Montana Wolf

Friday, January 13, 2012

Unlucky Thirteen, Bad Friday

If 13 people sit down to dinner together, one will die within the year. The Turks so disliked the number 13 that it was practically expunged from their vocabulary (Brewer, 1894). Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don't have a 13th floor. If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck (Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names).

Sorry all you paraskevidekatriaphobics — people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th —  I love the edgy magic of  the "bad luck" day, the superstition most firmly grounded in our consciousness for reasons most don't fathom but go to great lengths to confirm. In a 1993 English study, the ratio of traffic volume was compared to to the number of automobile accidents on two different days, Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, over a period of years. Scientists found that even though fewer people chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher than on "normal" Fridays. Their conclusion:  "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 percent. Staying at home is recommended."

It's fun to tie these things together. But fun turns serious when this day is connected to a woman's disconnect from her source. It begins with the 'unlucky' number 13. Imagine, if you will, living by a calendar that is tied to our cycles, as used to be the case. Thirteen months of 28 days (13X28=364 days), in which women ovulated together on the full moon and bled on the new moon. Time when our dreams and bodies corresponded to the ebb and flow of lunar light. There was good reason for all of those raucous full moon fertility dances!

The "Earth Mother of Laussel," — a 27,000-year-old carving found near the Lascaux caves in France, often cited as an icon of matriarchal spirituality — depicts a female figure holding a crescent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization so did the "perfect" number 12 over the "imperfect" number 13. If Friday was a holy day for heathens, the Church fathers felt, it must not be so for Christians (much like Winter Solstice and Christmas, the exchange of worship of the SUN for the SON) — thus it became known in the Middle Ages as the "Witches' Sabbath."  Twelve disciples, 13 witches in a coven. You make the connection.

The name "Friday" was derived from a Norse deity, Freya (goddess of sex and fertility). Enter the priests, who recast Freya and her sacred animal the cat, as a witch. So it was, thousands of independent women -- academics like Hypatia, mystic soldier Joan of Arc, common healers and midwives -- died at the hands of Christians. Estimates range upwards from 100,000's of thousands tortured with priest-blessed breast rippers, iron maidens and heretic's forks. Once they admitted they were witches they were burned at the stake in a holocaust of women; lands were seized on behalf of the church. The Inquisition. Fear of those days lives in our genetic memory.

There are three Friday the Thirteenth's in 2012. There's debate on how Unlucky 13 merged with Unlucky Friday to create Unluckiest Friday the 13th. Many point to the stock market crash. Wood Tick says his house burned down a few years ago on Friday the 13th.

As for me, I get a little testy on this day. I feel compelled to shake loose the memory of Freya's day and the number 13; to add another month to the calendar. To purge the past and pet the wild.

Thank you Barbara Walker. What would we do without you?
Thank you David Emery, "Why Friday the 13th is Unlucky."


  1. From Carol: I didn't even realize that today was a when I saw your blog title, I was hoping that it wasn't going to be one in sync with all that hoopla. I was heartened to read on, and find your perspective. I have been reading the Magdelena series, that within them, having so much emphasis on the hertical male/Christain energy towards all those strong women, through prehistory and history. So Blessings on this Friday the 13th.....

  2. From Susan: I hear ya, Sista... just stirs up all that WTF?...
    This morning, Larry said, "Hey, it's Friday the 13th"... my response, "HURRAY!!!"...
    Friday the 13th... I sat counting the letters in my name... in hopes of having 13... cuz, I'm certainly born of the devil... heheheheheee...