There are classic books you tell yourself you should read….sometime. You might even come across one in a bookstore and buy it to read…sometime. The Story of Edgar Cayce: There is a River by Thomas Sugrue is one such book for me. Finally, Edgar Cayce had popped up in so many of our Supernal Spiritual Development Circles, I decided I should break down and read the book.
I first learned about Edgar Cayce in the 1970’s through the work of Jess Stern. Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet played a major role in kicking off the New Age movement. Cayce lived from 1877-1945. Born in Kentucky, he was steeped in the farming and Protestant culture of his time. He became famous for giving amazing psychic health and life readings while asleep. He left behind over 14,000 documented readings covering treatments for almost every medical condition. Beyond that, he touched on such subjects as philosophy, metaphysics, reincarnation, history, and the future. The Association for Research and Enlightenment was formed in 1931 to explore the areas brought to light in the Cayce readings. The Association based in Virginia Beach is still following its mission:
The Mission of the A.R.E. is to help people transform their lives for the better, through research, education, and application of core concepts found in the Edgar Cayce readings and kindred materials that seek to manifest the love of God and all people and promote the purposefulness of life, the oneness of God, the spiritual nature of humankind, and the connection of body, mind, and spirit.
There are now multiple volumes about every aspect of Edgar Cayce’s life and work, but There is a River was the first. Thomas Sugrue was handpicked by the Edgar and Gertrude Cayce to tell their story. He first met Cayce in 1927. He knew the man, not the legend. There is a River is the product of personal interviews with Edgar and his family, who struggled with making a life while possessing an amazing, but often burdensome, gift.
Though the book is over 70 years old, it’s easy for the modern reader to get involved with the story and the characters. Sugrue was more storyteller than biographer and captures the emotions of his subjects. Edgar Cayce comes across as a humble, simple man of great Christian faith. When he first shows signs of his extraordinary gifts, he is bewildered and frightened. As a product of the South, he fears his abilities may be of the devil and constantly weighs actions as good or evil. The love story between Edgar and Gertrude Evans is sweet and compelling. She became his wife and helpmate in every way. She followed him to the grave only four months after his passing.
There were no grand triumphs during Cayce’s lifetime. The dream of opening a holistic hospital only lasted two years, thanks to the Great Depression. The small victories came in the mail—the thank you letters from people who benefitted from the Cayce readings. There is a River was first published in 1943 and ironically played a part in hastening Edgar’s death. Stuffed sacks of letters requesting readings induced him to sacrifice his health by stepping up the readings beyond his capacity.
Thanks to meticulous work of longtime secretary, Gladys Davis, and the devotion of the oldest son, Hugh Lynn Cayce, the readings lived on. The A.R.E. carries forward the work. Hopefully, Edgar and Gertrude on the other side are aware and well pleased that their lives of service are appreciated by those who have followed.