Born in 1904, Dorothy was the only child of Reuben and Caroline Eady who, at the age of three, suffered traumatic injuries after a fall down the stairs nearly killed her.
After regaining consciousness, the young Dorothy displayed signs of unusual behaviour as she was nursed back to health, including memories of a different life that would influence and shape her future career.
Reflecting on the incident years later, Dorothy explained that the fall had somehow unlocked memories of her past life, complete with the personality and demeanour of the woman she once was. The young Dorothy remembered that her previous name was Bentreshyt, a priestess native to a land that was far from Plymouth.
Her speech had also changed after the fall but not in a way that would signify injury. She developed an accent and spoke calmly, structuring her sentences like an adult and understanding social cues.
She would also ask her parents if they would take her home, sometimes repeatedly, despite being in the family home at the time.
When questioned as to where home was, she couldn’t say but a few years later, while on a family trip to the British Museum, Dorothy excitedly told them as they entered the Egyptian exhibit, “These are my people!”
Identifying a photograph in the exhibit of the temple of Seti, Dorothy was confused by its appearance and exclaimed that the trees and gardens had disappeared but ran around the statues kissing their feet and identifying some by name.
Keen to discourage her unusual behaviour, her parents enrolled Dorothy in a Catholic school for girls, but after disagreements with her teachers regarding Egyptian references in the Bible, problems escalated to expulsion after she stubbornly refused to sing a hymn that called on God to “curse the swart Egyptians.”
She would take any opportunity she could to visit the Egyptian exhibits and as she grew older, more memories surfaced. She described how she was once a young orphan girl placed in the temple of Kom el-Sultan to serve as a priestess. While serving as a teenager, she caught the eye of Pharaoh Seti I and the two became lovers. She remembered their passionate affair in intimate detail…a forbidden love which would end in her suicide.
Dorothy continued to associate herself with Egypt as an adult and spent her free time studying it’s history, culture and politics, joining the political movement for an independent Egypt. While supporting Egypt’s political protests in London, she met and married Egyptian teacher Emam Abdel Meguid. The two moved to Egypt in 1931 and Dorothy, still remembering her past life, kissed the ground on arrival and wept in joy at her return.
Although never formally trained in Egyptology, Eady’s knowledge and ability to understand hieroglyphics (an ability she referred to as remembering rather than learning), caught the eye of Egyptologist Selim Hassan at the Department of Antiquities, who hired her as his secretary and draughtswoman. Her success and reputation with Hassan led to further work with Ahmed Fakhry, who benefited from her skills and advice during his excavations at Dashur.
Eady, now mother to a son she named Sety, changed her name to the Egyptian Omm Sety (Mother of Sety) and was well known to the locals due to her worship of the old Gods. She would often be seen at the Sphinx or temple ruins deep in prayer or leaving offerings, behaviour which lead to much gossip in the community.
On the 3rd March 1956, the now known Omm Sety moved to Abydos, the place where she once lived and served in the temple during her previous incarnation.
Still an important figure to many Egyptologists who would travel across the country to seek her advice, she remained in Abydos until her death in 1981.
Notable behaviour & further claims:
Klaus Baer recalled her piety when she accompanied him on a visit to Sakkara in the early 1950s. She paid respect with an offering and took off her shoes before entering Unas' pyramid.
Eady demonstrated advanced knowledge of the temple site in Abydos where she claimed to have served. She knew the layout well despite never visiting before and identified key features which were previously unpublished.
During a “test” on her visit with the Department of Antiquities, she was asked to stand in front of specific wall paintings while in the dark – she correctly identified the location of every painting.
She claimed that in her past life as Bentreshyt, the temple had a garden where she first met Seti I. She described its location, layout, and vegetation. Years later, archaeologists excavated the garden in that location and identified features described by Eady.
She would carry out rituals based on Egyptian text to cure or treat ailments. Many of them were effective treatments and she gained a reputation as a wise woman and healer within the community.
Eady identified and detailed many modern practices in Egypt that had links or origins to it's ancient culture. These can be explored further in her book - Omm Sety's Living Egypt: Surviving Folkways from Pharaonic Times
She claimed to know about the existence of the Egyptian Hall of records from conversations with Seti. It was a guarded and sacred building when she was Bentreshyt, containing vast amounts of volumes on history, science, medicine, astronomy, nature, and the origins of humanity. The location wasn’t at the Sphinx but in a separate building on the site now occupied by the Arab Socialist League. It may survive in some form beneath the modern building, but the thousands of volumes once housed there were likely destroyed by subsequent religions.
"Sometimes you weren't sure whether Omm Sety wasn't pulling your leg. Not that she was a phoney in what she said or believed – she was absolutely not a con artist – but she knew that some people looked on her as a crackpot, so she kind of fed into that notion and let you go either way with it...She believed enough to make it spooky, and it made you doubt your own sense of reality sometimes."
Prof. James Peter Allen, Egyptologist, Brown University, USA
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