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Cover Story November 18, 2004



by lyle e davis

by lyle e davis


Daily for over forty years of his adult life, he would lie down on a couch with his hands folded over his stomach and allow himself to enter a self-induced sleep state. Then, provided with the name and location of an individual anywhere in the world he would speak in a normal voice and give answers to any questions about that person that he was asked. Questions as diverse as, "What are the secrets of the universe?" to "How can I remove a wart?" His responses to these questions came to be called "readings" and contain insights so valuable that even to this day individuals rely upon them as what they see as practical help for everything from maintaining a well-balanced diet and improving human relationships to overcoming life-threatening illnesses.   These "readings" were written down by a stenographer, who kept one copy on file and sent another to the person who had requested the information.


The man’s name was Edgar Cayce.


So far as is known, Edgar Cayce never wrote a book.  But many books were written about him.  Though Cayce died more than half a century ago, the timeliness of the material in the readings is evidenced by approximately one dozen biographies and more than 300 titles that discuss various aspects of this man's life and work. Further details about his life and work are explored in such classic works as There Is a River (1942) by Thomas Sugrue, The Sleeping Prophet (1967) by Jess Stearn, Many Mansions (1950) by Gina Cerminara, and Edgar Cayce-An American Prophet (2000) by Sidney Kirkpatrick.


Words that are fairly common in today’s lexicon, such as ‘meditation,’ ‘auras,’ ‘soul mates,’ and ‘holism’ derive from Edgar Cayce and his readings.


I remember having read a great deal about Cayce thirty five years ago.  I probably read three or four different books about him and incorporated parts of his readings into my personal philosphy, and either rejected, or did not accept others.


Cayce was a fascinating man.  He  was born on March 18, 1877, and reared in the small community of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He quit school after eight years to work on the family farm. Eventually Cayce took up photography as his trade.


In addition to being a devout member of the local Disciples of Christ Church, Cayce faithfully taught Sunday School and held to all the basic tenets of orthodox Christianity. He even entertained the thought of becoming a minister, but his lack of education and finances forced him to turn in another direction.


Indeed, in the early years of his ‘readings’ he found himself concerned about possible conflicts between his religious beliefs, the teachings of his church, and the phenomenon that he was experiencing.  In time, he came to feel that his ‘gift’ was a manifestation of God’s will and reinforced, rather than ruptured, his religious beliefs.  Because of this acceptance, he continued with his readings.  Called ‘life readings,’ he would give  over 14,000 readings. during his adult lifetime.


Under the influence of a self-induced hypnotic trance, Cayce would diagnose illnesses and prescribe proper medical treatments for ailing individuals.


During a trance he would often use long medical terms which were normally used only by physicians. Upon awakening, he could hardly pronounce the words much less understand their meanings.


Edgar Cayce's first spiritualistic encounter occurred when he was only a toddler. He often spoke of "invisible playmates" who would visit him, (Thomas Sugrue, There Is A River, p. 37). He also claimed to have a visitation from a "shining lady" who said he could have anything he desired. He responded that he would like to help people, especially children (Ibid, p. 23).


On one occasion, when he was having trouble studying his school lessons, this "shining lady" told him to lay his head on the textbook and rest. He obeyed and quickly fell asleep. After a few minutes he returned to consciousness and knew the entire content of the volume, (Ibid, p. 19).


At the age of 20, Cayce mysteriously lost his voice. He consulted several doctors, took numerous prescriptions and finally resorted to home remedies. Nothing worked.


A travelling hypnotist attempted to cure the malady, but failed.


A friend, Al Layne, suggested that Edgar undertake an effort of self-hypnosis, whereby he could diagnose his own illness and prescribe a cure. The experiment was successful! (Ibid, pp. 121-122)


Cayce lost his voice on several other occasions. Each time he would slip into a trace and get a "reading" on himself and cure the problem.


Layne was ecstatic. He encouraged his friend to go into business as a trance medium.


Convinced that he could help others with so-called incurable ailments, Cayce began scheduling several readings per day. Believing that he was rendering a "Christian" service, he refused to accept payment.


Edgar Cayce's fame spread. In the October 9, 1910, issue of the New York Times the headlined declared, Illiterate Man Becomes a Doctor When Hypnotized. Strange Power Shown By Edgar Cayce Puzzles Physicians.


The article piqued the interest of its readers and within weeks thousands of letters poured into Hopkinsville from people seeking medical help.


For twenty years the "sleeping prophet" offered help to those in need. The use of his extra-sensory powers would soon be altered.


Mr. Art Lammers, a wealthy printer and student of metaphysics, approached Cayce for a reading. Lammers was not concerned about health, however; he wanted to know about the future. He wanted a life reading!


Lammers drilled the unconscious medium about the end of the world, creation, the lost continent of Atlantis, the path of salvation and a host of other religious-type subjects, (Ibid, p. 234).


Cayce responded. He proclaimed the world to be a pantheistic manifestation of God, announced that reincarnation was the secret of ultimate reconciliation of man to God and that Jesus became the first perfected man by being reincarnated some thirty times.


Though these ‘revelations’ flew against the teachings of his church, Edgar Cayce accepted the discourse as truth.


Others sought Life readings. Some wanted to make contact with the spirits of soldiers who had been killed during World War I. The spirits manifested themselves through Cayce's vocal cords. They brought messages of hope and assurance that Heaven awaits all mankind.

His ‘life readings’ not only looked into the past but into the future.  In history, for example, the Cayce readings gave insights into Judaism that were verified a decade after his death. In world affairs, he saw the collapse of communism nearly fifty years before it happened. Even in the field of physics, a professor and fellow of the American Physical Society theorized a connection between the elementary-particle theory and the way in which Edgar Cayce received his information. Repeatedly, science and history have validated concepts and ideas explored in Cayce's psychic information.


“Reading the Past”


For example, more than eleven years before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947, Edgar Cayce provided a great deal of information on a Jewish sect called the Essenes. Cayce claimed that in the Essene society men and women lived and worked together. Scholars, however, believed that the Essenes were a monastic society composed exclusively of men. It was not until archaeological excavations occurred after Cayce’s death that his psychic information was verified.


Reading #5748-6:

Cayce startled the world of academia when one of his readings suggested the Nile River had at one time emptied into the Atlantic Ocean!


Edgar Cayce: ... In those periods when the first change had come in the position of the land, when the Nile (or Nole, then) emptied into what is now the Atlantic Ocean, on the Congo end of the country. What is now as the Sahara was a fertile land...


As if to confirm some of the above, an article published in Science (August 1986), reported that the Shuttle Imaging Radar from the Space Shuttle had discovered previously unknown river valleys beneath the driest part of the Sahara. Through satellite imaging and on-site archaeological investigations, it appeared as though the present day Nile had changed its course, once flowing across the Sahara, through Africa, and into the Atlantic Ocean! Only time will tell how many more of the readings historical claims regarding such places as Atlantis, ancient Egypt, and ancient Persia, will eventually be verified.


Since 1901 the information in the Cayce readings has been explored by individuals from every imaginable background and discipline. In addition to individuals from all walks and stations of life, this vast scope of materials has come to the attention of educators, historians, theologians, medical professionals, and scientists. No doubt, part of the attraction has been that regardless of the field of study, Cayce has continually proven himself years ahead of his time. Decades ago, he was emphasizing the importance of diet, attitudes, emotions, exercise, and the patient's role - physically, mentally, and spiritually - in the treatment of illness. As a result, he has been called "the father of holistic medicine" and has been recognized for describing the workings of the human body and foreseeing the direction of health care.


In the field of psychology, he has often been compared to Carl Jung. In the realm of education, he stands with Rudlolf Steiner. Dr. Richard H. Drummond, one of the world's most renowned theological scholars, called the Cayce information on spirituality "the finest devotional material of the 20th century."


In 1979, the Journal of the American Medical Association credited Cayce with initiating the American holistic health movement. JAMA 1979:241(11):1156.


Previously, mainstream healthcare in the United States did not recognize any connections between a person’ spirit, mind, and body.


Current scientific investigations are showing dramatically improved results when holistic (integrated spirit-mind-body) approaches to healthcare are applied. This information is increasing the understanding of the interactions between these three complex systems. These results are confirming what some practitioners and individuals already believed and practiced.


In terms of personal spirituality, the readings never offered a set of beliefs that had to be embraced, but instead focused on the fact that each individual should test in his or her own life the information Cayce presented. Though Cayce himself was a Christian and read the Bible from cover to cover every year of his life, his work is deeply ecumenical and stressed the importance of oneness and comparative study among belief systems all over the world. The underlying principles of the Cayce readings are the oneness of all life, a tolerance for all people, and a compassion and understanding for every major religion.


The Association for Research and Enlightenment


In 1931, the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) was founded by Cayce to be a depository for his readings. Each reading was categorized and filed for future reference.


With headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the A.R.E. operates a 50,000 volume library of metaphysics, houses an extensive research center for parapsychology and is building a $1.5 million holistic health center. Lectures are offered on a daily basis at the Atlantis University. Visitors are welcome. The A.R.E. employs 160 people and operates on a $5 million annual budget.


The A.R.E. keeps the memory and "ministry" of Edgar Cayce alive. Copies of more than 14,000 of Edgar Cayce's readings are available to the public and have been filed along with any follow-up reports received from the individuals who had asked for the readings. This material represents the most massive collection of psychic information ever obtained from a single source.


Many of the requests for readings had to do with health issues.  Some of Cayce’s responses to specific as well as general health issues:


"Do not drink water with meals. Take the water between the [meal] periods..." Edgar Cayce reading 5647-1


On viruses:


"As indicated, if an alkalinity is maintained in the system - especially with lettuce, carrots and celery, these in the blood supply will maintain such a condition as to immunize a person." (480-19)


In other words, if you are concerned about maintaining virus protection, eat a fresh vegetable salad each day with lettuce, carrots, and celery as the main ingredients.


On colds:


"Can I do anything to prevent catching so many colds?"


Cayce’s answer: "Keep the body alkaline, as will be indicated from the manipulations to produce the general flow and the drainages set up in the system; and this will overcome these conditions. In the diets, keep away from heavy red meats and fried foods of any kind. Make at least one meal a day of only raw fresh vegetables, and we will keep away from colds!" (751-1)


In several readings, Edgar Cayce recommended colon hydrotherapy as an adjunct therapy in the treatment of diabetes.  The idea is to keep the lower intestines cleansed and thereby improve the functioning of the whole alimentary canal.  In certain cases, problems in the colon were cited as causative factors in diabetes as noted in reading 4023-1:


“Also from these disturbances in the colon there are diabetic tendencies, or there is the inability of the body to control the activities of sugars taken into the body.”   (4023-1)


On Cancer:


From READING 1206-13 Given on November 23, 1941

"...if ye would take each day, through thy experience, two almonds, ye will never have skin blemishes, ye will never be tempted even in body toward cancer nor towards those things that make blemishes in the body-forces themselves."








"Do not combine acid-reacting fruits (citrus--orange, grapefruit, lemon) with starches (corn, potatoes, rice, spaghetti) other than whole wheat bread.


"And do not have cereals, which contain a greater quantity of starch than most, at the same meal with citrus fruits." (416-10)


"Keep away from red meats, ham, or rare steak or roasts." (3596-1)


"No FRIED foods, ..but baked, broiled or roasted." (5269-1)


He ending every reading by saying, "We are through".




"The adherence to the use of Carrots, Lettuce and Celery every day at a meal, or portion of a meal, will insure against contagious infectious forces with which the body may be in contact." (480-17)


"Use at least three vegetables that grow above the ground to one that grows under ground." (3373-1)


The Skeptics


Many doubt Cayce's claims, noting times when his predictions proved inaccurate. He predicted that 1933 would be a good year, when in fact it was the very year that the Great Depression got under way in earnest, and that China would convert to Christianity by 1968.


Editor’s Note:  What the skeptics fail to note: The sleeping prophet, as Cayce has been nicknamed, predicted the beginning and end of both the First and Second World Wars, and the lifting of the Depression in 1933. In the 1920s, he first warned of coming racial strife in the United States, and in 1939 he predicted the deaths of two presidents in office; "Ye are to have turmoils -- ye are to have strife between capital and labor. Ye are to have a division in thy own land, before ye have the second of the Presidents that next will not live through his office... a mob rule!" President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office in April 1945. In November 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, when racial tensions in the United States were at their height.


In October 1935, Cayce spoke of the coming holocaust in Europe. The Austrians and Germans, he said, and later the Japanese, would take sides. "Thus an unseen force, gradually growing, must result in an almost direct opposition to the Nazi, or Aryan theme. This will gradually produce a growth of animosities. And unless there is interference by what many call supernatural forces and influences -- which are active in the affairs of nations and peoples -- the whole world as it were... will be set on fire by militaristic groups and people who are for power expansion."


Two of Cayce's major predictions concerned the futures of China and the Soviet Union, the world's great Communist giants. In 1944, he prophesied that China would one day be "the cradle of Christianity as applied in the lives of men." Through Russia, he said "comes the hope of the world. Not in respect to what is sometimes termed Communism or Bolshevism -- no! But freedom -- freedom! That each man will live for his fellow man. The principle has been born there. It will take years for it to be crystallized; yet out of Russia comes again the hope of the world." Russia, he said, would be guided by friendship with the United States. Its attempt to rule "not only the economic, but the mental and spiritual life" of its people was doomed to failure.


Cayce also predicted the possibility of a third world war. He spoke of strifes arising "near the Davis Straits," and "in Libya, and in Egypt, in Ankara, and in Syria; through the straits around those areas above Australia, in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf."


He and a dowser once went searching for buried treasure on the seashore, finding nothing. Psychic believers defended him, saying treasure had been buried there before and dug up, or it would be buried there in the future. (The question then became. . . “why would a psychic not know that?”)


Cayce's monumental failure to help locate the kidnapped son of aviator Charles Lindbergh was never publicized by the metaphysical or New Age communities, but it was well known to police investigators. Many of his healing recipes included ingredients that didn't exist. Others were folk remedies, some well known to today's herbalists and naturopaths, but many others based on superstition rather than nutrient value. For example, "oil of smoke" turns out to be an old-time name for beechwood creosote, a popular remedy for psoriasis, but "the raw side of a freshly skinned rabbit, still warm with blood, fur side out, placed on the breast for cancer of that area" is not only gross but totally ineffective.


He failed to heal his own wife and infant son; both died. 


(Editor’s note:  Totally inaccurate and unfair criticism.  Yes, they died, but subsequent to Cayce’s death.  Mrs. Gertrude Evans Cayce, of Virginia Beach; two sons, Hugh Lynn Cayce, USA, and Capt. Edgar Evans Cayce, USA, survived him, and was so noted in his obituary.  Cayce’s wife did recover from tuberculosis and one son recovered from blindness.  The above critic did not do his homework.)


Another failed prophecy of Cayce was his catastrophic readings regarding massive earthquakes, flood-ins and other calamitious natural phenomena which were to affect eastern US and Japan in particular. By the year 2000, Cayce predicted, the ocean would invade North America as far as Idaho and Kansas, leaving a trail of islands to the west. He also said US scientists would discover a death ray from Atlantis in 1958. George Pal's 1961 film Atlantis, the Lost Continent seems to be at least partly based on Cayce's story of how Atlantis fell through misuse of "The Great Crystal."


Skeptics also cite the supposed vagueness in his language while using his psychic abilities. Martin Gardner cites an example of a Cayce reading from when Cayce's wife had tuberculosis:


“ ... from the head, pains along through the body from the second, fifth and sixth dorsals, and from the first and second lumbar...tie-ups here, floating lesions, or lateral lesions, in the muscular and nerve fibers which supply the lower end of the lung and the conjunction with the sympathetic nerve of the solar plexus, coming in conjunction with the solar plexus at the end of the stomach....”


Cayce used the word lung, and this his followers take as a correct diagnosis; i.e., a psychic "hit."


Cayce was also one of the firsts to recommend laetrile as a cure for cancer. Laetrile contains highly toxic cyanide and has been proven ineffective as a cancer cure.


In fairness to Cayce, he was likely not a conscious fraud such as Uri Geller is alleged to be.


Even skeptics, it seems recognize that the subject matter of many Cayce readings would later become commonly known practices of some elements of the New Age movement.


There have been many thousands of people who have found Cayce's predictions, prognostications, and experiences as valid in their lives. Skeptics consider him a fraud.


Edgar Cayce's last reading on 17 September 1944, was for himself. He was now receiving thousands of requests for assistance. His own readings had repeatedly warned him that he should not try to undertake more than two sessions a day. But many of the letters he received were from mothers worried about their sons on the battlefields, and Cayce felt he could not refuse them his aid. His last reading told him that the time had come for him to stop working and rest. On New Year's Day, 1945, he announced that he would be buried on the fifth of January. He was right.


A Skeptic Once,

Now a Believer


Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet

by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick


Edgar Cayce--The Father of the Holistic Health Movement


"In a trance so deep that he was twice declared clinically dead, Cayce prescribed treatments combining innovative technology with holistic medicine that resulted in full cures more than 90 percent of the time. "


When New York Times best-selling author and investigative journalist Sidney D. Kirkpatrick was first introduced by Nancy Thurlbeck to Edgar Cayce and his phenomenal psychic abilities, Kirkpatrick thought Cayce was a fraud. 


Then Kirkpatrick and Thurlbeck paid a visit to the Association of Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach.  It was Kirkpatrick's intention to prove that Edgar Cayce did not do what he was claimed to do. Thurlbeck gave him "just enough rope to hang himself." Now, the rest is history--as they say.


Kirkpatrick was bowled over by the huge quantities of evidence to support the truth of Cayce’s abilities. The question became--not did Cayce do it--but how and why did he do what he did. Kirkpatrick learned first hand what a bizarre and amazing life that Edgar Cayce and his family and loved ones led. Now he, with the help of Nancy Thurlbeck, tells this incredible story in a book that has been described as "superb" and "the most enlightening book ever written about the seer."


Ten years before he died Cayce had written a brief account of his work. In it he said, "The life of a person endowed with such powers is not easy. For more than forty years now I have been giving readings to those who came seeking help. Thirty-five years ago the jeers, scorn and laughter were even louder than today. I have faced the laughter of ignorant crowds, the withering scorn of tabloid headlines, and the cold smirk of self-satisfied intellectuals. But I have also known the wordless happiness of little children who have been helped, the gratitude of fathers and mothers and friends... I believe that the attitude of the scientific world is gradually changing towards these subjects."


Many of Cayce’s readings revolved around basic recommendations, spinal adjustments (by chiropractor or osteopath), colon cleansing, and a nutritious diet, of which he would often give examples of what to eat and what not to eat.


He also pointed out the need for a spiritual cleansing of the body but promoted no particular faith, leaving that to those receiving his hearings.


Local Contact:


The Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. (A.R.E.®)


Region Coordinator: Dorothea Smothermon

Region Address: PO Box 422

Fallbrook, CA 92088-0422

Region Phone: 760-723-9080


Region Homepage:  


For those with computers, we recommend you use “Google” or a similar search engine and type in the key words “edgar cayce.”  There are many, many reference works about Cayce, both supporters and skeptics.