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  Columnist: William B Stoecker

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The false prophet of Virginia Beach

Posted on Monday, 8 March, 2010 | 12 comments
Columnist: William B Stoecker

Edgar Cayce, the so-called “sleeping prophet” of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has been elevated to cult status by the true believers. Books have been written about him, and his life and work are discussed, generally uncritically, on various television programs. But, whether he was a scam artist or a sincere believer in his own nonexistent abilities, there is no real proof that the “cures” he prescribed for the sick really worked. And as for his numerous prophecies, the years have come and gone and every last one of them has failed to come true.

Cayce was born on 3/18/1877 near Beverly, Kentucky, seven miles from Hopkinsville, where his family moved while he was still quite young. He made it through the eighth grade and no further; in fairness, it must be pointed out that this was not unusual in those days, and that many schools then had much higher academic standards than today. He worked for some time in a book store in Hopkinsville, and did a lot of reading, showing a particular interest in books about Atlantis and Lemuria, and works by and about the Theosophists and the Rosicrucians. This is almost certainly where he formed many of his beliefs about the occult and about ancient history and prehistory; there is no evidence that he was not sincere in his opinions.

He developed severe laryngitis, becoming virtually unable to speak; it may have been psychosomatic. A man named Al Layne hypnotized Cayce and cured his laryngitis; supposedly, it was Layne who suggested that Cayce be hypnotized repeatedly and, while in this state, prescribe treatments for the sick. Cayce’s wife and later his son replaced Layne in the role of hypnotist, and Cayce, while hypnotized, or “sleeping,” gave readings for many years and became quite popular. He received voluntary donations for this, and supported himself and his family. He mostly prescribed treatments and medications that today would be called “holistic.” There is no evidence that any of his alleged cures actually harmed anyone or caused their death or greater suffering by discouraging them from seeking conventional treatment when necessary. Nor, while he did make a living at this, is there any evidence that he became wealthy at the expense of his patients. Interestingly, he once prescribed almonds to prevent cancer, and bitter almonds (but not the kind generally sold today) contain laetrile, which many people believe can prevent or even cure cancer. So his medical advice may have had at least some value.

But his predictions, written in the fractured English of an uneducated man seemingly trying to impress people with his eloquence, failed again and again to come true, despite a vagueness rivaling that of Nostradamus.

In 1931 Cayce predicted that the Depression would begin to end in the spring of 1933…but that year turned out to be worse, with even more unemployment and poverty, which lingered for many more years. In January of 1934 he predicted that Hitler would rule Germany…but, in fact, Hitler had ruled Germany since 1933, so Cayce was predicting, not the future, but the past. In February, 1932 he predicted “A great catastrophe that’s coming to the world in ’36 in the form of the breaking up of the many powers that now exist as factors in the world affairs.” I am utterly unable to translate most of this into English, but the “catastrophe” part is clear enough, and there simply was no clear catastrophe that year. The Depression had begun some years before, as had Japanese aggression, Stalin’s mass murders, and Germany’s rearmament; all of these continued, and the real catastrophe did not begin until 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland, setting off World War II. But this prediction, though it failed, is almost readable compared to his statement in July, 1939 that the United States must continue to be “As it were…the balance of power in not only the money forces of the world but those influences that will later be for the manning of those powers whose greater destructive forces will arise in those portions of the world…” This is not even English; it is meaningless gobbledegook; his devoted followers could read into this any meaning they desired.

Cayce claimed that our Solar System orbited Arcturus and the Pleiades. Aside from the fact that we, along with all the stars in the galaxy, orbit the galactic center, Arcturus is a single massive star that is many, many light years from the young stars in the Pleiades cluster. He also said that scientists would rediscover an “Atlantean death ray” in 1958, but lasers, which have yet to be made into effective weapons (other than to measure ranges and illuminate targets) were not developed until 1960. Cayce predicted the Second Coming of Jesus in 1998. Where is He? If ever we needed a Messiah it is now, but there is no sign of one. Cayce’s followers say that Jesus was reincarnated that year, and is therefore (as of 2010) only a twelve year old boy. Maybe, but Cayce said nothing about reincarnation.

To give credit where very little credit is due, Cayce claimed that there was an ancient hall of records under the Sphinx at Giza in Egypt. As yet, no such records have been found (or, if they have, it is being kept secret). But seismic echo measurements some years ago detected a large underground chamber between the forepaws of the Sphinx, and even Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has admitted that there are secret passages leading into the Sphinx itself, although he claims that they lead nowhere (if so, why were they constructed?). In fact, over the last few years the truth has gradually leaked out…Giza is honeycombed with manmade tunnels and chambers, some of them containing artifacts (which Hawass claims date only to known Dynastic times). The tunnels, furthermore, connect with a natural cavern system of unknown extent; unfortunately, much of this underground realm is also underwater. But Cayce cannot really claim credit even for this; he was merely repeating the claims made by Theosophists and other occultists.

But it is his predictions for major Earth changes, seemingly calculated to excite people and achieve more notoriety, that are his most spectacular failures. These are akin to the wild claims of the self-styled “prophet” Gordon Michael Scallion, whose predictions of rising and falling continents for each coming year were breathlessly reported on television again and again, despite proving false again and again. In 1941 Cayce claimed that “in the next few years land will appear in the Atlantic as well as the Pacific.” Most people would define a “few years” as less than ten, and no new continents or islands appeared in either ocean, or anywhere else, by 1951. A volcano produced a small island off the coast of Iceland, but this did not begin until 1963. He predicted major Earth changes for the period between 1958 and 1998. Most of us would define major Earth changes as huge rises or falls in sea levels, an ice age, or rising and sinking continents. None of this happened. Cayce predicted a magnetic pole shift for 2000; the magnetic poles were slowly drifting about long before he made the prediction and have continued to do so since, but there has been no reversal and the poles have remained in the Arctic and Antarctic. This is hardly what most people would call a “shift.” His prediction that new land, portions of Atlantis, would appear in 1968 or 1969 off the East Coast of America is often seized upon by his followers as accurate; they cite the discovery in 1968 of the “Bimini Road” in the Bahamas, a structure that skeptics claim is a natural formation of beach rock but which, in fact, does resemble an ancient road or seawall. This may, indeed, be an Atlantean structure, but that is not what Cayce predicted…he claimed that land would rise up from the sea. And it didn’t.

Many, many decades ago Cayce claimed that “The Earth will be broken up in the western portion of America. The greater portion of Japan must go into the sea. The upper portion of Europe will be changed as in the twinkling of an eye.” He went on to predict that “Portions of the now east coast of New York, or New York City itself, will in the main disappear. This will be another generation, though, here, while the southern portions of Carolina, Georgia…these will disappear. This will be much sooner.” Well over two generations have passed since Cayce made these predictions, and not a one of them has come true. But I suspect that they were sensational enough to attract at least some attention to Cayce…and increase his donations.

About the best that can be said for Cayce is that the Association for Research and Enlightenment, A.R.E., which he founded in 1931, has at least helped to keep people interested in holistic health and in Mankind’s ancient past. Greg and Laura Little, associated with A.R.E., have explored ancient Mayan ruins in Yucatan and have dived repeatedly off the Bahamas, investigating the underwater, possibly artificial, structures there. People are free to disagree with their belief that the structures may be Atlantean, yet it must be admitted that they have collected a good deal of data. But the fact remains that Cayce, like many other sensationalist “prophets,” had not a clue about what would happen in the future. This should remind us all to balance our interest in the strange and the paranormal with a healthy dose of skepticism.

William B Stoecker

Article Copyright© William B Stoecker - reproduced with permission.

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