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The Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), also known as Edgar Cayce's A.R.E., was founded by Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) in 1931 to research and explore subjects such as holistic health, ancient mysteries, personal spirituality, dreams and dream interpretation, intuition, philosophy and reincarnation. A.R.E.'s stated mission is to help people change their lives for the better through the ideas and information found in the Edgar Cayce readings.
Its international headquarters is in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with a regional office in Houston, Texas. There are also Edgar Cayce Centers in 37 countries and individual members in more than 70 countries.
A.R.E. runs conferences, retreats and other educational activities, and publishes books relating to Edgar Cayce and his teachings under the imprints of A.R.E. Press and 4th Dimension Press. The A.R.E. also publishes a quarterly member magazine, Venture Inward.
It maintains an affiliation with Atlantic University, and runs a Health Center & Day Spa at its Virginia Beach headquarters along with the Cayce/Reilly School of Massage.
A.R.E. is the heir to a previous Cayce-related organization, the Association of National Investigators (A.N.I.). Dependent on the financial support of a few major donors, the ANI emphasized major institution-building projects such as the original Atlantic University and the Cayce Hospital for Research and Enlightenment, a hospital staffed with medical personnel who used Cayce-recommended treatments. The name of the hospital would later inspire the name, Association for Research and Enlightenment. The ANI and its various projects folded with the onset of the Great Depression.
In 1931, Cayce called a meeting of his supporters in Virginia Beach, asking them directly whether they felt that his work should continue. The result was the creation of the Association for Research and Enlightenment as a successor organization to the A.N.I. This was also the beginning of a tradition of annual meetings at A.R.E.'s Virginia Beach headquarters featuring talks on various spiritual subjects.
Prior to Cayce's death in 1945, people seeking a reading from Cayce were asked to join the A.R.E. This helped insulate Cayce from charges of fortune-telling, which was illegal in some U.S. states, as he was not directly charging a fee for his services but receiving a salary from the member-supported A.R.E. Apart from supporting Cayce and his staff, a major emphasis of the early A.R.E. was the encouragement of small groups devoted to spiritual study, prayer, and meditation.
When Cayce died, he left many requests for readings unanswered. His son, Hugh Lynn Cayce, returned from the Army later that year and took charge of the A.R.E. Under Hugh Lynn Cayce's leadership, the A.R.E. arrived at the basic focus of activities and interests which it follows today. A major boost came with the rise of the 1960s counterculture and then the New Age Movement, which coincided with a number of popular books on Cayce including Jess Stearn's best seller, The Sleeping Prophet.
After Hugh Lynn's death in 1982 the A.R.E. was led by his son, Charles Thomas Cayce. Charles Thomas retired in 2006. The A.R.E.'s current CEO and executive director is Kevin J. Todeschi, previously the editor of the A.R.E. membership magazine, Venture Inward, and a long-time A.R.E. staffer.
During the last few decades, the A.R.E. has focused its efforts on globalizing its activities and promoting Cayce's spiritual message in the mass media.
Major activities of the A.R.E. include:
The A.R.E. is led by a board of trustees. The same board also heads a sister organization, the Edgar Cayce Foundation, which claims to hold the copyright to the Cayce readings and related material. (Critics point out that Cayce himself freely distributed the same material without copyright.) Books using Cayce quotes are thus expected to pay royalties.
A.R.E. membership is a subscription arrangement in which the member receives a packet of goods (publications, mainly) and services (e.g., access to Cayce readings online) in exchange for an annual fee. These fees can be waived altogether for people who cannot afford the full fee. Life memberships are also available.
Within the United States and Canada, A.R.E. activities are divided into 11 multi-state / multi-provincial regions and 3 major metropolitan areas. Their relationship with Virginia Beach is basically that of a branch office to headquarters. Overseas, there are presently 29 Edgar Cayce Centers in 25 countries and another 37 countries with a lesser degree of A.R.E. representation.
Study groups and the Glad Helpers group are organizationally independent of A.R.E. headquarters and in fact pre-date that organization. They do, however, cooperate to some degree. For example, A.R.E. headquarters refers inquirers to study groups, while study groups may donate money or encourage their participants to join the A.R.E.
Cayce study groups usually meet weekly in members' homes. This occurs when no central place of gathering was available, such as in the A.R.E. of NYC at 241 West 30th Street. Traditional Cayce groups include The Dream Group, The Prayers for Healing Group, and Search for God. About half of the Prayers for Healing & Search for God meetings are generally devoted to the study of some appropriate Cayce text, traditionally the two volumes of A Search For God. These consist of lessons which Study Group #1 put together with guidance from the sleeping Cayce (who refused to allow them to continue until he felt that they were successfully living the spiritual lessons already given). Often, study group members will attempt to apply the lessons in their lives, just as the first group did.
Usually, the other half of the Prayers for Healing meetings will be given over to meditation and recitation of names of those who wished for healing. Several prayers are often recited, including the Lord's Prayer and the Twenty-Third Psalm ("The Lord is my shepherd..."). The mediation during the second half can also apply to the Search for God group. Despite the prevalence of Christian traditions, a significant number of A.R.E. members are Jews or other non-Christians.
The Dream Group attempts to apply the Cayce philosophy to the interpretation of dreams. The group will take turns sharing their dreams and, based on the methods outlined in his texts, attempt to interpret their own. Later, the group will share ideas and feedback about whether the symbols and patterns were accurately interpreted. These groups are no charge, but donations are appreciated.
The original A.R.E. symbol consisted of a white cross and dove on a blue background. In 2007, this was changed to a dove and globe.