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Chapter 5
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Edgar Cayce

The Mystery of Mysteries

 

 

 

Cayce once used this phrase "mystery of mysteries" to describe the enigma of the Sphinx.  He could have applied the phrase to himself for it aptly describes his life's work.

 

This sample text originated from the first edition in 2000.  Changes and corrections were made to approximately half of all pages. To purchase this 2006 Edition book in e-book (Open Document PDF format) or as a paperback or hardbound book, click on Cosmic Catalog.

 

All The Blind Men

My quest began as an effort to discover the scientific validity of Cayce’s 10 million year vision. The last thing I intended to do was to study Cayce’s life. But as I began to summarize Cayce’s predictions and test their validity, I concluded that I also needed to examine Cayce’s life and examine the personal credibility of the psychic. I wanted to know who this man was, where he was coming from, what his ethics and philosophy were, how he operated, how he organized and promoted his "business", what he was trying to do and most especially, what, in fact, he did and did not. Of course I was looking for any hint of contrivance, any possible "source" for Cayce’s "data", any doctoring of the record. Most especially, I wanted to find his limitations and his failings. Thus I undertook to explore all of the biographies which I could find on Cayce’s life, including his own autobiographical material.

I am so skeptical that if God appeared to me in a burning bush which miraculously wasn’t consumed, proclaiming to be the I AM THAT I AM, I would immediately suggest that heshe try that burning bush phenomenon in a bush of my arbitrary, random selection, thus to prove that I wasn’t being set up by the Candid Camera TV show. Only then would the hypothesis of God-In-The-Bush be entertained, but there would be several rounds of additional testing to establish the validity of the claim of "who" was in the bush.

Even then I would still question the nature of my experience. Long ago I learned the story of the blind men who surrounded an elephant, all feeling it in various ways, trying to guess what it was. One had taken hold of the trunk, and proclaimed it was round, long, and moving sinuously, therefore it was obviously a giant snake. Another, feeling the ear as the elephant gently fanned it back and forth, said, no, it is thin, soft, and spread out like a wing which is moving the air, therefore it is obviously a featherless bird which cannot fly. Another, feeling the toes, was quite certain that it was hard and hairy, and opined that it might be some sort of rare hairy tortoise. And so on, until the sixth blind man, who was at the elephant’s rear, triumphantly proclaimed, it is most certainly a horse, I have my hand on its lips now, it snorted, and it has very bad breath.

All biographers are in about the same position describing the elephant of the life of a person. It is just too big and out of sight to fully grasp the flow, the real logic of the true story of a person’s life. Add the complexity of a man like Cayce, who had an active ‘inner life" which he most certainly repressed and hid to a great extent, how far can we get past "appearances"?

Probably not very far but hopefully far enough. In the case of Cayce, does his autobiography help? It does, but the hand cannot grasp itself, and the one person who is least clearly seen by the I is the I. Having several biographies to compare with his autobiography is far more valuable.


The Cayce Biographies

I examined an enormous number of books about Cayce’s life but I found that most of the books which describe Cayce’s life are simply endless rephrases sourced back to three or four works. In other words, most of the extent material in circulation about Cayce provides no unique information.

I also found that, though much has been written, or endlessly paraphrased about Cayce, most of the material fails to "peg" Cayce. To explain the Cayce phenomenon, hundreds of writers and investigators have pursued different aspects of the man, his methods, and selected topical contents of his readings. Most writers simply assume and categorize Cayce as one of several psychics or clairvoyants who have made noteworthy predictions throughout history. Without doubt, as is amply documented in this book and elsewhere, Cayce was clairvoyant and exceptionally noteworthy were many of his predictions. He can be treated in this fashion but this is only the tip of a very large elephant.

I finally focused my study of Cayce on six biographical works and his correspondence and early pamphlets which are preserved on the Cayce/Davis CD. Each of the six biographies is reviewed below.

In the following two chapters, I have attempted to create a composite sketch of the life and character of Cayce by drawing together the stories, observations, and analytic perspectives of the various Cayce biographers. I have treated each story detail as just another mosaic tile, and I have fit together the best pieces from each biography, just like I have fit the mosaic tiles from Cayce’s readings together to paint the Ten Million Year Vision. When the details and perspectives are drawn together in this fashion, a new portrait of Cayce’s life is created. The portrait which emerges in this new mosaic has never been seen before.

I found the following works to be most useful:

Thomas Sugrue: "There Is A River: The Story of Edgar Cayce": the phenomenon and how it emerged, the kind of readings Cayce gave.

A Robert Smith: "The Lost Memoirs of Edgar Cayce": the inner tension and struggle, key events and choices.

Harmon Bro: "Seer Out Of Season": the man, the psychic, his validity and lasting contribution.

David Kahn: "My Life With Edgar Cayce": a best friend’s observation about the value of his work.

Edgar Cayce: "My Life and Work": the flavor and intent of Cayce’s work, as he conceived his mission.

Edgar Cayce: personal correspondence and readings on the Cayce/Davis CD

Thomas Sugrue’s "There Is A River" is virtually the Cayce life story bible used by A.R.E. Sugrue’s work directly resulted from his close relationship with the Cayce family for several years. He was Hugh Lynn Cayce’s best friend and lived with the Cayce family for about three years. The works of both Sugrue and Bro find substantial credibility by their consistency with the contents of Cayce’s personal correspondence files which are on the CD, in which Cayce reveals some of himself. They are also consistent with the "Lost Memoirs of Edgar Cayce" by A. Robert Smith, which was just recently composed in 1997, partially from Cayce’s correspondence files and from other unpublished notes and journals by Cayce.

The keyword which best describes the work of Sugrue is "tact", or maybe it is "discretion". He choose, perhaps because of his own religious predilection, to maintain most of the veiling which Cayce had used to shroud his inner mystery and life. Harmon Bro’s "A Seer Out Of Season" is much more frank and revealing. As a professional psychotherapist, Bro was very interested in Cayce’s qualities in handling struggle, frustration, denial, and authority. Through Bro’s hands, much of the veiling is removed.

The piece de resistance in the Cayce life mystery is David Kahn’s "My Life With Edgar Cayce". Unfortunately it has been out of print for 30 years, is very difficult to find in libraries, and thus is rarely quoted. David Kahn was a close friend of Cayce’s, probably his best friend outside of his immediate family. Kahn, a liberal, reform Jew, and Cayce, a fundamentalist xian, formed a dyad which created the central economic engine in both of their lives. Kahn was phenomenally successful and became a multimillionaire, partially in the radio industry with the Brunswick Radio name which he eventually came to control. Throughout their lives, Kahn made sure that Cayce was supplied with money, contacts, and clients, and the use of his personal home in New York City for extended periods. At the close of his life in the early 1970’s, Kahn claimed, by dictating his book about their relationship to a ghost writer, that he literally owed it all to the leads which were given in Cayce’s readings. Kahn succeeds quite well, without even trying, in revealing the inside personal economic story about Cayce’s life which the other biographies just don’t convey. If you really want to understand how Cayce’s life as a professional psychic actually worked, read Kahn.

When drawn together, the biographies are exceptionally valuable in placing Cayce’s life into perspective and seeing the personal inner struggle, at times a desperate one, in which Cayce was engaged through much of his life. What seemed inexplicable (why on Earth did he do that? why didn’t he do such and such? how on Earth could he die broke?) suddenly becomes all too humanly logical. Given his life-long struggle to be down home "normal" within a militant framework of xian egalitarianism and service to others over self, strongly buttressed by the values of his wife, which eschewed having wealth over others, it is easy to see why Cayce did what he did and was phenomenally unsuccessful in using his talent at making money.

None of these works is a purely disinterested or detached treatment of Cayce’s life. Though two of them offer analytical criticism and observation (Bro and Kahn), these works are all adulatory. All of the authors felt benefited by their association with Cayce or his work, or worked for A.R.E. They all admired Cayce, and used his information or ideas in their own personal lives. Each of the writers had their own focus and emphasize by selective inclusion and omission somewhat different aspects of Cayce. Even so, the works all "resonate" together, none of them seriously contradict each other even though they were composed individually over a span of several decades.

I found some variation in the details in the various "stories" in the different biographies. Some dates differ, the purported interactions between people take on different colors and even somewhat different contents, sometimes ages are incorrectly stated, and so on, but most of these differences are trivial. For my purposes, the exact details of most of the Cayce story doesn’t matter. What is important are the recurring patterns which determined Cayce’s life flow. In all cases, I used the Lost Memoirs as the final authority on details, next, Sugrue’s work, which is, more of less, an official biography, then Bro’s work. Doubtless, given the exceptionally intimate relationships which they had with Cayce, most if not all of the content of both Sugrue’s and Bro’s work must have been extensively reviewed either by Edgar or Hugh Lynn Cayce for accuracy before it was published.


Edgar Cayce’s "My Life and Work"

This is truly a first person account written by Edgar Cayce. He gives a personal account of his work and some of his experiences which lead up to the formation of A.R.E. and the planning of the Cayce Hospital. Structured in first person grammar, it is fully decked out with his infamous, awkward phraseology. It was first composed in 1926 and can be found on the Cayce/Davis CD in draft form. Originally titled "My Life and Work", this pamphlet was later published by A.R.E. as "Edgar Cayce, His Life and Work".

It rambles to make certain philosophical points, but is Spartan in personal detail, as suits its nature as an introductory pamphlet. Though ostensibly cast in the framework of introducing Cayce’s psychic "business" it belies its presentation of Cayce’s work as a business. It is more aptly described as a minister’s statement of his calling, explaining his conversion to his "faith" in his readings and his hope for benefiting the physical, mental, and spiritual health of his "seekers".

The tract keynotes a few of the formative events in Cayce’s career and provides a good summary of Cayce’s outer image, what he was willing to claim and explain about his talent and what he did with it. It is his mature and nearly final public statement about himself. A.R.E. has used ever since a slightly edited version as an "official" document.

Cayce tells us succinctly he doesn’t understand the phenomenon of the readings, it is what it is. He describes it blandly as the product of some sort of subconscious ability or power or force, which is activated by "suggestions" made to him while he is falling "asleep" or becoming unconscious. This image of an "unconscious" psychic in an hypnotic trance was widely popularized by both Sugrue and Stearn in their biographies of Cayce.

What is revealing about this tract is what it doesn’t tell us. The prose assiduously avoids the use of the terms "psychic", "clairvoyance", "trance", "medium" and abandons completely the term "hypnotism" after briefly describing how this ability to give readings first appeared in a hypnotic session. He tells us what he thinks he knows, in the context of discussing his reaction to being profusely thanked by the recipients of a "miracle cure" before he had even personally accepted the validity of his readings:

"You ask what was the result of this experience in my life? You ask if it meant nothing for this mother and father to thank me, over and over again, for the hope, for the help I had been? Yes, it meant a great deal - but I was all in a jumble. They were thanking ME and the me I knew certainly knew nothing about doctors nor their mode or manner of treating the sick, and I could not separate it, for as I know now, it is the PHENOMENA MANIFESTED AND NOT THE PHYSICAL MAN NOR THE PHYSICAL MIND that gives the information."

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55

In other words, Cayce the man did not create the phenomenon, it was something else for which he always disclaimed any knowledge or responsibility. He also deliberately avoided talking about the spiritual realm, vigorously maintained ignorance about talking with spirits of the dead to produce his readings. While carefully not denying spiritualism, he carefully distanced himself from spiritualism as far as he could:

"Did many people talk to me concerning this? My! I was often almost distracted by them! Was I a medium and the Spirits speaking through me? If so, I was not conscious of it."

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55

He used this standard disclaimer of ignorance, which had begun with his first "reading in 1901, throughout the rest of his life. But it was eventually more of a foil, than a perfectly candid expression. It may have been technically true but it circumspectly masks the inner Cayce and much of his actual psychic experiences, which those close to his person knew and have related for the record through other biographies.

The truth is, Cayce privately admitted a lot of experience with "the other side", his own personal readings produced a lot of additional information about his peculiar powers, and two special, extensive series of readings, the "Search For God" and the "Glad Hands" produced a large stack of material on the subject of psychic development and contact with "the other side" so that others could do the same as Cayce was doing. Some of these experiences with "the other side" Cayce did finally write down in documents which became a part of his "Lost Memoirs". A richer vein of such experiences and other clairvoyant phenomenon was directly observed by or communicated to Bro which he related in "A Seer Out of Season".

Cayce hints at the difficult personal struggle he had with this "monkey business". But Cayce had so self-repressed his outer expression of who he was and what he could do, the best he could do in public communication was to obliquely hint. It takes other biographers to fully understand the depth of the struggle and his strong need to create the mask which he projects to us in this short pamphlet. For the record, Cayce chose to intellectually handle it all conditionally, or hypothetically, by insisting that his readings came from him unconsciously, therefore, he did not really have an explanation. He tells he "trusted" and "believed" that it came as a result of the will of God.

Having masked his capabilities with an obscure notion about the "unconscious" and a hopeful faith in the "will of God", Cayce goes on in his "My Life and Work" to chronicle a few of the health readings which shaped his decisions about his gift, and the resulting notoriety which he gained from them. He tells us that he conducted experimental readings for nearly twelve years during which he says he was half-hearted and "whishy-washy", not really sure of the validity of them, even when some people had miraculous cures or had made a quick small fortune as a result of a reading.

"Again and again I find myself bewildered, at a loss - oh, that I had had some living friend who knew something of what was going on, that could have led and guided me aright! Would it have been different? Would It have been better?...I wonder if anyone will ever know what trials and what torments I went through! Finally, I said, "I'll get rid of it all! I forget it! I'll go away somewhere else. I'll never mention it. I won't let people know anything about it." So, I moved to another State, still studying, trying to see if there was a grain of truth..."

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55

His wife’s recovery from near death, created by a treatment regimen which was described in a reading, brought it all dear to him. Finally, Cayce realized that he cannot define the phenomenon, but nevertheless it produced valid results which could improve and even save a person’s physical life:

"I was brought face to face with the realization that I was dealing with UNKNOWN FORCES, those I could not put my finger on and say THIS IS IT, but those elements that I saw, when they were APPLIED in the human physical body, brought physical results!"

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55

Could he refuse to use such a power? He was reluctant and preferred to be a tradesman, where life was simple, poised few ethical and psychological dilemmas, and created no conflict with his xian social framework. He gave photography another few years of his life, but to no avail:

"Again and again I am called to various parts of the country. Finally, there came to my mind this idea: If I had an institution where each and everyone might be given, to the letter, those things as prescribed for each individual, ALL could be cured!"

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55

His career finally stabilized in its final form as a professional psychic during the mid 1920’s and he was able to proclaim his mission with his first pamphlet. He tells us that the original impulse towards his career came as a religious experience at the age of 14 after having read the bible several times:

"As I read of its promises, and the prayers of those who sought to commune with the One God on High, I felt that this must be true, and to me there came a peace, and then a PROMISE."

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55

We can see Cayce’s self-repression at work here in the phraseology of this sentence, which he never explains beyond its sparse terms. He meant and could have said: there came to me a peace, a feeling of acceptance, when I experienced a promise of active communication with God in my life work. But Cayce can’t quite bring himself to say that upfront. He does not want to be considered someone special, let alone a prophet.

Cayce premised his professional reading "work" as a fulfillment of that personal promise. Only after some 30 years of struggle with himself and his abilities, did he finally resolved the issue of what his talent was and how to apply it. It was a communing with God for:

"What are you trying to do?" you ask.... my ideas and ideals as regarding the phenomena, as is manifest through me, have changed somewhat through the years...from that of little thought of same to a consciousness of a something taking place, to the realization of help and assistance to individuals who are sick and afflicted, physically and mentally; to the knowledge that I should give myself to the assistance of my fellowman in every way possible....my wish is to have a PLACE where those who desire to have their physical ills treated according to information given in the readings...seeking to apply the Truth as is gained through the phenomena, as it applies to individual cases, and perchance through same gain that which may be of assistance to all mankind."

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55

He felt that by placing his delivery of the readings within an open-ended scientific context dedicated to a spiritual purpose, i.e. humanity’s relationship to God, he could inspire people by example to have the same personal relationship with God as he felt he had realized from "the promise". He hoped they would consider the reading to be a direct personal communion with God, not Edgar Cayce.

Cayce makes it quite clear in his tract that he wanted to avoid any sense of dogmatism or authority. He communed with God unconsciously, not as a prophet, not as a special man or teacher. Not even as a religious teacher or leader:

"Not that I have any cism, ism, or any cult to preach, to practice, to propagate...I have nothing to SELL and am seeking only to be of help...for I am interested in INDIVIDUALS, in FOLKS, in PEOPLE, and to that extent that they, THEMSELVES, may know how God may manifest to them, individually, through their individual selves! The truth is evident: Man is a Co-laborer with God in the material or physical world, and as God's forces, God's laws, are better understood, we can apply same in Man's life, that Man may live better and render a better SERVICE to his fellowman."

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55


A. Robert Smith’s "The Lost Memoirs of Edgar Cayce"- Life As A Seer

Though definitely not a complete account of Cayce’s life, this compilation of Cayce’s own writings, edited together by A. Robert Smith , and published in 1997 by A.R.E. Press, provides excellent insights about Cayce’s inner thought processes and his perpetual struggle with his unconventional nature. As a long term member of A.R.E., editor of its "Venture Inward" magazine, and as the writer of the biography of "Hugh Lynn Cayce: About My Father’s Business", which appeared in 1988, Smith was well positioned to knowingly craft together a good selection of Cayce’s personal documents. Through this biography, we can penetrate some of the masking within which Cayce encrusted himself.

Cayce wrote much in correspondence, which is evident by the abundance of his letters which are included on the CD. He also wrote a couple of tracts. But he never succeeded in organizing his own material. He finally made an effort to begin dictating an autobiography in 1932 at the age of 55 during a very low point in his life, but he never completed it. Gladys Davis filed it away as the "Edgar Cayce Memoirs" and it remained in the files until Smith decided to exhume it.

Using these documents as the core, Smith skillfully weaves in other documents to provide some of Cayce’s life story told as a first person account. Smith effectively compiled comments from Sugrue and comments by Cayce's father together with Cayce’s notes, logs, speeches, correspondence, and some abandoned starts at a journal This compilation he calls "The Lost Memoirs" and it probably would have been approved by Cayce, but it is doubtful he would have approved of the subtitle: "life as a seer". Cayce detested ostentation and self-puffery. So did his readings...usually. Through "The Lost Memoirs" one is able to read what Edgar Cayce says happened in his own words (mostly) and some of the basics of the abilities, beliefs and decisions which shaped his life.

Smith’s compilation is consistent with the other biographies and Cayce’s various comments, but Smith was in charge of the grammar, not Cayce, thank God! The Lost Memoirs details several of the key events and transitions in Cayce’s life, primarily as a child and young adult, especially some of the personal struggle he had with himself. There is very little new information in it, but it does a better job of giving us an understanding of some of Cayce’s perceptions and motivations.

Cayce’s comments in the memoirs are the discussions of a common man trying to relate how he gullibly attempted to solve his personal problems while being caught up in a progressively widening demand for his time for every "proposition" which has ever been known, most of which he didn’t want anything to do with.

The work is especially strong in discussing the "psychic" phenomenon which occurred throughout his childhood and which set him increasingly apart from his peers from about the age of 10. Throughout his childhood, he talked with his dead grandfather, played with children no one could see, and could only remember his lessons if he could sleep on the book he was supposed to read. Worse, he freely talked about these things. By the age of 10, quirks like these had earned him the status as "the freak" and by 16 he was considered by many as "not right in the head". Eventually, half of his family, and Cayce himself, feared for his sanity.

Smith’s portfolio ostensibly portrays the eternally optimistic Cayce overcoming his challenges and problems to become successfully "normal", yet as I read it, comparing it with the biographies by Sugrue, and Kahn, I could not help but be struck by the pathos of his internal struggle with himself over his "freak" status in the community, a pathos which ultimately he never entirely resolved.

Cayce desperately wanted to be "normal" and to live up to the well-regarded "Cayce" name. Above all, he wanted to be accepted within his church. After the age of 10, even up into his 30’s, his acute embarrassment from the reactions he engendered led to long periods of repression and denial as he struggled (vainly) to be "normal" and dutiful. But he always yielded again and again to his own curiosity and finally to his desire to help people by experimentally applying his gifts. He could not keep Pandora’s box closed.

Smith drew some of his material from a pamphlet Cayce once wrote, discussing his life and work which was entitled "A search for God". This phrase is probably the best summary of Cayce’s inner life and personal quest, the paramount directive which shaped nearly every decision he made. His quest began with a precocious interest in the xian bible, which began before he could read. Once he could read, he continued to read it throughout his life, though with little understanding of much of it, he admits, until later in his life. He was so good with biblical lore, he became virtually his church’s resident answer man while just barely into his teen age years.

This quest began just prior to adolescence, causing the gap between him and his peers to broaden, not narrow. At the age of 10 he started going to Sunday School, received his own bible and increasingly focused his socializing within his church’s activities. He did volunteer labor for the church and by the age of 14 he was a member of the "disciple of christ" organization in his church and had read the bible several times. Cayce came to prefer spending time with the various ministers and teachers of his home town rather than hanging out with the boys. At the age of 16 he began to teach regular Sunday School.

His quest of discovery led him to working in a bookstore at the age of 17, after having dropped out of school the preceding year, and he began to actively court becoming a minister, which he discussed eventually with a famous evangelist, the Reverend Moody. By the age of 21 he was organizing the "Glad Helper’s Society" in Louisville, an xian lay organization which visited hospitals and prisons. He continued his church involvement off and on throughout his life, including his habit of visiting prisons, ending up as a Presbyterian Sunday School teacher in Virginia Beach... until a new, insecure xian minister kicked "the freak" out near the end of his life.

Smith put two quotations on the cover page and in the prefacing section to convey Cayce’s bottom line:

"God’s purpose is that we make ourselves a channel through which his spirit may manifest"

A. Robert Smith: "The Lost Memoirs of Edgar Cayce", frontispiece

"I have only tried to be a man of God".

A. Robert Smith: "The Lost Memoirs of Edgar Cayce", p. xvii

A tall order, but that is how Cayce attempted to reconcile the tensions between his inner and outer selves and their social engagement with the world of the 20th century. The two quests placed and kept him on the horns of a dilemma which he never solved and the dilemma never, ever went away. The best he was able to do was pad the horns, veil the saddle, and ride with a stiff upper lip.

On the one hand, his "channel of the spirit" began with the "shining lady" in the woods, who promised him as a 14 year-old that he could talk with God, who promised that "she" would fulfill his desire to help heal people, and who taught him to go into a self-induced trance to memorize anything he had just read. It was the shining lady’s trance from which all of the readings came. The information helped people, it was acceptable, desirable, productive, and always in greater, growing demand.

On the other hand, neither he, nor those he conceived to be his community, could abide by mediumship or spiritualism. This "man of God" had to walk through bible-belt fundamentalism with a mind which had memorized the entire Latin bible (Imperial Roman State Document) by the age of 14 and always sought to attempt to understand the world and his phenomenon through its dour aphorisms and grim morality lessons. For believers, the "shining lady" in the woods and talking with spooks was the work of the devil. For non-believers, those caught up in the cult of materialism which was now all the rage in professional circles, clairvoyance and psychic faculties were all queer bunk, disproven by the leading scientific minds. And, unless you were very careful about how you practiced such arts, you could be arrested for fortune telling.

This personal dilemma had two more horns. He wanted to be "normal", which for him meant having a professional career, a wife, children, and a position in his church teaching Sunday School. Yet he felt that he should, more, he felt he wanted to do the bidding of Y’shua by following his example in helping people. The readings had brought a demand for more readings to help heal more people, exactly as he had told the shining lady he wanted to do. How could he say no, despite the self-evident fact that they made him definitely different?

Thus the veil of the unconscious hypnotic trance. No psychics here. No spooks here. Just us normal hypnotic trances and subconscious minds. Hopefully its God’s will, must be a channel of the holy spirit because it seems to help people...

But it wasn’t that easy. His "small town" background, informal education, and experimental bent made him gullible prey, which many people were able to seize and use. His experiences with the results of assisting people with their schemes for easy wealth or their inquisitive efforts to subject his talents to their power and manipulation, which more than once lead to his personal injury, often troubled Cayce, leading him on several occasions to suppress his gift. More than once, Cayce attempted to renounce the outer use of his talent, attempting to repress it even apparently within his own conscious life.

Smith’s compilation makes it easy to see the titanic internal clash between Cayce’s genuinely spiritual intent and the desires and demands to use his powers to serve material egotism. When he could rationalize the purpose and the outcome of his readings with his concept of service to God and his fellow man, he succeeded. But when he thought he was using his gift, or was being used, to manipulate the outcome of events to give him or others something for nothing, his being balked and things went haywire:

"Only when the desire crept in to make money or to put on the sensational did the work fail. When that was attempted, my health failed, my conscience was rent, and I could no longer even attempt the work".

Edgar Cayce, My Life and Work 3/10/26
in REPORT FILE for 4905-55

Despite Cayce’s ability to always portray an upbeat approach, the angst which must have dwelled long in his psyche revealed itself many times and in may ways. By the age of 24 he was so chronically tense, he suffered "aphonia", a lockage of the jaw, neck, and vocal cords which prevented him from speaking (and eating) for a year and a half. He was plagued by periodic bouts with it for twenty years and he suffered severe headaches many other times in his adult life, turned into a chronic chainsmoker, ignored his own readings to smoke no more than five a day, and became a chronic workaholic, again ignoring his own readings not to do more than two readings per day. He died an early death, but I suspect not really from the officially listed "stroke" and pulmonary edema". Most likely, he really died from acute, repressed tension. This aspect of Cayce only really becomes clear when reading the autobiographical Lost Memoirs. The other biographies tend to gloss over Cayce’s inner tension and focus on the genius and benefits of his work.


Sugrue’s "There Is A River"

Thomas Sugrue's "The Story of Edgar Cayce: There Is A River" was the earliest, very nearly official biography of Edgar Cayce. It was published several times since 1944, recently again by A.R.E. Press in 1997. It has served as the primary source of many of the stories told about Cayce in all other biographies.

It begins with a flashback gimmick, conceivably written originally with a screenplay in mind, and engagingly presents the greater portion of Cayce’s story in the form of an extended family dialogue. A summary of some of the metaphysical principles which come through Cayce’s readings is appended at the end of the book, alongside a section of medical case summaries which demonstrate what the "physical" readings were like and how people benefited from them.

The author, Tom Sugrue, was a college chum of Cayce’s oldest son, Hugh Lynn Cayce. Like so many others, he came one weekend to the Cayce house, in the late 1920’s, to show Hugh Lynn how to find out how Cayce was fooling the world. Sugrue never left the Cayce orbit, and eventually came to live with the Cayce’s in 1939, seeking help for a serious condition. Sugrue had contacted an infectious disease which had settled in his joints leaving him severely paralyzed. It was incurable, and Cayce’s readings provided no cure, but Sugrue found some solace and enough intellectual stimulation to decide to tell Cayce’s story.

He spent two years assiduously observing, interviewing the family and Cayce’s friends and associates, as well as studying many of Cayce’s readings, from which he completed the book in 1943. Subsequent sales, newspaper reviews, and magazine articles based on this book brought the final wave of fame and the stress which killed Cayce while giving birth to the legendary Cayce. Without doubt, this is one of the most important documents about Cayce’s life story.

Sugrue expands the story which Cayce told in the "Lost Memoirs". He provides a multiple person perspective to create sketches of Cayce’s family and a few of his major associates. Sharply intellectual, Sugrue often pierces through the shroud which Cayce had surrounded himself to dispel discussion of his person and his actual inner experience. Sugrue lays out some of the basis of the tension and self-repression which dominated Cayce’s life, the inner turmoil which attended every decision he made about the application of his clairvoyance.

Through Sugrue’s eyes, we can easily see why Cayce never wanted to use the terms clairvoyance, spiritualism, hypnotism, and definitely did not want to publicly claim to be someone special who had visits from "a shining lady", whom Cayce obviously thought was an angel fulfilling God’s promise to commune and guide humanity. It displays the often troubled Cayce gradually growing, in fits and mishaps, into his role of, first, the "sleeping reader", and then, the "sleeping prophet".

Although Sugrue does not point directly to Cayce’s foibles, if one pays attention to the critical decision points in Cayce’s life, which Sugrue presents very clearly, one can see that Sugrue has discretely revealed that most of Cayce’s psychic career was actually shaped by others. Sugrue also penetrates succinctly to the hermetic essence of much of the metaphysical content of the readings, despite their nominal xian wrapping:

"The system of metaphysical thought which emerges from the readings of Edgar Cayce is a Christianized version of the mystery religions of ancient Egypt, Chaldea, Persia, India, and Greece."

"There Is A River", Thomas Sugrue, 1997 A.R.E. Press, p. 66

In an effort to make Cayce less of "a freak" and more of a phenomenon, Sugrue makes some other interesting connections. He traces a little of the background of somnambulism – sleeping trance states - in Europe and in North America. Cases similar to Cayce had become known and used in Europe during the preceding two hundred or so years. French researchers had invented the terms clairvoyance, sensitive, animal magnetism, hypnotism, and intuitive during that era to discuss the phenomenon. From out of this research movement sprang the spiritualist movements and then finally the Theosophical Society. By the early 1900’s, such fare had already became scientifically well footnoted and driven out of professional academic and scientific favor, which accounted for the stiff resistance which Cayce received from professional opinion makers.

Not all of Sugrue’s story facts should be considered completely reliable. To what extent I am not certain as I made no effort to verify all of the details beyond comparing them with the other biographies. But of those portions which I examined in detail, most especially the story of the Blumenthals, without doubt one of the most important episodes in Cayce’s life, there are many misstatements of facts, all trivial, but nettlesome. It is very clear that Sugrue, and perhaps Cayce himself, never really understood the deeper parts of that story.

Nor is Sugrue necessarily reliable in his quotes of Cayce’s readings and his reconstruction of the readings. He was an "early adapter" of the "paraphrasing" of Cayce’s predictions which he does willy-nilly without any citations whatsoever. This has been nothing short of disastrous in transmitting an accurate picture of what Cayce was saying.

For example, on page 302 of "...River", he incorrectly restates, in bogus quotation marks, tsk tsk, a Cayce prediction which claimed that it was absolutely necessary to rigidly implement Wilson’s 14 Points to create a durable peace to settle World War I. If Wilson’s plan was not implemented, another conflagration would embroil the world. Sugure’s paraphrase is so poor he ends up concluding, in hindsight, that it was a trivial prediction, one which was easily made by non-clairvoyants.

But Sugrue’s restatement of Cayce’s prediction is so wide of the mark that no combination of keyword searches through the Cayce/Davis Collection can find the passage which Sugrue put in "quotation marks". Nonetheless, having assembled and annotated every political prediction made by Cayce, I believe I know which statement he is talking about (10/09/26 900-272 /19). Not only did he have the date of the prediction radically wrong, he made slight of one of Cayce’s most profound long-range political prophecies. In fact, Cayce was predicting that the 20th century would seethe with the dynamics of nations and peoples struggling for equality in a world to overcome all racial and religious discrimination. Only the U.S., Cayce predicted could create and hold the balance for the world. In 2000, that was without question a remarkable vision of the future. No one in the 1920’s and early 1930’s had a clue that the "American Century" was about to be born by the eventual implementation of Wilson’s principles.

As a matter of historical fact, upon teaching his followers to find the Christ within "the least of these of your brothers", one Y’shua promptly exited from the public stage of history, leaving us to gaze upon ourselves. In my Socratic eyes, this so-called Christ-at-the- top-of-the-pyramid looks more like Ourabouris, the snake of the universal energy chasing its own tail and once again I find myself flowing to embrace the arms of the East as far as possible from Latin pre-occupations with finality, fixidity, and linear structural authoritarianism (the better to fence the empire with, dear Alice). Perhaps Sugrue, maybe all of the Catholics, built a pyramid or two for a very stern Pharaoh (who was considered to be as Horus, the ruling son of god) and they are still karmically projecting that onto the world.

Thus, not exactly pristine history. Not exactly a pristine presentation of the Cayce material. Not exactly everyone’s understanding of metaphysics. But it has a strong consensus around its main outline and it is very readable, very useful, and very insightful as well as warmly stimulating.


Bro’s "A Seer Out Of Season"

"A Seer Out Of Season", by Harmon Hartzell Bro, Ph.D., is the end product of a psychologist’s lifelong fascination with Edgar Cayce and other psychics. Published only relatively recently in 1989 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks, it is an extremely important addition to Cayce lore.

Bro, as a young Theology doctorate from Chicago, and his new wife spent several months with Cayce witnessing and evaluating his readings during the period just after the release of Sugrue’s "...River" in 1943. A national news blitz inundated Cayce with letters, money, and work. On the basis of his observations, Bro wrote his Ph.D. thesis about the questions which were poised for Cayce readings.

That was just the beginning of Bro’s work with Cayce. He periodically revisited Virginia Beach, each time investing several months. He returned in 1945 just after Cayce’s death and began to work with abstracting some of the health data which had poured through Cayce’s readings. Out of that work he created the first core of the "Individual Reference File", which served as a general handbook of health and dietary notions and guidelines from the medical readings. This work was later expanded in the 1960’s by William McGarey and other medical doctors, who later founded the A.R.E. Medical Clinic in Phoenix Arizona and wrote "Edgar Cayce Remedies" and other books. The Individual Reference File has long been kept in print and distributed by A.R.E. Press.

Bro returned again in 1950 and spent another spent six months interviewing scores of people who knew Cayce. He met with Hugh Lynn Cayce (HLC) many times through the years and Bro claims that HLC had reviewed much of his material carefully.

Bro and his wife found in Cayce a challenge which they spent essentially the remainder of their long careers on. As a follow-up to their work with Cayce, they began to professionally study psychics and mediums, both contemporary and historical. They became quite familiar with Arthur Ford, Peter Hyksos, and many others. They were often able to perform experiments with these psychics and probe them in depth in the manner which psychotherapists do.

After a long professional career, in the full bloom of his mental and scientific maturity, Bro composed this final review of the first "seer" he had met. The biography is as much the story of Bro’s encounter with Cayce as it is a bio of Cayce. Bro begins with a lengthy discussion of his own struggle with the Cayce phenomenon, why it was that he took up his serious study of Cayce, and how he initially conducted it.

Initially he was not inclined to look at Cayce. On the one hand, psychic and clairvoyant phenomenon did not exist, according to the alienated, compartmentalized frameworks of materialism which had successfully hypnotized the academic denizens of University environments into ignoring several hundred years of evidence. On the other hand, "revealed" truth belonged to the bible of his theological studies, definitely not in the hands of a man now living. And on the third hand, Cayce’s oddball material on reincarnation and astrology definitely did not enhance this picture. It simply made him weird. Issues related to mediumship and spiritualism were taboo academically AND religiously. They were widely considered by educated people to have been exposed as fraudulent activity.

Even more immediately germane, if he was so clairvoyant, why wasn’t he rich and famous, why did his Hospital fail? It had to be just all part of a cult. But his mother had had a reading, had met Cayce, and was a member of A.R.E. She also had good friends by the names of Myrtle Walgreen, founder of Walgreen’s department stores, Lowell Hoit, director of the Chicago Board of Trade, and Sherwood Eddy, a national leader of the YMCA. All had gone to see Cayce. They all accepted the validity of Cayce’s clairvoyance. What was the young theology student to do except read Sugrue’s "...River", consume the A.R.E. pamphlets, get a life reading by mail order, and then embark on a quest to bag an elephant?

The Bro’s were radically impressed by Cayce’s clairvoyance. They witnessed him give hundreds of readings. They intensively abstracted and reviewed his physical readings. They struggled to evolve a scientific methodology to encompass them. They finally devised a complex "forms" systems in an effort to reduce all to a science-like precision, which they wanted Cayce’s clients to fill out.

Cayce didn’t mind people studying him intimately, but he would not allow scientists to make the relationship between him and his client, "clinical". Cayce was, in his inner self, a minister, a counselor, a healer of the mind and soul, and a helpmate for the physical, serving the needy sick. He summarily threw the sample forms in the waste bucket. Bro called him an asshole. Cayce returned the compliment.

Bro’s work offers the best observation and description of Cayce as a personality and as an clairvoyant that I have found. Bro, though sensitive and sympathetic, was a detached third party who did not need to believe. He was willing to debunk Cayce at the drop of a pin, and he was a professional psychotherapist as well. His candid observations about Cayce as a personality quickly transforms Sugrue’s "story book legend" into a view of a man who is rather like another member of the family, with limitations, foibles and shortcomings like the rest of us. Through his personal observations of Cayce, we get to see a real adult human being, complex, sometimes inspired and inspiring, sometimes difficult and awkwardly stubborn, sometimes downright cranky requiring a stern response from his wife.

Bro describes a tall, strong man who carried a simple gracious charm which sometimes turned into charismatic gravitas or sometimes became brusquely domineering, even pugnacious. He was an obviously emotional, sensuous, often anxious person, who was too sensitive to the emotions of those around him. They could make him highly nervous or even depressed. His anxiety often flared about money, about people, and about events, leading to less than perfectly rational behavior. His arrest in Chicago sent him into a deep depression and illness.

Bro enhances the view by offering some often blunt assessments sprinkled judiciously with those little vignettes which everyone stashes in the closet and hopes won’t fall out again. He frankly tells of Cayce’s occasional dark moods which could smolder into dark anger, then flash into his lashing temper, often aimed at those who loved him the most. This was a stubborn, highly willful man and when he turned pugnacious, . Hugh Lynn (his oldest son) and Gertrude were the only people who could reason with him.

Bro frankly tells us of Cayce’s wandering eye and lifelong struggle to keep faithful to his wife. He shows us Cayce’s acute hypercritical sense of personal failure when things didn’t go right. Bro also points to some of Cayce’s personal readings which were critical of himself. Sadly, Bro notes that Cayce too often ignored them, especially the really important issues.

On top of this intimate profile, Bro paints a highly detailed picture of the entranced Cayce. Bro gives a first person summary account of his observations of the unconscious Cayce giving hundreds of readings. To round out his profile of the entranced Cayce, he illustrates dozens of examples of Cayce’s normal clairvoyant sensitivities throughout the pages of the biography. Though Cayce generally hid the true extent of his paranormal powers, Bro makes it fairly obvious that Cayce’s normal waking consciousness was rarely if ever "normal", which may account for his exceptional anxiety about being accepted and his obsession with creating a "normal life".

He could see auras (colors) around the heads and bodies of people, evaluate emotions from them, and receive impressions about who they were and what was happening in their lives, if he focused specifically on it. This ability he publicly displayed at an annual meeting of the A.R.E. He also could sometimes read minds, if the mind was focused and projecting something highly symbolic, as when people were playing cards. He had demonstrated more than once that he could see his opponents cards in bridge.

His "sensitivity" was broader than simple telepathy. Occasionally he would actually see a vision about things which were about to happen. Using this ability, he could walk up to people he had never met before and, he actually did, tell a waitress that she was about to marry for the wrong reasons, or stop someone on the street and warn them about a car accident in the near future.

Bro tells us that Cayce’s earliest power, his photographic memory, seemed to develop as time went by. Eventually, he could simply pick up a book and in a few moments of browsing knew what it said. But frankly, I doubt he was talking about scientific or technical literature. Cayce’s verbal sense of the science of his day was poor and he seemed to have difficulty expressing a straightforward scientific concept, he always circled around them obliquely with idiosyncratic terms.

Cayce had long veiled, or spoke obliquely about his knowledge of the other side of the veil. But Cayce admitted to Bro, during the last lucid year before his terminal collapse, that he had seen "the dead" many times throughout his life, and sometimes saw people in the garb of their past lives. Beginning with his "dead" grandfather and his barnyard "playmates", Cayce claimed he had often conversed with the recently dead, , and other "spirits", including nature spirits, "the shining lady in the woods", "the Master", dead soldiers from World War I and then II, and others. Mind you, this is NOT a spiritualist. Just us normal hypnotic trances. Yah shure, yah betcha!

Through most of his years, Cayce thought he was totally unique. He wasn’t. Based on their observations of both the waking and unconscious clairvoyance in Cayce, the Bro’s placed the Cayce phenomenon within the historical context of the preceding two hundred years. Like Sugrue, they saw Cayce as part of the emerging movements and studies of somnambulism, clairvoyance, and spiritualism in Europe and North America. There were many others who were well regarded and documented. But none of them produced a body of evidence and long range prescience which even begins to compare with Cayce’s.

From Bro’s perspective, Cayce was a clairvoyant with remarkable somnambulistic powers which were amenable to external suggestion. Sugrue also makes the case very clearly for clairvoyance, and he does so neatly without even having to draw the conclusion. Cayce himself finally settled for the term psychic. Thus his final word was to admit that in his self-induced unconscious state, all of his clairvoyant powers were fully activated...plus...which leads us to a wordless, indescribable mystery. A.R.E. to this today prefers perfectly obscure terms like "intuitive".

After Cayce’s death, the Bro and his wife spent years trying to scientifically "capture" who and what Cayce was. Bro discusses their long search to compare and define Cayce with the seers, adepts, prophets, psychics, somnambulists, clairvoyants, shamans, psychics, mediums, and oracles who have been described throughout history.

They could not find a true comparison and eventually settled on "seer", as opposed to a prophet. By the art of learned text book distinctions, they suppose there is a difference and I must admit they talk a good line. But on this point I thoroughly disagree. They were not looking for the prophet, hence, they did not find him. The prophet was not for Bro’s time. The prophet is for "the period" 1998-2001.

Bro, as a psychoanalyst, got more than a little interested in reincarnation and undertook to summarize Cayce’s past lives from the tiles of his readings. This is not my cup of tea but I can observe that Bro has hopelessly garbled the story of Cayce’s Egyptian incarnation as Ra. In many ways, the story he tells simply is not the story Cayce’s readings tell. The fault for this probably lies in Hugh Lynn’s summaries with which I also find considerable difficulty. Bro no doubt attempted to rely on composites which had already been made by Hugh Lynn. With Cayce’s material in general, this is a highly dangerous practice. Some of Cayce’s statements function more like a Rorschach blot than a tidy entry in an encyclopedia.

Bro then reconstructs the life flow of Cayce’s work, primarily using Sugrue and some of the "Lost Memoirs" papers, supplemented with his own conversations with Cayce and interviews of key players in Cayce’s life, including Kahn, Sugrue, Cayce’s sons, Davis, the Blumenthals, and others. As he laid out the flow of Cayce’s life, he often made correlation with Cayce’s past life’s and their traits, karma’s, and weaknesses.

I must admit I find this type of psychoanalysis, though sometimes interesting, a bit less than useful. For instance, the readings themselves directly suggested that Cayce’s aphonia was a direct result of chronic "nervous" tension. Why struggle through experiences said to have occurred in past lives to find the reasons? The fears and issues which drive tension are easy enough to find, and they don’t have past life labels on them, nor are such needed to treat the fears. I fail to see the point of putting past life labels on them.

Despite being non-plussed by the past life analysis, I found Bro’s construction of Cayce’s life to be richer in certain detail than all of the other bios. Many of the situational circumstances and connections to events are more completely delineated, making the flow of events more explicable. It is also full of surprising facts. Bro tells us that Cayce loved to travel, could pack his bags in five minutes, and had in fact, traveled extensively. He had ridden the rails to visit most major metropolitan areas more than once. Quite obviously, from this item alone, it is clear that the other biographies are missing a lot of Cayce’s activity. Just this man’s professional life is an elephant of unknown size.


David Kahn’s "My Life With Edgar Cayce"

Just what does an old man do when he knows his time is coming. He settles accounts and arranges his affairs. This book, "My Life with Edgar Cayce" by David E. Kahn as told to Will Oursler and published by Doubleday in 1976, is Kahn’s final act. Written 30 years after Cayce’s death, Kahn attempts to settle his cosmic account with Cayce.

Kahn’s "cosmic settlement" is without doubt the single most important eye-witness evidence of the credibility of the clairvoyant powers of Edgar Cayce. If there is a defining piece in the entire Cayce literature, this is it. Why? Because of Kahn’s credibility. And because Kahn interacted intimately and often with Cayce over a thirty year period. There wasn’t much he didn’t know.

David Kahn was a wealthy man who, with a lifetime of hindsight in applying Cayce’s readings, decided to set forth the value and validity of Cayce’s work in helping him to achieve a multi-million dollar fortune. Y’shua should have had such a diligent, precocious Apostle. It is like the testament of the 12 apostles rolled into one, but without speculation. Just the facts told as a first person story. It is short and so well written it passes much too rapidly.

At the end of his life, David E. Kahn poured out the story of his lifelong involvement with Cayce to Will Oursler, who tape recorded the stories and organized them into a book. Oursler, a journalist and author of another book in the metaphysical field, found Kahn in his mid 70's still garrulous, amusing, and beguiling, filled with hundreds of stories about people in industry, the White House, the Army and the Defense Department, and in the fields of medicine and religion. Kahn died before the book could be finished, but his wife provided the final chapters. Unfortunately, the book has never been re-published since its first edition, and it took a nation-wide search of library catalogs on the internet to find a copy of the book. Incredibly, I found it at Arizona State University, only 50 miles from my writing studio.

Kahn’s biography is a humble but profound monument to the value of Cayce’s work. Of the thousands of people whose lives were touched and greatly benefited by Cayce’s readings, only Kahn took the time and the effort to fully document his experience with his application of the readings to demonstrate their validity. It is a significant testimonial of exceptional validity. His book was NOT written to make money, nor did Kahn do it for his own ego – he assigns the credit of his success to someone else. This is a religiously-observant Jew assigning credit for his success to a Christian.

Why would a wealthy, socially well-established New York Jew, struggling to the very end of his life to be creative and active, stand up publicly and testify to the world that he owed it all to the psychic guidance of a rural southern bible-thumping Christian? Ask any Jew. Some would say he was meshugge – crazy – but this as an explanation does not get us very far. How does a crazy man become a multi-millionaire manufacturing and selling radio cabinets and brokering eight figure deals?

Kahn, as a gangling young man of 15, meet Cayce and with a year they formed a friendship which lasted until Cayce’s death. Actually, if we are to believe Kahn and Cayce, the friendship still exists. Cayce was initially the mentor helping Kahn find his orientation and start in life, but in many ways Kahn, nearly from the beginning, also mentored Cayce during his struggle to shape his career and find his true role. The questions which he proposed for readings progressed Cayce’s readings away from health issues and down the path to general guidance and life counseling.

In the early phases of their careers, Kahn and Cayce both made and unmade each other, economically speaking, but eventually, Kahn’s wings flew to high success and Cayce always benefited directly from Kahn’s success. Kahn eventually brokered deals in the 30’s and 40’s in eight figures. His company, Brunswick Radio, is a name which can be found still today in major business reference works.

Kahn gave Cayce’s readings the entire credit for his successful rise and his book details in poignant detail many of the critical items of information and guidance he received from the hundreds of readings he got from Cayce. With his entire life in hindsight, Kahn claimed that the information in the readings had never been wrong. But he observed that often times he and others, including Cayce, just didn’t properly apply the information or themselves.

Kahn makes this point most emphatically about Cayce’s notable failure to create an oil fortune to finance a psychic hospital. Kahn and Cayce were partners in most of the failures of several Texas wildcat-cat ventures. Kahn was the only eye witness to most of the events from whom we have clear testimony. Kahn attributed the failure of their use of the readings to their own inability to understand the advice, heed it properly, or apply it intelligently within the complex economic environments of cowboy capitalism (greed, chauvinism, and double-dealing). Kahn also tactfully tells us the plain truth about all of Cayce’s involvement in ventures about money which employed the use of his clairvoyance: Cayce was too naive for his own good to structure the right kind of a deal or his own participation in it. Other people got the information and went side-ways to get the money while leaving Cayce with an empty bag.

From "the readings were never wrong" to "Cayce was too naive to properly apply them" (paraphrased) , we have profoundly important conclusions by a powerful, successful man whose only intent in making them was to provide a final objective statement about the life and work of Edgar Cayce. This "pay-back" to Cayce’s work is probably the most important payback which was ever given and it ought to give anyone pause. Read it, if you can find a copy.

Because of the importance of Kahn’s story in evaluating Cayce’s credibility, a summary of Kahn’s personal experience with Cayce is provided in Chapter 10. As well, many of Cayce’s objective economic predictions which were given in readings for Kahn are presented or summarized in Chapter 22.


Jess Stearn’s "The Sleeping Prophet"

Some of the most famous vignettes of Edgar Cayce and his work were penned by Jess Stearn, who was for many years a prizewinning reporter for the New York Daily News and later an editor for Newsweek. He undertook a lifelong avocation to study paranormal activity, ESP, psychic phenomena, and human consciousness and behavior, subjects on which he wrote several books.

Of all of Jess Stearn's books, the most popular was "Edgar Cayce, The Sleeping Prophet", which is his portrait of the mature life and work of Edgar Cayce. It provides a summary overview of many aspects of Cayce’s life, work, and readings, but it is deceptive and illusionary due to Stearn’s penchant for literary fiction. He also wrote "A Prophet in His Own Country" in which he wrote an even more "inventive" dramatized account of Cayce’s coming of age and his reconciliation with his psychic talents. "A Prophet In His Own Country" skillfully articulates Cayce’s personal struggle with his talent, but it’s plot line is compacted and "reconstructed" to fit a screenplay model and bears little relationship to reality. Recently he penned "Edgar Cayce On The Millennium", which more or less completes Stearn’s descent into treatment of Cayce and his work as purely a literary foil for drama, pure invention, and money-making.

"The Sleeping Prophet", is the book which turned on a new generation during the cold war era to the Cayce legacy. This was the book I read in 1969 about Edgar Cayce which inspired me to tuck his name and his predictions on a shelf on my mind for further review. It is the first book I picked up to review again when I began the quest. And it was the last of the biographies which I reviewed to close up my assessment of Cayce. What a strange experience! Neither Stearn nor Cayce ended up being what they seemed to be at first blush.

Stearn begins by reciting some of Cayce spectacular long range geological and political predictions, especially those that had already begun to "hit", along with some of his "miracle" cures. He then adds even more color by painting various vignettes which display some of Cayce’s experiences with his clairvoyance. Stearn next reviews the "The Geologist" in detail to discuss Cayce’s Earth Changes predictions.

Stearn shows that, though most of the Earth Changes were yet to happen, there were lots of indications that they were beginning to happen. At this point in his book, with the possibility of global geological disaster looming at the end of the century, Stearn draws one’s attention to the world political predictions made by Cayce. From these predictions of World War II, the destruction of Japan and China, the assassination of President Kennedy, and many others, Stearn seems to show us that Cayce had an amazing track record. The effect of the track record next to the looming global shift in the axis of the Earth is chilling, creating part of the power and draw of the book. Cayce rounds these subjects out with a review of Cayce’s Atlantis (with some error), and Cayce’s reincarnation material (which I have not analyzed).

Stearn then provides a review of the Cayce health readings, his home health remedies, and the cottage industries they have generated. Dozens of example of devices, notions, ointments, herbs and foods, exercises, etc., are discussed, as well as the value of many of his cures for entire classes of disease. He points to the influence of Reilly and McGarey in working with these cures and continuing the process of dissemination of Cayce’s work into the mass culture of North America.

The primary focus of "Sleeping" is not really the life of Cayce. The beginning and ending phases of Cayce’s life and career is only scantily alluded to. The focus is on the legacy of the material, which Stearn tells us Cayce called "The Information". Perhaps that is just as well. Not every detail which he describes about Cayce’s life is necessarily correct. He tells us Cayce left school because he was an academic failure. Not true. Cayce left school to work on the farm during the middle of the depression of the 1890’s. His family was flat broke.

In his own way, Stearn sanitizes Cayce, demonstrating the same sort of repression which Cayce used to control his image and relationship with the world. Little of the quirkiness is apparent, little of his lifelong struggle with himself, and Stearn completely ducks the problem "of the dead". He avoids Cayce’s failures completely and he boils Cayce’s talent down to an inexplicable power to tap a "universal mind" which knows everything. "Universal mind" is one of the those politically convenient terms used to avoid a lot of issues and it tells us not much.

Thus Stearn’s Cayce remains a shrouded figure, whose life is as mysterious as his readings. But Stearn does not leave Cayce’s death a mystery. He makes it clear that Cayce created some of his own problems, including his own untimely demise by ignoring his own readings. Stearn notes that "he was like the doctor who prescribed for everyone except himself".

With "A Prophet In His Own Country: The Story Of The Young Edgar Cayce", Stearn seemingly removes the shroud and make Cayce come alive as a person. Unfortunately, it is an illusion which Stearn begins to create. Trading on his professional reputation as a reporter and editor, Stearn used the annoying style of writing a literary story as if it were objective journalism. Constructed long after the fact, Stearn portrays the story of the young Cayce largely through the device of extended dialogue between the young Cayce and key people in his life. Even with careful interviews of the descendents and associates of Cayce and others, the dialogue is obviously mainly the literary invention of Stearn, even if well sprinkled with the pet phrases and idiomatic names used by Cayce and his associates.

Though without doubt a gifted and reputable writer (he was an editor for Newsweek Magazine), one enters into an arena flickering with the shadows of romanticized images in reading such material. Even if faithfully produced from extensive interviews with the participants, which Stearn claims, no one’s memory is THAT good. This problem is broadened by Stearn, who, "in the interest of dramatic unity, since such a relatively brief period of Cayce’s life is covered," deliberately reconstructed the flow: "events have occasionally been modified in sequence and the names of some minor characters altered to avoid embarrassment to those in the present". Most irritatingly, he neglects to tell us what has been altered. A journalist should know better.

Comparison of Stearn’s plot line with the Sugrue book and the Lost Memoirs shows substantial deviations, primarily in the stories about Dr. Ketchum and Dr. Layne, the two characters who had the most influence over the emergence of Cayce’s career as a psychic. Here he definitely rewove the plot line of Cayce’s life to compactly fit various stories together. Pristine history, this book is not. It is better thought of as a screen play for an "interpretative" movie.

One must watch out as well for the visionary conclusion to which Stearn comes. No other source, including Cayce himself, suggests that Cayce consciously had the kind of historical visions which Stearn describes at the end of this book through a purported conversation between Cayce’s and his wife.

One must also take special care with Stearn’s treatment of "The Information". This was his real interest, not Edgar Cayce. Unfortunately, many of Stearn’s journalistic "literary reconstructions" of Cayce’s predictions produced errors which have been repeated endlessly since they were published in the 1960’s, creating false impressions of what Cayce purportedly predicted. In 1998, Stearn purported to resummarize Cayce’s most important predictions in "Edgar Cayce On The Millennium". Unfortunately, Stearn’s sleazy treatment of Cayce’s statements is so bad in this short paperback, not a single page, conclusion, or representation in this book is useful.

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