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[THESE ARE NOT MAGICKAL WINDS' VIEWS!  ...As a matter of fact, I happen to love the number thirteen and have found the number 13 to be exceptionally Magickal and the date (Friday the 13th) to be especially lucky for me!  As mentioned before, we like to share research with the public; this does not mean we agree with everything we research and post!]

Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky

by David Emery

Posted and edited to fit MySpace's format by:  Magickal Winds

Well, Friday the 13th is upon us! We all know that Hollywood uses this day to release new horror movies, but we wanted to share some of the Friday the 13th lore with you!

Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky

From David Emery,

Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Fear of Friday the 13th

I just finished reading the abstract of a study published in the British

Medical Journal in 1993 entitled "Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your

Health?"  With the aim of mapping "the relation between health,

behaviour, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United

Kingdom," its authors compared the ratio of traffic volume to the number of automobile accidents on two different days, Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, over a period of years.

Incredibly, they found that in the region sampled, while consistently

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."Paraskevidekatriaphobics people afflicted with a morbid,

irrational fear of Friday the 13th must be pricking up their ears just

now, buoyed by seeming evidence that their terror may not be so

irrational after all. But it's unwise to take solace in a single

scientific study the only one of its kind, so far as I know

especially one so peculiar. I suspect these statistics have more to

teach us about human psychology than the ill-fatedness of any particular

date on the calendar.

Friday the 13th - The Most Widespread Superstition?

The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding

reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable

conjunction from one to three times a year portends more misfortune than

some credulous minds can bear. Some sources say it may be the most

widespread superstition in the United States. Some people won't go to

work on Friday the 13th; some won't eat in restaurants; many wouldn't

think of setting a wedding on the date.

Just how many Americans in 2007 still suffer from this condition?

According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the

treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term "paraskevidekatriaphobia"),

the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he's right, eight percent of

Americans are still in the grips of a very old superstition.

Exactly how old is difficult to say, because determining the origins of

superstitions is an imprecise science, at best. In fact, it's mostly


13: The Devil's Dozen

It is said: If 13 people sit down to dinner together, all 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). There are

13 witches in a coven.

Though no one can say for sure when and why human beings first

associated the number 13 with misfortune, the belief is assumed to be

quite old, and there exist any number of theories all of which have

been called into question at one time or another, I should point out

purporting to trace its origins to antiquity and beyond. It has been

proposed, for example, that fears surrounding the number 13 are as

ancient as the act of counting. Primitive man had only his 10 fingers

and two feet to represent units, this explanation goes, so he could

count no higher than 12. What lay beyond that 13 was an impenetrable

mystery to our prehistoric forebears, hence an object of superstition.

Which has an edifying ring to it, but one is left wondering did

primitive man not have toes?

Despite whatever terrors the numerical unknown held for their

hunter-gatherer ancestors, ancient civilizations weren't unanimous in

their dread of 13. The Chinese regarded the number as lucky, some

commentators note, as did the Egyptians in the time of the pharaohs.

To the ancient Egyptians, these sources tell us, life was a quest for

spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages 12 in this life and a

13th beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number 13

therefore symbolized death not in terms of dust and decay, but as a

glorious and desirable transformation. Though Egyptian civilization

perished, the symbolism conferred on the number 13 by its priesthood

survived, only to be corrupted by subsequent cultures who came to

associate 13 with a fear of death instead of a reverence for the



Other sources speculate that the number 13 may have been purposely

vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of

western civilization because it represented femininity. Thirteen had

been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told,

because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a

year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The "Earth Mother of Laussel," for example

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 cresent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches. As the solar calendar

triumphed over the lunar with the rise of male-dominated civilization,

it is surmised, so did the number 12 over the number 13, thereafter

considered anathema.

On the other hand, one of the earliest concrete taboos associated with

the number 13 a taboo still observed by some superstitious folks

today, evidently is said to have originated in the East with the

Hindus, who believed, for reasons I haven't been able to ascertain, that

it is always unlucky for 13 people to gather in one place say, at

dinner. Interestingly enough, precisely the same superstition has been

attributed to the ancient Vikings (though I have also been told, for

what it's worth, that this and the accompanying mythographical

explanation are apocryphal). The story has been laid down as follows:

Loki, the Evil One

Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One,

god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party,

bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki

raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder

the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe

offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him

instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral

of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the

Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party

is just plain bad luck.

As if to prove the point, the Bible tells us there were exactly 13

present at the Last Supper. One of the dinner guests er, disciples

betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.
Did I mention the Crucifixion took place on a Friday?

Bad Friday

It is said: Never change your bed on Friday; it will bring bad dreams.

Don't start a trip on Friday or you will have misfortune. If you cut

your nails on Friday, you cut them for sorrow. Ships that set sail on a

Friday will have bad luck as in the tale of H.M.S. Friday ... One

hundred years ago, the British government sought to quell once and for

all the widespread superstition among seamen that setting sail on

Fridays was unlucky. A special ship was commissioned, named "H.M.S.

Friday." They laid her keel on a Friday, launched her on a Friday,

selected her crew on a Friday and hired a man named Jim Friday to be her

captain. To top it off, H.M.S. Friday embarked on her maiden voyage on a

Friday, and was never seen or heard from again.

Some say Friday's bad reputation goes all the way back to the Garden of


It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden

fruit. Adam bit, as we all learned in Sunday School, and they were both

ejected from Paradise. Tradition also holds that the Great Flood began

on a Friday; God tongue-tied the builders of the Tower of Babel on a

Friday; the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday; and, of course,

Friday was the day of the week on which Christ was crucified. It is

therefore a day of penance for Christians.

In pagan Rome, Friday was execution day (later Hangman's Day in

Britain), but in other pre-Christian cultures it was the sabbath, a day

of worship, so those who indulged in secular or self-interested

activities on that day could not expect to receive blessings from the

gods which may explain the lingering taboo on embarking on journeys or

starting important projects on Fridays.

To complicate matters, these pagan associations were not lost on the

early Church, which went to great lengths to suppress them. If Friday

was a holy day for heathens, the Church fathers felt, it must not be so

for Christians thus it became known in the Middle Ages as the

"Witches' Sabbath," and thereby hangs another tale.

The Witch-Goddess

The name "Friday" was derived from a Norse deity worshipped on the sixth

day, known either as Frigg (goddess of marriage and fertility), or Freya

(goddess of sex and fertility), or both, the two figures having become

intertwined in the handing-down of myths over time (the etymology of

"Friday" has been given both ways). Frigg/Freya corresponded to Venus,

the goddess of love of the Romans, who named the sixth day of the week

in her honor "dies Veneris."

Friday was actually considered quite lucky by pre- Christian Teutonic

peoples, we are told especially as a day to get married because of

its traditional association with love and fertility. All that changed

when Christianity came along. The goddess of the sixth day most likely

Freya in this context, given that the cat was her sacred animal was

recast in post- pagan folklore as a witch, and her day became associated

with evil doings.

Various legends developed in that vein, but one is of particular

interest: As the story goes, the witches of the north used to observe

their sabbath by gathering in a cemetery in the dark of the moon. On one

such occasion the Friday goddess, Freya herself, came down from her

sanctuary in the mountaintops and appeared before the group, who

numbered only 12 at the time, and gave them one of her cats, after which

the witches' coven and, by tradition, every properly- formed coven

since comprised exactly 13.

There's a very simple reason for that nobody really knows, though

various explanations have been proposed.

The Knights Templar

The Unluckiest Day of All

The astute reader will have observed that while we have thus far

insinuated any number of intriguing connections between events,

practices and beliefs attributed to ancient cultures and the

superstitious fear of Fridays and the number 13, we have yet to happen

upon an explanation of how, why or when these separate strands of

folklore converged if that is indeed what happened to mark Friday

the 13th as the unluckiest day of all.

One theory, recently offered up as historical fact in the novel The Da

Vinci Code, holds that it came about not as the result of a convergence,

but a catastrophe, a single historical event that happened nearly 700

years ago.

The catastrophe was the decimation of the Knights Templar, the legendary

order of "warrior monks" formed during the Christian Crusades to combat

Islam. Renowned as a fighting force for 200 years, by the 1300s the

order had grown so pervasive and powerful it was perceived as a

political threat by kings and popes alike and brought down by a

church-state conspiracy, as recounted by Katharine Kurtz in Tales of the

Knights Templar (Warner Books: 1995): "On October 13, 1307, a day so

infamous that Friday the 13th would become a synonym for ill fortune,

officers of King Philip IV of France carried out mass arrests in a

well-coordinated dawn raid that left several thousand Templars

knights, sergeants, priests, and serving brethren in chains, charged

with heresy, blasphemy, various obscenities, and homosexual practices.

None of these charges was ever proven, even in France and the Order

was found innocent elsewhere but in the seven years following the

arrests, hundreds of Templars suffered excruciating tortures intended to

force 'confessions,' and more than a hundred died under torture or were

executed by burning at the stake."

A Thoroughly Modern Phenomenon

There are drawbacks to the "day so infamous" thesis, not the least of

which is that it attributes enormous cultural significance to a

relatively obscure historical event. Even more problematic, for this or

any other theory positing premodern origins for Friday the 13th

superstitions, is the fact that no one has been able to document the

existence of such beliefs prior to the 19th century. If people who lived

before the late 1800s perceived Friday the 13th as a day of special

misfortune, no evidence has been found to prove it. As a result, some

scholars are now convinced the stigma is a thoroughly modern phenomenon

exacerbated by 20th-century media hype.

Going back a hundred years, Friday the 13th doesn't even merit a mention

in E. Cobham Brewer's voluminous 1898 edition of the Dictionary of

Phrase and Fable, though one does find entries for "Friday, an Unlucky

Day" and "Thirteen Unlucky." When the date of ill fate finally does make

an appearance in later editions of the text, it is without extravagant

claims as to the superstition's historicity or longevity. The very

brevity of the entry is instructive: "A particularly unlucky Friday. See

Thirteen" implying that the extra dollop of misfortune attributed to

Friday the 13th can be accounted for in terms of an accrual, so to

speak, of bad omens:

Unlucky Friday + Unlucky 13 = Unluckier Friday. If that's the case, we

are guilty of perpetuating a misnomer by labeling Friday the 13th "the

unluckiest day of all," a designation perhaps better reserved for, say,

a Friday the 13th on which one breaks a mirror, walks under a ladder,

spills the salt, and spies a black cat crossing one's path a day, if

there ever was one, best spent in the safety of one's own home with

doors locked, shutters closed and fingers crossed.

Written by David Emery


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