Someday, somewhere, Chiquita Bennefield knows she'll find the man of her dreams, her soul mate, the partner meant for her.
And when she does it will be like a scene in a romantic movie, said the 21-year-old Augusta State University senior.
"You know, you meet a guy in the store and both grab the same cantaloupe," and it will be love at first sight.
But the notion of "soul mate" was broader to Edgar Cayce, who popularized the term in the 1930s and '40s.
"Cayce would say we have many more than one soul mate," more like 15 or 20, said Kevin Todeschi, who has written a dozen books on the mystic, including Edgar Cayce on Soul Mates.
People sought Mr.Cayce out for guidance about life and relationships. The clairvoyant would go into a trance before answering questions. Some 2,000 of his statements, called readings, were recorded and indexed.
Mr. Cayce mixed traditional Christianity with some unconventional views, such as soul mate, a term not found in the Bible. According to him, souls were eternal and had free will, but he also believed they experienced reincarnation over several lifetimes.
"Basically people continue (reincarnating) until they reach perfection," Mr. Todeschi said in a phone interview from his office in Virginia Beach, Va., where he manages conference and educational activities for a Cayce repository, the Association for Research and Enlightenment. "We are here (on Earth) to learn lessons, and we learn those with other people."
Mr. Cayce believed that soul mates surface in a variety of ways. They are connected by strong emotions. Possibly they were married to each other in earlier lives or had some other association, according to Mr. Todeschi.
Soul-mate relationships are not always sexual liaisons or like a dream come true, he said. "Some soul mates drive us crazy. Some are irritating. (But) a soul mate is one who helps us become a better person. (And) we help them."
Augusta State senior Richard Smith, 36, also believes in soul mates, at least the pop-culture type. "When you look into their eyes, and get to know them just a little bit, there is a connection" - not necessarily emotional, but spiritual, he said.
Mr. Smith, who's twice married and divorced, is not looking for romance now, he said. "I am just trying to grow spiritually through prayer and meditation and by helping others, (though) I believe that something (romantic) will happen. I have faith."
But soul mate can be an alien term to some. It is one the Rev. Glenn Ethridge, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Evans, never uses in counseling and cannot recall hearing it when working with couples.
"I have had very little contact with it really," he said.
Psychologist Christopher Welch would agree. He helps people achieve compatibility and understanding with the help of a 150-question survey and a computer.
"The computer spits out a very telling graph," which he uses to guide counseling, said Dr. Welch, a pastoral assistant at Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity.
People don't have to have 100 percent compatibility on every point, although he knew one couple who did, he said.
They had compared notes while taking the survey. Dr. Welch made them retake it, he said. "I don't know why they thought they had to look like they were walking on water."
While there is always hope that soul mates will find each other, people have to be realistic, Miss Bennefield said. "With every relationship that doesn't work out, your hope takes a little punch. You have to have a backup plan."
Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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