|Died||January 3, 1945 (aged 67)|
|Resting place||Riverside Cemetery, Hopkinsville, Kentucky|
|Known for||Founder of Association for Research and Enlightenment|
|Children||Hugh Lynn (1907–1982)|
Milton Porter (March 1911 – May 1911)
Edgar Evans (1918–2013)
|Parent(s)||Leslie B. Cayce|
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Edgar Cayce (//; 18 March 1877 – 3 January 1945) was an American clairvoyant who claimed to channel his higher self while asleep in a trance-like state. His words were recorded by his friend Al Layne, his wife, Gertrude Evans, and later by his secretary, Gladys Davis Turner. During the sessions, Cayce would answer questions on a variety of subjects like healing, reincarnation, dreams, the afterlife, past lives, nutrition, Atlantis and future events. Cayce, a devout Christian and Sunday school teacher, said his readings came from his subconscious mind exploring the dream realm where, according to him, all minds were timelessly connected. Cayce founded a nonprofit organization, the Association for Research and Enlightenment, to record and facilitate the study of his channeling and to also run a hospital. Cayce is known as The Sleeping Prophet, based on the title of journalist Jess Stearn's 1967 Cayce biography.
Some religious scholars and thinkers, such as author Michael York, consider Cayce to be the true founder and a principal source of many of the most characteristic beliefs of the New Age movement.
Edgar Cayce was born on March 18, 1877, near Beverly, Kentucky, a small town about 100 miles north of Knoxville, Tennessee. His parents, Carrie Elizabeth (née Major) and Leslie Burr Cayce, were farmers, and had a total of six children. As a child, Cayce allegedly saw the ghost of his deceased grandfather. He was confident that it was indeed a ghost, because it became transparent if he "looked hard enough."
Cayce was taken to church at age 10 where he became engrossed in the Bible. Over the next two years, Cayce read it through from cover to cover a dozen times. In May 1889, while reading his Bible in his hut in the woods, Cayce claimed to have an encounter with a woman with wings who told him that his prayers had been answered. This woman asked him what he wanted most of all. Cayce explained to his biographer Thomas Sugrue that he had been frightened, but had told the woman that he wanted to help others—especially children. And at some point he decided he would like to be a missionary.
Cayce relayed that the next night, after a complaint from the school teacher (he said he generally found it very difficult to focus on his lessons), his father ruthlessly tested him on spelling, and became so enraged that he knocked Cayce out of his chair. Cayce said that he suddenly heard the voice of the woman with wings, who told him that if he went to sleep "they" could help him. He put his head on his spelling book and fell asleep. Cayce said that when his father came back into the room and woke him up, he miraculously knew all of the answers. In fact, he could repeat anything in the book. He said his father thought he had been fooling him before, and knocked him out of his chair again. Cayce said he then studied all of his school books that way—by sleeping atop them.
Cayce claimed that by 1892 he had become the best student in his class. On being questioned, Cayce told the teacher that he saw pictures of the pages in the books. His father, proud of this accomplishment, spread it around.
During a school ball game, Cayce was struck in his coccyx and began to behave strangely. He claimed that he went to sleep one night, miraculously diagnosed the problem and recommended a cure, all in his sleep, and that his family prepared the cure according to his instructions, and it worked perfectly. Cayce's alleged ability to diagnose in his sleep would not return for several years.
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In December 1893, the Cayce family moved to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and lived at 705 West Seventh on the southeast corner of Seventh and Young Streets. During this time, Cayce received an eighth-grade education, is said by the Association for Research and Enlightenment to have noticed his clairvoyant abilities, and left the family farm to pursue various forms of employment.
Cayce's education stopped in the ninth grade because his family could not afford the cost. A ninth-grade education was often considered more than sufficient for working-class children. Much of the remainder of Cayce's younger years would be characterized by a search for employment. On March 14, 1897, Cayce became engaged to Gertrude Evans.
Throughout his life, Cayce was drawn to church as a member of the Disciples of Christ. He read the entire Bible once a year, every year, attended church and taught Sunday school, and recruited missionaries. He said he could see auras around people, spoke to angels, and heard voices of departed relatives. In his early years, he agonized over whether these prophetic abilities were spiritually delivered from the highest source.
In 1900, Cayce formed a business partnership with his father to sell Woodmen of the World Insurance; however, in March he was struck by severe laryngitis that resulted in a complete loss of speech. Unable to work, he lived at home with his parents for almost a year. He then decided to take up the trade of photography, an occupation that would exert less strain on his voice. He began an apprenticeship at the photography studio of W. R. Bowles in Hopkinsville and eventually became quite talented in his trade.
In 1901, a traveling stage hypnotist and entertainer named Hart, who referred to himself as "The Laugh Man", was performing at the Hopkinsville Opera House. Hart heard about Cayce's throat condition and offered to attempt a cure. Cayce accepted his offer, and the experiment was conducted in the office of Manning Brown, the local throat specialist. Cayce's voice allegedly returned while he was in a hypnotic trance but disappeared on awakening. Hart tried post-hypnotic suggestion, that the voice would continue to function after the trance, but this proved unsuccessful.
Since Hart had appointments at other cities, he could not continue his hypnotic treatments of Cayce, but admitted he had failed because Cayce would not go into the third stage of hypnosis to take a suggestion. A New York hypnotist, John Duncan Quackenboss, found the same impediment but, after returning to New York, suggested that Cayce should be prompted to take over his own case while in the second stage of hypnosis. The only local hypnotist, Al Layne, offered to help Cayce restore his voice. When Layne put Cayce into trance, Cayce was able to communicate vocally. Cayce told Layne to give him (Cayce) the suggestion to increase blood circulation to the throat area. Layne gave the suggestion. Cayce's throat reportedly turned bright red. Minutes passed. After 20 minutes, Cayce, still in a trance, declared the treatment over. On awakening, his voice was said to have remained normal. Apparently, relapses did occur, but were reported to have been corrected by Layne in the same way until eventually, the cure was permanent.
Layne asked Cayce to describe Layne's own ailments and suggest cures, and reportedly found the results both accurate and effective. Layne regarded the ability as clairvoyance, and suggested that Cayce offer his psychic diagnostic service to the public. Cayce was reluctant as he had no idea what he was prescribing while asleep, and whether the remedies were safe. He told Layne that he did not want to know anything about the patient as it was not relevant. He finally agreed, on the condition that readings would be free, and also specifying that if the readings ever hurt anyone, he'd never do another. He began, with Layne's help, to offer free treatments to the townspeople. Layne described Cayce's method as, "... a self-imposed hypnotic trance which induces clairvoyance". Reports of Cayce's work appeared in the newspapers, which inspired many postal inquiries. Cayce stated he could work just as effectively using a letter from the individual as with the person being present in the room. Given only the person's name and location, Cayce said he could diagnose the physical and mental conditions of what he termed "the entity", and then provide a remedy. Cayce was still reticent and worried, as "one dead patient was all he needed to become a murderer". His fiancée, Gertrude Evans, agreed with him. Few people knew what he was up to. There was a common belief at the time that subjects of hypnosis eventually went insane, or at least that their health suffered. Cayce soon became famous, and people from around the world sought his advice through correspondence.
In May 1902 he got a bookshop job in the town of Bowling Green where he boarded with some young professionals, two of whom were doctors. He lost his voice while there and Layne came to help effect the normal cure, finally visiting every week. Cayce, still worried, kept the meetings secret, and continued to refuse money for his readings. He invented a card game called Pit or Board of Trade, simulating wheat market trading, that became popular, but when he sent the idea to a game company they copyrighted it and he got no returns. He still refused to give readings for money.
Cayce and Gertrude Evans married on June 17, 1903, and she moved to Bowling Green with him. They had three children: Hugh Lynn Cayce (1907–1982), Milton Porter Cayce (1911–1911), and Edgar Evans Cayce (1918–2013). She still disapproved of the readings, and Cayce still agonized over the morality of them. A few days later Layne revealed the activity to the professionals at the boarding house, one of whom was a magistrate and journalist, after which state medical authorities forced Layne to close his practice. He left to acquire osteopathic qualifications in Franklin. Cayce and Gertrude accepted the resulting publicity as best they could, greatly aided by the diplomacy of the young doctors.
Cayce and a relative opened a photographic studio in Bowling Green, while the doctors formed a committee with some colleagues to investigate the phenomenon, with Cayce's co-operation. All the experiments confirmed the accuracy of the readings. However, Cayce refused a lucrative offer to go into business. After a violent examination by doctors while in a trance, Cayce refused any more investigations, declaring that he would only do readings for those who needed help and believed in the readings.
In 1906 and 1907 fires burned down his two photographic studios, leading to bankruptcy. Between the two fires, his first son was born on March 16, 1907. He became debt free by 1909, although completely broke, and ready to start again. In 1907, outstanding diagnostic successes in the family helped his confidence. He again refused an offer to go into business, this time with homeopath Wesley H. Ketchum from Hopkinsville, who was introduced by his father. He found a job at the H. P. Tresslar photography firm.
However, Ketchum was persistent, spread information in various medical circles, and in October 1910 got written up in the press. When a reporter contacted Cayce, he explained to the reporter that he somehow had the ability to easily go into the intuitive sleep when he wanted to, and this was different from how he went to sleep normally like everyone else. When asked the mechanism of the readings via the sleep method, they were told that it happened via the capabilities of the subconscious mind.
Ketchum again urged Cayce to join a business company. After soul searching the whole night, Cayce finally accepted the offer under certain conditions, including that he did not take money for the readings. He was prophesying. Cayce read the back readings, but they contained so many technical terms that he gained no more understanding of what he was doing. He preferred to put the readings on a more scientific basis, but only the doctors in Hopkinsville would cooperate, whereas most of the patients were not in that locality. Also, doctors from all specialties were needed as the treatments prescribed varied widely.
Edgar Cayce, and especially Gertrude, still did not give therapeutic priority to the readings and supposedly lost their second child because of this reticence. When Gertrude became fatally ill with tuberculosis, they used the readings after the doctor had given up. Miraculously, the treatment cured her. Shortly after this, in 1912, Cayce, whose everyday conscious mind was not aware during the readings, discovered that Ketchum had not been honest with them, and had also used them to gamble for finance. He argued in defense that the medical profession was not backing them. Cayce quit the company immediately and went back to the Tresslar photography firm in Selma, Alabama.
Cayce's work grew in volume as his fame grew. He asked for voluntary donations to support himself and his family so that he could practice full-time. To help raise money he invented Pit, a card game based on the commodities trading at the Chicago Board of Trade, and the game is still sold today. He continued to work in an apparent trance state with a hypnotist all his life. His wife and eldest son later replaced Layne in this role. A secretary, Gladys Davis, recorded his readings in shorthand.
The growing fame of Cayce along with the popularity he received from newspapers attracted several eager commercially minded men who wanted to seek a fortune by using his clairvoyant abilities. Even though Cayce was reluctant to help them, he was persuaded to give his readings, which left him dissatisfied with himself and unsuccessful. A cotton merchant offered him a hundred dollars a day for his readings about the daily outcomes in the cotton market; however, despite his poor finances, Cayce refused the merchant's offer. Some wanted to know where to hunt for treasures while others wanted to know the outcome of horse races.
In 1923, Arthur Lammers, a wealthy printer and student of metaphysics, persuaded Cayce to give readings on philosophical subjects. Cayce was told by Lammers that, while in his trance state, he spoke of Lammers' past lives and of reincarnation, something Lammers believed in. Reincarnation was a popular subject of the day but is not an accepted part of Christian doctrine. Because of this, Cayce questioned his stenographer about what he said in his trance state and remained unconvinced. He challenged Lammers' charge that he had validated astrology and reincarnation in the following dialogue:
Cayce's stenographer recorded the following:
Cayce was quite unconvinced that he had been referring to the doctrine of reincarnation, and the best Lammers could offer was that the reading "opens up the door" and to go on to share his beliefs and knowledge with Cayce. Lammers had come to him with quite a bit of information of his own to share with Cayce and seemed intent upon convincing Cayce now that he felt the reading had confirmed his strongly-held beliefs. Twelve years earlier Cayce had briefly alluded to reincarnation. In reading 4841–1, given April 22, 1911, Cayce referred to the soul being "transmigrated". Because Cayce's readings were not systematically recorded until 1923, at that point no mention of reincarnation took place, but it is possible that he may have mentioned reincarnation and astrology in other earlier readings though none recorded.
Lammers asked Cayce to come to Dayton to pursue metaphysical truth via the readings. Cayce eventually agreed and went to Dayton. Gertrude Cayce was dubious, but interested. There, Cayce produced much metaphysical information, which Cayce tried to reconcile with Christianity. Lammers declared that the fifth chapter of Matthew was the constitution of Christianity and the Sermon on the Mount was its Declaration of Independence. It appeared that Cayce's subconscious mind was as much at home with the language of metaphysics as it was with the language of anatomy and medicine.
Lammers wanted to ask the purpose of readings of Cayce's clairvoyance, and to put up money for an organization supporting Cayce's healing methods. Cayce decided to accept the work and asked his family to join him in Dayton as soon as they could. But by the time the Cayces had arrived there, near the end of 1923, Lammers found himself in financial difficulties and could be of no use.
It was at this time Cayce directed his activities to provide readings centered around health. The remedies that were channeled often involved the use of unusual electrotherapy, ultraviolet light, diet, massage,less mental work and more relaxation in the sand on the beach. His remedies were coming under the scrutiny of the American Medical Association and Cayce felt that it was time to legitimize the operations with the aid of licensed medical practitioners. In 1925 Cayce reported while in a trance, "the voice" had instructed him to move to Virginia Beach, Virginia across the street from the beach. He was informed that the sand's crystals would have curative properties to promote rapid healing.
Cayce's mature period, in which he created the several institutions that survived him, can be considered to have started in 1925. By this time he was a professional psychic with a small number of employees and volunteers. The readings increasingly came to involve occult or esoteric themes.
Money was extremely scarce, but help came from interested persons. The idea of an association and a hospital was mooted again, but the readings insisted on Virginia Beach, not suiting most of the people. Gertrude Cayce began to conduct all the readings. Morton Blumenthal, a young man who worked in the stock exchange in New York with his trader brother, became very interested in the readings, shared Cayce's outlook, and offered to finance the vision in the right spirit. He bought them a house at Virginia Beach.
On May 6, 1927, the Association of National Investigations was incorporated in the state of Virginia. This would manage building the hospital and a scientific study of the readings. Morton was president and his brother and several others were vice presidents. Cayce was secretary and treasurer, and Gladys was assistant secretary. To protect against legal prosecution, the rules required any person requesting a reading to become a member of the Association and agree they were participating in an experiment in psychic research. Early in 1928, Moseley Brown, head of the psychology department at Washington and Lee University, became convinced of the readings and joined the Association.
On October 11, 1928, the dedication ceremonies for the hospital complex were held. It contained a lecture hall, library, vault for storage of the readings, and offices for research workers. There was also a large living room, a 12-car garage, servants quarters, and a tennis court. It contained "the largest lawn, in fact the only lawn, between the Cavalier and Cape Henry". The first patient was admitted the next day.
This facility would enable consistent checking and rechecking of the remedies, which was Cayce's goal. There were consistent remedies for many of the illnesses regardless of the patient, and Cayce hoped to produce a compendium that could be used by the medical profession. A chemist, Shankar A. Bhisey, who also used "clairvoyant knowledge" to produce medicines, collaborated with Cayce to produce Atomidine, an absorbable form of iodine, which was perfected and sold.
The basic raison d'etre for all the cures was the "assimilation of needed properties through the digestive system, from food taken into the body ... [All treatments, including all schools and types of treatment, were given in order to establish] the proper equilibrium of the assimilating system." Therapies as divergent as salt packs, poultices, hot compresses, color healing, magnetism, vibrator treatment, massage, osteopathic manipulation, dental therapy, colonics, enemas, antiseptics, inhalants, homeopathics, essential oils, mud baths were prescribed. Substances used included oils, salts, herbs, iodine, witch hazel, magnesia, bismuth, alcohol, castoria, lactated pepsin, turpentine, charcoal, animated ash, soda, cream of tartar, aconite, laudanum, camphor, and gold solution. These were prescribed to overcome conditions that prevented proper digestion and assimilation of needed nutrients from the prescribed diet. The aim of the readings was to produce a healthy body, removing the cause of the specific ailment. Readings would indicate if the patient's recovery was problematic.
There was a waiting list of months ahead. Blumenthal and Brown went ahead with ambitious plans for a university as a supplement to the hospital and a "parallel service for the mind and spirit". In fact, it was to dwarf the hospital and rival other universities in respectability before psychic studies would begin. It was to open on September 22, 1930. On September 16 Blumenthal called a meeting of the Association resulting in his ownership of the hospital to curb expenses. After the first semester, he ceased his support of the university, and on February 26, 1931, closed down the Association. Cayce removed the files of the readings from the hospital and took them home.
The Depression years saw Cayce turn his attention to spiritual teachings. In 1931, Edgar Cayce's friends and family asked him how they could become psychic like him. Out of this seemingly simple question came an eleven-year discourse that led to the creation of "Study Groups". From his altered state, Cayce relayed to this group that the purpose of life is not to become psychic, but to become a more spiritually aware and loving person. Study Group No. 1 was told that they could "bring light to a waiting world" and that these lessons would still be studied a hundred years into the future. The readings were now about dreams, coincidence (synchronicity), developing intuition, the Akashic records, astrology, past-life relationships, soul mates and other esoteric subjects. Hundreds of books have been published about these so-called readings some never recorded after recording became available.
On June 6, 1931, 61 people attended a meeting to carry on the work and form a new organization called the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.). In July the new association was incorporated, and Cayce legally returned the house to Blumenthal and bought another place.
Hugh Lynn proposed that they develop a stock in trade rather than something grandiose, and that they build a library of research into the phenomena and hold study groups, and that Cayce would do two readings a day. The association accepted this, and Hugh Lynn also started a monthly bulletin for association members. The bulletin contained readings on general interest subjects, interesting cases, book reviews on psychic subjects, health hints from readings, and news of psychic phenomena in other fields.
Hugh Lynn narrowed the mailing list to some 300 members who were genuinely enthusiastic, and as a result the first annual congress of the association was held in June 1932. He procured speakers on various metaphysical and psychic subjects and included public readings by Cayce. Members left the conference eager to start study groups in their own localities. Records were kept of everything that went on in the readings including the attitudes and routines of Cayce. Everything was then checked with the subjects of the readings, most of whom were not present during the reading, and the data was published in a study entitled "100 cases of clairvoyance". However, the response from scientists in general was that none of the experiments were performed under test conditions. Hugh Lynn continued to build files of case histories, parallel studies in psychic phenomena, and research readings for the study groups.
Association activities remained simple and un-publicized. Members raised a building fund for an office, library, and vault, which they erected in 1940–41 as a single unit added on to the Cayce residence. No sign guided visitors to the center. Association membership averaged 500 to 600. The turnover from year to year was approximately half this total. The other half remained a solid basis for the research work, an audience for case studies, pamphlets, bulletins—and the Congress bulletin, which was a yearbook and record of congress events. A mailing list of several thousand served people who remained interested in Cayce's activities.
Members were drawn from all of the Protestant churches: from the Roman, Greek, Syrian and Armenian Catholic churches; from Theosophy, Christian Science and Spiritualism; and from many Oriental religions. Cayce's philosophy was, if it makes you a better member of your church then it's good; if it takes you away from your church, it's bad. The philosophy of the readings was that truth is one, each organization is part of this one, therefore the A.R.E. was not to function as a schism or in opposition to any religious organization. The goal of the work was not something new but something ancient and universal.
Both sons entered the forces during the war. They both married, Hugh Lynn in 1941 and Edgar Evans in 1942.
A 1942 limited edition release preceded the first trade edition of the only biography written during Cayce's lifetime, There is a River by Thomas Sugrue, published in March, 1943. As a consequence, public demand increased and office staff had to be added. The mailman could no longer carry all of the mail, so Gertrude got it from the post office by car. Hugh Lynn was away in the armed forces, and Cayce coped with the letters and increased his readings to four to six per day.
Cayce gained national prominence in 1943 after the publication of a high-profile article in Coronet magazine titled "Miracle Man of Virginia Beach". World War II was taking its toll on American soldiers and Cayce felt he could not refuse the families who requested help for their loved ones who were missing in action. He increased the frequency of his readings to eight per day to try to make an impression on the ever-growing pile of requests. He said this took a toll on his health as it was emotionally draining and often fatigued him. The readings themselves scolded Cayce for attempting too much and that he should limit his workload to just two life readings a day or else these good efforts would eventually kill him.
From June 1943 to June 1944, 1,385 readings were taken. By August 1944 Cayce collapsed from the strain. When he gave a reading on this situation, the instructions were to rest until he was well or dead. He and Gertrude went away to the mountains of Virginia, but in September Edgar Cayce suffered a stroke at the age of 67, in September 1944, and died on January 3, 1945. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Gertrude died three months later.
The Association continued the work of classifying and cross-referencing the over 14,000 files of readings that had been taken throughout Cayce's lifetime from March 31, 1901, to September 17, 1944. The results of these have been disseminated through the Association's publications with the members as the recipients of this material.
Until September 1923, his readings were not systematically recorded or preserved. However, an article published in the Birmingham Post-Herald on October 10, 1922, quotes Cayce as saying that he had given 8,056 readings as of that date and it is known that he gave approximately 13,000–14,000 readings after that date. A total of 14,306 are available at the A.R.E. Cayce headquarters in Virginia Beach and on an online, member-only section along with background information, correspondence, and follow-up documentation.
Other abilities that have been attributed to Cayce include astral projection, prophesying, mediumship, viewing the Akashic records or "Book of Life", and seeing auras. Cayce also utilized astrology and dreamwork during his practice and readings. Cayce said he became interested in learning more about these subjects after he was informed about the content of his readings, which he reported that he never actually heard himself.
Cayce's clients included a number of famous people such as Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin.
Gina Cerminara published books such as Many Mansions and The World Within. Brian Weiss published a bestseller regarding clinical recollection of past lives, Many Lives, Many Masters. These books support spiritualism and reincarnation. Many Mansions elaborates on Cayce's work and supports his stated abilities with real life examples.
In 1971 Edgar Cayce's sons, Edgar Evans Cayce and Hugh Lynn Cayce published a book titled The Outer Limits of Edgar Cayce's Power, claiming Cayce's readings had an approximate 85% success rate. The majority of the book investigated cases where Cayce's readings were demonstrably incorrect.
Wesley Harrington Ketchum was a physician who worked with Cayce in the early 1900s. He was born in Lisbon, Ohio on November 11, 1878, to Saunders C. Ketchum and Bertha Bennett, and was the oldest of seven children. He graduated from the Cleveland College of Homeopathic Medicine in 1904, and took up the practice of medicine in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He practiced medicine in Hopkinsville until 1912. In 1913 he traveled across the country to San Francisco and took passage to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he opened a new practice. He returned to California in 1918 and established an office in Palo Alto, practicing medicine there until the 1950s. He retired to southern California around 1963, settling in San Marino, just outside Pasadena. He died on November 28, 1968, in Canoga Park.
He wrote The Discovery of Edgar Cayce, published by the A.R.E. Press in 1964.
Cayce advocated pseudohistorical ideas in his trance readings such as the existence of Atlantis and the discredited theory of polygenism. In many trance sessions, he re-interpreted the history of life on earth. One of Cayce's controversial claims was that of polygenism. According to Cayce, five human races (white, black, red, brown, and yellow) had been created separately but simultaneously on different parts of the Earth. Cayce also accepted the existence of aliens and Atlantis, and claimed that "the red race developed in Atlantis and its development was rapid." Another claim by Cayce was that "soul-entities" on Earth intermingled with animals to produce "things" such as giants that were as much as twelve feet tall.
In his 2003 book The Skeptic's Dictionary, philosopher and skeptic Robert Todd Carroll wrote, "Cayce is one of the main people responsible for some of the sillier notions about Atlantis." Carroll mentioned some of Cayce's discredited ideas, including his belief in a giant solar crystal, activated by the sun, and used to harness energy and provide power on Atlantis, and his prediction that in 1958, the United States would rediscover a death ray that had been used on Atlantis.
In the 1930s, Cayce incorrectly predicted that North America would experience chaos: "Los Angeles, San Francisco... will be among those that will be destroyed before New York". Cayce also incorrectly predicted the Second Coming of Christ in 1998.
Science writers and skeptics say that Cayce's alleged psychic abilities were fakery or nonexistent. Medical health experts are critical of Cayce's unorthodox treatments, which they regard as quackery, such as his promotion of pseudoscientific dieting ideas and use of homeopathic remedies.
The evidence of Cayce's alleged clairvoyant powers comes from sensationalized newspaper articles, affidavits, anecdotes, testimonials, and books rather than any empirical evidence that can be independently evaluated. Martin Gardner, for example, wrote that all of the "verified" claims and descriptions from Cayce's trances can be traced to ideas found in the books that Cayce had been reading by authors such as Carl Jung, P. D. Ouspensky, and Helena Blavatsky. Gardner concluded that the trance readings of Cayce contain "little bits of information gleaned from here and there in the occult literature, spiced with occasional novelties from Cayce's unconscious".
Michael Shermer writes in Why People Believe Weird Things (1997), "Uneducated beyond the ninth grade, Cayce acquired his broad knowledge through voracious reading and from this he wove elaborate tales." According to Shermer, "Cayce was fantasy-prone from his youth, often talking with angels and receiving visions of his dead grandfather." Magician James Randi commented that "Cayce was fond of expressions like 'I feel that' and 'perhaps'—qualifying words used to avoid positive declarations."
Investigator Joe Nickell has noted:
Although Cayce was never subjected to proper testing, ESP pioneer Joseph B. Rhine of Duke University—who should have been sympathetic to Cayce's claims—was unimpressed. A reading that Cayce gave for Rhine's daughter was notably inaccurate. Frequently, Cayce was even wider off the mark, as when he provided diagnoses of subjects who had died since the letters requesting the readings were sent.
Science writer Karen Stollznow has written:
The reality is that his cures were hearsay and his treatments were folk remedies that were useless at best and dangerous at worse ... Cayce wasn't able to cure his own cousin, or his own son who died as a baby. Many of Cayce's readings took place after the patient had already died.
Cayce's Association for Research and Enlightenment has been criticized for promoting pseudoscience.
Eventually Edgar Cayce, following advice from his own readings, moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, and set up a hospital
The matter of Edgar Cayce boils down to a vague mass of garbled data, interpreted by true believers who have a very heavy stake in the acceptance of the claims. Put to the test, Cayce is found to be bereft of powers. His reputation today rests on poor and deceptive reporting of the claims made by him and his followers, and such claims do not stand up to examination.
Some quacks, such as Edgar Cayce, attributed their powers to God. Cayce, who made his diagnoses while in trance, claimed that his healing powers came from God. To treat patients he used spinal manipulation as well as Red Bug Juice and Oil of Smoke in his cures.