According to many, Edgar Cayce was one of the greatest clairvoyants of all time. Before his death at the age of 67 in 1945, the "Seer of Virginia Beach" went under self-induced hypnosis twice per day and gave more than 30,000 trance readings—9,000 of them medical diagnoses. In his lifetime, Cayce earned the gratitude of thousands of men, women, and children whose lives he had saved or improved through his diagnoses of illnesses that had escaped the examinations of highly trained medical personnel.
Always a controversial figure, Cayce was derided by cynics who asked how a man whose formal education had terminated with the ninth grade could become a greater healer than professional medical men with years of training behind them. His defenders were quick to point out that Edgar Cayce did not heal patients who sought his help, he merely diagnosed their ailments—often with a cooperating family physician standing at their side.
The skeptical German scholar Dr. Hugo Munsterberg investigated Cayce in 1910 with the announced intention of exposing him. Weeks later he left the seer to prepare an endorsement, rather than an expose, of Cayce's work. In 1929 Dr. William Moseley Brown, head of the psychology department at Washington and Lee University, declared, after an extensive investigation, that if ever there were such a thing as an authentic clairvoyant, that individual was Edgar Cayce. The authenticated cures attributed to Cayce's diagnoses number in the thousands.
Cayce's son, Hugh Lynn Cayce, once commented that his father had said that everyone was psychic, "but for many people manifestation of this ability can be very disturbing, upsetting, and in fact, it can even destroy the personality if it runs rampant in the person's life. This can be damaging if the individual does not use these abilities constructively. If he takes ego trips with it, or begins to fake it, the result can be destructive to the personality, particularly that of young children."
In 1931, the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) was chartered in the state of Virginia as a nonprofit organization to conduct scientific and psychical research based on the Cayce readings. In 1947, two years after his death, the Edgar Cayce Foundation was established. The original ARE has become the membership arm of the Cayce programs. The foundation is the custodian of the original Cayce readings, and the memorabilia of the great contemporary seer's life and career. Both are headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and there are more than 1,500 ARE study groups around the world.
The ARE maintains an extensive library of information concerning the entire field of psychical research and metaphysics, as well as the Cayce materials. It also sponsors regular seminars, publishes a journal, and established Atlantic University as an environment in which various psychic attributes can be examined and developed. Since the establishment of the ARE, thousands of people from every corner of the nation, as well as from around the world, have journeyed to Virginia Beach to attend lectures and conferences and to investigate the information in the Cayce readings. Among these have been Jess Stern, author of Edgar Cayce—The Sleeping Prophet (1967) and Thomas Sugrue, author of There Is a River (1942), both of which are important books about the life and work of Edgar Cayce.
Astonishing tales of clairvoyant feats such as the location of missing persons, objects, and criminals have filled many books by a number of authors. Equally intriguing are the "life readings" that the seer gave regarding the past incarnations of individuals. Others speak of the series of trances in which Cayce gave a detailed recreation of everyday life in ancient Atlantis, and spoke of the Great Crystal that powered their society. According to his clairvoyant insights, Cayce perceived a secret room in the Sphinx, a veritable Hall of Records that would reveal many remarkable facts about the evolution of humankind on Earth. He also put forward a number of prophecies about the future.
In the period 1958 to 1998, Cayce foresaw a number of dramatic geographic changes. He predicted a shifting of the poles, which would be caused by the eruption of volcanoes in the torrid zones. Open waters would appear north of Greenland, and new islands would rise in the Caribbean Sea. He also stated South America would be shaken by a violent earthquake. While these cataclysmic events have not yet occurred, many of Cayce's followers believe that there are definite signs that such geographic changes are in the process of manifesting.
Long before his death in 1945, Cayce appeared to envision the racial strife that lay ahead. "He [the African American] is thy brother!" Cayce said while in trance. "Those who caused or brought servitude to him without thought or purpose have created that which must be met within their own principles, within their own selves.…For He hath made of one blood the nations of the earth!…Raise not democracy above the brotherhood of man, the fatherhood of God."
As early as 1938, Cayce foresaw difficulty for Russia as long as its people were denied freedom of speech and the right to worship. Then, in a provocative vision, he declared, "…through Russia comes the hope of the world—not in respect to that which is sometimes termed Communism or Bolshevism—no! But freedom! That each man will live for his fellowman."
Hugh Lynn Cayce died on July 4, 1982, in Virginia Beach. Posthumously, a collection of his speeches concerning Edgar Cayce's teachings on Jesus and Christianity was published under the title The Jesus I Knew. Hugh Lynn's son Charles Thomas Cayce became the president of the ARE in 1976 after his father suffered a heart attack, and he still serves the organization in that position.