The Leydig (Lyden) Gland

The Leydig (Lyden) Gland

(Posted on June 18, 2013 by David McMillin)

(Q)  The leydig gland is the same as that we have called the lyden, and is located in the gonads.
(A)  It is in and above, or the activity passes through the gonads.  Lyden is the meaning – or the seal, see?  while Leydig is the name of the individual who indicated this was the activity.  You can call it either of these that you want to.  (281-53)

This is a very interesting and important excerpt in our understanding of the Leydig gland and is also fascinating from the standpoint of Edgar Cayce’s psychic process.  There are two important aspects to the question cited above: (1) The synonymous meaning of Leydig and lyden; and (2) The location of this gland.

The first question is easy: Yes, both terms (Leydig and lyden) refer to the same gland.  And in fact they are used interchangeably in the readings.  When the biological or strictly physiological aspect of the gland is emphasized, it is often called the Leydig, in reference to the man who discovered it and its biological function.  When the metaphysical or symbolic aspect of the gland is emphasized, the term “lyden” is typically used to signify the “closed” or “sealed” nature of the gland in its normal state.  Apparently, in historical times the word lyden meant “sealed” or “shut.”

With regard to the location of this gland, it is a bit more complex.  The question itself may have contributed to the confusion.  Edgar Cayce’s psychic process was affected by many factors, including the consciousness, intent and understanding of the person asking the question.  So the wording and assumptions of the question could bias or influence the answer by Cayce.  This effect was described in the readings themselves with the insistence that people pay particular attention to how and why they asked questions.

In the above excerpt the questioner has not only assumed that the terms Leydig and lyden refer to the same gland (a correct assumption), but also that this gland is located in the gonads of the reproductive system (testes in males, ovaries in females).  The reply by Cayce appears to try to correct this assumption while also being influenced by it.  It seems that the anatomical location of the Leydig gland is above the gonads but its physiological activity is through the gonads.  This will require some careful thought and study of other related readings.  Let’s begin with the man whose name is associated with the gland.

Franz Von Leydig was a famous and well-respected biologist who discovered the cells of Leydig in 1850 and the Leydig gland in 1892.  Let’s be clear: These are two different discoveries of different anatomical and physiological entities.  They are not the same, even though some Cayce scholars have interpreted them in that way, as was noted in a previous section.

The cells of Leydig discovered in 1850 by Dr. Leydig are interstitial cells located primarily in the reproductive glands of males and are best known for the production of testosterone, a sex hormone associated with masculinity.  Interstitial means that the cells of Leydig are scattered throughout the tissue rather than being grouped together as a unit.  So although the cells of Leydig secrete an important hormone (testosterone), properly speaking the cells of Leydig cannot be considered a gland, at least not as we normally define gland. 

On the other hand the Leydig gland, discovered in 1892, is a distinct unit of glandular tissue.  According to Franz Leydig, the Leydig gland is located in the mesonephros tissue in vertebrates.  This places it between the reproductive tract and kidneys.  Its function is unknown.  Dr. Leydig thought its role was to stimulate movement of spermatozoa.  So while the leydig gland is anatomically distinct and separate from the reproductive system, there may be a physiological connection between the leydig gland and the reproductive system (at least in males).  This is exactly how the Cayce readings described the anatomy and physiology of the Leydig (lyden) gland.  It is separate from the reproductive system anatomically (situated above in location) while its physiological activity (presumably via the chemicals it secretes) affects reproductive functioning.

Leydig's discoveries lay dormant for decades, as it was almost 100 years before medical science began serious research on the cells of Leydig in the 1950s.  Now there are hundreds of articles on Medline documenting the functions of these cells.  It is certainly understandable why Cayce scholars would have noted this large and growing body of research and drew an association with the readings’ use of the Leydig.

In contrast, the Leydig gland has yet to be rediscovered. When Edgar Cayce spoke of the Leydig or lyden gland, he always called it that – a gland.  He never called it the “cells of Leydig.” In one particularly explicit instance, he observed that this gland (which is normally about the size of a small pea) had become engorged to the size of a wren's egg.  The person was suffering from schizophrenia. 

(Q)  What is the lyden [Leydig] gland and where located? 
(A)  Lyden [Leydig] meaning sealed; that gland from which gestation takes place when a body is created through coition, or inception, through conception of two bodies meeting in creating a body.  Located in and above the gland called genital glands, see?  In the male, above the glands corresponding to testes.  In the female, that above gland responding to testes in the male.  Here in THIS particular case, near the size of a wren's egg. Nominally should be about the size of a small pea.  (3997-1)

Here are several key points to consider based on this excerpt:

  • The lyden/Leydig is a discreet glandular entity, a ball of glandular tissue that is normally about the size of a small pea but had become swollen to the size of a wren’s egg.  This description only makes sense in relation to the Leydig gland and not the scattered, interstitial cells of Leydig.
  • In the male, the lyden/Leydig gland is located “above the gland called the genital glands.”  In the female, the lyden/Leydig is “above gland responding to testes in the male.”  So in both cases, the Leydig gland is anatomically above the reproductive system. This is consistent with the anatomical location of the Leydig gland as noted by Franz Leydig. 
  • Although anatomically above the reproductive system, the physiological activity of the Leydig affects (or is directed to) the reproductive organs in both males and females.  This is also consistent with the physiology of the Leydig gland as noted by Franz Leydig.  So the gland is above, but its activity passes through the reproductive organs.

From Cayce's perspective, pathology of the Leydig gland was sometimes associated with psychiatric and neurological conditions such as schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, and epilepsy.  Cayce also linked the Leydig gland to psychological and spiritual development and functioning.  Hence, opening the sealed or closed door associated with Leydig gland is a powerful and sacred process, that can sometimes result in unpleasant or even pathological (psychiatric/neurological) conditions if the awakening process is becomes distorted.