There are things we avoid, like walking under a ladder, or allowing a black cat to cross our paths, but do we know why? What are the myths surrounding some of these habits we pass on from generation to generation? I thought it would be fun do a deep dive into the history of some of the more well-known superstitions, especially as they tie into witchcraft. You know, so you know there is nothing to fear! Or is there?
I have a list of topics lined up and am excited to get started. To kick things off, I thought it would be interesting to talk about one of the more commonly feared numbers, the unlucky 13.
Number 13 Origins
Avoidance of the number 13 is widely recognized as a prudent thing to do, and if it lands on a Friday, well watch out! While the practice of fearing the date came long before Jason chased a campground full of terrified teenagers around, it seems like with most myths there are conflicting stories on the origins.
The Holy Bible
It is possible that one of the sources of our distrust comes from straight from the Bible and the Last Supper. When Jesus told his apostles that one of them would betray him, there were thirteen total at the table, including Judas, the man who would seal Jesus’ fate. According to History.com, there is a long-standing Christian tradition that states having 13 at a dinner party is a bad omen, and could bring death into the household.
Friday 13th has roots in the bible as well, in that the crucifixion of Christ took place on a Friday, now known as Good Friday, and has been observed with fasting and prayers since the early Christian Church was formed. Friday overall was considered unlucky, and was thought to be the day Eve gave Adam the apple in the Garden of Eden, and when Cain killed his brother, Abel.
The Number 12
Western cultures have a fondness for the number 12, which in a lot of ways represents the completeness of a cycle. There are 12 months in a year, 12 Zodiac signs (although this is now up for dispute), 12 Days of Christmas, 12 Tribes of Isreal, and even back in the time of myth, 12 Labors of Hercules, and 12 Gods on Mt. Olympus. The idea that if 12 was perfect, anything beyond that just caused chaos, is most likely something that is rooted deeply in our history.
In Norse legend, Loki, the God of Mischief, was the 13th guest at a dinner party in which he tricked the blind god Hod into killing Balder with an arrow made with mistletoe which was the one thing that could harm him. Ragnarok began, and the Norse gods were all killed, which is definitely unlucky as far as all that goes, even for Loki.
The Knights Templar was founded in 1118 and quickly became one of the wealthiest and most influential groups during the Middle Ages. Their mission was to protect pilgrims making their way to the Holy Land during the First Crusade, and they were known to be fierce warriors. Through gifts from rulers who wanted their favor, the wealth they acquired over time was substantial. By early in the 14th century, their properties included banks, castles, and churches.
In 1307, word got back to King Philip IV of France, that the Knights Templar were involved in black magic, among other things, and on Friday, October 13, 1307, hundreds of the members were rounded up and imprisoned. The crimes they were charged with included: heresy, homosexuality, witchcraft, fraud & corruption. After weeks of torture, many of the Knights Templar pleaded guilty to the charges and all were executed in their time, the last of which happened by the spring of 1314. Interesting number don’t you think?
Words to Note
Is the extreme fear of the number 13, and is a likely reason that buildings, and more specifically elevator panels, lack the digit. I found it interesting that many buildings labeled their 13th floor as 14, and that it is reported by Otis that 80-90% of the elevator panels they manufacture for skyscrapers and large hotels are missing the number as well.
As noted by The Etymology Nerd, is the word for someone who fears Friday the 13th specifically. The term Friggatriskaidekaphobia has also been used.
I hoped you enjoyed falling down yet another rabbit hole with me, and hope you join me again for another deep dive. I’m not sure about you, but I end up finding more things to research when I do one of these than I will ever have time for! Check out the resources below, I always like to include tidbits I find interesting.
Other topics to come:
Black cat in your path
Holding your breath while passing a cemetery
Using salt to ward off evil
Accidents happen in 3s
Ladders and why you should avoid them
Black Cat & Evil Eyes: A Book of Old-Fashioned Superstitions by: Chloe Rhodes
Friday the 13th (1907) – by Thomas W. Lawson