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The Amazing Legacy of Edgar Cayce

In The Legacy of 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 what, exactly, is the Legacy of Edgar Cayce?

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A Legacy of Edgar Cayce

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 the parents of six children. As a child, Cayce reportedly saw the ghost of his deceased grandfather. He was confident that it was a ghost, because it became transparent if he “looked hard enough.”

Cayce was brought to church at age 10, where he became engrossed in the Bible. Over the next two years, he read it from cover to cover a dozen times. In May 1889, while reading the Bible in his hut in the woods, Cayce said he encounteredh a woman with wings who told him that his prayers had been answered. The woman asked him what he wanted most of all.

Cayce told biographer Thomas Sugrue that he was frightened but told the woman that he wanted to help others, especially children. He eventually decided that he wanted to be a missionary.

Cayce said that the next night, after a complaint from his teacher (he said that he generally found it difficult to focus on his lessons), his father ruthlessly tested him on spelling and angrily knocked Cayce out of his chair. Cayce said that he heard the woman with wings tell him that if he went to sleep, “they” could help him. He put his head on his spelling book, and fell asleep; when his father returned to the room and woke him up, he knew all of the answers and could repeat anything in the book.

He said that his father thought he had been fooling him before, and knocked him out of his chair again. Cayce said that he then studied all his schoolbooks that way: by sleeping on them.

He said that by 1892, he had become the best student in his class. On questioning, Cayce told the teacher that he saw pictures of the pages in the books. His father, proud of this accomplishment, spread the news.

During a school ball game, Cayce was struck in his coccyx and began to act strangely. He said that he went to sleep one night, diagnosed his ailment and recommended a cure, all in his sleep. His family prepared the cure according to his instructions, and it worked. Cayce’s reported ability to diagnose in his sleep did not return for several years.

Cayce throughout all of his adult life identified himself as a devout Christian and sought Christian interpretations for many topics otherwise associated with the Theosophical current. This allowed other Christians, through the legacy of Edgar Cayce, to conceive of their religion as an inclusive spirituality that was not necessarily at odds with esoteric or Eastern traditions. In this way, the legacy of Edgar Cayce became an important conduit of popular Theosophical ideals of his time, reinterpreting these messages in subtle ways that allowed for a larger reception of the legacy of Edgar Cayce in the broader American public.

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