Cayce, Edgar (1877–1945)
Outstanding American psychic and founder of the Association
for Research and Enlightenment (ARE). Cayce was born
on March 18, 1877, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the son of businessman.
He grew up in rural Kentucky and received only a
limited formal education. He was a member of the Christian
Church (Disciples of Christ). As an adult he began a career as
a photographer.
Cayce’s life took a radically different direction in 1898, after
he developed a case of laryngitis. He was hypnotized by a friend
and while in the trance state prescribed a cure that worked.
Neighbors heard of the event and asked Cayce to do similar
‘‘readings’’ for them. In 1909 he did a reading in which he diagnosed
and cured a homeopathic physician, Dr. Wesley
Ketchum. Ketchum arranged for periodic sittings in which
Cayce, who had learned by this time to go into trance without
the assistance of a hypnotist, offered his medical advice for the
ill. During the next years Cayce gave occasional sittings, but
primarily worked in photography.
Then in 1923 Theosophist Arthur Lammers invited Cayce
to Dayton, Ohio, to do a set of private readings. These readings
were noteworthy because they involved Cayce’s initial exploration
of individual past lives and because of the imposition upon
his readings of Lammers’s theosophical opinions, especially
concerning reincarnation. These readings encouraged Cayce
to become a professional. He soon closed his photography
shop and moved to Dayton, and then in 1925 to Virginia
Beach, Virginia. Among his early supporters was businessman
Morton Blumenthal, who gave financial backing for Cayce Hospital
(1928) and a school, Atlantic University (1930). Unfortunately,
Blumenthal was financially destroyed by the Great Depression
and both enterprises failed.
In 1932 Cayce organized his following as the Association for
Research and Enlightenment. With the resources generated by
the association, complete records of all the readings for the
next 12 years were made. These formed a huge body of material
for future consideration, and more than any other characteristic
make Cayce’s career stand out above that of his contemporaries.
Cayce’s readings were later indexed, cross-referenced,
and used as the basis of numerous books.
Cayce died in 1945, and his son Hugh Lynn Cayce continued
the work of the association and promoted the abilities of
his father, though he did not claim to possess any special psychic
abilities himself. Cayce’s work became known by a large audience
outside the psychic community in 1967 through a biographical
book by Jess Stern, Edgar Cayce, The Sleeping Prophet.
Cayce continues to fascinate a generation after his passing,
and a steady stream of material created from his readings come
from the Association for Research and Enlightenment. David
Bell, whose doctoral dissertation was on Cayce, has launched an
Internet journal of Cayce studies at httpwww.cli.educayce,
and several new studies of his life and work were published in
the 1990s.
Sources
Bro, Harmon Hartzell. A Seer Out of Season The Life of Edgar
Cayce. New York New American Library, 1989.
Cayce, Edgar. The Edgar Cayce Reader. 2 vols. New York Paperback
Library, 1969.
Cayce, Hugh Lynn. Venture Inward. New York Paperback
Library, 1966.
Johnson, K. Paul. Edgar Cayce in Context. The Readings Truth
and Fiction. Albany State University of New York Press, 1998.
Millard, Joseph. Edgar Cayce. Greenwich, CT Fawcett, 1967.
Neimark, Anne E. With This Gift. New York William Morrow,
1978.
Puryear, Herbert. The Edgar Cayce Primer. New York Bantam
Books, 1982.
———. A Prophet in His Own Country. New York William
Morrow, 1974

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