Cayce gradually overcame his self-image as "this clodhopper"(30) and grew more comfortable with his social surroundings. As a clerk in the Hopper store, Cayce met college student Gertrude Evans (1880-1945), who became his fiancé in 1897 and his wife in 1903. Gertrude's family was one of the wealthiest and most socially prominent in the town. At the same time, Cayce struggled financially both before and after the marriage--a contrast which leads Schwartz to interpret Cayce's courtship of Gertrude as a sign of healthy ambition. Cayce was nearly twenty and Gertrude sixteen at the time of their engagement: when they married, they were twenty-six and twenty-two, respectively. The extraordinary length of their engagement is a good indication of Cayce's limited finances as well as of his in-laws' reservations. The couple's first home was a boarding house in Bowling Green.
Cayce heard several evangelists preach in Hopkinsville, Sam Jones, George Pentecost, George Stewart, and Dwight L. Moody. A chance meeting with Moody in 1895 led to multiple mornings of prayer and private spiritual discussion with him. (31.).... Moody seemed open to the possibility that God might really have spoken to Cayce and even shared an anecdote from his own experience telling how he had once received divine guidance through a dream. He convinced Cayce that even if he could never become a minister, he could nevertheless find ways to serve God. After that,
I sought more and more to be associated now with the people of the church. A Sunday School class was given to me. I sought to aid some Methodist circuit riders, accompanying them on some of their trips, several times filling appointments for them when they were unable to go. In one of the classes, there were thirty-eight students: I was nineteen years old. There seemed to be something that called for a special study of missionary work. More than half of that class are missionaries in foreign fields today. (32)
Years late,r Cayce would look back on his talks with Moody as a formative experience. He would remain deeply involved in such traditional church-type activities as teaching Sunday school and visiting prisoners throughout his life, participating in an intercessory prayer group, and supporting overseas missions. Bro relates that these were mainly medical missionaries and the like, so Cayce may have been motivated by a desire to help the less fortunate rather than convert the heathen. (33)
Cayce lost his Job in 189 when the Hopper store took on another partner. At first, he worked briefly in a neighboring store that sold wallpaper, then became a shoe salesman for a dry goods store. Between 1898 to 1900, Cayce worked at the John P. Morton Bookstore in Louisville, a job he obtained through the ingenious tactic of asking everyone he knew (especially customers of the Morton store) to send letters of recommendation in waves the management finally relented. Cayce prepared himself for the job by memorizing the company catalogs or that he had memorized his speller. Louisville was "a metropolis to him"(34,) and Cayce experienced some difficulty adjusting to his new surroundings. Fortunately, acquaintances from his boarding house and church eased the transition for this "already lonesome, lonesome boy."(35)
Cayce's move first to the Hopper store and then to the Morton store (a wholesaler) would have given him progressively greater access to books in an era when public libraries were as yet generally unavailable. In 1902 he worked briefly for yet another bookstore, Lucian D. Potter's Bookstore in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Unfortunately, none of these bookstores exist any longer. I have not yet been able to come by any definite information about or what titles would have been sold during Cayce's tenure. Also, until historians can travel back in time and photograph Cayce with an open book in front of his face, any evidence that Cayce actually read any of the volumes in his charge can only be circumstantial. On the other hand- those who accept that Cayce had an extraordinary ability to absorb the contents of books without reading them cannot logically demand such evidence.
In Louisville,, Cayce met a woman named Margaret while working at the Morton store. Margaret came from a wealthy family whose business the owners had been seeking for some time. Even though Cayce was already engaged, then came conclusion in some quarters there was to one day be a union between Margret and eddy--this didn't fit eddy's idea of being true to his promise at all, but was circumstances to so shape his life that there was little he could do but drift along with same, for the investing of considerable monies in the firm seem then to hinge on that fact.(36)
The situation was finally resolved in 1900 when Cayce's father offered him a job as a traveling insurance salesman for Woodmen of the World, a fraternal benefit society. This allowed Cayce to leave Louisville (and Margaret) for Hopkinsville (and Gertrude).
In 1900 Cayce began experiencing violent headaches. He had just been given a sedative by a doctor when he lost his voice and failed to regain it--a serious career obstacle for a traveling salesman if ever there was one. Forced to find alternative employment. Cayce took a summer business course at Bryant & Stratton Business College in Louisville, then returned to Hopkinsville to work as a portrait photographer. a trade he was to practice for several decades. (Bro points out that Cayce won awards for his studio portraits. and likes to compare the impulse behind them with that underlying his "portraits" of people in the readings.)(37) As for his voice, a succession of physicians found themselves unable to cure him. and church groups began praying for him. Cayce's weight plummeted to "less than a hundred pounds," down from 165.(38) At this point,, hypnotists began offering their services. Cayce had been hypnotized before by stage entertainers like Stanley Hart, "the Laugh King" in Hopkinsville, or "Herman the Great" in Louisville.(39) Cayce's biographers add that Hart was one of those who attempted to cure Cayce and succeeded in getting him to speak under hypnosis (though the effect lasted only while he was entranced).
Eventually, a New York psychiatrist with the unfortunate name of Quackenbush attempted to cure Cayce through hypnosis. Observing the proceedings was Al Layne, a Hopkinsville-based bookkeeper who studied osteopathy and "suggestive therapeutics" as a hobby. (Layne's wife Ada employed him along- with Cayce's sister Annie in her hat shop.)
Quackenbush failed but, after reflecting on Cayce's personal history, wrote to Layne encouraging him to have Cayce put himself into the same kind of trance that he had used to memorize his speller. Cayce did so, then Layne asked the "sleeping" Cayce to diagnose himself. Cayce compiled:
Yes--see the body where there is partial paralysis of the inferior muscles of the vocal cords, caused by poisons, and is both a psychological and pathological condition. Still, the suggestion that circulation will increase to the affected area of the vocal cords and remove the congestion should enable the body to speak normally when physically awake. (40)
Layne followed Cayce's recommendation. Amazingly, the procedure worked. Cayce was cured-at least temporarily, for he would periodically lose his voice again and be hypnotized again to restore it.
Sometime later, Layne asked Cayce to put himself in a trance again; this time to diagnose Layne's own ailment:
Now there came a series of experiments--eddy felt he owed Mr. Layne real consideration for what had come about, yet, didn't care to become a guinea pig for just every sort of experiment into the field of hypnotism. Still, Layne said, now eddy of you can do that for your self there is no reason you can't do it for others, now let's see what you will say about me. I have had bad stomach trouble for years; let's see what you may be done for it. This proved to be a very confusing experience for eddy; while Mr. L. improved and was a good man in a few months, the suggestions were to take certain compounds, use certain diets, and exercise. all of this was new to eddy; he had never studied physiology, he knew nothing about. anatomy,and most of all, giving or suggesting compounds of things he knew nothing about must be all wrong, where did such information come from, what did it all mean, did it or not have anything to do with the experiences he had as a child...(41)
Layne then persuaded Cayce to give "readings" for other sick people to give "readings" (as they came to be called. These, too, were successful, but Cayce began to gall at the resulting notoriety. In 1902 Cayce moved to Bowling Green. Kentucky and the following year married Gertrude. He continued to give readings for Layne's patients, however.
While in Bowling Green, Cayce received a plea from an acquaintance from Hopkinsville on behalf of his six-year-old daughter, Aime Dietrich, whose four-year-old history of convulsions had resisted all conventional medical treatment. The drama of the Dietrich case had already caught the attention of the local press, so when Atme recovered completely following Cayce's trance-diagnosis (he prescribed osteopathic adjustments, which Layne administered), the story spread all over Kentucky and Tennessee. After this,, Layne was warned to cease practicing medicine until he obtained a medical degree and could no longer serve in his former capacity concerning Cayce. Others soon took over his roles. Cayce's father and several other people "conducted" the readings in the sense of suggesting that Cayce enter a trance and then ask the questions. Layne's medical role was taken over by Wesley Ketchum, a homeopath who delivers papers on Cayce to learned medical societies (without Cayce's knowledge). Ketchum's papers eventually caught the attention of the New York Times, which carried the story under the inaccurate headline. "Illiterate Man Becomes a Doctor When Hypnotized" (October 9. 1910). As a result of the increased media attention, Cayce soon received thousands of requests for psychic readings from all over the country.
Cayce did not have to see, know, or examine the subjects of his readings--all he needed was a name and address. How was this possible? The conscious Cayce pleaded ignorance and drew a strong distinction between himself and the source of his readings. Not only did he claim not to remember what was said during his trance sessions, he often could not understand much of what he had dictated even after waking up due to the preponderance of technical,l medical terminology. The same question put to the sleeping Cayce elicited the following explanation:
Edgar Cayce's mind is amenable to suggestions, the same as all other subjective minds. Still, it has the power to interpret to the objective mind of others what it requires from the subconscious mind of other 'Individuals of the same kind. The subconscious forgets nothing. The conscious mind receives the impression from without and transfers all thought to the subconscious, even though the conscious is destroyed. The subconscious mind of Edgar Cayce is in direct contact with all other subconscious minds. It can interpret through its objective mind and impart impressions received to other objective minds, gathering in this way all knowledge possessed by millions of other subconscious minds.
Cayce's description assumes a model of the mind common among nineteenth-century authorities on hypnosis, particularly Thomson Jay Hudson, and subsequently taken up by New Thought writers such as Thomas Troward. Years later, in the context of another type of reading (the life readings,) the sleeping Cayce would explain his ability in terms of his access to the "akashic plane," an invisible realm where all human activity is recorded for eternity.
Cayce describes the procedure itself in this portion of the 1933 talk entitled "What is a Reading":
The first step in giving a reading is this: I loosen my clothes--my shoelaces, my necktie, my shirt cuffs, and my belt-too have a perfectly free-flowing circulation.
Then I lie down on the couch in my office. If the reading is a physical one, I lie with my head to the south and my feet to the north. If it to be a life reading, it is just the opposite: my feet are to the south, my head to the north. The reason for this difference is "polarization," as the readings themselves call it. I do not know.
Once lying comfortably, I put both hands up to my forehead, on the spot where observers have told me the third eye is located, and pray. Interestingly enough, I have unconsciously and instinctively, from the very beginning, adopted the practices used by initiates in meditation. This instinctive putting of my hands to the point midway between my two eyes on my forehead is a case of what I mean.
Then I wait for a few minutes until I receive what might be called the "go signal"--a flash of brilliant white light, sometimes tending toward the golden in color. This light is to be the sign I have made contact with. When I do not see it, I know I cannot give the reading.
After seeing the light, I move my hands down to the solar plexus, and they tell me--my breathing now becomes very deep and rhythmic from the diaphragm. This goes on for several minutes. When my eyes begin to flutter closed (up till now,,, they have been open but glazed the conductor knows I am ready to receive the suggestion, which he proceeds to give to me, slowly and distinctly. For example, if it is a physical reading, the individual's name to receive the reading is given to me and the address where he will be located during that period of time.
There is a pause--sometimes so long a pause (they tell me) that it seems I haven't heard the directions, so they give them to me again--after which I repeat the name and address very slowly until the body is located, and a description of its condition is begun.
This, then, is how I give a reading. I am entirely unconscious throughout the whole procedure. When I wake up, I feel as if I had slept a little bit too long. And frequently I feet slightly hungry--just hungry enough for a cracker and a glass of milk, perhaps...(42)
However, this is a relatively late account, given after Cayce was exposed to yoga practitioners and similar spiritual paths. K. Paul Johnson's case for a Radhasoami connection (Cayce apparently did know at least one Radhasoami teacher during this period) points to that religion's emphasis on the divine sound and light which may be experienced during meditation. (43)
A parade of researchers, including Hugo Muensterberg, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison if Cayce's memoirs are to be believed), challenged Cayce to demonstrate his abilities in various ways, often by performing stunts such as describing the activities of someone in another city. Cayce is said to have been immensely successful at this, and ARE files testify to countless instances of incidental clairvoyance in the course of his readings. (44) Of course, the basic phenomenon of Cayce diagnosing patients at a distance would, if genuine, also qualify as clairvoyance. 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 read and andings 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.
Cayce's First child, Hugh Lynn Cayce, was born in 1907 (and died in 1982). In all, the Cayces would have two more children--Milton Porter Cayce (b. 1911. died in infancy) and Edgar Evans Cayce (b. 1918). None of Cayce's descendants seem to have inherited his psychic gifts, although Hugh Lynn is sometimes posthumously credited with a degree of clairvoyance. Until recently, the leadership of the ARE was kept within the Cayce family, passing first to Hugh Lynn and then to Hugh Lynn's eldest son. Charles Thomas Taylor Cayce (b. 1942). Following ARE custom, I will generally refer to Hugh Lynn Cayce as "Hugh Lynn."Edgar Evans Cayce as "Edgar Evans," and Charles Thomas Cayce as "Charles Thomas." But all this is to anticipate.
In 1910, Cayce entered into a partnership to make money from his ability through medical consulting. Dr. Ketchum served as physician of record. Cayce's father conducted the readings. A financier named Albert Noe provided money for a spanking new photography studio for Edgar in return for a share of the fees for his readings. In 1912. the arrangement dissolved when Cayce discovered that some of the transcripts of his readings had been faked. It surfaced that his three partners- including his father--had conspired to ask the sleeping Cayce questions for which the waking Cayce had not given permission, especially inquiries relating to horse racing and the commodities markets. Cayce learned of the matter when, contrary to his usual experience, he began to feel physically ill after giving readings. After this discovery, Cayce left Kentucky altogether and opened a photographic studio in Selma, Alabama, where he resided until 1920 (and his family until 1923). Despite his alleged moral reservations about using his abilities to pursue riches, he gave in to the temptation himself on more than one occasion (45). He continued to advise stock and commodities speculators at least until the Great Depression. Bro points out that Cayce did not typically name specific financial instruments to be bought or sold. but merely encouraged his inquirers to apply any dream information that they might have received on such subjects. (46)
In 1915, Cayce experienced his final episode of "aphonia." For ten days, he found himself unable to speak above a whisper. Then he fell unconscious and had the following vision:
Apparently, there was spread before me all the graveyards in the world. I saw nothing save the abode of what we call the dead in all portions of the world. Then, as the scene shifted, the graves seemed to be centered around India, and a voice told me from somewhere. "Here, you will know a man's religion by how his body has been disposed of."
The scene changed to France, and I saw the soldiers' graves, and among them the graves of three boys who had been in my Sunday School class. Then I saw the boys, not dead but alive. Each of them told me how they met their death: one in machine-gun fire- another in the bursting of a shell, the other in heavy artillery fire. Two gave me messages to tell their loved ones at home. They appeared in much the same way and manner as they did when they came to bid me goodbye.
As the scene changed again, I apparently reasoned with myself, "This is what men call spiritualism. Can it be true? Are all these we call dead yet alive in some other plane of experience or existence? Could I see my own baby boy?" As if a canopy was raised, tier on tier of babies appeared. In the third or fourth row from the top to the side, I recognized my own child [Milton Porter Cayce, who had died in infancy]. He knew me, even as I knew him. He smiled at his recognition, but no word of any kind passed. (47)
Several more spirits of the dead appeared before him with information for relatives left behind, which Cayce claims were later verified. When he awoke. he could talk normally. The vision left a lasting impression: "I do not know that I yet understand its whole import."(48)
Bro reports the testimony of Cayce's close friend David Kahn (a sometime furniture salesman from Lexington, Kentucky) to the effect of 1918. Cayce was secretly summoned to the White House to give President and Mrs. Wilsonpsychic readings psychic readings psychic readings psychic readings on the subject of the Fourteen Points. (49) Cayce alludes to two trips to Washington at the request of "one high in authority" who is otherwise unnamed. (50) A. Robert Smith relates that if Cayce did meet President Wilson, however, he was never told of this and suggests that Kahn had confused Wilson with a cousin of the president's for whom Cayce did give readings. (51)... Incidentally, the ARE is one of several spiritual movements (along with the Baha'i religion and the Agni Yoga Society) whose members have sought to take credit for the Fourteen Points on behalf of the central figures of their faiths. One wonders what these groups make of less exalted aspects of Wilson's career, such as his multiple invasions of Latin America on behalf of U.S. multinationals, official racial segregation in the federal government, angry rejection of women's suffrage, or curtailment of civil liberties.
In 1919, Cayce was asked to use his abilities to locate oil in Texas. The idea of making money through psychic wildcatting inspired Cayce and Kahn to leave for Texas themselves the following year, continuing to reside until 1923. Robert Krajenke says that, contrary to the usual Caycean understanding, the initiative in this venture was Cayce's rather than Kahn's. (52) Kahn attributes the failure of the oil venture to sabotage by rival oil companies, which prevented them from striking oil before their leases expired. He points out that another company did discover oil on one of the sites identified by Cayce. (53) Cayce's sons blame the failure instead of the participants' drifting out of touch with the lofty spiritual purposes that Cayce's abilities intended to serve. (54) How so? Although many Cayce books are coy about describing Cayce's specific moral lapses, one might be Cayce's use of his purported psychic ability as the "hook" with which to secure investors ("speculators" would be more accurate). 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 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,"(55) as well as Columbus. Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and New York City. Another morally problematic aspect of Cayce's Texas period was his virtual abandonment of his family, whose finances grew accordingly precarious. Hugh Lynn grew up resenting his father for this, although he did briefly join him in Texas. (56) Cayce had at least one lover in Texas, and Bro (citing Hugh Lynn) adds the unpublished detail that the reason why Cayce remained in Texas for so long was some combination of the lover in Texas and an angry wife back home. (57)
Cayce's biographers portray the whole quixotic quest as a humanitarian effort, tragically unsuccessful, to raise money for a Cayce hospital. It Is true that at some point,t Cayce had conceived of the idea of founding a hospital where his psychic readings could be used to treat patients whose conditions were considered hopeless. Since doctors were often reluctant to follow Cayce's psychic recommendations, control of a hospital staffed with representatives of various medical traditions would ensure that this chronic problem could be overcome. However, it is not always clear whether Cayce sought the money for the sake of the hospital or the hospital for the sake of the money. 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,e provided it would be located in their respective cities. The readings, however, indicated the Norfolk area, apparently for spiritual and karmic reasons.
Krajenke entities his article on the Texas period and its aftermath. "Edgar Cayce and the Crucial Years" since It was during this time that Cayce formulated the spiritual teachings for which he is most widely remembered as well as the approximate institutional arrangements through which it would be promoted. During his absence from Selma, Cayce allowed his studio photography business to wither away, and for the rest of his life, he would earn his living exclusively as a psychic. A key moment occurred in 1923 when Arthur Lammers, a photographic supplies dealer from Dayton, Ohio, overcame his well-founded distrust of Cayce's associates to become an enthusiastic supporter of Cayce. Krajenke points out that Lammers first suggested that Cayce establish a psychic research institute, on the reasoning that it would be easier to raise money for that kind of venture than for a hospital. Monies thus raised could then be used to finance a hospital, on their genius's grounds that a hospital would be a necessary part of the "research" (into Cayce) supported by the institute. (58)
In 1923, Cayce reunited with his wife and sons in Hopkinsville, then returned to Selma, where they remained for only a few months. This period is noteworthy chiefly for Selma native Gladys Davis (later Gladys Davis Turner) as the Cayces' secretary. Records of the readings were not consistently kept until the arrival of Davis, who instituted the practice of keeping carbon copies of the readings (i.e., the typewritten transcripts transcribed from stenographic notes, the originals of which were usually sent to the person for whom the reading was given) for Cayce's files. To convey an idea of her influence, out of some 14.306 extant readings, only about 500 dates before her arrival, although thousands more must have been given. (59) Over the years, Davis became a close friend of the Cayce family. Rumors to the effect that Davis and Cayce had an affair should be treated with caution since there is no clear evidence for the assertion. and it is just the sort of detail that gossiping tongues would be likely to invent. (60)
From Selma, the Cayces (with Davis) moved to Dayton. Ohio at the invitation of Lammers, who agreed to support them. Lammers was interested in esoteric literature (especially Theosophy, AMORC Rosicrucianism, and the astrology of Evangeline Adams) and encouraged Cayce to begin giving readings on spiritual subjects. Cayce writers usually point to Dayton. 1923 as the occasion of Cayce's first readings on metaphysical or religious subjects. These became known as "life readings" (in contrast to "physical readings," "world affairs readings," etc.) since they generally describe several of the subject's past lives. Sugrue's biography portrays Cayce as engaging in a profound struggle over whether the application of his psychic abilities to such questions would be compatible with biblical principles. Ultimately, relates to Sugrue, Cayce agreed with considerable trepidation to be asked for a horoscope. The results of the reading supposedly left him stunned and horrified: while asleep. He explained that astrological configurations on a natal horoscope are meaningful because they represent karmic influences carried over from previous lives. As for Lammers, this was his "Third appearance on this plane. He was once a monk" (5717-1). After much soul-searching, however, Cayce concluded that miraculous healings would not have occurred if his gift were demonic in nature- and gave in to requests for follow-up readings. Cayce eventually came to believe in the spiritual worldview suggested by the readings, which he decided were compatible with the teachings of the Bible after all.
While Sugrue's account possesses considerable charm and dramatic potential, the truth is more complicated. Cayce could not have been altogether surprised at the content of these readings since they had been interested in astrology for several years before that. And recalls first having heard of it in 1919. Newspaper editor J-P. Thrash of Cleburne. Texas had asked for Cayce's birth information. Then sent back twenty-one astrologers' reports. All of these agreed on a particular date (March 19. one day after Cayce's birthday) when Cayce would be able to answer "questions on any subject." The subject chosen was astrology, and Cayce adds that many students of psychic phenomena have described the resulting reading "many students of psychic phenomena have described the resulting reading "many students of psychic phenomena have described the resulting reading "many students of psychic phenomena have described the resulting reading "many students of psychic phenomena have described the resulting reading "to be the most phenomenal they have ever seen."(61.) As for reincarnation, the first reference to this concept 'In the readings came as early as 1911 (4841-2 refers to the soul being "transmigrated"). However, it was not immediately recognized for what it was. Bro recalls Cayce saying that he initially heard of reincarnation by way of Rosicrucianism. We later will come back to that in later sections of this research file about the Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) of San Jose, California. (62)Before Dayton, Cayce had encountered several people interested in esoteric spirituality or psychic phenomena, undoubtedly as a natural outgrowth of his psychic career. He remembers initially giving talks on psychic phenomena to various civic groups while still in Birmingham. Alabama. Among those named were the Theosophical Society and Unity church. (63.) Johnson has managed to pinpoint Cayce's lecture to the Birmingham Theosophical Society to October 1922 (i.e., A year before, Cayce went to Dayton), based on an article in the Birmingham Age-Herald. Bro writes that Cayce referred...to contacts with occultists in his Southern speaking engagements as having prepared him somewhat for the expanded universe of his Dayton experience, despite the general framework of Sunday School Protestantism which constituted his chief thinking along philosophical lines. In periods of my questions to him, my notes show that he granted the preparation of these early experiences in at least having raised his curiosity. (64)
In later years Cayce would have many more such contacts and admit to reading at least some of the occult books whose influence on him is doubted by Sugrue and his successors. In any event, rather than Lammers persuading a passive, reluctant Cayce to delve into esoteric spirituality, it would appear that Cayce made a conscious decision to expand the subject matter of the readings and only consequently agreed to Lammers' request for him to relocate to Dayton.
The Cayces remained in Dayton for eighteen months. By 1925 it had become clear that Lammers's financial problems would prevent him from continuing to support them. At this point, the Cayces (and Davis) followed the readings' advice and moved to Virginia Beach, where they would reside for the rest of their lives. Funding for the move was provided by New York stockbroker Morton Blumenthal and his brother Edwin, acquaintances of Kahn's who went on to finance several other Cayce-related ventures. Virginia Beach has remained the hub of Caycean activity ever since, and the man whose business card once called him a "psychic diagnostician" would forever after taking on the air of a prophet.
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.
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.
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. 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.-Despite Cayce's reluctance to endorse it, the teachings of The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus, continue in Edgar Cayce's Secret, Part 12.
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 e 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.
30. Edgar Cayce. 47-pp.Memoirs, p. 13.
31. Ibid.. pp. 14-22: cf. Edgar Cayce, 95-pp.Memoirs. p. 11.
32. Edgar Cayce, 95-pp.Memoirs, p. 13.
33. Harmon Bro, telephone conversation, 1997.
34. Ed2ar Cayce, 47-pp.Memoirs. p. 26.
35. Ibid.. p. 27.
36. Ibid.. p. 3 1.
37. Harmon Bro, Why Edgar Cayce Was Not a Psychic, p. 35
38. Edgar Cayce, 47-pp.Memoirs. p. 33.
39 Ibid., p. 30 1/2.
40. Ibid., p. 33.
41. Ibid., p. 34.
42. In Jeffrey Furst. Edgar Cayce's Story of Jesus. p. 15.
43. In the 1930's Radhasoami teacher Bhagat Singh attended readings and lectured at ARE conferences. Later, Cayce writer and conference speaker I.C. Sharma was a minor Radhasoan-lineage-holder, and his guru Faqir Chand was an ARE life member.
44. For examples of incidental clairvoyance, see Hugh Lynn Cayce. Venture Inward, pp. 36-75-, or Gladys Davis Turner and Mae Gimbert St. Clair. Individual Reference File, pp. 80-83.
45. For example, in Edgar Cayce, 47-pp. Memoirs, p. 46.
46. Harmon Bro, telephone conversation, 1997.
47. Edgar Cayce, 95-pp. Memoirs, p. 59.
48. Ibid., p. 58.
49. Harmon Bro, A Seer Out of Season, p. 331.
50. Edgar Cayce, 95-page memoirs, pp. 65, 77.
51. A. Robert Smith, Introduction, p. 4, in A. Robert Smith et al., Griffin report.
52. Robert Krajenke. "Edgar Cayce and the Crucial Years," in A. Robert Smith et al., Griffen report, p. 9.
53. David Kahn, My Life With Edgar Cayce, pp. 66-68.
54. Hugh Lynn Cayce and Edgar Evans Cayce, The Outer Limits of Edgar Cayce's Power, pp. 49-70. 139-141.
55. Edgar Cayce. 95-pp. Memoirs, p. 74.
56. A. Robert Smith, About My Father's Business, p. 47.
57. Harmon Bro, telephone conversation, 1997.
58. Robert Krajenke, "Edgar Cayce and the Critical Years." p. 12. In A. Robert Smith et al.,Griffen report.
59. Mary Ellen Carter, My Years With Edgar Cayce, p. 11.
60. For the prosecution. Bro recollects that Gertrude Cayce clearly recognized the potential for an affair as a genuine factor in her husband and Davis (Bro 1989: 361-362) and recalled Hugh Lynn's private complaints about several of his father's affairs. Including this one. Others challenge Bro's recollection of events and reliability as a witness. For the defense. Davis's friend and colleague Jeanette Thomas point out the ubiquity of back-biting among Cayce's circle of admirers as well as the sheer logistic difficulty of any such affair being conducted in the midst of such intense scrutiny and describes Davis's patient but weary denials when asked point-blank about the rumors. It would not be an exaggeration to say that my inquiries to various ARE people on this subject have aroused stronger feelings than anything to do with the source question. Or, for that matter, any other topic.
61. Edgar Cayce, 95-pp. Memoirs, p. 66.
62. Harmon Bro, telephone conversation, 1997.
63. Edgar Cayce, 95-pp. Memoirs: pp. 8 1-83.
64. Harmon Bro, Charisma of the Seer, p. 98.