by Rosemary Clark
The following article appeared in the January 2001 edition of FATE Magazine.
Tales of reincarnation and past-life memory are rarely proven. In some instances, the recollection seems fanciful and speculative; in others, the information may be provocative and the details unique. One of the most convincing examples of the latter in modern times is the extraordinary life of Dorothy Eady, an Englishwoman born at the turn of the 20th century who later became known to many as Omm Sety.
Portions of Omm Sety’s life have been documented in books and on film in recent times. These accounts describe her conscious memory of a previous life as a priestess in ancient Egypt, which began to awaken at the age of three following a serious fall. She told the dramatic story of how it came about candidly to many people, and made no apologies for her peculiar interest in this past life or for her remarkable affinity with a prominent monarch of the 19th Egyptian Dynasty, Pharaoh Sety I (c. 1320-1200 b.c.).
I came to know Omm Sety at a dramatic time in my own life, when I made my first pilgrimage to Egypt in 1976. I had begun a temple practice in the canon of the ancient Egyptian religion, and was determined to find answers to my questions about this long-forgotten spiritual work and its meaning in the present day. Books on Egyptology and arcane religions did little to satisfy my confusion about what it meant and why I was doing it. I knew the solution had to exist in Egypt.
It was there that I met Omm Sety and, with her encouragement, began my own journey of awakening, just as she had decades earlier.
Dorothy Eady’s Transformation
Born to Irish parents in London on January 16, 1904, Dorothy Eady was headstrong and more than a handful to her parents as an only child. After an early childhood accident (in which the attending doctor had initially pronounced her dead), the door between her past life in ancient Egypt and her present persona fully opened, and she began to regularly dream of being in an Egyptian temple. At times, she believed that she actually visited the temple at night in her astral body.
Eventually, she discovered that the temple in her dreams really existed at the ancient site of Abydos in Upper Egypt. As she grew up, she sought more information about this place-and about everything Egyptian. She told her parents longingly that she “wanted to go home.” She read every book and listened to every story about Egypt, and she had the good fortune to be living near the British Museum. There, she befriended Ernest A. Wallis Budge and learned hieroglyphs and Egyptian history from this eminent Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, whose prolific books on Egyptian myth and magic are still in print today.
Dorothy did these things not under the tutelage of her parents or mentors, but solely on her own. This was to be her pattern for the rest of her life. After a sporadic education that was interrupted by the First World War, she agreed to marry an Egyptian man in 1933, admittedly so that she could go to live in the world of her dreams. The match lasted only two years. “He was ultra modern, and I was ultra ancient,” she said about the split. They had one son, whom she insisted on naming Sety. Years later, she adopted the name Omm Sety, “mother of Sety,” which designated her identity thereafter.
She eagerly accepted work at Giza, assisting some of the eminent Egyptologists of the day in excavating and recording the extensive cemeteries and pyramid complexes of Lower Egypt.
The Two Worlds of Omm Sety
When she went to the Per Neter (“divine house”) at Abydos, in her dream or astral state, Omm Sety did not see the temple as it was in her day. Rather, she saw it as it had been thousands of years ago-replete with braziers, incense, white-robed priests, and brilliantly-colored wall reliefs finished in gold. And in those ethereal visits to her spiritual home, she saw herself moving through the corridors and chambers, going about daily life and performing the rites of a priestess of Isis, chanting the lamentations of the goddess at the funeral of her husband Osiris, to whom the temple was dedicated.
Ancient myth told of the horrific death of the god at the hands of his brother Set and his mystic renewal through the magic of Isis. These solemn events were celebrated at Abydos in festivals throughout the year that commemorated his death and physical reconstitution. These observances became the prototype for the funerary tradition of ancient Egypt that lasted for millennia. Through her dream life, and visits from spirits of this past life who came to her at night, she learned that she was Bentreshyt, a young orphan girl given to the keeping of the temple, as was the custom in ancient Egypt. But the more remarkable detail about her life as the young priestess was that she had caught the eye of the visiting pharaoh, Sety I. They had broken religious law by having a physical relationship that was discovered. Nevertheless, their bond still existed, and he paid her frequent nocturnal visits throughout her present life to prove it.
Omm Sety showed a remarkable familiarity with the period in history that Sety represented, and often referred to him by his throne name, Men Maat Ra, “established in the light of truth.”
Abydos, Abode of Ancestors
After her first pilgrimage to Abydos in 1953, she was firmly convinced that she could never live anywhere else. A few years later, she managed to get a work transfer there from the Egyptian Antiquities Department, where she held a modest job as an assistant and draftsperson. When she set up her house, she said that all she wanted was “to live, to work, to die, and be buried here.” Indeed, she arrived in 1956 and remained there until she “became an Osiris” (an ancient Egyptian term for passing over) in 1981.
Almost as soon as she arrived, her amazing knowledge of the ancient city came forth. She accurately pointed out to Egyptologists the location of the temple gardens from her past-life memory, though they had not yet been excavated. She was also instrumental in the discovery of the famous wavy wall, an enclosure around the Abydos sacred precinct that emulates the primeval ocean of Egyptian myth. Abydos was known as Ta Wer (“exalted land”), a time-honored place of spiritual pilgrimage and the ideal destination for burial in ancient times. Tombs from the Predynastic period (prior to 3500 b.c.) down to the Christian era are found here, and important records have been discovered in the area. Not far from the great cemetery were found the important Nag Hammadi scrolls, which vie with the Dead Sea scrolls as the oldest documents of Christianity.
Humor With Reverence
Though her recollections of Egyptian life were profound and her knowledge of ancient history quite extensive, Omm Sety possessed a wicked sense of humor about things both ancient and modern. About 60 miles south of Abydos is Dendera (the ancient Tentyris), site of the ancient temple of the goddess Hathor. The existing temple, though a prodigious example of the Divine House of ancient times, was rebuilt in the Graeco-Roman period (approximately 300 b.c. to a.d. 300), nearly 1,500 years after Sety’s temple at Abydos. Omm Sety believed, as do many other scholars, that the reliefs at Dendera depict a corrupt canon of artistic representation in temple art, an inferior reflection of the flawless sacred art of former times. Though she liked the Dendera temple’s spiritual atmosphere and loved the mystic chapels on the roof that show the mutilation and resurrection of Osiris, she poked fun at the reliefs of the corpulent priests carrying the goddess’s shrine up to the roof chapels. “You can almost hear them panting,” she joked.