My Introduction to Edgar Cayce
By John Van Auken
I first read about Edgar Cayce when I was sixteen years old. My father, a naval officer, had been transferred to Virginia Beach, Virginia—home to the headquarters of the Edgar Cayce Foundation and the Association for Research and Enlightenment, founded by Edgar Cayce in 1931. The book was The Sleeping Prophet by Jess Stearn, a journalist and author of more than thirty books, nine of which were bestsellers. But it wasn’t until I got into college that I really began to study Cayce’s work. The professor of my writing class assigned us to write about a mystery, and since my mother had told me the mysterious story of Bridey Murphy, I thought that would be a good place to begin my research for this paper.
Bridey Murphy was the alleged name of a woman’s past life in the 1800s as an Irishwoman who died and reincarnated in the United States 59 years later. The book was The Search for Bridey Murphy by Morey Bernstein (published in 1952; it became a movie in 1956, starring Academy- Award winning actress Teresa Wright). It was the fascinating story of housewife Virginia Tighe (called Ruth Simmons in the book and movie), who, while under hypnosis, recalled (or virtually relived) her apparent past life as Bridey Murphy. Tighe’s hypnotic story (recorded on cassette tape) began in 1806, when Bridey was eight years old and living in or near Cork, Ireland. She was the daughter of Duncan Murphy, a barrister, and his wife Kathleen. At the age of 17, she married barrister Sean Brian McCarthy and moved to Belfast. Tighe told of a harsh fall season that caused Bridey’s death and of watching her own funeral. She described her tombstone and the state of being alive after her death—or more precisely, after her body’s death—in 1864. She said that she did not feel pain or sadness. Then, somehow, she was reborn in the Midwest of the U.S. in 1923. In this life, she had never been to Ireland and did not speak with even the slightest hint of an Irish accent—except when she was under hypnosis and “reliving” the Bridey incarnation! Then she spoke with an Irish brogue. In Bernstein’s book, he referred to Edgar Cayce and his remarkable abilities, explaining that he had investigated Cayce and could find no deception or trickery in his process. He thought that, as impossible as it may seem, the volumes of detail coming through Cayce on past lives couldn’t be anything but valid. Reading this, I decided to write my paper on the mystery of Edgar Cayce. Because it contained so many examples of Cayce’s readings on past lives and the karma that affected people’s present lives, I chose to use the best-selling book Many Mansions by Gina Cerminara. I got an “A” on my paper. But more than that, I developed an appetite for the Edgar Cayce information on past lives and karma.
Over the years, I read most every book about Edgar Cayce that there was. And though the initial “hook” that got me into the Cayce volumes was reincarnation and karma, it was the mystical, magical spirituality that filled his discourses that ultimately became my soul’s meat and potatoes. My soul and mind were being nourished by his spirituality. I could not get enough of his wisdom and stories, even though it was thick with King James biblical language and Christian terminology and concepts—things I had long ago deemed inadequate and often prejudiced, even racist and sexist, with a terrible history of violence. But Cayce’s perspective on Christian concepts was so open and so expansive, so beyond church dogma, doctrine, and historical acts, that I couldn’t get enough of it. His teachings included Buddhism and Hinduism. In fact, he taught that any faith that teaches the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humanity and the oneness of God was carrying the true message. In my twenties, this was exactly how I felt. His views found a receptive, responsive place within me. And the organization that built up around his work was open to all people from varying backgrounds and beliefs. They were “normal” people, not cultists, not living on the fringes of life, but quite a spread from our society. Now, after more than forty years of working with the Cayce material and concepts, and practicing them in my daily life, I have gathered together some of the key elements of his spirituality in this book. I’ve also added the wonders discovered by science—wonders of the outer life and outer reality, as well as wonders of the inner, unseen life and realms. And in writing this book, the material has reignited that flame of excitement that I had in my early twenties when I first encountered these ideas and their vast expansive vision into the purpose and meaning of life—of soul life. I truly would never have gotten to the awareness, vibration, and peace that I enjoy today, not to mention the quality of people I share my life with, without having studied and lived this material. I hope you find the light and inspiration that I found.
John Van Auken is a director at Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E., and is one of the organization’s most popular speakers, traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad to address audiences on the body-mind-spirit topics found in the Edgar Cayce readings. He is an acknowledged expert on the Cayce readings, the Bible, ancient prophecies, world religions, meditation, and ancient Egypt. John conducts seminars in the U.S. and abroad, and is a tour guide to the many sacred sites around the world. His latest book, Edgar Cayce on the Spiritual Forces Within You is now available for purchase at ARECatalog.com.