I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert… Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is OZYMANDIAS, kind of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains, Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
This lone and level sands stretch far away.
The poets and literature enthusiasts amongst us will instantly recognise the celebrated lines of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s (1792-1822) beautiful sonnet, written to draw our attention to the human construct of time in its guise as a co-conspirator to the destruction of memory. The subject of his derision is none other than Ozymandias or Ramses the Great (c. 1303-1213 bce), an Egyptian monarch perceived by many as a patriarchal egomaniac because of the ambitious extensive building projects he undertook along the Nile Valley during the entire length of his reign (1279-1213 bce) to fuel a propaganda machine vouching for supremacy and dominance over everything and everyone. Without a doubt, there’s probably nothing more egotistical than wanting to engrave your name onto every megalithic pyramid, obelisk, temple, cliff, and ornamental embellishment ever erected on the supernal red sands of Egypt for the sake of ensuring posterity. If Shelley’s words are to be believed then any undisclosed or disclosed desire to remain in the collective consciousness of humanity for all time is futile since everything is inevitably swallowed up into an abyss of nonexistence by the swirling sands of time. Or is it?
Looking at evolution as a purely organic and mechanistic process, we see that the vertebrates of one era are usually superseded by more efficient and comprehensive ones that come to comprise the next. When the transition from one to another is effected, the bony remains of the former are usually pushed deeper and deeper into the subterranean where they’ll lie fossilized and forgotten. In this way the subsistence of universal life force can be measured in time through the eternal recycling of corporeal forms. Time and the transmutation of natural forms along with the unique dynamic modes of operation that come with them can thus be equated with one another. In actual fact the whole spatiotemporal process might be embodied by an algebraic equation where ab, a random symbol for one form, equals bc, a random symbol for a successive transmuted form that has occurred in time. By the same token the form for bc can either equal ab or cd, that of cd can equal bc or de, and that of the guise de can equal cd or ef. No matter at which stage of the evolutionary chain we find ourselves or what form we come to inhabit we are always linked to future forms or incarnations through physical resonances like genes, cultural resonances like memes, and more speculative psychic resonances like collective consciousness. Through the configuration of the letters we see that whilst all tangible forms are individual functioning units in themselves, they also project arching bridges over the black waters of oblivion to the forms of the immediate past as well as the coming-to-be forms of the immediate future. Subtle in nature and seldom acknowledged, the bridges themselves remain inactive until two or three neighbouring forms begin vibrating at the same frequency. If and when this happens, accessing information from an era belonging to the past becomes as simple as taking a deep breath or sipping on a glass of red wine.
For Shelley and a myriad other ‘doubting Thomases’, the bridges of objectively re-membering other times, places, and past personalities are non-existent. Once the bundle of nervous tissues and fibres that spawn thought-desires and engage the interactive field to produce an accumulation of unique experiences and memories has expired, there is no way that any other conscious extension of the universe can carve out the same path and experience the same consciousness footprint, let alone inherit some of its dispersing psychic substrate (i.e. physical reincarnation). From this reductionist viewpoint the process of remembering or tapping into other times and places is merely a subplot in an ongoing historical narrative where the imagination has supplanted reason as the chief protagonist, a powerful tool which creates a veil of delusion so that we won’t ever have to confront such an upsetting and insensitive truth as the eternal cessation of personal consciousness. Fanatics and enthusiasts of modern atheistic science agree with this assessment, decreeing that remembering is a necessary fantasy for the weak-willed among us who cannot cope with the stark reality that the nightmare of nothingness awaits beyond the blue-blackish gates of death. Candidly put, many of them will also assert that the propensity for organized religions to come replete with eschatological notions about the destiny of an individual animating life force loosely dubbed the ‘soul’ is proof enough that they too are inconsequential by-products of the universal school of human imagination. Irrespective of whether they belong to the sphere of science or religion, all justifications hoping to address the final destiny of the personal conscious are, to all intents and purposes, questions of faith that transcend our cerebral acumen. As it currently stands, I believe that our understanding of the universe is still too limited and elementary to address such critical matters in an adequate fashion. We still need to undergo several leaps in the evolution of our neural hardware and our collective consciousness before such becomes possible. Whatever one’s take on the matter is, questions of this type are always further mystified by atypical phenomena pertaining to individual human experience. One of the most spectacular and thought-provoking is definitely the adventurous, mythopoeic life of Omm Sety (1904-1981).
Before moving into a discussion of the depth and breadth of Omm Sety’s Egyptological knowledge, it would be well worth my effort to equip you, my reader, with the requisite analytic tools so that you may make your own assessments and reach your own conclusions about the avenue through which this myth-making titan was able to extract objective knowledge from the microcosm. Born in 1904, Dorothy Louise Eady (Omm Sety’s real name) was the only child of Reuben and Caroline Eady. Little is known of her infancy but it appears that when she was about three she tumbled down the staircase of the family’s London residence and smacked her head so hard against the ground that she became unconscious. According to the anecdote as told by Omm Sety herself, the family doctor proclaimed her dead after noting a complete absence of any vital signs, a predication that was obviously wrong for when he returned to the home with necessary post-mortem documentation for her parents to sign she was rolling about on the mattress chewing candy and laughing irrepressibly. In recollecting the moment she says, “All I can remember about the fall is that when I regained consciousness I felt, well, sort of funny. It was as though I not only changed my skin, which was black and blue with bumps all over, but I also felt that something in my head had changed its orientation. I was not the same after that.” And indeed, she wasn’t the same after the fall. She acquired an eccentricity that would have turned the heads of famous oddballs like miser Hetty Green (1834-1916) and the flamboyant and rather scandalous Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). Some of it was probably hereditary. Her father Reuben was of blazing Irish stock, susceptible to the same bouts of melodramatic and impulsive behaviour that characterized his only daughter.
But Dorothy switched gears and took it to a whole new level. She began telling her parents about a home she remembered that was now in visible ruins. When the latter took her to the British Museum for a daytime visit she reacted superfluously, scurrying about the ancient Egyptian artefacts and claiming that they were all remnants of a former home. When she caught sight of the sand-covered Sety Temple near el Araba el Madfouna (meaning The Buried Hamlet in Arabic) in one of her father’s travel magazines she unashamedly reiterated the same belief. Similarly when she was questioned by the renowned Egyptologist Sir Wallis Budge as to why she spent hours upon hours reading hieroglyphic inscriptions on sarcophagi and other Egyptian relics at the museum she daftly answered that she was merely attempting to remember what she’d forgotten. Hand in hand with these revelations came an outright rejection of the Christian faith for an ancient Egyptian tradition more animistic and vitalist in its conception of the universe; she switched the salvific figures of Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ for the brother-sister couple of Osiris and Isis and forfeited her faith in Christian piety in order to embrace ancient Egyptian heka (magic).
Of course her most outrageous revelation was that she’d known Sety (c. 1294-1279 bce) in person. Sety was a Nineteenth Dynasty ruler of New Kingdom Egypt who’d been left the all-important task of re-establishing a traditional polytheistic vision that had been blunted by Akhenaten’s blind devotion to the monotheistic worship of the sun disc, the Aten. Due to the sensitive socio-political and religious climate of his day, Sety busied himself mainly by conducting military expeditions to consolidate Egyptian power in foreign lands and constructing temple complexes to appease the all-powerful priesthood of Amun-Re based at Thebes. Dorothy claims that the two had met on the grounds of the Abydos temple in Upper Egypt during an incarnation where she’d been a virgin priestess of Isis named Bentreshyt (ancient Egyptian for Harp-of-Joy). Being the blue-eyed, blonde-haired daughter of an Achaean (Greek) soldier had definitely played a pivotal part in separating her from the rest of the dark-complexioned priestesses. Her exotic, disarming, and magnetic physiognomy didn’t go unnoticed for very long at all. One day, whilst meandering aimlessly about the temple, Sety caught sight of the young Bentreshyt and became enamoured of her. His desire for sexual union with her was so great that it temporarily blighted out the datum that she was temple property and forbidden to forfeit her virginity to any man. But for a while all this was forgotten as they savoured the fruit from the forbidden tree. Not only did their brazen act leave her pregnant, it aroused the suspicion of the high priest Antef who proceeded to torture her near an effigy of Osiris in the Osireion until she confessed everything. Knowing very well what the consequences of such a transgression would be (i.e. impalement and refusal of any proper burial rites), Bentreshyt chose honour over humiliation and committed suicide before any legal procedures could be mobilized against her.
When Sety found out about the lamentable turn of events he was visibly shocked and heartbroken. He vowed never to forget the young priestess of Achaean descent who’d stirred such feverish emotions within his own candid psyche. And he didn’t, for one fateful night some three thousand three hundred years into the future, he spontaneously materialized from the Great Beyond in the form of a mummified corpse. Logically her vital life force had now passed into another body; she was no longer the shy and uncertain virgin priestess of the New Kingdom era but a sharp-witted, opinionated, and humorous fourteen-year old British girl at the inception of her womanhood. The preternatural encounter with a dishevelled, reaper-like Sety didn’t frighten her one bit. In fact, she herself claims that it only reinforced that which she’d intuitively felt to be true–that she’d once engaged in a fervent love affair with one of the most beloved figures of ancient Egyptian history. Unfortunately for Dorothy Eady another fifteen years would elapse before Sety materialized again, this time as a tangible human being decked in full royal insignia. From that point onwards, he would flit between the incorporeal Amenti and the earthbound plane in order to actualize an ancient love affair cut short before it could fully blossom. Dorothy’s diary entries give ample insight into the nature of his materializations. At first, he could only appear as a hazy shadow but with the passage of time came a divine decree from the assembly of Egyptian gods and goddesses allowing him full materialization on the earthbound plane. By drawing sekhem (life force) from the body of his beloved, he was enabled a degree of physical and mental freedom usually reserved for the living alone.
The visitations themselves were conditional. As the appropriation of one’s vital life force for the sake of materialization often weakened the host over time, Dorothy herself had to give her earnest consent and blessing for the endeavour to be efficacious. Furthermore, the royal visits were strictly nocturnal and terminated before sunrise. Save for the tender lovemaking that the star-studded night called for, the couple’s metaphysical encounters were also filled with boisterous chatter about parallel dimensions, the afterlife or the Amenti, the secret lives of famous Ramesside rulers, the Egyptian neters or cosmic powers, mysteries of modern Egyptology such as the final resting place of the beautiful Queen Nefertiti (ca. 1370 bce– 1330 bce) and the existence of a Great Hall of Records in Luxor, and the clarification of major ambiguities existing in the conventional knowledge of Egyptian dynastic history. In scrying the verbal intercourse between the two, we also get the impression that their abstinence from sex whilst she resided at Abydos played the greater part of an unconscious atonement for grave sins committed in her previous life as Bentreshyt. Put another way, her current life served as a necessary sequel to right all perceived wrongs and to realign the fragmented and unfulfilled condition of her own soul with the fundamental grace, mercy, and harmony inherent in the divine. The reason for Omm Sety was compensation or the remuneration of karmic dues.
On a different note, when her lifelong friend Hanny el Zeini asked her whether she could sire children with Sety she answered quite straightforwardly that it was impossible to do so because everything of his disappeared before daybreak. That included everything that might come from the body of the great pharaoh. I guess that sort of divine constraint was a good thing, otherwise we’d have a child or two vouching for the reinstalment of an Egyptian monarchy long defunct and then claiming it as the living Horian blood of a deceased Osiris.