5 - California -
Cayce wasn’t the only one making predictions about California. The
scientists were making them, too, and they were as foreboding as
anything Cayce had gotten off. At California Institute of
Technology, famous for its Nobel prizewinners in science, Professor
Hugo Benioff pointed out that Los Angeles, and its wonderful new
high-rise buildings—a comparatively recent innovation—could be
devastated at any time by a severe quake.
His fellow Cal Tech professor, D.E. Hudson, an expert in the
mechanics of quakes, went him a little better, observing that
everyone of the seventeen million people in California was living on
or near a potential earthquake.
“More people are going to be killed
in the future than have been killed in the past,” Hudson predicted,
“and more buildings are going to be damaged and destroyed, simply
because the earth is filling up with people and their buildings. A
few years previously, the Good Friday earthquake in Alaska would
have done comparatively little damage and killed few people. There
was nothing there to damage and nobody there to be killed.”
The chief villain, of course, is the San Andreas fault, which runs
down most of California, coming into the continental shelf above San
Francisco. It has help, too, from the Hayward fault, recently
discovered to have a tributary under San Francisco College. The San
Andreas is lined with communities for hundreds of miles.
take an Alaskan quake to wreak havoc in thickly populated centers.
“Small quakes,” the Geologist pointed out, “could do considerably
more damage in areas with numbers of thinly constructed buildings.”
As an example of low-magnitude quakes which did a disproportionate
amount of damage, Hudson cited the Santa Barbara jolter of 1924, the
Long Beach quake of 1933, and the Tehachapi and Bakersfield quakes
of 1952, in Kern County. Actually, California has had only three
high-magnitude quakes since the land was taken over from the
Spaniards, one occurring in 1857, when the San Andreas fault was
ruptured for hundreds of miles, as far out as San Bernardine.
Another, in 1872, in Owens Valley, and the San Francisco quake in
1906, rupturing the fault for miles.
The quiescence is ominous
rather than heartening, as it indicates tension mounting in the
earth below since the last real ruptures, sixty years ago in central
California, and more than a hundred in Southern California.
certainly suggests,” Professor Hudson observed, “that something
exciting is being prepared at the lower end of the fault.”
The Geological Survey of the U.S. Department of the Interior
describes the San Andreas as the “master” fault in an intricate
network cutting through the rocks of California’s coastal region.
Besides the Hayward fault in west central California, several in the
southern area branch out from the main fault.
These are the Garlock
fault, the White Wolf, Elsinore, San Gabriel, San Jacinta, Death
“The San Andreas fault,” the Survey reported, “forms a
continuous break from northern California southward to Cajon Pass.
From Cajon Pass southeastward, the identity of the fault becomes
confused, because several branching faults such as the San Jacinto,
Mission Creek, and Banning faults have similar characteristics.
Nevertheless, the San Andreas type of faulting continues unabated
southward to and under the Gulf of Lower California.”
The Survey presents a vivid surface picture of the San Andreas:
“Over much of its length a linear trough reveals the presence of the
fault, and from an airplane the linear arrangement of the lakes,
bays, and valleys appears striking. Undoubtedly, however, many
people driving near Crystal Springs Reservoir, along Tomales Bay,
through Cajon or Tejon Passes, do not realize they are on the San
Andreas fault zone. On the ground, the fault zone can be recognized
by long straight escarpments, narrow ridges, and small undrained
ponds, formed by the settling of small blocks within the fault
The fault moves predictably.
“Essentially, blocks on opposite sides
of the San Andreas fault move horizontally, and if one were to stand
on one side of the fault and look across it, the block on the
opposite side would appear to be moved to the right Geologists refer
to this as a right-lateral strikeslip, or wrench fault. During the
1906 San Francisco earthquake, roads, fences, and rows of trees and
bushes that crossed the fault were offset several feet, and the road
across the head of Tomales Bay was offset twenty-one feet, the
maximum recorded. In each case the ground west of the fault moved
The Survey had no idea when the next quake would strike.
is every reason to believe that the fault will continue to be active
as it has been for millions of years. Another earthquake as strong
as that of 1906 could happen at any time.”
The Geologist had many times trudged along the fault, fascinated by
the ragged terrain—and its implications.
“The fault is traceable,
from its topographical expression alone, for 530 miles southeastward
from Point Arena north of San Francisco,” he observed.
this distance, it is marked by nearly straight valleys, generally at
the foot of equally straight mountain fronts. At many places the
valley that coincides with the fault has resulted from erosion along
a belt much broken up and weakened by multiple faulting. North of
San Francisco, this depression helps form Tomales Bay and Bolinas
Lagoon, which partly cuts off the Point Reyes peninsula from the
A number of faults that trend parallel to the San Andreas
cut through San Francisco proper, but the San Andreas itself cuts
the earth some five miles south of the city limits. A prominent
stream valley, varying one-quarter to three-quarter miles in width,
marks the fault where it parallels the west side of Route 35
[Skyline Drive]. About three miles south-west of San Bruno, [just
south of San Francisco], a stream in the great rift valley has been
dammed to form San Andreas lake. Up and down the rift valley, from
each end of the narrow, two-mile-long lake, one sees the
exploitation of once forest-clad slopes by land developers.
Here the trees are cleared and the steep slopes bulldozed into
perches for individual homes as well as small clusters of houses.
This activity continues, notwithstanding the fact that numerous
landslides took place during the 1906 quake, and its aftershocks a
week later, on hill slopes more stable than those being formed by
There already seems to be signs of increased activity.
“One of the
busiest seismic regions in California right now,” the Geologist
pointed out, “is Hollister, just at the end of the segment of the
fault torn by the 1906 quake. Who knows when the sleeping monster
will wake with a jolt?”
Cayce obviously knew of the San Andreas
fault, because he was already “reading” when the destruction of San
Francisco flared across the front pages, but he never explored,
subconsciously, the mechanics of the destruction that formed his
prediction some thirty-five years later, as he seldom asked for
trouble without being asked about it first by others.
Actually, one didn’t have to be a Cayce to see destructive quakes
where they had been before. It was more how, why, and when.
Constantly, inexorably—visibly almost in places—trouble is building
up along the San Andreas, deep in the core and mantle of the earth,
where scientists can only speculate about what is happening.
The fault itself is the best known earthquake source in the world. A
solid fracture in the earth’s surface, it is some two thousand miles
long and fifteen deep. On one side of the fault line, the crust is
moving north two inches a year, on the other south. Below, great
land blocks are jammed tightly together. There is no movement, no
relief of pressure, until suddenly, easing the strain, two enormous
land masses may slip off from each other with a rumble felt halfway
around the world.
Clearly seen in places from the highways, the
fault is a morbid curiosity for the people most closely affected.
“It is a case,” the Geologist observed, “of the small fish
hypnotized by the shark about to gobble him up.”
Because of its very
cohesiveness, the fault poses an added problem.
along its length, or even major rumbles short of rupture strength,”
the Geologist advised, “do not sufficiently ease the strain along
the entire fault. Eventually, accumulating tension must be released
by a tremendous jolt that will again break the fault wide open.”
Carefully, the Geologist considered the plausibility of Cayce’s
California forecast. He had lived there for years himself, studying
geology at a San Francisco Bay school, overlooking the San Andreas
area, and he was very much aware that certain farsighted geologists
had built themselves steel-reinforced homes against the day of
reckoning. Like so many other scientists, he felt that an enormous
earthquake could shake the land at any tune.
After college, he had moved out of California, not wanting to cope
with the uncertainty of living on a perennial “land mine,” even
before he knew of Cayce. Since then, he had studied the revealing
map issued in 1958 by Cal Tech seismologist Charles F. Richter,
giving a general picture of the earthquake intensities that might be
expected around the State on the basis of past shocks. Black shaded
areas showed quakes of maximum intensity.
The fault line cut from
above San Francisco down the Western part of the State, branching
out near Los Angeles past San Bernardine, but continuing to El
Centro at the Mexican border.
A whole plethora of cities, besides Los Angeles and San Francisco,
were perched on or near the active fault lines in the Richter map:
Berkeley and Oakland, San Mateo, Palo Alto, San Jose, Santa Clara,
Salinas, Santa Cruz, Pasadena, Palm Springs, Indio, Riverside. There
were plenty of people and buildings within the high magnitude quake
zone now, where there had been little or nothing a century before.
The Geologist, for all of his scientific detachment, could not look
upon the prospect serenely.
“At any time, activity along these
faults, in response to movements beneath the earth’s crust, could
prove disastrous to many people.”
Cayce had mentioned inundation by
earthquakes, and tsunamis, sea waves generated by submarine quakes,
had in the past wrecked whole cities.
Some had occurred recently, in
Chile, America’s southern hemisphere, where Cayce had foretold
eventual breakups greater than anything to the north.
that developed in response to the Chilean earthquakes of May 1960
had great destructive power,” the Geologist observed. “At the height
of this tidal wave, a 11,000-ton cargo vessel actually floated over
the town of Corral before being carried back to sea again.”
there were warnings about the shaky ground in Alaska, before the
great quake, there have been similar warnings about dangerous land
foundations elsewhere—around Boston, in the Puget Sound area of
Washington State, but California remains the critical area.
“Wherever possible,” the Geologist recalled, “my professors built
houses on solid rock.”
However, big developments, braving the
future, were rising on all sides of the faults in the Bay area, with
the knowledge of almost everybody concerned, including the
First glimmerings of the Californians’ ostrich-headed attitude
toward their earthquake potential came to him as he prepared a
college term paper on the effects of the great San Francisco quake.
“I clearly remember that the bulky reports written a few years after
the quake had documented the problem of shaky soils and faults in
the San Francisco area. And yet as I branched out, I found that a
smart residential district just below San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill
had been built on filled land liable to slide away with the next
major quake. Other housing developments were mushrooming on
shoreline landfills, bulldozed hillsides, and other unstable areas,
posing great dangers for the future.”
This was in the mid-1950s, in
a State with the strictest building codes. But under the pressures
of a statewide population explosion and resulting real estate boom,
apparently overlooked were the original reasons for the stringent
code. But the Geologist had another and greater shock waiting. A
decade or so later, now a full-fledged geology professor, he
returned to California for a series of scientific meetings.
flabbergasted by what now confronted him.
“In the face of a bigger
and better building boom, ordinary prudence seemed to have been
tossed away. There was a wholesale disregard of the most elementary
On the San Andreas fault zone, a few miles
southwest of San Francisco, a real estate developer had brought in
heavy equipment and filled in part of the valley that marks the
course of the fault,
“There he had built a large subdivision centered
essentially over the great rift This subdivision could very well be
demolished the next tune the San Andreas breaks.”
As he viewed the
thousands of houses built around the giant fault, the Geologist
recalled how Cayce had attributed Atlantis’ downfall to a flouting
or perversion of the orderly processes of Nature, with a consequent
decline in morality.
“Having been exposed to Cayce’s readings,” he
said, “I thought of the greed and ignorance at work in California,
and how this seemed to mirror reputed conditions in the last days of
Wherever he turned, he encountered the same frivolous
contempt and disregard of nature. Just across San Francisco Bay and
to the east, construction was fanning out from the clearly outlined
Hayward fault—an ominous zone of rocks slowly shearing past one
another near the hills bordering the east side of San Francisco Bay.
There was ample cause for alarm.
“The fault zone, varying in width
from five hundred to ten thousand feet, can actually be traced by
the creeping damage it is doing to houses, railroads, and pipes,”
the Geologist pointed out.
“In 1966, a U.S. Geological Survey
reported the cracking of a culvert pipe under the University of
California stadium, cracks in the Claremont water tunnel in
Berkeley, and in Fremont, the shifting of railroad tracks, and the
splitting of concrete warehouse walls.”
The Geologist considered the
Bay area more than ready.
“If Cayce was right in saying that gradual
changes will be accelerated after 1958, then such an area will be a
prime subject of acceleration. The San Francisco Bay area, with San
Andreas on the west and Hayward on the east is now at ‘ground
The southern California problem was equally serious, complicated as
it was by constant withdrawal of great underground reservoirs of
oil, directly resulting in noticeable subsidence of the ground
surface and some earth faulting. It seemed incredible that oil
operations would be allowed to continue in areas where they might
induce destructive quakes.
The Geologist smiled rather grimly.
the 1930s, quakes were generated in the Long Beach area after
billions of barrels of oil had been pumped out, and they’re still
“Indicating the delicate balance in fault areas, a
series of quakes were recently triggered in Colorado, when wastes
were forced down a deep well at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, near
Penetrating into a deep-lying fracture zone, the waste
waters lubricated the faults enough to release tension and touch off
Recent quakes in the Long Beach district have been minor and
shallow, occurring as the ground mass subsided after oil withdrawals
from the Terminal Island area had created empty earth pockets.
“These tremors are continuing,” the Geologist stressed, “and have
sheared off oil wells from time to time, though very little is said
He laughed rather mirthlessly.
“In December of 1963, the dam holding
back millions of gallons of water in the Baldwin Hills reservoir
cracked, sending a disastrous torrent over houses and roads located
down valley. This was caused by a movement along a fault that passed
under the reservoir and dam. The movement along the fault, in turn,
was caused by a dramatic sinking of the land surface in the nearby
Baldwin Hills oil field.”
To the north, around Bakersfield, subsidence due to oil withdrawals
has caused gradual slippage along a fault in the Buena Vista hills,
east of Taft.
“Late in 1949,” the Geologist said, “a crack in the
ground surface two miles long developed about fourteen miles north
of Bakersfield. Apparently, however, there has been no directly
In California, as in other earthquake zones, inhabitants have as
much to fear from the shallow aftershocks of a major earthquake, as
from the original shock itself.
“For example, a local aftershock of
the 1952 Kern County earthquake, distributed over a far wider range,
caused far more damage in the city of Bakersfield, twenty-four miles
away, than did the main shock one month before.”
Since faults don’t
go away, earthquakes have a habit of coming back. The Owens Valley
quake, eighty-five miles east of Fresno, is generally considered the
biggest quake in California history. More recent big shakes were the
disastrous Long Beach quake of 1933, the Imperial Valley quake in
1940, the 1952 Kern County shaker, also known as the
In light of this history, it would be interesting to know what had
been done to minimize future quakes. The Geologist smiled thinly.
“There have been some efforts to zone building areas off from faults
and decree certain types of reinforced housing, but not enough.
There are also plans to study the way quakes strike, and try to
anticipate them. But it’s a lot like trying to catch the wind.”
There had been an Earthquake Hazards Conference in San Francisco, in
1964, and he considered it a step in the right direction, but wasn’t
sure how much good had come out of it. At the conference, addressing
some three hundred geologists, geophysicists, and engineers, Hugo
Fisher, of the Resources Agency of California, stressed that while
nobody knew when the next quake would come, they felt it would be
capable of great damage to life and property.
Cal Tech’s Clarence Allen commented wryly on the building boom,
too many people are buying and living in houses on soil conditions
where most geologists would never raise their own families.”
few recommendations about regulating construction came out of the
“With nearly everyone in the Golden State working and
making good money,” a California colleague of the Geologist’s
observed sardonically, “who would be so bold as to put limitations
on the boom?”
The Geologist saw some bright spots.
“Los Angeles had
sufficient vision to pass a city ordinance in 1964 requiring all
major new buildings to install strong-motion seismographs to study
the movement of buildings under tremors and to gather data for
improving future design. However, much remains to be done about the
building of earthquake proof structures, beyond providing the
lateral bracing and reinforced walls prescribed in most quake areas.
Buildings should not be built too close together, if architects want
to minimize the risk of horizontal damage, as was apparent in the
He brooded for a moment.
“Not all damage can be
avoided, whatever you do. It can be minimized by not crowding into
obvious danger zones, protecting against the kind of building
collapse that would cause death or injuries.”
A faraway look came
into his eyes.
“You know, if Cayce was right, Los Angeles should
have plenty of data for its strong-motion seismographs. It should be
an interesting study.”
Cayce seemed to understand earthquakes. Asked about their causes,
back in 1936, he replied somewhat like a Greek oracle:
of these, of course, are movement within the earth, and the cosmic
activity of other planetary forces and stars. Their relationships
produce or bring about the activities of the elementals of the
earth—the Earth, the Air, the Fire, the Water—and those combinations
make for the replacements in the various activities.”
was rather impressed by this summation, as he had recently come to
suspect that just as the moon affected the tides and man, other
planets did influence changes in the earth.
“What Cayce had said was
precisely right: the interplay of rocks, gases, heat, and fluid,
influenced by gravitational and magnetic forces in the solar system
result in subterranean movements that in turn produce earthquakes.”
Quakes, the Geologist stressed, keep recurring where the earth’s
crust is weakest.
“In this geological age, the crust is weakest
around the margins of the Pacific Ocean, the great half-circle from
New Zealand in the southwest to Cape Horn in the southeast,
extending north to Japan and Alaska. In the great area enclosed by
this Ring of Fire, in the deepest ocean trenches, the water is
forced deep into the crust through earthquake faults, into regions
of intense subsurface heat, leading to eruptions.”
This was the
earthquake belt and it included California.
occurring in this zone account for eighty percent of the earthquake
energy released throughout the world, and the area is full of deep
fractures indicating giant upheavals in the past. There were three
known major fractures of the ocean floor between Hawaii and the
Aleutians—the Molokai, Murray, and Mendocino—and now they have
turned up an eight hundred mile crack to the north, fifteen miles
wide in places, so new that it hasn’t been named yet.”
These giant troughs may have been formed in massive undersea
upheavals that displaced great land masses.
“According to Cayce,”
the Geologist observed, “there was once a large continent in the
South Pacific called Lemuria. This supposedly sank beneath the sea
as the earth’s north pole turned to its present position [from one
in South Africa]. As Cayce described it, one side of Lemuria had
included part of the Andes and the west coast of South America. The
crust broke along the length of what is now the Chile-Peru trench
and the scar along this coast of South America is still active.
Earthquakes in this trench periodically set off giant tidal waves
and volcanic eruptions, and quakes from Ecuador to the southern tip
of South America regularly wreak havoc on the inhabitants.”
The Geologist shrugged.
“It could very easily be identified with the
South Pacific rise.”
Quakes were one of the hard facts of life.
There were a million a year, one hundred thousand strong enough to
be felt by humans, and perhaps a hundred powerful enough to damage
“Actually,” the Geologist noted, “there are only about a
dozen quakes of any magnitude each year. But of course we notice
them more now, since our communities are spreading out over once
barren land. If the Alaskan or Chilean quakes—both stronger than the
San Francisco jolts—had occurred in the San Francisco or Los Angeles
areas instead, Cayce’s prediction of a California holocaust might
already have come true.”
The Alaskan quake had shaken a land area of five hundred thousand
square miles. A report by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey
presented an eye-opening picture of raw nature at work.
as distant as Illinois, New Jersey, and Florida,” a review of the
report noted, “water-well levels precipitously dropped two to ten
feet. In the main shock area, centered about seventy-five miles east
of Anchorage, a four-hundred mile long subterranean rock formation
extending down the coastline and out to the southern tip of Kodiak
Island was rent asunder. On one side of this enormous fracture, the
land—including part of a mountain range—dropped as much as eight to
ten feet; on the other side, the coast—and one off-shore island—rose
as much as thirty to fifty feet. Later measurements showed that the
fracture had permanently displaced the earth’s crust as far west as
These were the most dramatic far-reaching effects,
revealing not only the magnitude of the quake but the cohesion off
The Geologist was intrigued with the report.
“Now just look,
briefly, at what the quake did locally in a veritable wilderness,
and translate this in terms of a similar tremblor hitting the heart
of Los Angeles or San Francisco. In the main shock area, huge
avalanches, landslides, crevasses, and mud spouts knocked out all
utilities, roads, transportation, and communication.
thirty-foot seismic sea wave or tsunami, generated by the main
shock, and many shorter-range but taller waves, dashed upon the
coast, wiping out Alaska’s fishing and canning industry, and
spreading havoc as far south as California. Small coastal towns,
such as Chenega and Valdez, all but disappeared. Seward lost its
entire waterfront, and Anchorage sustained the greatest amount of
total damage to schools, offices and homes.
There, two small boys
playing in their yard, suddenly disappeared down a yawning crevasse.
In one night of primordial terror some 115 lives were lost and over
$350,000,000 in damage was sustained.”
All it had taken was two or three minutes.
Obviously, the impact on any great metropolitan center could be
“Yes,” the Geologist agreed, “it certainly would be bad
for business, particularly the real estate business.”
familiar with history’s deadliest quakes, and didn’t feel any were
greater, seismically, than the Chilean or Alaskan quake—or the one
now potentially building up somewhere. Casualties in the past had
“Over 140,000 people perished in the Tokyo and
Yokohama quakes in 1923. In Lisbon, in 1755, 60,000; in Martinique,
Cayce’s Pelee, some 40,000 died in 1902.” The greater the population
center, the greater the risk of life. “The worst quake ever shook
China way back in 1556, killing some 830,000 people.”
It was difficult to see how they could have counted the bodies in
such a disaster. The Geologist observed with scientific detachment,
“Well, they knew what they had in their towns, and when the towns
were wiped out, I suppose they just added the losses up from the
There were areas in the United States that on their
record appeared safe from tremors—Louisiana, Michigan, and
Minnesota. But one of the country’s great quakes had once rocked
relatively secure Missouri, near New Madrid, with repercussions as
far north as Canada and to the Gulf Coast to the south. Four hundred
miles away in Cincinnati, chimneys were toppled from rooftops.
However, the Geologist’s major concern was California, not only
because of Cayce and the giant fault, but the extension of a
restless crest of the East Pacific rise under the West Coast,
Gulf of California, cut from Lower California,” he said, “is a
notable example of previous breaking up of the western continent The
northward extension of the axis of the Gulf is marked by a line of
geologically youthful, but presently extinct volcanic craters,
indicating subterranean activity all along this route at one time.”
In a recent work of the distinguished European geologist,
R. W. Van Bemmelen, the Geologist saw striking confirmation of Cayce’s
portrait of the earth in change.
“Van Bemmelen saw one section of an
enormous current in the lower mantle of the earth rising beneath the
North Atlantic bashi, from the equator to Iceland. A slight upward
push in the vicinity of the Bahamas and the Azores, in accordance
with the Van Bemmelen concept, would produce thousands of miles of
new land. Because of these currents, Van Bemmelen says that the
North America mass is drifting westward, causing huge faults and
trenches, and an inevitable crumpling of the earth’s crust in
western North America, against the South Pacific rise which extends
below the west coast” Van Bemmelen and Cayce appeared to share a
basic view, the Geologist felt.
“Now, if as Cayce says, these
upheavals in the earth’s interior are accelerated, beginning in
1936, then we can expect renewed uplift in the North Atlantic bashi
[Atlantis rising], breakups in western North America, and more
downdropping of the blocks of the earth’s crust along the U.S. East
Coast, from New England down to the Carolinas and Georgia. So
actually Van Bemmelen and Cayce are very close, only Cayce speeds
everything up and gives us the source of all of the energy for the
‘commotion in the ocean’—the axis tilt”
Once asked the extent of the
1936 change, Cayce had replied,
“The war, the upheavals in the
interior of the earth, and the shifting of same by the
differentiation in the axis as respecting the positions from the
As he indicated many times, the changes would be
world-wide, and might awaken people to the universality of the
“Ye say that these are of the sea. Yes, for there will be a
breaking up, until the tune when there are people in every land who
will say this or that shows the hand of divine interference—or that
nature is taking a hand—or that this or that is the natural
consequence of good judgments. In all of these times, let each
declare whom ye will serve: a nation, a man, state, or thy God.”
As he saw illness and infirmity from inside the human body, so did
the X-ray eye of Cayce apparently perceive the changing earth clear
through its 1800-mile mantle to the deep inner core. What he saw
might not show on the surface for many years, just as disease builds
up inside an organism for a period before it manifests itself
In this connection, there was an interesting Cayce
colloquy in 1932, dealing with predicted changes in Alabama’s
“Are there to be physical changes in the earth’s surface in
Alabama?” an interested southerner inquired of Cayce.
“Not for some period yet,” the mystic replied.
“When will the changes begin?”
“Thirty-six to thirty-eight.”
“What part of the state will be affected?”
“The northwestern part and the extreme southwestern part.”
“Are the changes to be gradual or sudden?”
“What form will they take?”
Cayce, after dealing with his favorite theme of man’s behavior
reflecting itself in his environment, foresaw that parts of Alabama
would sink under water.
“As understood, or should be, by the
entity,” he said, “there are those conditions that in the activity
of individuals, in line of thought and endeavor, often keep many a
city and many a land intact, through their application of the
spiritual laws in their association with individuals.”
apparently Alabama wasn’t thinking right.
“This will take more of
the form here in the change, as we find, through the sinking of
portions, with the following-up of the inundations by this
Two years later, in 1934, he made his sweeping forecast of earth
changes, including the breakups in western U.S., and the sliding of
most of Japan into the sea. Already, as the Geologist saw it, there
has been a blow forming for Japan. As a prelude to a perhaps bigger
show, the town of Matsushiro, some 125 miles north of Tokyo, has
been shaken, beginning in 1965, by more man five hundred tremors a
day. Most of the jolts have been minor, hardly felt, but one day, in
the spring of 1966, as the quakes accelerated, local earthquake
headquarters received one hundred reports of damage.
One shock tore
a 130-foot gap in a street, pushed over a bulldozer, cut power lines
and water mains; others altered the habits of an apprehensive
populace. Instead of living in buildings that might crash down on
them, many in the community of 22,000 people took to spending their
nights in tents, and wearing protective helmets.
More recently, the
affected area appears to have spread to the neighboring city of
Nagano, population 170,000. But fortunately, none of the tremors—so
far—have been of any magnitude. Japanese authorities at first
attributed the quake town’s “rock around the clock” to underground
volcanic activity, but later ascribed the tremors to a distortion
inside the earth, apparently coinciding with Cayce’s shifting axis.
At best, the Geologist saw Japan sitting on a rather flimsy
foundation, especially vulnerable to the deep quakes which have been
recurring more regularly of late. The highly concentrated population
was no help.
“The four main islands—Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and
Kyushu—together with numerous smaller islands are so aligned as to
form a slightly bent arc off the eastern fringe of the Asiatic
continent,” the Geologist pointed out.
“Relatively high mountains
are located in the center of the islands, with narrow coastal plains
supporting the swarming millions. The Japanese economy has leaned
heavily on agriculture and fisheries, which require great
reclamations of land around the bays and estuaries, all shaky. If
Japan were severely shaken by a series of great tremors, many of the
reclaimed areas would conceivably slide into the sea. As it is,
Japan is disaster-ridden, plagued by the typhoons of the western
Pacific, and by seismic sea waves generated off Chile, Alaska or
Japan itself. The land seems to be constantly shifting.
tremor destroyed much of Yokohama and Tokyo, soundings in Sagani Bay
before and after the quake showed depth changes of a thousand feet
due to submarine landslides. Vast blocks of the earth’s crust moved
downward twenty feet and laterally thirteen feet Along a ninety-mile
stretch of the northeast coast of Honshu, the crust is sinking; if
it speeds up devastating earthquakes will then occur, with
cataclysmic tsunamis, as Japan reacts to the wobbling of the earth
from the continuing shift of its axis.”
And so there would be great earthquakes, as before, in the South
Pacific, South America, California, and Japan. Yet it seemed hardly
likely that the same agency of destruction— could affect “New York,
Connecticut and the like.”
To New Yorkers, Cayce’s quakes seemed rather remote.
“Too bad,” my
editor commented calmly, “that Cayce didn’t say how all these places
would be destroyed. Of course, I can visualize California, a series
of earthquakes and then the tidal waves.”
He looked up with a
“But what could happen to New York City—Manhattan, as
He shook his head doubtfully. I agreed.
would certainly knock out more than Manhattan—Staten Island, New
Jersey, Bronx, and Brooklyn, too.”
With the problem undisposed, I hurried off to an appointment with a
retired executive of New York’s giant utility, Consolidated Edison,
to learn about the recent power blackout Engineer David Williams,
Con Ed’s authority on underground power cables, while explaining the
great Northeast power blackout of November 9, 1965, had a lively
interest in the earth-shaking prophecies of Edgar Cayce.
“Maybe Cayce had something,” Williams said, looking over at me
quizzically. “You know, of course, about the Fourteenth Street
“If you’re talking about Manhattan,” I said, “I thought it was
planted solidly on bedrock, making all those great skyscrapers
He rejoined matter-of-factly,
“In the event of a major earthquake in
this area, all of Manhattan from Fourteenth Street south could very
easily drop into the bay.”
In many years as a reporter, I had never heard a whisper of such a
fault, though I had known vaguely of an earth fracture passing under
the East River, parallel to the island of Manhattan. But it was no
wonder, for the Fourteenth Street fault was a closely kept secret.
It was re-discovered, quite inadvertently, in 1962 when Con Ed
planned to build the world’s largest generating plant next to its
existing facilities in Manhattan, at Fourteenth Street and the East
River. To test the foundation strength, heavy drills explored the
ground below for some two hundred feet until they hit apparent
bedrock. Bids were then taken for the steel pilings that would have
to be driven into the ground before construction could begin.
Some engineers, remembering the fault under the river, suggested
drilling as a further safeguard with still heavier equipment. The
result was startling.
“At two hundred feet or so,” Williams
recalled, “the heavy drills plunged through into a vast underground
chasm. It ran diagonally from Fourteenth Street northwest branching
out from the river, until Fifteenth or Sixteenth Streets, where Con
Ed’s property lines ended.”
The fault, of course, kept going.
Very quietly, plans to build the huge generator at Fourteenth Street
were abandoned. Instead, it was put up across the river on Long
Island and the company made a playground out of the original site,
as a goodwill gesture toward its customers, the people of the city
of New York.
“The articulate adversaries of air pollution, who had
opposed the project from the beginning,” Williams noted dryly, “felt
they had scored a memorable victory.”
In a way, perhaps they had.
As usual, where it concerned quakes, the Geologist had the last
word. He brought out a map, in a volume titled Geomorphology by
Professor A. K. Lobeck of Columbia, which established that the
Fourteenth Street fault was really old-hat, and merely cut into
Manhattan at Fourteenth, crossing over from the Brooklyn Navy Yard
under the East River, and slanting northwesterly under the island to
the Hudson River at about Eighty-sixth Street.
There were other
faults in the northern end of the island.
Professor Lobeck reported, “is followed by the western end of the
Harlem River. The second one determines the Dyckman Street valley. A
third one is at One Hundred and Twentyfifth Street, where it causes
the Manhattan Ville depression over which the subway and Riverside
Drive are carried on viaducts.”
New York City had something to think
Back to Contents
Back to Tsunamis and Earthquakes
6 - World Prophecies
In addition to all the destruction he saw, Cayce also saw the
passage of world events. He saw wars and peace, depressions, racial
strife, labor wars, even the Great Society, which he saw doomed to
failure. He saw things for individuals, as well as for nations,
predicting that they would marry, divorce, have children, become
lawyers, doctors, architects, sailors, and marines.
Most of his
prophetic impressions came during his sleep-readings, but he was
spontaneously psychic in his waking state, and fled from a room full
of young people once because he saw instantly that all would go to
war, and three would not come back.
His batting average on predictions was incredibly high, close to one
hundred percent. He may have missed once or twice, on Hitler’s
motivations, which he thought essentially good in the beginning, or
on the eventual democratization of China, but so much of what he
said has come so miraculously true, that even here there are some
who give him the benefit of the doubt—and time.
He not only foresaw
the two World Wars, but picked out the years they would start and
end. He saw not only the great worldwide Depression of 1929,
outlining the stock market crash with uncanny detail, but forecast
when that Depression would begin to lift, in 1933. One of his most
celebrated predictions, yet to be realized, concerns Soviet Russia.
It was almost one of his last major predictions, made a few months
before his death.
He not only saw the end of Communism in Russia,
but saw that country emerging as the hope of the world:
Russia comes the hope of the world. Not in respect to what is
sometimes termed Communism or Bolshevism. No. But freedom, freedom!
That each man will live for his fellow man. The principle has been
born there. It will take years for it to be crystallized. Yet out of
Russia comes again the hope of the world.”
As many have begun to
suggest plausibly, in view of the growing peril to the West from
China, he saw Russia eventually merging in friendship with the
“By what will it [Russia] be guided? By friendship
with that nation which hath even placed on its monetary unit In God
Cayce was perhaps the first to visualize the approaching
racial strife in the land, sounding his original warning back in the
1920s. He also predicted, in 1939, the deaths of two Presidents in
office, tying these deaths in, time-wise, with an additional
prediction of racial and labor strife and mob rioting. It certainly
had all come to pass between the time Franklin D. Roosevelt died in
April 1945 and John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963.
Riots in Little Rock, Birmingham, Chicago, New York, had shown only
too well how right Cayce was.
And his prophecies, which live in the
files of the A. R. E., where they can be checked and rechecked,
carry a foreboding picture of the days ahead:
“Then shall thy own land see the blood flow, as in those periods
when brother fought against brother.”
Cayce was not a prophet in the
conventional sense. He didn’t enjoy making predictions, or drawing
attention to himself. Often he restrained himself from telling
people what he saw, as he did not want to influence their free
choice. In the choices that the individual made for himself, Cayce
recognized his opportunity for growth, even though the result might
be destined. Perhaps because gain was not a clear motivation, Cayce
was never good at making money for himself. But he did make fortunes
for others out of fiscal predictions, and even after his death,
people have been making thousands anticipating the real-estate boom
he foresaw for the Norfolk-Newport News area.
Those honoring the prophet in his home town, were able to make money
with him twice again, beginning forty years ago when he predicted
that property values in Virginia Beach would move north, and in
1966, when he said this trend would end, and the south beach build
up, as was happening before my eyes.
Some who made money with Cayce lost it when they stopped following
him. Some six months before the 1929 crash, Cayce warned Wall Street
friends to sell every share of stock they owned. But they had been
doing so well for so long on a rising market, they attributed some
of the success to their own judgment. They wouldn’t listen, and went
Other predictions only appeared clear in retrospect. In 1925, in a
life reading, Cayce said of a young man,
“In the present sphere
[life], he will have a great amount of moneys to care for. In the
adverse forces that will come then in 1929, care should be taken
lest this money, without the more discretion in small things, be
taken from the entity.”
Just as he forecast the Depression, so in 1931 did Cayce see the
“In the spring of ‘33 will be the real definite
improvements.” As most battle-scarred veterans of the Depression can
recall, Franklin Roosevelt, inaugurated on March 4, 1933, sent
confidence—and business—surging through the nation with the cry that
“all we have to fear is fear itself.”
Speculators did well with Cayce. Asked what portions of the country
would first respond economically, he mentioned Pennsylvania, Ohio,
and the Midwest, attributing the incline to “adjustments in the
relative valuations in stocks and bonds from the automotive and
steel interest”—not to mention the railroads.
As a prophet Cayce was unique. Nearly all psychics are loathe to
time their predictions, explaining there is no such thing as time.
Cayce was a slumbering calendar, dates reeled out of him, full of
portent, crying for verification.
Long before World War II, he
picked out the year, 1936, as the critical turn away from peace, and
he could hardly have picked a greater year of decision had he
written the history book himself. For not only did Hitler declare
his intentions that year, marching into the Rhineland, but Italy
mopped up in Ethiopia, the major powers chose sides in the Spanish
Civil War, and the League of Nations collapsed, bringing an end to
the post-World War I dream of collective security.
Nobody was more prophetic about the major events of his time. Before
the Foreign Offices of the world even began to suspect, he foresaw,
in 1935, the juncture of Austria and Germany, with later on “the
Japanese joining this influence.” At this time, the Japanese were
professing their love for the United States.
Frequently, in reading for individuals, he caught the overtones of
great events affecting millions.
For instance, in August 1941, four
months before Pearl Harbor, a young man, debating whether he should
enter the Army or Navy, wanted to know how long he would have to
“How many years are these conditions [wartime] likely to
“Until at least forty-five [’45],” Cayce advised.
Cayce also caught the turning point of the war, before we were even
in it, for in November 1939 he noted, again implying our entry,
sad experience will be for this land through forty-two and
forty-three [’42 and ‘43].”
Through the affairs of still another subject, Cayce again correctly
foresaw the end of the war, before its beginning. In August of 1941,
a business executive asked about business, and Cayce saw his
civilian affairs blocked for the duration, but picking up
“For through the efforts of the entity much may be
accomplished when in ‘45 to ‘46 peace again rules the earth.”
came halfway through 1945.
America’s entry into the war was revealed through a reading in July
1939 for a retired naval commander, who had asked,
“Am I likely to
be recalled to active service within two or three years?”
the conflict, but hopefully looked for a way out,
likelihood will be in ‘41. This, too, if the people pray, and live
as they pray, will pass.”
Did he mean the likelihood, or the war, would pass?
Probably Cayce’s most dramatic vision of World War II was the “horse
dream.” In vivid color, it foreshadowed the death of millions in the
bloodiest of all wars. And coming at the time of the apparently
irresistible Nazi surge into Russia that summer of 1941,
surprisingly presaged the successful counterattack of the Red hordes
of Communism against the “white knights” of Germany. The dream, as
sometimes happened, came to Cayce during a reading, which he
remembered on waking.
In its rich symbolism, the dream was
reminiscent of the Book of Revelation:
“I saw that the man was Mr.
R. [the subject of the reading].
Then I saw another horse coming, a very red horse. As it came closer
I saw that the rider was Mr. R., but he had on a white and a blue
armor, and there were hordes of people following him. Then as the
two horses came together, it seemed that Mr. R. disappeared and the
two groups clashed.
The followers of the first horse were
well-armed, while the others were not. Yet, there were such hordes
following the red horse that they seemed to march right through the
ranks of the well-armed group, though millions were slain while
Cayce seemed almost obsessed with the fate of Russia, as though he
suspected that world peace would eventually pivot about this
unpredictable Brown Bear.
“On Russia’s religious development,” he
said at the height of the Stalin tyranny, “will come the greater
hope of the world. Then that one, or group, that is the closer in
its relationship [to Russia], may fare better in gradual changes and
final settlement of conditions as to the rule of the world.”
A few years later, shortly before World War II, he still saw Russia
emerging, but not until it knew freedom at home.
understanding has and will come to a troubled people. Here because
of the yoke of oppression [under the Tsars] has risen another
extreme. Until there is freedom of speech, the right to worship
according to the dictates of conscience, turmoils will still be
Cayce frequently stressed how the spiritual life of
individuals reflected itself in the values of the community or
“Each nation, each people,” he said about the time of the
appeasement at Munich, “have built by their very spirit a purposeful
position in the affairs not only of the earth but of the universe.
The peoples of France, then, have built a dependence and
independence that makes for the enjoying of the beautiful, a
reverence for the sacredness of body.”
This was a way of saying
perhaps that the French put their national emphasis on sensuous
pleasure, a costly preoccupation with the Nazis on their frontiers.
Elsewhere, the whole was also the sum of its parts.
“Just so is
there the result in England, just so the conglomerate force in
America. Just so are there the domination forces in Japan, China.
Just so in Russia is there the new birth, out of which will come a
new understanding. Italy—selling itself for a mess of pottage.
Germany—a smear upon its forces for its dominance over its brother,
a leech upon the universe for its own sustenance.”
always seen Hitler’s Germany in this unenviable light.
Hitler came to power in 1933, Cayce was asked about the Fuhrer by a
group of German Americans sympathetic to the Third Reich:
Hitler be able to take the control of German banking out of Jewish
hands?” “It is in all practical purposes in that position now.”
“Will you give us any other information regarding Hitler and his
policies that will be of interest and help to us?”
“Study that which had been the impelling influence in the man, in
the mind as it has acceded to power.
For few does power not destroy.”
Had he stopped there, Cayce would have been clearly ahead. But he
continued, “Yet this man unless there is material change will
survive even that.” Those believing Cayce infallible insist that
Hitler must have changed.
However, Cayce was not long taking after Hitler and the dictators,
prophetically. In June of 1938, while warning the French of
softness, Cayce also foresaw the end of the Nazi, Fascist, and
Communist regimes. These governments he saw oppressing their
peoples, as likewise Spain, China, and Japan. The Russian social
experiment could not survive.
The attempt to rule “not only the
economic, but the mental and spiritual life” of the ordinary Russian
was not only iniquitous, but fortunately ordained for failure.
“This brings and works hardships where they should not be. And such
is true in other lands, whether under the Communist, Fascist, or
Nazi regimes. When mass distinctions arise between groups, there is
only a class distinction and not ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ The
Lord is not a respecter of persons [the dictators] and these
situations cannot long exist.”
Before the war, Cayce’s subconscious clearly saw the Nazis as the
villainous breakers of the peace, and observed mounting resistance
“Thus an unseen force, gradually growing, must result in
almost direct opposition to the Nazi or Aryan theme. This will
gradually produce a growth of animosities. And unless there is
interference by supernatural forces or influence, active in the
affairs of men, the whole world will be set on fire by militaristic
groups and people who are for power and expansion.”
For his own America, the man with twin portraits of Abraham Lincoln
and Robert E. Lee over his door, counseled the broad moderate
middle-of-the-road. He predicted that regimentation would never work
in this country, no matter the announced objective.
attunements are to be kept by which the country itself may define
what freedom is, whereby each soul by its own activity is given an
opportunity for expression, for labor, for producing. All
individuals are not to be told where or what, but are to seek
through their own ability, their own activity to give of
Even before World War II, in June of 1938, Cayce was
giving the blueprint for the welfare state of the future, including
our own Great Society.
“A new order of conditions is to arise. There
must be greater consideration of the individual, so that each soul
becomes his brother’s keeper. Then certain circumstances will come
about in political, economic, and whole [human] relationship, in
which a leveling will occur, or a greater comprehension of the need
for it. The time or period draws near for such changes. It behooves
all who have an ideal—individuals, groups, societies—to practice
faithfully the application of this ideal.”
But he warned:
they are up and doing, there must come a new order for then: own
relationships and activities.”
Cayce was sympathetic with the working man, but in 1939 foresaw
almost ceaseless strife between labor and capital, with first labor
then capital making demands that would feed the fires. He made an
almost direct commentary on union featherbedding:
“There must be
more and more a return to toil upon the land, and not so much
make-work for labor in specific fields. Unless this comes, there
will come disruption, turmoil, and strife.”
But capital was not blameless.
“Unless there is more give and take,
consideration for those who produce, with better division of the
excess profits from the labor, there must be greater turmoil In the
As a Southerner, from a border state, Cayce had a lively
consciousness of the approaching integration problem. Believing in
the brotherhood of man, he was aware that the coming confrontation
could only be solved by good will, but his subconscious told him the
situation was to be badly handled.
He visualized the sectional
strife that has risen in many areas of the land over the racial
issue, in one of his most dramatic forecasts:
“Ye are to have turmoils, ye are to have strife between capital and labor. Ye are to
have division in thy own land, before ye have the second of the
Presidents who will not live through his office. A mob rule.”
Even then, he anticipated the opportunism of politicians catering to
bullet or bloc votes, rather than to ending the inequities which
have brought about so much discord. True equality, Cayce pointed
out, was not the indiscriminate lumping together of groups, not
false, artificially contrived integration, but of judging
individuals by merit, regardless of skin.
“What should be our attitude toward the Negro?” he was frequently
asked. He replied, “Those who caused or brought servitude to him,
without thought or purpose, have created that which must be met
within their own principles and selves. These [Negroes] should be
held in an attitude of their own individual fitness, as in every
other form of association.”
Cayce constantly called the Negro
“brother.” And in his most provocative forecast of racial strife,
harking back to the Civil War for an analogy, he made a prediction
which obviously has not yet been fulfilled. The prophecy has an
almost Biblical cadence in its solemn urgency:
“When many of the
isles of the sea and many of the lands have come under the
subjugation of those who fear neither man nor the devil; who rather
join themselves with that force by which they may proclaim might and
power as right, as of a superman who is to be an ideal for a
generation to be established, then shall thy own land see the blood
flow, as in those periods when brother fought against brother.”
There was a distinct pattern to the Cayce predictions. Every word or
phrase had some special meaning. Brother against brother, meant just
that, citizen against citizen, civil war. At the time the forecast
was made, during an A. R. E. conference in Norfolk in 1940, the
conferees had no doubt of the meaning. The only misgivings were as
to timing, identifying to the evil power with which the prophecy was
linked. It could be Russia, China, or X, the unknown, waiting to
“proclaim might as right.”
But the Negro must have his chance. Cayce hit thought the
interpretation clear. He was clairvoyant enough waking, to visualize
years of racial ferment.
“Being my brother’s keeper does not mean
that I am to tell him what to or that he must do this or that,
regardless. Rather, that all are free before the law and before
There was no easy path to integration or racial harmony.
“More turmoils will be from within.”
Repeatedly, he attacked the sincerity of some trying to resolve the
“There is lack of Godliness in the hearts of some who direct the
affairs of groups.”
In the midst of the world’s greatest war, he was
asked about peace, and he warned that the losers—Germany and
Japan—might soon rise again if their land was not occupied and
“How,” he was asked, “might we cooperate in setting up
an international police force in such fashion that our recent
enemies will not be antagonized?”
“They have expected it. And unless something like it is created,
they will always feel that they have won the war—no matter how much
they declare their willingness to quit!”
“Can the re-education of
the German people in the principles of democracy be conducted in such
a fashion that their own cooperation will be enlisted?”
“Who can set a standard for democratic education of a Germany who
considers itself already wiser than all the democracies? Rather
teach Germany God, how to search for and find Him, how to apply his
laws in dealing with their fellow man.”
In the spring of 1966, from normal hindsight, this was a rather
striking commentary on an unrepentant Germany. Idly perusing a
newspaper one day, I came across an article describing the
increasing desecration of Jewish cemeteries in free Germany. Not
having a living residue of Jews, the resurgent Nazis were venting
their frustrations and hate on the unforgotten dead. Germany, as
Cayce visualized, had much to learn of God.
But Cayce was not always macabre or gloomy, not even when he was
being asked to foresee disasters. In January of 1942, for instance,
a fretful, war-worried New Yorker inquired,
“Should I feel safe in
New York City from bombings and enemy attacks?”
Cayce replied dryly, impersonally, “Why should he not, if he lives
right?” Often meanings were read into Cayce prophecies that he
hadn’t intended. As he said himself of the Bible once, in commenting
on controversial reincarnation, with Lincolnesque humor, “I read it
in, and you read it out.” So perhaps for this reason, the sleeping
prophet’s prophecies didn’t always seem to stack up.
reading for a publisher bound for China on an educational mission,
he predicted that “in the next twenty-five years” China would lean
toward the Christian faith. This would hardly seem likely,
witnessing the supremacy of Communism in Red China today. However,
Cayce threw in two modifying phrases. First, “it may appear to some
at present that this is lacking”; secondly, “it will be more in the
last five years than in the first ten.”
China still had to 1968 to turn democratic. Cayce stressed that
China would witness a consolidation of its various castes and sects,
“these united toward the democratic way. More and more,” he
added, “will those of the Christian faith come to be in political
positions, and this in China will mean the greater rule in certain
groups, according to how well these manifest. And these will
progress. For civilization moves west.”
This was an old thesis of
Cayce’s, the westward trend of the dominant culture, with the mantle
eventually falling on the U.S., if it was spiritually up to it. On
his return from China, the publisher advised Cayce that he had
correctly anticipated his reception abroad. However, on a global
level, Cayce had apparently missed. Certainly Mao and Chou En-lai
were hardly the Christian leaders of a democratic people. But some
Cayce students didn’t see it this way. They somehow picked out a
The great Chinese mainland was now unified, the
Japanese had been thrown out, and China had a “democratic” free
peoples government, with a so-called parliament.
“It may not be the
kind of democratic state we can live with,” a devotee said evenly,
“but it is certainly more democratic than anything they had before.
And there are reports of a simmering pro-Christian underground in
both China and Russia. Who knows what a few years may bring?”
In Formosa, across the straits from China, the Reader’s Digest
reported twelve million people enjoying a rebirth of freedom under
Chiang Kai-shek. But the great Chinese mass traditionally could not
“The sin of China?” Cayce pondered. “Yea, there lives
the quietude which will not be turned aside, which saves itself by
slow growth, like a stream through the land, throughout the ages,
asking to be left alone, just to be satisfied with what is within
But had not the sacred queue come off with Christianity?
“It awoke one day and cut its hair off! Yea, there in China one day
will be the cradle of Christianity, as applied in the lives of men.
It is far off, as man counts tune, but only a day in the heart of
God. For tomorrow China will awake.”
Cayce could be irritatingly wordy or as concise as the Bible he
loved. At the height of World War II, when Hitler was everywhere
triumphant, he was asked, “What is Hitler’s destiny?” In one breath,
he replied, “Death.”
At times, Cayce declared absolute prophecy improbable, since it
obviated free will and the power of prayer, both of which he
believed in consciously. Nothing, he stressed at these times, was
predestined, except as a possibility. Yet elsewhere, in the
absoluteness of the predictions he made subconsciously, he
recognized that the individual had little personal option, as during
a war or holocaust, except as he reacted, cheerfully or drearily, to
the blows of destiny.
He seldom made waking predictions, as he felt the implanted
suggestion might over-influence the individual. However, there were
exceptions, as the time he warned a passing woman not to ride in a
car on that particular day; the car was wrecked a few hours later.
“His prophecies,” an intimate observed, “were given as hopeful
possibilities or helpful warnings, not to alarm or impress anyone,
or prove him a prophet.”
Still he thought enough of his own gift to
be staggered when he saw a war that would kill three young friends.
Not for a second did he take comfort in the recourse of free will,
nor doubt his moment of illumination.
From a practical standpoint, prophecies were meaningless unless they
could be counted on, and being misleading, could even hurt those
putting their trust in the prophet. Back in the 1920s, as pointed
out, when Virginia Beach realty values were at a premium on the
south beach, Cayce counseled buying to the north, without knowing
the first thing about real estate. His own headquarters was acquired
accordingly, and those believing in him, picked up what land they
could in this direction. Some became wealthy. Even small lot owners
prospered. “A north lot I paid $500 for twenty years ago,” a
Virginia Beach housewife told me, “is now worth nearly $20,000.”
Cayce been wrong, those nearest to him could have been painfully
affected. Meanwhile, without any noticeable display of free will,
other Cayce faithful have profited from his long-range predictions
of a Tidewater boom. In 1958, about the time of the stipulated boom,
a Virginia Beach businessman bought eighty acres of unwanted Cape
Henry farm land for $125 an acre.
In 1965, he was offered $1250 an
acre, for a cool profit of $80,000 on a $10,000 investment.
did,” he said modestly, “was follow Cayce.”
In 1932, Cayce had been asked what, if any, changes would take place
in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area. Around 1958, he said, there
would be changes making the section “eventually more beneficial as a
port.” He forecast that Norfolk with it environs—Newport News,
Hampton—would become within thirty years “the chief port on the East
Coast, not excepting Philadelphia or New York.” U.S. census figures
show that by 1964 the, Norfolk complex had far surpassed any rival,
its vast shipments of coal and grain and other cargo, exceeding
sixty million tons, as against forty-eight million for New York and
twenty-one million for Philadelphia.
It was curious to trace the developments that years later made a
killing for one Cayce believer. In 1957, about the time fixed by
Cayce, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel was opened, facilitating auto
and truck traffic; construction of the two hundred million dollar
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the longest fixed-crossing in the
world, was authorized, artery, eliminating tedious ferry travel,
consolidated the and started a building boom. The realty rise was
Another local entrepreneur, heeding Cayce,
acquired sixteen acres near the Virginia Beach end of the
Bridge-Tunnel in 1960, even while the span was under construction.
The cost: five thousand dollars. In 1965, with tunnel completed and
the area expanding, he turned down $100,000 for his land. The
fortunate investors may not be long grateful to the dead seer, but
they would have certainly been disillusioned if the land values had
gone down instead of up. And no talk of free will would have
However, some may now consider free will the big
factor in their gain.
“It was a combination of events,” one lucky
speculator told me, “that made me buy the land. Cayce’s pinpointing
the year 1958, together with his forecast of rising values thirty
years before made me perk up when I saw plans for the new tunnels
and bridges connecting the area. But I still had to consolidate the
Cayce information with what was actually going on, and then follow
my hunch. That’s free will.”
But how much free will entered into
what was going on?
That was a poser for a Cayce.
After many years, looking for a reason for his unique ability, Cayce
came to have a healthy respect for what he called “the Information.”
He didn’t tamper with it himself, and didn’t want others bending it
to their own inclinations. He wrote clearly, consciously, with
Lincoln-like precision, adapted from his own Bible readings, but
would not edit or streamline his own roundabout phrases delivered in
the apparent infallibility of his subconscious. Consequently, many
were perplexed by the seer’s involved sentence structure. But the
answer was there if the interpreter was ready.
Groping with Cayce’s
dangling participles, a subject once asked how the readings could be
presented to provide the fullest meaning.
“Better the understanding,” Cayce replied
Studying the readings, particularly the prophecies, I found myself
gradually seeing a pattern not immediately discernible. Even so,
some forecasts ostensibly didn’t lend themselves to verification.
Browsing through the A. R. E. library, I had stumbled across a Cayce
reading on World Affairs, June 20, 1943, at the height of World War
II. Unusual even for Cayce, it pinpointed an event of a decisive
nature within a few days. Cayce, speaking of peace, generally,
“On Friday next, strange things will happen
which will determine how long, how many and what will be necessary.”
Could it be a portent of the war? What else? But the war, as I
recalled clearly, had lasted another two years.
Cayce was then asked:
“Is there any indication of the time at which
hostilities will cease between this country and Italy, Germany,
Again, he mentioned a period in late June, as a possible turning
“These are in thoughts and principles of men. They will be
able to determine a great deal in respect to more than one of these
countries by the 25th of June.”
Cayce evidently was pointing to an action stemming out of thoughts
already established; and an interpretation obviously required some
insight into these minds. I thumbed inquiringly through almanacs and
encyclopedias, but found nothing of significance for late June of
1943. I worked late at the A. R. E. library, poring over the Cayce
files, and retired to my hotel after midnight.
Despite the hour, I
decided to relax over a copy of Barbarossa, an authoritative account
on the Russian-German conflict by the Englishman Alan Clark.
Barbarossa was the German code name for the Russian invasion, begun
so optimistically by Hitler on June 22, 1941. I soon came to a
chapter, “The Greatest Tank Battle in History,” describing a titanic
struggle, with masses of men and machines arrayed against each other
on a broad front around Kursk.
The pick of the German military,
directed by Hitler himself, was there: Keitel, von Kluge, Manstein,
Model, Hoth, Guderian. By itself,
“Hoth’s 4th Panzer army was the
strongest force ever put under a single commander in the German
The Russians, too, had the cream of their military available:
Marshal Zhukov, the Soviet hero, who had never lost a battle;
Vasilievski, Sokolovski, Koniev, Popov.
The German operation was so
vast that it had its own code name: Zitadelle. It seemed good
reading to drowse off with, and then my eye suddenly stopped.
“Certainly, by any standard other than that of the Soviet formations
opposing them,” Clark wrote, “the German order of battle, as it
finally took shape in the last days of June, 1943, looked very
A tiny chill went up my spine, as I read on:
last days before the attack a strange feeling, not so much of
confidence as of fatalism, pervaded the German tank forces—if this
strength, this enormous agglomeration that surrounded them on every
side, could not break the Russians, then nothing would.” The author
and Cayce, it struck me, had even used the same word to describe the
mood of the gathering action. The word was “strange.”
The action was critical enough to warrant a special message from the
“Soldiers of the Reich! This day you are to take part in an
offensive of such importance that the whole future of the war may
depend on its outcome. More than anything else, your victory will
show the whole world that resistance to the power of the German Army
The reverse was also true, and the Russians were more than ready.
Everywhere, the Germans were pushed back. Meanwhile, in another
theater, “other thoughts and principles” were to affect the fighting
in Russia. The Allies had mounted their invasion of Italy.
German action, already in trouble, now faced diversion of its main
“Hitler,” Clark related, “sent for Manstein and
Kluge and told them that the operation should be cancelled
The Allies had landed in Sicily and there was a danger of Italy’s
being knocked out. Kluge agreed that it was impossible to continue.”
Cayce had been asked about Italy, Germany and Japan, and he had said
that more would be known “in respect to more than one of these
countries, by the twenty-fifth of June.” The attack on Italy had
been thought out, mounted, and a date fixed at that time, though the
actual thrust was not made from North Africa until early July.
How decisive was Zitadelle in the final outcome of the war—all
decisive, according to the most astute of the Nazis, Gestapo chief
“One member of the Nazi hierarchy, at all events,
was not deluded,” Clark observed. “Heinrich Himmler saw that the
failure of the Zitadelle offensive meant that the war was lost. The
question which now exercised him was how to moderate defeat and save
his own skin.”
Cayce had observed, ‘There is nothing new, nothing strange.” It was
apparently all part of a universal order in which there was no such
thing as chance, even to picking a paperback named Barbarossa off
the rack of a Virginia Beach drugstore.
Cayce was clearly prophetic in his health readings, for he not only
made diagnoses, but prognoses, predicting whether a subject would
get well, how, and when. He once told biographer Tom Sugrue that he
would recover from his crippling arthritis only if he was patient,
and warned against the high-fever cabinet therapy that eventually
left the writer helpless. Subsequently, before Sugrue undertook the
Cayce biography, the clairvoyant forecast that his mind would
develop brilliantly in a crippled body— “a mind only working through
a body that is not active at all.”
When Sugrue, having disregarded
the Cayce advice in his impatience to get well, did come to Virginia
Beach in June 1939, a year after the reading, he was completely
helpless, a stretcher case. He could not use his legs, sit up, or
control his arms. When he left Virginia Beach two years thereafter,
having belatedly followed the readings, he had written two books,
including There Is a River, could use his arms and hands to
typewrite, and was practicing walking on crutches.
The readings said
he could have full use of his limbs if he continued to follow
treatments, but the Naugatuck Irishman was an impatient, impulsive
free spirit, who lived and died in accordance with his own restless
whims. Before Sugrue’s death, Cayce, loving him like a son, made
many predictions for him, including the memorable one, where he
suggested the title, Starling of the White House, for a book
collaboration with the veteran head of the Secret Service, Colonel
Starling, and then named the publisher, Simon and Schuster, and
prophesied a national best-seller, which it was.
One of Cayce’s most
singular predictions developed in a health reading which came too
late to help the person for whom it was requested. The reading dates
back to 1919, but living proof of the Cayce power is very much in
In this instance, Cayce had given a reading for a
pregnant mother, who lay dying, and, contradicting the doctors, he
said her baby would be born alive, though he agreed that the mother
“When Cayce was consulted,” a sister of the dying woman
recalled recently, “all hope had been abandoned for both mother and
baby. Edgar Cayce was in Selma, Alabama, my sister was in Kentucky.
He was told nothing of the nature of the case.”
had gotten the situation immediately in trance.
“There are two
living to be considered. It is too late to save the mother but she
will live to give birth to the baby. The baby will live, and let
there be no fear for her. The condition under which the mother is
living during pregnancy will not affect this baby, and she can live
a normal happy life.”
The prognosis was contrary to the unanimous verdict of a trio of
“The most famous surgeon in the South was called
into consultation,” the sister said, “and assisted by our local
surgeon, performed two operations, too late to benefit the patient.
It was predicted by the three doctors—Dr. Haggard of Nashville,
Tennessee, Dr. Gant Gaither [later president of the Kentucky Medical
Society], Dr. Ed Stone—all in attendance, that this baby could not
It was mid-July, and the child was not expected until August The
mother clearly could not last that long.
Never the less, the
desperate family did as Cayce suggested in the way of treatment,
hoping to save the child somehow.
“He had prescribed an unheard of
concoction comprised of simple ingredients with a base made of a
brew from the bark of a slippery elm,” the sister said. “We went to
the forest, obtained the bark of the slippery elm, prepared the
formula, gave it to my sister as directed.”
The dying woman became more comfortable right away. A few days
later, on July 18, at the stroke of midnight, the baby prematurely
“My sister died easily after naming her child. The baby was
pathetically weak, so tiny the doctors advised us not to give her
the name suggested by the mother. They said we would be wasting a
The rest of the story is a happy one. The child somehow perked up
and help was forthcoming.
“A good Christian mother heard of our
distress and offered to nurse the baby with her own child. After
about six weeks, the baby was put on a formula and gained weight
She grew to womanhood, married, and gave birth to two
daughters of her own. In 1961, at the age of forty-one, she became a
member of the A. R. E. Cayce had been right again.
Occasionally, particularly in time of stress, Cayce could foresee
things for himself, even if he had to dream them. During the latter
years, though penniless, he seldom worried about money, convinced
from one of his own readings, that the Lord would always provide in
extremity. However, others in his family were not always as
sublimely confident in the face of adversity. During the Depression,
as Cayce’s principal backers went broke, and the hospital and the
university closed, the Cayces had no place to live. Hugh Lynn
suggested a reading.
Subconsciously even, Cayce was unperturbed.
“Why don’t you do
something about this?” he inquired.
Hugh Lynn dryly asked for suggestions.
“Why not buy a house?”
“And what will we use for money?”
“Buy the house across the lake; the money will be provided.”
On waking, checking over the reading, Cayce looked up the house that
he had said was for sale, and purchased it. He agreed to make the
initial down payment in thirty days, and the family moved in. On
settlement day, there wasn’t any way of beginning to make the
payment. And then came an unexpected reprieve. The seller telephoned
on a Friday to say that he could not come out until the following
Monday to pick up the five hundred. He would be there at noon.
ten that Monday morning, Cayce looked into the mailbox and took out
an envelope. Inside was five hundred dollars—a check from somebody
he had once read for. A few years later, another crisis developed
with mortgage payments, and it looked like Cayce would lose his
house. Again Cayce had nowhere to turn—except God. As happened often
during personal crisis, he had a dream, this more singular than most
because it visualized Jesus Christ, with whom Cayce felt a lifelong
communion. In this dream, recorded in May 1937, when the world was
avidly following the romance of the Duke of Windsor and the American
Wally Simpson, Cayce had attended a concert.
After the performance, he noticed the Duke and Wally walking out in
front of him. At that moment, a wraith-like figure approached Cayce
with a smile. The lineaments were those of Jesus. All four then
adjourned to a sidewalk restaurant—in Paris. The bill came to
$13.75, but Cayce, searching his pockets, found only three cents. “I
can’t pay this bill,” he said desperately. The Duke and Wally had
“Never mind,” the visioned Jesus said, “here is the $13.75. Don’t
worry. On the wedding day of the two who have just left us, your
troubles will be over.”
On June 3, a woman came into Cayce’s office and gave him a sealed
envelope. It had been entrusted to her in Paris, by a woman who had
told her about being helped by a Cayce reading. Cayce tore open the
envelope. In it he found $1375, the precise amount he owed on the
That same day, the former King of England and Wally Simpson
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