[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
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?
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 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
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