This week let’s meet Omm Sety. I was at first going to feature her in a Fun Fact Friday post, but after reading more about her life, she needed to be featured on a Women Crush Wednesday post.
Her Early Life
Dorothy Eady was born on January 16th, 1904 in Southeast London, England. She was the only child of a master tailor and a housewife. When she was three years old, she fell down a full flight of stairs and was originally pronounced dead. But an hour later, it was said she was sitting up in bed perfectly fine. This accident most likely changed the entire course of her life.
After her accident, she seemed very different. She had developed foreign accent syndrome, which is when a person develops a different speech pattern that is perceived as a foreign accent. This usually occurs after a stroke or other traumatic brain injury. Dorothy also repeatedly asked to “be brought home.” She was kicked out of Sunday school after comparing Christianity with the ancient Egyptian religion and kicked out of girls school for refusing to sing a hymn that called on God to “curse the swart Egyptians.” And even though she liked to attend Catholic Mass because she was reminded of the “Old Religion,” but that was also terminated.
These strange behaviors didn’t make much sense until her parents took her to visit the British Museum in London. When walking into the gallery, she was dazzled by the artifacts, supposedly kissing the feet of many of the statues. Then Dorothy saw a photograph of the Temple of Seti I in Abydos. Then she supposedly exclaimed, “There is my home! Where are the trees? Where are the gardens?” She would visit the British Museum whenever she got the opportunity, where she met E.A. Wallis Budge, who was the Head of the Egyptian Department at the Museum. He encouraged her to study Egyptology and hieroglyphics.
She moved to her grandmother’s house in Sussex during World War I, so her Egyptology research had to be transferred to a local library. While she was here, her love and interest in ancient Egypt began to expand in extraordinary ways.
When she was 15, she described a visit from the mummy of Pharaoh Seti I. During this time, she both slept walked, and had nightmares that may have fueled these visions. Unfortunately, because of this, she was incarcerated in sanatoriums several times. She officially left school at 16 and traveled to archaeological sites and museums around Britain. To fill her time, she became a part-time student at an art school, collected affordable Egyptian antiquities, and became part of a theater group that performed a play based on the story of Isis and Osiris.
At the age of 27, Dorothy, still wanting to learn more about Egypt, she took a job in London working for an Egyptian public relations magazine, writing articles and drawing political cartoons. There she met her future husband, Eman Abdel Meguid, who was an Egyptian student.
Her Life (and Past Life) in Egypt
After Eman returned to Egypt to become an English teacher, he proposed to Dorothy and asked her to come to Egypt. When she arrived in Egypt, she kissed the ground and said that she had come home to stay. They lived in Cairo with her in-laws, who called her Bulbul, or “Nightingale.” They later had one son, whom she named Sety, which her husband didn’t approve of.
During this period, she continued to have visions and out-of-body experiences. Many of these occurred at night where she was “visited” by apparitions of ancient Egyptians. Her main visions involved a man named Hor-Ra. He recounted the story of a woman named Bentreshyt, which means “Harp of Joy,” who had reincarnated into Dorothy Eady.
Bentreshyt was the daughter of a vegetable seller and a soldier who fought for Seti I, a pharaoh of the New Kingdom and the 19th Dynasty. After her mother died when she was 3, her father could not afford to care for her, so she placed in the temple of Kom el-Sultan as a priestess. By 12, Bentreshyt took the vows of a consecrated virgin of the temple. She took up a lead role in the annual drama of Osiris’s passion and resurrection at the Temple.
Then the story takes an interesting twist: Bentreshyt met Pharoah Seti I in the garden of the temple and they became lovers. Breaking her vow to the temple, she would eventually fall pregnant. Unfortunately, if she went to trial, she would most likely be put to death for her crime against Isis. So, she committed suicide rather than face trial.
Besides these visions and apparitions, Dorothy visited many of the archaeological sites and museums of Cairo. When entering temples, she would often take her shoes off and leave offerings. She would also pray to the Egyptian gods, which often made her become the object of local gossip. She was still respected for not hiding her true faith and she herself respected all other religions. Dorothy would fast during Ramadan with the Muslim people and celebrate Christmas with the Christians. She even supposedly slept in the Great Pyramid…frequently!
She interacted and met many famous Egyptologists throughout her life. After she and her husband separated, Dorothy moved closer to the pyramids and later met renowned Egyptian Egyptologist, Selim Hassan. He employed her as his secretary and a draughtswoman, which is someone who would make technical drawings of temple paintings and archaeological sites. Through Hassan, she was the first woman to be hired by the Egyptian Department of Antiquities. She later worked with Ahmed Fakhry, another Egyptian Egyptologist.
Her Life in Abydos
In 1956 when she was 52, she took a job as a draughtswoman in Abydos. Her Dorothy felt much more at home, especially because she believed Bentreshyt lived in Abydos. She set up a home in Arabet, which sits in the cradle of the mountain called Pega-the-Gap. Here she took up the name Omm Sety (or Om Seti), which followed the tradition of the local Egyptian women. They would be referred to as the mother of the name of their eldest child, which is what Omm Sety meant, “Mother of Sety.”
Her reputation seemed to precede her, as many Egyptologists would come and visit her to hear her stories. At one point, she was asked by the chief inspector to identify wall paintings in the Temple of Seti I in the dark. He would describe the painting and she would point out where that one was located. She did this successfully, even identifying some paintings that had not yet been published.
Omm Sety continued to work for the Department of Antiquities, listing and translated pieces of recently excavated temple palaces. Through her visions of Seti I and her past life, she made a few claims of the locations of archaeological sites, with minimal success. She successfully identified the location and layout of the garden in the Temple of Seti where she supposedly lived in her past life. Though she did claim that there was a tunnel running underneath the northern part of the temple and a hidden vault containing a library of hidden historical and religious records, both of which have yet to be investigated.
She also believed that she knew the general location of the tomb of Nefertiti. She asked Seti I if he knew where it was. He didn’t want to disclose it because he didn’t want anything about Akhenaten, the religious heretic, or his family to be known. He did tell her that Nefertiti is buried in the Valley of the Kings near Tutankhamun’s tomb. Because of this, multiple investigations in the area have occurred. Tomb KV63, which held seven wooden coffins and storage jars with mummification materials, was discovered when investigating the Valley. There are still suspicions that Nefertiti’s tomb is hidden behind the walls of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, but investigations have been inconclusive.
Her Later Years
Although she was required to retire from the Department of Antiquities at age 60, they made an exception for her, so she continued to work for another five years. After she worked as a part-time consultant for the Department, guiding tourists through the Temple of Seti. After suffering a mild heart attack, she sold her house and moved into a zareba, which is a ramshackle hut made of reeds. Then one of the local keepers of the temple built her a mudbrick house next to him. She also described another encounter with Seti I when she moved into the house.
In 1981, Omm Sety was asked to be in a documentary about ancient Egypt. The crew carried her over to the Temple of Seti to be filmed and it is thought that it was the last time she ever went to the temple. She had previously built her own tomb with its own false door. After she died on April 21, 1981, at the age of 77, the health authority, unfortunately, did not allow her to be buried there. She was buried facing west, in an unmarked grave outside of a Coptic cemetery.
Opinions (Including My Own)
In general, Egyptologists believe that she deserved to be treated as a responsible scholar. Omm Sety was mainly a source of how traditional ancient religious practices have survived into Egyptian modern practices. Throughout her life, she respected the methods and standards of scholarship and wrote several papers and books about a variety of topics.
Obviously, some questioned the validity of her claims. But many Egyptologists choose to focus on her work with the Department and her passion for Egyptian history, art, and culture. It has been proposed by a psychiatrist, that she may have damaged her locus coeruleus of her brain, which could have resulted in a dislocation from her surroundings resulting in the embracement of an obsession.
Her story is definitely a fascinating one. From my scholarly point of view, it is difficult to believe anything that she has said because there is no evidence of Bentreshyt. I can’t disregard that she did identify where the garden was in the temple. Obviously could be a coincidence or there was only one obvious place for the garden, but who’s to know?
I am also a very spiritual person, so my non-scholarly opinion is that she is telling some or all of the truth. No matter what, she believes in it. She never seemed to do any harm with her beliefs. Never tried to convert or convince anyone. So what’s the harm in believing her?
https://trinfinity8.com/the-incredibleion-of-om-sety/ – Image of Omm Sety with Red Scarf
Jean-Claude Golvin/Éditions Errance – Reconstruction of Temple of Seti I at Abydos
Fox Photos/Getty Images – Mummy room at the British Museum in 1937
https://matrixdisclosure.com/dorothy-eady-omm-sety-egypt/ – Image of young Omm Sety/Dorothy Eady
L.H. Lesko – Image of Omm Sety with child
https://abydosarchive.org/2017/07/14/omm-seti-in-the-abydos-archives/ – Omm Sety in the Temple of Seti I
https://www.facebook.com/Omm-Sety-Daughter-of-Isis-190295137686081/?ref=page_internal – Image of Omm Sety with Donkeys
Winifred Burton – Painting reconstruction of Seti I
Kenneth Garett Photography – Mummy of Seti I
Roland Unger – Photo of Temple of Seti I in Abydos
Ted Brock and Susan Osgood – Photo of tomb KV63
Dorothy Eady’s IMDb – Photo of Dorothy Eady laughing