Alternative health and medicine

Cayce's medical philosophy constitutes a special category in the search for Cayce's sources since Cayceans generally accept that Cayce was influenced by his day's medical theories and practices. After all, he would have been forced to choose among the medical resources which were actually available to his patients. Thus little of this section should strike Cayceans as particularly controversial, with the main points of debate being whether Cayce could have acquired medical knowledge through some natural means (e.g., from medical books or from the physicians of various traditions with whom he worked), and to what extent his cures were actually effective.

The United States has long been home to various medical philosophies and approaches, although their political status has changed markedly. Abraham Flexner's epochal 1910 report on North American medical education led to stricter standards and the ascendency of the medical model of health over competing models, which coincidentally lacked the political support of the pharmaceutical industry. In the wake of the Flexner Report, medical schools sought to affiliate themselves with research universities and hospitals; licensing requirements for physicians grew increasingly strict; medical doctors succeeded in dominating the licensing boards, thereby ensuring the adoption of standards that favored their own. However, up to the turn of the century, the precursors of today's medical doctors competed on a more-or-less equal footing with practitioners of osteopathy, homeopathy, naturopathy, and a wide variety of other systems. The expression "alternative medicine" exaggerates the existence of a mainstream, while "complementary medicine" glosses over the heartfelt rivalry between the competing philosophies.

To understand the situation of nineteenth-century medicine, several facts have to be borne in mind. First, allopathy or scientific medicine was not nearly as good then as now. Educational standards were low, and many physicians acquired their training solely through apprenticeship to another physician. Antibiotics and sulfa drugs would not be available until the 1940s. Mercury-based drugs were popular. Patent medicines were widely accepted. At the same time, narcotics such as heroin and morphine were prescribed without much recognition of their addictive qualities. Blood-letting with lances or leeches was a common remedy before the general acceptance of the germ theory of disease. Some patients were encouraged to remain in bed for months or even years. Purging, starvation, and electric shocks were employed therapeutically in ways that would never be tolerated today. Early suggestions to the effect that hands be washed before performing surgery or delivering babies met with fierce resistance from doctors. In this environment, it is not difficult to see how a dissatisfied physician (whether formally trained or self-appointed) might seize on some alternative medical theory with all the fervor of a religious convert. Even if the new system utterly lacked merit, it could expect success rates not very different from allopathy. After all, most people will eventually get well on their own, while others will die no matter what the doctor does (and still others, we may assume, would have recovered had they not been sent to an allopath).

A second factor is that as we took back further in history, an increasing percentage of the U.S. population consisted of rural dwellers who often had little choice in selecting physicians. Suppose they did not lack access to them entirely. Such people would be that much more likely to turn to folk remedies, self-prescribed medicines, health fads, and the like. If a geographically isolated doctor invented his own idiosyncratic medical system (or having invented such a system. moved to a geographically isolated area), he stood a good chance of getting away with it. And if he trained enough new physicians to follow in his footsteps, his theory might easily have continued to find adherents down to the present day.

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Osteopathy (founded in the late 1870s by Andrew Taylor Still) and chiropractic (founded in the 1890s by Daniel David Palmer), both who often combine their treatment with acupuncture another placebo, are the most familiar non-allopathic medical philosophies which flourished in the United States at the turn of the century, since osteopaths have managed to retain similar privileges as medical doctors, and chiropractors have won more limited recognition. Both emphasize spinal manipulation as a basic form of therapy. In osteopathy, this is said to affect the rest of the body through the circulatory, glandular, and nervous systems (Cayce agrees--902- 1): whereas chiropractic focuses specifically on the nervous system as the intermediary. Osteopaths explain their use of skeletal manipulation by saving that structure and function are linked. Other seemingly unrelated medical changes (e.g., the cure of disease) may be brought about by initiating changes in the body's structure. Chiropractors, meanwhile, view their work as removing "subluxations" of the spine, in which misalignment of the spine prevents the unrestricted operation of the spinal cord, thereby resulting in other health problems. Chiropractic adjustments tend to be much briefer and more abrupt than osteopathic ones. Within the Cayce readings, osteopathy's emphasis on the spine appears to have meshed with Theosophical and neo-Rosicrucian descriptions of esoteric human anatomy.

While Cayce does not follow Still in rejecting drug-based therapies, the Cayce readings frequently call for osteopathic--not chiropractic--treatments. The following passage may indicate why:

Then, the SCIENCE of osteopathy is not merely the punching in a certain segment or the cracking of the bones. Still, it is the keeping of a BALANCE-by the touch-between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal system. THAT is real osteopathy! [1158-24]

Elsewhere Cayce says that "As a SYSTEM of treating human ills, osteopathy-- WE would give-is more beneficial than most measures that may be given" (902- 1). J. Gall Cayce's Osteopathy: Comparative Concepts--A. T Still and Edgar Cayce identify several parallels between Still's system and Cayce's. among them, their "triune" view of human nature as consisting of body, mind, and spirit and as a "miniature universe." the homeostatic principle that the role of the physician is to encourage the body to adjust itself and thereby return to health: their view of electricity as a vital biological and spiritual force; and of the human body as an electric battery: and the necessity of achieving coordination between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal nervous systems. (235) In addition, Cayce's diagnostic style follows a traditional osteopathic order proceeding from the circulatory to the nervous and lymphatic systems.

Homeopathy (founded by Samuel Hahnemann in the 1790s, under the influence of Swedenborg) was popular in the United States at the turn of the century and still thrives in England. However, it failed to win official recognition for its U.S.-based practitioners and institutions in the wake of the Flexner Report. In contrast to allopathy (which literally refers to the medical practice of prescribing remedies whose effects oppose those of the patient's symptoms), the essential insight of homeopathy is that "like cures like"--i.e., that a remedy which produces symptoms of the disease in question in healthy people, will alleviate them in sick people. (Hippocrates recognizes the principle of homeopathy alongside that of allopathy, while Jenner's use of a cowpox-based vaccine for smallpox represents a modem application of the homeopathic principle.) The homeopathic "law of similars" and the "single remedy" principle further specify that the optimum cure will be that one, and only one, a remedy whose effects are most similar to the symptoms of the patient's disease. Prospective homeopathic remedies are tested by proving's" in which healthy experimental subjects consume the substance in question, then carefully note its effects after the results are recorded. The substance may be prescribed to future homeopathic patients showing the same set of symptoms. Homeopaths further believe in the principles of the "minimum dose." which provides for the curative substance to be diluted to an extreme degree. According to homeopathic theory, the pattern or vital force of that substance will linger on in the water or sugar pill long after the substance itself is no longer discernable even by chemists. Cayce often recommended homeopathic treatments, but the readings show no allegiance to any of the special ideological principles of homeopathy. In fact, the notion of generic, mass-marketed remedies (whether "homeopathic" or not) runs counter to the "single remedy" principle, which stipulates that the one remedy be selected whose effects most closely approximate the patient's entire range of symptoms, not merely the primary complaints. This is typical of eclecticism's treatment of homeopathy.

Nineteenth-century medical eclecticism (the name then used for the medical philosophy now called naturopathy) incorporated a loose constellation of health practices, including diet, exercise, and hydrotherapy. Famous nineteenth-century exemplars include Sebastian Kneipp and Vincent Preisnitz, pioneering hydrotherapists; Sylvester Graham, who popularized a type of whole wheat cracker (not to be confused with the familiar refined variety now using his name): Elizabeth Bloomer, a dress-reform activist who lent her name to "bloomers"; and John Harvey Kellogg, eccentric inventor of the cornflake (unfrosted, to be sure) and founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Religious figures who endorsed this perspective include Ellen White of Seventh-Day Adventism. Myrtle and Charles Fillmore of the Unity School of Christianity, and Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Hanish of the Mazdaznan (faux-Zoroastrian) movement, which was active at the turn of the century.

The basic insight of eclecticism is that humans are subject to certain laws of nature, which will increase life and health if we follow them and decrease them if we do not since the body is naturally healthy; sickness must result from some deviation from natural practices on our part. While the details of these laws varied according to the lawgiver, common stipulations included vegetarianism (or "Pythagoreanism"); abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, or sex: regular eliminations, enemas, Fasting, and purgation; reliance on raw foods and whole wheat bread, and after their discovery, an emphasis on vitamins (which Cayce often discusses). The emphasis is on the retention of health rather than the treatment of disease. At the turn of the century, eclectic physicians Heinrich Lindlahr (author of Physiology of Natural Therapeutics) and Benedict Lust (founder of an eclectic medical school in 1900) popularized the name "naturopathy" for essentially the same views, although with a generous admixture of additional therapies drawn from botanical remedies and herbalism, homeopathy, nutrition, psychology, massage, and manipulative therapies such as osteopathy and chiropractic. I see the sleeping Cayce essentially as a naturopath since his health readings affirm the basic naturopathic perspective and emphasize popular naturopathic practices (a system while not recognized as 'medicine' in the US because of a special law from the Nazi era still survives as a university degree in Germany) in the details of his prescriptions. At the same time, the contribution of osteopathy to Cayce's perspective is too great to be ascribed solely to the medical ecumenical ism prevailing among naturopaths.

Cayce's dietary recommendations can be summarized as follows: Do not eat or drink when you are tired, worried, or angry (4124- 1). All food should be thoroughly masticated (311-4). Drink six to eight glasses of water a day (1111-2). Red wine is fine in moderation (462-6), but avoid beer and hard liquor (578-5). Coca-Cola syrup is recommended, but not when mixed with carbonated water (5097-1). Coffee has nutritional value but should not be drunk with cream or sugar (816-3). Cayce is ambivalent about milk, with some readings positive and some negative. Fruit juice is recommended. But not for the same meal as milk (274-9) or in combination with cereals or starches other than whole wheat (416-9). Eschew white bread (1724- 1) in favor of whole wheat or barley (865-1). Do not eat combinations of starches (2732-1). Eat plenty of locally-grown fresh vegetables (3542-1). At least one meal a day should consist largely of raw vegetables (2602-1). Raw vegetables in combination with gelatin are recommended (5031-1). If vegetables are cooked, cook each type in its own juice (3823-3). Maintain an eighty percent/twenty percent balance between alkaline and acidic foods (1568-2). Aim for a three-to-one ratio of above-ground to below-ground vegetables (2602- 1), a two-to-one ratio of leafy to pod vegetables, and three-to-one of leafy to tuberous (1183-2) in your total diet. Raw fruits, in general, are recommended except apples, which should be eaten cooked (5622-3), unless you are eating them by yourself as a special three-day purgative diet (820-2). Tomatoes should be canned, then eaten (608-1). Avoid red meat and greasy or fried foods (710-1) as well as most pork (303-11). Instead, choose fish, fowl, lamb, or--occasionally--crisp bacon ( 1710-4). Cayce promises that "those who would eat two to three almonds each day need never fear cancer" (1158-33 1). Beet sugar and non-refined cane sugars are the preferred sweeteners (1131-2), and sweets should not be combined with starches (1125-2) or proteins (404-4). Cayce additionally endorses cooking or seasoning with olive oil (846-1), sea salt, or iodized salt (1586-1). Cooking vegetables in Patapar paper is recommended (457-9). Pots should be made of enameled ironware (1196-7) or stainless steel (379-10), not aluminum (2423-1). It must be admitted that, despite its quirks, the diet described by the sleeping Cayce is, for the most part, quite a healthy one. (Incidentally. the waking Cayce did not follow it.)

As for other perennial naturopathic preoccupations. the exercise was a regular component of Cayce's prescriptions. "Walking or rowing" were named the best general exercises (277-1), with many patients encouraged to follow a daily morning routine of stretching and breathing exercises. Other exercises were targeted at specific health complaints. For example, a patient with hemorrhoids was told to stand on tiptoe, raising the arms above the head: then to bend forward, bringing the hands toward the floor. This was done three times per session, mornings and evenings, without quitting (2832-2). Cayce often prescribes massage, especially with olive oil or peanut oil: "Those who would take a peanut oil rub each week need never fear arthritis" (1158-31). The ARE has since set up the (Harold) Reilly School of Massotherapy, devoted to the special kind of massage that Cayce endorsed. Besides drinking water, Cayce's appropriation of hydrotherapy included

... bubble baths: Epson-salt baths; Finnish baths; foot baths; fume baths ... hot mustard (foot) baths; pine needle-oil baths; salt-water baths; sand baths; sitz baths: bicarbonate-of-soda baths, sponge baths; steam baths; sunbaths, Scotch douche; and Turkish and sal-soda baths, among the hundred-odd baths that we featured at the institute. (236)

Cayce recommends with equal enthusiasm a variety of douches, enemas, and colonics: "Take a colonic irrigation occasionally. or have one administered, scientifically. One colonic irrigation will be worth about four to six enemas" (3570-1).

Many of Cayce's health recommendations do not fall readily into any particular school of medical thought but are nevertheless characteristic of turn-of-the-century health fads. Cayce was quite impressed with patent medicines such as Atomidine, Glyco-Thymoline, and Kellogg's charcoal tablets; folk remedies such as poultices, castor oil and the fames of a charred oak keg: and various electrical contraptions such as the "RadioActive Appliance" or "Impedance Device," the "Violet Ray Device," the "B-Battery" or "Dry Cell," and the "Wet Cell Appliance"(237)

G. Syncretic figures

Although today, Spiritualism, Theosophy, and New Thought have little to do with one another, in Cayce's day, there was a substantial overlap between them. The situation could be considered analogous to that of today's New Age movement- in which spiritual seekers typically alternate among or combine teachings drawn from Eastern religions. Western esoteric traditions and alternative social philosophies. Something similar was true in Cayce's day, except that different spiritual movements were then in vogue. One particularly inquisitive seeker indicated in a letter to Cayce that she had studied the teachings of Alice Bailey, Blavatsky, Leadbeater, Besant, Emmet Fox (whom she met), Joel Goldsmith. Manly Palmer Hall, Krishnamurti, A.K. Mozumdar (whom she met), Roerich, Steiner, and unspecified varieties of yoga (report of 2799-1). This syncretic tendency was even more pronounced among the writers and leaders associated with alternative spiritual movements. Indeed. Some of these were so syncretic that it is hard to say whether they were Theosophists writing under the influence of New Thought. Metaphysicians writing under the influence of Spiritualism, or Masons writing under the influence of Theosophy. As a result of these cross-influences, we are left with several movements and teachers, including Cayce, who agreed on a wide range of basic spiritual ideas.

A relatively early syncretic figure is Frederick Spencer Oliver (1866-1899), who purportedly took dictation from a disembodied entity named "Phylos the Tibetan" while in the vicinity of Mount Shasta between 1883 and 1884. The result was ADweller on Two Planets (1899), which describes Phylos' life as doomed Atlantis thousands of years ago. In addition to elements characteristic of Theosophy (e.g., Tibetan Masters, Atlantis) and Spiritualism (i.e., how the text was revealed), Oliver's book contains several references to Jesus

and universal law (including the Law of One described by Cayce), which are consistent with New Thought theology. In 1935 we found Cayce telling 7110 that he had seen "two or three of these manuscripts" on Atlantis. of which "One of the best ones, I understand. is "A Dweller on Two Planets" by Phylos. I suppose you have read this?" (813-1 correspondence). The sleeping Cayce is asked about A Dweller on Two Planets in 364-1, but his answer does not volunteer any information that suggests that he knew the book's contents. He says:

As we recognize, there has been considerable given respecting such a lost continent by these channels such as the writer of Two Planets, or Atlantis and Lemuria [Scott-Elliot's Story of Atlantis & Lost Lemuria, or Steiner's Atlantis and Lemuria?]--that has been published through some of the Theosophical literature. Whether this information is true or not depends upon the credence individuals give to this class of information.
[364-1]

The book title of A Dweller on Two Planets is also mentioned in 282-5. Interestingly, "Phylos" and its phonetic equivalents turn up several times in the life readings (e.g., 478-1, 1175-1), although never as the name of an Atlantean or a Tibetan.

Another synthesizer is Levi H. Dowling (1844-1911) of Belleville, Ohio, trance-author of The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ (1907) and author of Self-Culture (1912)and Biopneuma: The True Science of the Great Breath (1921). According to the publishers' preface to the first book, Dowling served as a Disciples of Christ minister from 1860-1864, became a military chaplain during the Civil War, and worked for the causes of Sunday school and prohibition. During the latter part of his life, he practiced medicine. Intriguingly, Dowling has substantial connections with most of the movements mentioned above. Besides his background as a Disciples of Christ minister. (238), he has ties with Spiritualism in the manner in which The Aquarian Gospel was revealed (and the book continues to be revered by many Spiritualist groups); with Freemasonry in his references to a secret brotherhood with degrees and occult initiations; with Theosophy for his use of Asian religions and locales; and with New Thought for his Christology and pneumatology. The waking Cayce was given at least two copies of The Aquarian Gospel. one in 1936 (correspondence for 877 includes a thank-you letter) and another in 1944 (another thank-you letter, this time for Dr. and Mrs. 3514). The sleeping Cayce is asked about The Aquarian Gospel in 2067-2, but again his answer is too general to indicate whether he was familiar with the book:

Q. We are told that the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ is taken directly from the akashic records. Is it historically true, and should I use the facts in my book?

A. It is the experience of an individual or Levi, who was in that experience and wrote from his own experience. To him, it was a fact. [2067-2]

Despite Cayce's reluctance to endorse it, the teachings of The Aquarian Gospel resemble Cayce's teachings quite strongly, and we will have occasion to return to it again and again.

A third synthesizer is Baird T. Spalding, who, according to his publisher, died in the 1950s. In his five-volume series entitled Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East, Spalding claimed to have traveled for three and one-half years in India and Central Asia, where he and his party met "Emil," Jesus, Buddha, and other masters. No matter what their background.

Spalding's masters invariably seem to be preaching a New Thought version of Christianity. Spalding explains that "even the coolies in India recognize Him as Jesus of Nazareth." (239). As we shall see, many of Cayce's most important ideas--such as the role of ideas in three-dimensional consciousness. or the connection between the chakras and the seven ductless glands--are anticipated in Spalding. The waking Cayce indicated his awareness of Spalding in a 1929 or 1930 lecture entitled "What Is Truth?":

A few days ago, I talked to some people, and they told me about a book that some had written of the masters from the Far East. I had never seen the book before, but when I opened it to read it. I knew what was in it before I read it. I don't know-how, nor why--but I knew the experiences I would encounter within the first four or five pages. I found that in this book, one thought was stressed: what you hold before yourself, to create that image you worship--that is what will develop you always upward. and will continue to enable you to know the truth. (240)

The term “Ascended Master” was used by Baird T. Spalding in 1924 in his series of books, “The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East.” As we have seen about Cayce, originally presented by Helena P. Blavatsky in the 1870s, the idea of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom or Mahatmas was adopted by the Theosophical movement (C.W. Leadbeater and Alice A. Bailey).  

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Although the waking Cayce apparently familiarized himself with Spalding's books. He clarifies in a 1938 letter that he disapproves of Spalding's views: "Yes, know Mr. Spaulding all too well.--glad you were not taken with his lectures." The sleeping Cayce mentions "Spaulding" just once, long enough to describe him as "not authentic" (2067-4), at least concerning the archaic Gobi civilization.

Several neo-Rosicrucian groups were active in Cayce's day, including the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) of San Jose, California (H. Spencer Lewis); the Rosicrucian Fellowship of Oceanside, California (Max Heindel): and the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis of Quakertown, Pennsylvania (R. Swinburne Clymer). A good case could be made for treating the Hermetic groups as a separate lineage, on a par with Spiritualism, Theosophy. So on: however, I see them as essentially syncretic since their Hermetic elements are often drawn from Theosophical lore, and in any case, are usually found mixed with non-Hermetic teachings. Lewis based his teachings around a Westernized version of Theosophy with some New Thought admixture. He accepted reincarnation and taught a Great White Brotherhood including Zoroaster, "Chrishna," and "Moria" and Christ as members. Heindel incorporated many Steinerian details into his philosophy, including references to the age of Saturn, seven-year cycles within the human body, and the mystery of Golgotha. Cayce and the neo-Rosicrucians have much in common aside from their common allegiance to Christ, interpreted esoterically. Lewis and Heindel each affirm the spiritual importance of good nutrition as understood by naturopathy. (241) Both Lewis and Clymer account for the life of Jesus, which resembles Cayce's in key respects. (242). All three accept reincarnation and emphasize ESP. In a single volume, Clymer discusses reincarnation, Atlantis, ancient Egypt, ancient Persia, the Essenes, and Christianity -- familiar Caycean topics all. (243)

One of the most ubiquitous synthesizers is Manly Palmer Hall (1901-1990), a thirty-three degree Mason with wide interests in Western philosophy and esoteric traditions. Eastern religions, and psychology. Hall began his career as a writer and public speaker while a teenager in California during the 1920s. Along the way, he found the opportunity to travel extensively in Europe, Asia- and Egypt. In 1934, he founded the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, devoted to studying the world's wisdom traditions. To that end, the Society sponsors lectures and classes and maintains an impressive esoteric library. Neo-Platonism. Renaissance Hermeticism. Rosicrucian lore and nineteenth-century Theosophy are powerful influences on both the Society and Hall's own philosophy, which is found scattered throughout hundreds of lectures, books, articles, and pamphlets. (244) From his citations, it is clear that Hall was extremely well-read in nearly all of the esoteric literature that I discuss in this work. Like Cayce, Hall taught an esoteric interpretation of Christianity, including reincarnation, astrology, and respect for other world religions. One of Hall's books, Man, the Grand Symbol of the Mysteries (1932), includes such characteristic Caycean teachings as the seven chakras and kundalini, the esoteric significance of the seven ductless glands, including the pineal gland; the desirability of equilibrium between the sympathetic and cerebrospinal nervous systems: the recognition of blood as (in Hall's words) "the universal Proteus," and of human nature as a unity of microcosm and macrocosm, and the division of human nature into the spirit, "soul or mind," and body. (245) While Hall's name is not mentioned in the readings, Cayce writes in a letter. "To be sure, have heard Mr. Hall lecture, and we have several of his books in the library here" (3650-1 correspondence).

Another synthesizer is William Walker Atkinson, alias "Yogi Ramacharaka-" a New Thought writer with Theosophical leanings. His works--published through the Yogi Publication Society in Chicago--combine quintessential Caycean themes as reincarnation and karma. Jesus' Essene heritage, Jesus' journey to India and Persia, auras, and psychic powers. Cayce gave several readings for a never-published book with the working title, Psychic Phenomena from the Subliminal, which was to have been submitted to the Yogi Publication Society.

Yet another is William Dudley Pelley, who began teaching in 1928 and in 1931 formed the League for the Liberation in occult-oriented spiritual support of the Silver Shirts, the prewar American Nazi group. Pelley's writings attribute his information to certain "intelligence" or "mentors," heard clairaudiently. (246) His teaching is a blend of Spiritualism (one of his books is entitled Why I Believe The Dead Are Alive), Theosophy and the I AM movement, and New Thought. Reincarnation and karma and the view of Christ as an exemplar also feature in his teaching. Illuminating catch-phrases of Pelley's include "the Great Teacher speaks" (meaning himself) and "These are my pronouncements." Racism was an integral part of his teaching since the various races of the world are said to lie along with a spectrum corresponding to the evolution of their consciousness. As for which race is superior, "the Nordic American white man is operating at the highest demonstrable rate of vibration also distinguishing the strictly human."(247). The link between Pelley study groups and Cayce study groups is indicated in the notes to the first study group reading (262-1 background), which names the example of the former as having inspired the formation of the latter. The sleeping Cayce said of Pelley, "He that gathereth not with us may still be of us, yet not of this present fold" (294- 13 )6).

Yet another is the Great School of Natural Science, also known as the Great Work in America. In its present form, this group claims existence from 1883, and its pamphlets were later published in book form during the 1950s as The Harmonic Series. Most of the volumes in this series were written by John Emmett Richardson, called "TK" in imitation of the Theosophical mahatmas. The frontispieces of the books included among his qualifications thirteen months of study under "a great master" from India, as well as in the "Central Temple, Tibet." Richardson traced the roots of the Great Work to "a parent-school in India," which was responsible for Freemasonry, Buddhism, the builders of the Great Pyramid, the Essenes. Primitive Christianity and the Protestant Reformation. On the negative side was an evil lineage consisting of paganism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. (248) The Harmonic Series hinted at the possibility of a secret personal instruction, which attracted several people to work. While "membership" in the Great School was reserved for the legendary masters, ordinary people might reasonably aspire to be admitted to the level variously referred to as the Department of Personal Instruction. the Ethical Section (ES), or the Technical Work. (Thus, the "Great School" and the "Ethical Section" are the functional equivalents of the Theosophical Great White Lodge and Esoteric Section, respectively.) A scandal emerged when the Edgewood Sanatarium of Chicago, organized by Richardson, went out of business without warning in 1916, leading to a division in the group. Caycean parallels include reincarnation, dreamwork. Atlantis and Lemuria, and the "Law of Evolution" alms at the Brotherhood of Man as its ideal. (249) Citing Roenich and Notovitch, Richardson holds that Jesus went to India. (250) In one reading, Cayce mentions the Great School's publishing wing, the Indo-American Book Company (900-88).

The outlines of the "proto-New Age" should be clear enough now. Around the turn of the century, several spiritual leaders and movements whose teachings mixed themes from Spiritualism, Theosophy. New Thought, and alternative health. Although generally oriented towards Christianity, representatives of this "proto-New Age" simultaneously accepted the legitimacy of Eastern religions. They denied the doctrine of vicarious atonement in favor of a view of Jesus as one who became Christ as an example for others. They spoke of ideals, universal spiritual laws, and the trinity of body, mind, and spirit. They supplemented prayer with meditation and interpreted God as a universal mind or spirit that is somehow present within each individual. They emphasized reincarnation, astrology, and psychic phenomena and spoke of Atlantis, ancient Egypt, the Essenes- and Jesus's Journey to India. They endorsed alternative health practices (often naturopathic ones). They accepted a view of human anatomy which merged the chakras and nadis of Indian lore with the glandular and nervous systems of the Western fore. Many (though by no means all) 'incorporated racist or anti-Semitic beliefs into their spiritual systems. It is here that we should take for Cayce's closest theological relatives.

 

Following is the overview of the other parts in this major case study whereby underneath you will see the footnotes in reference to the above section:

Cayce's ability (whatever its nature) to effortlessly absorb books' contents makes it seem inevitable that Cayce would have attempted to acquire religious knowledge in this way. The day after he arrived in Hopkinsville, Cayce searched for a town-based job and found one with E.H. Hopper & Son Bookstore, which from 1874 to 1913 also housed Hopkinsville's collection of public library books. There "seemed to be something appealing" about the bookstore, and Cayce recalls that "the several years I remained there seemed to be the stepping stones: yea. even the door to life itself." without explaining why, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 1.

Robert Smith claimed that if Cayce did meet President Wilson, however, he was never told of this and suggested that he had confused Wilson with a cousin of the president's for whom Cayce did, in fact, give readings. Also, several of Cayce's partners and associates in the several oil ventures were clearly promoters of dubious character. The question must be asked whether Cayce himself should be considered one as well rather than simply as an innocent pawn of others, as ARE literature suggests. That Cayce no less than Kahn was an active participant in what came to be known simply as "the proposition" is illustrated by his travels to "New Orleans, Jackson, Memphis, Denver, all over Texas, St. Louis, Chicago. Indianapolis, Cincinnati- Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Florida.," as well as Columbus. Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and New York City. In any case, what began as a search for oil and then for oil investors around 1922 blurred into a direct search for hospital donors. Allies in Birmingham, New York, and Chicago all indicated a willingness to raise money for the venture, provided it would be located in their respective cities. The readings, however, indicated the Norfolk area, apparently for spiritual and karmic reasons, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 2.

Attempts to pinpoint Cayce's religious heritage are inevitably contentious given the strong feelings of so many people who seek to claim (or reject) him as a representative of their own beliefs. Christian-oriented Cayceans such as Bro stress the Christian basis of his teachings while asleep and active church life while awake over the objections of Christian opponents of Cayce, who emphasize his many departures from mainstream Christian doctrine. New Agers note Cayce's use of language and ideas consistent with various Western esoteric traditions; simultaneously, Christian-oriented Cayceans point to his efforts to distance himself from Spiritualism and occultism. There is something to be said in favor of all of these perspectives. I propose to call Cayce a syncretizer since this brings out the diversity of his sources and suggests fruitful link's with other turn-of-the-century syncretizers.- In 1906, a test was arranged for Cayce in which he would give a reading for a patient chosen for him before a large audience of visiting physicians. However, when the reading proved accurate, members of the audience stormed up to him while he still lay in a trance and began conducting impromptu tests to see if he really was under hypnosis. One doctor peeled back one of his fingernails, while another stuck a hatpin through his face-common stunts in stage hypnosis at the time. Cayce did not flinch but later awoke in great pain. As a result of this experience, he resolved to stop trying to convince skeptics and give readings only for those who genuinely wanted his help. To Cayceans, the incident illustrates the limitations of a formal scientific or scholarly approach to the readings, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 3.

The usual approach to the readings also ignores the passage of time. Readings from different decades are quoted alongside one another typically (due to the nature of the ARE's citation style for readings extracts) with no indication of when they were delivered. Yet, a certain evolution can be observed in the content and tone of the readings over the five decades of Cayce's psychic career, which becomes lost whenever readings from different periods are lumped together the indiscriminately.-The chronic problem is that those aspects of Cayce which manage to find their way into popular publication are those which match the needs and mores of the Cayce movement. These are often arbitrarily or ideologically chosen, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 4.

In the course of surveying the history and teachings of the Cayce movement, it is easy to lose sight of the experience of its participants. After all, Cayceans are typically less interested in studying the origins of their institutions than in contemplating the possibility of deeper levels to the universe and themselves or in changing their lives to reflect more of spiritual orientation. How these aspirations are expressed are numerous, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 5

Today, the ARE's request that study groups collect contributions seems to be practiced regularly when not disregarded altogether. Of the groups I have attended, only the one at ARE headquarters solicited donations each week, with one dollar appearing to be the standard per capita contribution.- A democratic ARE (to the extent that such a thing is even conceivable) might easily prove even more anti-intellectual and personality-driven than its present incarnation. At the same time, the example of the Swedenborg Foundation demonstrates that it is possible to combine academic respectability (recent monographs have dealt with D.T. Suzuki. Henri Corbin and Kant) with at least nominal democratic safeguards (e.g., proxy voting). A key difference is that the various Swedenborgian churches are institutionally separate from the Swedenborg Foundation- whereas the ARE combines both of these functions and many more, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 6.

Some leave when they do not find their vision reflected, complaining about the politics of Virginia Beach. Others accommodate themselves to a framework with which they are not entirely comfortable or become outspoken in their attempts to change the organization. The ARE leadership presently incorporates several distinct visions--some complementary, some not. The organization is sufficiently decentralized to keep these visions in a sort of equilibrium based partially on inertia (once a given program is started, it will probably be continued) and partially because most Cayceans have multiple interests concerning the readings. However, skeptical or scholarly approaches are definitely a minority interest within the ARE. They are almost wholly unrepresented within those functions that have the greatest capacity for influencing the Caycean masses (e.g., study groups, publishing, or conferences). -An object of ARE charity really a public relations activity, a disguised form of product development, or an expression of a liberal theological identity (against those Southern Protestant denominations that are perceived as anti-scientific). Inquiries into the source question have lacked the necessary connections for the first category, are not particularly well-suited to the second or third, and work at cross-purposes to the fourth by giving comfort to the ARE's enemies. The result is that Cayce's research has proceeded for half a century now without much appreciation of the Cayce movement's forebears, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 7.

Edgar Cayce's readings are full of Masonic allusions- Cayce refers to Jesus's initiation through a series of degrees in Egypt. Besides the obviously Masonic concepts of initiation and degrees, turn-of-the-century Freemasonry often wrapped biblical themes in ancient Egyptian motifs, following the pattern set by Cagliostro. In addition, Cayce sees geometry as containing deep spiritual insights, a quintessentially Masonic notion. The letter "G" in the Masonic symbol is sometimes said to stand for "geometry," although American Masons usually interpret it as standing for "God." The Royal Arch degree, known as the "Knight of East and West," even uses the symbolism of the Book of Revelation in an initiatory context, as does Cayce, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 8.

During his lifetime, Cayce was widely assumed to have some connection with Spiritualism, as illustrated by this 1930 headline from the Baltimore Sun: "Spiritualist Research Aim of Atlantic University." (177) Observers of Cayce had good reason to associate him with Spiritualism, since Cayce's practice of medical clairvoyance was known from the Spiritualist movement (Edgar Cayce would also subsequently claim to have become a reader of the “Akashic Records"), continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 9.

Like Blavatsky, Cayce, too would report being visited by a being wearing white robes and a turban. Several of Cayce's friends had an interest in Theosophy, including Arthur Lammers and Morton Blumenthal, and while awake, Cayce spoke before at least one Theosophical Society meeting (in Birmingham, Alabama), continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 10.

The Cayce readings refer to New Thought denominations from time to time; 3063-1 recommends "Divine Science, Unity, or Christian Science; provided they do not require that the body be kept from making those administrations for the physical and mental self." Except for Christian Science, Cayce appears to regard these movements favorably, without any of the qualifications which inevitably accompany his praise of other religious movements such as Spiritualism or Theosophy. Today, ARE functions bear more than a passing resemblance to New Thought services, and many ARE conferences and retreats are held in Unity churches and the like. A retreat jointly sponsored by Unity and ARE was held at Unity Village in 1996 after several previous ARE events. (Charles Thomas Cayce met his eventual wife, Leslie Goodman Cayce, at just such an occasion.) The ARE Library has acquired the Metaphysical Society of San Francisco, established by Homes of Truth founder Annie Rix Militz, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 11.

Cayce's psychological or spiritual interpretation of the fourth dimension and the explanation was given, consistent with Ouspensky's explanation in Tertium Organum. Although Cayce's division of human nature and the universe into three levels seems natural, it represents a departure from most other Western esoteric traditions and comes closest to that of Rudolf Steiner, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 13.

Apart from pulp fiction which, as we described, also led to Scientology, there is an earlier precursor that also might have inspired the ancient astronaut theory first popularized by the "Occult Science" of H.P. Blavatsky, who wrote in her widely sold book "The Secret Doctrine" (which claimed to reveal "the origin and evolution of the universe and humanity itself") that already during the time of "Atlantis" there were flying machines and that knowledge of such machines "was passed on" to later generations in India. Similarly, the founder of today's top-rated Waldorf schools Rudolf Steiner, also claimed that the Atlanteans had aircraft that had steering mechanisms by which they could rise above mountain ranges.

In the perpetual motion milieu, frauds who have appealed to occultist thinking have abounded. For example, from 1873 until he died in 1898, John E. W. Keely of Philadelphia promoted a mysterious motor that ran on "etheric force" derived from the "disintegration of water." He raised millions from financiers and the public for his company on the strength of his demonstrations of such phenomena as musical notes causing weights to rise and fall. Of these performances, which had a kinship to séances, he remarked, "I am always a good deal disturbed when I begin one of these exhibitions, for sometimes if an unsympathetic person is present, the machines will not work." Theosophists of the age admired him for combining "the intuitions of the seer with the practical knowl­edge of mechanics."

Rudolf Steiner firmly believed in and confirmed his own so-called clairvoyance the reality of the Keely phenomena to next claim to be able to duplicate Keely through his own Clairvoyantly as described in the article "From the Keely engine to the Strader machine. Except as Wouter Haanegraaf clearly demonstrated, Steiner's clairvoyance was based on 'imaginative fantasy.' Continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 14.

The readings claim that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were affiliated with an Essene community based on Mount Carmel, which was a continuation of a "school of the prophets" begun by Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, and ultimately Melchizedek (254-109). The Essenes are not mentioned in the Bible. Yet Several occult gospels confirmed that Jesus had been a member of the Essenes and the Great White Brotherhood.

The notion that Jesus had spent his "lost years" wandering Asia by no means originated with Cayce. Its first proponent seems to have been the Russian war correspondent Nicholas Notovitch (1858-c. 1916), who describes his travels in British India in work entitled La Vie Inconnue de Jesus-Christ (The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ), published in 1894. But as we pointed out early on is seen to be a fraud. Continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 15.

 

235. J. Gall Cayce, Osteopathy: Comparative Concepts--A.T. Still and Edgar Cayce.pp. 2, 3-4 (cf. 2072-12), 9 (cf. 2519-3), 9 (cf. 2828-4), 25 (cf. 4007- 1), and 15, respectively.

236. Harold J. Reilly and Ruth Hag Brod. The Edgar Cayce Handbook For Health Through Drugless Therapy, p. 210.

237. Consult Gladys Davis Turner, An Edgar Cayce Home Medicine Guide, for descriptions and applications for these various remedies.

238. The fact that both Cayce and Dowling belonged to the Disciples of Christ may cause some to wonder whether there was something in the water, so to speak, that had the effect of turning Disciples into psychic enthusiasts. At the same time, I doubt that this is the case; the example of Jesse B. Ferguson (1819-1870) may be relevant. Ferguson was a Disciples of Christ minister from Nashville who preached briefly at Ninth Street Christian (Cayce's church in Hopkinsville) in 1848. After quarreling with Alexander Campbell, he left the ministry, found himself ostracized by other Disciples, and eventually became a believer in Spiritualism. Arthur Ford was another Disciple of Christ minister who turned to Spiritualist practices.

239. Baird T. Spalding, Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, vol V., p. 106.

240. In Hugh Lynn Cayce, Venture Inward, p. 33.

241. H. Spencer Lewis wrote a 1935 pamphlet on The Spiritual Property of Food which includes reference to the ductless glands. His Rosicrucian Essays (also 1935) follow naturopathic views. Meanwhile, Max Heindel discusses the "science of nutrition" in Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, p 441 ff.

242. H. Spencer Lewis discusses Jesus in his Mystical Life of Jesus. Mystical Christianity, the latter of which affirms Jesus's trip to India (p. 70 ff), his membership in the Essenes (p. 5 ff.), and the distinction between Jesus the man and the "Christ principle" (p. 102). R. Swinburne Clymer, in The Philosophy of Fire, R. Swinburne Clymer agrees that Jesus was an Essene (p.207 ff.) and denies the doctrine of the vicarious atonement in favor of a New Thought Christology (pp. 128-129).

243. R. Swinburne Clymer, in The Philosophy of Fire, discusses reincarnation (p. 127), Atlantis (p. 3), ancient Egypt (p. 183 ff.), ancient Persia (p. 199 ff.), and the Essenes (p. 207 ff.).

244. See the appendix to Manly Palmer Hall, Great Books On Religion, and Esoteric Philosophy for a nearly complete itemization.

245. Manly Palmer Hall, Man, the Grand Symbol of the Mysteries, CHS. 14 and 17, 12, 4, and p. 47, respectively.

246. William Dudley Pelley, Earth Comes, p. 187.

247. William Dudley Pelley, Soulcraft series vol. 7 no. 80, p. 15.

248. John Emmett Richardson, The Great Message, p. 15 ff

249. Richardson affirms reincarnation (The Great Known, p. 309 ff.), dreamwork (ibid., p. 187 ff), Atlantis and Lemuria (The Great Message, pp. 331 ff, and 353 ff.), and the mystical significance of the Great Pyramid (The Great Known, p. 16).

250. John Emmett Richardson, Questions and Answers, p. 107.

 

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