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Who is Edgar Cayce?

By R. Kayne
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), also known as “the sleeping prophet,” was the world’s most documented, and perhaps most successful psychic healer. A photographer by trade, Cayce eventually gave up his work to issue healing readings full time for which he would only accept donations. Aside from healing readings Cayce also performed reincarnational or “life readings” and made predictions about the future. A devout Disciple of Christ who read the Bible at least once a year, Cayce was often at odds with himself over his personal experiences versus his religious teachings.

Edgar Cayce was born on 18 March 1877 in Beverly, a small farming town outside Hopkinsville Kentucky. After completing grammar school the young Cayce took on various local jobs and eventually worked as an insurance and book salesman. Soon thereafter he was stricken with a condition that robbed him of his voice. Despite his seeking medical attention, nothing helped and he was took up photography instead, working as an apprentice at a local portrait studio in Hopkinsville.

In 1901 “Hart, the Laugh King,” a traveling entertainer and hypnotist was performing in Hopkinsville and heard about Cayce’s laryngitis. He offered to cure Cayce on stage during a show. Cayce accepted and was put under hypnotic trans and given a suggestion that his voice was healed. Purportedly Cayce’s voice returned but the affliction remained when brought out of trans. Hart tried a post hypnotic suggestion that failed.

While Hart had to push on to other cities, a local hypnotist by the name of Al Layne agreed to treat Cayce. On the advice of a specialist from New York who had heard about the case, Layne suggested Cayce describe his condition and cure while under hypnotic trans. Cayce used “we” when referring to himself in the trans voice, a characteristic third-person reference that would mark future sessions. The "third-person voice" relayed that the ailment was psychosomatic and could be healed by increasing blood flow to the larynx. Layne issued a hypnotic suggestion to increase blood flow and reportedly Cayce’s voice returned after applying this suggestion for some twenty minutes. Though Cayce suffered relapses, he purportedly reapplied the technique to eventually affect a permanent cure.

Layne had a keen interest in exploring the limits of the “healing trans voice” and asked Cayce to describe his own illnesses and suggest cures. Reportedly, Cayce’s diagnoses of Layne and the suggested cures were effective and made the local newspapers. Layne told Cayce he should perform healing services for the public, to which Cayce finally agreed on the condition the readings would be free. Initially readings were local but Cayce was soon deluged with mail from around the world. He eventually requested donations to support him and his family, allowing him to do readings full time.

In a typical session Edgar Cayce would recline on his couch, hands folded across his chest, eyes closed. Cayce claimed that upon entering a trans state he could access the Akashik records, a proposed non-physical plane that holds all knowledge, past, present and future. Cayce believed the Akashik records were accessible by anyone who could tap into the right mental state. From this state Cayce would issue readings in response to letters read to him by an assistant, typically his wife.

In addition to healings, Edgar Cayce also interpreted dreams and gave life readings where he purportedly relayed information to people about other lifetimes and relationships. A common theme of Cayce’s was the Atlantean period, during which he claimed to have lived. He also believed many contemporaries were reincarnated souls from the Atlantean period.

Cayce also made predictions about the future, some of which have not come to pass. These include references to earth changes suggestive of a possible pole shift and the destruction of California by falling into the ocean, which according to some Cayce devotees, should have occurred by 1998. However, Cayce equally stressed free will and its ability to change or alter things to come, even events that appear predestined.

Of his readings Cayce purportedly said that people should only adhere to the readings if doing so made the recipient a better person. During his life Edgar Cayce reportedly gave some 22,000 readings, of which about 14,000 have been preserved. When out of trans Cayce claimed no knowledge of what was said, but the task was physically draining and Cayce fell into poor health. Despite this he continued, citing great pressure to be accountable to the many people that solicited his help. Edgar Cayce died on January 3, 1945 after suffering a stroke the previous day. Cayce was 67 years old.

Skeptics claim Cayce’s accuracy was no better than chance and that much of his success can be attributed to a kind of “true believer” syndrome. Many skeptics of his day tried to uncover trickery, but none were successful. Believers claim that the many accurate predictions and thousands of medical diagnosis of Edgar Cayce—a man with no medical training—far outweigh chance. Examples from his vast body of work do appear to defy explanation according to modern science.

Today Edgar Cayce remains an enigmatic figure with a devoted following. Some consider him the Father of the New Age Movement and the most prolific channeler of modern times. Many continue to study his life and his prophesies.

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