If you believe in past lives and reincarnation, the story of Dorothy Eady will surely blow your mind! Popularly known as “Om Seti” or “Omm Sety,” Dorothy Louise Eady was a drafting technician for the Department of Egyptian Antiquities. She is renowned for making great contributions to Egyptology, and her historical research work at Abydos has garnered significant attention. However, besides her professional achievements, perhaps she is most famous for believing that she was an Egyptian priestess in a past life. Her life and work have been covered in many documentaries, articles, and biographies. In fact, the New York Times called her story “one of the Western World’s most intriguing and convincing modern case histories of reincarnation.”
Dorothy Eady was born in Blackheath, London in 1904 to Reuben Ernest Eady and Caroline Mary Eady. She was an only child, and her father was a master tailor. When she was three years old, Eady fell down a flight of stairs and doctors feared she would not survive. However, it seems as though the accident had only opened up her life to a remarkable mystery.
Soon after the accident, Eady started displaying strange behaviors. She showed symptoms of the foreign-accent syndrome and constantly talked about “going home.” Needless to say, the changes in her personality caused quite a stir in her life. She got banned from her Sunday school after she compared Christianity to an ancient Egyptian religion. She was also expelled from school when she refused to sing a hymn that talked about cursing the dark-skinned Egyptians. Even her visits to Catholic mass were stopped.
One day, Eady’s parents took her to the British Museum. When exploring, she entered the room for the New Kingdom Temple exhibit and noticed a photograph of the temple of Pharaoh Seti I. Overjoyed and overcome with excitement, she exclaimed: “there is my home!” Though she recognized the place in the photograph, she could not understand why there were no trees or gardens in the area. She ran around the room, checking artifacts and kissing the feet of the statues. She felt like she was among her people.
After that first trip, Eady would often visit the museum where she met E. A. Wallis Budge, a noted Egyptologist and philologist. Taken by her interest and enthusiasm in the country, he encouraged her to study hieroglyphs and the history of Egypt. During World War I, Eady moved to Sussex to live with her grandmother. There, she continued her studies of ancient Egypt at the Eastbourne public library.
When Eady was 15 years old, the spirit of Hor-Ra visited her in dreams and made her remember her past life over a period of 12 months. She claimed that before being born as Dorothy Eady, she was an Egyptian woman named Bentreshyt. She came from a humble background and her father was a soldier who served during Seti I’s reign. Her mother, who was a vegetable seller, died when she was just three years old. Unable to care for her, Bentreshyt’s father placed her in the Temple of Kom el-Sultan. She was then raised at the temple, where she later became a priestess.
When she was 12 years old, Bentreshyt was given two choices – she could either venture out into the world or become a consecrated virgin and stay at the temple. Without a complete understanding of what it meant and due to the lack of a viable alternative, Bentreshyt decided to take the vows. A few years later, she met pharaoh Seti I and they ended up becoming lovers.
When she became pregnant with the child of the pharaoh, she had no choice but to tell the high priest about her relationship with Seti I. Upon hearing it, the high priest told her that her sin against Isis was so severe that she would likely be sentenced to death. Unwilling to put her beloved through a public scandal, Bentreshyt chose to commit suicide to avoid facing the trial.
Eady drew cartoons and wrote articles for an Egyptian PR magazine. Through her work at the London-based company, she showed her political support for the independence of Egypt. During this time, she met Eman Abdel Meguid, an Egyptian student. The two fell in love and kept in touch even when Meguid moved back home. In 1931, Meguid, who had secured a job as an English teacher, asked Eady to marry him. Eady accepted the proposal and moved to Egypt with her new husband. Upon arrival, she kissed the ground and said that she had finally come home. Eady and Meguid had a son whom they named Sety.
After separating from her husband, Eady met Selim Hassan, an Egyptian archaeologist who worked at the Department of Antiquities. He hired her as a drafting technician and secretary. As the first female employee of the department, Eady made great strides in her career. Being a native English speaker, she was an asset to the department. She produced essays, articles, and monographs.
In his masterpiece called Excavations at Giza, Hassan gave special mention and thanks to Eady, who helped him with tasks such as drawing, editing, proofreading, and indexing. During this time, Eady met and befriended many notable Egyptologists who gave her valuable insights into archeology. In exchange, Eady lent her expertise in drawing and hieroglyphs. After Selim Hassan passed away, she was hired by Ahmed Fakhry who was conducting excavations at Dashur at the time.
After living in Cairo for 19 years, Eady moved to Abydos and built a home near Pega-the-Gap Mountain. During this time, she started to be called ‘Omm Sety,’ which translates to “mother of Sety.” She also collaborated with many notable Egyptologists who benefited from her keen insight and knowledge of the area. She also published several books and worked with other researchers. The focus of her research was, of course, the Temple of Seti I located in Abydos. She also helped in the discovery of the garden where she said she had met the pharaoh.
Dorothy Eady died in 1981 at the age of 77, and she was buried near a Coptic cemetery in Abydos, but her story and legacy live on to this day.