5 - California - Earthquakes

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.


It won’t 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.

“This 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 Valley.

“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 zone.”

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 relatively northward.”

The Survey had no idea when the next quake would strike.

“But there 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.


“Throughout 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 mainland.“

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 today’s bulldozers.”

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.

“Little tremors 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.

“The tsunamis 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.”

Just as 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 householders.

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.


He was 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 safety measures.”

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 Atlantis.”

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 zero.’”

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.

“In the 1930s, quakes were generated in the Long Beach area after billions of barrels of oil had been pumped out, and they’re still pumping.”

He shrugged.

“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 Denver.”

Penetrating into a deep-lying fracture zone, the waste waters lubricated the faults enough to release tension and touch off the quakes.

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 about it.”

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 resulting earthquake—yet.”

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 Arvin-Tehachapi.

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,

“Far too many people are buying and living in houses on soil conditions where most geologists would never raise their own families.”

Very few recommendations about regulating construction came out of the conference.

“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 Alaska quake.”

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:

“The causes 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.”

The Geologist 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.

“The earthquakes 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.”

And what of Lemuria?

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 buildings.

“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.

“In places 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 Hawaii.”

These were the most dramatic far-reaching effects, revealing not only the magnitude of the quake but the cohesion off the earth.

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.


A giant, 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 calamitous.

“Yes,” the Geologist agreed, “it certainly would be bad for business, particularly the real estate business.”

He was 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 been formidable.

“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 census figures.”

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,

“The 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 Polaris center.”

As he indicated many times, the changes would be world-wide, and might awaken people to the universality of the deity.

“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 externally.


In this connection, there was an interesting Cayce colloquy in 1932, dealing with predicted changes in Alabama’s topography.

“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.”

But 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 overflow.”

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.


After a 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 puzzled frown.

“But what could happen to New York City—Manhattan, as I understand?”

He shook his head doubtfully. I agreed.

“An H-bomb 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 fault?”
“If you’re talking about Manhattan,” I said, “I thought it was planted solidly on bedrock, making all those great skyscrapers possible.”

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.

“The northernmost,” 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 about, too.

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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:

“Through 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 United States.

“By what will it [Russia] be guided? By friendship with that nation which hath even placed on its monetary unit In God We Trust”

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 broke.

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 precise upturn.

“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 serve.

“How many years are these conditions [wartime] likely to last?”
“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,

“A 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 thereafter.

“For through the efforts of the entity much may be accomplished when in ‘45 to ‘46 peace again rules the earth.”

Peace 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?”

Cayce saw the conflict, but hopefully looked for a way out,

 “The only 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 doing so.”

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.

“A new 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 within.”

Cayce frequently stressed how the spiritual life of individuals reflected itself in the values of the community or nation.

“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.”

Cayce hadn’t always seen Hitler’s Germany in this unenviable light.


Shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933, Cayce was asked about the Fuhrer by a group of German Americans sympathetic to the Third Reich:

“Will 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 to Hitler.

“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.

“Such 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 themselves.”

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:

“Unless 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 land.”

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 God.”

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 racial problem.

“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 democratized.

“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.


In 1943, 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, with,

“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 democratic trend.


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 be hurried.

“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 itself.”

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.”


Had 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.

“All I 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 consequently enormous.


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 consoled them.


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 dryly.

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, suddenly particularized:

“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, Japan?”

Again, he mentioned a period in late June, as a possible turning point.

“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 Army.”

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 formidable.”

A tiny chill went up my spine, as I read on:

“In the 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 Fuhrer:

“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 is hopeless.”

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.


The German action, already in trouble, now faced diversion of its main striking force.

“Hitler,” Clark related, “sent for Manstein and Kluge and told them that the operation should be cancelled forthwith. 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 Heinrich Himmler.

“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 evidence today.


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 would die.

“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.”

Nevertheless, Cayce 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 eminent doctors.

“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 live.”

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 arrived.

“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 family name.”

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 rapidly.”

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.


At 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 disappeared.

“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 house.


That same day, the former King of England and Wally Simpson were married.


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