The Grateful Dead- “Fire on the Mountain”-Egypt 9/16/1978

March 31, 2017 11:44 pm Published by 1 Comment

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“Grateful dead (or grateful ghost) is a folktale present in many cultures throughout the world. The most common story involves a traveler who encounters a corpse of someone who never received a proper burial, typically stemming from an unpaid debt.[1][2] The traveler then either pays off the dead person’s debt or pays for burial. The traveler is later rewarded or has their life saved by a person or animal who is actually the soul of the dead person; the grateful dead is a form of the donor.


An ancient Egyptian text explains the principle of reciprocity in which the deceased calls for a blessing on the person who remembers his name and helps him into a happy afterlife:

But if there be a man, any one whomsoever, who beholdeth this writing and causeth my soul and my name to become established among those who are blessed, let it be done for him likewise after his final arriving (at the end of life’s voyage) in recompense for what was done by him for me, Osiris.[4]

One variant is the Book of Tobit.[5] The chivalric romance Amadas has the title knight pay his last coins for such a burial.[5] It appears in various fairy tales, such as the Italian Fair Brow,[6] the Swedish The Bird ‘Grip’ and H. C. Andersen‘s The Traveling Companion.

Fair Brow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fair Brow is an Italian fairy tale collected by Thomas Frederick Crane in his Italian Popular Tales.[1]

Italo Calvino included a variant from Istria in his Italian Folktales. He noted that the grateful dead man was a common medieval motif.[2]


A merchant sent his son off to make money. Once he spent it all paying off a dead man’s debts, so he could be buried, and another time, he bought a slave woman, the Sultan’s kidnapped daughter, and married her. His father beat them both and drove them out of his home. The wife said that she would paint, and her husband would sell the paintings, though he must not tell where they came from. Turks saw them, recognized the work, and told him they wanted more. He said to come to his house, where his wife painted them, and they seized her and carried her off.

He walked on the shore, and an old man agreed to have him fish with him. They were captured by Turks and sold to the Sultan as slaves. The old man was made a gardener, and the young man to carry bouquets to the Sultan’s daughter, whom the Sultan had imprisoned in a tower as punishment. One day his wife recognized him while he was singing. They escaped with a great deal of treasure.

The old man said that they must divide the treasure. The young man offered him half. When the old man asked if his wife was also half his, the young man offered him three quarters. The old man told him that he was the dead man whose debts he had paid, and vanished. The young man was reconciled with his father, who died not long after, leaving him all his wealth.

The Book of Tobit

The Book of Tobit is listed in the canon of the Council of Hippo (393 AD),[2] Councils of Carthage (397 AD)[3] and (419 AD),[4] Council of Florence (1442)[5] and finally the Council of Trent (1546),[6] and is part of the canon of both the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Roman Catholics often refer to it as deuterocanonical.[7]

Athanasius (367 AD) mentioned that certain other books, including the book of Tobit, while not being part of the Canon, “were appointed by the Fathers to be read”.

Augustine (c. 397 AD) writes in his book On Christian Doctrine (Book II Chapter 8) that the book of Tobit is a Canonical book.[8]

According to the monk Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 400 AD) the book of Tobit and other deuterocanonical books were not called Canonical but Ecclesiastical books.[9]

Pope Innocent I (405 AD) sent a letter to the bishop of Toulouse citing the book of Tobit and the others deuterocanonical books as a part of the Old Testament Canon.[10]

The Decretum Gelasianum, which is a work written by an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553, contains a list of books of Scripture presented as having been made Canonical by the Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I, bishop of Rome 366-383. This list mentions the book of Tobit as part of the Old Testament Canon.[11]

With an increasingly theoretical sophistication of the social sciences, it has become evident that folklore is a naturally occurring and necessary component of any social group, it is indeed all around us.[8] It does not have to be old or antiquated. It continues to be created, transmitted and in any group is used to differentiate between “us” and “them”. “

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All Text from WIKIPEDIA, the Free Encyclopedia

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