Edward Cayce: The Prophet

Most of us go to sleep at night, surrender to our dreams, and then wake up in the morning and get on with our lives. We may or may not mull over our dreams, or explore their symbolism, their tales. It's our choice. But for a grade-school dropout from Kentucky named Edgar Cayce, the dreams and visions that rose from sleep were his life.

Edgar Cayce (1877–1945) has been called the greatest seer of the twentieth century, yet he was never on television, never sought publicity, and never wrote a best-selling book. However, for many of his sixty-seven years, Edgar Cayce did extraordinary things in his sleep. He diagnosed illnesses with astonishing accuracy and recommended treatments. His methods were completely unorthodox for his time, but they have gained enormous support in the years since his death. With nothing more than an individual's name and geographic location, he could give a detailed description of the person's physical condition and then prescribe certain therapies, about which he claimed he knew nothing in his waking life.

Cayce also gave “life readings” to many of the people who consulted him for medical advice. These readings covered a vast range of topics, from spiritual matters to love and relationships to business, past lives, prophecies, and dreams. More than 14,000 of Cayce's readings are preserved at the Association for Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, and more than 1,000 of these deal with dreaming.

Cayce, like Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, believed that many dreams hold psychic content. Both men dreamed presciently of their own deaths. Both dreamed about the rise of Hitler and the beginning of World War II long before it happened. But even more importantly, both of these men—contemporaries separated by half a world and totally different views of life—believed that our dreams are our most personal sources of self-knowledge.

Edward Cayce truly believed in the power of our dreams and our psychic power in them, whether or not we are psychic in our waking life. “Any condition is first dreamed before it becomes reality,” Cayce claimed.

Cayce, like Jung, believed that dream symbols are highly individual, that each of us stamps common symbols according to our own perceptions and worldviews. Yet, through the readings that Cayce gave, common meanings emerged for certain symbols:

  • Animals: Man's negative and positive qualities (the wilder the animal, the more primitive the emotion)

  • Boat: Life's voyage

  • Fire: Cleansing, wrath, or destruction

  • Fish: Christ, spirituality, spiritual journey, or spiritual forces

  • Fishing: Man's search for higher consciousness

  • House: The body, the self

  • Mandala: The inner state of the dreamer, a thrust toward wholeness

  • Mud or tangled weeds: Need for cleansing, purification

  • Naked image: Exposure or vulnerability to the criticism of others

  • Snake: Wisdom, sex, or both

  • Water: The unconscious, the source of life, or a spiritual journey

Cayce believed that dreams fell under four general headings: problems with the physical body, self-observation, psychic perception, and spiritual guidance. Jung's breakdown was more complex, a reflection of his slant as a psychologist. However, there are striking similarities in their beliefs about dreams and what they mean.

Although the two men never discussed the meaning of dream symbols, they may very well have obtained their meanings from the same source. Cayce called it “the universal mind,” and Jung termed it “the collective unconscious.”

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