Edgar Cayce A.R.E. Dove with Olive Branch

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about Edgar Cayce’s life

Twentieth Century Psychic and Medical Clairvoyant

Edgar Cayce (pronounced Kay-Cee, 1877-1945) has been called the “sleeping prophet,” the “father of holistic medicine,” and the most documented psychic of the 20th century. For more than 40 years of his adult life, Cayce gave psychic “readings” to thousands of seekers while in an unconscious state, diagnosing illnesses and revealing lives lived in the past and prophecies yet to come. But who, exactly, was Edgar Cayce?

Cayce was born on a farm in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1877, and his psychic abilities began to appear as early as his childhood. He was able to see and talk to his late grandfather’s spirit, and often played with “imaginary friends” whom he said were spirits on the other side. He also displayed an uncanny ability to memorize the pages of a book simply by sleeping on it. These gifts labeled the young Cayce as strange, but all Cayce really wanted was to help others, especially children.

Later in life, Cayce would find that he had the ability to put himself into a sleep-like state by lying down on a couch, closing his eyes, and folding his hands over his stomach. In this state of relaxation and meditation, he was able to place his mind in contact with all time and space — the universal consciousness, also known as the super-conscious mind. From there, he could respond to questions as broad as, “What are the secrets of the universe?” and “What is my purpose in life?” to as specific as, “What can I do to help my arthritis?” and “How were the pyramids of Egypt built? His responses to these questions came to be called “readings,” and their insights offer practical help and advice to individuals even today.

Many people are surprised to learn that Edgar Cayce was a devoted churchgoer and Sunday school teacher. At a young age, Cayce vowed to read the Bible for every year of his life, and at the time of his death in 1945, he had accomplished this task. Perhaps the readings said it best, when asked how to become psychic, Cayce’s advice was to become more spiritual.

Edgar and Gertrude Cayce
Edgar Cayce and sons
Edgar Cayce sitting on couch

Tools for Wellness, Spiritual Growth, and Personal Empowerment

Although Cayce died more than 75 years ago, the timeliness of the material in the readings — with subjects like discovering your mission in life, developing your intuition, exploring ancient mysteries, and taking responsibility for your health — is evidenced by the hundreds of books that have been written on the various aspects of this work as well as the dozen or so titles focusing on Cayce’s life itself. Together, these books contain information so valuable that even Edgar Cayce himself might have hesitated to predict their impact on the contemporary world. In 1945, the year of his passing, who could have known that terms such as “meditation,” “spiritual growth,” “auras,” “soul mates,” and “holistic health” would become household words?

The majority of Edgar Cayce’s readings deal with holistic health and the treatment of illness. As it was at the time Cayce was giving readings, still today, individuals from all walks of life and belief receive physical relief from illnesses or ailments through information given in the readings — some readings were given as far back as 100 years ago! Yet, although best known for this material, the sleeping Cayce did not seem to be limited to concerns about the physical body. In fact, in their entirety, the readings discuss an astonishing 10,000 different topics. This vast array of subject matter can be narrowed down into a smaller group of topics that, when compiled together, deal with the following five categories: (1) Health-Related Information; (2) Philosophy and Reincarnation; (3) Dreams and Dream Interpretation; (4) ESP and Psychic Phenomena; and (5) Spiritual Growth, Meditation, and Prayer.

Further details of Cayce’s life and work are explored in the classic book, There Is a River (1942), by Thomas Sugrue, available in hardback, paperback, or audio book versions.

Members of Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), the nonprofit founded by Cayce in 1931, have access to the entire set of 14,306 readings in a database residing online in our members-only section. The readings can also be found in their entirety in our physical library, located in the Visitor’s Center, second floor, at our headquarters campus in Virginia Beach, which is open to the public daily.

Edgar Cayce’s life chronology: 1877-1945


On March 18, Edgar Cayce born near Beverly, 8 miles south of Hopkinsville (Kentucky).


On February 22, Gertrude Evans born in Hopkinsville.


On June 18, Edgar witnesses the horse accident which causes the death of his grandfather Thomas Jefferson Cayce.


He starts school in Beverly.


An angel appears to him. Then, he discovers that he is able to memorize his school books by sleeping on them.


He quits high school and works on the farm of his paternal grandmother. She dies in August.


In January, the family moves to Hopkinsville. Edgar is hired at Hopper Brothers bookstore.


On March 14, he becomes engaged to Gertrude Evans.


In June, he loses his job and works in a dry goods store.


In July, he is employed in a large bookstore in Louisville (Kentucky) J. P. Morton & Co. He comes home for Christmas and decides to stay in Hopkinsville. He forms a partnership with his father, Leslie Cayce, then insurance agent.


Edgar travels from town to town selling insurance, as well as books and stationery for P. Morton & Co. In March, a partial paralysis of the vocal cords makes him unable to speak beyond a whisper. In the fall, the Hopkinsville photographer offers him a job as apprentice in his studio.


Hart, a traveling hypnotist and showman, makes him speak normally under hypnosis. On March 31, Edgar gives his first psychic reading: with the help of Al Layne, he diagnoses his own difficulty and regains his voice. He starts giving readings for Layne’s patients.


In May, he accepts a job in a bookstore in Bowling Green, sixty miles away. In August, Layne calls him back to Hopkinsville regarding a little girl called Aime Dietrich. Her case will play an essential role in the history of the Cayce readings. Layne visits him every Sunday to continue the readings for his patients.


On June 17, he marries Gertrude Evans in Hopkinsville. They go and live in Bowling Green. Layne leaves Hopkinsville in order to become a professional osteopath.


In September, Edgar opens a photographic studio with Frank Potter.


On January 30, Gladys Davis born in Centerville (Alabama). Local medical doctors study Edgar’s psychic ability.


In December, a fire destroys art work he has on consignment.


On March 16, Hugh Lynn, Edgar and Gertrude’s older son is born. In September, another fire wrecks the studio. His partner withdraws, but Edgar reopens it alone.


Gertrude and Hugh Lynn return to Hopkinsville, while Edgar stays in Bowling Green to pay off the debts generated by both fires.


In August, Edgar pays the last bill and leaves Bowling Green. He spends some time in Hopkinsville with Gertrude and Hugh Lynn, and then finds a job in Alabama as a photographer. At Christmas, he meets Dr. Wesley Ketchum during a short visit in Hopkinsville.


On October 9, The New York Times publishes a long article on Edgar Cayce’s psychic powers. Edgar comes back to Hopkinsville and opens a photographic studio. With Dr. Wesley Ketchum, Albert Noe and Leslie Cayce, he forms the Psychic Reading Corporation. For the first time, he gives daily readings on medical cases.


In February, Hearst’s Chicago Examiner publicizes Edgar Cayce. In March, Edgar, L. Cayce and A. Noe go to Chicago for a few days, and Edgar gives readings for the paper. On March 28, Milton Porter, Edgar and Gertrude’s second son is born. The baby dies on May 17. Edgar helps solve George Dalton’s case, due to an accident on a construction site. Gertrude develops severe tuberculosis. The readings save her life and will allow her to fully recover.


In January, Dr. Hugo Münsterberg, of Harvard University arrives in Hopkinsville to investigate Cayce’s psychic talent. Edgar breaks his contract with Ketchum and Noe and goes again to Alabama to work as a photographer.


He acquires his own studio in Selma (Alabama). In the fall, Gertrude and Hugh Lynn move to Selma.


In January, Hugh Lynn severely burns his eyes while playing in the studio with flash powder. He regains his sight thanks to the readings.


On February 9, Edgar Evans, Edgar and Gertrude’s youngest son is born.


In order to raise money for building a hospital, Edgar forms a partnership with others seeking oil in Texas. He spends four years there, unsuccessfully.


Edgar returns to Selma. On September 10, he hires a permanent secretary, Gladys Davis who was then 18 years old. From that time on, she will be part of the family. Turning point in the readings: Arthur Lammers, from Dayton (Ohio), requests a reading on astrology. It mentions the concept of reincarnation. In November, Edgar and his family go to Dayton, invited by Lammers. He gives readings on philosophical, metaphysical and astrological topics.


In October, the stock market crash marks the onset of the Depression.


On September 22, Atlantic University opens its doors.


On February 26, the Association of National Investigators is dissolved and on the 28th, the Cayce hospital closes. On July 7, the Association for Research and Enlightenment, Inc. (A.R.E.) was incorporated. By the end of the year, Atlantic University stops its activities.


In June, Edgar Evans Cayce marries Kathryn Bane. On October 7, Charles Thomas born from Hugh Lynn and Sally. The readings indicate that he is the reincarnation of Thomas Jefferson Cayce, Edgar’s grandfather.


In March, Edgar Cayce’s biography, There is a River, by Thomas Sugrue, is published. On June 29, Edgar Evans Jr. born to Edgar Evans and Kathryn.


 On September 17, Cayce gives his last psychic reading, for himself.


On January 3, Edgar Cayce dies at the age of 67. On April 1, Gertrude Evans Cayce dies at the age of 65.