Friday the 13th

(This was a piece from a years ago that I originally wrote for Examiner.com.  Hope your Friday the 13th is a good one!)

 

Today is Friday the 13th, a day that some people spend looking over their shoulders and avoiding certain situations because of paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th occurs the first day of a month falls on a Sunday. According to Donald Dossey, founder of The Stress Management Cetner and Phobia Institute of America in Asheville, North Carolina, $800-900 million is lost in business on this day because of people’s fears surrounding the date. Many people won’t travel, sign contracts, make major purchases or do anything out of their normal routines. Where do these ideas come from and what keeps us so connected to these ideas and beliefs?

The number thirteen has long been seen as unlucky. The US Navy supposedly avoids launching ships on Friday the 13th and many buildings intentionally don’t have a thirteenth floor. One possible reason for this goes back to a Norse myth where twelve of the Gods were having a dinner party in Valhalla when Loki arrived and became the uninvited thirteenth guest. It was at this gathering that Loki tricked Hod, the blind God of darkness and winter, to kill his own twin brother Balder, God of light and beauty. Loki gave Hod a mistletoe-tipped arrow to kill Balder, and when he did, the world into darkness and mourning.

Another belief in the superstitious day comes from the Knights Templar. The last Grand Master of the Templar’s, Jacques de Molay, and 60 of his senior knights were arrested on Friday, October 13, 1307 by King Philip IV of France after a number of questions about the Order and its practices. Many other templar’s were arrested and tortured on that day and it is thought this is one of the origins of the Friday the 13th stigma.

In 1907 the book “Friday The Thirteenth”, written by Boston stockbroker Thomas Lawson, was published. It told the story about an evil businessman’s attempt to crash the stock market. Within the first week of release the book sold 28,000 copies and would become a silent film in 1916. It’s been thought that the slow trading and lack of business conducted on Friday the 13th may have stemmed from this book and film, especially at that time.

Is there really anything to fear on Friday the 13th? In numerology the number thirteen is seen as a number of “karmic debt” and is a number that can present challenges and the need to overcome obstacles. It isn’t any more unlucky than any other number but it is a number that challenges us when we are faced with it.

With these and so many other incidents through history connected to the number thirteen and the day of Friday the 13th, we feed these things with fear and superstition and this becomes the reason that year after year we get a bit skittish on this day. Today consider rethinking Friday the 13th. Maybe it should be seen as a day to look at what is in the way of achieving our goals and make it a day for letting go of things that no longer serve us and making a promise to ourselves to overcome our personal obstacles.


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  • Gwargedd
    May 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I was born on friday the 13th, turned 13 weeks on friday the 13th, turned 13 on friday the 13th and graduated friday the 13th.

    You could say that friday the 13th has special meaning for me.

  • Jan E O Jewelry
    May 14, 2011 at 9:57 am

    There are 13 moons in the year and thirteen is the sign of the feminine. When the church was trying to discourage pagan practices, it made the number 13 unlucky. Friday is the day of Freya the goddess of fertility so a 13 on Freya’s day was considered especially unlucky. I find Friday the 13th to be a day of abundance, fertility, and a joy. No use buying into male energy fear when you can have love and connection instead.

    • Rowan Pendragon
      May 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

      The 13 moons theory is much more of a modern take on the number 13 as is this whole idea Freya connection. Theories like that largely don’t seem to surface until the late 19th and early 20th century when the Friday the 13th fears really took shape. There is little actual documentation about Friday the 13th being a fearful day until the 19th century. The number itself and it’s connection to things being unlucky has almost always gone back to one of two things; the events of October 13, 1307 or the fact that 13 people sat at the table during the Last Supper. As I’ve said a few times about this idea that somehow this is connected to Pagans, it’s not. In the 14th century the church was far more concerned with mystical fraternities like the Templar’s, who actually posed a real threat to the church, than random herbal healers living in the woods and outskirts of villages. Witchcraft wasn’t declared a heresy against the church until 1320 (it’s important to remember here that the Inquisition officially began in 1233 so the issue of Witchcraft didn’t become a concern until much later).

      I also find your apparent equation of male=fear and female=love really unfortunate. And what that has to do with Friday the 13th I can only guess.