Although I am busy with the last minute details before my Moonlit WINGS newsletter goes out today, I’m pausing a moment to take note of this special day.
Yes, beware, my lovelies, for today is Friday the 13th, associated throughout Christendom with bad luck and superstitions of dire deeds. Ever wonder why?
For starters, Fridays are hailed as a particularly significant day in the Christian traditions.
Obviously, there is Good Friday, which was the day that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. And while it is never specifically stated in the Bible, traditional Christian lore also says that Adam and Eve supposedly ate the forbidden fruit on a Friday; the Great Flood started on a Friday; the builders of the Tower of Babel were tongue-tied on a Friday; and the Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday.
Why would so much negativity be heaped on Fridays?
Some scholars suggest that perhaps it was due to the fact that many pre-Christian Pagan cultures hailed Fridays as holy days, particularly sacred to Goddesses.
In Rome, Friday was Veneris dies, named for the Goddess of love and beauty, Venus (and who, it just so happens, we will be honoring tomorrow).
Similarly, “Friday” was named for Venus’ Norse/Teutonic counterpart, Freya, a powerful Goddess of fertility, sexuality, war, wealth, and magic, whose day of worship this also was.
Like the Hellenic culture’s traditions, in the ancient northern Pagan societies, Fridays were also associated with love and considered a good day for weddings.
Over time, however, Christianity demonized all Goddesses (with a few notable exceptions, like Mary and Brighid). So Friday became an unholy sabbath.
Similarly, the number thirteen also has mythological and religious symbolism.
Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue. Many buildings don’t label a 13th floor (check the elevator buttons, especially in older buildings).
It is very unlucky in Hindu tradition to have thirteen at any assembly, because it may result in the death of one of the guests. I am not sure what the origins of this are, but they appear to be related to an ancient tale of a fatal gathering of the Gods.
Meantime, on the opposite end of the globe, in Norse traditions, the same taboo is true. The story goes that twelve of the Heathen Gods were meeting together, but Loki, the God of mischief, crashed the party and tricked Hod, God of Winter, into killing Balder the Good.
Following in that vein of tragic dinner parties, the Last Supper in Christian tradition hosted thirteen people (the twelve disciples plus Jesus) and one betrayed Jesus, resulting in the crucifixion. (One does wonder, however, whether they weren’t all assembled together at other times, without incident).
The number thirteen also has been associated with death in other cultures. The ancient Egyptians, for example, believed life unfolded in twelve stages, and the thirteenth stage was death.
The Egyptians considered death a part of their ultimate journey and looked forward to the spiritual transformation — thus thirteen was not an unlucky number in their world. But like so many others, their beliefs became distorted through the centuries, eventually connecting the number thirteen with modern culture’s more negative and fearful interpretation of death.
Finally, there is some evidence that the number thirteen may have an unlucky connotation because of its association with the lunar calendar (there are 13 lunar cycles in a year) and with femininity (women have 13 menstrual cycles in a year).
And as we know, the power of the Feminine has been feared, vilified, and persecuted by the Christian Church since its earliest days.
But just remember that what’s unlucky for some can be quite lucky for others. For those who fear women’s power, or cower in denial of the natural endings of life, Friday the 13th is a scary day, spawning a whole industry of slasher movies.
But for those who accept with equanimity our Mother’s gift of life, death and rebirth, and who honor women’s power, today provides an opportunity to give thanks.
May your choice make it a most fortunate and blessed day for you.