An exhaustive biography of the legendary psychic (1877–1945), likely to entrance Cayce’s fans but try the patience of unbelievers.
Kirkpatrick (Lords of Sipan, 1992) received unprecedented access to the Cayce archives and conducted hundreds of interviews. The result is a thorough account of Cayce’s life, but not an objective one (since the author’s sympathies are clearly with the psychic). Biographical details are recounted in detail, from Cayce’s boyhood in Kentucky to his mundane early jobs to his sometimes-turbulent marriage. But most of the attention is given to his career as psychic healer, seer, and mystic. While in hypnotic trance, Cayce purportedly became the mouthpiece for an occult presence called the “Source,” which could diagnose illness, prescribe remedies (often involving unorthodox ingredients like tree bark), predict the future, discover hidden treasures, invent gadgets, offer career guidance, describe contemporary people’s past lives in ancient Egypt, supplement the Bible, map Atlantis, and discourse on “the design of the universe.” All this occurred in more than 14,000 documented sessions (called “readings”), choice samples of which are lovingly presented here. New Age devotees will probably find much of interest, although even they may find some portions ponderous: how much, after all, do we really need to know about Cayce the insurance salesman? The unconverted will be still more put off. At its best, Kirkpatrick’s account reads like magic realism, reporting wonders matter-of-factly and stirring in such famous visitors as Houdini and Edison; at its worst, it sounds annoyingly gullible, softening evidence that might count against Cayce, uncritically accepting Caycean versions of events, and making excuses for Cayce’s failures. His debacles as a psychic oil-driller, for example, are chalked up to not being “right with the Creative Forces.”
This biography of a man who was most active when unconscious will excite those who already find Cayce’s unconsciousness exciting—but it will probably leave others as mystified as before. (photos, not seen)