#Friday13th – Ancient Origins of the Fear Myth.
Updated: Feb 18
There is a deep-rooted fear in many cultures that Friday 13th is a very unlucky day, yet no one knows where this superstition has come from, or why it is so widespread.It is certainly true that some pretty rotten things have happened in the past on this day, which have earned it such a terrible reputation.
For example, on Friday 13th October 1307, hundreds of Knights Templar were rounded up and put to death in France.In the Bible, Judas was the thirteenth person present at the Last Supper. Jesus was crucified the very next day, which was a Friday.
In numerology, the number 12 is considered to be a number of ‘completeness’; there are 12 months in year, 12 hours in a day followed by 12 hours of night, there are 12 signs of the zodiac, etc.In comparison, the number 13 is seen as irregular, imbalanced.
There is a Norse myth which tells that twelve Gods were dining in the great hall of Valhalla, when the trickster-God Loki turned up uninvited. He proceeded to convince the blind God of Darkness, Hoder, to shoot Baldur the Beautiful, God of Joy with a mistletoe-tipped arrow, thus we have another example indicating why the ancient people may have believed the number 13 to be unlucky.
By contrast, the ancient Egyptians actually believed the number 13 to be very fortunate indeed. They thought that man experienced twelve phases during his mortal life, but the 13th was to ascend to eternal after-life, which was considered a joyous event, even though achieved through death.
The moon is associated with the divine feminine as the feminine cycles were linked to the phases of the moon. In Ireland, Aine was Goddess of love, growth, cattle and light. Her name means “bright” as she lights up the dark. Although the origins of this superstition cannot now be traced, some say it goes right back into our distant pagan past. Ancient pagan religions were matriarchal; they believed in the Goddess and Mother Earth, and venerated the ability of the female to bring forth life.
The year was counted by lunar cycles, unlike today’s Gregorian calendar, of which there were thirteen, and also thirteen menstrual cycles in a year.
As the priests of the new religion, Christianity, tried to wrest control from the pagans, they suppressed the power of the female; fertility and the sexual act was seen as unclean. Where childbirth was once seen as joyous and miraculous, the new religion considered the new mother unclean and she was not allowed into the church until she had been ritually purified forty days later. I’m pretty sure the thirteen menstrual cycles were seen as unclean, as well!
Over time, this dislike of the number 13 may have adopted a more sinister tone, as the pagans associated with it became thought of as evil devil-worshippers.
For the ancient Celts, everything was interconnected, even numbers. All numbers had meanings, or associations.
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