I’ve been struggling with ideas for blog posts lately. Not struggling to find ideas exactly, but not quite figuring out what to say—or not getting it down—before the timeliness of a topic expires. A while back, I thought of a summer-related topic, but it was already mid-September—too late. Then last week, I thought I should write about the Detroit Tigers, but again it’s too late, and too sad. But summer will come around again, and the Tigers could make the playoffs again next year, so I’ll probably have another shot at these ideas.
Recently I was relieved to remember a great idea I’d thought of earlier. Unfortunately, then I woke up. I had dreamed not only about remembering but also the idea which had seemed so perfect, so apt. It was this:
I do not remember why this seemed like a good idea in my dream, but maybe something will come to me. Meanwhile, I jotted down another idea last week when I was actually awake. It has to do with a book, The Search for Omm Sety, about a woman who had vivid recollections of a past life. My grandmother told me about it because she believed that she herself had lived before. (There was much more to my grandmother than this, and I must write more about her—another time.) The problem is, like the Jell-O dream, I don’t remember why I thought of this the other day or why I thought it was worth writing about. But since it’s kind of a good ghost story, and it’s Halloween (timely!), I’ll give it a shot.
Dorothy Eady was born in England in the early 20th century. As a very young child, she fell down the stairs and afterwards began behaving very strangely. She asked to be taken “home,” insisting that England was not her real home, and she became interested in ancient Egypt. In an effort to console her, her parents took her to see the Egyptian artifacts in the British Museum, and she at last felt a sense of belonging. She identified a photograph of the temple of the New Kingdom pharaoh, Seti I, as her home, though it was missing the gardens she remembered. She eventually recalled that she had been a young priestess who became the lover of Seti I and committed suicide after becoming pregnant with his child.
This realization determined the path of the rest of her life, which she devoted to reconnecting with her past self. Dorothy immersed herself in the study of ancient Egypt and current Egyptian politics. She married an Egyptian and moved to Egypt, where she spent most of the rest of her life. She named her son Sety, thus she became known as Omm Sety, meaning “mother of Sety.”
She worked for the Egyptian department of antiquities, and though never formally trained, she made significant contributions to the scholarship on ancient Egypt. In her later years, she lived in Abydos, the site of the temple of Seti I, giving tours and acting as an unofficial temple caretaker.
Throughout her life, Dorothy Eady/Omm Sety was periodically visited in the night by the pharaoh Seti I and by a “gentleman” named Hor-Ra, who told her the story of her past life. She was not shy about talking to people about these visitations or her memories.
Few people really believed her story was true, but it could not be easily dismissed. Omm Sety gave uncannily accurate descriptions of the temple grounds that only Egyptologists could have known. When archaeologists excavated the site where she said the temple gardens had been located, they found gardens.
I’m not sure if my grandmother had anything like such specific recollections of a previous life, or if she just wished she did. I can relate to that desire to feel some sort of super-natural connection to the past. Being visited by a pharaoh in the night surely beats dreaming about Jell-O.