First and last, he’s a charlatan.
Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) is the most thoroughly documented clairvoyant in history.
Typically, he would lie down on a couch as if to take a nap. A “conductor,” normally his wife, would read certain directions to him. Thereupon, he would begin to speak, from this sleep-like state, and answer questions that were posed to him.
In this state, he seemed to have access to an infinite storehouse of information. He spoke of things and concepts he could not possibly have had knowledge of in his waking life: chakras, kundalini, the titles and authors of obscure books, the names and addresses of health care practitioners whom he had never heard of, and who had never heard of him, in real life.
A secretary was normally present who would record everything he said in shorthand, and afterwards transcribe it on a typewriter.
Each of these discourses is called a “reading.” More than 14,000 such “readings” are archived — and catalogued and thoroughly cross-indexed — at the Association for Research and Enlightenment, in Virginia Beach, VA, the organization that was founded for the study of his words.
The vast majority of readings fall into either of two categories: “physical readings” or “life readings.”
A “physical reading” involved a written request from some person suffering a physical ailment. The person had to provide an address where he or she would be at the time the reading was to take place. Cayce’s words in such a reading normally began with, “We have the body,” and then he would proceed to speak as if he were physically present with the patient in person. He would examine the person’s physical body as with some sort of X-ray vision; opine about the nature and origins of the ailment; and prescribe treatment. If the treatment instructions were followed as given, the patient invariably found relief.
A “life reading,” in contrast, involved an examination of an individual’s current life and supposed past lives, toward the end of understanding the issues and opportunities the person faced. Cayce’s words in such a reading normally began with, “We have the entity,” “entity” meaning, in effect, “soul.” He would proceed to set forth the astrological positions of the planets at the time of the person’s birth,(*) and then summarize each of the person’s lives, beginning with the present life and following with each preceding life, in that order. Thus the words that came up again and again, “Before this, the entity was …”
This catalogue of previous lives was not presumed to be exhaustive. The Cayce source concerned itself principally with those lives where events and issues occurred most pertinent to the events and issues the seeker faced today. The Cayce source claimed that it got all that information about the person’s previous lives from “the Akashic records,” a supposed record “on the skein of space-time” of everything the entity had ever done.
On one occasion, after a life reading, Cayce gave a description of the dream-like experience he normally went through when giving such a reading. That text appears in the next post here below.
Some of the readings use vague, disjointed, almost incoherent language, pretty much just what one might expect from any man talking in his sleep. Most, however, are so cogent that one can hardly believe they came from a sleeping man. He speaks lucidly and at times with passion about different aspects of the human condition; of episodes in Bible history, and the person and significance of Jesus. Those readings have gained him an avid following.
(*)In preparing for this post, I came across an excerpt from Amazing Randi’s Flim Flam that presumes to debunk Edgar Cayce completely. By turns sarcastic and — sarcastic — Randi opines that many of the concoctions Cayce prescribed were probably noxious, and that many patients would likely have gotten better without following Cayce’s directions at all. It came to me: anyone wanting to confirm or disconfirm Cayce’s accuracy could easily do so by checking the astrological information present in each life reading. The subjects’ birthdates are all in the record.