Strange Accounts: Edgar Cayce: the “Sleeping Prophet”
Edgar Cayce (1877- 1945) occupies a very important place among twentieth century mystics. He was called the “sleeping prophet” since most of his predictions came to him while he was in a state of trance, induced by self-hypnosis, and resembling the state of sleep. The accuracy of his revelations, also called ‘readings,’ amazed people everywhere he went. He also healed many people’s physical ills, but his advice was applied as much in the spiritual as in the material world.
Nothing distinguished young Edgar Cayce from other children his age. In December 1833 the Cayce family settled in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
Edgar finished high school, but wasn’t able to continue his studies because his parents couldn’t afford to pay for it.
After leaving home Edgar took odd jobs, working in a clothing store and a bookstore to survive. There was nothing about him that seemed destined for fame, even though that’s what he was to experience later on in life.
Edgar Cayce was a rather banal person, but he was attracted by spirituality early on. He joined a group called the Disciples of Christ, and read the Bible extensively, at least once from beginning to end every year. He wanted to propagate the faith he believed in, and soon began teaching scripture to groups of people.
An important turning point in his life happened in 1900: he contracted laryngitis and became mute for almost a year. He also met someone who changed his life, a certain Mr. Hart, a carnival hypnotist by profession, who travelled from town to town with his show. Cayce went to see him. When Hart learned about the young man’s infirmity, he said he could cure him, and performed a couple of hypnotic passes over the young man. Cayce’s voice suddenly came back, only to disappear again the following morning.
But Cayce was hooked. Another hypnotist named Lane was able to use hypnosis to restore Cayce’s voice permanently. Lane was no carnival performer, but a skilled therapist who had studied hypnosis and its ability to heal.
He was inspired by the techniques developed by Franz Mesmer and his disciple the Marquis of Puységur, both of whom were recognized authorities in the field of healing through hypnosis.
The Birth Of A Vocation
After putting Cayce into an hypnotic trance, Lane asked him to describe his problem, and also to provide opinions about how it could be healed.
He was surprised at how precise and effective the therapeutic treatments suggested by Cayce were. Lane encouraged Cayce to use his natural gift to help other people who were suffering, either physically or psychologically.
Cayce agreed, under Lane’s supervision, and only if the sessions were free. He first experimented on people he knew, and then offered his services to the general public, with great success.
The predictions he made while in trance were so precise his reputation spread very quickly. People started coming to see him from all over the state of Kentucky, from neighboring states, and soon from the entire country. Eventually he was famous the world over, until his death in 1945.
Healing From A Distance
The results Cayce obtained seem astonishing even by today’s standards. He was able to heal people when they were face to face with him, but also when they were far away, through the their handwriting.
He provided very precise diagnostic and therapeutic information during his sessions, and prescribed medical treatments even to people who were very distant. When he was not in the presence of a patient, all he needed to know was where they lived.
He never demanded money for his extrasensorial work. He did accept “gifts” because, despite being a “sleeping prophet,” he had a family to feed and shelter. He worked all his life, first with Lane, then with his wife and oldest son as assistants.
He was humble enough to admit his mistakes (although he was rarely wrong) and return a gift without question, if one had been given to him. He put his mistakes down to the enormous stress he was under by assuming responsibility for the confidence people invested in him.
Edgar Cayce never refused to give anyone his time or his energy, and in the end his generosity became harmful for his health.
In 1920, Edgar Cayce decided he wanted to be rich. He stopped taking care of his family, and set off in search of black gold – petroleum.
He offered his services as a medium to various oil companies, without much success. He himself admitted later on that he’d gotten lost in a world that didn’t suit him at all.
He persisted until 1923, when he finally gave up and conceded that he’d failed.
He met a printer, a man named Lammers, who persuaded him to resume his hypnotic readings, but this time to concentrate on the worlds of spirituality and philosophy.
Many of his trances had to do with reincarnation, and the possibility of living many lives in succession. But that posed a problem for Cayce, because the phenomenon of reincarnation is not part of Christian dogma. He continued defending his belief in reincarnation, despite strong opposition from some people, including the printer Lammers.
His theological disputes led to another turning point in his life – he moved to Virginia Beach in California, in 1925.
Success and Glory
Virginia Beach is the town where the head offices of the foundation Cayce created – the Association for Research and Enlightenment Inc. (ARE) – can be found.
Once settled in Virginia Beach, his celebrity continued to grow until his death, and even beyond, up to the present day.
He started a number of foundations in many countries around the world. In 1929 he built the Edgar Cayce Hospital, thanks to an enormous gift from one of his patients, Morton Blumenthal.
He became the most highly reputed medium in the entire world, and practiced his profession until it finally killed him, in January of 1945.
An Immense Body of Work
His thousands of readings were classified according to theme. There are over 14,000 in all, on subjects as varied as health and disease, reincarnation, the stock exchange, and dream interpretation.