Edgar Cayce's Extra-Sensory Perception?

Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) was an American who became famous in his lifetime as a psychic healer and prophet. From humble beginnings as the son of a farmer and with only an eighth grade education, Cayce (pronounced “Casey”) produced a large body of work documenting hundreds of cures and predictions made under hypnosis. While Cayce’s work predated the “New Age” movement by several decades, many of his ideas and philosophies remain a clear influence upon it to this day.

Cayce was born in Kentucky to a farming family, and left school after the eighth grade to find work. He worked as a retail clerk, an insurance salesman, and a photographer at various points; the struggle for finances was a defining feature of his entire life.

In 1900, while selling insurance, Cayce developed a severe case of laryngitis, which rendered him unable to work for over a year. In 1901, a traveling hypnotist heard about Cayce’s condition and offered to try and cure him through hypnotic suggestion. During the trance, Cayce’s voice returned to normal, but once he was brought out of the trance, the condition returned. Since the hypnotist was continuing on tour, a local hypnotist named Al Layne offered to continue the treatment.

During one of these trances, Cayce began to speak as if another person was in control of his voice. In this early example of what we now call “channeling,” Cayce was able to describe the cause of the condition and prescribe a cure; the condition was eventually cured, and the stage had been set for Cayce to make a radical change in his career.

Cayce was a deeply religious man who remained conflicted all his life about the nature of the ability he seemed to have developed. When news of his own cure spread, others began to ask for cures of their own; Cayce hesitated, but then agreed to do so as long as all his readings were done for no fee. He never charged for a reading, but subsisted on free-will donations for the rest of his life.

The pattern for the readings remained the same throughout his career: he would go into a light trance assisted by a hypnotist (first Layne, later his wife and son), and then either talk to the patient or hear a letter read from them. Cayce would then speak of what was causing the person’s illness and offer ideas for a cure; many of these ideas fell into the category of what is now called alternative medicine, such as herbal and massage therapy.

In 1925, the voices that Cayce had begun to refer to as his “spirit guides” told him to move to Virginia Beach, VA. It was here that he remained for the rest of his life.

As Cayce continued to read, he began to branch out from his healing work and offer insights on topics such as reincarnation and theological concepts, some of which made him very uncomfortable when they conflicted with his overt and devout Christian faith. He also spoke of the lost continent of Atlantis, and made prophecies about future world events.

Cayce himself believed that his cures and his theological concepts were more important than the prophecies that made him a household name as the “sleeping prophet” during his lifetime; it appears that this prediction was indeed correct. While Cayce’s prophecies are not notably accurate, many of his medical ideas have been incorporated into current practices of alternative medicine.

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