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Who Was Edgar Cayce?

A trance channel known for his prophecies and the information he channeled for individuals about treatments and cures for their illnesses, Edgar Cayce lived from 1877 to 1945. He earned the nickname “the sleeping prophet” because he gave his readings while in an unconscious trance state. Cayce considered himself a devout Christian who prayed, read the Bible, attended church and taught Sunday School. Although he lived prior to the New Age movement, his psychic readings concerned spiritual topics like reincarnation and past lives in addition to health-related issues. Subjects and terms discussed in his messages like meditation, soul mates and the Akashic records have become common terms today.

Early History

Born near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Cayce grew up on a farm with his five siblings and obtained a ninth-grade education. He worked on farms, sold insurance with his father at one point, and later became a photographer.

While working as a traveling insurance salesman in 1901, Cayce developed laryngitis. The severity of his throat problems rendered him unable to speak or work for over a year. A traveling hypnotist named Hart who was performing in the area heard of Cayce’s ailment and offered to try to assist him through hypnosis. Cayce regained the ability to speak while under hypnosis, but he lost his voice again upon awakening. Once Hart left town, a physician suggested that Cayce undergo additional hypnosis and have the hypnotist ask him to talk about his condition while in a trance state.

A local hypnotist named Al Layne volunteered to work with Cayce. When Layne put Cayce into a trance, he asked Cayce about his throat, and Cayce said it was psychological in origin and could be helped by an increase of blood flow to the pharynx. Layne then gave Cayce the hypnotic suggestion to increase the blood flow to his voice box, and Cayce regained the ability to speak. Although the laryngitis returned after the initial treatment, additional hypnotic sessions eventually resulted in a permanent cure.

Layne suffered from a stomach ailment his physicians couldn’t relieve. After Cayce's successful trance-induced revelations about his own laryngitis, Layne wanted to see if Cayce could obtain information about his problems. Cayce agreed to try and underwent hypnosis once more. While in a trance, he suggested treatments that proved effective and soon eased Layne’s symptoms. Layne encouraged Cayce to offer his services to others and continue obtaining information about illness and treatments for it while under hypnosis.

Although initially reluctant to do so, Cayce soon began offering trance healing sessions to people in the Hopkinsville area. He did so at no charge and with the understanding that, if his channelings didn't help people, he would discontinue them. His fame spread over time because his treatments did help people, and newspapers carried accounts of his clairvoyant abilities when hypnotized. People who read the articles about him began to write him for help, and Cayce received inquiries from people all across the globe seeking healing for their bodies and minds. With the help of his wife Gertrude, he would enter a self-induced trance and receive psychic impressions of the person who had written him. Gladys Davis, his secretary, used shorthand to record the words he spoke while in trance.

Cayce attributed the source of the information he received while under hypnosis to both the subconscious minds of those who sought his help and the Akashic record, an etheric database containing information about a soul’s journey through time and multiple incarnations in the past, present and future. In 1925, Cayce moved his family to Virginia Beach, Virginia. He formed the Association of Research and Enlightenment or A.R.E. there in 1931, and today this organization maintains transcripts of over 14,000 of his readings.

Health Readings

Edgar Cayce’s health-related readings recommended treatments that included castor oil packs, colonic irrigation, massage, osteopathic adjustments to the spine and dietary adjustments and exercise. His dietary recommendations included eating fish, fowl and lamb rather than red meat and avoiding fried foods and white bread. In addition, he recommended plenty of fruits and vegetables and advocated eating one meal a day consisting of raw vegetables. He warned against certain food combinations that may prove difficult for the body to digest like citrus juice and milk or coffee with sugar or milk. Treatments Cayce received while channeling healed his wife of tuberculosis and healed his son Hugh Lynn from an eye injury doctors thought had blinded the boy. Along with dietary recommendations, Cayce’s readings also advocated exercise and a positive mental outlook.

Life Readings

Many of Cayce’s readings offered information about the past lives of people who sought his help for their physical or psychological problems. The psychic called these readings life readings and gave over 1900 of them. Cayce also received insight about his own prior incarnations while in a trance state and said he had once lived in ancient Egypt. His readings suggested multiple ways for an individual to gain past life information including self-hypnosis, meditation and dream analysis. Listing one’s talents, likes and dislikes can also provide insight into past lives since they may have originated in a previous incarnation.


Some of Cayce’s readings predicted the future. He foretold World War I, the stock market crash of 1929, World War II and the possibility of a third global conflict, India’s independence from Great Britain and the establishment of the nation of Israel. He also predicted the existence of a ninth planet prior to the discovery of Pluto and the collapse of communism in Russia. In addition, his readings mentioned a Jewish sect called the Essenes and correctly identified the location of an Essene community that was found after his death with the discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls. The prophet even foretold his own demise, correctly stating on New Year’s Day in 1945 that he would be buried in four days. Some of Cayce’s as yet unfulfilled prophecies include major geographical changes to America’s east and west coasts due to earthquakes that he predicted would result from a pole shift.

Edgar Cayce gave readings while in a self-induced hypnotic trance for over four decades. The overall message of his readings concerned the oneness of life and all living beings. Today, through the A.R.E., Cayce’s readings are still available to offer hope, inspiration and spiritual guidance to thousands of people across the globe.

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