Association for Research and Enlightenment

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ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH AND ENLIGHTENMENT (ARE) is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to spread the transformative insights that derive from the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce (18771945). ARE's headquarters are in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but its outreach is global. The association sponsors conferences and educational activities around the world on such topics as dreams, reincarnation, lost civilizations, psychic development, personal spirituality, qigong, feng-shui, and holistic health. ARE also supports the Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy, Atlantic University, an online bookstore, a retreat/camp for children and adults, and a library that houses an impressive collection of books and films on all aspects of personal spirituality and psychic research. It would not be an overstatement to say that ARE, during its seventy-five years of existence, has been one of America's most influential purveyors of the combination of beliefs and practices commonly known to scholars as New Age spirituality. ARE's successful adaptation to changing currents in spiritual and therapeutic practice between the mid-1960s and 2000 is a remarkable story of a new religious movement that struggled for survival during its founding generation only to flourish during a later period of cultural upheaval.

ARE's origins lie in the life and work of Cayce, a native of rural Kentucky whose experiments in self-hypnosis led him to a career as a psychic healer. The experiments came about during a period of ill health that rendered Cayce almost incapable of speech. A doctor from New York, one of many specialists consulted by Cayce's family, suggested that Cayce diagnose his own condition while in a hypnotic trance. The diagnosis and treatment that Cayce prescribed in this trance state resulted in the complete cure of his condition. After a national paper published an article about the cure, Cayce began receiving requests for psychic "readings" from people with health problems. Cayce would hypnotize himself and view the ill person clairvoyantly. He would then dictate a diagnosis and a treatment regimen that often included folk remedies such as castor oil, massage, and herbal compresses. The successful outcome of many of these cases made Cayce a nationally known spiritual healer.

In 1923, a Theosophist named Arthur Lammers met with Cayce and suggested that he also give readings into the past lives and "karmic" conditions of his patients. Soon Cayce was giving both health readings and "life" readings that mentioned subjects such as reincarnation, the lost continent of Atlantis, crystal healing, spiritual development, meditation, psychic development, prophecy, imminent earth changes, the past lives of Jesus, and the Essene community. These subjects and practices would become staples of the New Age movement during the second half of the twentieth century.

Cayce's notoriety also attracted the attention of two businessmen, Morton and Edwin Blumenthal, who persuaded the psychic to use his "gift" to find oil and mineral deposits and to devote his efforts exclusively to clairvoyant activities. In 1927, Cayce and his supporters created the Association of National Investigators (ANI) to conduct research into the alternative healing information delivered through his health readings. The following year, ANI built a thirty-bedroom hospital in Virginia Beach, where patients could come to be treated with the holistic Cayce remedies. Atlantic University, a private liberal arts college staffed by faculty sympathetic to Cayce's work, opened in 1930 in Virginia Beach. Only a year later, when ANI's financial backers sustained heavy losses during the Great Depression, the hospital and university were closed.

Cayce's inner core of supporters met during 1931 to discuss strategies for salvaging ANI's work. They decided to incorporate the ARE as a philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting Cayce's clairvoyant readings and research into psychic development. Part of this support included the hiring of a trained stenographer to record verbatim transcripts of the readings. ARE grew slowly between 1931 and 1945, and its primary service was a newsletter that it published to contributing members. Interest in Cayce's work was rekindled during the early 1940s following publication of Thomas Sugrue's sympathetic biography of Cayce, There Is a River, and of a Coronet magazine article detailing Cayce's work. A flood of new members joined ARE and Cayce was besieged with requests for readings. Cayce's health began to decline in 1944 and he died in 1945. Many of ARE's members left the association when they realized Cayce would no longer be available for readings, and the organization hovered on the brink of collapse. It was the efforts of Cayce's eldest son, Hugh Lynn Cayce (19071982), that prevented the dissolution of the association. A trained psychologist, Hugh Lynn Cayce had created small ARE study groups around the country during the 1930s and organized annual meetings for ARE before going off to serve in World War II. He now set about to preserve his father's legacy for future generations and to make the readings available to an international audience.

The younger Cayce lectured annually throughout the United States, visiting college campuses, churches, radio programs, retreats, and conferences. He also took legal measures to secure the Cayce family's guardianship of the reading archives. The legal entity he established in 1946, the Edgar Cayce Foundation, microfilmed and cross-indexed the readings by subject matter so that they might be of use to researchers. Another initiative undertaken by Hugh Lynn Cayce was to create relationships with universities and hospitals engaged in cutting-edge research in areas such as psycho-archaeology, parapsychology, and alternative healing therapies. As part of this research initiative, Cayce created a clinic where trained psychologists and physicians could test his father's medical readings. To address the opposition ARE faced from fundamentalist churches, Cayce stressed the scientific and nonsectarian nature of ARE's work and invited mainstream ministers to address the association's national and regional conferences. Cayce also established the ARE Press, which began a successful effort to publish books and other educational materials that focused on the various topics covered by the readings. Finally, the younger Cayce reached out to New Age forerunner groups such as Unity, Divine Science, the Rosicrucians, the Theosophical Society, and the Arcane School by lecturing at their centers on topics ranging from psychic development and positive thinking to dreams and ancient cultures.

These initiatives paid off during the 1960s, when the association's membership grew from 2,500 members and 90 study groups in the early part of the decade to 12,000 members and 1,023 study groups by 1970. By 1974, the ARE Press had printed nine million books and pamphlets. ARE's staff increased from fifteen employees in 1960 to eighty-three by 1970. Demographically, the association's membership began to reflect the spiritual seekers of the youth counterculture and also included growing numbers of humanistic psychologists, alternative health practitioners, and prisoners.

New kinds of ARE workshops, seminars, and programs reflected these changes in demography. These included Asilomar Workshop and Camp weeks in Monterrey, California, where entire families attended sessions on psychic development, holistic medicine, reincarnation, and meditation, as well as an ARE youth camp in rural Virginia. Cayce drew young people to Virginia Beach by offering research grants to high school and college students who wished to use the ARE library to research term papers on clairvoyance, dream interpretation, extrasensory perception (ESP), and reincarnation. ARE-sponsored lecturers also hit the college circuit during this decade, making the Cayce material accessible to a new generation of young people. Prominent psychological researchers Jean Houston and Stanley Krippner joined such noted figures as Marcus Bach of Unity, nutritionist Adelle Davis, psychic investigators Joan Grant and Ruth Montgomery and popular writer Jess Stearn for lectures on such topics as "Psychedelic and Meditative Explorations of the Potential of the Human Mind" and "Expanding Your Awareness." Stearn's 1967 biography, Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet, drew a large new audience to ARE's work.

The nexus of ARE's membership during this period was the Cayce study groups, which were overseen by a national board of trustees and local councils (composed of several study groups in one city). Two small books, A Search for God, Part I and Part II, guided discussions on topics such as prayer, meditation, and healing. The purpose of the discussion groups was to test and apply the precepts found in the Cayce material. Participants believed that a field of mental and spiritual energy was created through their fellowship, which accelerated each member's spiritual growth.

The beliefs of ARE members can be articulated as five major principles. First, spiritual growth and the development of psychic ability can be achieved without crash breakthroughs using drugs or risky psychotherapeutic group work. Second, all persons enter physical incarnation to learn certain soul lessons. Third, authentic spiritual development needs the support of a group of fellow seekers. Fourth, conventional rituals and dogmas can be an impediment to spiritual progress. Finally, the best leadership for study groups comes from the "master within" rather than human leaders or gurus. For the most part, the egalitarian, inner-directed, and dogma-free ethos of ARE study groups helped them to avoid the pitfalls of charismatic leadership that plagued other alternative spirituality groups of this era.

During the 1970s and 1980s, ARE continued to expand, reaching a membership of 32,000 by 1981. Study groups were established in Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, Mexico, and New Zealand and numbered 1,784. The association's 146 employees oversaw as many as twenty-four international lectures, workshops, and conferences a month. A one million dollar Edgar Cayce Memorial Library was completed in 1975 next to the national headquarters in Virginia Beach. This facility houses the association's fully cross-indexed files of the transcripts of readings and a collection of over 30,000 books on psychic phenomena and spiritual growth. By the early 1980s, over 45,000 visitors were using the library's facilities annually.

During this time ARE became a determined and influential purveyor of New Age goods, services, and ideas. For example, the phenomenon of "channeling" material from disembodied spiritual entities meshed well with the association's focus on personal development of psychic abilities and with the mode through which Cayce's readings had been received. Prominent New Age channelers such as Judy Skutch, Paul Solomon, and Kevin Ryerson had either been ARE members or had studied the Cayce materials before beginning their independent careers. In addition, ARE was an early promoter of research into lost civilizations such as Lemuria and Atlantis and into such ancient mysteries as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Great Pyramid complex at Giza, Egypt.

The New Age movement's interest in holistic healing and bodywork has been reflected in ARE's annual symposia on alternative medicine and its research into osteopathy, chiropractic treatment, and physiotherapy. In 1981, an ARE-sponsored clinic of physiotherapy began employing a staff of osteopaths, nurses, and massage therapists, and in 1987, the Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy was created. To date, this school has trained more than 750 individuals from forty-five states and thirteen countries in concepts of holistic bodywork found in the Cayce readings. These concepts include Cayce/Reilly Massage, a style of Swedish massage developed by Dr. Harold J. Reilly from information in the readings. The school prepares its students for careers in massage therapy by offering classes in anatomy and physiology, advanced massage techniques, and business ethics.

In line with the New Age movement's ideals of spiritual community building, ARE in the late 1970s established a clearinghouse for information on the creation of intentional spiritual communities. The association also held conferences on community building that featured speakers such as Findhorn's Peter Caddy, and created a kindergarten using concepts from alternative educational systems like Waldorf and Montessori.

The once defunct Atlantic University reactivated its charter in 1972. Initially, the school sponsored intensive summer study sessions on various topics related to the Cayce legacy. The school also attempted to arrange for their courses on dream interpretation, meditation, and alternative healing to count for credit toward degrees at fully accredited universities. In fall 1985, Atlantic University reopened as a graduate school offering a degree in the developing field of transpersonal studies. The university received a provisional license from the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia in 1989 and was subsequently licensed to confer the degree of master of arts in transpersonal studies. In 2001, the school's continuing education program gained accreditation from the International Association for Continuing Education and Training.

ARE's leadership now rests with Charles Thomas Cayce (b. 1942), Hugh Lynn Cayce's son. Because of his training as a child psychologist, Charles Thomas Cayce has championed research into children's education and humanistic psychology during his tenure. From its humble beginnings, ARE has grown into a global network that sponsors numerous conferences and educational activities related to the Cayce legacy. Edgar Cayce Centers exist in over twenty-five nations, and outreach occurs in more than eighty countries. The association remains true to its original mission to disseminate the Cayce material through all available technologies and modalities. This entails ARE's publication of over three hundred books and pamphlets and the release of the Cayce readings on CD-ROM.

See Also

Cayce, Edgar; New Age Movement.


Bro, Harmon. "Miracle Man of Virginia Beach." Coronet (September 1943).

Carter, Mary Ellen. My Years with Edgar Cayce: The Personal Story of Gladys Davis Turner. New York, 1972.

Cayce, Hugh Lynn. Venture Inward: Edgar Cayce's Story and the Mysteries of the Unconscious Mind. New York, 1964; reprint, Virginia Beach, Va., 1996.

Furst, Jeffery. Edgar Cayce's Story of Jesus. New York, 1968.

Lucas, Phillip C. "The Association of Research and Enlightenment: Saved by the New Age." In America's Alternative Religions, edited by Timothy Miller. Albany, N.Y., 1995.

Niemark, Anne E. With This Gift: The Story of Edgar Cayce. New York, 1978.

Stearn, Jess. Edgar Cayce: The Sleeping Prophet. New York, 1967.

Sugrue, Thomas. There Is a River: The Story of Edgar Cayce. New York, 1942; rev. ed., 1945.

Phillip Charles Lucas (2005)

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Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE)

An organization founded by the late Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) in 1931. Cayce, one of the outstanding psychics of the twentieth century, gave readings almost daily during his mature years on subjects ranging from diagnosis of illness to astrology, reflections on future earth changes, and the nature of the afterlife. Known as "the sleeping prophet," he gave many thousands of readings to clients who consulted him. He spoke in a rapidly induced trance condition resembling normal sleep, and his statements were taken down by a stenographer.

Cayce moved to Virginia Beach in the 1920s. With the backing of Morton Blumenthal, a wealthy businessman, Cayce hoped to develop a hospital and university. The former opened in 1928 and the latter in 1930, but both failed along with Blumenthal's business enterprises in 1931. With the readings as the basic means of support, Cayce and his close associates founded two organizations: the Association for Research and Enlightenment, (ARE), a public fellowship of Cayce's clients and followers; and the Edgar Cayce Foundation, a private corporation to hold the Cayce papers (especially the transcripts of the readings) and the property.

After Cayce's death in 1945, his son Hugh Lynn Cayce became head of the ARE. Personnel began the process of sorting, indexing, and studying the approximately 14,000 transcripts of the Cayce readings. Hugh Lynn began an aggressive program of building the association, but not until the late 1960s, when Jess Stern's biography of Cayce, The Sleeping Prophet (1967), became a best-seller, did the ARE begin to grow appreciably. In the wake of The Sleeping Prophet 's success, Hugh Lynn contracted with Paperback Library to do a series of books based on the readings. These became highly successful and made the ARE one of the largest and most stable associations in the psychic community.

The ARE sponsors lectures, symposia, psychic research, prayer and meditation workshops, a summer camp, and Search for God study groups. It maintains a therapy department and a 60,000-volume library on metaphysics, psychic phenomena, and related subjects. The Edgar Cayce Foundation has custody of the readings and conducts a continuous program of indexing, extracting, microfilming, and otherwise organizing the material in the data files, which are open to the public in print form and on CD-ROM disc. The ARE has sponsored a host of books and booklets on the Cayce materials, some published by the foundation and some by commercial publishers. Several periodicals are produced, including Venture Inward, The New Millennium, and Chrysalis Rising, a quarterly newsletter for its Search For God group members.

The association, which seeks to give physical, mental, and spiritual help through investigation of the Cayce readings, runs a Health Services Department offering massages, steams, etc., closely tied to its Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy and a Health Research and Rejuvenation Center, involved in applying the health readings and information to many different disease conditions. The association also maintains an affiliation with Atlantic University, which offers a master's degree program in Transpersonal Studies.

Currently headed by Edgar Cayce's grandson, Charles Thomas Cayce, the ARE may be contacted at 215 67th St., Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451-2061. Website:


Bolton, Brett, ed. Edgar Cayce Speaks. New York: Avon, 1969.

Bro, Harmon Hartzell. A Seer Out of Season: The Life of Edgar Cayce. New York: New American Library, 1989.

Cayce, Hugh Lynn, ed. The Edgar Cayce Reader. 2 vols. New York: Paperback Library, 1969.

Puryear, Herbert B. The Edgar Cayce Primer. New York: Bantam Books, 1982.

Smith, Robert A. Hugh Lynn Cayce: About My Father's Business. Norfolk, Va.: Donning, 1988.

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Association For Research and Enlightenment. A movement founded in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA, in 1931 by the so-called ‘sleeping prophet’, Edgar Cayce, and continued under Hugh Lynn Cayce, son of the founder. It is characterized by religious tolerance, holistic health practices, metaphysical teachings, and effective marketing techniques. The ARE, with its occult practices, shares with many other New Age groups a belief in reincarnation, parapsychology, astrology, Atlantis, and novel interpretations of Christianity, such as the belief that Jesus travelled to India, Tibet, and Egypt for training.