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A love affair stretching across an ocean of time. A baffling case of alleged reincarnation, claimed with the utmost conviction for the duration of a lifetime. An ancient life cut short and an English woman’s search to reclaim what was lost, so long ago. Do we merely begin in the womb and end in the tomb? Or could it all be a bit more complicated than that?

This is either the story of the delusions of a woman named Dorothy Louise Eady, or the tale of Bentreshyt (Egyptian for ‘Harp of Joy’). An Egyptian girl who became a Priestess of the temple of Kom el-Sultan. A secret love affair over 3000 years ago, with Pharaoh Menmaatre Seti I. Finally, a suicide out of shame. But if you are of the few who believe there is any credence to this unusual tale, then death, it would seem, was only the beginning.

Our story begins not in Ancient Egypt, but rather some mere 116 years ago, in Blackheath, London, England. Dorothy Eady was born on the 16th of January, 1904. Her life was seemingly ordinary until the age of three. Dorothy fell down a flight of stairs, sustaining serious injuries, including blunt force trauma to the head. Some accounts claim that she was actually pronounced dead at the scene. But the toddler awoke, appearing to make a full recovery.

As the years went on and the toddler became a young girl, Dorothy Eady’s once ordinary life would become incrementally less ordinary. It started with what we now call ‘foreign accent syndrome’. In rare occurrences, usually after someone sustains a stroke, they will speak in a manner that seems as though they are a foreign speaker to their native tongue. In Dorothy’s case, this may have been caused to the blunt force head trauma. But foreign accent syndrome would not account for the growing strangeness in her behavior.

Dorothy claimed she had reoccurring dreams of a place, a large building surrounded by columns. The building was surrounded by lush gardens, flowers and fruit-trees. It was noted that around this time at four years of age she would regularly sob to her mother saying that she “wanted to go home”.

This escalated drastically, upon an outing to the British Museum. Upon reaching the Ancient Egyptian exhibits, Dorothy was aglow with excitement. When she noticed a photograph of an ancient Egyptian temple from the 19th Dynasty era, she began to shout, “that is my home! But, where are the trees? Where are the gardens?”

(The Temple of Seti I, the father of Rameses the Great. Photographed by Antonio Beato, 1825-1903.)

Dorothy ran around the exhibit, kissing the feet of the statues and claimed she was “among her people”, eventually she found a mummy on display in a glass enclosure. Seemingly bewitched the young girl refused to leave, sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring up at the deceased. It was at this point her parents understood she was not likely to outgrow her obsession soon, rather her enthusiasm had only just been ignited.

Speaking in an accent uncommon to those around her, Dorothy began making remarks during her Sunday school classes, noting similarities and comparisons of Christianity and her “old religion”. She would speak of Ancient Egyptian beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, that in her current short life-time, she had never been exposed to.

“She was expelled from school for refusing to sing a hymn that included the line ‘curse the swart Egyptians’; to add insult to injury, she threw the hymnbook at the teacher and stormed out of the room.”

—Excerpt from Toby Wilkinson’s The Nile: Downriver Through Egypt’s Past and Present, 2014.

This led to Dorothy being interrogated by a priest, who after hearing her mention how much she enjoyed Catholic mass because it reminded her of the Egyptian ceremonies she use to partake in, enough was enough. In the Catholic faith, secret knowledge, talking in tongues, a desire to follow pagan faiths can be considered signs of demonic possession. Dorothy Eady and her Ancient Egyptian antics were not welcome.

Dorothy, feeling isolated and confused would often stare longingly at photographs of Egyptian ruins. She could not understand why the ruins were so barren and aged, when in her memories/dreams they were pristine constructs, surrounded by lush greenery. Certain that her true home was the Temple of Seti the First at Abydos, Dorothy Eady made it her life’s pursuit to return there.

Soon enough, a childhood spent longing to return to a home that was lost to the sands of time, was over. Dorothy Eady immersed herself in learning about Ancient Egypt and learned to read and write hieroglyphs (perhaps even better than she was capable in her former life). It wasn’t until she was 27 years old, that she married an Egyptian man, Eman Abdel Meguid and in 1931, the pair started their together in Cairo, Egypt.

Soon after moving to Cairo, Dorothy gave birth to a child she called ‘Sety’ after Pharaoh Menmaatre Seti I. Her husband’s family nicknamed Dorothy, Bulbul (meaning Nightingale), but after the birth of her son, Dorothy called herself Omm Sety meaning “The Mother of Sety”.

After moving to Egypt, Omm Sety’s experiences and beliefs severely intensified. She developed a compulsion to enter trance-like states and rapidly draw Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. She claimed to see apparitions, out of body experiences, spirit journeys and spiritual meetings with various beings, one of which, Pharaoh Menmaatre Seti I. The ever growing interest in the obsession of a “past life” and her outlandish pastimes eventually became too much for the upper middle-class family she had married into. In 1935 Dorothy and Eman were divorced.

At the height of her spiritual engagements, it’s said an apparition of ‘Hor Ra’ revealed her past-life to Dorothy (Hor sometimes used to mean ‘High Steward’, often affiliated with Abydos, the place Dorothy believed she came from. Hor also an alternate name for the God Horus, who held dominion over the sky. Ra being the name of the Egyptian God of the Sun).

Hor Ra made it known to Dorothy that some 3000 years ago she lived as an Egyptian girl, called Bentreshyt “harp of joy”. Over approximately one year, documented in 70 pages of hieroglyphic text, Hor Ra explained the details of Dorothy Eady’s former life. He told Dorothy that her mother would sell vegedtables and that her father was a solider, during the 19th dynasty, of Pharaoh Menmaatre Seti I.

After the death of Bentreshyt’s mother, her father took her to the temple of Kom el-Sultan to be raised as a priestess. Having been brought to the temple at the age of three (around the same age Dorothy experienced her near death experience) Bentreshyt spent a further 9 years at Kom el-Sultan before being offered the choice to leave the temple or remain as a consecrated virgin. With no family, or any means to support herself, Bentreshyt took the vows of the temple and would remain a virgin and serve Isis (a goddess affiliated with many things, including resurrection. Some sources suggest Bentreshyt was more likely a priestess of Osiris, god of the underworld).

As a consecrated virgin priestess, Bentreshyt would play a role in the annual ceremonies surrounding the tale of ‘Osiris’s passion and resurrection’. The story of Osiris and Isis, Osiris would die, only to be resurrected (his rise and fall compared to the rise and fall of the Nile, the growth and death of crops) again by the magic of Isis. Isis would resurrect her lover Osiris, so that he could impregnate her, their son being Horus god of the sky.

Much like Osiris and Isis, during Bentreshyt’s involvement in the annual ceremony, she came to exchange favorable glances with Seti I. Eventually, the pair would become secret lovers. Also alike Osiris and Isis, Bentreshyt fell pregnant. But before she would give birth to her own Horus, the High Priest learned of her insubordination, her vowels to a sacred order had been broken. The High Priest warned Bentreshyt that this offense, this insult to the Goddess Isis would not go unpunished. The penalty for such defiance, is death. Ashamed and afraid, fearing the condemnation of not only her people, but the gods she served, Bentreshyt committed suicide. (Most sources do not mention the fate of the child, suggesting its life was subsequently ended also. Others suggest Bentreshyt gave birth to the child prior to ending her life).

Dorothy Eady was involved with various archeological interests surrounding The Temple of Seti I. It has been claimed that Dorothy led archaeologists to locations where temple gardens were lost to the Egyptian sands. Most notably she led a group to an undiscovered secret tunnel into Temple. Aside from this she spent a great deal of time writing about the commonalities and differences in the Egypt she experienced in her lifetime to the Egypt she knew, or believed to have known, some 3000 years ago.

After her mandatory retirement from the Antiquities Department of Cairo at age 60, Dorothy achieved the dream she had longed for since she was a small girl. Alone, she returned to the temple of Abydos, having paid her penance with one lifetime, she lived out her remaining years, the last priestess of the temple of Seti I. Whether what she believed was true or her existence was consumed by a delusion that claimed 77 years, the story came full circle. While a young priestess wandered the fertile greenery of lively temple, an elderly woman sits alone in abandoned ruins, surrounded by a desert.

Until the 21st of April, 1981 where Dorothy Eady, or Omm Sety passed away at the age of 77 years old.

(Omm Sety at the Temple of Abydos, where she lived out her life.)

To those that believe Dorothy Eady spent her 77 year lifetime confused, mistaken, or simply lying, then the story ends with an elderly woman living out her winter years in an abandoned Ancient Egyptian temple, before passing away. Quite a depressing tale.

Omm Sety, however, had a different ending in mind, an ending beyond the reaches of a mortal death. For one of the many spirits and apparitions that visited her, was Pharaoh Menmaatre Seti I and as the story goes, the love affair did not end 3000 years ago. Omm Sety believed that Seti I had searched for her tirelessly in this world and the next and had given her spiritual guidance as a means for the star-crossed lovers to reunite.

They planned to find one another in the Egyptian Underworld.

If you believe that Omm Sety was accurate in her interpretation of her experiences, that she truly was reincarnated from a prior life, then does the story end with this one more mortal death?

Or does it go on?

(Statue of Pharaoh Menmaatre Seti I, created circa 1290–1279 BC.)

3 thoughts on “ᵀᴴᴱ REINCARNATION ᴏғ OMM SETY

    1. Thanks Arbie. The interesting thing to me about this case that sets it apart from most other accounts of alleged reincarnation is that the belief only grew stronger with age. Most people who believe they have lived before grow out of the belief or lose all memory of it, usually by the age of 8 years old – according to the studies outlined in ‘Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation’ by Dr. Ian Stevenson, 1966. The belief, whether there was any truth to it or not utterly consumed Omm Sety’s life.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The end really surprised me for that reason. To go and be alone at the temple for the remainder of her years, I can’t imagine that to be a hoax unless she lived a facade so long she knew nothing else. Many aspects make it mysterious to me though, especially the fascination from such a young age and distress but also children often have a desire to fit in and she didn’t seem to stop even when being pushed out for the things she’d say. Whatever the case, she sure was dedicated until the end.

        Liked by 1 person

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