The Spiritual Practice of Welcoming the Stranger
by Dr. Pam Bro, Ph.D.
In these days of so much hostility to the "other," the stranger, the immigrant, LGBT people, etc., and in these days of incivility in much of our public life, I’m highly recommending we intentionally practice the spiritual dictum of "welcoming the stranger.” In my Judeo-Christian tradition, this is a commandment (Exodus 22:21): "Do not mistreat or oppress a stranger, for remember, you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt.”
I am currently a stranger in a strange land—strange to me that is: Utah. Its mountains are breathtaking in scope and beauty; the Alpine lakes beckon one to relax and restore one’s self. I know two people here—my daughter and her husband—and their hospitality couldn’t be more loving. I am so grateful. It’s a safe place to start slowly but surely to build the spiritual community I so deeply valued back in my old beloved home, Virginia Beach, Va.
It occurred to me recently that there are three times during the year when Americans open their doors willingly to strangers. One is Halloween, when we not only open our doors but we offer sweet treats as well! I’ve always preached that this should be a Holy Day for Christians, because opening our doors to neighbors and strangers alike, and especially children, should be a Christian trademark.
The second instance is garage sales and estate sales. Having just held an estate sale myself, as folks traipsed through my whole home, asking prices and making offers, some of us actually began to feel like a party was afoot! In fact, at one point I quipped, "Gee, I’ve met more neighbors here today than in the 10 years I’ve lived here. I should have held the estate sale when I first arrived!” Garage sales are usually friendly events, as well. I’ve been to several in Park City, Utah, and they have exhibited some of the old-fashioned small talk and bantering that I miss and still crave among neighbors.
Last, but not least, I recently attended a new church in this area. Though there were only about 30 older adults, and the pastor had asked newcomers to raise a hand to identify themselves (I did and was the only one), not one person came up after the service to welcome me. I was quite disappointed, and even a bit shocked. How I missed my beloved community, Living Waters Sanctuary, at that point! Whenever a stranger wandered into our midst, several members would immediately go up and introduce themselves and start a conversation with that person. What a wonderful practice, and we did it for 10 years, and it made God smile! For our Creator is the ultimate host, always inviting us to the table to sup with Him/Her in our hearts on Love and S/He invites us to do the same with our fellow humans.
So, friends, I know many of you are already practicing this "extravagant welcome" (a phrase coined by Rev. John Thomas, former president of the United Church of Christ). Let’s keep it up. Let’s teach our children how to do it. Let’s open our hearts and our doors whenever possible, so that the stranger—and the more diverse from us, the better—becomes an ally, and the ally becomes a friend. We have nothing to lose and a world of neighbors to gain.
Dr. Pam Bro is a former spiritual counselor for the A.R.E. Health Center & Spa, and founder and newly retired pastor of Living Waters Sanctuary in Virginia Beach, Va. A former Associate Pastor at Yale University, she is a dynamic motivational speaker and workshop leader. She holds her doctorate in theology and anthropology from the Chicago Theological Seminary, her Masters in Divinity from Union Seminary in NYC, and her Masters in Theatre from Schiller College, Berlin, Germany. She has enriched her field of spiritual counseling through her work with the Lakota Indians, Mindfulness Training with Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, and has more than 40 years of working with and lecturing on the Edgar Cayce readings. Her grandmother, Margueritte Bro, and her parents, Harmon and June Bro, knew Mr. Cayce in 1943. In April 2016, she received the Human Rights Award from the Human Rights Commission in Virginia Beach, Va. Open to many paths of spirituality, she draws upon diverse traditions and practices. She is the author of the book SoulQuest: A Trail Guide to Life. To learn more, visit PamBro.com.
Demonic Possession in the News,
What Did Cayce Say?
by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick
On July 1, 2016, I was surprised to find an article in the Washington Post on the topic of
demonic possession. What’s remarkable about this article, written by Dr. Richard Gallagher, is
that a major U.S. newspaper had the courage to print it. Editors didn’t dismiss his story as a
hoax, misunderstanding, or Hollywood hype; his first-person account of paranormal activity was
feature news. The ostensible reason is the author’s credentials. Dr. Gallagher is a board-certified
psychiatrist and a professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College and holds
degrees from Princeton, Yale, and Columbia. The credentials most relevant to readers, however,
are his deep-seated Catholicism and extracurricular work for the church, which is the stimulus
for the article’s provocative title: "As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot
Readers will note that many of Dr. Gallagher’s concepts support basic principles put forth in the
Edgar Cayce readings. Among them is the reality of spirit possession. As Cayce tells us in
reading 5753-1, "Discarnate entities… may influence the thought of an entity." Cayce goes
further in 5221-1, by identifying "discarnate entities" as the root cause of a woman’s physical
illness. At the onset of 638-1, given for an elderly patient suffering insanity, Cayce overtly
declares: "We have possession."
The challenge that Dr. Gallagher highlights is the difficulty differentiating possession from
mental illness. Cayce presents a broader range of options, and goes further by identifying causes
for conditions that can give rise to both mental illness and possession. For instance, Cayce
identifies spinal injury as the root cause for a loving husband who, seemingly possessed, starts
beating his wife and children (1513-1), and for an artist whose sudden and inexplicable self-
destructive behavior requires that she be tied to a hospital gurney (1789-1). Add stress-related
psychosis into the mix (3315-1), blood deficiency-inducing nightmares (4519-1), and cancer-
created delirium (1004-1), and proper assessment requires help from the Akashic records. The
problem is compounded because trauma and poor health lead to insanity, and insanity can lead to
possession. This is the message in 281-24, conducted for the "Glad Helpers" healing group.
The most striking difference between what Dr. Gallagher reports and what appears in the Cayce
readings may be the point of view. Using the standard protocols required by the Catholic Church,
only one individual profiled in the entire body of Cayce readings exhibits the severity of
behavior that might qualify for exorcism. He is the alcoholic husband of 1183, a man who
undergoes a chilling Jekyll and Hyde transformation when he becomes intoxicated and,
according to Cayce, a malevolent spirit takes control of his body.
Church doctrine presents other limitations on our understanding of the spirit world as well. For
instance, as the readings make clear, not all spirit communications are diabolic, and not all
discarnates have demonic motives. This is conveyed in 5756-13, in which departed loved ones
provide comfort to the living. Reading 5756-14 contains a message from a deceased father to his
daughter telling her that love knows no boundaries. Furthermore, possession may have a karmic
component that is not recognized by the church. In 436-2, for example, there’s a warning for an
elevator operator susceptible to the influence of a spirit identified as "Big Rock, Black Rock,"
with whom he had been entangled in a previous incarnation. Reading 693-3 chronicles the
haunting of a child who, as an adult two centuries earlier, persecuted witches in Salem.
Given the complexity of these cases and what psychiatrists (and priests, too) encounter in the
field, Dr. Gallagher should be applauded for giving voice to a subject dismissed by his medical
colleagues as mere superstition. But where the American Psychiatric Association maintains no
official opinion that might help possessed individuals, and Dr. Gallagher advises psychiatric
counsel and Vatican-certified exorcism, Cayce’s recommendations may prove to be the most
effective. His preventative advice includes massage and osteopathy, use of low-voltage
impedance devices such as the Radiac, positive and uplifting prayer and meditation, and in cases
featuring karma, forgiveness for oneself and others. By filling one’s mind with the holy, Cayce
says, there is no room for the demonic.
Radiac - Cayce Readings Remedy
One can take an even more proactive approach as described in a reading conducted for a woman
battling discarnates (422-1). Similar to a priest’s marching orders at an exorcism, Cayce instructs
her to demand that the intrusive spirits acknowledge the supremacy of Christ. Should the spirits
fail to comply, the woman must order their expulsion: "Get thee behind me," and "I will have no
part with thee," she is to proclaim. "Through His name only will I… ACCEPT direction."
Sidney D. Kirkpatrick, is author of Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet, which is widely considered the definitive biography of the seer from Virginia Beach. His most recent book, co-authored with this wife, Nancy Kirkpatrick, is published by A.R.E. Press, and titled, True Tales from the Cayce Archives: Lives Touched and Lessons Learned from the Sleeping Prophet..
Big News at Atlantic University
For the past 30 years, the Master of Arts (MA) in Transpersonal Studies has been the hallmark degree of Atlantic University. Founded upon Transpersonal Psychology, the MA in Transpersonal Studies has served as a method of delivering a master’s degree in a field related to the Edgar Cayce philosophy—a holistic approach to understanding the human experience with an emphasis on human transformation, self-expansive states, exceptional human experiences, and interconnectedness. This degree program has served many students and graduates, providing them with a launching pad for their pursuits of gaining knowledge and wisdom on the spiritual path with an outcome of producing something of value—many students used their gained knowledge and expertise to write books, enhance their careers or start new ones, or to synthesize their beliefs with their actions, living their path.
At Atlantic University, we have seen the tremendous benefits of this program on our students and graduates for it truly is a life-changing experience. At the same time, we have strived to properly express these benefits to the public at large. However, the MA in Transpersonal Studies has not provided as tangible of a degree outcome as other programs offer in more mainstream academic studies. With this in mind, we have changed the name of the degree program to a Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology, fulfilling the original intention of this tremendously valuable program while better articulating the degree itself and its outcome for our graduates.
Only minimal changes have been made to the curriculum since the courses already teach numerous elements of transpersonal psychology, although a brand new course will be offered starting in 2017, titled “Foundations of Transpersonal Psychology,” which will serve to educate students on the evolution of transpersonal psychology from humanistic psychology as well as to provide a solid overview of transpersonal psychology itself. We are very pleased to be offering this life-changing degree to the public and hope you will take some time to explore it for yourself.
NEW! Responsive Website Design
for EdgarCayce.org to
Launch in July
Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) was founded by Cayce in 1931 to help people transform their lives for the better by sharing important information offered through the Cayce readings and kindred materials. These past 85 years, we’ve continued to share this information with the world. And as the world’s method of communication continues to evolve and change, we have tried to keep up.
Just take a look at how you’re reading this article. It’s pretty safe to assume that you are on a cell phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. The Internet has provided us with access to an immense amount of knowledge, and it may be more important than ever before to ensure that the Edgar Cayce work is reaching mass audiences worldwide to promote our mission: to help people transform their lives for the better—in body, mind, and spirit.
In order to reach a growing number of mobile and tablet users, and to stay current with the web trends of today, we must have an online presence that is both inviting and easy to navigate.
This summer, we will be launching a new redesign of EdgarCayce.org. The fascinating articles, enlightening information, and vital content will remain—but this redesign will introduce changes to help users (experienced and new) to more easily find the information they are looking for.
We wanted to take this chance to share with you some of the biggest changes that we are most excited about:
- New Look and Feel: EdgarCayce.org is getting a major facelift. Our new website will be modern, clean, and inviting. We spent a great deal of time focusing on the details to make this website inviting to our current users, as well as new users who are just beginning to learn about the Edgar Cayce material. The font was chosen for its readability, and we even chose specific colors shown to evoke emotions of wisdom, happiness, wellness, and harmony.
- Responsive Design: Looking at our website analytics, we find that half of our website visitors are using smart phones and tablets (mobile devices) to access our content—and that number grows every single day. Our current website is difficult to navigate and read on mobile devices. Our new website design will automatically resize to fit whatever device is being used to access it. This type of design is called “responsive.”
- Explore Our Blog: Each week, we post informative blogs on a wide variety of topics. We have blogs with incredible content from years ago that we want you to be able to access. Now, you will be able to search our blog for topics and keywords that are important to you.
- Search Events: Our events section has received a complete overhaul in order to make it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for! You will be able to search just the events section for any term, or choose filtering options that include category (conferences, online courses, livestreams, Virginia Beach activities, and more), date ranges, speaker names, and locations.
- New Member-Only Section with Up-to-Date Readings Search: A.R.E. Members will have access to a new and improved Online Member-Only section. Read hundreds of articles from experts in various fields, watch hours of video content, and search all of the Edgar Cayce readings online. Not only will the Members-Only section have a new design and layout, but the online Edgar Cayce readings database is being revamped to be easier to search and more user-friendly. If you have not yet joined us to become a member, now is an excellent time to join to experience this dramatically improved membership benefit.
As you can see, we have many fantastic changes on the horizon for you to experience on our new website. As always, we thank you for your support and are excited for the next chapter in spreading the Edgar Cayce work worldwide. Our new website is currently scheduled to go live in late July!
Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. blog offers opinion pieces from contributors with a wide variety of backgrounds. These opinions are valued and create points of discussion. Opinions expressed in our blog may not necessarily represent the opinion of A.R.E.