Edgar Cayce – Prophet & Healer?
Heralded by his supporters as a clairvoyant healer, psychic, medium and prophet, Edgar Cayce was born in 1877 on a farm in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. According to one story, at the age of nine Edgar found himself unable to spell the word ‘cabin’ which brought a reprimand from the teacher Lucian, his uncle. At home that evening Edgar’s father tried to teach him the basics of spelling, but the boy was unable to learn. Losing all patience his father then lashed out at Edgar knocking him off his chair. Edgar later said that lying on the floor he clearly heard a voice that said ‘If you sleep a little, we can help you.’ He then slept with his spelling book under his head. When he awoke he found that he apparently knew every lesson in the book and could repeat each one word for word.
This amazing ‘talent’ was to remain with Edgar for the rest of his life; it was claimed that he only had to sleep with a book under his head and he would awake knowing everything it contained.
At sixteen, Edgar was injured by a blow on the head while playing baseball at school. He returned home in a dazed condition, and was put to bed where he suddenly and authoritatively instructed his mother to apply a specific type of poultice to the wound. The next morning Edgar had no memory of the events after being struck by the baseball, and could not explain why he had ordered the poultice. Nevertheless, he was feeling quite normal again.
In 1900 Cayce was working as a salesman for an insurance company when he contracted laryngitis. He was unable to work because of this and the doctors told him he would never completely recover his voice. In desperation he turned to local amateur hypnotist Al Layne for advice. In a trance it is alleged that Edgar was able to describe the conditions which had caused a partial paralysis of his vocal cords, and was also able to prescribe a cure which involved restoring increased circulation to the inoperative muscles and nerves. During the next twenty minutes his upper chest and throat became a fiery red. Edgar instructed Layne to order his circulation to return to normal, and when he came out of the trance a few minutes later, his voice was completely restored.
Without any medical whatsoever Cayce went on to perfect this ‘healing’ ability to help others, though it is important to remember that he claimed not to heal, but to diagnose and then offer a course of treatment that might lead to a cure.
Cayce’s diagnoses would involve him going into a self-induced hypnotic trance, after which the patient’s condition would be described to him. A diagnosis expressed in medical terminology would follow and then a recommendation for treatment. From the very beginning Cayce and his associates insisted that the treatments be administered by local doctors with access to the patients. Many of Cayce’s prescriptions were extremely simple: massage, relaxation, tonics, diet, poultices, exercises, plasters, and home-made teas and tonics. Cayce’s philosophy behind his trance healing work was a holistic one, meaning that he saw the body a ‘system’, an interconnected network of organs and tissue and if one part was not functioning properly then it would affect the rest. In essence, Cayce would treat the cause and not the effect, helping the health of the entire system in order to defeat the disorder, though suggestion must surely have played a part in the successful treatment of patients.
Among those who came to Cayce him for help was Madison B. Wyrick, a plant superintendent for Western Union in Chicago, who suffered from diabetes. The treatment prescribed by Cayce proved helpful to the man’s condition and interestingly enough the tonic he was given contained Jerusalem artichokes, a rich natural source of insulin.Another case involved a young woman who was confined to bed with arthritis. Doctors were giving her standard pain-killers while her condition steadily deteriorated. Cayce prescribed a combination of special diets, massages and exercises, after which there was a noticeable improvement and eventual recovery from the illness.
It was said that for Cayce to discern a person’s condition it was not actually necessary for him to see them; when their problems were explained to him he could apparently prescribe treatment over a distance. There are thousands of confirmed ‘readings’ over the period of more than forty years that Cayce practiced, accepting no fees, to avoid prosecution. But because he took no fees for his service, Cayce found it difficult to make a living. He had married and found a job as a photographer’s assistant, but was still unable to make ends meet. Cayce’s unorthodox practice naturally attracted the hostility of many medical doctors and the attention of many sceptics. One such was scientist, Dr. Hugo of Harvard, who came to ridicule the healer and went away in amazement, as he was unable to fault Cayce on any level.
Dr. Wesley Ketchum, a homeopath and a sceptic of Cayce and his methods, decided to test the great healer. He came to Cayce to see if he was able to diagnose a disorder which he had already established for himself as appendicitis. During his trance Edgar told Ketchum that the he did not in fact have appendicitis, but simply a strained nerve in the lower spine, which could be healed by an osteopath. Pleased to be able to prove the famous Edgar Cayce wrong the doctor went and had the osteopathic treatment. To his astonishment all he needed was to have a couple of misplaced vertebrae pushed back into position to restore him to perfect health – there had been no ‘appendicitis’.
Prophecies & Atlantis
From giving medical readings Cayce went on to evaluate individual fate and past lives by means of ‘life readings’, and also made prophecy readings, something he was far from successful at. Through the latter he became known as the ‘Sleeping Prophet’. His prophecies included the beginning and end of both World Wars, the fact that World War II battlefields would be ‘ocean, seas and bays’, and the possibility of a third World War.
Some prophecies he made appear vague to say the least, and others way off the mark. Examples of the latter include prophesized calamitous earth changes between 1958 and 1998, including Californian superquakes and the submersal of New York and Japan, and a catastrophic pole shift in 1998. Cayce’s also gave readings on astrology, reincarnation, the lost years of Jesus, ancient Egypt, and the mysterious kingdom of Atlantis. In fact Cayce had a keen interest in Atlantis and believed that the Atlantean civilization was based on the utilization of ‘Terrible Crystals’ which harnessed the rays of the Sun when triggered by psychic concentration. He thought that an extreme concentration of energy from these crystals had led to the cataclysm in which Atlantis was destroyed. Cayce believed Atlantis would begin to rise again in 1968 or 1969, in the area of Bimini, near the Bahamas.
In 1968 and 1969 strange underwater structures were discovered exactly where Cayce had predicted. Zoologist Dr. Manson Valentine and underwater cinematographer Dimitri Rebikoff located and explored the ‘Bimini Road’ – long, regular walls of cyclopean blocks (some weighing over 80 tons) in shallow water north-west of Bimini Island. However, in 1980, Eugene Shinn of the U.S. Geological Survey, published the conclusions of his close examination of the underwater stones. He stated that the results of all his tests indicated that the stones must have been laid there by natural means. Further radiocarbon tests on the shells embedded in the stones gave a date of around two or three thousand years ago for the laying down of the so-called road. So much for lost Atlantis off the Bahamas.
By 1944 Cayce was overrun and exhausted by the thousands of requests for help he was now receiving, though he felt he could not refuse mothers requesting news of their sons out on World War II battlefields. The last reading Cayce ever made, on 17 September 1944, was for himself, and explained that it was time to stop working and rest. On New Year’s Day, 1945, Cayce foretold that he would be buried on the fifth of January. He was right. He died on 3rd January, at the age of sixty-seven.
At his death in 1945 there were over 14,000 stenographic records of trance readings for over 8,000 people. The Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc., founded in 1931 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is now the international headquarters for the work of Edgar Cayce, and holds copies of over 14,000 of Edgar Cayce’s readings all of which are available to the public. Whatever else we may think about Cayce and his various prophecies and past life readings, it is an undeniable fact that through his influence, whether real or imagined, many thousands of people seem to have been restored to health by following his prescribed courses of treatment, very often when conventional medicine could do nothing for them, though again, suggestion may have played a considerable role in their recovery. However, as Colin Wilson has noted, it seems that Cayce, like all many well known psychics and clairvoyants, was successful enough to prove he had some kind of special gift, but made enough mistakes to show he that this gift was often extremely unreliable.
Sources & Further Reading
Gordon, S. The Paranormal. An Illustrated Encyclopedia. London, Headline, 1992, pp118-9.
Cavendish, Richard (ed). The Encyclopedia of the Unexplained. London & Henley. Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974, pp63-4.
Cayce, Edgar, Carter, Mary Ellen. Edgar Cayce: Modern Prophet. New York, Random House. 1990.
Edwards, Frank. Strange People. London, Pan Books, 1966, pp169-80.
James, P. & Thorpe, N. Ancient Mysteries. New York, Ballantine Books.1999, pp598-604.
Kirkpatrick, Sidney. Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet. Riverhead Books, New York. 2000.
North, Anthony. The Supernatural. A Guide to Mysticism & the Occult. London, Blandford, 1998, pp109-10.
Wilson, Colin. From Atlantis to the Sphinx. London. Virgin Books. 1996, pp72-4.
Copyright 2005 by Brian Haughton. All Rights Reserved.
Reading about the story of Edgar Cayce on board my Sea Ray Yacht for sale made for an exciting trip. I would not stop thinking about Edgar’s psychic abilities.