Here it becomes pointless to continue with Cayce's story without assuming a basic knowledge of his spiritual teachings. This chapter attempts to provide this background: later sections will provide more detail on specific subjects. The reader should realize that the numbers in parentheses after Cayce quotes refer to a standard ARE citation system in which the number appearing before the hyphen replaces the name of the person receiving the reading (for privacy reasons, it also replaces the name of the person wherever it appears in the reading), while the number appearing after the hyphen gives a sequential count of all the readings for that person. For example, 3744-5 (quoted in the next paragraph) was the fifth reading for inquirer number 3744. Outside of Virginia Beach, the only effective way to lookup these readings is to use the Cayce CD-ROM.
One way to understand the sleeping Cayce's teachings is as an esoteric elaboration of the Christian Bible. "All souls," we are told, "were created in the beginning, and are finding their way back to whence they came" (3744-5). When asked to recount inquirers' past lives, Cayce would first describe their most recent incarnations (along with natal planetary influences during each life) and work backward to increasingly remote ages--in some cases, all the way back to the beginning:
In the days before this, we find the entity was among those in the day when the forces of the Universe came together when there was upon the waters the sound of the coming together of the Sons of God, the morning stars sang together, and over the face of the waters there was the voice of the glory of the coming of the plane for man's dwelling. [34 1 - 1. cf. Genesis 1:2. Job 38:7]
Where others, notably Jung, have attempted answers to Job. Cayce addresses the voice from the whirlwind: Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? According to the readings, we were there.
We were meant to be "co-creators" with God (3003-1). who called us into being out of his desire for "companionship and expression" (5749-14). As children of God, we share many of his qualities. Like God, we are spiritual beings, possessing free will and the ability to create with our thoughts. While today we encounter limits to our exercise of these abilities, this was not so in the beginning. Our primordial souls were purely spiritual beings without physical bodies. We could transport ourselves around the universe without hindrance, shaping it by our every whim. As yet, there was no death. The earth (including plant and animal life) had been created separately. Being of a lower "vibration" than human souls, it was not designed to receive us:
The earth and its manifestations were only the expression of God and not necessarily as a place of tenancy for the souls of men until the man was created--to meet the needs of existing conditions. [5749-14]
The "fall" (into materiality) occurred when some souls chose to manifest themselves in the earth plane anyway, despite God's instructions to the contrary. Inhabiting the bodies of animals for sensual pleasure, these errant souls allowed their God-given creativity to run rampant, destroying the natural order which God had established. Physical death was inconsequential to them since they could dive in and out of matter at will, commandeering new bodies whenever they desired. They went so far as to alter the bodies of existing animals to create strange new hybrids. Our legends of mermaids, centaurs, and the like are said to be dim racial memories of this epoch:
As has been indicated. in that particular experience, there still were those who were physically entangled in the animal kingdom with appendages, with cloven hooves, with four legs, with portions of trees, with tails, with scales, with those various things that thought-forms (or evil) had so indulged in as to separate the purpose of God's creation of man. as man-not as an animal but a man. [2072-8]
With time, these souls gradually forgot their divine heritage, effectively becoming trapped in the earth plane.
But God, in His mercy, prepared a way for these souls to reclaim their birthright. A more appropriate physical form for them--the human body--was designed, whose blend of body, mind, and spirit mirrors the macrocosmic universe in microcosm. Death was introduced along with reincarnation and the laws of karma to enable us to face the consequences of our actions and thereby encourage soul growth. The position of the planets at birth indicates or determines what karmic influences we bring with us into each life, although these are never sufficient to override free will. The planets also constitute realms in which souls may dwell between earthly incarnations, partaking of the unique influences of each particular planet.
After creating this elaborate system, God sought volunteers from among those souls who had not fallen. These were to enter the earth plane on a sort of rescue mission and show the way of return he had prepared by example. To do this, they would have to allow themselves to become trapped like their wayward brethren, and the process of leading the way out would, of necessity, be prolonged and painful, lasting- many lifetimes. The leader of this group of souls was the entity known to us as Adam--and also as Jesus since that was his final incarnation.
Cayce interprets the entire Bible in light of this central theme of Jesus' soul returning to his birthright. Certain Old Testament characters (Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, Joshua, and Asaph) are described as previous incarnations of Jesus. Their stories may be viewed as building up to his to some extent. To the biblical epic, Cayce adds his own account of otherwise unknown events in Atlantis, predynastic Egypt, pre-Columbian America, and prehistoric Persia; Cayce and the Jesus soul knew each other during at least two incarnations(65), and many of the people receiving readings were assigned past lives as contemporaries with Cayce. Jesus. or both. Events in the Bible often carry an additional level of symbolic meaning applicable to the lives of spiritual seekers generally. For example. the progress of the ancient Israelites represents the path taken by every spiritual seeker (262-28 days. "Those that seek are Israel"), while the various groups of sevens in the Book of Revelation refer to the activity of the seven spiritual centers during a spiritual awakening (e.g., 281-29).
Jesus' ultimate accomplishment lay in manifesting through all his actions a spirit of self-sacrifice and submission to the will of God. In attaining Christhood, he managed to become aware of his own divinity and demonstrate how we too may return to our rightful heritage. In this view, Christhood is not something unique to Jesus but a goal or consciousness that we should strive to attain. Nevertheless. Jesus deserves our veneration as a "pattern" or exemplar for all humanity.
In this man called Jesus, we find an at-one-ness with the Father, the Creator, passing through all the various stapes of development. In mental perfect, in wrath perfect in the flesh made perfect, in love become perfect- in death become perfect, in psychic become perfect, in mystic become perfect, in consciousness become perfect, in the greater ruling forces becoming perfect, and is as the model, and through the compliance with such laws made perfect, destiny, the pre-destined, the fore-thought, the will- made perfect. The condition made perfect and is an example for man, and only as a man, for He lived only as a man. He died as a man. [900-10]
Note that the "stages" named in the above reading make use of language drawn from Cayce's astrological characterization of the planets: "mind" (Mercury), "wrath" (Mars), "flesh" (Earth), "love," Venus), "death" (Saturn), "Psychic" (Uranus), "mystic" (Neptune), and "consciousness" ("Septimus" or Pluto). Cayce also names Arcturus as "that center from which there may be the entrance into other realms of consciousness" than those of the solar system (282' )- 1). "For, the earth is only an atom in the universe of worlds" (5749-3).
Q. The ninth problem concerns the proper symbols or
similes for the Master, the Christ. Should Jesus be described as the soul who
first went through the cycle of earthly lives to attain perfection? Including
perfection in the planetary lives also?
A. He should be. This is as the man, see?
Q. Should this be described as a voluntary mission [of] One who was already perfected and returned to God, having accomplished His Oneness in other planes and systems?
Q. Should the Christ-Consciousness be described as the awareness within each soul, imprinted in the pattern on the mind and waiting to be awakened by the will of the soul's oneness with God?
A. Correct. That's the idea exactly! [5749-14]
Assuming that we wish to partake of the Christ consciousness, what should we do" According to Cayce, the most important step on the spiritual path is the choice of an ideal: "Then, the more important, the most important experience of this or any individual entity is first to know what the ideal IS--spiritually" (357-133). Ideals such as love, compassion, and so on constitute points of contact with God. By contemplating them, applying them in our lives, and revising our conception of them from time to time by our spiritual growth, we open ourselves up to divine forces and become co-creators with God. This is the central message of the Old Testament as well as of the teachings of Jesus--that humans at any time may choose to attune themselves with God. and thereby initiate the process of returning into his presence.
Cayce habitually divides the universe (and, by extension. human nature) into physical, mental, and spiritual levels. Ideals exist at the spiritual level but are chosen at the mental level. and made manifest at the physical level as one of Cayce's most often-cited but seldom-referenced dicta put it. "Spirit is the life. Mind is the builder. Physical is the result." (in fact, Cayce seems never to have actually said this together but did repeat its three components many times each--for example, in 1579-1, 1991-1, and 5642-3, respectively.) Using a common New thought analogy, Cayce explained the relationship between these three levels using the analogy of a movie projector. The light source would represent the spirit, the film frames mind, and the projected image of the physical world (900-156). Spirit is unitary, so at this level, we are one with God and one another while simultaneously retaining our individuality. To cling to materiality or negative mental attitudes is to mask our true nature as luminous spiritual beings.
Christhood is described as the highest possible ideal, although Cayce is careful to distinguish between the "idea" of Christ, which is the object of Christian worship: and the "ideal" of the Christ spirit, which is the inspiration behind all religions (364-9). Even so, which particular ideal we choose is less important than our sincere efforts to call forth the best that is within us and manifest it in our lives:
And O that all would realize, come to the consciousness that what we are--in any given experience, or time-is the combined results of what we have done about the ideals we have set! [1549-1]
As we apply what we know, more will be given. Divine guidance is especially likely to come to us during prayer, meditation. or in dreams. These constitute safe applications of psychic phenomena since they are oriented toward spiritual growth. In this view, psychic phenomena are, in fact, the natural abilities of the soul (as the very name "psychic" suggests), which may be expected to flower under spiritual influences. They are means to a greater goal, not ends in themselves. To seek them out for their own sake is to stop well short of our birthright as sons and daughters of God.
So far, our summary of Cayce's teachings has followed the pattern set by the majority of Cayce writers, and Cayceans should find it familiar enough. Now I would like to introduce some criticisms of the standard. "naive" reading since, on inspection, some of its underlying assumptions turn out to be quite hazardous. To begin with, an obvious sort of question to ask is whether the readings are accurately recorded. In fact, they find their way to modem readers through a chain of transmission that usually includes Gladys Davis (who may or may not have "corrected" Cayce's language as she took dictation for him), then whatever writers and publishers were involved in reproducing them. Without getting into tired hermeneutic controversies over the location of the "text," suffice it to say that I have checked all of my quotations from the readings against the CD-ROM version, which seems to follow the language and orthography of the typewritten readings transcripts more or less reliably. (66). Whether this, in turn, accurately reflects Cayce's spoken words must be judged based on the one surviving sound recording of a reading, which is unfortunately of abysmal quality and full of gaps, to boot. Certainly, the published books about Cayce cannot be trusted to reproduce material from the readings accurately. However, the ubiquitous lapses in this area are attributable to incompetence or unadvertised attempts to "clean up" Cayce's language rather than any intent to deceive. As to whether ARE leaders have suppressed or altered material from the readings, the answer is yes-but only on a minimal scale, for example. Hugh Lynn kept several readings out of the general collection, including his own life readings, which said that he had been the apostle Andrew in a previous life. Hugh Lynn apparently did not want to make this claim public but changed his mind and restored the readings on being confronted about the missing files by young people at the A RE Camp. (67) Another of the "lost readings" which remains unpublished is one for Gladys Davis, which was removed from the files after her death after legal pressure from relatives who objected to its perceived suggestiveness. To convey some idea of its nature, another reading about Cayce and Davis, which was left in the collection, promises that "though their bodies may burn with their physical desires the soul of each is and will be knit ... when presented before the throne of Him, who gave and said. 'Be fruitful, and multiply" (294-9). Charles Thomas adds that five medical readings whose content is not particularly interesting to have also been left out of the general files at the request of their recipients. Some Cayceans have claimed the number of purged readings to be much higher, but I do not see any reason to treat such assertions as anything other than hearsay.
Beyond establishing the text of the readings, there is the question of their context. Cayce writers commonly treat passages from the readings as equally authoritative and generally applicable, even though most readings are addressed to individuals rather than humanity as a whole. and were delivered in response to a particular situation which the exegete typically ignores. (Mark Thurston is a noteworthy exception.) Yet Cayce clearly tailored his message to the person receiving the reading. While Cayceans have acknowledged this to be a problem concerning the physical readings (indeed, much of the research into them consists of ARE people trying to pinpoint the commonalities across all readings on a given disease, as opposed to details peculiar to individual patients), similar issues concerning Cayce's spiritual teachings are seldom considered. For example, many of Cayce's listeners asked him about certain books, movements, and ideas they were attracted to. Cayce's advice to them vanes considerably even when the topic is the same. It may well be the case that the sleeping Cayce was less interested in ensuring the doctrinal correctness of his followers than in guiding them to apply values appropriate to them as individuals. Worse yet, Cayceans generally acknowledge that Cayce's reliability varied with the quality of the inquirer's motivation, among many other variables-- factors which are rarely taken into account by modem commentators except in cases where Cayce appears to have spectacularly messed up. For example, the notorious 1933 "Hitler reading," (3976-13), in which Hitler and the Nazis are praised,(68) was given for an inquirer with pro-Nazi sympathies who eventually emigrated to Nazi Germany in an expression of solidarity with its policies. To their credit, the ARE has published this reading in several places without distorting the magnitude of Cayce's blunder. Two of these imbed the reading within a commentary by Yonassan Gershom, a Hassidic rabbi from Minnesota. (69) To my mind, the fact that such embarrassing material exists is our best guarantee that large-scale expurgations of the Cayce corpus have not occurred. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine, even in principle, more embarrassing readings than those that have actually survived and been distributed.
More generally, many familiar elements entered into ARE theology only after inquirers asked Cayce a string of long theory-laden questions, to which he replied with a mere "correct" or "yes." Most of the details of the link between the Lord's Prayer and the seven chakras would fit this description, as would think much of Cayce's commentary on the Book of Revelation. Even the ARE emphasis on "meditation" (considered as something distinct from prayer) is arguably extraneous to Cayce's preferred form of spirituality, especially as the waking Cayce was never observed "meditating" in anything like the fashion typically practiced in Caycean circles. This need not imply that such elements are illegitimate, only that Cayce was not their true author, and that the readings should be regarded as collaborative works in which Cayce's was not always the primary voice.
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 indiscriminately. Besides the basic shift from physical readings to life readings in the 1920s. In the 1930s and 1940s, Cayce added such flourishes as a visionary account of the Last Supper predictions of massive earth changes followed by starvation and economic collapse, and trance-channeled messages from such mysterious entities as "Hallaliel" and "Michael. Lord of the Way." It may also be relevant that the waking Cayce began to experience psychic experiences of his own telepathy during this period the ability to read auras). as he had in his childhood, and that the sleeping Cayce gradually developed a much more active persona, even to the point of resorting to the first person singular on occasion.
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, and in any case, reflect Cayce's own perspective only imperfectly. For example, it is no accident that the ARE has chosen not to emphasize Cayce's racist readings or the Hitler reading: his lack of concern for the effects of cigarette smoking (which 1981-2 holds to be harmless in moderation); his qualified warnings against masturbation (268-2): his observation that only twenty-three male babies were born in the United States on June 23, 1913 (5725- 1: this would be a much easier claim to research than, say, the effects of castor oil): or his explanation that the akashic records of dogs "may not be understood unless you learn dog language" (406- 1). On the other side of the equation, it so happens that many of the exotic flourishes for which Cayce is most frequently remembered the sinking of coastal California) are found in only one or two readings. More fundamental distortions are also likely to occur through the ARE's selectivity Cayce dissident Harmon Bro challenges researchers to approach the readings using the methodology of content analysis, which would require us not only to note the presence of a particular idea but also to assess its frequency and centrality within the total system of the readings. Such a revision would have the immediate effect of obliging us to weigh the medical material about three times more heavily than life readings and traditional Christian or biblical parallels far more heavily than occult or esoteric ones. At the same time, conceding the presence of various Spiritualist and Theosophical elements within the readings. Bro sees these as statistically minor departures from Cayce's normal ideology and praxis. Beyond that. Bro (a Disciples of Christ minister) considers that the picture of Cayce that would emerge would be one of a person devoted to serving God and his fellow man--not by revealing the secrets of the universe, but by helping individual people with concrete needs through whatever means were called for. This assistance was imparted "using that person's own values and stretching them towards a new relationship with God."(70) In this light. Cayce's Bible teaching, prison ministry, and support for medical missionaries were no less important than his psychic readings. Cayce, Bro argues, took those who came to him and gave them specific guidance tailored to their concrete situations. He did not market himself to the masses as the ARE does but warned against broadcasting "the Work" to those who did not seek it out. Instead, interest grew naturally as people turned to information in the readings for aid--first as individuals, then classes, then the masses in terms of method. Cayce approached spirituality using the same empirical. A bible-based perspective which he knew from his church work, a perspective which the ARE wrong treats as incidental coloring to the readings ("like Southern twang"). (71)
In that spirit, Bro laments that the Cayce he knew becomes lost amidst several distorted versions promoted by the ARE over the years. First, there is Cayce, the "psychic whiz" (Bro names Henry Reed as the chief exponent of this Cayce) who "invites you to love God for the benefits you can get," such as health, wealth, or marvelous psychic experiences.
The whole ARE emphasis on hypnosis and parapsychology, says Bro, serves to obscure Cayce's own biblically-inspired perspective, which held such "techniques" to be incidental to higher spiritual purposes. Then there is Cayce as "esoteric revealer" (championed by Mark Thurston) who, Gurdjieff-like, offers his initiates some sort of elite gnosis. Bro complains that this approach wrongly conflates a particular bit of knowledge or visionary experience with the question of its application. As ethicists are wont to say, you can't derive an "ought" from an "is," however numinous that "is" maybe. Without a wider context of social and religious commitments, says Bro, self-exploration can all too easily become escapist and narcissistic. Another ARE-sponsored image is Cayce, the "all-purpose health guru" (exemplified by William McGarey). Where Cayce spoke to individual inquirers, taking their whole lives into account rather than only particular health complaints, ARE researchers have approached the medical readings as an engineering problem and attempted to distill from them cures that would promise universal results. Cayce himself dissuaded Bro from using the readings to search for cures for diseases as a class or trying to persuade a reluctant medical community of their efficacy. Instead, he urged to follow the example of Christ, who "took them as they came" (254-114), tending to each individual's physical or spiritual needs as called for. Finally, there are those (such as John Van Auken) who revere Cayce as something like a "religious founder." This wing of the ARE emphasizes the miraculous or revelatory aspects of Cayce, especially those relating to ancient civilizations or prophecies of the future: and habitually quotes the Cayce readings in much the same spirit that fundamentalist Christians quote the Bible. i.e., as a proof-text. Bro points out that Cayce did his work in the context of active church life. Other people, he says. were encouraged to do the same rather than form a new church or spiritual grouping centered around Cayce. (72) Without this traditional religious foundation, the other, more popular aspects of Cayce lack a certain depth and richness. Bro quips that he did not "think much of Cayce--and neither did Cayce."
One who did take up Bro's challenge to engage in content analysis is J. Gordon Melton. In an article describing Cayce's assignment of past lives to his inquirers (based on the sequence of life readings running from 1400 through 1599). Melton identifies certain patterns which, if accurate, would seriously undermine what literal plausibility the readings ever possessed:
The great majority of Cayce's [reincarnation] readings were for individuals and included (besides an astrological reading) the delineation of (usually) four past lives, each of which was having some karmic effect on the present. As one begins to read a sample of the life readings, it is soon evident that the number of different settings of the past lives presented in Cayce is rather small. That is, in giving readings to his clients. Cayce chose a limited number of points in time and places on the world--what I have termed a time-culture slot. Further reading reveals not only a repetition of particular time-culture slots but of actual content so that after a cursory reading of several past life accounts, one could begin to predict the content. When a person is told that s/he once lived in, for example, ancient Rome, the reader would know immediately what effect that life will have on the person presently. The time-culture slot functions as basic symbols to carry the message of the readings...(73)
Most Cayceans will recognize the "time-culture slots" which Melton identifies: Atlantis: prehistoric Peru and the Yucatan: Egypt circa 10.000 B.C.: Persia just before Zoroaster: the Trojan War: classical Greece and Rome: biblical settings associated with Nebuchadnezzar, Ezra, and Christ, the Crusades: Scandanavia at the time of Eric the Red and Lief Erickson. England. France. and Germany of the post-medieval period: and finally America during the colonial period, the Salem witch trials, the Revolution, and the Gold Rush. All told, "a mere fifteen time-culture slots account for approximately 90% of all the incarnations which Cayce recounted."(74) Furthermore, where the life immediately previous to the present one was listed, it was nearly always American. The exceptions were equally revealing since "Where there was a deviation in the time-culture slot pattern, it was often related to the place of birth of the individual."(75) For example, people with past lives in Poland or Scandanavia often turned out to have been born there in this life. Since the place of birth is one of the few types of biographical facts noted of Cayce's inquirers, Melton speculates that many similar patterns might be revealed if not for the anonymity of the readings' recipients. I would add that the names of Cayce's main companions can be matched with their reading numbers easily enough and biographical information supplied. (The ARE Library keeps a file of the names and reading numbers of those inquirers whose identities are considered fair game.)
Cayceans will explain Cayce's disproportionate assignment of past lives to certain periods by pointing to his belief that souls reincarnate in groups due to their shared karma. Yet it cannot be a coincidence that "the fifteen time-culture slots concentrated on ones relatively well-known to the average American in the early twentieth century."(76); nor can group karma explain the remarkably skewed occupational categories of these previous eras. Judging from the readings, people in predynastic Egypt found employment mainly as royalty and their retainers, priests and priestesses, workers in the great temples of healing, or managers of granaries (cf. Genesis 41). The composition of the Atlantean workforce was similar except that technicians and engineers also formed a significant occupational sector owing to that continent's reliance on high technology. Melton suggests that instead of providing information about literal past lives. Cayce's reincarnation readings serve as symbolic evaluations of an inquirer's present situation. For example. those who had been priests in ancient Egypt were encouraged to become teachers in this life. (77) Melton's account has the additional virtue of explaining how Cayce could have assigned the same past life to more than one person. (78)
Melton's account captures much of Cayce's reincarnation reading's particular flavor, which more general treatments cannot convey. The names which Cayce produces for these past lives are another distinctive element and are more consistent with the imperfect understanding of world history, which we must assume him to have possessed while awake than with history as it could have actually occurred. A list of ancient Greek names from the Cayce readings yields six Xenias, four Xercias, two Xelias, and one of Xeonna, Xperia Xenxoi, Xelio, Xenia, Xerten, Xeria, Xerxon, and Xenobian. Similar names are sometimes assigned to Persians and Egyptians as well: perhaps Cayce was thinking of Xerces or Xerxes, who appears in the readings under both spellings. Other names from the ancient Near East include Perlyanne, Eleiza, and Matilda. At the time of Christ, Palestinian Semites have names like Edithia, Josie, Jodie, Judy, Esdrela, Sodaphe, Josada, Roael, Mihaieol, Zioul, and Durey. A single "Caucasian" dynasty included Ararat, Aarat, Arart, and Araaraart, which must have caused some confusion. The "Persian" readings give us Uhjldt (Cayce), Eujueltd, Ujndt, Ujladi-Elei, Uljhan, Ajhujtn, Jeuen, Uhjenda, Jdjil, Ullend, Ujtd-Pti, Ujeldhto, Oujdte, and Ujxed. The first name in this list, Uhjldt, is said to be pronounced "Yoolt," perhaps Cayce's spelling is meant to transliterate the silent letters of some now-extinct Persian written language. Those with previous incarnations in Lemuria, Peru, or pre-Columbian America had names like Ummmu, Oumi, Ouelm, Om-muom, Oumu, Oeueou, Uuloou, Oum-om, and Mmuum. One can only conclude that humans at this early stage of evolution had fewer teeth than those from the Persian period. Many Caycean names seem to represent distortions of familiar ones. Besides Xerxes one could name Ajax (becomes Ax-Tel, Ax-Tenuel, Ax-Ten-Tel, or Ax-Ten-Taa), Isis (Isris, Isois, Isisis, Isis-bee, Isai), Aida (Aidia, Addia), Marcellus (Marcelleus. Marcelia), Cleopas or Cleopatra (Cleoparia. Cleopiasis), and Hatshepsut (Hept-sepht. She-hepat Sebar-t. Ispt-shept). Elsewhere we find a Lady Gondolivia of England (243), Hester Prymme (5180), Charlotte Bonte (189), Hans Anderson of Germany (955), Periclean of Persia (187), Susan Anthony (2487), Samuel Hustonson (781), and Spanish crusader Charlemeinuen (1021), Bucefulus, whose name sounds like that of Alexander's horse. He is said to have been the son-in-law of Cyrus (2284). Some names may well be symbolic, as in nineteenth-century Americans John L. Self (877) or Boob of Atlantis (2917).
A fair number of famous people also appear to have been reborn as Cayce's inquirers. In no particular order, we find Mary Tudor (130-1), the Shulamite (1499), Charles II of England (1915, Charles III of Sweden (2824), Jude (137), James V of Scotland (1378), Lazarus (1924). Eli Whitney (2012), Cyrus the Great (2795), Eric the Red (2157), Marie Antoinette (760), Jared (3063), Elizabeth I of England (2156). Semiramis (1101), Haman ( 1273). Cato (2162), Franz Liszt (2584). Jethro (1266), Edward Bulwer-Lytton (3657), Oliver Cromwell (2903). Leonardo da Vinci (2897) and Augustus Caesar (1266). Noah's family turns out in full force with Noah(2547), Shem (2772), Japheth (2627), and several wives in attendance. Characters from the Iliad include Achilles (900: Blumenthal) and Hector (5717: Lammers). Several of Jesus's apostles are represented: Mark (452), Andrew (341: Hugh Lynn), Luke (2824: Charles Thomas): and Matthias (2181), with a new incarnation for Judas having been identified but never given a life reading (5770). American historical figures present include William Penn (980), John Hancock (760), John Quincy Adams (2167), and Benjamin Franklin (165). Even more numerous than the famous historical figures themselves are their otherwise unknown relatives and acquaintances, such as Myra, the sister of the Virgin Mary (509), or Normalene, the daughter of Socrates (538: Gertrude).
One of the biggest issues facing Cayce's research is the question of through what fields or genres he ought to be approached. For example, should Cayce be placed alongside Barth, Tillich, Bultmann, and the Niebulir brothers as an influential twentieth-century Protestant theologian (albeit one whose views have not found their way into seminary curricula)? Does he belong together with William James, Jung, and the Rhines as an apologist for certain extraordinary psychic or spiritual aspects of the human mind? Is he to be grouped with Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, and Gurdjieff as an esotericist, with Shirley MacLaine, Marianne Williamson, and Jose Arguelles as a New Ager? Should we look to the world's great mystical traditions for Cayce's peers, taking up various Taoist, Vedantin, and Sufi writers in addition to the gnostics and medieval mystics of his own religion? Perhaps he is a great institutional organizer like Saint Benedict or George Williams.
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, while 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. However, even if we are right, there is no reason to suppose that this would exhaust the possible categories into which Cayce might fall. While any number of perspectives may be worthwhile, the approach followed should be appropriate to the information sought. The literature relevant to reconstructing Cayce's teachings will be different from that appropriate for evaluating Cayce's teachings (or those of his predecessors) or gauging their influence. In addition, some approaches (especially the broader comparative ones) ought to presume detailed knowledge of Cayce through other approaches as a preliminary.
In many of the genre labels proposed for Cayce, it is difficult to decide whether such a categorization would be accurate absent agreement as to the proper scope of the various terms that have been proposed. To complicate matters, several of these carry evaluative as well as descriptive meanings. Some terms are used as pejoratives, as conservative Protestants condemn "mysticism" or Cayceans take offense at the word "occultism" as applied to them. Sometimes they become honorifics, as in the New Agers' use of "mystical" to include only those religious that meet their approval. or conservative Protestant denials that Cayce is really a "Christian." Evaluative uses presuppose knowledge of the ultimate truth about religion, a claim which is inevitably contentious. At the same time, I do not propose to set forth a standardized lexicon. I would point out that the fact that today "mysticism," "esotericism," "occultism," "metaphysics," and "New Age" is so easily conflated indicates the extent to which the various spiritual perspectives which they represent have been successfully incorporated into a common subculture by syncretizers like Cayce. At the same time, all of these names imply some distinction from forms of those Abrahamic traditions perceived as mainstream obscures the fact that Cayce was also involved in and influenced by versions of Christianity which this alternative milieu rejects or attempts to modify.
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.
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.
65. For the record, Cayce's past lives included periods as Ra Ta, a high priest in predynastic Egypt. Uhjldt, a warrior in prehistoric Persia, an unnamed messenger sent to warn Lot of the destruction of Sodom; Xenon, a Trojan warrior who fought alongside Hector; Armitidides, a Greek chemist who studied under Aristotle; Lucius, a Cyrenian soldier of mixed Jewish/Roman ancestry who became bishop of Laodicea and compiled the Book of Luke; Dale or Dahl, an illegitimate grandson of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa and associated with the French court; and John Bainbridge ("Bainbridge" being the name of a district within Christian County, Kentucky), a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century English adventurer (or two adventurers?) who landed in Virginia Beach and proceeded to live a life of debauchery. Of these, Jesus (as Zend, the father of Zoroaster) was Cayce's son in their Persian incarnation and (as Jesus) converted Lucius to Christianity. Glenn Sandurfur (Lives of the Master,p. 70 ff) argues that Jesus was also Hermes, architect of the Great Pyramid under Ra Ta.
66. The typists who prepared the database for the CD-ROM version sometimes made typos or intentional alterations to the ori2inal sentence structure. In one case, fabricated an entire Cayce reading in a humorous vein. The use of multiple checkers ensured that most of the gross changes were short-lived: however, new typos continue to be brought to the attention of Jeanette Thomas. The organizer of the CD-ROM project after the death of Gladys Davis. Updates with corrections are released periodically.
67. A. Robert Smith, About My Father's Business. p. 231.
68. In this reading, Cayce describes Hitler as spiritually led. hails Nazism as "a new ideal in the hearts, in the minds of the people" of Germany: approves of the one-party system as "the best for Germany at present": dismisses fears that Hitler would invade other countries as "propaganda," and, in answer to a question about the Jews, hints darkly that "their rebelliousness and their seeking into the affairs of others has rather brought them into their present situation." Elsewhere the Cayce readings are favorable toward Jews and critical of fascism, so perhaps his comments here truly are anomalous.
69. Yonassan Gershom, "Edgar Cayce and the Holocaust. " Venture Inward 13 no 2 (March/April 1997), p. 37ff The article is excerpted from Gershom's second ARE Press book on reincarnation from the Holocaust. From Ashes To Healing. The "Hitler reading" is also reprinted in the circulating file on "Books" owing to its relevance to Mein Kampf.
70. Harmon Bro, A Seer Out of Season, p. 9.
71. Our citations of Bro in this and the following paragraph are based on a mixture of written notes, taped comments, and personal memories of points to which he was wont to return over and over again. His identification of "four false Cayce's" was to have been the topic of a lecture at Asilomar in 1997, which he was ultimately unable to attend due to medical problems.
72. One inquirer asked for help in creating a pamphlet on the life of Jesus, to which the sleeping Cayce cautioned: "AGAIN, what is the purpose? What is to be gained from this that has not been accomplished in other data of similar nature? Is it for the propagation of propaganda for a group that is attempting to make a cult, or is it to supply the needed stimuli to A for service in the channels in which they find themselves drawn, for one or another cause?" (2067-7) It is amusing to note that this has not prevented the ARE from publishing any number of such books.
73. J. Gordon Melton, "Edgar Cayce and Reincarnation," p. 42.
74. Ibid, p. 44.
75. Ibid, p. 47.
76. Ibid, p. 48.
77. Ibid, p. 45.
78. Melton points out that Cayce identified two inquirers as the woman caught in adultery (295 and 1436) and another two as the rich young ruler from Mark 10 (2677 and 1416). When asked about the former duplication, Cayce affirmed two women caught in adultery (295-8). When similar inconsistencies were pointed out in Cayce's account of the composition of the Magi, Cayce explained that there were "more than one visit of the Wise Men" (2067- 1). On the subject of Cayce's inconsistencies, the readings variously give the date of Jesus's birth as December 24 or 25 (5749-7), January 6 (5749-15), or March 19 (2067- 1). His explanation seems to allude to multiple calendrical systems (2067- 1), although I do not see how that could explain the dates he gives.