load of filth in their bodies -

The Church Father Epiphanius in the 4th century CE seems to make a distinction between two main groups of Essenes: (1) Those who came before the Ossaean prophet Elxai, time and during it, that is, the Ossaeans, and (2) the Nazarean sect.

The Nazarean were Jews by nationality. They acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received some other laws than those in the first five books of the Bible. And so they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat. They considered it unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. So they were forbidding the law books of Moses, and the Ossaeans did that doo. The rest of the Jews were repeatedly labelled "The Breakers of the Covenant".

A large graveyard excavated in 1870, just 50 metres east of the Qumran ruins was made of over 1200 tombs that included many women and children.

Pliny wrote that the Essenes who lived near the Dead Sea "had not one woman, had renounced all pleasure . . . and no one was born in their race". On the other hand, Josephus describes some Essenes as allowing marriage.

Philo of Alexandria regarded the Therapeutae as a contemplative branch of the Essaioi who pursued an active life.

A figure named The Teacher of Righteousness of the Scrolls would seem to be a prototype of Jesus, for both spoke of the New Covenant; they preached a similar gospel; each was regarded as a Savior or Redeemer; and each was condemned and put to death by reactionary factions.

Some scholars feel that Jesus was influenced by the Essenes.

[This information is almost wholly from WP, "Essenes"]

Cayce's Essenes

Equipped with the above and better (see book references at the end), we have got sensible information about Essenes to compare with if we read into other claims than those that mainstream scholarship can vouch for, more or less.

Edgar Cayce told of Essenes in his deep sleep, and in such Cayce's readings he said that in the Essene society men and women worked and lived together. I hardly think that was accepted among scholars at his time, but is is now (above).

Essenes Commentary by Ann Lee Clapp

Ann Lee Clapp asserts that there were different sects of Essenes, the Cayce readings focus on a particular group . . . situated on Mount Carmel, and where attention was given to dreams, visions and psychic experiences.

Mt. Carmel is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast.

Another group mentioned in the Cayce readings was located on the way above Emmaus that "goes down towards Jericho" on the northern coast from Jerusalem."

[Source: Essenes Commentary by Ann Lee Clapp, in The Essenes: A Compilation of Extracts from the Edgar Cayce Readings (2006)]

The Essenes and The Dead Sea Scrolls by Lytle W. Robinson

There are some rather large areas of speculation and disagreement about the Dead Sea scrolls found in Qumran. Most of our knowledge concerning the Essenes has come from three sources: Pliny the Elder, Philo and Josephus who was a Jewish historian and contemporary of Jesus. Although the accounts of these are not entirely in accord, scholars have pieced together a fairly accurate but limited description of the manner of life along the Dead Sea.

According to these accounts, the Essenes lived in Palestine in scattered groups from about 150 BCE until the second century CE. The members were adult males who led a celibate life, although at least one faction admitted women. Their labour was devoted to agriculture and a few simple handicrafts. They were opposed to commerce because it led to covetousness and to the making of weapons of war. They also rejected the animal sacrifices which played so prominent a part among the other Hebrew sects - the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The order, among other things, received adult males after a three-year period of probation.

The Essenes forbade oaths, maintaining that a man whose word needed to be confirmed by oath was not to be believed at all. But they pledged allegiance to the order itself and what it stood for.

To become members, the candidates vowed, according to Josephus, "First that he will practice piety toward the Deity, next that he will observe justice toward men; that he will wrong no one, whether of his own mind or under another's orders; that he will hate the unjust and fight the battle of the just."

If anyone of them should rule, he swore he or she would "never abuse his authority nor, by his dress or by any other external mark of superiority, allow himself to outshine his subjects" "to be forever a lover of truth and to expose liars; to keep his hands from stealing and his soul from unholy gain" and to hide nothing from the members of the sect and "to report none of their secrets to others, even though tortured to death."

Cayce readings on the Essenes. Among the thousands of questions put to the sleeping Cayce over the years, some were related to the Essenes. Together, his readings form a set of beliefs that includes Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Joseph, his step-father, the Essenes and God knows what.

The nature of the Edgar Cayce readings may cause some raising of scholarly eyebrows, for the lack of solid evidence of the sleeper's views is formidable. Overall it should work well enough to stand firmly and not foolhardily and precariously through a faith rooted in sleep-talk, for it is possible to spin a lot of yarn around a few Bible telling, for example. And it is far easier to get caught to believe in a thing than later to get out of the meshes of a body of beliefs, a faith. It may have a lot to do with how the human libido works, for one thing. Libido-alignments are not the only explanation, but it could pay very well to be alert to it: Down our history, people have believed what they presumably had id-linked cravings for, a lot of times. Very rarely is good evidence for a faith or prejudice given. If such evidence is found, the faith or faith parts stop being totally of belief, and table may be set for more rational, mature handling, as in astronomy and astrophysics, for example.

Credulity is quite a culprit. For example, it is part of common talk that the sun rises and sets, but in a wider perspective, the earth spins a dusk and later spins a dawn - repeatedly. The history of science or rational telling is a long road from a wrong way of understanding things to some more or less ncomplete, alternate way of doing it.

If good evidence is lacking, find a workable route in life without much credulous faith in its middle. Talk should be cut down to the workable items. Mathematics uses formulas for it. Such summaries and others may be worked on further, and tested out in real life. In a nutshell, this would be the approach to teachings that Buddha endorses [Kalama Sutta]

Source: "The Essenes and The Dead Sea Scrolls" by Lytle W. Robinson, in The Searchlight, Vol. X, No. 10, October 1958]

The Game is on

Speaking of rational handling of ideas from obscure sources or other sources: What matters in OK research, is not where an idea might come from, but whether it may be tested by some liable test design. If the idea is proposed - is formulated as a proposition that may be handled through study and/or research, it is acceptable.

Thus, many Cayce claims are acceptable in modern research. The things to clarify is how to prove them, or, secondarily, to document them in some passable way or ways. Then the research is carried out, refined by feedback in some cases, and the researchers seek to say how valid and reliable the findings are under such and such conditions. Others may or may not agree with the researchers, and the call for further research is sounded far and wide, and thus further research is said to be a good thing.

This does not have to mean that the original ideas are accepted; only that some researchers have tried to find out of them in some way or other, and as a result there is a call for more research pretty often. Research communities use propositions (hypotheses) like so many mills to grind forth some truths, and if not some grains of truths, at least some probable truths as judged by statistical operations within limits, and if not probably truths, then one may point at limitations of the research, or errors in handling the data. It often happens, but it does not have to happen.

So lots of Cayce sayings may be (1) dealt with scholarly on several levels, and even be (2) researched into, within limits. In the first case one handles varous sources, may compare with other sources, and further. In the second case there is a tedious research process that is compared to milling for grains of reliable thoughts.

It is good to listen to what scholars (of sources) and researchers (also with functionable sorting-out methods and further methods) have to say. For example, when Cayce speaks of Atlantis and modern plate tectonics hold that the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean does not fit the Atlantis tales of Cayce, Rudolf Steiner and others - then see what modern science has to offer rather than becoming credulous outside of mainstream sciencific beliefs. There was no Atlantis that sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, such study reveals.

To repeat: Cayce sayings may be studied and compared with the best sources, and researched into within limits or in many ways, as for example his dieting counsels. Each to his or her liking, although good quality of the research and scholarship helps a lot and therefore is recommended too.

"One more thing"

Through many seasons and episodes, Peter Falk acted an one-eyed homicide detective Columbo in the TV series "Columbo. His "one more thing . . " is at times part of his cat-and-mouse investigation, his "howcatchem" of "whodunits" (perpetrators).

Well, there is more to Cayce study than being on guard against credulity astray. Hard facts may help some, but let us face it, much in life is not hard, and often forms part of a web, a network of compex settings. Hard facts are found among substances. More fluid assessments may be found among gases, and then there are feelings and ideas - all in a web, and ranked from gross to subtler.

Hard facts are for gross things. But delicate thoughts - from deep sleep or otherwise - are on another level per se. The ideas may say something about solid matters, and when that happens, some things may be proved or disproved, like Atlantis. I think plate tectonics disproves the Cayce ideas of where Atlantis was.

One may use statistics to disclose feelings by responses, and also to decide on ideas, thoughts about certain matters.


Statistics cannot prove or disprove all things.

There is a life level that our statistical methods cannot get up to - inward thoughts and perceptions, for example the "I am" or "I" notion and other great experiences, like jubilation. True, it is possible to get comparisons and statistical measures of feelings and selected ideas, but seldom or never in their inner aspects and all their associations. Thus, statistics may offer husk, but has no means of assessing the corn - not yet, at any rate.

Some have tried to prove or convince themselves or other of "I am" or "I Am", but as a rule of the thumb, it is a conept many are just talked into. As for "God", if you find no God, it may mean you don't host one in yourself for the time being. "It takes one to know one."

Thus, when Edgar Cayce speaks of souls wandering from life to life, and of God and Jesus and Mary as Essenes, sturdy research today fails to verify or falsify them, for many such ideas are outside the range of common science, although Dr Ian Stevenson and colleagues have tried to gather information from people who say the recall former lives. Some of his cases are striking.

At a lower level of scholarly study, one may group several related Cayce sayings, tell where to find them in the Cayce Readings, and perhaps get an idea of how he was influenced. One may for example compare with sayings with books he had access to, or gone into while sleeping on them. If you should be able to absorb the content of a book like Cayce, or a yogi like Yogananda said he did after leafing a few pages into one, good! But it matters to keep your abilities to yourself and use them a lot, to make sure you have a gift, and then you could even start to use it for getting gold.Peter Hurkos (1911-88) was a man like that.

Peter Hurkos and Edgar Cayce

Peter Hurkos was a Dutch house painter who fell from a ladder, hurt his head, lay in coma for three days and afterwards became a popular entertainer known for performing psychic feats (ESP) before live and television audiences, telling he could pierce the barriers that separate the past, present and future and that he could see into the unknown with stunning accuracy - by touching objects. "I see pictures in my mind like a television screen. When I touch something, I can then tell what I see," said Peter Hurkos.

Hurkos stated in 1960, after giving a lecture at MIT to a scientific panel, that he would participate in any scientific experiment under any circumstances. He let the parapsychologist Charles Tart of the University of California test him for a session, but Tart found nothing.

Before that, Dr Andrija Puharich had invited Hurkos to the USA in 1956 to investigate his alleged psychic abilities under what was thought to be controlled conditions. For two and a half years Hurkos was tested, and was right about 90 percent of the time. The results convinced Puharich that Hurkos had genuine psychic abilities, but the experiments were not repeated by other scientists and Puharich was described as a "credulous investigator".

Regardless of that, Hurkos and his supporters maintained that he was a great psychic detective. Hurkos claimed among other things that Adolf Hitler was alive and living in Argentina. Further, in a case of the stolen stone of Scone, which Hurkos claimed he had located, he did not get any result whatever, stated Home Secretary Chuter Ede. (WP, "Peter Hurkos")

There were many other refutations, showing that claiming something is at times far from the truth. If you want to pose as a psychic and find yourself unable to deliver, avoid tricks! Hurkos counselled: "If you ever go to a psychic, don't ask any questions or give any clues. If they are psychic, they should be able to tell what the problem is."

Not every psychic is as good as he or she says, and not as good as adherents say.

One may compare Cayce sayings with other source in various ways. It is best to go for the best sources available. Many Wikipedia articles are good, but not on all subjects.

So, on the one hand one had better not believe anything a sleeping man says, and on the other hand it is not good enough to discard all of it either, not without investigations of some calibre. An American proverb: "Twin fools; one believes anything, and the other nothing." Between the twin fools is a stretch that is suited for study and research, if one knows how to. Listen to a sceptic too -


Edgar Cayce and the Essenes, Literature  

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

Daniélou, Jean. The Dead Sea Scrolls and Primitive Christianity. Tr. Salvator Attansio. Baltimore, MD: Helicon Press, 1958.

Taylor, Joan E. The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Vermes, Geza. The Story of the Scrolls: The Miraculous Discovery and True Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. London: Penguin, 2010.

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