12 January 2012

Friday the 13th - Lucky or Unlucky

Superstitions are interesting things - whilst we are not always sure of their origins or indeed the truth behind their ascertions, somewhere in the back of our consciousness we often are hesitant to dismiss them all together.

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th - one of the most dread days of the calendar where bad luck is expected effect us all.  Is this a naturally occuring coincidence, or does it have something to do with an overwhelming global "thought" process almost willing bad luck to happen, willed on by the "Paraskevidekatriaphobics" (those people who are actually afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th)? 


In the article Why Friday the 13th is Unlucky, the author quoted a 1993 British Medical Journal studying into whether or not this was actuallly true, with the Journal concluding that "Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52%. Staying at home is recommended."

But how did this belief come about as opposed to any other day of the week?

Some superstitions about the number 13 are:

If there are 13 people at a dinner table, one is believed to die before the end of the year.  This is believed to have been based on the fact that there were 12 disciples at the last supper of Jesus, who made 13 at the table.

Many cities do not have a 13th street, 13th avenue or even a 13th road.  Buildings often do not have a 13th floor, hotels often tend not to have a Room 13, and there are even some international airports that do not have a Gate 13.

If you have 13 letters in your name then you fall into the unfortunate company of Theodore (Ted) Bundy, Charles Manson, Albert de Salvo and Jack the Ripper.

And of course, there are said to be traditionally a total of 13 Witches in a coven - which is made up of six working couples plus the Devil.

In Norse mythology, 12 Gods were having a dinner party at Valhalla when Loki, the mischievous God, appeared uninvited.  Living up to his name, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind God of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the God of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.  When Balder died, the whole Earth got dark and went into mourning.  Thus, the number 13 was considered unlucky.

Friday is named after the Norse Goddess Frigg (the Goddess of marriage and fertility) or her later counterpart, Freya (Goddess of sex and fertility).  Both Frigg and Freya are Goddesses associated with magick and indeed witchcraft.

The moon goes through 13 lunar cycles within the solar based calender year, and as there is a correlation betwen women and the moon, the number 13 is also considered to be a "female" number.

In modern times, the Apollo 13 spacecraft malfunctioned after being launched on 11 April 1970 at a time of  13:13 CST, forcing it to return to Earth without a landing on the moon and imperiling its crew. Further, after 13 years of being the richest man in the world, Microsoft Corporation chairman Bill Gates lost this title, according to Forbes magazine's 2008 list of the world's billionaires.

In the tarot, the 13th card is that of Death which, contrary to what may first be thought, is a card about transition, change and inevitability.  In numerology 13 can be reduced down to 1+3 which equals 4.  The number four tends to have ground effect where the focus is on stability and one's foundation, such as employment, study/career, the home as well as other longer termed goals.  Both of these I hardly consider to be "negative".

This year will consist of three Friday the 13ths so beware all you Paraskevidekatriaphobics of the months of April and July as well.


References:
Urban Legends
National Geographic

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