Edgar Cayce’s parents were relieved when, at age six, he made friends with neighbor Barney Seay’s daughter, Hallie, a petite dark-haired girl who was called “Little Anna” because she shared the same first name as her mother.
Little Anna and Eddie quickly became inseparable. In the winter they would run through the fields trying to catch snowflakes in their mouths or play under a covered bridge. Their summer activities included chasing dragonflies and collecting violets, running along the banks of the Little River, or watching the farmers haul corn to the local mill. Most important to Edgar, the “little folk” liked Anna as much as he did. They didn’t disappear in her presence.
And she—according to Eddie—got to know them better than he because she was always plying them with questions.
Edgar and Anna’s favorite place to play was in a nearby barn. Perched on the upper rafters, they had great fun leaping onto a haystack and then sliding down the side.
They also hollowed out a hiding place inside the haystack, which they entered through a narrow tunnel. This was where they would “play house” together. Edgar would be the husband, she would be the wife, and the little folk would be their children.
Their greatest adventure was during a trip to the Little River. They came upon a boat that had come loose from its mooring and drifted downstream, and Edgar and Anna availed themselves of the opportunity to take a boat ride. They paddled out into the current until they came to a small island near a fork in the river. As Edgar later related the story, the little folk joined them on the island, where they introduced the two children to creatures who were smaller than the little folk, but larger than insects. Edgar described these creatures to his parents as fairies or “sprites” and said they came in a variety of shapes and colors.
He and Anna didn’t get to spend much time with the creatures because they reportedly didn’t like to play with children. They apparently wanted nothing to do with human beings, whom they viewed as interfering in their affairs.
Edgar’s family naturally dismissed the notion of fairies as yet another figment of their child’s over-active imagination, but Eddie would never agree that he hadn’t really seen them. He just learned not to talk about them, a lesson he carried with him when he later had visions of angels and other “spiritual guides.” Many years would elapse before he would describe to friends his belief that these colorful “energy forms” lived in and among plants and trees and played an integral role in their growth process. Like the “little folk” he played with in the barn, the colorful bundles of energy were transformed into shapes and forms to which a young child could relate. It is interesting to note—given the many parallels that Cayce’s later work shared with that of his contemporary, Rudolf Steiner, the spiritual psychologist who founded the Waldorf school system—that Steiner also reported childhood visions of gnomes and elves, as did Eileen Garrett, the famous Irish-born psychic.
Edgar’s parents described the 18 months he spent with Little Anna as the happiest of his childhood. Unfortunately, their relationship ended all too quickly. Edgar’s father uprooted the family to a home several miles from Little Anna’s farm.
Their separation was made permanent in 1887 when she contracted and died of pneumonia. Edgar, age 12, was reported to have walked the several miles through deep snow to be with his childhood friend when the end came, only to arrive too late to say goodbye. She was buried in a small coffin near her home, where she was soon joined by her father, Barney Seay, who died a day later from pneumonia contracted while nursing her.
Forty-eight-years later Little Anna would reappear in Edgar’s life, but not as the delicate brown-haired young girl with whom he had explored the Little River. The contact came about through correspondence with a 29-year-old bookkeeper, Beatrice Coffing, the fiancé of a violinist and music teacher from Altadena, California, who had sought and received trance advice for a blinding case of cataracts. Edgar, then 64 years old and living in Virginia Beach, had provided three physical readings which resulted in the violinist’s complete cure.
For the first time in nearly half a decade, he could read the notes on a page of sheet music. Beatrice wrote to Edgar to request physical and life readings for herself, and to say that she and her fiancé would be driving from California to Virginia, with her fiancé behind the wheel, to thank Edgar in person.
The information that came through in Beatrice’s life reading captured the entire Cayce family’s attention, for rarely did a reading suggest as many prior connections between two people as there were between her and Edgar. The two had been together during Edgar’s sojourns as Ra Ta and Uhjltd, and even as recently as Edgar’s present incarnation in a rural farming community in Kentucky, through which flowed the Little River. And yet, in the correspondence Edgar sent to Beatrice with the life reading, he remained unusually circumspect about sharing with her how they had known one another.
It was not until he met Beatrice in person that Edgar let the “secret slip out.” He had to “see the truth” for himself before he could, as he later said, “be absolutely certain.” That day, when Beatrice and her fiancé arrived on the doorstep of the Cayce’s Arctic Crescent home, Edgar stood in the doorway, unable to move, or even speak to her after she had exited the car and she raised her hand to greet him. Tears began to pour down Edgar’s cheeks. He could barely put together more than two words.
“Little Anna . . . Little Anna,” he kept saying. “It’s true.” Before coming to Virginia Beach, Beatrice had read everything she could about Edgar, and though she believed him to be a “kindred spirit,” she was not prepared for the outpouring of affection that Edgar, a relative stranger, showered upon her, or the curious way he addressed her. Who was Little Anna? Why the tears?
Edgar’s wife Gertrude, and his secretary Gladys Davis, were equally mystified. They too had never heard of Little Anna, nor could they guess why Edgar was moved to tears.
When Edgar and Beatrice sat down in his study and talked together she began to understand what seeing her meant to him. She also gained a startling insight into her previous karmic relationship with her fiancé, Richmond Seay, whom she had cared for during his years-long ordeal with cataracts.
As Edgar had figured out from studying her life readings, Beatrice, in her most recent incarnation, had been Edgar’s beloved childhood playmate, Little Anna Seay. Her father, Barney Seay, who had cared for her when she contracted pneumonia and who died the day after she did, according to the readings, was reincarnated back into the same family, this time as Richmond Seay.
Little Anna and her father Barney Seay, who had both died of pneumonia in Kentucky in 1887, were now, in 1941, Beatrice and Richmond Seay, soon to be husband and wife. She cared for him in his hour of need as he had once cared for her.
Sidney D. Kirkpatrick is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, New York Times best-selling author, and a Pulitzer nominee. His critically acclaimed non-fiction books include A Cast of Killers, Turning the Tide, Lords of Sipan, and Edgar Cayce: An American Prophet. The Smithsonian, National Archives, HBO, the History Channel, Travel Channel, and the A & E Television Networks have all featured his work. Profiles of Kirkpatrick have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, and The New Yorker. He lives with his wife Nancy, a long-time student of the Edgar Cayce work, in a turn-of-the-century inn in Huntsville, Ontario, at which they host the Edgar Cayce Canada Family Camp each summer.